Oh himmeli

At long last, my himmeli is complete. What is himmeli, you ask? It is a traditional Swedish and Finish Christmas decoration made from natural straw {as opposed to plastic}, and is assembled in amazing and intricate patterns. Ever since I saw a feature on Design*Sponge all about himmeli, I had to have them. I fell for their contemporary and simple look, and I fell hard.

I managed to find a massive bag of straws for €2, meaning this particular himmeli cost me around … €0.40. They are shockingly easy to make, and once you get the hang of it, the sky -or ceiling- is your limit. Below are my seven steps to making your own himmeli. I hope you’re as excited as I am …

What you’ll need : scissors, embroidery thread {since it’s thicker than regular thread}, an embroidery needle, a ruler and an excessive amount of straws in any colour you like.

Step 1 : for my first himmeli, I used the top section of the straws. This saved me from having to measure each piece. ULTIMATE TIP – cut the ends of the straws at a 45 degree angle – when you assemble the himmeli, I’ve found the ends align in a much schnazzier way at this saucy angle. I had made some himmeli without cutting it at this angle, and the ends didn’t match up as well. Step 2 : when cutting the other end at a 45 degree angle, make sure you don’t twist your straw, otherwise it will be wonky. Step 3 : do this until you have 12 pieces, as a standard himmeli consists of 12 pieces. 

Step 4 : thread your embroidery needle with a single piece of embroidery thread. Let the weight of the needle pass through the straw. Do this with four pieces of straw. At this point, tie a knot in the thread to close the loop, but don’t cut the thread. Knot it tight enough so the straws aren’t moving around on the string, but not so tight that the diamond shape doubles over. Step 5 : add two more pieces. Secure them {this can be done by simply looping the thread. No need to knot all the time} to the base, and add two more straws to the other side. Knot the thread here. Step 6 : in order to add the horizontal structure, pass the embroidery needle back down through one straw. From here, add one straw at a time, tightly looping around the vertical joints after each piece. 

Step 7 : once you’ve added all four horizontal straws, tie off with a knot or two, trim any extra bits of embroidery thread, and there you have it! You just need a shit-ton more of these to complete a full himmeli, simply repeat the process. At this point you may feel a heaviness in your chest, but trust me, all the fiddley effort is worth it. As stupid and poetic as it sounds, seeing my full himmeli quietly turning in the corner of my living room is pretty rewarding. I just want to make more. And make them B I G G E R. And crazier.
Consider playing with different lengths of straws to give oblong shapes, also mixing brightly coloured straws {if you’re not a colour-phobe like me} for cute rainbow infused mobiles. I’m hoping to tackle different shapes and styles after I get a little more practice. Now get up and make something wonderful to cheer up that dingy corner, that everyone will compliment you on! Go on. You’re so crafty.

Release your inner geek

For Christmas I made this old-school IT Crowd inspired cross stitch for fiance. He’s in the middle of his final year studying Computing Science {aka, IT}. He’s one of those guys you can tell is an IT guy – curly hair, cute glasses, pale skin – just how I like them. So in an act of hindsight for his impending career, I created this little cross stitch for him for Christmas. For anyone who may not be familiar with the phrase “have you tried turning it off and on again”, please see below –

Unfortunately, anyone looking for the old computer picture frame I used won’t have much luck. I bought this frame from Urban Outfitters some time ago. Sorry. I had it stashed away for just the right moment.
For this picture frame, I measured the size of the frame window at 13.5 x 11cm, or 72 x 57 stitches. From that, and through the magic of excel, I was able to draw a basic layout. And this is when I realized the typical cross stitch ‘x’ formation was not going to cut it for the text.  

Below is my scribble process with how I came about the text format. Sometimes pen and paper just works better. I managed to find a text style much more in keeping with my old-school computer stitch. 

Only taking an hour to stitch, my present was complete! Fiance loves his newest nerdy addition to our living room. Below, his new geek cross stitch in action. Look at it go.
Additional note: a good piece of advice was read out at my graduation from the CEO of Microsoft Ireland – “Always be nice to nerds because chances are, one day you’ll work for one”. And in some cases, marry one 🙂

Needlepoint terrorist

I am a fan of graffiti. I feel the need to correct myself – not something a prepubescent boy has drawled across a shop front. I appreciate good graffiti and will {to the embarrassment of my brother} stop in my tracks and take a picture of a particularly good piece.
Since I am somewhat crafty, I wanted to make cross stitch that was the opposite of a typical cross stitch. I decided to combine my love of graffiti with my love of cross stitch, and began searching for ideas. I came across the Fuldesign website, which is full of designs right up my alley.
The moment I saw their Banksy Flower Terrorist piece, I had to do it. They have a downloadable PDF version {as seen below on the left}, but since it’s quite blurry and difficult to decipher, I redid the pattern in Excel {below right}.

The finished product. I framed it along with a grey mat and black frame to make it pop.

After two weeks, I was finally finished. This project was a real test of patience. It seems to go on forever, but is well worth the final product in the end. The main colors in this piece are black, with highlights of dark and light grey.
Should you like to try this cross stitch, let me know and I can e-mail the Excel pattern to you no problem. Happy stitching!

Curious to see what this looks like 5 years later? Check out my revised Banksy cross stitch here