Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Christmas in My Heart: Planning a Special Project

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."
- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

With our Easter celebrations still going on, it may seem odd to be thinking about Christmas, but now is the perfect time to start planning for certain things. No, I'm not suggesting you plan your menu so far in advance, but perhaps you'd like to start a needlework project now, so you'll have plenty of time to master any required skills and finish any details, so assure that you'll end up with an heirloom by Christmas, instead of a huge case of last minute stress.

Handmade ornaments, blankets, decorations, and table linens create such a wonderful atmosphere during our holiday events. But these things, whether knit, crocheted, cross-stitched, quilted, embroidered, or made by any other technique, can take hours and hours to complete. And during the Christmas season, most of us are too busy to take on tasks like this, let alone finish them.

It is important to keep these skills alive and to use them to enrich our homes and our family traditions. Imagine your grown children showing their own children the tablecloth and napkins that you all embroidered together when they were young. Or picture the joy on a dear friend's face when she opens a package from you and sees a wonderful hand stitched ornament. I'm sure such a gift would become a very special part of her celebrations. Needlework can bring such joy to all of your loved ones, it is definately worth a little planning to finish these projects with plenty of time to spare.

If you'd like to take on a large Christmas themed needlework project this year, follow these steps and ask yourself these questions:
  • First, browse through Christmas themed crafting books, and select which project you'd like to make.
  • Decide what skills you may need to learn to finish the project and research classes or other ways you could gain this knowledge.
  • Plan the project into steps, and decide how much you can reasonably finish in a given time period. Perhaps you can plan to finish one quarter of a tablecloth every two months.
  • Try your best to stick with your plan, but make sure to leave the month of November and even perhaps October free for any finishing touches or last minute pushes.
  • If you're planning a very large project, feel free to plan two years to finish it. Just be sure that you don't let it languish too long in the closet.
  • Once you've mapped out your game plan, write it down, and be sure to include it in your weekly or monthly planning. Don't forget about it or it won't be completed on time.
  • Plan any supplies you made need and make sure you have or can get what you want to complete your project.

My plan for this year is to knit the figures in this Nativity Set. Because I'm planning seven figures, Mary/Baby Jesus, Joseph, a Shepherd, the Three Kings, and a Sheep, I know that I can set a goal for myself to knit one figure a month, beginning this month and ending in Sept. I'm planning to finish the pieces as I go, ie. sew and stuff them, so I don't have a bunch of tedious finishing work at the end of the seven months. I am planning to start with yarn scraps in my stash, but will also order some KnitPicks Pallette yarn if I want particular shades. Because the figures are all different people and are small, I won't have to worry too much about matching any shades and can order as needed if required.

Join in with keeping Christmas joy all year round. Use the Mr. Linky below to link to your own plan for an heirloom Christmas needlework project. Share your progress with us all as you plan and complete it. Don't have any needleworking skills? No problem! Find a project you'd like to complete and outline your goals for learning the needlework skill of your choice!

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