If you’ve been in a craft store lately, you know that Christmas isn’t really that far away. Never mind that it’s 95 degrees outside and most of the country is dry as a bowl of Cheerios sans milk. (Really, now do toddlers eat those things dry?!) This year has been warmer and dryer than any year in recent memory, so it’s begun to feel like the title of one of those drippy teen romance novels:The Summer of Forever, or whatever. And then I saw the aisles at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s and Michael’s. Aisles that twinkled with red, green, and gold glitter. Santas and snowmen greeted me with crinkly eyes and fat-cheeked smiles. They reminded me that even this summer will come to an end.

My first reaction is horror. How can they even think about Christmas this early? Then I start to think about it. And realize, like the merchandisers of craft stores, that I should really get started on projects that I intend to make as Christmas gifts this year.

Granted, those kinds of gifts are fewer than they used to be. When I had small children (all boys, by the way), I made beautiful, heirloom-worthy things. My oldest son’s hand-stitched crewel embroidery stocking was a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it now resides with my ex-husband who may or may not treasure it as I would. Some part of me wants to go all ninja-like and sneak in to steal this one-of-a-kind work of art. Honestly, I learned stitches on that thing that I had never done before nor have done since. I *will* post a photo of it on here someday. Just don’t ask how I got it.

Nowadays I satisfy my crafting urges by making smaller things: dishcloths, dishcloths, earrings, dishcloths, bracelets, hot pads that can double as dishcloths. I go for quantity over quality now. That Christmas stocking took me more than 80 hours to finish, I’m sure. Now I can whip up a dishcloth in about 15 minutes. It’s a good one, too, don’t get me wrong. Just look:

Ask yourself honestly, would you give away something that took you much longer than 15 minutes to make if you knew it was going to be submerged in dishwater for wiping peanut butter or pasta sauce off a stack of plates? I rest my case. (The one on the right here is especially good for cleaning up grape jam, by the way.)

How many have I made for Christmas 2012 so far? At last count, about 25.

Anybody want a dishcloth?