Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry making


This weekend, I worked rather feverishly to finish crocheting facecloths for the small Bears' teachers. They aren't especially complicated, it's just that I left them a little too long and had a bit of panic when I realized that school lets out for the holiday break after Thursday, not Friday like I'd thought. Oops. I'd been planning to send the teacher gifts into school on Friday, so I had one fewer day to finish up. No problem, though. I'm staying cool as a cucumber this holiday season, remember? Yes. Luckily, the facecloths were fast and easy to make. I used patterns from Sarah's lovely blog, Ball Hank n' Skein. Sarah offers four simple and pretty washcloth patterns for free on her blog.


The cloth on the left, made with I Love This Cotton in Rosy, is crocheted in the Grit Stitch pattern. The cloth on the right, in I Love This Cotton's Taupe shade, is made with the Hdc Shell pattern. Both were easy patterns to work up, but like Sarah, I think the Hdc Shell is my favorite. I just like the grid-like design to the stitch pattern. I like the Grit Stitch too, though, especially the way the stitches seem to move diagonally across the design, and also seem to move in and out from front to back. "Grit" seems like a good name for it. I think both will be effective and comfortable to use. The taupe cloth is slightly larger than the pink one; I think I worked too loosely. It's about eleven inches square, while the pink one is about ten inches.


I bought each teacher a bar of fancy bath soap at HomeGoods, my favorite place to buy special toiletries (mostly for other people; I'm an Ivory Soap kind of gal myself). I tend to avoid specific scents (i.e., lavender or roses) when I give a toiletry gift. It's hard to know exactly what another person will like, isn't it? I think this one is a good choice; it's soft and light, just clean-smelling. I hope they'll like it as much as I do.


I tied each bar and facecloth with ribbon, and we'll put them into gift bags with handmade cards to deliver to the teachers on Thursday. Do you like to give handmade gifts to teachers? I really enjoy it. It's very popular here to collect money for teachers, but I prefer to make something most of the time. I used to be a teacher myself and my favorite gifts from students were the simple ones, handmade or baked or found.


In other news, I'm absolutely elated to say that I've finally reached a point in life where I can put delicate things on the tables in the living room, and not live in fear of having them bashed by toys, books, cups or whatever else a little person might decide to wield. I've been putting seasonal arrangements on the coffee table in the living room, keeping them low so that they don't interfere with conversation. I usually have some kind of runner on the coffee table to protect it (they haven't totally lost their roughneck ways); the current runner is a reversible patchwork one I sewed from fat-quarter bundles about 12 years ago, with one side autumnal and the other Christmassy. I have red taper candles in glass holders, with my centerpiece in the middle. I used my centerpiece for the first time last year and was really happy to take it out again for this holiday season. Would you like to see how I made my centerpiece? It was so easy. You can make one in a few minutes.


I started with a large glass plate, about 14 inches in diameter. You could use any kind of plate or platter; I happened to have this one from years ago, when I used it with an arrangement of pillar candles nestled into those flat glass marbles (another casualty of parenthood; who wants hundreds of marbles sitting two feet off the floor with a toddler in the house? You're just asking for trouble).


I used these items for my arrangement, all of which I found in the seasonal floral department at Hobby Lobby. From top left, in the order I used them: artificial pine boughs, sparkly artificial berry picks, natural pine cones (you could certainly hunt for these outdoors instead of buying them), and small glass ornament balls.


First, I put my pine boughs on the plate with their stems at the center. My boughs have flexible wire stems, which I shaped into hooks by bending them slightly. Then I hooked the stems onto each other, to help keep them from shifting outward when I put the other pieces on top.


Next, I poked my berry picks through the hooked stems of the boughs, making sure the picks lay flat on top.


I placed the pine cones on, around and under the boughs and picks, spreading them around somewhat evenly. I think I'd rather use smaller pine cones for this, but the selection was limited. I'll look around the neighborhood for small ones, such as from cypresses or spruces, to add to these big ones for next year.


Lastly, I scattered the glass ornament balls around the arrangement, tucking them in and around the other parts. (You may want to add the balls after you've already moved the plate to the table; they can easily roll off at this point. And don't forget to save the box your ornaments come in, so you can store them safely).


My centerpiece adds sparkle and shine to the coffee table. The best part? They've been looking at it with their eyes and not their hands. It's a Christmas miracle!

39 comments:

  1. So, so pretty! As to the gifts for teachers, I was a teacher and I loved homemade gifts.

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  2. So, so pretty! As to the gifts for teachers, I was a teacher and I loved homemade gifts.

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  3. Who doesn't love a homemade gift?! They are darling
    Beautiful centerpiece. I can't imagine our cats leaving that alone!

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  4. I love your teachers gifts. When I used to teach dance, I loved getting handmade gifts from my students :)

    Love your centerpiece, the perfect amount of sparkle :)

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  5. Handmade teacher gifts are wonderful, I love the texture of those washcloths, no doubt they will be very much appreciated. I love the shot of your coffee table with the sofa in the background, it looks so very welcoming. The centrepiece is really pretty. There are some big fat pinecones on a tree just up the road from us, but they NEVER seem to fall off. It's a huge tree, and we often stand underneath it looking up at them, waiting, waiting. Yours are lovely, a nice slim shape, not too big at all. I know what you mean about it being nice to be able to have things like that about the place now that the children are older. Although mine often have illegal ball games that tend to take out anything remotely delicate. CJ xx

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  6. what a beautiful centre piece!!! just perfect. I love the handmade gifts! Soap and a nice handmade wash cloth is one of my go to gifts as well. Your's are just darling!

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  7. Beautiful homemade gifts, a favourite and shows appreciation. Love the centrepiece. Mine will probably have to be moved prior to the Grandchildren visiting, I would hate them to get upset if they were to break anything. Take care.

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  8. Beautiful teacher gifts and the soap sounds wonderful - sadly I'm forced to have scent and colour free stuff but I dream of being able to use lovely soap. I love your table runner and centrepiece. Unfortunately,our coffee table tends to be mostly buried under books and school notes, so no room for any Christmas jollification. Enjoy the last few days of term. xx

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  9. Your table arrangement is beautiful, Jennifer! :o)

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  10. Yay! for quick crochet makes. They will be well received, I'm sure, such beautiful colours and the soap sounds lush.
    A bit jealous of your delicate decoration on the table. We are not at that stage yet, juice soaked pine cones are noones friend hehe. Hope you are enjoying your Festive run up (calmly of course) x

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  11. your centerpiece turned out lovely....that really IS a red letter day when you can put things on tables and they will StAY there. I thought I had reached that point.....and then ....along came Freddy (the dog)!! As long as I'm not leaving food or paper on the tables I'm usually (USUALLY!) OK. :)
    Love the patterns for those facecloths. Wishing I could master crocheting. (We're never happy with our skills, are we?)

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  12. What a gorgeous centrepiece Jennifer!!
    I love your teacher gifts, the colours of the little cloths are so pretty, I think the teachers love them. :)
    V c

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  13. That is a wonderful centerpiece, it brings lots of Christmas color to your living room. I like your washcloths you made.. I really enjoy making those and have a ridged design I like.. I want to go look at your friends patterns. Sounds like you're having an enjoyable holiday time... we are too! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  14. I bet that the teachers will love their crocheted face cloths and soaps (and I agree with you that oatmeal is the perfect scent of soap for a gift...it's mild and not perfumey)! When my kids were growing up, I worked in the school system for several years and my favorite gifts from the kids were either something they or their moms made and/or handwritten notes (thanking and praising me). Your centerpiece for the coffee table is so pretty!

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  15. Those are nice gifts for the teachers. I've been working feverishly on some digital albums for my granddaughters and am so relieved to have finished them tonight! (and they will get to me by Dec 23!)
    I love your centerpiece!

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  16. The facecloths are lovely Jennifer. I'm sure the lucky recipients will be thrilled. I'm ashamed to say that I used to buy chocolate or candles for my children's teachers. Now they're at secondary school they don't want to take anything in – too many teachers – but my daughter did take in a couple of home-made gingerbread trees for her form tutor. Your table is looking gorgeously festive. Are your children getting excited?!

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  17. Thank you for the link to the washcloths, I hope to find time to make a couple. I agree, that a beautifully made and useful gift is perfect for teachers or anyone really. I taught my 19 year-old daughter, home for Christmas, to crochet on Monday afternoon. She picked it up very quickly and is now making gifts for her friends of crocheted cacti - we borrowed a book from the library - to present in tiny terracotta pots which we found in her dolls' house. And yesterday she was free-hand embroidering with silk on linen! I love days like these. Your table decoration is simply beautiful and I especially like your idea of a reversible patchwork runner - I may be borrowing that too Jennifer.

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  18. Your centrepiece is fabulous, I often find that simple designs are the most effective. I'm sure the teachers will love their gifts, I was always at the last minute with things when my kids were small and I ended up buying last minute gifts rather than putting much effort in to it all, I regret than now, especially when I see the wonderful things you come up with, the teachers must be delighted.

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  19. Those presents you made for teachers look very great. I'm now doing a crafty present for my co-worker from http://stilusessaywriting.com/ and takes a little bit more time from me than I thought!

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  20. Jennifer those are such lovely washcloths for your teachers gifts. I tend to do the same thing when buying soaps for other people. Sometimes it's hard to find unscented bars though. Your centerpiece is very beautiful. I've always been afraid to tempt one on my own, but you make it look easy! Thank you for the great tutorial. Maybe I'll actually have enough confidence to try that next year. I hope you have a lovely day.
    Blessings, Betsy

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  21. First of all, I love your centerpiece! So pretty. I would have to buy one already made. I'm just not good at putting things together like that from scratch, but you seem to have the knack. Love the natural touches to it -- the pine cones and branches. I really like the washcloths and soaps as a gift. I love to give them because they are always so well-received. Who wouldn't love that?? They are very nice gifts. Your stitching looks so pretty in them. Hope you have a nice holiday season the next couple of weeks! ♥

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  22. the gifts look gorgeous x and I love your table decorations.

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  23. Hey Jennifer,
    I have made Olly's teachers a small Christmas cakes each, and some homemade gingerbread biscuits. I enjoyed making them, and would happily receive edible gifts any day of the week! I, too, have enjoyed bringing out the more delicate Christmas decorations this year. I have two glass snowmen that my Mum gave me many years ago, which I cherish. They have been wrapped up and stowed away since Olly was born, but I think they'll be okay this year. Your arrangement on the coffee table is lovely.
    Leanne xx

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  24. Beautiful centerpiece Jennifer and lucky teachers the cloths and soap a neat usable gift ☺☺

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  25. I love your centrepiece the colours are lovely... and what thoughtful gifts too.

    All the best Jan

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  26. Nice idea, everybody seems to love crocheted cloths like that.
    We often give handmade teacher gifts as well...or a book for the class.

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  27. I like the patterns of both of your washcloths! On my list to try to make... Your holiday arrangement is beautiful! I enjoy seeing your Christmas miracle...especially since I have a two and a three year old wandering around trying to taste my styrofoam berries and such :) Happy week, Jennifer :) xx

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  28. Oh those are some lucky teachers...what a wonderful gift!

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  29. Oh those are some lucky teachers...what a wonderful gift!

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  30. Beautiful gifts for the teachers- they look so lovely. I think you've inspired me to use up some fabric left over from making Christmas bunting this week and make a Christmas table runner. Yours looks great. :o) XX

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  31. I love your homemade gifts, I do hope they are well received. Your centrepiece looks great and love your runner.

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  32. I love the crotchet facecloths, and I'm sure the teachers will too. Of course, a handmade gift is always the best. Your centrepiece is beautiful, and thank you for sharing the construction details. I have made a rather simpler one for my coffee table, but thought I should move it before the six year old arrives. Perhaps I should try leaving it there this year? Happy Christmas, Jennifer.

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  33. Hi Jen, in the UK sending money to a teacher would be a real no no here, it is usually chocs, or a little something the children have made.The best one I received when I was a teacher was a slab of beer, I wonder what vibes I was giving out??!! I love that runner it makes such an impact. Jo x

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  34. I love the centrepiece, Jennifer! The funny thing is that even though I'm in my fifties and my children are all grown up, due to wee grandchildren and two rambunctious dogs I'm right back to the stage you were at when your children were young. :-)

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  35. Your centerpiece is wonderful. Funny I am back to a time in my life where I can't have anything out, how did that happen? I have little boy hands allover the place. I love the teachers gifts. I hope yours are not mistaken for trivets like mine were last year. I also gave a lovely bar of soap. I can't believe they thought I gave them trivets and a bar of soap, it makes no sense at all.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  36. A handmade washcloth and soap is a wonderful gift. I actually did homemade gifts for all my son's teachers and delivered the day before school let out as I know the last day is always crazy. A crocheted gift bag with a small holiday hand sanitizer a tiny Christmas tree candle, and a couple pieces of chocolate. For the male teachers, I made chocolate chip oatmeal bars and put them in little paper bags with a note on the outside. It was the first time I was actually organized and remembered everyone that I wanted to. :) My 17 year old still breaks things he shouldn't and Jingles the cat is always knocking stuff down. Oh well. :) Merry Christmas!

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  37. I thought I'd reached that point in life too, but my two still love to play with whatever decorations I put on the coffee table. But I kind of love that really - and by now they're less likely to break something (I hope!). Your washcloths make beautiful gifts and your table arrangement is so festive and attractive, all that greenery really works. x

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  38. Pretty, pretty, pretty! Thanks for showing us how the make the centerpiece. And what a great idea for your runner - two in one :-)

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  39. The washcloths and soaps are just gorgeous, I am sure the teachers would have loved them. I well remember when my boys started to be that wee bit older and more respectful of their surroundings, it was a food feeling to be able to display fragile things again after years of toddles rampages! X

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