October 24, 2011

Thinking of Christmas on a 70-Degree Day

This is summer's last hurrah. As I writing this, I'm sitting with tea in hand on my deck in Chicago, and it's about to be one of the last nice days of the year. The forecast says that it's going to be 70 degrees today and the next few days, so I intend to make the most of it. Which is why it's strange that I'm already thinking about Christmas.

Many of you already know that I put out a handmade Christmas card every year. Maybe you noticed that I hadn't posted about last year's card? Well, that's because I didn't start thinking about the darn thing until so late in the year that I was scrambling to get it done.

I originally had an idea that I wanted to do something with a sewn pattern, but I wasn't sure how to really create a nice looking line, how it might damage my sewing machine, or if I would even be able to execute it.

So I decided to stick to a technique I knew would work: good old-fashioned threading a yarn through a hole. I've done this before on one of my first cards but with ribbon. It's the card that's the second from the left in this picture.

So, I came up with the idea of stringing mittens on a clothesline for the theme. Frankly, I was running out of time, and I knew that I didn't have time to screw around with cutting out everything by hand this year. I typically like to buy materials before Thanksgiving and start the heavy construction work over the holiday, if not earlier. Even with the Thanksgiving start, depending on the level of labor, putting together the cards can stretch well into the week before Christmas. (Some people even get their cards around the new year.)

This past year, I didn't even start ideating until right before Thanksgiving, so I knew that I would have to make it simple. In prior years, I frequently cut out shapes by hand after printing them on paper. But I finally decided to join scrapbookers in the 20th century by making use of paper punches. I ordered a tiny mitten punch from some random craft website and hoped that it would turn out to be the right size when it arrived. Luckily, it was, so I proceeded to punch out hundreds of mittens from different pieces of scrap paper I had in my craft drawer.

I used some multicolored yarn and strung them on the card with a little "Happy Holidays" message on each end of the string.

One thing that I'm still not sure was the right decision was to leave the mittens loose on the string instead of knotting them to the string to prevent them from shifting around. How did they arrive in the mail? Were they all clumped or creased or funny-looking by the time they got to the recipients?

All in all, this was not my best card project, but I feel pretty good about how it turned out given time constraints. I have grander plans for this year's card. We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll even enter the Paper Source Holiday Card Contest.