Monday, December 8, 2014

Greedy Gift Grab, How I Love Thee

Once again, this last weekend was the annual Greedy Gift Grab and sewing par-tay. This event is in the back of my mind all year long, and this year was no different. I usually make a gift, but this year I spied some lovely hand-turned seam rippers in Treadle Yard Goods in St Paul, Minnesota, and I had to BUY one for the gift grab!

If you want to order one, see my blog post for info. (I also gave one away for my blogiversary.)
At this point, I've bought four: two to keep (one resin, one wood) and two to give away (one resin, one wood). I love them that much and I've used both the wood and resin rippers more than I care to admit.
This wood is bamboo—Bill makes them in a wide variety of woods and I've encouraged him to set up an Etsy store so non-locals can view his pieces on the web before purchasing.

My biggest challenge when it comes to these annual gifts is the wrapping. I am not a Wrapping Queen. In fact, my poor children often had to make do with unwrapped gifts. Sometimes, I would just hold their gift behind my back saying, "pick a hand."

Sad, I know.

My friend Renee is a gift wrapper extraordinaire. She helps me sometimes, but most years I have to muddle through on my own. And you want your gift to look compelling so that it gets opened earlier, rather than later. I always hope that I have bought a gift that will appeal to several people—it's a lot of fun when your gift is "stolen" multiple times. For me, that is the most fun of the entire evening—watching people "steal" gifts back and forth. It's a hoot and these sorts of games work well when people share a passion (which these folks do), and also when they are good natured about it (which these folks are).

So this year I had an inspired idea for the wrapping. Why not use battery operated Christmas lights?!

I then hopped onto the internet and saw that my idea was hardly unique. Oh well.

I went to Home Depot (it's so nice that they are open at 7am on Sunday) and purchased a string of fancy pendant white Christmas lights for $15. They require 3 AA batteries. (These would look so nice all lit up in a bowl as a holiday decoration and I see they also have the same lights online in multicolor.)

It's safe to say that the lights were just as much a hit as the seam ripper!

I had an ornate inlaid pencil box I had bought years ago as a gift to one of my daughters, but hadn't used it. I placed the seam ripper in the pencil box, on a bed of tissue.

I placed the pencil box in a shoe box. I placed more tissue around the pencil box and laid the lights around the pencil box.

I switched on the lights and then wrapped the gift (sans lid) with two layers of lightweight paper: one layer of canary tracing paper that I use as my tracing paper for sewing and, over that, a layer of food-grade tissue paper—white with gold stars.

Added bonus! I bought this ribbon before I was married. I used up the gold wrapping this gift, and I plan to use up the rest wrapping Christmas gifts!

My little trick worked, as my gift was the first to be opened! (I remember one year my gift was the last to be opened, meaning there is no chance to steal it—that was the year I put no special effort into the wrapping. Once the last gift is opened, the game is over.)

So what did I bring home after the game was over?

I was very fortunate to win some beautiful fabrics, all ikats, that had been purchased when my sewing friend, Sarah B, had traveled to Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. I had to steal these back numerous times, let me tell you! What a special gift! (And thanks to Sarah B for sharing her travel treasures!)

Antique Burmese silk

Burmese men's longyi

Thai silk

Giveaway Reminder

Just a reminder! If you haven't entered the giveaway for the free, one-year, digital subscription to Selvedge Magazine, go do it now! I will draw a name on Wednesday. If you haven't left your contact info, please check back. If we can't connect up within a few days, I'll draw another name.

What's up? Where's the Sewing?

It's true, this was a weekend of back-to-back holiday parties (I also attended a huge 40s-themed work party on the U.S.S. Hornet), so I got only a bit done. My friend, Renee, had loaned me a very interesting Cynthia Ashby skirt, and I finally got that traced off, which was a bit tricky, due to some funky curves, but not much else was completed, sewing wise.

But I've just made some holiday plans... Between vacation and paid time-off for the holidays, I will have TWO WEEKS off from work!!!! I am very excited and need to start thinking about what projects I want to work on during that wonderful block of time. Staycation, indeed! (Last year I had just started my new job and had zero vacation days. That's right, it's my one-year anniversary!)

Of course, I'll also hang with my kids, but I hope to finish a few things, or maybe work on something meaty.


  1. What fun and exciting pretties!!!! I wish I had grabbed one of those seam rippers. I have a trip planned to Treadle this month so I shall have one! :-)

    Everyone's gonna be on staycation - yay!! Can't wait to see the plans!

  2. You surely got the best gift. Can't wait to see what you do with the Burmese men's longyi - color and design are beautiful!

  3. Happy Google Birthday dear Shams!!! Your wrapping project is very very devious and fun! I'm going to use it! My sister will think her present is radioactive!

  4. Oh, my goodness - I can't wait to see what you have in store for those fabrics - they are so amazingly cool ! That wrapping job is priceless, and you say you can't wrap? Really? That looks fancy - of course they went for it first, Love those lites. I'm totally getting one of those seam rippers, but I now call it "unsewing" as ripping sounds so brutal. But i guess some of my projects do deserve ripping - teehee.

  5. What a cool looking package you wrapped! It's a great idea, and I definitely would have chosen it first.
    The fabrics you were given are beautiful. I'm sure they've got those creativity wheels in your head turning already!

  6. Wow, what a cool gift wrapping job you did!

    At work, when the last gift is opened, we go through everyone in order again and have another round of stealing. Every gift can be stolen up to 2x. Of course everyone has their own variation on the game!

    Congrats on the year at Google!

  7. Love the Christmas lights idea in your gift box. What fun! My sewing party is next week and I'm still struggling with what to bring. I might copy your idea with the lights though!

  8. I don't care if you didn't think of it, you DID it and results is what counts around here (poor grammar intentional).

    Gotta say that the tips on those hand-lathed seam rippers are MUCH better than the ones I've bought in the notions department. Love mine (many semiretired folks are making them and love special orders); I don't think you can go wrong with em.

    And happy workaversary! Full employment for all!

    1. Thanks, SJ! Ahh, but I *did* think of it! I just wasn't the first one to do so. :) Interesting about retired woodworkers making the same thing!

  9. So thrilled they went to a creative home