Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Making, thinking, planning...



I do not like these adverts and messages I keep seeing everywhere saying things like "Only 41 days until Christmas!!!" or "6 Saturdays until Christmas!" Shops which tell me to "beat the rush" or "avoid the panic". No, I do not like them at all. I know quite well that Christmas is coming, like it did last year, and like it will next year, and don't need the launch of a red cup campaign or the reveal of a new Christmas tv advert to tell me this. I want to feel festive, not panicked. It's enough to make me start having anxiety dreams about wrapping paper. What I want to do is this: I will make all my gifts in good time and then, perhaps a week or two before Christmas, when things are made and wrapped and done, I will go into Leeds while the kids are at school. I'll buy a red cup of gingerbread latte (I'm not totally immune to the power of marketing) and wander really slowly around the shops, admiring the lights and enjoying the festive atmosphere. I'll maybe leave myself one little gift to buy, something pleasing, like a fancy soap from a pretty shop in the Victoria Quarter that smells nice when you go in, and I'll savour that purchase and swing my paper bag around, and sip my drink, and feel smug. I wont give my sister a too-short scarf like I did last year. 

So I am cracking on now, in between everything else that goes on in life here, to avoid a last minute panic. I bought this huge box of jelly beans online and, with those little plastic reindeer, have a crafty idea for emergency gifts for small people that will be useful if there are any of those "Oh, I didn't realise we were exchanging gifts..." moments in Bella's circle of friends. I've made some homemade sugar scrub. It came out really well and I'll write a post about it soon. I had a small moment of pure joy when I got out my Liberty print washi tape and used it to make some labels. What else. I fed the Christmas cakes this morning, drizzling brandy over each one. I made four in total, back in October - one medium sized one for us and three small ones for gifts (for the men who wouldn't appreciate a wash cloth). I costed each one at around £5 each. Most of that is the brandy.

I made a t-shirt for my god-daughter's first birthday. Well, I stitiched on a cloud, I didn't actually make the whole t-shirt. With hindsight I wish I'd left off the rays of sun, but I still love that pink cloud on the striped background. I love making t-shirts and things for small people, I really do. My crocheted granny square blanket continues to grow slowly and quietly in the background. I've made 61 squares now, just over one quarter of the total I need. No rush. And my knitting. My blooming knitting. I am in a real sulk with it. I have fallen out of love with the pattern and yarn and want it done, over. I feel like I fell under a Yarndale spell and bought yarn that, as far as I can tell, is like fluffy parcel string and the thinnest double-knit I have ever seen. I am just really hoping that when I finish it some kind of magic happens and I love it again. 

I've been tinkering a bit with this space too, aiming for a cleaner look and something that is easy for readers to find their way around. I'm working on some pages. My friend Jen came over for coffee and cake on Monday morning and helped me with some practical, technical things, but we did a lot of chatting too. I find it invaluable to have a friend who also blogs to talk things over with. Things like sponsored posts, adverts, that sort of thing. Which way to go. Why some things work but others don't. How to make a little money (which, I wont lie, would be very welcome) from this space without it turning into one of those blogs where you feel you are being sold something in every post. So that this blog is still me, still mine.

51 comments:

  1. No, I think the rays on the sun are good. Otherwise it might be a sad cloud...

    Penny
    x

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  2. Your plans for the 'holiday' season are spot on....I wish more people (me) had your healthy outlook!
    Those retail people try to make us feel foolish if we're not finished with our shopping before Thanksgiving.
    I like your style (and your washcloths!!!).

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  3. I love the t-shirt, the pink cloud is very smiley. And I couldn't agree more about the marketing men insisting on revving us up. I have been getting in a fluster that my makes will not be made in time, then I realised there are 6 weeks still to go. Six. Thats ages. Looking forward to the sugarscrub post.

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  4. I refuse to get all stressed about Christmas and a big part of this was stopping buying gifts for adults in the family (well apart from the MIL and FIL and then that is from the boys). So I only have a very small number of gifts to make and buy, which really reduces all the panic. I also love advent, so for me we do a little something each day for advent and I let the rest wash over me. I realised the year my mum died that it is people and how we spend our time with them all year that it important not what we gift them on one day a year

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  5. A few years ago, I put my foot down about gift-giving in my family because I couldn't afford it anymore, especially as people had babies. I don't give gifts to any of the adults anymore (bar my own husband) because it was getting out of hand. And some people were only giving gift cards anymore, which bugs me. When people exchange gift cards, I feel like they might as well be sitting in a circle passing money from hand to hand. I really like your plan for giving a small gift to Bella's friends; that makes a lot of sense. I like the look of those jellybeans; I don't think we have many kinds here that have an actual bean shape like yours, they're really cute.

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  6. Fantastic post - don't give in to the marketing panic of Christmas mania! I much prefer your way, calm but focused. I made loads of jams and chutneys, I'll sort out crafty jar tops and I'll be sittin' pretty sippin' a gingerbread latte, too! Snap! Chrissie x

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  7. I know exactly what you mean ..... they freak me out too, with all these countdowns, and I'm not yet ready to be freaked out, in a few weeks maybe!
    What a gorgeous gorgeous t-shirt!
    Can't wait to hear all about your sugar scrub, Sweet B made some for me last Christmas, it was lush.
    love jooles xxx

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  8. Hi Gillian
    lovely pics, and definitely don't give up on the knitting _I'm sure it will come good in the end. Love the washi tape.
    Kate x

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  9. Hi Gillian! You're so organised and you've done lots of planning and making already- I'm sure everything will be made and ready before Christmas with time to spare.
    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and always leaving a comment. You're so kind.
    Marion

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  10. If there is one thing I don't do, is get sucked in by the commercialism of Christmas. I can't handle it Gillian, it makes me feel ill at the thought of over consumption in the food and gifting department. I, like you am slowly but surely moving through what I want to give and make and that's that. We don't make a fuss and go OTT in our families. The adults keep things simple and the children get a wee bit more. I always try and keep my eyes on the real meaning of Christmas and what really matters in life x I know it's easier said than done, but I do try xox Penny

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    1. ps. I love the t-shirt you have decorated and the jelly beans are a fab idea. Hang in there with your knitting, I am loving that very earthy natural colour of the yarn x

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  11. that Liberty tape is just heaven! and it sounds like there is some good planning going on there. All good ideas, the blanket's going to be lovely, Heather x

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  12. Nice projects. Good to catch up with your week. J x

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  13. I love this post Gillian, all your makes. The colour of your knitting is so pretty. I always get caught in the gift wrapping trap. I go full steam ahead and get my s hopping sorted, then it hides away in the cupboard. December gets busy and then before you know it Christmas Eve is here and I have loads of wrapping to do. Last year I cut down on the amount of gifts the children receive. It made a big difference. They didn't seem to notice, I make a big deal with decorations, music and food etc Building up the excitement. This year I will do the same. I loved the red cups when I lived in London. Will you have another for me please? xoxo

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  14. I love Christmas - but feel the excitement gets taken away from me, as our life isn't perfect, and I don't provide "stocking filler" presents at £30 +. I really can't afford it, nor do I think it is necessary! It is easy to end up feeling stressed and not achieving, rather than enjoying the family time, and all that we have.
    Love your gifts - and I'm sure your family will too. x

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  15. Amen sister! I have enjoyed my making and creating for Christmas so far this year. I have found a lovely blog/website that shows you how to make things like body scrub, but look forward to your upomming post. I've informed Alfie and Sam that they are not to over-excite Olly (obvs they are sooo over Santa). I wonder if they will adhere?

    Leanne xx

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  16. Wow you are so organised Gillian, I love all your makes and ideas. The t-shirt is amazing and I love the little yellow sun rays peeping out. I was hoping to make lots of gifts this year - though I am not at all prepared! xx

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  17. Now I have to start by saying don't shoot me! Today I went to order my turkey - I know, I know, I know! - and the man that I was ordering from was sooooooooooo over excited about christmas and ordering food and he was just soooooooooooooo if you know what I mean. I know that I am crazy ordering food now, but he was even crazier. I could have thumped him! Good on you for all of your gift making, it is much nicer and much more personal. I don't do much gift making because when I have done it in the past it is so unappreciated, so now I just buy a bottle of wine, which is pretty soul destroying, but less destroying than if you have spent hours making something. Sorry you are having yarn troubles, I am crocheting with some Rowan at the moment, it is lovely as a ball of wool, lovely when it is crocheted, but whilst passing by my hook it is a nightmare, so splitty and saggy and tight and bobbly all at once, so I can sympathise. Sorry, didn't mean to go on so long! Happy planning. xx

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  18. Your makes are fabulous Gillian ... I especially love the little top ... did you use felt for the applique ... I'm aiming to ignore most of the head-wrecking commercialism of the season and jolly along in my own happy bubble ... Bee xx

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    1. Yes, acrylic felt - it washes really well! x

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  19. You have reminded me why I live in a small village with no TV, no adverts anywhere no one to remind me how many days until Christmas I agree you can do that for yourself. I loved this post especially the bit about knitting with fluffy parcel string, that made me laugh out loud......sorry it's not funny I hope your knitting mojo returns fluffy parcel string permitting.

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  20. Love your blanket - it's going to look fantastic when finished. I have a fab scarf pattern that adapts to any type of yarn - would probably suit your 'string' - I'd knit it up for you if I lived nearby!

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  21. I hate the way they try and make me panic about Christmas too. You sound beautifully organised. Sorry about the falling out with your knitting, I know what a struggle it is to press on when that happens. It must be lovely to have a blogging friend. I often want to ask someone how to do something, but I don't know anyone. I'm looking forward to seeing your changes.

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  22. A great post! I agree with you completely...it has been really bothering me for a few years now how commercialised Christmas has become. I am planning to make Christmas fairly low key this year and make as many gifts as I can. Your gift ideas are fab, I adore the little top you have appliquéd it is so cute and I am so looking forward to your sugar scrub post! Have a great week!
    Marianne
    PS. Loved your washcloths in the post below too...just gorgeous.

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  23. This is a lovely sentiment to draw the best of the season to you and yours. I hate the consumerism too but absolutely adore the lights, and displays and gingerbread latte's. I think the little rays behind the cloud give it a great balance.

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  24. It's so easy to get sucked into all the panic buying when those countdowns shout at you to get organised which to them means get spending/
    Looking forward to seeing your jelly bean gifts and enjoy that gingerbread latte when you get round to having your little trip.
    Lisa x

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  25. I hate that the shops start putting out there Christmas things so early. It's bound to make you panic that you won't be ready in time. Looks like you're well on the way though. Love the crochet xx

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  26. You've got to love a ginger bread latte. I totally agree its too much pressure all this commercial rubbish. I'm going at my own pace and trying to ignore that otherwise I'll be so stressed I won't enjoy the day xx

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  27. I really hate that the shops start window dressing for october half term, why do they do it?
    As for the tv adverts, if I'm watching something recorded at least I can just fast forward. All the big names now seem to use the adverts for "the best advert" competition between themselves and don't seem to focus on what they sell.
    I do actually like Christmas - the day before, the day and the next. I like to try and keep the tradition and the meaning of it all but it does become harder every year which I think is so sad.
    I'm not miserable really, honestly!

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  28. Oh, well done for getting a head start. I always aim to have the Christmas prep all done and dusted in good time and somehow it worked last year. At least I've managed three gingerbread lattes so far this year.

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  29. Lovely post! I've decided to make more handmade gifts this year. I made the quilt for my husband, the granny squares "Pansy" blanket for my friend and 2 pairs of mittens, wich I finished yesterday! Phew. The last pair eas very hard to finish - though I was in love with the yarn, it was not suitable for my needles size and finally I gave up and instead of buying new neesles, I took another yarn (thanks God I have huge stash!).
    Your description of the day in Leeds is fantastic! I hope it turns out even better, than you've imagined. ;-)

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  30. Wow, you are so organised and very creative- loved your post-inspiring on one hand and sending me into a panic on the other.lol. Must get myself organised:)

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  31. Oh, you are so right ... I am feeling decidedly turned off by the Christmas frenzy that has already begun, particularly as, like you, I am hand making a lot of presents this year and just want to be left to quietly get on with it.

    And yes, the blog/money thing. It's a nightmare isn't it. I've found that for me though it has been less about making money directly from the blog and more about using the blog as a shop window for my skills. As you know, a few good things have happened lately in that regard. Maybe that approach would work for you too?

    I'm loving the new look by the way.

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  32. Jelly beans and clouds! This post has it all... and I soooo get the feeling of being dragged in by the craziness that is Christmas... lets all take it slow for a change.

    I also love the clean lines, freshness of you blog. It's always lovely to be here, uncluttered and peaceful. It makes me happy!

    Hazel x

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  33. Wow! Wish I was on your present list! I really want a cloud too! Helen

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  34. It is lovely to see you being organised and getting ready for Christmas. Usually by now I would be in the same boat, but sadly this year my focus is on this preschool fundraising gifts evening and I am unable to focus on anything else, so I am most certainly feeling choked up every time I hear just how little time is left before Christmas as I suspect December will be rather manic for me, blugh! I would love to know where you got the little reindeers from. I spent ages last year looking for some on line, but there are perfect, so I would mind buying some. I love your pretty top and I do hope that somehow you can find a way of making this blog work for you, I can't see why not! xoxo

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    1. Hi Hannapat - sorry it took me so long to reply to this! The reindeers were from ebay - they are quite small but cheap and cheerful - here's the link:

      http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/6-Plastic-Reindeers-Ideal-for-Christmas-Cupcakes-Cakes-etc-As-Used-By-Nigella-/400607891036?

      Gillian x

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  35. Just caught up on some blog reading and this has been a lovely post, and all the pics look great. Loved your washcloths and and think they'll make lovely presents. I'm so glad I'm back online (surprised me) and will post myself soon. Take care and have a lovely weekend.

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  36. Yes I don't want to feel panicked and I hate that supermarkets have all those huge piles of toys... I love Xmas, Xmas time, and exchanging gifts... But I like to find beautiful gifts, meaningful gifts... I love to take the time to chose them as I don't do them... I am not really of an organised kind and that miss really to beat all the swirl that is going around for that period of the year... I think we tend to forget a bit the spirit of Xmas which is taking time to be with people you love and sharing something with them... I unfortunately find that often the gift is more important that all the thoughts that were behind it... I wish you all the best with your space, I am sure you will get where you want.

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  37. ha! your posts always make me smile. I'm with you on the whole Christmas thing... there is far to much panic with all these adverts being banded about. On the other hand I have Christmas ornaments in my shop and ahem, I have to sell them to make money to buy (or make) Christmas gifts and to buy food and the like... I hope you fall back in love with your knitting, I have plenty of those projects lying around, half-abandoned and hidden in drawers. And I'll say it again, that crochet work is amazing! x

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    1. I hear you. I love Christmas and I'm all for Christmas shopping, ornaments, decorating, and all the festive happiness that comes with that. It's the panicky countdowns and pushy adverts that freak me out. You know I'm a massive fan of your work (I hope!) and I sincerely hope you sell heaps of stock and have a very successful Christmas. x

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    2. That's really kind of you to say Gillian, thank you so much!! I wrote a reply on my blog then realised I should probably reply here too! I'm with you, it's just so crazy isn't it, I think there were Christmas cards in Sainsburys in September... umm, hello?! x

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  38. Lovely post. Couldn't agree more about Christmas. Your crocheted squares are just gorgeous!!

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  39. A lovely, colorful post today. Love the picture of all the yummy jellybeans, and I think the sun rays look perfect.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  40. Love those jellybeans. I don't know whether it makes me lucky or not, but I have very few gifts to worry about; dan, Gemma and 4 others. No little ones about and quorn roast for dinner, and no one likes Xmas cake, so very little I could panic about! I couldn't agree more about the adverts and we should try to watch as much bbc as possible in protest! Shame about the wool, it may bloom when you block it and be completely different Xxx

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  41. Hello Gillian,

    I'm just living in my bubble, avoiding as much as possible the pre-Christmas frenzy - is it a little less frenetic here in France? Perhaps - and enjoying working my way through the (slightly stressful) list of pre-Christmas orders of hares and mice. Your pictures are always a delight: those jellybeans made me smile. I am in awe of how productive you are, Gillian. IHow do you do it? am wondering whether I will need to stop my blog due to lack of time....

    Warmest wishes to you,

    Stephanie

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  42. Well done you, very organised indeed!! I have a list of things I'd like to make for Christmas but as I have been making for the fair, I haven't really got round to making anything else! I love all your projects, so creative and I think handmade presents are so special..
    I love the fabric tape, very pretty. Good luck!

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  43. I love the combination of jelly beans and reindeer, festive and tasty! I have been making a list of things I'm going to make for family and friends as I enjoy the planning and rummaging through my stash of fabric and wool.
    If you are thinking about the direction your blog might take you could have a look at Blogtacular and the really popular chats they have each week on twitter ( #blogtacular) which are full of different ideas and suggestions.

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  44. My thoughts entirely re Christmas. I now only buy presents for immediate family and make things for friends (usually of the edible variety). I know I'd far rather have a jar of homemade chutney than a overpackaged toiletry or suchlike snatched off a department store shelf in a last minute panic.

    With regard to adverts and sponsored posts, while I respect bloggers' right to make their own decision, for me they change the nature of the blog. If I get to the bottom of a post only to discover that it has been sponsored I feel cheated. I have, in fact, stopped subscribing to a couple of blogs that have gone down that route. However I don't mind bloggers promoting their own work, providing they still have something interesting to say.

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  45. I couldn't agree with you more about Christmas! When you allow yourself get caught up in all the panic and rush you miss everything wonderful that this season has to offer. I like to take it slow and enjoy every minute. I do a lot of shopping online and in small boutiques, and avoid the craziness at the big department stores and malls. Your jelly beans look yummy - I could eat one right now!

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Hello there! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I read them all avidly, every last one, and I always try to answer questions.