Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hung (and Made) with Care, pt 1

 Some Christmas traditions are so ingrained in families that you don't even think about them.  It's not exactly that you assume other families do them, too.  It's that you don't even think about whether they do or not.

In my family, hand-made stockings are such a tradition.

My parents' stockings are long and skinny knit ones - like actually knitted by my mother's grandmother.  They're red, green and ivory, with their names knit around the top.  Great-grandmother Marie made them for everyone in the family, including my Dad when he married in.  And those stockings are maddeningly stretchy, making them tough to fill to the top year after year.

My Grandma Younce, my dad's mom, made the stockings for my brothers and sisters and me.  And most or all of my cousins on the Younce side.  They're all sweet beaded things, each different but along the same lines.  My mom told me they were made from kits - she guesses Bucilla - which were very popular at the time. 
 We loved them and I was always so excited to see mine again each December.  I also thought it was so cool that it looked like my name was spelled with an "X."  Love you, Grandma.

Then when my oldest sister was 19, she got married.  Suddenly we had a new family member.  And he needed a stocking.  So my mom, queen of clever applique, took the fact that he was a competitive skier, and whipped out a cool skiing stocking.  And a multi-generational tradition was born.

As in-laws, and then children, started to join the clan, each got a stocking made for them.  By my mid-twenties, though still single, I decided I wanted a "grown-up" stocking, so I asked my mom to make me one.  I wanted black velvet and Chinese silk.  And this is what I got:
 So freaking cool, I love it.  I added a little beading to the black and gold nativity fabric she worked in.
 Then when I did marry, it was time for Ed to get a "Younce" stocking.  We all know he lives for elk hunting, so I wanted a mountain scene, and my mom and I together came up with a red-headed shepherd boy sleeping in the mountains (Ed can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.)  We even found an elk button to sew on, at the base of the mountains.  My amazingly meticulous friend Kat sewed the name on, bless her, because I just didn't have the skills or patience.
 A few years later, Hazel was born. I remember wanting something simple, elegant, and above-all, something I could make myself!  Which meant not a lot of sewing.  But beading, I could do.  We were living in New York, and since Ed was always at work, I had nothing but time on my hands after Hazel went to bed.  My sister Tona helped me with the icicle-like beading off the bottom. 

 When it was Ginger's turn, I was ready for a little more work (and some more help from my mom.)  I wrestled with a few ideas, and, because of her name, settled on a plate of cookies and milk by the chimney.  My mom made the entire chimney, fire and stockings.  I made the milk and cookies.  I'm not proud of the iron-on letters, but I've gotten used to them. 
 Truth be told, I've had an idea for a different stocking for Ginger nagging at me for several years.  I even bought some of the stuff for it once.  One of these days I'll actually make it, then she can pick one or alternate, whatever she wants.

Last year was Poppy's first Christmas.  And I just wasn't up to the weighty creative task of designing or executing a stocking.  So she just used my old childhood one.  This year, I was more ready.  I had a few ideas, and started to hone in on the idea of a bauble ornament.  First, I sought inspiration.
2011 US Christmas stamps

Window decals at World Market
A DVD gift box that was tucked in my Christmas wrapping box - this was the final spark I needed!
 Getting started was the hardest part, but once I did, I worked really hard for a couple of weeks, and voila!

I traced Ed's for the basic shape (all of ours are slightly different shapes and sizes and I like it that way.)  The sock is of heathered green felt and the top is white minky.  I shaped the name out of pink tinsel wire, then tacked it on every 1/4 to 1/2 inch or so.
 By sheer luck I found these red-and-silver flat bauble ornaments at Michael's - that place is a treasure trove for projects like this!  They were the perfect accent to fill in the negative space.  I also love the loopy wired mesh ribbon at the top - I wouldn't have thought of that except for the stamps.
 The DVD case gave me the idea for an offset center, and I invested in a rotary cutter and self-healing board for cutting it out.  I wasn't sure what to put in the center until I found some spray-painted ferns at Michael's and thought they would do the trick.
 Mirror sequins hanging off the bottom finished it off.
 But I just couldn't stop there and had to bead my heart out on the back.  One big pack of mixed sequins makes for serious colorful fun.
 So there are our family's stockings.  I've solicited a few other family members to photograph and/or write about their stockings...seriously, I'm proud of mine but you've got to see theirs.  Individually and collectively, they are amazing works of art.  It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions.


kat said...

your stockings rock. i LOVE LOVE LOVE all the beading on poppies. those big round sequins are the coolest. and i LOVE the tinsel wire for her name. bravo!

Maren said...

You were right- it is amazing!! Way to go!

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