Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Survival Gear

I don't know where it came from, but it's become a holiday tradition, for me, to gift handmade items ... and my family has come to expect it, actually. This year, when I came home from the fabric store, they pawed through the bag trying to determine which fabric was for whom. They, correctly, guessed that the blue flannel printed with the word love and little monkeys was for Deus Ex Machina's annual PJ pants. I couldn't resist giving him "monkey love" - and yes, the woman at the fabric store who cut my yardage shared a good (bawdy) laugh with me about my fabric choice ;).

I went a step beyond pants this year. I decided to make the girls each a poncho, too.

The original plan was for a flannel-lined wool poncho for each girl. I wanted wool, because it is both warm and naturally water resistant. It's one of the best fabrics for the type of weather we have where I live.

Wool is very expensive.

Fleece is also (relatively) water resistant, and it was on sale ;). The plan changed to a flannel-lined fleece poncho for each girl with flannel pants to match their poncho lining.

But, I underestimated the amount of flannel I would need, and then, the WHOLE plan changed.

And ... I was pressed for time. Ah, the holiday rush, right? *grin*

I'd intended for each poncho to have a hood and a pocket, which didn't happen. It will. I will put a hood on each poncho and give them all a pocket. Big Little Sister ended up with a fleece poncho with no lining, because I didn't have enough of the flannel I purchased, but again to the stash, and I showed her an old flannel bedsheet, and asked if she'd be okay with that being her lining. She is ;). What a trooper! ;). The lining for Little Fire Faery's poncho isn't flannel. Instead I was finally able to use this gorgeous pink fabric from my stash that I've been saving for a special project. I think this qualifies as a "special project."

The impetus behind the ponchos is more than just wanting to make my girls something, though. There's a more pratical and survival-oriented reason.

Many years ago I read John Ransom's Andersonville Diary. It is the story of a Union soldier who'd been a prisoner in the infamous Andersonville prison. He survived. Most did not. He credits his survival to the quilt he had with him. In the winter, he had a blanket to help keep him warm - many did not. In the summer, he had a cover from the blazing Georgia sun. Many Union prisoners had nothing and suffered immeasurably from exposure to the elements.

In an extreme survival situation, shelter is the top priority.

Their ponchos can be used as a coat, and it can be used as a blanket.

I like the idea so much, and I had so much fun making them, and I'm so pleased with how they turned out, I'm pretty sure there's a poncho in my future, too.


  1. Seeing your girls in their ponchos took me back to the seventies and MY poncho - I loved that thing, although I think it was probably made of something synthetic, as was the fashion at the time :( I recently bought myself an alpaca wrap from one of the farmer's markets I sell at - lightweight, but warm when you need it.

    I think you should post DEM's picture in his PJ pants, too ;D


  2. Unfortunately, the fleece is also "something synthetic." I'm keeping my eyes open for more natural fibers, and perhaps, next Christmas I'll be able to show a picture of them in their new "wool" ponchos ;).

  3. Hey, with the dawn of the Snuggie, ponchos aren't really dorky anymore.
    Maybe you can take up weaving and make your own fabric for ponchos next year? ;-)

  4. Funny you should say that, Kaye. Whenever our chow-chow sheds, Deus Ex Machina rolls the fur into a strand of yarn. He has a friend who spins yarn, and they're trying to coordinate him sending her some of the dog's fur to spin. When we get the dog fur yarn back, weaving it into a blanket/poncho might just be a fun project for us ;).

  5. I lurve my zip-up fleece. I wear it inside a lot, except in the living room where the firebox doesn't make it necessary. Put a 2-layer nylon windbreaker over it, and the combination is good all the way into the lower teens unless the wind is *really* stiff. Of course, on Planet Georgia, there's only a handful of days when I need something more.

    Our (now deceased) Akita mix would shed prodigious amounts of fur in the spring. I used to joke about collecting it & stuffing a jacket with it.

  6. Wendy- the ponchos are beautiful and I love your idea for PJ pants for men. I have always struggled with trying to figure out something I could make for my sons and husband that they would actually wear and now I know.

  7. They look fabulous!
    As ever, my resolution for next Christmas is to make more of the presents, although when I look back I've made more than I thought I had.

    It's also hard not to make stuff for the sake of it; making something that people will really like/want. As Darcy said, men in particular seem to be tricky. But your girls look thrilled with their ponchos, so I think you've got that one sussed!

  8. If the comment I just posted says it's from Tilly, it's because DD1 was signed into google without me realising. It was actually by Hazel...

  9. I think your homemade gifts are the best gifts you can get. They have way more meaning and I apperciate them more. It is better than anything you can find at the store. Dakota loved her block (or at least she will when she is old enough to actually play with it).