Made by hands

I have a bit of an obsession with handmade toys.  Wooden toys in particular.  I suppose this came about as I had three kids in two years & toys became a permanent part of our home’s decor.

How many times has Paul heard, Honey, I saw this super cool toy on Etsy, do you think you could make… And a really great thing about my husband is that, yes, he can make it.  He can make anything.  I love that about him!

I love toys that have history, that are made with care & creativity, that come from organic materials, that do not become useless when the batteries die, that are open-ended & invite a child’s imagination to bring them to life.

We try to make at least some of our kids’ gifts for each holiday.  We started out simple, first I dyed some play silks.  Easy project & play silks are an absolute must have toy for young kids; so beautiful, lovely texture, & they become a hundred different things.

For Silas’ birthday last year, we painted some peg people with different little faces.  These guys are still played with everyday!

Paul made a beautiful number puzzle for Silas, and now Si teaches the girls how to put it together.  Gotta love a teaching toy.

We also made a bunch of ribbon wands.  Another very easy project that anyone can do!

I got terribly ambitious last Christmas & decided to make baby dolls for my girls.  I fantasized about making Waldorf dolls, but was realistic enough about my (lack of) sewing skills to know that I might not be able to pull that off.  So, I made Amish dolls instead.  Still, it was pretty challenging & tedious.  The dolls themselves were fairly easy, but the dresses were a job!  I wasn’t thrilled with the results, but I don’t think my two-year olds were bothered by the uneven hems.

Paul really outdid himself for Silas’ birthday this year, with an awesome racetrack!

For Christmas this year, I am knitting scarves.  I know, not quite as exciting as last year’s project, but I’m on a knitting kick right now.

Paul (the talented half of this team) made boats for the tub.  They turned out amazing, just as I imagined when I placed my order suggested them.

We are even making a gift for our oldest who, at sixteen, has more sophisticated tastes these days.  Although I can’t share it here because, well, he can read.

Not all of our kids’ toys are handmade; they have some plastic toys, some spinning blinking walking talking toys, some super annoying I just want to throw it out the window toys.  But the honest truth is, those toys come & go rather quickly.  They break or they do one thing over & over & the novelty wears off.  If the toy requires little to no imagination, it’s quickly forgotten.

My mom has been so supportive of my toy snobbery.  She has given the kids some of the most thoughtful, educational toys.  She made them a bunch of felt food that is so played with that it is falling apart (that’s a not so subtle hint, mom!)  She is always sewing up some cuteness for them to wear.  Loves it!

Is it easier to make the gifts?  No, a trip to Toys R Us would be much easier.  Does it save money?  Well, sometimes, but not always (have you priced local yarn lately…yikes!)  So, why do it?  Actually, it makes the holidays a lot more fun & meaningful for Paul & I.  We really enjoy it!

And I believe that we are setting a good example for our kids by demonstrating mindful giving.  They are usually present as we are working on these projects & have seen most of their gifts being made.  If I waited til the kids weren’t around, it wouldn’t get done because these kids are always under foot! I suppose we will try to be a bit more sneaky as they get older.

Silas has been learning to knit on a little spool, & decided that he would like to knit little scarves for his sisters’ babies.  Okay, is that just about the sweetest thing ever?  Makes this mama proud…

My young children have simple tastes.  I know that as my little ones get older, we will not be able to make as many of their gifts.  But I am so enjoying this time now.

Now, let me show off some of my finest creations!  What could be more fun than babies-in-a-box?


2 thoughts on “Made by hands

  1. All right, momma …. it’s time for you to write some tutorials …. like for the peg people, and the ribbon wands, and the playsilks.

    I need ribbon wand instructions so that two adorable little boys cant destroy them!

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