Hello there blog.  It’s been a while.  I have been reading all kinds of inspirational posts on all of the blogs I follow all about the year in review and all of the things everyone talked about and most popular posts and all of the goals for all of the things that they want to do.  I saw one whole post that was 12 different projects for the holidays that were all carefully color coordinated with tutorials and downloads and printables.  And while I actually enjoy reading it from everyone else, it just makes me wonder how some people have time to do that kind reminiscing and collecting of old posts and analyzing.  I would much rather spend my Christmas break cooking and reading and spending some time with my darling husband and elderly hound who I haven’t seen enough of this fall.

So none of that here.  I am sorry that I haven’t been posting much.  Not so much sorry for you, although I enormously appreciate all of you that read and lurk and comment, but really for myself.  This blog over the years has become a journal (hence the name) of all of my projects and I look back and reference things here all the time.  I love the idea of keeping a beautiful journal but the reality is, I am not a journal kind of girl.  But this blog works for me and I love it.  The last few months have been a challenge.  It’s been nothing earth shattering.  The people I love are safe and well.  I am safe and well, but I have been creatively and professionally challenged in ways that have squeezed a lot of what I am willing or able to share here in to a trickle.  It’s been stressful in good and bad ways and it has made me re-prioritize some things and totally drop the ball on a few things (which makes me crazy) and just plain let some things go.

But, I think we are heading towards the end of the drought and in that spirit, I have some Christmas presents that I am really proud of to share with you.  The handmade gifts were very carefully planned this year and although they didn’t arrive quite on time, they turned out beautifully and I am happy with them (and I believe the recipients were too.)

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Mom got a handwoven camera strap (or maybe it is for binoculars).  She is a major birdwatcher and wildlife photographer, so she will use this, I think.  It is a pick up pattern on an inkle loom, made with 5/2 perle cotton, a few scraps of ultra suede, and some webbing/buckles I found on Etsy.  A pick up pattern is similar to brocade fabric, you choose threads out of the pattern and pick them up to float on top of the regular weave.  That is what is making the zig-zag/diamond pattern you can see.

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Next, my youngest niece and nephew (ages 2 and 4) got a “Map to Uncle Andy & Auntie Becky’s House”.  I took a google map of our neighborhood, traced/simplified it in Illustrator and printed a fabric “map” of our neighborhood. (Thank you Spoonflower!)  I didn’t think it was too smart to post a map to my house for the whole internet to see, so you get a section of it so you get the idea.  We added all of the best parts of our neighborhood, like the pool down the street and the very important location of the coffee shop and the pizza place.  I filled in between the streets with photos of textures – grass, gravel, sand.  I found the little tiny cars and was really thrilled to get a set with a police car, fire truck, garbage truck and parking enforcement.  Then finally three big dice with different locations on each face so you can roll the dice and drive to each location, making a very simple game for them to play.  Mommy has to read the words right now, but I think after not too long they will start to recognize the words on their own.  This niece and nephew live out in very rural farm country and so the city is a pretty fun thing to play pretend about.

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My youngest sister got the (hopefully) ultra cool accessory of the season.  A giant cowl made from baby alpaca with a tiny bit of sparkle.  This thing is seriously decadent.  Seed stitch with a half twist before I seamed it up, so it has a little mobius shape happening.

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Mom got the poker chip silk scarf.  I hosted a “dye day” just before Christmas for my new co-workers to make gifts for their family members and I did this one and knew that my mom had to have it.  It is a technique called itajime shibori and is folded and then clamped with poker chips (top and bottom of the folded scarf) held in place with clothespins.  Then you add the dye and the poker chips mostly keep the dye out and leave polkadots.  (You can get fancier tighter clamps and make the resist shapes very distinct, but I like this more organic look better.)

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Finally, it was the year of the bat for my dad.  He is an architect and one of his projects this year involved some renovation on some historic buildings.  Historic buildings that happen to be home to an endangered species of bat.  (Which means you have to remove the bats before you can renovate and you just can’t even imagine what that involves.)  So the bat jokes and puns have been a thing this year.  I found a great collection of other batty items for him on Etsy (which I will show off tomorrow), but this ornament was my contribution.  A snoozing bat for the Christmas tree.  (He’s about 3 inches long.)

Hoping you all had a creative and peaceful holiday with your loved ones.  Cheers to the new year!