Merry Christma- Wait, it’s March…

Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?? I love Christmas!

Christmas of 2013, I was in a Christmas decorating frenzy all thanks to Pintrest. I found a number of decorations that I wanted to make, and a couple of them actually happened!

First, I must state that my husband and I really love Christmas decorations. We start as early as we can (right after Thanksgiving, but if Thanksgiving doesn’t happen until really late in November, we’ll start decorating the week before said holiday), and we leave them up until late January, at least. I mean, I’m typing right now underneath a strand of colored Christmas lights, with another strand of blue to my right! I will say, though, that as the years have gone by, it started to feel a little bit weird leaving the Christmas-specific decor up as late as we were, when it suddenly dawned on me that for other times of the year (*cough* FALL *cough*) everyone starts decorating for that season and keeps that decor up for months! So why not do that for winter? The next Christmas season rolled around and in the first week or so of January, I took down the stockings and anything else we had that was specifically about Christmas (except for the Christmas tree, of course) and left up all of the garland, lights, pine cones, and candles! One year we left it all up until March, because it was still technically winter; but in Florida, springs begins the first week of February (with summer beginning the first week of March), and it was a little bit strange to have all of the garland and lights still around when the air conditioner was cranked, my gardenia bush was flowering, and pollen was falling from the oak trees. So, the next year it all came down by the beginning of February.

img_1151Okay, back to Christmas 2013. The first project I made was a pine cone cluster wreath! Very, very easy. Gather pine cones, cut a 2 foot length piece of ribbon, twine, fabric, whatever you want to use, for each pine cone and hot glue one end of the ribbon to the bottom of a pine cone. Gather the other end of the ribbons and tie them in a knot. Hang. Done. The ribbon I used did not cut pretty – the ends frayed pretty significantly – so rather than tying them in a knot and cutting them, I folded each end over, hot glued them down, and wrapped another piece of ribbon around that part and tied a knot in the back – which gave it an easier place to hang it, too. Simple, beautiful, and, depending on the colors you use for the ribbon, can be used from autumn through to winter. A win all around!

The next project I made was a crochet snowflake “garland!” Crochet! Yay! My inspiration was a picture on Pintrest of a simple strand of garland with crocheted snowflakes to use as Christmas decor in your cubicle. Well, I took the idea and ran with it! It didn’t need to be small, since I didn’t have a cubicle, and if I made it big enough, it could hang over a doorway! Or a hallway! Or somewhere! Anywhere! I was a little bit excited. There may have been some crazy eyes involved. Away to Joann’s I flew like a flash, tore open the doors, and ran up to the stash… of yarn. I found some crochet thread in a delicious shade of cream, and ran on home. I then found a free pattern online for 6 different snowflakes – perfect!! I grabbed my tiny crochet hook and started crocheting away. I finished the first snowflake, and it looked a little strange… It looked a little too big and floppy, and the stitches looked huge. It still looked really pretty, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t as nice and tight as the one in the pattern looked. I made a second one, thinking maybe it was just that snowflake, but sure enough, while it looked a little better, it was still just off…

I read the pattern over and over, and I was using the right hook, the right yarn… and then I finally saw it. In giant letters across the top of the page I had printed from the website, it said “CoatsCrafts.co.uk.” Talk about a face-palm moment… The pattern was written in UK terms! It was confirmed by reading the abbreviations on the page: “Ch=chain, dc=double crochet, tr=treble, dtr=double treble, etc.” First clue, there’s no “sc=single crochet,” and the second clue is in bold. A dtr in UK terms is a triple (or treble) crochet in American terms. For those who don’t know the difference between UK and American terms, here’s a little chart:

USA                                                            UK

  • sc: single crochet                           =       dc: double crochet
  • dc: double crochet                         =        tr: treble
  • trc: triple (or treble) crochet      =       dtr: double treble

The “single, “double,” and “triple,” are all different lengths of the stitch. So in my UK pattern, whenever it said “4dc in next stitch,” or “2tr in next 2 stitches” (longer stitches), I really should have been doing “4sc in next stitch,” or “2dc in next 2 stitches” (shorter stitches). Kind of make sense?

All of that to say, my stitches were really long when they should have been much shorter, and that’s why my snowflakes were looking so weird. I took them out and remade them using the correct stitches, and they came out perfect!img_0982

I posted a picture of my huge snowflake fumble on Facebook and my cousin (who is English) said something along the lines of “But wouldn’t it look nice to have snowflakes of different sizes?” And I agreed; she gave me a great idea! (Thanks Vanessa!) I would make most of the snowflakes small and break them up every so often with large snowflakes. So back to Joann’s I went to pick up a larger weighted thread, and, using a bigger hook, made 5 large snowflakes.

Once all of the snowflakes were finished, I wanted to crochet them all together in a semi-elaborate way. I experimented with how to do it, did the math, and wrote out the directions; img_6538but after trial and error I decided to just use a length of ribbon to string them all together. That way I could get them to all hang facing out, rather than facing whatever way they wanted to when I used my own pattern. I still used my pattern to make the “string” connecting the snowflake to the ribbon, and I feel it was pretty clever, if I say so myself. I chained however many I needed to get the length I wanted, plus a few more. Then I removed my hook and fed the chain into the tip of the snowflake, replaced my hook, and then sc back up the chain until I had about 5 or 6 chains left, brought that final 6th chain down to my hook and sc through the next chain and that 6th chain, creating a loop. I cut the thread, weaved in the end, and fed the ribbon through that loop, tying a knot to keep the snowflake in place. Repeat until the end, and tie a loop in both ends of the ribbon. Finished!

img_1325

I had some red crochet thread given to me from my mom and decided to throw some color into it, too, using the red sparingly. Before I tied the snowflakes onto the ribbon, I used a spray-starch and iron to flatten them out and firm them up. I’ve tried looking around the internet for the pattern I used, but the website that’s on the pattern I printed out, CoatsCrafts.co.uk, is now Mez Crafts UK and I can’t make out what they even are…

The snowflake garland is definitely one of my favourite decorations for Christmas, and, most importantly, I had so much fun making them and figuring out how to put it all together. It was kind of like a puzzle – and I love puzzles.

Merry Christmas!

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