Monday, December 12, 2011

Gifts to make

Have some random people to give gifts to? People you want to give a little something to whilst not breaking the bank? People who you want to jazz up that coffeehouse gift card for?
Well here's one idea....

Coffee Cozies.
What you need: Felt (I used 100% wool felt cause I had it, but other options include an old felted sweater, craft felt, heck even 2 pieces of cotton will work)
Insanely Basic sewing skills and/or needle felting supplies
Cardboard coffee cozy from local coffee shop

What you do:
STep One:
Cut your fabric using the cardboard cozy as template. I used Felt because I was mass producing and had about 2 hours to do a ton. Basically I just didn't want to sew anything!
If you are not using thick 100% wool felt cut two pieces of fabric for every one cozy that you want to make (if using cotton cut two pieces cotton and one piece batting for middle cushioning)

Step Two:
If using wool felt needle felt the unfolded edges together. If using anything else pin the pieces together and sew around then fold and zigzag stitch the edge, you can either pin right side to right side and flip inside out or just leave the stitching as decorative. For cotton I would put one piece right side down, batting, cotton right side up sew around then fold and zigzag edges. (you see how the felting is less time consuming and mindless?)

Step Three:
Enlist surly husband to help needle felt design onto each cozy. I used pre made pieces but you can easily just use roving if you have it. With other fabrics sew on appliqué or embroider something pretty (or leave as is!)

Total Cost: 100% wool felt sheet :$3.49 for a sheet big enough to make 6 cozies (I used scraps from other projects)
Pre-packaged felt pieces for decorations 99 cents- $2.99 depending on what you buy (the leaves you see were $2.99 for 8 leaves)
Each cozy: less than a dollar I'd say.

I gave these to my knitting group as they fit around the handleless mugs in our meeting place, as well as standard disposable cup.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Charlie Brown Christmas for Everyone!

So word has gotten out that we have a serious lover of the holidays in our house. We came home today to find wonderful gifts on our porch, perfect for the boys and totally easy to do every year from now on...
One of my knitting group had unearthed a bunch of mini ornaments and had no use for them, so she left them on our porch for the boys to use, I was not sure how I was going to incorporate the ornaments into our Christmas Room but when we came home from school we found that another neighbor had left us a charlie brown tree! Perfect. I asked how they made it and I think it is something I can redo yearly as part of our ongoing 'presents from the elves' porch gifts.

I don't have any pics of the process but it is fairly straight forward:
Step One:
Buy a Christmas tree that is slightly too large for your house (by slightly I mean by a good foot on top)

Step Two
Cut off the top section to make tree fit your house and save it. Cut off the bottom piece of trunk as usual to put the tree into the stand, save this as well.

Step Three:
Drill hole into slice of trunk, and shove the top bit of tree into the
hole. Ta-Da Charlie Brown tree!

I think that this project could also be accomplished for free if you go to local tree mart and ask for a piece of trunk and for any of their random branches (you know how people have the tree guys cut off the bottom scraggly bits? those could also work for this project). The trunk disks also make great outside play blocks, and ornaments for the tree.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crafting for Christmas

Make and Bake Ornaments

Once you have a forest full of Christmas trees you need something to decorate them with...That's where sculpey clay comes in. Sculpey clay is pretty much awesome. You can get it in lots of colors, in regular playdoh-esque modeling clay form, in air-dry form, and in my personal favorite: oven bake.

This clay is readily available at your local craft/big box store and the instructions are right on the box...
What you need: oven bake clay
rolling pin
cookie cutters
ribbon or string for hanging

What you do:

Step one:
Pinch off a good size ball of the clay from the large hunk. We used maybe the top 1/4th of the package.

Step Two:
Enlist your children to do the rolling- it is tough work and you need to not just roll forward and back but press down hard and rock the pin to start flattening the pieces. Flatten so that each piece is about 1/8th to 1/4th inch thick (the package will recommend the size in the baking instructions)

Step Three:
Using your cookie cutters press firmly into the clay, it is easiest to attack this like making cookies, get all the cutters on there like a puzzle so you waste none of the clay. OR cut one by one and reroll the extra clay pieces to make a new flat disk.

Step Four:
Put all the ornaments on the cookie tray, they don't expand so you can just leave a little space in between. We made snowmen, wreaths, candy canes,presents and sheep with out cutters. We also made some balls for garlands and some backs for earrings.


Step Five:
Bake according to package directions, let cool then paint with regular acrylic paint. You can Mod Podge over for a glossier look, or leave as is. String some thread or ribbon through the holes that you didn't forget to poke and hang them up for all to see. We also used some as gift tags on things like teachers' gifts and gifts for the neighbors.

Clay: for a pound of clay the cost was roughly $4
Paint: I bought a "group" pack of holiday acrylics on sale at AC MOORE for $1. The pack has 6 sets of 8 colors (including gold and white glitter!) and the regular price was $2.99.
String: I used some leftover yarns I had in my stash.
Total cost: $2 for about 12 ornaments (using only 1/4th of the clay)

Crafting for Christmas day 2....

Attack of the Christmas Trees!

The room now has 20 glittery snowflakes in white and blue hanging from the ceiling, we did not make these but bought them for $1.00 at Walmart. My first 'grown-up' tree featured dollar store ornaments that were similar to these and truth be told I still have those first ones tucked away in our ornament stash and use them on the tree for filler some years. That first tree was a sad little triangle tree in a pot, in my apartment in Montana. Yes I did go home for the holidays during my Americorps stint but I needed a tree to get me through the season! Heck even in college we had a tree in the dorm (even though one year it was a short lived stolen tree shaped sign from a local market), and my first year roommate always had a pine tree scented yankee candle to really fill us with cheer....
Upon seeing the glittery snowflakes Joe exclaimed "Mommy we have to get these! you can't have a Christmas forest room without snow and it will be too cold to bring in REAL snow, and the heater will melt it anyway!" So in the cart they went. Along with a $3.00 tube of blue and silver big ornaments "to hang in the corners". When we got home Joe declared we needed trees.....

What you need:
Styrofoam cones in various heights
Styrofoam glue or a glue gun
'Eyelash' Yarn or tinsel
The patience of a saint

Step One: Dab a bit of glue onto the base of the cone then wrap the yarn around. It helps if you just twirl the cone around and try not to think "oh man it does not look perfect" if you have a child do this step. You can always go over what the child did later!

Step Two: Dab a bit of glue at top of cone and press end of yarn into to finish.

Step Three: Repeat step two for remaining trees, get creative, combine yarns! Display in your winter wonderland.

Interesting note: these trees are a family according to Joe- the tallest is daddy, the green and silver one is joe, the green one myself and the small silver is Jude. Please not I am shorter than the one representing the 4 yr old because "mommy I am going to grow bigger than you soon."

Total cost: about $20 The Styrofoam cones were REALLY pricey. They ranged from $2.49- $8.00 for the ones we bought. The yarn was Martha Stewart but was on sale buy one get one so only cost $3.00 (and we have leftover) I suggest using tinsel ($1.00 for 15 yds at dollar store) and maybe making cones out of cardboard or poster board. Why I didn't think of this prior to making I don't know, but I will reuse the cones....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crafting for Christmas day 1....

My 4 year old has an intense love of Christmas decorations, a love that I may have fed into by referring to (what will be) our dining room as "the Christmas room" all of last year. You see not many of the rooms in the house are what they will eventually become and we out the tree in this room last year, so in my head it is the Christmas tree room until it is settled into an actual dining room....Anyway. Joe has decided that he wants the room to be an entirely decorated for Christmas wonderland. So we started by hitting up local craft stores for cheap decorations. The more I looked at things the more I thought "hey I can make half this stuff for cheaper", so we bought supplies instead and started crafting. We've been doing at least one thing each day to turn the room into "The Christmas Forest"

First up: Glitter Ornaments....

I found this on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot. Mostly because my husband so nicely put it "I love the idea of a decorated room, as long as there is not glitter everywhere. I don't like my work pants, and socks looking like a stripper is doing my laundry." The original post is here but here is our tutorial.

What you will need:
mop and glo floor polish (free from our basement!)

clear glass or plastic ornaments (25 cents each bought at end of holiday sale at Micheal's last year)

fine glitter (walmart craft section, box of 12 for $3)

Step one: pout a little of the mop and glo into the ornament, swish it around to coat the inside then drain into a small cup. once drained pour in your desired glitter (really get a lot in there, you will take most out but using a lot ensures everything gets covered)

Step two: "swirl and twirl and swirl and twirl" the ornament around but "don't throw it around because you could break it" until the glitter covers all the clear spots in the ornament. We put the 'caps' back on the ornaments for this process but if not doing with kids just keep a finger over opening to really get glitter all the way up the neck. Once covered pour extra glitter back into your container.
Step Three: Hey you're done! replace cap if you have not done so and place ornaments upside down into an empty egg carton (so the glitter can be caught when some falls out of tiny holes in cap) to dry fully.

Total cost for 20 ornaments: under $5.00. It cost $5.00 for the ornaments last year, the glitter used so little once done that we have still 99.9% of each color and the mop and glo I found in the basement when we moved in....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Knitting up a storm....

Well I have achieved my goal of 11 things in 2011- and I still have a few months to go! I may not have the energy to plant in the garden this year but I am loving the quiet time of the afternoon when the boys run around the yard and I sit with a cup of tea on the porch knitting or sewing. I think I am channelling Ma Ingalls..which reminds me we just netflix queued the whole Little House series and I am disappointed the shows don't match up with the books. I was looking forward to the clearing of the woods and maple sugaring party...I feel like home skills were such an integral part of the Little House books, and thus far they have been adding to my daily sense of peace and calm amongst the chaos of living with (thus far) 2 boys and the hubby still being out of work and the worry over money and etc etc etc....

In 2011 I made: 1) a hat for uncle mike (who passed away shortly after),2) a baby sleepsack for #3 (which still seems sooooooo small), 3)a tee-shirt for #3 (which because of the girly nature is winging it's way to a friend in Chicago who just had her second girl),4) 2 cardigans for my brother's baby girl (one of which went to a little preemie I know because it came out too small for any child coming from my family!),5) a blanket for my brother's baby girl (the most pink I have ever knitted!), 6) a blanket for #3 (most expensive blanket to date), 7) 4 egg cozies (need to make another for this Easter!),8) 4 different stuffed bunnies for various kids born or adopted this year, 9) a baby sweater intended for a cousin but gifted to a neighbor instead, 10) 4 different pairs of baby booties (the favorite being a pair of converse for a high school friend's daughter) and 11) a sweater for myself

So really it was more than 11 but so many itty bitty things...I really have to get better at taking pictures before I mail things...

I am working on a sweater/hat/bootie set for an event to benefit our local farm, and still plugging away at things for #3. It is weird he has no fetal nickname. With Joe my belly was peanut, with Jude I called him little seal (so much so I wasthisclose to naming him Ronan which is little seal in Irish), the third baby that never happened was little one from the minute I peed on the stick to the last pleading moments of the miscarriage...but this one? nothing. Maybe I am trying to stay detached until I have him in my arms? I don't know, it feels weird not to call him by any name though. And yes we have a name picked out, and no I will not be sharing it....

Up next on the needles, hopefully to be done by Christmas: shark mittens, my first ever pair of socks, a few quick cowls, a hat or two, fingerless mittens and a stuffed animal or a few....
For #3 there will be a summer outfit, a pair of overalls, a cardigan, some diaper covers and whatever else I can cram in before February!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

works in Progress

Well I've been busy working on all sorts of crafty things. I have sewed my first market bag.I think it is lovely even with some wonky stitching...It was simple too! But of course I forgot to take a picture of it before I sent it off to a friend....

I slowed down on knitting because I have been illish- lots of allergy sinus stuff and no knitting mojo. But my Shalom Sweater is almost done, I have one sleeve to complete then I can wear it. Of course I can't button it because of the belly but that's fine.

Canning is in high apple season. We picked a ton of apples but the boys ate them before I could sauce them! It's fine though because we now live in apple country. I may or may not be out in the middle of the night picking more apples off of trees that sit on various city owned properties around town....We sauced 6 pints of tomatoes and hopefully will be able to pick some more this weekend to make more. 6 pints will not see us through the winter....

and the most important work in progress is still making me sick and off food. HE (yes another BOY!!!) is measuring lower in weight than he should be at this point, but the doctors are not worried as of now. Maybe he will just take after my side of the family and be 'runty' as the hubby likes to say....