Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's the Holiday Season...

Okay, so I'm a little early. But the fact is that the holidays will be here before you know it and that's got me to thinking.

Every year around mid-December I get overwhelmed by the approach of Christmas. All of the shopping and consumerism starts to get to me. I get anxious. I get edgy. I get depressed. 

I long to give something meaningful and special to my family and friends and none of the mass-produced things available for purchase fits the bill.  I want to give gifts that come from my heart, not from the mall.

Why, oh, why, I ask myself, didn't I start thinking about this sooner and give myself time to make all my gifts? 

But this year is going to be different. Because this year I am making a pledge to have a handmade holiday. I'm pledging to make as many of my presents as possible with my own two hands. I will knit something, sew something, take a special photograph or write a funny poem for the people on my list.

And the gifts I do purchase will be thoughtful, handmade things that support the small business people and artisans who make them.

My friends, I am challenging you to have a handmade holiday too, whatever you celebrate. Make a list all the people you give to and figure out how many you can realistically make something for without making yourself nuts. [This isn't about perfection.] Figure out what supplies you'll need to lay in so you have everything on hand- there's nothing worse than being ready to start a project and finding you don't have the right size needles!  

Etsy is a great place to start looking for the gifts you don't have time to make. There are thousands of talented artist on etsy and you'll find something for everyone on your list. Here are some of the things I'm giving.

Send Goosegrease a photo and she will customize these precious little dolls to look just like your family. How cool is that?!? I am giving these sets to everyone on my list under five. 

Emmalitten is my favorite pottery shop on etsy. These milk jugs are beautiful, useful and very reasonably priced. I have a bit of a collection of them and I'll be starting collections for a couple of my friends this season.

Those of you who are members of our ravelry group know that Maggie, aka Littlegreycat, is always helpful and regularly fills in for me when ya'll have questions. You may not know that Maggie spins the most extraordinary yarn. We sold her handspun skeins at our Farmers Market booth this summer and Maggie could barely spin fast enough to keep up with our sales. This stuff is across-the-board stunning and knits up beautifully. Of course, the knitters on your list would probably prefer a skein to knit themselves, especially if you included a pair of 17 needles.

Patrick's younger son Logan is our athlete. I swear that kid is good at every sport he tries! He will be getting one of these awesome hand-stitched baseballs in his stocking from Lemonball. Aren't they beautiful? Only problem is choosing just one color.

Logan is also our resident artist (that kid has many, many facets) so he will also be getting this beautiful suede pencil roll from LittleBlackDuck.

These vanilla caramels from earcmra are so over-the-top good that I can't keep them in the house. I actually forbid the kids from eating them this summer because I wanted every single one of them for myself. She makes all kinds of flavors- the pumpkin pie is new and calling to me. Just too, too good, and a great gift for an office friend or your neighbors.

My go-to gift for kids is the Custom super Hero Cape by Panjo. Zachary, our Godson, has one of these with a 'Z' emblazoned on it.

As for me, there is one thing on my list that Santa can find on etsy. It is rusticstore's Sheepwagon.

"This is a traditional early 1900's Sheep Wagon built by rustic artist Jim Howard. This Sheepwagon was built and restored completely on the Owensboro running gear. Note the antique stained glass window on the rear of this sheepwagon. All of the wood used in the wagon is vertical grain Douglas Fir. It has a solid Lodgepole Pine plank roof for the interior as well as two layers of canvas for the top. It has a double bed with a pull out table for a seating of four for meals. There is also a cute antique woodstove in her as well as full cupboards for gear. There is full storage under the rear bed as well as side and rear storage boxes. This one is a real beauty and available."

Isn't it charming? Those of you who've read Terri Pratchett's Wee Free Men series will recognize this as the same kind of moveable shepherding hut Granny Aching lived in out in the fields with her sheep. (I am talking to you, Sedress.) 
It's a beauty, and for a mere $35,000 Santa can pick one up for me. Seriously though, this is a work of art and I'm sure it's worth every penny.

These amazing, handmade things are, of course, just the tip of the etsy iceberg. I'll be blogging about others between now and the holidays but you probably have your own favorites. Share them with us in the comments below.

Oh, almost forgot! My friend Deb has designed the cutest hat pattern to kick off you holiday knitting.  It's called Tannenbaum and you can buy it on her website. [That's Deb with the tree on her head below.]


---Deb said...

Thanks for the boost, Susan! I really love that hat--I knitted 3 just to be sure the math was perfect, and didn't get bored, once. (And since I never repeat patterns, that says a lot.)

And, hand-stitched softballs? How cool is that? Better even than the Igloo Kit I bought my snow-crazy nephew a few years ago...

Panjo Kids said...

Thanks for including my capes on your fantastic list! I have been eying those baseballs, they are beautiful. Last year we got only handmade gifts for everyone for the holidays, 95% were from Etsy. It was really fun to get such unique and personal gifts. I'll have to do a blog post like yours with all my favorites. Thanks again!

KarenHarveyCox said...

What a wonderful selection of Etsy shops. I love Etsy and what it is bringing back to the artisan community. All of your shops are great, but I especially love those hats. It would be fun to create a badge for our sidebars that reflect your sentiments. Hand-made for the Holidays is perfect. karen

Crista said...

Isn't etsy the best? That's how I found YOU!

Brat said...

Hmmmmm fall shearing, new book, handmade Christmas ... Maybe Santa should bring you a clone to get everything done! She could live in the Sheep Wagon, it would be perfect! =)

Vaedri said...

What a great bunch of Etsy recommendations! I love adding new favourite shops.

I'm proud to say that I have actually already finished one knitted Christmas gift. And a bunch more are planned, complete with queue placement and yarn purchases. Of course, this kind of overconfidence probably means some kind of gift-giving catastrophe is in the works. Must avoid making new friends before December...

Susan said...

I know, Brat! I am famous for taking on waaaay more than I can possibly do, stressing myself and everyone around me out and being saved by a miracle.

Don't forget though, I have Erin now. She is amazingly organized and has really taken a lot off my plate.

bluefish said...

Aren't you supposed to be busy writing a book?

I hear one of your friends is knitting some gorgeous fingerless gloves with MV Fiber Farm wool. Very cozy and colorful. Stay tuned!

Knifty Knitter said...

I never thought the words, "I want a sheep wagon," would come from my lips but...well, there you have it.

mydogpetey said...

Take the pledge to buy handmade!

Mary Richmond said...

these are great shops to find out about. i'm a neighbor of yours over on cape cod ;-)

you have a great shop and blog!

melloism said...

i'm new to this, etsy, and am so inspired i can't hardly stand it.

my fav of your pics was the candy. i love candy and cookie pix. my lil blog doesn't have nearly the hits as yours, however i have been promoting it too. i think holiday 2008 will be the year etsy broke.

Ben Mcfuzzylugs said...

Good for you
Great post and great attitude
I have been trying to push other etsyers too - I think its a great site
Its where I will get all my gifts from now on
and now I will feature the shops I have bought from

Turtle said...

Yup, had thought earlier today about purchasing deb's hat pattern. A few years ago i went full on hand made....also for the tree, decorations, etc. And i am loving it! We also make small baskets and make candies, cookies, dry soup mixes, homemade canning...i love the idea, so uncommercial!

SeDress said...

You have the most interesting links on your blog. Does the hut come with a few wee free men, just to keep things interesting?

Jenny Girl said...

People never cease to amaze me with the items they can create. That sheep wagon takes the cake though.
And you are right...Christmas has become too commercial, materialistic, and consummeristic.
(is this even a word?)


i so love handy crafts! i would love to get one of those jugs and then personalize it with my paint...and now i have an additional paint with a birthday gift...paint for china! may be time to make a thrift store run for someone else's trash!


woolies said...

The sheep wagon is awesome. I want one too!