A Handmade Gift

It is lovely to receive a gift.  Big or small, it’s the thought and the good intention behind it which warms the soul.   I like to give people gifts that I have made.  I like making things, and at least with a handmade gift I can know for sure that they won’t already have one like it.  Still, I don’t always manage to give people gifts that I’ve made: time is short and I’m not that well-organised.

There is a perception, however, that by giving a handmade gift you are some kind of cheapskate because you probably haven’t spent a lot of money on it.  This implies that the most appreciated gifts are the most expensive.  But I don’t necessarily agree.  By giving an expensive gift you are showing that you have a lot of money and are willing to spend it on the recipient. That’s all very well, and such extravagance is exciting, both for the giver and receiver, especially when the gift is something that they really, really want.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone gave me an iPad or a diamond necklace I’d be over the moon.  But I’d also be a little embarrassed about returning such generosity.

On the other hand, a handmade gift can actually be quite expensive when you consider the cost of the higher end yarns. But whatever the cost of your materials, a handmade gift should be especially appreciated: the time and skill involved really shows you care.

Sparkly slippers handmade by Vicky

Sparkly slippers handmade by Vicky

For Christmas I received these marvellous sparkly knitted slippers from a friend. The design and construction intrigued me. I loved the mad, multicoloured sparkly yarn they were trimmed with; I loved that they stayed securely on my feet; and that they were a perfect fit.  I know my friend is on a tight budget, and I know these slippers would not have cost a lot to make, but that isn’t the point. The fact that they were made by her own fair hands is very special to me. She knows me, and she knew I would love them, wear them and find them interesting. For a gift you can’t ask for more than that.

Last week we caught up with some friends who we hadn’t seen over the holidays because they had been ill. With embarrassment they presented us with this beautiful cake, being modelled here by Herbie.  Seconds later he was trying to lick it.

Happy New Year cake

Happy New Year cake

Our friends felt they had to excuse the absence of bought gifts. They felt they had to explain. They are both working, but with pay freezes, childcare costs and house maintenance they are feeling the pinch, and they hoped we would ‘make do’ with this offering. They further explained that it was a quarter of a large Christmas cake which they had baked but not managed to decorate because of illness. Of course we were delighted with our gift, and the fact it was handmade was all the more special. There was no need to explain. I love how the cake is boldly decorated and placed on a handmade silver foil cake board with extra sugar flowers. It’s just delightful. OH has not allowed me to cut it yet because it’s so special and beautiful and he wants to take a picture of it. We will eat it and enjoy it.

What special handmade item did you give (or receive) this year?

Til next time,

L x

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It’s a knitting revolution!

Ooh it’s my first blog post!  Been meaning to have a proper blog for ages and now I’ve finally got one.  I’m not the sharpest tool when it comes to the technical stuff and it’s taken me most of the day to work out how to get my page to look just so. Now I must post something so that it feels like I’m off the starting blocks. (mmm, topical metaphor there).

But I’m not here to go on about the Olympic Games, fabulous though they are (did you see the cauldron being lit? Wow!  And the Queen!).  No, this blog is all about creativity and design.  I design things in yarn.  Mostly cakes.

Flower Cupcake

The Flower Cupcake

A while ago I wanted to knit a cupcake.  I googled like mad for a pattern, but didn’t find any that were quite right.  There were some very good designs out there, but they either did not have the detail I was looking for, or the construction involved sewing together various little pieces.  Now, as a lifelong knitter, I know that knitting is the fun part.  The sewing and seaming is a pain, a necessary evil that all knitters have to take in their stride at some time.  Or the project might never be finished.  Unless it’s a scarf.  That’s why there are hundreds, no, probably thousands, of unfinished projects stashed away in drawers and attics the world over.

So I set about designing the ultimate knitted cupcake.  Starting from the bottom, I made an attempt with no seam at all, working in the round on 4 double pins.  But I came unstuck when I got to the top and had to think about inserting a cardboard disc and stuffing.  It didn’t work.  So then I decided to aim for one piece with one seam.  I still had to use a couple of double pins in the first few rows, to allow for the multiple increases, but I found I could switch back to 2 needles once I’d worked the sides.

Then I had a brainwave.  A picot edge would nicely suggest the crimped sides of the cupcake case.  So I did a ‘pick up and knit’ on the last row of white, and worked a 2-stitch picot all around.  All I had to do now was to cut a cardboard disc to snugly fit the bottom, stuff, and sew one little seam.  Then a flower and a bead to finish.

Using this basic construction, more designs followed.  Obviously I had to knit a butterfly cake:

Butterfly detail

The Butterfly Cupcake

Then, inspired by the pattern of 8 decreases per row on the cupcake top, the Spider Cupcake followed:

Spider Cupcake

The Spider Cupcake

I never thought I’d be knitting cute spiders to decorate toy cakes.  On a bit of a roll, I then produced the Rainbow Ladybird Cupcake, Goodness knows where this came from:

Ladybird Cupcake

Oops, forgot to do the picot edging on that one.  More of a bun, then.  I had a lot of fun making these bug-topped items.

I made a few more pink flowery-type cupcakes and the obligatory Christmas Cupcake, but the Flower Cupcake was the first design and turned out to be the bestseller.  So far I have only sold the patterns, not the finished items.  This is simply because I don’t have time to knit a lot of cupcakes and I would get bored making more or less the same thing over and over again.  Besides, I get the biggest kick from working out the details of a design within the limitations of some yarn and two needles.  So, on to the next design!

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/knittingrevolutionpatterns