Saturday, December 26, 2009

World Crafts Village

Every year for Christmas, my mother-in-law asks me what I'd like from World Crafts Village, a nonprofit organization that supports artisans around the world by selling their handcrafted products. Most of the artisans are combating poverty, and World Crafts allows them to recieve fair trade prices for their work. I really enjoy reading the short descriptions of each group that makes a certain item. They have all kinds of stuff from all over the world.

This year I asked for some embroidered Christmas ornaments from Yunnan, China. I love the blue on white. We don't have very many ornaments for our tree yet, and these are really nice ones.

I'd been wanting this Turkish bowl set for a few years and was so surprised to receive it. I have a thing for handmade bowls, not mugs or plates or anything else--just bowls. I love the colors and detailed designs on these handpainted ones. (They're so nice, I'm almost afraid to use them!) The information that came with the bowls said that they're the type people have used for thousands of years to serve finger foods to guests, such as olives, nuts, and dates.

This tote's design is called the "Doors of Aceh", which represent the opening of Indonesia to the rest of the world. I'm planning on using it as my "mom purse" after the baby is born, since it's a lot bigger than the one I use now. I think the common theme in what I like about ethnic designs is the complexity and attention to detail. Most of the textiles and pottery of modern America is so plain and unadorned--it makes me appreciate the intricacy found in other culture's traditional style.
So, if you're into handmade stuff from other countries, or need ideas for presents--this is the place to go. They have items for any price range, I think the most expensive thing is the $200 Turkish area rug with a Mount Ararat design on it--amazing. (Maybe I'll save up all my Christmas money for that one next year.)

last-minute presents

I made three pairs of these slippers for friends that have cold wooden floors in their houses. I looked at a few different slipper patterns and ideas, but ended up making my own pattern and figuring out solutions to various problems that came up.

They are surprisingly easy to make and, since I did 3 sets of them and am now an expert, I'm hoping to put together a tutorial to post in a few weeks.

This is a close-up shot of an upside-down slipper. I wanted to show the sole, which is covered in a thin layer of silicone. I read online that it's a great way to make the slippers have traction, so they won't slip on smooth floors. I was a little unsure about spreading silicone on a nicely finished slipper, but it works wonderfully!

While we drove to St. Louis to see my husband's family for Christmas, I decided it was a good time to knit these fingerless mitts for a friend of mine. She has four children and mentioned once that she can't wear gloves because she's always dealing with carseat buckles and zippers and things she needs tactile ability for. So I thought she could at least keep her wrists and palms warm with some fingerless mitts, even if her fingers are still exposed. I used the Lovisa pattern from ravelry, but changed a lot of it. I made them shorter, used only one color, added ribbing at the two ends, and actually had to start over with 10 less stitches than the pattern because they were huge. (I must have had the wrong gauge or something.) But they came out nicely.

We had a white Christmas here in Kansas City, it's been snowing for two days now. I wish I could get a good picture of it. There's just nothing more contenting in the winter time than to knit or weave by the fire and watch the snowflakes coming down in thick flakes outside.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Projects

Here's a few things I've been working on for Christmas presents. First, a wrist pincushion using an offset square that I found a sewing tutorial for on Planet June's blog. (She gave excellent instructions!) This is for one of my co-workers who does a lot of sewing for Missouri Town. It was an extremely easy and quick project, and I really like the unique shape.

Next, a pillow for our annual Weavers Guild gift exchange. This year the theme was rectangles. I'd seen a pillow in a department store last year that was decorated with strips of different ribbons, and of course I thought, I could do that! The gift exchange can be anything sewn, woven, felted, etc., and I chose the easy route this year. If you're going to weave something, it's much better to have extra from an earlier project, since last-minute weaving doesn't really work.

Also, these baby oxen are a present for my other friend from Missouri Town (the ox-driver). I'm using the lamb pattern I made last summer and will eventually give them needle-felted horns and spots. I'll be sure to post a finished picture.
Of course, I have at least 4 other projects going that need to be finished in the next two weeks, so hopefully they will get done in time!
Do you have any great handmade Christmas presents that you've either given or recieved?