Last year I found a YouTube tutorial for the cutest little angels. I had already picked all the topics, so I didn't include the angels in the advent calendar, but only shared them on social media.
You can find Krístina's video here. She speaks Czech, but shows everything so clearly that you won't necessarily need the commentary if you want to try making the angels. I didn't need it. I also improvised a little by using the supplies my sister and I had on hand which, for example, meant replacing SuperDuos with Twin Beads from my stash.
I made a few for my sister and myself to give away, and they were so well received that my sister then made a bunch more.
This year, however, I wanted to try something else.
Do you remember the puffy stars from the last calendar and that most of them were made from five components?
Well, the components (that can also be used as bails) reminded me of wings (not just me, I'm sure), and I wondered if I could design something around one of them. My first attempt didn't work out, but I put the wings aside in the hope for an epiphany sometime later.
That epiphany came a few weeks later after stumbling upon the pearls that I had also used for the mistletoe as they were about the same size of the pearls my sister had given me for the angels.
I also used the wing idea in other pieces then like Count Catula.
I wanted my new angel to be rather classic and therefore decided against a bronze Twin Bead robe - the only color I still had left.
Also I had been working from a box with my latest seed bead order which I still hadn't put away, and a few colors I had added to the box (because that's how my muse works), and eventually it had become a bit of a personal challenge for a while to make something only with beads in that box. In the end, the obvious choice was the same pearly white as in the wings, in a flowing Herringbone robe. Have I mentioned before that I love Herringbone? ;-)
There was also a tube with only a few golden beads left and they were just enough for a halo and two - uhm, buttons?
I didn't mind the Twin Bead angels having no arms, but with this one's wings being in the back, I definitely wanted some sleeves here and I am pretty happy with my solution for them.
I can't help thinking, though, that somehow this little angel looks as if waiting for instructions!
The puffy star is back!
It all started with a large tube of bead soup, at least ten years old. I know many beaders hate bead soup, but I'm Swabian, and throwing beads away would feel like ripping my heart out, especially Delicas. I couldn't think of anyone to give it to, either.
It was easy enough to pour out the whole soup and pick out just the beads needed, though, mostly clear ones in this case. Bead soup doesn't scare me.
At first I had wanted to try something that didn't work out the way I had hoped, like so often, so I ripped it up again and made a winter comet instead, or maybe an ice comet.
The web tells me that comets have two main tails - gas and dust - and a coma.
Well, this comet has a baroque pearl and quartz tail because gas and dust are very hard to make from beads. Also a comet doesn't look like a puffy star, but artistic license and fantasy do wonders.
Just don't tell NASA about it.
First let me say that for me candy canes have never been a part of Christmas although I knew about them of course. Spontaneously I can't even remember ever having seen one in person although they are surely sold here as well.
Nevertheless - or maybe therefore? - a candy cane seemed a good choice for an ornament.
There are probably loads of beaded candy cane tutorials around, but I felt confident about not needing one of them.
As a technique I chose my beloved Herringbone stitch with a round of eight seed beads each although I knew the curve at the top would look squished and weird if I tried to keep the rope round. Four seed beads would have been better, but too small for an ornament, at least for my liking.
Even if the cane is flattened now, it still looks good - that's just my personal opinion of course.
To distract from the shape a little, I chose to add a small beaded holly bow.
What do you say, does it work?
You never stop learning.
I have never seen the TV show The O.C. and had therefore never heard about Chrismukkah if any of you should wonder.
The first time I actually stumbled upon this word was on a site not TV-related, that of the Jewish Museum Berlin which had a temporary exhibition on the theme from October 2005 to Januar 2006 called "Weihnukka - Geschichten von Weihnachten und Chanukka".
As there still seems to be interest in the topic, they put up a page with the key content which is also available under the English name "Chrismukkah - Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah".
Obviously the concept of combining both holidays - and giving this a name - had been created by assimilated German Jews in the 19th century. Via another article on Hey Alma, I got to a blog post by Jim Wald in The Times of Israel which touches on the question of assimilation and the consequences for the Jewish community in Germany.
As you can imagine, the idea of "Weihnukka" disappeared when the Nazis took over.
And then it was re-introduced it thanks to a TV show? No. I found at least one article about it before the show even started.
Do you have a story to contribute, maybe from experiences of your own?
There you have it. I promised you a crafty advent calendar and sneak in another story, but I had warned you this could happen.
Let's get to the creative part now.
Today's piece had been in the planning and making long before I jumped into the rabbit hole of Chrismukkah. For months, the title of my draft read "Hanukkah!!! - The seventh door (Star of David???)". A Star of David seemed achievable, but my own ideas were boring, YouTube didn't give me anything I liked, and most Google results didn't convince me, either. I kept putting this one off until after my first folded peyote pieces. Then I remembered a tutorial by KrisDesignFSP on Etsy from my first search.
I didn't follow the tutorial exactly. As you can see, I used two different colors for the both sides, but no different "edge" color, and I made the star smaller, both in width as in length, because I wanted to give this to a friend, as a pendant, should she want that, or for use as an ornament. It was also important for me to ask her if she thought this was okay to show here.
The blog post mentioned above also provides links to articles on other Chrismukkah related things, such as the Hanukkah bush, by the way. That I had also never heard of. I doubt my friend has a Hanukkah bush, though.
Of course my first attempt was too small. I couldn't twist the peyote, combine the triangle, AND zip it up.
My second attempt was slightly bigger, but while the zipping up was not a problem anymore, stitching the triangles together wasn't so easy. You may notice that the star is not completely regular, but my friend is a very sweet lady and likes it as it is, phew! I don't think I could have done a third one ... although it was close as der Dekan actually opened up the cardboard box to steal the star. I caught him just in time, the furry little thief! ;-)
My first try didn't go to waste, by the way. I turned it into a pair of earrings.
And now happy Hanukkah, my friends!
Saint Nicholas Day!
Of course I have told you of our tradition of this day before - here I wrote about the legend of the bishop Nicholas of Myra, and here I have talked about chocolate Saint Nicks that often end up in shoes on December 6 over here (actually even I still get some each year!).
So this year I can concentrate fully on the crafty side today.
No shoe, no good ole St. Nick, no, I am giving you an actual bishop!
It's not a full one, though, because that would have taken me too long and I wouldn't have had enough bugles which I only used because they happened to be in the box next to me while I would have had to get up to fetch the seed beads, and that was completely out of the question because of the cat sleeping on my legs *taking a deep breath*
I see our bishop's little flaws - the very high mitre and the big amice (but hey, maybe he had a neck and shoulders like a bodybuilder? ;-)) - but all in all, I'm fine with how he turned out, and look, I haven't even forgotten his crosier!
I own real candles, but can't remember when I actually lit one the last time. I never trusted (some of) my cats around open fire that could be knocked over.
The two candles on one of my cupboards are constantly crooked because one or the other tail keeps hitting them.
So instead I have fake candles with a wax surface and LED "flames".
When I started wire knitting, I also gave some candles a try. The long ones that I made first are difficult to put up because they tend to bend over, wire crochet would probably have been sturdier.
I also made a bigger one that stands well on its own, though, as it is wider and made from two wires. To make the "flame" shine, I put a small Christmas bauble inside. These pictures from a previous advent calender give you an idea of its size.
This time, however, I wanted a beaded version.
I used 8° pink lined crystal seed beads to bead around a small wooden dowel in peyote stitch. Two layers of metallic golden seed beads and a disk at the bottom make up the little candle holder (actually I had run out of the pink beads and had to think of something, but this is supposed to be a bit of challenge after all).
A flame of red and a very light transparent brown and voilà, here's your Christmas candle!
It can stand on its own or can go on the tree.
I told you this would be a crafty advent calendar and that means there will not just be beads which sounds a lot easier than it is for me.
To be honest, I have never been the crafty type.
Whenever I think of crafting, the first image that comes to my mind is me sitting at the parish hall, around nine years old, glueing wooden clothespin halves together to make a coaster, and hating every second of it. If I'm not completely wrong, it was the only time I was at that crafting circle.
When browsing through YouTube tutorials for the advent calendar, however, I was glad to see a few that seemed right for my limited skills. Among them were sequined ornaments.
I didn't use a particular tutorial because the basics are actually rather easy. You take a styrofoam ball and pin your sequins on, in whatever way you like, striped, in swirls, combined with glitter or other embellishments ... or you can do it like me.
Doing it like me means that you take a small ball and pin on sequins in waves. Then when you are finished - you have to finish it or you won't bite your table later which is essential for the end result - you decide that you do not like that at all and take all the pins out again. Which takes a little time, but isn't that difficult because you have chosen not to use any glue with the pins (which you don't necessarily have to do, but suddenly it seems safer to you).
So you start all over again, but because you are an idiot, you use a bigger bauble this time, make a few stripes between the "poles" and then despair because the still empty surface seems endless. Because you have small sequins which will take you weeks to put on. Which you could have known beforehand. Doh.
At that point you may get a little dramatic and then think about ordering huge sequins. But wait! You have stars, tiny, small, and bigger ones. That will go much faster, won't it? It might have if you had taken into account that those stars have no holes which means you have to poke some into all of them first. With the tip of your scissors because you couldn't find your pokey tool, and because you only remembered now when writing this post that there is one in your needle felting box ...
This is a tale of poking.
You poke the golden stars that you try to pick out of the baggie while the silver and black ones, especially those tiny buggers, stick to your hands and refuse to come off again easily.
You have to poke the pins through the stars because the holes make it easier, but are still not big enough for the pins.
You dip the pin tips into glue and then poke them into the bauble using the back of your pliers as you still don't own a thimble.
After a while I got into a kind of meditative stupor until I ran out of stars. The forced break while having to wait for more stars to arrive was probably good for my hands and arms.
This ornament has about 5 million pins in it which makes it weigh about 100 kg, but maybe it just feels like that to me ;-) It would bring any Christmas tree down. And it's pokey because of the tips of the stars, hence the title.
It really sparkles like crazy, though. Mission accomplished, but believe me, this one will stay one of a kind.
Oh, and a little extra tip, don't store the bauble in a drawer together with something needle felted or you will picking off fluff forever!