Do the holidays stress you out because you are trying to get the perfect gift for everyone on your list?
A short time ago, I stepped away from the madness of standard gift giving. I made a commitment to give only consumable gifts and then, chose to do my best to make them. At present, my cousin (front row on the left) and I (one in sunglasses with crazy hair, blowing in the wind) create our Christmas gifts together. We assemble gift bags of our favorite things for our favorite people; personalized just enough to make it extra special. This year the bags will include:
Homemade tomato soup which we canned when tomatoes were in season
Blackberry jam that we harvested from our backyard bramble
Spiced and roasted almonds
English toffee and buttery caramels from Grandma Leila's famous recipe
and our best gift yet: a one-of-a-kind recycled Comfort & Joy cashmere scarf.
The crazy photo above was taken last weekend at our family's craft retreat in Wyoming. This year, Cousin Kris and I set out to make cashmere scarves for everyone. We raided all the Goodwills and ARCs in Denver for cashmere sweaters, cut out all the 10" stripes we could and created piles of colors. We let everyone choose 12 stripes (with design assistance) and then, sewed them together. All the women above are pictured wearing the scarf they designed and we made. It was the funnest Christmas gift creation we have ever done. Below is a photo of the stripes in piles ready to be put together.
DIY or click here to BUY
Want to make your own? Here's how:
What you need:
6-8 cashmere sweaters
rotary cutter, ruler and cutting pad (from a hobby or sewing store)
or sharp scissors and 10" wide cardboard rectangular patterns (templates) of various lengths
1. Go to the local Goodwill or ARC and buy bright cashmere sweaters in the colors you want for your scarf(s). I recommend 7-8 different colors per scarf though you will want 12-14 stripes of color in each scarf (there should be some repetition). If there are holes in the cashmere, just cut around them. Usually, the store will give you a good discount if you find holes in the sweaters, so it is not a bad thing.
2. Wash the sweaters in warm water and dry them in the dryer. You DO want them to shrink (or felt) a bit. This makes them super soft and cozy and removes stains and dirt. NOTE: cashmere does not shrink as much as wool.
3. First, cut off the ribbing at the bottom so that the sweater lays flat.
4. Then, cut 10" wide stripes out of the body of the sweater as long as you like or can get. As you can see from the above photo, I am cutting two stripes at a time 5" long toward the bottom and two more 7" stripes above that. You can open up the sleeves and usually get at least one 10" wide stripe out of each sleeve. You will want to cut stripes wherever you can find a 10" wide piece of cashmere to cut, hopefully without holes. You want the length of the stripes to vary so that you have variety in the scarf. There are quite a bit of scraps with this project, which you can use for future projects or to patch holes you did not see until the scarf was done.
5. Arrange the stripes in the order you want them to appear in the scarf and pin the stripes together, making sure that the right sides of the cashmere are pinned together.
6. Using a regular straight stitch on your sewing machine, stitch the pieces together, making sure to backstitch for 1" on each end because you will have to trim off some of the edge. Because the stripes are all different colors, we picked one thread color to use throughout the entire scarf. The contrasting thread is fun.
7. Once all the pieces are stitched together, lay the scarf out and find your narrowest piece. Trim the edges of the other strips to match the narrowest piece. We have had to cut off up to 1" before, so do not worry.
Because cashmere does not typically unravel, you do not have to finish the edges and your scarf is complete.
If this sounds like too much work, we can make it for you. Click the above "CLICK HERE TO BUY" button and we will make your one-of-a-kind Comfort & Joy cashmere scarf. In the "comments" section of the check out page, give us three to five colors you would like to see in the scarf and perhaps colors to avoid, and we will make one up in plenty of time for Christmas. We are low on greens and will do our best to follow your color choice. These scarves are supremely soft and beautiful, versatile and warm. Price: $63.00.