Sunday, December 2, 2007

Handcrafters Holidays Blog Meme, vol. 1: gifts

In an effort to become more involved in the craft blogging community & as a way to satisfy my love for surveys & quizzes in general, I am participating in Sew Mama Sew's Handcrafters Holiday Blog Meme.

For those that aren't "hip to the jive", a meme is: an idea, project, statement or even a question that is posted by one blog and responded to by other blogs; viral encapsulated idea, with built-in feedback loop.

Without further ado, Volume 1 of the Handcrafters Holiday Meme.


  • Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?
My favorite & also my fall back gifts are food. For many, many years I would make huge quantities of cookies, upwards of 20 dozen, in order for everyone on my list to receive no less than 2 dozen cookies. There were years where I made flavored vodka, hot pepper being a particular favorite. That was back before I could legally purchase the alcohol myself even! I have made bonbons and another year where everyone received cheese straws and homemade crackers.
  • If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making? (Post photos if you have some!)
I have grand plans for gifts this year and thankfully my list has shrunk enough for there to be some prospect of actually accomplishing these goals!

The hardest part is that everyone in my family has already received most of the handcrafted things I could think to make. W & J will each get a handsewn shirt, W's an 18th century style, J's a Russian peasant style. My mother & I are working together to design the perfect purse/bag for her, complete with matching zippered pouch, glasses & tissue case and plenty of dedicated storage pockets for the things she's constantly loosing. For C4 I'm considering something simple, a black texture knitted scarf that he can wear in both corporate and social life.

The two girls are the hardest. L either already has or isn't interested in any of the things that I make. A has never really appreciated handcrafted things. I'm also at a loss because there is precious little time where L will be away from me in the next few weeks. It's very difficult to make surprise gifts for a homeschooled kid who is used to being *right there* as I craft!
  • Do you have any good stories about handcrafted gifts you’ve given or received?
The only story I have about a handcrafted gift is from the first year I made lecherli. This is a family recipe, similar to a fruit cake with candied citron, lemon peel and a rum glaze. While everyone in the family has the recipe, the only person who ever made it successfully was my great-grandmother, Oma. At the time she was in her early 90's and no longer feeling up to making large batches of baked goods for family.

When I first asked for the recipe at Thanksgiving my mother was shocked. Oh no, you don't want to make that, it never turns out. You have to make it tomorrow and let it sit in a tin with orange peel or it won't be edible. But I insisted. I loved Oma's lecherli and I wanted to make it. The thought of a Christmas without lecherli was unthinkable to me. I didn't care how long it took and how many ingredients!

Well as it turned out, however my mother was following the recipe, was not right in any way shape or form! There was nothing hard about it, no month of resting in a tin was needed and the rum in the glaze was a huge improvement over the water she had always substituted.

When I gave Oma a slice she exclaimed "this is as good as when I make it myself." From that year on, I have been the official lecherli maker of the family. It's been nearly 10 years. In that time I've adjusted the spices, experimented with different dried fruit, added almonds. But it's still Oma's lecherli. Even if I don't make it for anyone else, I always make enough for her. Well and a little for myself as well.
  • Name one thing on your personal wish list.
I'd love to receive fabric, especailly linen or wool, at least 6 years of either. That would be enough to make another 18th century gown. However, I have already received my gifts; a new vacuum and a redesigned sewing studio. What more could I really want?
  • Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts? (Link)
I have a few things in my Etsy shop, The Green Cottage & will hopefully get a few more in there before the holiday hits. The head bands make good stocking stuffers especially since they are one size, so no measuring is needed. The soap is just delish for anyone on your list, especially the dread heads and those odd relative that lean towards tree hugging. J's graphic novel Bronzeville is perfect for the 20 something young men, possibly the hardest group to shop for. In the next week I'm hoping to list some bento lunch bags, complete with 2 layer bento boxes and a few fleece gnome hats with built in scarves in various sizes.

While it's not stricktly handcrafted, I do have several different designs availble in my new Cafe Press shop, Black Line Design. I try to cover as many themes as I can with my designs, from anti-war to pro military, homeschooling, unschooling, reenacting, and my personal favorite The John Frum Cargo Cult.

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