Links of Joy: Awesome Christmas gift guide part 2: Knitting & crochet

Knitters of Gayle by Sue Hasker

“I don’t care if your fingers are tired, we’ve only got 48 knitting days left!”

OK, so when you read the title of this post you might be thinking ‘it’s already November!  I can’t possibly do any Christmas knitting in time’. I understand this feeling. Certainly, if you were planning on making, say, a set of Christmas jumpers for your Weasley-sized-family (and I’m assuming here that you don’t have a set of Mrs Weasley’s magical knitting needles that do all the work for you- if you do, let me know in the comments, we should talk.) you’re definitely too late to start once the festive decorations and gifts appear in the shops.

But I digress. You do, in fact, have time to knit some awesome Christmas gifts. Even if you’re a beginner. Don’t believe me? Read on!

Lets start with some super-simple, but super lovely gifts. You could make a set of this geeky dishcloth (which could also be used as a facecloth if you make it in soft cotton), or perhaps this simple classic one? Environmentally friendly, handmade- if you’re looking for something for someone who loves, say, stuff from Lush, this could be perfect (and would be a beautiful companion gift for one of their Christmas soaps or shower gels).

Then there are hats. Hats are a great gift. If you use your time well (knit in front of the TV,  on your lunch break, and on the bus- with the added advantage that you get a seat to yourself a lot longer when you’re armed with pointy sticks), you can knock one of these babies out in a couple of weeks maximum.

There are so many lovely choices, too! I’ve made the Snow Devil hat, and it turns out very fun and flattering. Or there’s Wild is the Wind– a pattern that you can make with any yarn (as with most of Lee Meredith’s patterns- check out the site while you’re there, her designs are fab), and which you can make into a beret, a beanie, or a big slouchy hat depending on the tastes of the person you make it for. It’s also got interesting construction- if you’re going to make something you might as well enjoy the process, no? For those with lots of different oddments of coloured yarn, and friends who will enjoy a crazy accessory, how about the Fish Hat- which can be dead or alive depending on how twisted you or your friends are.

I haven’t forgotten the guys, either (though in fact the fish hat could be a great option if you’re making something for a man who loves to fish…). Keep it simple with this regular guy beanie from Yarn Man knits, or add a splash of colour with Turn A Square by Jared Flood.

If you, like me, are in the Southern hemisphere you may not want to make winter accessories. So how about a pair of earrings, or perhaps a fun little evening bag?

For me, the great thing about knitting is how many quirky options there are. For example you could literally give someone your heart.  If you have a niece (or a grown up friend) who has Blythe dolls, what about making them some outfits? Then there’s the Tiny Owl Knits Fox Stole for your vintage-loving gals (no fur!).

But it’s when you find a site like The AntiCraft that things get really fun. How about a menstrual cup cozy shaped like a Kraken (which you could also use to store a phone, or Ipod, or coins)- just imagine the fun you’ll have answering the age old question ‘what are you making?’. Maybe you’d prefer to tell the enquirer you’re making a shrunken head coin purse, though. Well, your wish is granted!  If you know any tabletop gamers, they might appreciate their very own plushie Beholder (bonus points- you get to glue on a whole bunch of googly eyes! Who doesn’t love googly eyes?) A tea cosy for your favourite pirate is also sorted.

What do pirates knit with? Yarrrrrrn.

On which note, I should probably stop. So, you badass crafters, what are you making for the festive season this year? Are you making gifts, or keeping all your crafty skills to yourself this year? Let me know in the comments!


Monsterful Monday: Five years in New Zealand

Small jet, lonely arrival by Angelo DeSantis

Small jet, lonely arrival by Angelo DeSantis

Today marks five years since I arrived in New Zealand to live. It’s been a hell of a ride, and doesn’t show any signs of letting up. I let go of a bad relationship and found myself. I went far away from one family and found another in my friends, and indeed in their families. There are so many people in my life that I’m grateful for for helping me call New Zealand home. Today is about them.

There’s Jenni, who I bonded with over a mutual love of ‘Supernatural’ and terrible fanfic, who I’ve played games with, written games with, written characters for. Who has come through things turned upside down with courage and grace. Who is now in a different city and who I miss and who I’m so excited is moving up here. Who took me to her parents’ place for Christmas, via various department store Santas, one of many examples of her enabling my crazy.

There’s Anna, my partner-in-filth, badass geek, the person who I text so often my phone is almost dead pretty much every day, who is supportive and patient and forgiving, and who is as capable as I am of accidentally ALL THE BOOKS. Who gives excellent recommendations of reading- and forgives me when my recommendations to her keep her up until 1am reading. I think.

There’s Anthony, who was there to meet me at the airport, which I wasn’t at all expecting. Who, thanks to LARP, I became better friends with again after a major break in London. And who just over a year later offered me a place to live when I left the abusive relationship I was in.

There’s Holly, my crafting co-conspirator and enabler, who introduced me to the Destitute Gourmet and gave me good advice when I needed to hear it- the only person who will put yourself first is you.

There’s Liz and Russell (scariest teddybear I’ve ever met), who make me laugh, and who started telling me a couple of years before I did it that I should come and live in Auckland, who introduced me to one of my favourite cafes here, scary clowns and all, who ask all the good questions.

There’s Chris, Lynn, Bryn and Nick E, fellow expats and the only people here who understand the awesomeness of flying saucers and that there is only one proper Marmite, and it’s not the Sanitarium one.

There’s Hannah, my beautiful, generous girl bestie, who makes everything lovely and kind of terrifies me with how much time she puts into even a single costume and just how far she will go in pursuit of things matching, and with whom I share one of the greatest things two women with similar tastes can share- shoe size.

There’s Walter and Prema, my flatmates, who cook, and put up with me and my strange experimental cooking, whose taste in British comedy is the same as mine and who I am enjoying getting to know better.

And, of course, there’s my Best Beloved, the love of my life. Who I’m not afraid to say that about, but who also respects that I wanted to take my time and make sure things are right, not have too many variables at once. Who is the only person I’ve met able to stop me wandering off at the supermarket without annoying me, whose tender care, respect and kindness are unlike anything I’ve ever known in a romantic relationship. Who sees even the broken parts (and there are a lot of broken parts) of me and loves them too. And who, as we established last night, I would want to be in the same city as even if that city was quarantined. And with whom I don’t think I will ever agree about who the really lucky person in our relationship is.

I’m grateful for all of them. And grateful too for the fact that this doesn’t scratch the surface, either of the friendships or the number of amazing people that I’ve gotten to know since moving here. Whether I mentioned them by name or not, I am glad and lucky to have them.