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Hobbies and Holidays

December 2015

Hi, readers! I love this time of the year - the chilly, maybe-it-will-snow weather, the holiday decorations in the neighborhoods and shops, my favorite Christmas carols on the radio, and the newsy cards from friends and family members. But what I love most about the holiday season is making gifts for the special people in my life. I sew, knit, cross stitch, smock, or embroider many of my presents, which I happily work on throughout the year.

My interest in these hobbies began when I was about seven years old. My mother, who loved to knit and sew, made many of the clothes my sister and I wore, taught me how to use a sewing machine, and introduced me to needlepoint and crewel embroidery. In addition, both of my grandmothers shared their knitting expertise with me. These hobbies became a very important part of my childhood, as I loved the planning and creative process involved with each project I undertook, and I was always very proud of the final result. As longtime readers know, I also loved to baby-sit, and I saved my baby-sitting earnings until I had enough money to buy my own sewing machine when I was fifteen. I used this sewing machine for almost twenty years before I finally bought a fancier one! After college I taught myself how to do smocking and cross stitching, which came in very handy when my close friends started having children. For the baby girls, I usually made dresses, and for the baby boys, I often made a romper or knit a blanket or sweater. I love making clothes for children!

Over the years, I've made nightgowns, pajamas, scarves, mittens, dishtowels, potholders, picture frames, pillows, pocketbooks - you name it, I've probably made it! This year, I'm particularly excited about a little vest and bow tie I made for (the real) Gabbie Perkins' baby boy. I also embroidered bookmarks to give to some of my friends, and my sister Jane is getting several ornaments for her Christmas tree. The dogs in my life will be sporting some nifty bandanas that slip over their collars. Because I work on my presents throughout the year, by early December I'm usually done with my handmade gifts and am already thinking about the next year!

I'm touched to know that many of my friends have saved the presents I made their children long after the kids have outgrown them. I love thinking that their grandchildren may someday wear something I've created. I certainly understand this attachment to handmade gifts because I treasure many of the things people have made for me over the years. For instance, one of my prized possessions is a beautiful hand-sewn quilt that my grandmother gave to me. She used fabrics from belongings in her life, and we used to sit together while she told me the origin of each bit of material in the quilt. Some were remnants from various dresses of hers, or even scraps saved from dishtowels. Her name is embroidered in one corner of the quilt, and I still feel a sense of closeness to her through her handiwork.

To help me create special projects for the people in my life, I've turned one of the bedrooms in my house into a sewing room, and it's where you can usually find me when I'm not writing. In fact, the prospect of a free weekend with no responsibilities other than hanging out in my sewing room makes me positively giddy! I feel lucky that I was introduced at a young age to the hobbies that have brought me so much happiness and pleasure throughout my entire life.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,


P.S. I'm sharing photos of some of the presents I've made for friends and family this year, along with a picture of my favorite room in my house - the sewing room!