Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Creative Solutions: Our Christmas Tree!

Being in California over the holiday season has created some annoying problems. Nothing serious and nothing that really even mattered, but still things that bother me. One of those things is the problem of a Christmas tree. We have a small, pre-lit Christmas tree that is perfec tfor a family with small children--but there's no way we could bring that out to California with us. We aren't allowed a real Christmas tree in the apartment (fire hazard) and we didn't want to buy a fake one for just the few weeks we'd use it while here, so I started trying to think of a new idea.

Inspired by my success with our Thankfulness tree, I started searching for tutorials on string Christmas trees...and struck out. There are a few, but they're all ugly! I had just about thrown out the idea when a picture popped into my head. I had been fixated on doing a tree like this:
From bestclipartblog.com
But a tree like this would work much better in string:
From clipartof.com
 And, so, I set out to see if I could make a simple squiggly tree. I used painter's tape to make sure my tree was close to being an equilateral triangle shape...


...and added my pushpins along the edge of the tape. I somewhat offset the pushpins on opposite sides so that my zig-zagging yarn would do more of a V shape than a Z shape (it'll make sense later). I did NOT push the pins all the way into the wall, I wanted the yarn to wrap around the metal part first.
Then I tied one end of my yarn onto the top of the tree and started...
Back and forth, back and forth...but I didn't pull the yarn too tightly, just tight enough so it wouldn't sag, because I didn't want to put so much force on the pushpins that they'd pull out of the wall.
I had a little helper who was refusing to go to bed at a decent hour...
Once I got to the bottom of the tree, I started back up for a second layer. On the second (and subsequent) layer, it's hard to tell which pushpin is your next one, so you kind of have to trace the yarn that's already there, otherwise you might end up with some criss-crosses like below.
After I had done three layers of yarn, I pushed the pushpins all the way into the wall. Nice and flat!
Then I added three more layers of yarn wrapped around the plastic part of the pushpin. This layering gives the tree some dimension and fullness.
Now for the trunk! I eye-balled the middle and added pushpins in approximately two straight lines, slightly offset.
I zig-zagged and layered the brown yarn just like I had done the green yarn. If you look closely, you will see that I didn't off-set the trunk pushpins quite as well as I did the tree pushpins, so the trunk looks like it's made up of very stretched out Zs while the tree looks more like very stretched out Vs.
Finally, start adding some decorations! We originally planned to add some Christmas lights to the tree, but decided that they would be too heavy and difficult to secure to the wall with pushpins alone, so we left them off.

Sorry for the bad picture; the tree is in a corner of the room where it's dark even during the day time. From tip-top to the bottom of the trunk the tree measures about 46 inches tall.
And here's a tree for the kids, down where they can reach it. This one was actually my first one and is only 36 inches tall. The bells do NOT stay on it. I keep meaning to do some origami stars for the tops but haven't gotten around to it yet.
It's been over two weeks since I made these trees and we've only had two incidents where the yarn has been pulled off of the push-pins. Both times we've been able to recover the yarn and save the tree before it became awfully tangled with some sort of toy. I keep worrying that someone is going to pull out a bunch of pushpins, but amazingly that hasn't happened (yet). Really, these trees probably aren't the safest things for a family with two small children, but they are working amazingly well.

So that was our solution for a Christmas tree this year! I feel like our Christmas this year should have a tagline: "Christmas by push-pin!" :)

~Regina

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