Wheew! I just wrapped up the NaNoWriMo madness, and now it’s time to bring on the holidays!
I can’t help but get crafty at this time each year. My fingers seem to literally itch for a needle and thread, a pile of scrapbooking supplies, or whatever else I’ve found on Pinterest to inspire me. Ah, Pinterest! What did we ever do without you? So as my attention turns away from writing and onto paper folding, I thought I would do some research on Pinterest for Austen/Regency inspired craft projects to decorate your home with this holiday season. I’m not sure if I will personally get to any of these projects this year as I am in midst of appliquéing a set of Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments, but all are going on the “maybe someday” list, of which I have such a treasure trove.
The first project I will definitely get to someday, as I have a proliferation of inherited, crochet doilies (not all of which I’m willing to cut up – but some seem perfect for this!) and have yet to find a use for them. Why not turn them into a garland for use on any festive occasion? This is an item that you can buy on Etsy from DaisiesBlueShop, but I think it would be quite easy to make. The key is getting your hands on the doilies, if you haven’t a convenient stash on hand. Now you have an excuse to go antiqueing: you’re welcome!
Now let’s get super traditional. Have you ever made a Christmas bough? I have not, but now that I live in Switzerland where beautiful greens clippings are available in all the florist shops, of which there are a far greater number than where I used to live in the United States, I am extremely tempted to do so. Below find links to a tutorial on how to make a Tudor Christmas bough from English-Heritage.org.uk, and an article from the lovely blog AustenOnly on Georgian Christmas traditions, including the roll of the kissing bough.
Because I am always looking for crafts to do with my daughter, taking her silhouette (a la Marianne and Willoughby in the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility) has great appeal. The trick will be getting her to sit still! Modern technology has the answer for that, and below are links on two tutorials I would combine to produce my final version. The first, from megduerksen.typepad.com, shows you how to incorporate the whole family in the tricky task of taking a silhouette by hand, and the second, from Design Dazzle, provides instructions on how to do it with a camera. I would really to at least attempt it by means of hand tracing, but I want my final product to look more like the second image. This one might take some tinkering to get right, but it sure sounds like a super fun way to spend an evening at home with the family this holiday. They would make adorable ornaments or Christmas cards.
“I am glad,” said Lady Middleton to Lucy, “you are not going to finish poor little Annamaria’s basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt your eyes to work filigree by candlelight. And we will make the dear little love some amends for her disappointment to-morrow, and then I hope she will not much mind it.”
This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly and replied, “Indeed you are very much mistaken, Lady Middleton; I am only waiting to know whether you can make your party without me, or I should have been at my filigree already. I would not disappoint the little angel for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now, I am resolved to finish the basket after supper.”
“You are very good, I hope it won’t hurt your eyes–will you ring the bell for some working candles? My poor little girl would be sadly disappointed, I know, if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for though I told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends upon having it done.”
Lucy directly drew her work table near her and reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.
Sticking with Sense and Sensibility, what was once known as filigree, a popular accomplishment for ladies in the late 18th century, is now called quilling, and there are some phenomenal examples of it on Pinterest. Following the quote above, Eleanor excuses herself from cards to assist Lucy by cutting the strips of paper with which she works. Together they labor over the basket while sharing confidences regarding Lucy’s recently revealed relationship with Edward Ferrars. I have never attempted quilling myself, but I love working with paper and have long had my eye on it. Perhaps this will be the year I give it a go? I picked small projects that I found less intimidating to share (definitely not taking on a basket the first time out). Unfortunately, not many of the links lead to instructions, or at least not in english, so first I’ve included a video from Quiling Made Easy on how to quil a rabbit that gives a good notion of the technique. The tool used is called a quil, and you can now by paper cut for the purpose from craft stores. After the video find a few ideas for Christmas quiling projects. Aren’t they gorgeous? The bottom one does have instructions, but they’re in polish.
I would love to make these mini Austen books from Dear Lillie for use as tree ornaments. I want all six! This is probably the new project that has the best chance of happening this year as I have everything needed for it on hand, and the easy to follow instructions are thoroughly non-intimidating and include the cover templates. Easy, cheap, and the results are outstanding! Plus, my daughter could help out, which is always a bonus.
This is an old favorite we often do at christmas: orange pomanders. They’re easy to make, smell divine, and everyone can do it. We like to use skewers to pierce the orange skin for easy clove insertion. We keep them in a big bowl to use as a centerpiece, and one by one they get thrown into a pot of bowling water, spreading a wonderful holiday aroma throughout the house. Here are some images of particularly beautiful examples. The bottom one links to a tutorial from Entirely Smitten that shows you how to hang them.
I adore cross-stitch, and I want to go ahead and order the hardcopy instructions for this Jane Austen at the Christmas Ball pattern from BrooksBooksStore on Etsy so I can work it next year. The key will be not to stick the instructions in a drawer and forget about them. The pattern is fabulous and would make an excellent addition to the holiday decor or a gift for a fellow Janeite, if I could bear to part with her. Does she not look simply angelic?
I am going to finish up with another item from Etsy, though this one is sadly out of stock. However, I think it would be really easy to reproduce at home. All you need is a clear ornament, some ribbon, a period-looking charm, and the time it takes to write out (or to print if, like me, your handwriting isn’t up to snuff) Mr. Darcy’s first proposal and stuff it carefully into the globe. Use your leftover quiling papers.
I have added all the above pins to the Austen Authors’ Jane Austen Culture board for your convenience. Do visit and connect with us there. All images posted here link to their original sources. Whatever you try your hand at this holiday – be it a suggestion from above, your latest Pinterest find, or whatever inspires – may it be a happy and prosperous one! With far better will than Miss Bingley ever employed I quote, be you in Hertfordshire or elsewhere: “I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings.” Seasons greetings to all!