As you may have noticed, I love craft. I mean, I really love it. I love sewing, I love embroidery (especially small things that don't take too long), I love cutting stuff up and sticking stuff together. It's cool. And, more importantly, it's fun. The bad thing about loving craft however, and believing wholeheartedly in the joy and love that handmade gifts not only embody, but also create, is birthday season. Yes folks, a close succession of birthdays is enough to strike fear into the very heart of any avid crafter, and I am, at present, in the midst of such terror.
It starts of kind of gently, in June and July, when I make things like home-brew, aprons, photo collages and clove oranges for my grandparents. Smooth and pleasantly-fragranced enough. But come August, things really start to hot up.
First there's my little sister Meg who, being a bit of a P&E fan, usually scores a skirt or something. This year, she was the recipient of a fruit-flavoured bias cut scoop neck dress. It's gorgeous, and she looks hot in it.
Next up is my little baby Olive who, today, turned 5! When she turned 1, I made her a scrap book of her first year. I'd always thought scrap-booking was a tad dorky (and seeing as I am decidedly un-dorky, thought this was not for me).
But let me tell you, it's crazy-fun. And the accessories - oh my! Little paper-cutting knives, shiny stickers, heart and star shaped brads (!)... The bad thing about this is that even though I'm making a home-made present, usually a bit cheaper than a shop-bought do-dad, the budget usually gets a little out of hand because it's all just so exciting. Oh, and it takes AGES. Each year, I tell myself I'm going to start early, or even make a page per month. But I never do. I just cram for the 3 weeks before her birthday, staying up late cutting and glueing and sifting through photos, laughing and crying as I remember all the hilarious things she's said over the year, and thinking about how much she's grown.
It's actually an amazing process, because it's such a focused kind of reflection. It really makes the presentation of the book, on birthday morning, extra-special, as I've spent so much time thinking about how far we've come in the last year. This kind of reflection is, I think, the best thing about birthdays and anniversaries. It's a time to look backwards and forwards and every which way. And if you're hand-making something for the birthday-ee, you really have time to think about them, about your relationship, and how much you love them. And then all the love gets stitched or glued into whatever it is you're making. Awwwww shucks!
So this morning, my little Olive was the proud recipient of a stuffed rocket, made using a pattern from a pretty neat little book called One Metre Wonders, a pair of dragonfly wings made from a curtain we found on the side of the road, the Little Rosie Book #5, complete with embroidered Olive tree on the cover, some books, a tiara, and a unicorn costume (totally crazy, last minute addition found by mum and I at the op-shop yesterday).
After Olive, I take a little breath, but don't dare take a night off, because I know there be no respite 'til the end of September. Between now and then I've got my love of loves, Pearl, one of my bestest and most beautiful friends, Jay (who always sets the bar extremely high in the handcrafted birthday stakes, thereby simultaneously invoking and freaking out my competitive spirit), and both of Jay's kids. Holy smokes!
So let me tell ya, I'm swamped. But secretly loving every minute, because handmaking love is the best of the best.