Gift Giving

Thoughts are swimming in my head about all the gifts I have yet to buy and get wrapped. When I was growing up, my mother started a tradition to include a special ornament on one of our packages at Christmas. We continued that with our own children and now that they are grown they have ornaments for their Christmas trees. Sometimes it is harder to decide how to wrap their presents and what ornaments to decorate with than it is to buy the present. That got me thinking about this week’s newsletter……

Gifts and how to give them…..

Everything kept drawing me to the Japanese, who are masters at gift-giving. They consider the wrapping and presentation of the gift equally as important as the gift. Unlike my flashy Christmas paper, bows, and ornaments, their outer decoration often reflects nature and has an air of simplicity.

One style is called "origata", which is wrapping things in special Japanese paper called "washi." This is a very old tradition dating back to the Muromachi period beginning in 1336. Chris S. lived in Japan for a while and learned to do a couple of these wrapping techniques. She demonstrated how to do it making very sharp corners with only one piece of tape (or pretty sticker) to keep it all closed. Here is a video that shows someone else doing the technique. It is not in English, but the video will step you through it.
To learn more about this technique check out this website.

Tsutsumi is a very simple, yet stunning, method of creating and decorating a package. The papers are gorgeous and the ties are often natural fibers or thin ribbons. But combined, they make a delicate, sophisticated package. Many times the actual object becomes part of the package. Here are two examples, a tea whisk and chop sticks.

Origami is derived from "ori" (folding) and "kami" (paper). This is a style of folding paper which can be used for many things, such as creating a package or decoration. Origami is a fascinating art form. Check out this website to learn about the different folds and create some of your own designs.

I am not sure if this qualifies as origami, but I have been trying to find instructions to create the little "pillow boxes" that you can use for very flat objects or gift cards. Here is a site by Reader’s Digest for creating the box using recycled cardboard boxes! This is right in line with a more natural and simplistic look.


In November the Embroiderer’s Guild of Canada board of directors met in Winnipeg. Many of the ladies came down and visited us before and after their meeting. Beryl, the 2013 EAC Seminar Chairperson, gave me the cutest gift box created with origami using wrapping paper. She provided the video link so we can all create our own!

Here is the Origami Box she gave me along with some gift ideas that would fit into this box.

At the Fiber Arts Festival this summer, Kim Baird demonstrated furoshiki, the eco-friendly wrapping cloth technique. It can be used for gift wrapping, creating grocery shopping bags, baskets, or simply as decor. Choose from a wide variety of sizes and designs of cloth to complement your gift. One great reason for trying furoshiki is can be done with "recycled" materials which can be reused and re-purposed. Its versatility allows you to wrap almost anything regardless of its shape or size. This is a wonderful site showing techniques for wrapping almost anything! Click on an image and it will take you to a step-by-step diagram.

I went to Savers and purchased several scarves. Not only was I helping local charities, I spent less per scarf than a roll of wrapping paper would have cost me. Here are some gift ideas that I have wrapped up using furoshiki. I had never tried it before, so if I can do it from the instructions, so can you!!!!

Craft light done in the Box Wrap with the handle pulled down tight as a bow

The String Thing

in an Apple Wrap

Skinny Mini Pouch

done in the Roll Wrap 1 with this lovely red scarf with hearts and "Love" written all over it!

Stitcher’s Choice Cookbook

This cookbook is wrapped with two kitchen towels using Gift Wrap 6. This would be a wonderful technique with two embroidered tea towels!

You can use simple ornaments to decorate your packages. The Japanese have developed a totally different style which involves cutting the paper called kirigami. "Kiru" means cut and "kami" means paper and it also means god. A couple of years ago I was given a kirigami calendar with different designs to cut out each day. While it was fun, it was more advanced than the paper dolls or snowflakes I had created in the past. As stitcher’s we are inspired by the spider, so here you can learn how to make a spider web with this video. There are also many other video projects available on this site.

Japan wasn’t the only culture to do paper cutting. The Mexican version is called "papel picado." "Scherenschnette" is German meaning "scissor cut". This technique originated in Switzerland and Germany and was brought over to the United States with the early colonists. Karen Bit Vejle is a master in the Norwegian art of "psaligraphy." Her work is absolutely breathtaking!

Well, I hope that this gave you some ideas to think outside of the usual Christmas box! Maybe I will try some of these simpler techniques. I know my kids can always use towels and tabletoppers. It would be a great way to do a double gift.

People Making a Difference

One of our local banks has a program called Pay It Forward. "State Bank & Trust is giving its employees more than half a million dollars again in 2011 to ‘pay it forward’ to those in need." Bank president Michael Solberg says the Pay It Forward project, now in its fourth year, is both enriching and humbling: "We have learned that each time we Pay It Forward, we are blessed many times over."

In 2007, State Bank & Trust began the unique project – a giving challenge that became both enriching and humbling as each employee took the opportunity to "Pay It Forward" to those in need. Since then, Pay It Forward has become a tradition, as each full-time employee receives $1,000 and each part-time employee $500 each year to help others – a total commitment of more than half a million dollars. Each employee chooses how they want to use their Pay It Forward funds to help individuals, families or organizations in need. See more about it and read the stories at their website.

As part of their giving opportunity, they purchased several 18" dolls for people to "adopt". People were to provide additional clothes to dress the doll. Then the dolls are donated to children in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Roz adopted a doll on Nordic Needle’s behalf and asked the staff if they would like to help with the project. WOW! Here is the group of us with our doll and all her new things!

Chris R made the bedcovering, sheets, pillowcases, and sundress. The bed is actually a storage container to hold all her clothes and things! Linda knitted the absolutely adorable Scandinavian sweater. Gwen crocheted the coverlet and several capes and hats. Roz made the quilted blanket. Ruth made her jeans and shorts. I made some shirt and pant sets. The duplicate capes, hats, and clothing sets will be used to dress other dolls that weren’t adopted.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have donated time, materials, talents, and money to many projects in your own communities. Together we have impacted the world in many wonderful ways!

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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