Cheap Tricks

I’ve really been enjoying finding ways to spend less money—it’s a fun, creative challenge. I really tried to cut back my spending on the holidays in 2007, like by making my own wreath from others’ tree leftovers. I also had a tiny budget for presents. Here are a few of the cheap gifts I made.
Stash Sachets
For my dear Knogglers I made these little sachets from cedar shavings and herbs I grew in my yard. They smell good and should keep creepy crawlies out of wool. I made sachets of cedar and rosemary, cedar and mint, and cedar and lavender.
Sachet for yarn stash
The bags were a bit of a splurge from Michael’s, but I had a great coupon from my friend Tina, who works there. Bits of tulle tied with ribbon would perhaps be a way to save more.
Lamb’s Ear Bookmarks
More gifts I picked up out of my yard. (Watch out, next year it will be acorns.) These went to my coworkers and other book loving friends and family.
Lamb's ear leaf bookmark
Lamb's ear leaf bookmark--back
In the summer, I started pinching off lamb’s ear leaves in my yard and pressing them in books. I figured they needed some explaining, so the front of the tag has a Chinese proverb—“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”—and the back clarifies its function—“And a lamb’s ear bookmark is like a garden carried in the book. Happy holidays!”
Georgia Football Gnome Calendar
I think this project may have been the most fun to make, because I had help from friends.
Gnome calendar--gnome with bumpkin for October
I got the idea when Christie and Rob treated me and the Professor at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. There was a gnome up in their decorations, and I told the Professor that it would be a great gift for my parents for Christmas. And I wasn’t really kidding. We looked in the gift shop, but no luck. So the Professor tracked one down on eBay. When it got here, the Professor and I and Chip and Scrappy went to work taking photos of the gnome in various spots around town, particularly at any place related to football or bulldogs, though he also took a trip to Bizarro Wuxtry. The weather wasn’t very cooperative, and we just had one afternoon, and the gnome took a tumble, breaking off the tip of his hat, but we managed to get some great photographs. You can see some on our Flickr accounts. Here are a couple, to give you an idea.
Gnome at the Varsity
Gnome with attack dogs
After the photoshoot, I used to make the calendars, and I was even able to include game dates. These went to the Georgia football fans in my life. I actually still have a couple stacked at my door that I intend to deliver sometime this calendar year.
I knit many gifts from my stash this year. I had accumulated a good bit of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino from several different projects. I ended up having to buy one ball of black because I ran out, but I managed to knit a number of gifts in really yummy yarn for very little money. Including this Fetching, in black, for Aunt Joan.
Fetching in black 2
I also made Fetching for my mother. I actually made these first. Later I made myself a pair in purple, but I think this first pair turned out best. Initially I tried the picot bind off, but it looked terrible so I ripped that out and did a regular bind off.
Fetching front
Fetching back
Athens Beanies
These are a version of the London Beanie, but in Georgia colors. One for my dad, one for my brother.
Athens Beanies
Space Invader Hat
I used lots of bits to make this Space Invader hat for the Professor.
Space Invader hat on weary knitter
Space Invader hat
I borrowed the idea and chart from this sock pattern, and combined it with the London Beanie. Although it was fun and I like the idea, it didn’t turn out as well as I would’ve liked. The pattern would look better in a smaller gauge (as in the sock). Also, the carried yarn shows through when stretched, as hats inevitably are. A scarf or tie might’ve worked better. Also, I really need to figure out how to polish my fair isle technique.
I’m still seeking cheap gift ideas for birthdays and next Christmas. I plan to steal Will and Katina’s clever idea of sending cool iron ons. Perhaps next year family and friends will get to sport pictures of Corabelle and Rose on any t-shirt they like. If you have any inexpensive gift ideas, I’d love to hear them!

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2 Responses to Cheap Tricks

  1. The Professor says:

    As the recipient of the Space Invaders hat I would like to say that I LOVE IT! Courtney is being way too hard on her wonderful work 🙂 I am the warmest nerd around with this hat!!!!

  2. Cousin Sarah says:

    In the spirit of homemade gifts I got one this week and I thought of you. It was something you could do (and I think it wouldn’t be too difficult) for some of your eco-friendly friends who are parents. One of my friends sent me (though she didn’t make it) a wool knit diaper cover. Parents have to lanolize them from time to time but it’s cute and oh so practical 🙂
    I figured you’d probably know people in your area who cloth diaper and need to give them gifts from time to time and that might be a neat one to give.
    Anyway…hope things are going well with the frugal lifestyle!

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