Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some crafty pictures from Christmas 2009...


Clockwise from top left:
A snowman cheeseball made with herby cream cheese and decorated by Freja.
Some presents with more Felt and Stitch poinsettias, ready to be sent to my Gran and Peder's parents.
A peg bag for my Mum made from one of Freja's baby dresses.
The felt balls for the kids.
Bookmarks drawn on upcycled linen napkins by Freja, for her Dad and Grandpas.
Crumbly semolina mince pies made with Auntie Pams's recipe and my mincemeat.
Peder's Swedish knack.
A wrap around apron for my Secret Santa.
A little purse for my Secret Santa.
A Warm Fuzzies felt cupcake pincushion for Mum and a felt tissue pouch for me, for inside the Jack Horner Pie.
A present for me! A lacy Baktus scarf knitted by my Mum.
My Mum knitting me another Baktus scarf.



Monday, December 21, 2009

Crackers

So, last week someone made a comment about Christmas crackers on Facebook and I realised we didn't have any. What to do? They are not very common over here and I hadn't noticed any out and about in the stores. I had a little browse online and came across Olde English Crackers where they also sell the components for making your own. There you go, I could make some! I just ordered the snaps because I was pretty sure I could rustle up enough other supplies to cobble something together.

So first, the contents. We needed jokes, hats and presents.

Jokes were easy thanks to Google and this 50 guaranteed hilarious* Christmas cracker jokes list. I just printed the list out, selected a joke for each of us and cut them out with pinking shears, just to make them a bit fancy and all.

Next, hats. We all have rather large heads, or thick hair, or a combination of both, in this family, so those paper hats that come in the crackers seem to be too small for the adults and way too big for the kids. I measured all of our heads and was going to make some tissue paper crowns but then I figured if I was going to cut them out and glue them I might as well cut them out of felt and sew them, then we can use them again. I used some red craft felt that I had and decorated each one with a different trim.

For the presents Freja and I swung into a Hallmark shop and picked up some very cheesy mini snowglobes for my Dad and Peder, and I sneakily bought a princess keyring that for Freja that she was coveting. Magnus is getting one of his Matchbox cars from the toy box, my Mum is getting a silk scarf with holly and other Christmassy stuff on it that I'd already bought, and I made myself a very quick wool ball bracelet.

Here it is all laid out and ready to go:

And all rolled up together for each cracker, mainly so I could make sure I got the right things in each one.
I used the tutorial on the Olde English Crackers website although I didn't really use their dimensions. I used a mailing tube for the inside cardboard tubes because it was the only tube I had that was big enough to fit my chunky felt hats. The outer paper is some Ikea gold giftwrap from a few years ago and the stiffener in the ends is the heavy paper that Ikea uses in rolls of giftwrap instead of tubes. I added tags to each one so we know whose is whose, these were cut from leftover paper from our wedding stationery with little star-shaped holes punched for the ribbon to go through.

I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out, I just hope they BANG!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Balls!



It's been a bit quiet on the crafting front here recently with all the run up to Christmas stuff going on. I've still got a few more presents to finish off and I think I'm going to have a go at making our Christmas crackers this year. They are a bit tricky to find over here and I'm sure they can't be that difficult to make. I've got the snaps on order and I'm having a little think about what to put inside them.

These balls are presents for the kids for inside the Jack Horner Pie. I used the two remaining balls from when when I made my wooly dryer balls and used a combination of wet and needle-felting to add some colour to them.

I'm really enjoying playing around with felting and I'm expecting this book to be under the tree on Christmas morning, or a bit later as it has to come from Japan. I'm hoping the pictures are good because my Japanese isn't!

It won't be too long now until we can crack open a jar of mincemeat and see how that turned out, yum!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas is coming...



...and I don't want to spoil any surprises by posting pictures, as most of what I've been making lately is for presents. I've been making a few more felt things and started doing a bit of 'regular' sewing. I've been trying out using proper patterns from books, instead of just winging things, which I'm really enjoying. It's nice that someone else has already done the thinking so all I have to do is cut out and sew, that helps when I don't get started until the kids are in bed.

Hopefully I will sneak in some time to make something for myself soon, otherwise I will post pictures of all the other things once Santa has been.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Continuing the tradition...

I come from a family of sewers:

My Dad wooed my Mum with a pink felt elephant, and made me a witch costume for my Brownies Halloween party.
My Mum made almost all my party dresses until I was at University, and most of my curtains since.
My Granny made nightshirts for everyone, every Christmas, for years.
My Auntie made our bridesmaids' dresses and waistcoats for all the boys.
And this week, my daughter and I made a lavender bag:


My new wooly dryer balls


Okay, not the most exciting of things I admit, but very useful. I've been using plastic dryer balls for a while but one of them split in half recently so I needed to replace them, as I do think they help reduce the drying time and soften things up. Since I bought them I've read that they are made from PVC which isn't the most eco-friendly of materials, and I've seen (expensive) felted wool ones available to buy online. Seeing as I'd just ordered some natural merino roving for some other projects, I thought I'd have a go at making some felted wool balls myself. I used a combination of needle-felting and wet-felting to form them and then finished them off by sticking them in the washing machine inside an old nylon tights leg. I started by making four smaller ones like I'd seen online, but after running them through with a load of laundry I realised that it would drive me nuts trying to locate four golf-sized balls in every load, so I enlarged two of them to about the same size as the plastic balls. I decided to leave them natural because I didn't want any dye rubbing off onto our laundry but I think I might add some coloured roving to other two balls and turn them into the kids' presents for inside the Jack Horner pie. I just need to be a bit more careful when I'm needle-felting because I managed to stab myself twice and then snap off all five needles on my tool whilst making these.

I enjoyed trying out the wet-felting for these and I've just got this Feltique book which has some lovely projects for all different kinds of felt, so I think I might try making some wet-felted sheets of felt soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A hat for the princess-obsessed one

There's not been much crafty stuff going on here the last week because we've all been flaked out with the flu, but I've finally managed to get an action shot of a felt hat that I made for Freja. A crown for the princess-obsessed one:



I also made another needle-felted pouch. Needle-felting is so much fun, I've just ordered a load more roving so will hopefully have some more projects to share soon.



I need to get cracking on a few things for Christmas presents which I won't be able to post until after Santa's been (sorry Mum, no use trying to get a sneak preview here!) and of course, I need to come up with some little pressies for our Jack Horner Pie.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Felt and Stitch Projects - part 2

And some more things from the workshop:

A needle-felted pouch.


A "Jack Horner Pie". The idea with this is that you serve it up on Christmas Eve and inside is one little present for everyone. I thought this would be a nice family tradition to start, particularly for the years when we're doing Christmas British style, not Swedish.

Felt and Stitch Projects - part 1

The 4-week Betz White online workshop I've been doing is over today so at last I can share some pictures of the things I've been making.

Some Christmas trees, the big one still needs to be decorated.

















An angel, although I'm thinking about making it into a fairy by making it a little crown and wand.














A poinsettia brooch.

















A poinsettia brooch made from felted sweaters.















Another poinsettia (these are fun to make, can you tell?).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A cashmere hat for Magnus...




I've managed to find a few cashmere sweaters in the thrift shop recently and they are soooo soft. They don't felt up like wool does but they do go a bit thicker and fluffier if you run them through a hot cycle in the machine. I thought I'd try and make a hat for Magnus based loosely on a fleece one that I saw in the Crafty Mama book I borrowed from the library recently. It's two pointy pieces stitched together and then knotted in the pointy bit. I like the idea that as his head gets bigger the hat can be made bigger just by moving the knot. We had problems last year with a Santa hat that kept falling down over his eyes in the car because his head disappeared up inside it! I didn't have the pattern so I just eyeballed it and cut one piece out from each of the sleeves. I stitched them together and added an extra bit of ribbing from a different cashmere sweater round the end so that it could have a turn-up without exposing the seams. We've just been out to the park and he only pulled it off once so that's a good measure of success for me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Freja's Pumpkin

 


Drawn on the pumpkin by Freja, cut out by me. I love her people.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mmmm, cake.




I've been having lots of fun the last couple of weeks making things from the Felt & Stitch workshop. I can't share any pictures from that until it finishes next week, but I can show you the cupcake pincushions I've made from Betz's book Warm Fuzzies. Only problem is they can't be eaten, but that's okay, I have a plan to get Peder to take me to Sugar Cupcakery in Milford for my birthday treat next weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Halloween decorations...

A felt banner.
A twiggy tree.
A pipecleaner spider...
...and his friends.
Another felt banner.
Some decorated cookies.
Ghosts on the stairs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Halloween Costumes

 


Can you tell what we were supposed to be?

Our neighbours had an adults-only Halloween party on Saturday night which was a great opportunity for us to go out for once, because I was able to pop back to Magnus when he woke up. Peder's costume was made with a cheap poker set, an old waistcoat of his (which he has been hanging on to since I've known him!) and lots of hot glue. Mine was made from some pretty shimmery blue fabric, a kit of foam fish (which Freja helped stick together) and some safety pins. If you haven't worked it out yet here's a clue - we were supposed to be a typical British fast-food meal...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Project Mincemeat

This will be our third Christmas in this house and in the US. The first year we had only been in our house a few weeks and I was pregnant with Magnus, so there wasn't much spare energy around for Christmas preparations. My parents were here and my Mum did all the cooking. Last year Peder's parents came over so we celebrated Swedish style, which again meant that I didn't have to do much. This year my parents are coming again, but I thought it was about time I put a little bit of effort into establishing some Christmas traditions of our own. I thought mincemeat would be a good place to start for two reasons, you can only really buy one pretty ropey brand here and two, I don't like orange so won't eat it anyway. I decided to give Delia's recipe a go with a few tweaks to remove the orange. I chose this one because you heat it up to melt the suet and coat all the ingredients so I'm hoping that will help the apples keep well.
So, recipe in hand I went off grocery shopping and managed to find most of the ingredients apart from the suet and the mixed peel. I think I found sultanas, although they were called white raisins and actually just looked like very big normal raisins. The peel was easy, I used a Jane Grigson recipe and made some candied lemon peel myself. The suet was a bit trickier. People don't eat animal fat here you know, it's too unhealthy :) All the Googling I did suggested that suet is used to feed birds and could be obtained from butchers. I called a local butcher but he said it was a seasonal product and it was still too warm for them to stock it. Not much use if I wanted my mincemeat to have a bit of time to mature before Christmas. In the end I discovered, from the Cincy Localvore Yahoo group that Greenacres Farm had some.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, I suppose a nice little foil wrapped block like butter, but no, this was a big hunk of frozen raw animal fat. Nice. Definitely not in a state to be put directly into mince pies. Anyway, as you can see from the picture I found out how to melt the fat and strain it so it was nice and clear, and a much better state for mincemeat production. The tweaks I made to the recipe were to use apple juice instead of orange, and only put in the candied lemon peel. I also had to play around with the spices a bit as I didn't have Mixed Spice. I think I used fresh nutmeg, cinnamon and a litle bit of ginger. I doubled the recipe so was expecting about 6 jars but ended up with 4, each weighing about 1.25lb. They are now sitting in a cupboard waiting for us to get Halloween and Thanksgiving out of the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some craft room progress...

I've had a little bit of time this weekend to do some sorting out in my craft room in preparation for the Felt & Stitch workshop that starts today. I won't be able to post about anything I make with that until after the workshop ends, but here's how the room is right now. There's still a way to go (it's lucky the tablecloths reach the floor because there are a lot of boxes underneath!) but I'm happy with how it's shaping up. I found the big table and the wall shelves in Goodwill, the red and white tablecloth fabric at a yard sale, and the chair is from Ikea. I gave the shelves a quick lick of Copenhagen blue paint and some varnish, and enlisted Peder's help last night to put them up. Despite our best efforts the one for the scissors is a bit wonky, but it was getting late so we left it. Maybe once I get a bit more up on the walls it won't be so noticeable? :)

I'm still planning a few more Halloween decorations with this little lot so I'll try and post some pictures of those when they're done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going batty.

I've volunteered to host a Halloween party for one of our playgroups but at the moment, apart from our 5 little pumpkins collected out and about, we have hardly any decorations. I could go out and buy a whole load of plastic rubbish that we stick up once and throw away, but I thought it would a lot nicer to try and make some decorations that we could use year after year. The kids coming will be mostly aged 3 and under so I don't want anything too scary, I think I'll mainly stick to cut-out shapes like pumpkins, ghosts, owls, cats.

These bats are the result of my first attempt. I just cut out the shape from felt and used my new glue gun to stick them onto a clothes peg. The peg works well to hold the body part rigid and makes it easy to attach the bats around the house. It was pure fluke that the felt I had was just bigger than the clothespegs so none of the peg shows when they're up (I considered painting them but decided they didn't need it). The felt is cheap non-wool craft felt with purple sparkly bits running through it. I'm quite pleased with them, might have to go and find some more cheap felt in Halloween colours, I'm saving my nice wool stuff for the Betz White workshop which starts next week.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A mini glue gun project


That's a mini project, not a mini glue gun. I flicked through the Crafty Mama book the other day and just about every project seemed to require a hot-melt glue gun. I happened to find one for $2 soon afterwards so decided to bring it home and see what I could do with it. I haven't used one in a long time, probably not since school, so I thought a small project would be a good place to start. I want to put up some pinboards in my craft room so I've been keeping an eye out for cork. In Ikea the other day I found these cork trivets which I thought would make lovely little pinboards. So, glue-gun + cork trivet + fabric + drawing pins + buttons + double-sided tape to stick it up with, and I now have somewhere on the inside of my kitchen cupboard to pin up my plan of what's for dinner each night. I found that the glue dried really fast so I had to work quickly, there are a few lumps where I wasn't quick enough. Next time I will make sure I cover the surface I'm working on and maybe wear an apron so I don't get glue on my top. Might make another one for my shopping list...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I have a plan for some of that felt

Since starting this blog I've worked out how to actually follow other blogs, rather than just bookmarking them and forgetting all about them. I was very excited to see this post from Betz White pop up today. She's going to be doing an online workshop which sounds like a perfect way for me to get some Christmas crafting done, and eat into my pile of felted sweaters at the same time. I've signed up and it starts on October 12th so look out for some felty projects in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Felt Owl Cushion



I've made something with some of that big pile of felted jumpers!

Freja and I were having a root around in my jewellery box the other day and I found an old owl brooch that I've had for years. I used the shape of the brooch to draw out a pattern template, cut the pieces out from felt, and zigzagged them together to make the owl. Even the buttons on the eyes came from a cardigan that I felted. The cushion cover was made from a really big jumper that didn't felt up quite so much because it wasn't 100% wool. I'm pretty happy with the result, but I do need to work on my photography. Off to browse the library catalogue for some books on that...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A big pile of feltiness...


I had a little go at felting last winter, boiled up some wool sweaters from the thrift store and a bit of needle felting from a kit. I found the process really satisfying so when I saw Betz White's book Warm Fuzzies at the library recently I checked it out. Last week while Freja was at pre-school Magnus and I hit the thrift store and came away with a big stash of wooly sweaters. This picture is the result of felting it all.

They've all had one cycle through our washing machine on the sanitise cycle, which I'm assuming is the boil wash. I did them in three batches and the dye ran a lot (that purple one was a light blue/mauve before it went in with the red jumpers) so I'm glad I kept the colours vaguely separate. I followed the instructions in the book to cut off and open up the arms before felting, so that they don't get a creased line all the way down them. I think I'm going to have a go at some more of the cupcake pincushions from the book and I'm also trying to think of ways to use the red and green for something Christmassy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What am I doing?


This is me at the beginning of my journey to regain my craftiness. It has been far too long since I made stuff regularly, not since I was at school and I miss it. I miss planning projects in my head, spending time making them and then admiring my finished handiwork. One of the benefits of US houses is that they tend to have basements and I am lucky enough to have a room in ours that I have claimed as my craft room. That's about as far as I've got, I've moved all my craft supplies in there and claimed a few bits of furniture but it's still in need of a big sort out. It has no windows but it does have a lovely big walk-in cupboard, or closet as they say over here. This is a picture of it now, hopefully over the next few months I will be able to show the transformation to fabulous craft room and all the wonderful things produced from within.