The Stakeout, or On Mothers… again

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

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Crafting my way into the hearts of young people

I spent last weekend chaperoning a group of girls from my old church at camp.  Probably the worst part of moving was leaving behind that congregation, because they were there for the vast majority of my formative years and are therefore family.  By that measure, the girls are effectively my little sisters, and what do you do when you’ve spent too much time away from favored young’uns?  You bring them presents, of course!

In all honesty, this started out with a request from one of them last year to make this Pichu Plush, and I just wound up taking so long to finish it that I figured I’d wait and give it to her in person rather than shipping it around Christmas.  But then I had to come up with something for the other two, because it wouldn’t be fair to have something for just one of them. 

Shucks!  I had to make more cute things for people I love.

I gave the Pichu project a little extra challenge: I did not allow myself to diverge from the pattern at all.  It was shockingly difficult, given my propensity for ad-libbing more or less every project I touch, regardless of the quality of the original pattern.

Here is the finished Pichu, in all it’s adorable-ness:

You know you’ve done it right when you look at the unattached, unadorned head mid-assembly and have a sudden attack of Cute.

Now for the other two munchkins…

Munchkin #2 has had a long-standing love for all things Star Wars (I trained her well), and has yet to grow out of it.  Several years ago I made her an amigurumi Yoda, so I thought she needed another beloved character:

Chewbacca!

Yes, I finally managed to crochet something with eyelash yarn.  I don’t think that will ever be happening again.

The third and final munchkin and I have this ongoing joke about finger puppets that came in a book of crochet patterns she gave me a couple of years ago.  There is a set of four patterns: a witch, a wizard, a white owl and… a baby walrus.

Yeah, one of these things is not like the others – unless it is a magical baby walrus, which… clearly, it must be.

Anyway, I made her the walrus for her birthday last year, so I figured he needed some other animal friends to keep him company:

I finished the finger puppets while I was in Houston with my sister-in-law and niece, and of course my niece took an instant shining to the bird, so I made one more before I left for camp:

She naturally came up with a fun new game for it immediately:

Watch [mommy, grandpa, grandma, auntie] wiggle the bird.  Grab for the bird.  Pull the bird off the wiggling finger.  Drop the bird on the floor.  Watch [mommy, grandpa, grandma, auntie] pick the bird up off the floor.  Repeat.

It is a very good thing this child is so freakishly cute, because she is evil.

…and I am so proud.

On the twelfth day of Christmas…

I have saved the crown jewel(s) of my Christmas crafting blitz for last!

For the last several years I have made ornaments for the extended family.  I’m not entirely sure how it got started, but I think it started with kiddie crafts (jingle bell wreaths and the like), then morphed into very serious jewelry projects, then the (now infamous) Year of the Scarves.  Then I put my head back on straight and went back to relatively simple ornaments that could be mass-produced and shipped to the various corners of the country where my family now resides.

My original plan for this year involved lots and lots of tiny cross-stitched patterns, but when I backed myself into a month-long window in which I had to finish all of them, I decided to shelve that particular idea until next year, and go for something simpler.

My new project ultimately led me to this:

What is this mess of colors?

Why, units for origami trisoctahedrons, of course!

Despite the terrifying number of pieces made through very repetitive folding, I had a lot of fun making these.  I had to work out my color-matching muscles again, and I long ago discovered that, despite the ridiculous ease of folding paper just the way the instructions say, origami is a very good means of impressing people.

So that’s all my Christmas crafting for you, friends.  I have lots of new projects to work on in the new year, but I’m done with my daily posts for a little while.

Once more for good measure –

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

On the tenth day of Christmas…

We interrupt this crafting blitz for a musical interlude.

I mentioned the oboe that had to make it through airport security.  The reason it had to come with me at all was the potential trouble I would likely be in had I not.  You see, I am named for each of my parents’ younger sisters.  One is The Crafter, and the other is The Musician.  Aunt Musician came to visit while I was up the mountain.

Aunt Musician was the child prodigy, picking out the tunes my mother and her older sister were learning in piano lessons before she was tall enough to actually see the keys on the piano.  She is, needless to say, an accomplished pianist, and really likes making music with the various and sundry musicians in our family.  I’m sure she would have understood if I didn’t want to cart the thing all the way up there, but I’ve been looking for a good excuse opportunity to play, and we always have a good time together.

I was very silly and neglected to bring along any of my sheet music with accompaniments, so we made due with Mom’s collection of old church hymnals and a quick lesson in playing Beatles tunes by ear.  The latter was moderately successful, as she was kind enough to transpose into playable keys and largely picked out the songs with easier melodies.  (As a side note, “Because” is not nearly as easy to pick out on instruments as voice.)

We did not make it very far into the usual Christmas carols before she started trolling the hymnal index for interesting composers.  I have to admit, I had somehow missed that a few of the hymns that had become staples in my church growing up were composed by Gustav “y’know… The Planets guy” Holst.

Then she got all excited finding the Ralph Vaughan Williams hymns.  For the most part, they weren’t the most familiar songs.  While I was impressed by their musicality, and had little trouble sight reading the music on the oboe, I couldn’t help but notice that some were rather difficult to sing.  Then a nagging sense of familiarity finally floated to the surface, and I realized where I’d heard these before.  The minister at my old home church is also a classically trained musician.  I’d always assumed that he wasn’t intentionally picking out the hardest hymns for us to sing each week, but I figured they must be old standards from the churches he grew up in.

As I sat there listening to my family – many of them seasoned church choir members – stumbling over these melodies, I realized that our dear pastor must have used the very same method of choosing hymns that Aunt Musician was demonstrating.  The old band nerd probably flipped back to the index and picked out his favorite composers, too.

Besides my moment of revelation, the evening was well spent.  The eclectic music selection and familial revelry made for great entertainment, and I really can’t emphasize enough what a special treat it is to play with my aunt, since we live so far apart, but collaborate so easily.

I was even pleased to see that my poor unpracticed embouchure was able to hold up for more than thirty seconds, and my fingers could still find all the right keys.  Now I just need to find more time to practice, and remember to take the bloody sheet music with me next time.