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I met a lovely woman, Shelly, at the farmer's market this morning who inspired me to write about the magic of homespun gifts.  We chatted about our joint passions for knitting and scrap booking as our kids ate fresh peaches and nectarines.  Shelly confessed that she is also an avid blog reader - particularly a blog by Wendy Bernard (Knit and Tonic) who is working to bring back home made gifts among a dissident circle of friends.  This mom found that many did not appreciate the gifts she crafted with love.  Shelly loves to read this blog to find her own encouragement for bestowing her knitted items or custom made greeting cards on friends.  She too finds that many don't appreciate the handmade!

How can it be that any gift could be perceived as better than one made through the talents and love of the gift giver?  I recently became inspired to make an interactive felt book for my best friend's daughter.  When I asked what Jasmine might enjoy for her first birthday, Nina shared that Jasmine is just reaching the exciting age of learning to use her hands to manipulate objects.  She thought Jasmine might like a puzzle or shape sorter.  However, another crafty mom friend shared that she'd had great fun making a simple felt book for a baby shower gift.  This reminded me of a lovely fabric and photo book Amanda Blake Soule features in her Creative Family book.  Suddenly light bulbs went off...  I decided to make a fabric book dedicated to Jasmine, her budding love for all things winged (you should see all the pictures of her wearing wings on her mother's Piccasa site!), and her growing coordination skills. 

My family is sticking to a strict budget lately, so I hit my sewing stashes in search of felt and other tid bits that I could work into the project.  With a hefty supply of photo transfer paper, just enough felt to make the squares I needed, and a bunch of odds and ends I found inspiring, I found I had plenty to work with.  I love to reclaim fabric, silk flowers, and other what nots for projects - all the less to end up in a landfill!

The book project requires many steps inlcuding planning, searching for photos, and much hand work.  It took me several days and many captured moments (riding in the car or stitching while watching Bryles ride his bike in the court) to complete all of the pages.  I relished the opportunity to put my heart into a gift for this girl I love.  It gave me an opportunity to focus on Jasmine, and to remind myself of her important role in my life as my best friend's daughter - this is a girl I hope to help mother in that "it takes a village" sense.  I also found myself thinking of the wonderful handmade gifts Nina bestowed on our family when my son was born.  Her kitchen made herb concoctions, hand knit wool booties, and flowers found there way to me at a time when I greatly needed support.  Making Jasmine's book became my opportunity to reciprocate through my own homespun way.   

While I stitched the pages, my son would often wander over and judge my efforts.  He'd say, "Can I hold Jasmine's book, Mommy?"  When I had enough pages completed, he'd sit on my lap and "practice" reading it by pretending to be one year old Jasmine.  He'd sniff the lavender pages, play peek-a-boo with the fern page, and talk about Jasmine all the while.  By the time we were ready to give Jasmine her gift, my son felt like he had a part in creating the gift too.  He happily showed her how to work the pages and "read" her the book's story.

I sincerely hope that Jasmine enjoyed this gift.  If at least bits of it suvive her toddler years and follow her through her childhood,  she'll know her "auntie" and "cousin" loved her.  If I am lucky, she'll be inspired enough to make such a gift for someone special in her life one day.  After all, it wasn't that long ago that handmade items were the norm and not the rarity!  Just look at this needle kit that Farmers Insurance used to give out to customers - as if everyone was home sewing in those days!  (Note the inclusion of a knife edged needle used for projects such as creating the binding for this felt book project.)  Here's to making a handmade and from the heart comeback!


  1. Sharon // July 18, 2009 at 2:07 PM  

    Our family loves homemade gifts! It's original and personal and you know that person is actually thinking of you and taking the time to make something wonderful. I love that the younger children can give a gift as well, from the heart. And you know I just adore your felt book. I fully plan to copy you!

  2. Michelle // July 20, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

    What a wonderful idea!! We find much inspiration in Amanda's book & blog too. And I have the same carrier for my little one--Ergo baby organic green, right?

    Wonderful blog you have...I'll enjoy peeking through it & keeping up with your adventures:-)

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