Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Crafting: The Madeline Cowl and How I'm Shopping This Season

Somewhere between a cowl and a shawl, this quick-knit is a good gift:

I should have positioned this off-centre but it didn't happen. Try to imagine it.

Madeleine Cowl by Teresa Chorzepa
This 50-row, 133 stitch project took 2 evenings. Then I wet blocked it and dried it using blocking wires to stabilize the shape (another day and a half). Then I spent 10 minutes seaming it up. You could easily make 5 of them before Xmas and they do look chic / serve a valuable function.

While I swore that I wouldn't be making any gifts this Xmas - in light of my commitment to conserve energy - I have busy-knit a bunch of things that seem better suited to friends or family. This is one of those items. I sense it will be wonderful on Hilary. How fortunate that she is having her traditional (and very exclusive - just our two families) tree-trimming party tomorrow, wherein gifts may be exchanged. I'm trying to resist baking something for that gathering, but I don't know how I can go to a Christmas-themed event without turning up like the treat Santa. I did find some perfect hand-made ornaments for the kids on Etsy, from CarynBay's shop. The arms are made of actual twigs?!

Not only did I say I wouldn't make or bake stuff, I've also committed not to shopping in stores this year. Partly, I just can't stand the crowds. Partly, it takes too much energy. Partly, I'm afraid of germs. By the time I go to work, I really don't have much left over.

Now, I have had to go into stores for a couple of items I couldn't get online (absurdly), but I was able to roll that "real" shopping into lunch.

I've had a steady parade of parcels arriving from all over the world since the middle of October. Seriously, it takes 3 minutes to buy a present online and then YOU get a present when it arrives at your door. It's two-times a gift.

I can't list everything right now (people might see!, also, it would take too long) but I have purchased just about anything you can think of, mainly on Etsy, but on a variety of other online boutiques also.  It's hard to say if I've saved any money. Surely, not going out to the shops has minimized my opportunities for holiday lunching in expensive restaurants. Mind you, since I can't pleasure-eat or -drink, it's just as well I don't have to push off that associative experience. These days, I'm trying to associate online Xmas shopping with coffee or tea. Yeah, it's not working so well.

One great thing about the online shopping is that, if you opt for pre-wrapping, you can send the gift directly to an out-of-town recipient. It's not as personal as I'd like, but then neither is not seeing someone you're getting a gift for at Xmas dinner.

There is one trick to online shopping - and Xmas crafting, for that matter. You have to start early. Happily, it takes very little actual effort (just thought and skill), and it's utterly comfortable to shop from your own home. But if you wait much longer, it's not going to be an option. Many vendors have already indicated that the end of next week is the deadline for things that can be expected to arrive before Xmas eve.

It's never been a better time to buy online for that person who crafts - I mean, other than you! :-)
  • You can find beautiful yarn at WEBS.
  • Check out this washi tape. (Kids who love to "duck tape" craft are so into this.)
  • Colette Patterns has put together some lovely sewing-related gifts.
  • Give a Craftsy course.
  • Or, for your fibre-craft friends, gift a pattern from Ravelry. (This can be complicated if you don't know Ravelry or knitting, so do be sure to ask for help if you need it.)
  • Buy a great book like this new knitting offer or this terrific sewing reference. (Honestly, anyone who buys books any way other than online is insane. You save an average of 40 percent on the list price and heavy items are delivered, generally within two days, to your front door.)
So, let me turn it over to you: How are you approaching gift-giving this season? Do you love or hate to online shop? Are you crafting for others and, if yes, what are you making?? Can you recommend a great online gift?


  1. Sorry I have no clever bits of advice, but I adore those ornaments with twig arms, and the cowl you knitted in TWO EVENINGS? Good grief. Tell me it took you years to get good enough at knitting to do that. Otherwise, i may start to knit. It is so cool.

    1. All the gifts went over well! And I have to tell you, it didn't take me years. I've been knitting since April 2011. You can TOTALLY do it. Take it up. It's a very practical (and impressive) craft :-)

  2. I love to on-line shop, but I get overwhelmed easily. The shawl is gorgeous, love the color.

    1. Don't you get more overwhelmed by shops than the online universe? These days, I certainly do! :-)

  3. I know it must be hard for you to scale down the handmades, given what you've done other years, but this is still very thoughtful, personalized gift-giving.
    Must disagree with you on the book-shopping, though. While I do much of that on-line, there's nothing like a well-staffed bricks-and-mortar independent bookstore to keep a wide range of choices available. Distribution narrowing through on-line and big box has real ramifications for all of us. Imagine a world with only on-line yarn shopping and you can glimpse the pain we readers feel at losing our browsing meccas! (and the reality is that independent bookstores operate on a very fragile margin -- mark-up is rarely even 40% of what publishers charge!)
    Stepping off my soapbox now. Sorry. ;-)

    1. You raise an entirely valid point Frances - thank you. Don't think I haven't considered this and I do love to browse at the rare local bookstore. Mind you, most of the books I want to buy are only available at the big box stores like Indigo (from which I order online at that extreme discount). In fact, often they're not even stocked at my local Indigo, so I have to order online or order into the store (which gets me no discount).

      Nonetheless, you're right. If we don't support the independent stores, they will cease to exist. I should take that more seriously.

    2. It's all about balance, though, and I know you do your bit supporting independent retailers in all kinds of ways.

    3. Check out today's post, and you'll know how true that is :-)

  4. I love WEBS cos I'm cheap- I love that they always have lots of deals on in their yarn closeouts section. :)
    I do love seeing and touching stuff before I buy it though. There are both upsides and downsides to online shopping!

    1. That shop is good, no question, but since I was charge heftily for customs, I'm gun shy.