I just couldn’t resist

Well, my friends, the siren song of the snow globe advent calendar was just tooooooo strong. And 2 weeks before December 1, I found myself teaching myself how to hand embroider numbers and how to add seed beads and sequins to my hand sewing. I definitely had to do some practice runs, because the extent of my hand stitching repertoire is sewing on buttons… but I think it turned out all right.

I spent one whole week of evenings embroidering all of the numbers. I really struggled with this step. I had never used an iron-on transfer pen, so I practiced. It turned out OK. I did it for real, doing all of the numbers at once as the instructions said, and I thought it worked really well. For about 15 minutes. But I felt that even though I bought a “permanent” pen, the outlines started fading almost immediately! I would be upset with how it looked and have to walk away and give myself some space to see if I was going to tear it out or be OK with it. I cringed to even take a picture of the numbers for you, because every area I considered taking a close-up photo of had something in it that bothered me. I’ve instead decided to approach this from the “galloping horse” theory – if it looks good from a galloping horse, it’s fine! And I think, even though I don’t have a horse, that from a distance the overall impression of the embroidery is acceptable.

Over the next weekend, I cut out all of the pieces. Then I spent a few nights after BK’s bedtime doing the handsewing and beading. The beading took FOREVER the first day, as I was trying to get the hang of it. I really struggled holding onto those little seed beads, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be finding them in the folds of my couch forever! After the first night, however, I really got into the swing of it.

I finished it just in time! It wasn’t yet on the dowel rod or hung, but the sewing was done on December 1, and I had two snowballs completed.

I’ve now completed all of the days that require the felt balls – snow and ornaments. However, I realized as I was triumphantly testing the magnets, that I am missing a magnet behind the tree and I was one short! I had a lot of trouble falling asleep that night while thinking over how best to do this rework. After talking to my mom and Mr Snips, I decided on a small incision in the back, glueing the magnet on, and then sewing the small slit. It worked out very well.

Advent Calendar in progress

I now have 19 days worth of the pieces done, and am working along on the animals. We’ll see how long it takes to do these final pieces with so many little details! But really, it’s all about completing a personal challenge. Especially since after I started working on this frantically, BK told me she didn’t need it for this year, because she already had an advent calendar, and what she really wanted was a pink and red striped stocking. Never mind that she has this beautiful one. Sigh.

 

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Heroes in a half shell

The very first thing I knit for BK’s advent calendar turned Valentine’s countdown, was a Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I cannot describe how deep and how passionately my child feels about Michelangelo, and the Turtles in general.

We have Bitty Babies, and beautiful dresses for them to wear, and Build a Bears with fancy clothes and all kinds of other things, but her stuffed Turtles (she has these) are what get to wear the nice clothes and use the nice accessories. Michelangelo is the one always selected to go on trips when limited toys can be packed on the airplane, or even a short car trip. In short, my daughter loves the “party dude.”

From the very beginning of planning the countdown, I knew I wanted the things to be stuff that reflected who she was, instead of just holiday baubles. I wanted this calendar that I am making with my own two hands to be full of my love, but full of my daughter’s personality. And the first thing that had to be on it was Mikey.

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She then requested Donnie and Leo, which I happily obliged. She doesn’t like Raph all that much, so she originally didn’t want him, but then changed her mind. I haven’t made him yet, but he’s on the list.

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I made these in a similar way to the tiny ornament, using the ornament pattern from Handknit Holidays, knitting on a smaller needle and not increasing so many times. I added on the eyes and mouths (details like these are so much harder than you think – especially on such tiny things! I had to redo them a few times) and then also tied an extra bit of yarn to the back to make the ends of their masks.

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Turtle power!

 

Switching directions, and counting down

So, I mentioned that I was going to make BK an advent calendar. But shortly after I posted that, she declared that she did not need another Christmas calendar. And she already has a Halloween countdown, too. But what would be good is a Valentine’s countdown, she said. Well, count me tickled! That saves me making ten excruciatingly small knitted items! And BK loves a good countdown.

Since I had only made a few items, and had not really done anything totally committing me to Christmas (like sewing a giant felt tree), this is an easy turn. There are two things I made that I’m going to have to scrap for the countdown, but still plan to turn into little ornaments for her tree she has in her room at Christmas. The first is the ornament I shared last time. And the second is this cute little guy.

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He was originally a gnome in Teeny Tiny Mochimochi, which I purchased shortly after deciding to undertake this project. There are several really cute things that I love in this book. It was an extremely easy mod to change his clothes to red with some black pants/boots, and ta-da! you have Santa Claus.

But when BK got up the next morning to find him on the couch, she asked, “Where is his nose?”

So mod #2 was adding a little button nose to please her.

 

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I hate to say it, but she was right. He did need a nose.

Christmas in July

Last year, I really kicked around the idea of doing some kind of Christmas project that my daughter would have forever.

I have had the idea on my mind since I saw the Yarn Harlot’s advent tree that she did back in 2014. I loved it, but I wasn’t a confident sewer, and I had a one-year-old at the time, and it just seemed a little out of reach for what I could accomplish at the time. Also, I already had an advent calendar with a scene of Santa and Mrs. Claus that had a tiny mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket. It was given to me by my Granny, so it’s very special to me, and I had passed it down to BK. I thought she was covered for an advent calendar, because I want her to have fond memories of that one, too, and it was a wonderful thing we could share.

So I started looking for alternatives. Last year, the 12 Days of Christmas Mitten Garland KAL caught my eye. It was appealing because it only involved 12 things, not 24, and also you had two weeks to complete each small mitten, which seemed very reasonable. It was also very beautiful. But I ultimately decided not to make it, because even though it was lovely, I struggled with where it would go in amongst my Christmas decorations. I also explored the Mitten Garland Advent Calendar by the same designer, which is also lovely. I also considered a garland of little stockings, but didn’t want to commit to finding treats to put in each one of them, since BK usually already has a store-bought calendar with chocolates in it.

Eventually, this year, I got back around to the idea of the Yarn Harlot’s tree. And I figured if I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years, that’s probably what I really want to make. And that BK probably had enough room in her life for two advent calendars, since last year she had three (the mouse one I gave her, a chocolate one, and one with mini Thomas trains in it).  I started digging around for ideas on what to put on the tree, and made a rough list of what I would like to include. I’m still finalizing exactly which 24 things will be on it. BK and I have a had a few conversations over what to add and what to remove, and the list is very fluid at the moment. I’ve started on a few, and since I still have 4 months, I’m sure I can get it done for this Christmas (famous last words, right?).

tiny ornament for advent calendar

Above, you’ll see one of the finished items. It’s a tiny Christmas ornament, made from this pattern in one of my favorite books, Handknit Holidays. I’ve made the full-size version several times (I got a little excited about this pattern when I first learned to knit in the round), and all I did for this one was start just as the patten calls for, but didn’t increase the full number of times. When I finished it, I then picked up three stitches on the top in the gray yarn and made a tiny i-cord for the top of the ornament. The main part of the ornament is Tiny Toes by BaH Yarns. I’m not sure they make this color way any more, because I bought it when they first started. Heather is a good friend, and I love everything she and Brenda make. I originally purchased this yarn with the intention of making BK socks, but since she hates all socks (handmade and store-bought) and prefers to be barefoot, it seemed like a waste of good yarn. So she’ll still have something made out of this beautiful yarn, and it doesn’t have to be on her feet. 🙂

Wish me luck on getting all this done before December! And I’ll keep you posted on which 24 ideas make the final cut.

P.S. – Happy Birthday, Harry Potter.