I know that Christmas is "officially" over, but since I didn't have time to blog about Christmas activities at the time, I'm going to steal these few days before the new year begins to squeeze in some of my Christmas fun, and relive it for myself before the season fades entirely away.
I mentioned some time ago that I was working on Christmas presents, and I think I can safely say that I probably should have either A) worked on these more consistently ahead of time or B) had an alternative plan. It all seemed so simple when I conceived the idea. I purchased inexpensive pillow forms from Ikea, and planned to crochet mats (doilies) which I would stitch onto purchased remnants of material, which I would then sew into simple cushion-covers. Nothing to it. I crochet quickly, and the sewing requirements were simple enough not to task my mediocre skills with the new machine.
I failed to realize how time-intensive the hand-stitching would be. It takes a long time to stitch a crocheted mat neatly onto material, keeping it properly shaped and blocked. I also failed to work on the project (which I begin in October!) as consistently as I should have, so naturally I found myself in a last-minute time crunch, needing to finish these cushions.
I stayed up late and spent hours and hours crocheting and hand-stitching. The machine-stitching, as I anticipated, took only a couple of hours one evening, but it couldn't be done until everything else was finished.
Fortunately for me, not long ago, I learned about Librivox. This website has free audiobooks to download and listen to. The books are in the public domain, and the readers have donated their time and efforts to the project. I hadn't really taken the time to explore the idea before, but it was a wonderful blessing to have something to listen to while I worked. I crocheted and stitched my way through Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton, and Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster.
Chapter by chapter I downloaded them, and instead of hating what I was doing because it was so last-minute and frustrating, I enjoyed what I was doing and relaxed. Audiobooks are no substitute for actual reading (for me), but they are a tremendous resource for times when your ears and mind are free enough, but you can't be looking at a book--during long car trips, on the treadmill, or doing handicrafts.
And I didn't get everything finished. The brown cushion is one-half of a pair, like the gray cushions, but I gave it anyway, explaining that it was half of a Christmas present. I also have a nearly-finished table mat in an unusual shape that turned out to be more ambitious than I thought. The recipients are still anticipating it. That means I'll be able to start another audio book while I finish up the the last rounds of the mat and stitch another doily onto its cushion cover...