A Handmade (Minimalist) Christmas

I am not very good at Christmas. I don’t like the pressure. I don’t like the unrealistic expectations. I don’t like the excess.

On the other hand I do love my family, and I really enjoy spending time with them. When you have the delight of four generations together that is something to celebrate. I love the smell of a real tree, I enjoy Christmas pudding, mince pies and Stollen. A few extra days off work is a treat, the many generous gestures made at this time of year, and pure delight of children are to be enjoyed. But the need to make an extra effort can be too much for me, and others.

This year I have just about managed to send cards to my board members and team, with a bottle of wine or cava. I have dispatched a gift to my #sewingsanta giftee. And I got a parcel back – from Bolton! How exciting.

I have arranged Amazon vouchers for the children to they can get what they want. For my mother we got a DVD about Queen Victoria, which she accidentally also asked my cousin David to buy for her. So we can watch it twice over Christmas. The grandchildren already have, we feel, as do their parents, more than enough toys. So many it can be burden to look after them all and they can take over your house. So Nick and I decided to make presents for our three grandchildren, but to keep them at Rainshore (our home in the country) so they can be played with there.  Maybe in a different environment we can contrast a different style of life, and play, to contrast with the instant hit from brightly coloured, plastic commercial toys that they also enjoy.

This year we made dolls. I have already described the process. Nick came to a second workshop with me so we now have three dolls. The “Ted” and “Maia” dolls sit alongside dolls our fellow workshop participants made. As it was my second workshop I had time to do the hair and make a pair of dungarees. I cut these out freehand – not perfect but they will probably do.

Since then I made outfits for the “Kit “doll, and the “Maia” too – although Nick still has to finish her hair before Christmas. He is using up some left overs so Maia will have three different shades in her hair, and a long fringe. Ted’s hair is dark brown (and includes alpaca and cotton); Kit’s is a lot lighter (as IRL) and made from untwisted, organic wool. One of the most fun things about making these dolls is to create the hair from yarn. Mopsa admitted she has what she called “a yarn habit”. Some of her own dolls have amazing hair – soft and lofty thick non-plied yarn including mohair. These yarns seem only to be available in America. Kit’s dungarees match my CC fold skirt, and Maia’s dress matches one I made for Esme.

It was interesting attending a sewing course with my husband. I had originally bought the course for my friend Meddie, but the date wasn’t ideal for her. So Nick took her place. It was actually an amazing thing to do together. While I am more than happy to go to courses with complete strangers (who soon become good friends!), it was fun to go out as a couple. We had a nice lunch on Broadway Market and then had tapas for dinner too. It was a lovely, productive day and I was grateful to Nick for being a good sport and coming with me.

I was suprised how good he  was at sewing. I had no idea he knew how to do it! Mopsa is a great, patient teacher, and with a little guidance Nick produced the most competent work. His doll is delicate and beautiful with green eyes, a sweet coral mouth, blondish-brown hair. And one leg shorter than the other – but we are all a little asymmetrical, aren’t we? But overall I think his proportions are much better to mine. My Ted’s head is probably a bit big.

I also enjoyed working with my 5 year old grandson Ted. He made a very nice special Christmas card, using collage, felt tips, paint and glue. He did lots of writing inside too. And my dear step daughter Charlotte sent home a big bag of chocolate biscotti. Ted, Nick, Kit and I ate them straight away. We couldn’t wait. Below, caught in the act of scoffing the lot.

Going for a home-made Christmas (I absolutely cannot bring myself to buy Christmas tat from shops, ironic or not) Ted and I also made the decorations for the Christmas tree. It was lots of fun and I like his attitude to colour and style.

Hand made christmas decorations
Ted’s Christmas decorations

We used air dried clay and Christmas biscuit cutters. And then painted them with inexpensive acrylic paint. Ted made some of his own shapes too which are even more charming. We hung them on the tree with a few reindeers Nick had made. And then on top of the tree I put the sock monkey I had bought at the Advent Fair. This is lovingly made by Jackie Parsons of Boo Peep Kids. He has silver, removable wings at the back.

Finally we decorated the tree. The tree takes pride of place at Rainshore. Yes it is finished. Sort of. There are quite a few issues that still need fixing but we have lit the fire, slept the night there and we will use the oven very soon. I don’t want to share pictures until it is actually finished, but it is very exciting indeed.

The preparation for Christmas has been a bit stressful but now we should be able to relax a little and enjoy it. We don’t have internet in the new house, and it is very intermittent at my Mum’s. So I am not promising to post over Christmas/New Year.

Hand made chirstmas
Mr Sock Monkey on the top of the tree

“What the hand makes, goes back to the heart”


16 Responses

  1. Evelyn Andrews

    Thanks for the post it was lovely. Its a pleasure to see children appreciate doing their own decorations etc. Have a fantastic day and all the very best for 2017.

  2. Annie

    Great post, family and friends need our tiime, making baubles with the children is priceless really. I agree with your sentiments, fortunately, I have family that share those sentiments, it would be harder if they bought into the ‘have to buy’ mentality but there is a lot of pressure to conform. I heard a segment on the radio this week where a woman bought at least four tops to wear for school staff that she didn’t even know. Bonkers!

    Have a lovely Christmas Kate, your first at Rainshore, definitely a high point.

  3. Jane

    I just love the dolls Kate, what perfect presents! I find the excesses of Christmas a bit overwhelming – although I do love wrapping up presents! Great to hear that the new house is almost there, I’m looking forward to seeing photographs of the finished product. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a creative and happy 2017. x

  4. Mem

    My mother made me a beautiful doll which I still have along with a full wardrobe of clothes I have them all . And I am nearly 60 so I need not say anymore . They will treasure these dollies forever ?

  5. Stephanie

    The dolls are so lovely, Kate. I am not surprised that Nick was so good at sewing. Given what you’ve said about his precision in the kitchen, it’s a natural fit. I have no doubt that Gianni would be a very capable sewist as well as cook. 🙂

    I like Christmas, but I keep it simple, too. For nearly thirty years I have had a “rule” that I only give handmade gifts, and although I like kitsch my kitsch is all vintage kitsch that I have saved. I don’t always have time to make something for everyone in time for Christmas so they get the gift when I do have the time. Fortunately I have understanding friends and family! With best friend C I have a book exchange, which is also a nice tradition, as we are both readers. Life is already busy and stressful enough and really what matters is being together and sharing the time to appreciate our good fortune in having each other.

    Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

  6. Anne

    I share your sentiments. I intended hand made gifts for all. Didn’t work out. Oh well, no problem. My grandsons arrive tonight for a week. I’m looking forward to that.
    Great to hear you’re in Rainshore.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017.

  7. Joyce Latham

    Merry Christmas to you and your family kate. So glad to hear you are in! Looking forward to the photographs….can’t wait!
    My hand made gifts are felt boards to the grandkiddies… fun fun fun, and the handmade knits came in handy too. Henri wore his in the school concert, including the hat.
    Have a great holiday!

  8. Brenda

    What a charming post to describe what’s important to you. The dolls you two made are so full of character and warmth. I sincerely hope that your first holiday at Rainshore is a wonderful family celebration!

  9. ceci

    What lovely holiday preparations, thank you for sharing. I still have Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls my mother made for me when I was tiny (60 +++ years ago) although Andy’s clothes seem to have gotten lost so he wears Anne’s pinafore. These are treasures you are making!

    Incidentally, I too have been catching up by reading your blog from the beginning over the last 2 months….there may be more of us than you think taking the novel vs the newspaper approach.


    • fabrickated

      Ha ha. I love the idea of a cross dressing Andy. To tell the truth I made the Maia dress for “Kit” and then swapped. And thank you for reading my “novel”! That’s does surprise me – but I am honoured you made the time. I have loved your interesting and supportive comments Ceci – thank you and I hope your Christmas is a delight.

  10. The Material Lady

    This is a lovely post – it’s always a treat to see how other families celebrate Christmas together. I agree that it is easy for it to become a ‘tat fest’ so it’s so nice to see all of the hand made elements that will be going into your Christmas. Sock monkey looks wonderful in the tree!
    Enjoy your first Christmas at Rainshore. x

Leave a Reply