The idea behind the Secret Stitching Santa, organised by the talented and dedicated Sheila of SewChet, is that a variety of sewing and knitting bloggers make or buy presents for others. I did it last year and made a life long friend – Megan of Pigeon Wishes who used to live round the corner from me. Last year my Secret Santa present went to Lancashire to Navy Blue Threads. I was delighted when she made a lovely jacket from some of the fabric I sent her, but mortified when I realised that the book I had covered with hand printed fabric for her was actually last years diary. She forgave me, thankfully.
While I love this kind of stuff I am horribly late with getting organised for Christmas so felt overwhelmed by the very special gifts that my Secret StitchingSanta Caren sent to me.
She writes of her own excitement when her gift arrived and I felt very similar.
Like most people I had not received an actual surprise present for years – since I was a kid really. At Christmas I often use it as an excuse I tend to buy a few nice things for myself around Christmas time (this year I bought a coffee coloured bra, some Jo Malone perfume and a bag for my knitting needles) but discourage others from giving me gifts as I have more than enough of everything I want. I encourage “consumable” presents from family (and they didn’t disappoint – especially Charlotte’s home-made biscuits). My daughter gave me waterproof over trousers in purple – an excellent choice, and my daughter in law Bianca gave me a very useful toiletries bag – perfect for my swimming kit – shampoo and moisturiser.
But the present from a stranger was the envy of all the family, especially the grandchildren who thought the large, nicely-wrapped parcel was bound to be for them. “No it’s for me!” Caren lives in Lancashire, and here I was just a few miles away opening her present in the same county – the parcel had been down and up the motorway before I came to open it. It was pretty exciting, once the kids had finished ripping open their own presents, to have the a tiny tot wobble over clutching “Grannie’s present”.
They asked if they could open it. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Nor could I! Inside the box there were a dozen smaller presents, many wrapped individually. So many colours and details. It really was an astonishing gift.
I really couldn’t believe that someone could have taken so much time, trouble, thought and kindness to put this gift box together (even the box itself is a proper storage box that I will certainly reuse). Clearly a person with so many different craft skills – a handmade card; Mr and Mrs Penguin; a personalised, embroidered, crazy patchwork stocking; two gorgeous vintage button trees with bells; some absolutely unique wine holders with special red and green Christmas hats. Including the wine! And chocolate in the stocking! Plus some nice sewing materials – patchwork pieces in coordinating browns, adhesive fabric (another great idea I had never seen before), embroidery threads, and super useful crane scissors. And finally from Tiger – the nice Danish shop – special Christmas tea, a metal tea maker and a pack of coverable buttons. And a Christmas cracker! Caren must have blown the budget as well as spending hours on the making.
What can I say? My whole family were flabbergasted. So much thought, time and generosity – and so many things I will enjoy for months to come. I have already decided to make little purses with the patchwork fabrics. The wine bottle ladies are such fun and once we have drunk the wine I want to put them on to other bottles, so that they can keep on making me smile. The trees, and the penguins, will be packed away with my Christmas decorations and will feature on next years tree, but I will keep the scissors in the stocking in my sewing drawer where I will use them most days.
Caren is not a dressmaker, and doesn’t come from a family of arty, crafty types, but after attending a patchwork demo about seven years ago she began to experiment with making
“cute and quirky hand-made items. I was sewing by hand for over a year before I ventured onto a sewing machine, then there was no stopping me! I have made many lap quilts…and four full sized double bed sized quilts, all quilted by hand”.
Despite not having done art or sewing since school Caren taught herself to draw and paint as well and she sells many of her art works through her Etsy shop.
Finally I wanted to show you our Christmas dolls, and their recipients, although I was careful to refer to them as “little guys” with the lads. All three grandchildren named the dolls after themselves, appreciated and cuddled them. Making and giving creates a wonderful feeling. Thank you Caren, thank you Sheila and thank you to my lovely family who made Christmas so very special this year.