15 December 2014

Felt Christmas Wreath

Christmas is definitely my most favourite time of the year and I love it when its time to decorate the house. I am one of these people who has to have the Christmas tree near the telly, and often find myself staring at it instead of whatever I am supposed to be watching. I am one of those people who gets excited early and its never too early to start making mince pies or watch Christmas movies.I think the build up to it is just as much fun, if not more than the day itself. I think its just all the family, friends, warmth, nice food etc. I love it all!

Most of our decorations are purchased (some handcrafted though) but one thing I do like to do is make a wreath. If you have had a nose around the blog you might have come across my wedding bouquets which I made using felt. I really loved these and its so nice to still have it to keep. Ever since making them I had an idea to try and make a wreath for Christmas in a similar way but using more Christmas themed colours.

The wreath itself is a polystyrene mold which you can get from anywhere on the net, I think mine was from amazon. And the flowers are made using this technique (youtube link). I hope you like it. I think it is a great little adaptation of the bouquets. Now I just need to think about what other applications I can apply it too!

I hope you are all ready and prepared for Christmas. Do you have any DIY traditions which you would like to share?

12 December 2014

Make your own gift tags using left over wrapping paper

As I said in my previous post, gift tags are expensive! Well here is my very quick tutorial on how to make your own using left over bits of your very own wrapping paper.

Scraps of wrapping paper
Card (plain white is best but feel free to use a cereal box etc)
Glue - spray mount glue works best, but PVA/Modge Podge will suffice
Hole Punch
String/ribbon/yarn etc

Take your piece of card and put your left over wrapping paper over the top. If you are using one piece of paper to cover the whole piece of card then perfect, if not then just lay the scraps down onto the card as neatly as possible to cover as much of the card as possible. For information I have used some of the free papers from one of the Christmas issues of Mollie Makes. They make perfect paper for this little project.

Glue the paper to the card using glue.

Once it has dried using your scissors cut out some nice tag shaped labels out of the card. You can think about using the pattern on the paper to make shapes if you fancy.

Using the hole punch make a hole in one end of the tag and thread through your ribbon.

Ta Da! Gift tags without the extra price tag!

Enjoy, and never feel like you need to be ripped off to have matching gift tags ever again!

8 December 2014

Make your own gift tags - Scandi lino printed tags

I have a real problem with gift tags. They cost a fortune if you want nice ones and you need about 20 packets if your family are anything like mine and wrap EVERYTHING. They are something I never buy when I buy gift wrap because they are so expensive, but then if you don't buy tags you either don't know what belongs to who, or you have to write on the present which just isn't pretty. In that vein I always end up making my own. Mostly just pieces of card with a hole in, but this year we are getting more inventive! 

So using my new found lino cutting skills I designed and made these scandi inspired Christmas tree tags. If you want to have a go at these yourself you just need some lino cutting supplies:
Lino cutting tool
Lino block
Block printing ink
Piece of glass
A spoon or something similar
Some plain card
Hole punch

So all you need to do is draw up your design of choice. Have a look on the internet (or dare I say it... Pinterest) for a bit of inspiration. Think Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes or something much more complicated if you prefer. Then using the lino cutting tools cut out the design. You will need to think in reverse, remember, anything you cut away will be the same colour as the paper and anything you leave raised will be printed in the colour.

Once this is done put some of the ink on your piece of glass, roll it around a bit with the roller and add some ink to the block. Place the block upside down on your piece of card and apply pressure with the back of the spoon (I used scissor handles). Once you are happy you have rubbed over the image remove the block from the card and you should have a pretty little print. Just repeat the print over and over on the card to make many labels. Once they are dry, cut them out, punch a hole and thread your string. It really is that simple.

Or.... if you want to do this at home, and don't want too complicated a design, use a potato and some poster paint! Works just as well, you just won't get to keep your block for next year but is much more accessible for younger hands.

I hope this has inspired you to have a go at making some of your own gift tags instead of spending a fortune on the shop bought ones. Your imagination really is your only limit. I will have a new quick post of Friday to tell you how you can make your own gift tags to match your wrapping paper and very little extra expense. We can't complain at that now can we, I like the idea of thrifting a little at Christmas so you can spend a bit more time on the important things.

5 December 2014

Adventures in Lino Printing - A Christmas Lino Print Workshop

As you may or may not be aware we are now at 38 weeks so this little man is going to make his mark any day now, scary or what! The problem is that I am, to be honest, completely knackared. This means that I am mostly sitting on the sofa under a blanket and a cat and not getting up. Nice for me yes, bad for getting all the things that are in my head done! But despite my lack of ability to move I actually have a few festive type blog posts to write up which is exciting, so expect a little bit of a flurry from me in the next couple of weeks, followed by what will likely be a complete silence for a while as we adjust to our new lives.

So following on from the lino printed baby grow... which wasn't a complete success, I went on a lino cutting Christmas workshop with a friend. Neither of us really needed to do this workshop, its something we have both done before, but it was a nice excuse to get out the house and do something a bit out of the ordinary. I also wanted to have a go at using the new type lino printing blocks, and some proper ink before I dived in and bought myself any more supplies.

The workshop was great and was run by Leanne Narewski who does some lovely prints. We all sat down for two hours, drew up a design, cut out the print and then made either some cards or some print pictures. It was incredible how well everyone's turned out, even for people with little or no experience. Each one was completely unique but just worked so perfectly, I wish I could find a link to show you pictures of more peoples work (you can see my friends on her facebook artist page). Ellen (who you should know by now as my boss) came along with another colleague from work as well and their prints were also gorgeous. I am secretly hoping she is reading this and will post you a picture in the comments!!

So I have now purchased a few more lino cutting supplies so I can make proper Christmas cards with my print block once they all arrive. I have also been making up some gift tags so will show these off to you in a couple of days.

In the grand scheme of things this is actually quiet a cheap hobby to take up, the supplies are really not that expensive to set up. The real issue I had was the cost of the ink, as you want more than one colour, but the bottles are actually huge, and you only need a really small amount so at the end of the day it doesn't end up costing the earth, as long as you are sensible about your colour choices.

I hope you like my little festive bears, I think he is adorable and I love how he can have either a hat or a crown depending on his mood! The hat is a separate mini block so this can be printed in any colour and added after the original print is dry.  

Below is one of Ellen's prints, see how different it is to mine, but still looks amazing! 


30 November 2014

How to slow down for creative types - find a slow sofa project!

I have never been very good at just sitting down, I'm one of these people who doesn't feel comfortable unless they are doing something, anything. Even now, when I am trying to give myself 5 sat on the sofa, after a day of work, I am both writing this and thinking 'I should be starting dinner' etc when I should just be taking it easy.

The problem is, now I am pretty much cemented in my third trimester my body is screaming at me to just stop, but my brain just can't handle it, there are so many more interesting things to do than just sit down and watch tv. I also haven't ever been any good at reading. Its not that I don't like books or can't read them its just that I would prefer to be creating something, whether that be a piece of art or a cookie it doesn't really matter.

So whats the solution? Well for me, I think I have discovered it is a little knitting project. Nothing too complicated, or too big mind, otherwise I am likely to get fed up and move onto something else... which doesn't involve sitting around! But just having a little bit of knitting on the sofa which I can sit down, pop the tv on and crack on with means that I actually have something which forces me to stop. This really has become a bit of a revelation for me and should really do me some good over the next few weeks. My only issue now is trying to unprioritise things like making mince pies and prioritise finishing off the little cardigan or blanket or whatever it is I am knitting up which is forcing me to be sat on my arse!

Do you have the same issues? I can't be the only one? What projects do you have which you find are perfect for doing whilst sitting on the sofa? I imagine a cross stitch or crochet project would work just as well. I would really love to hear other suggestions from you.

21 November 2014

Lino Printed Baby Grows

Bears..... aaahhhhh! Run for the hills!

Seriously though, I have a real thing for bears at the moment, Polar bears of course being the hands down winner ever since seeing the handsome fella below in Copenhagen, but grizzlies are just as cute as well. I don't know if its becoming a trend, or if its the influence of having my own grizzly little bear on the way, but either way anything bears is win for me at the moment.

So I wanted to have a dabble at making a lino print for printing on some baby grows. I have had a small experiment into lino printing before, and actually have some good supplies (seriously not an expensive hobby unless you want to buy a lot of inks). So I drew up a handsome bear and transferred the drawing onto a lino cutting block. Then, using the lino cutting tools, I carved him out into this fabulous looking block.

Here comes my warning about lino print carving... keep your fingers out the way! Yes I did slip and push the blade full force into my thumb, not so great when you are using blades which were found at a car boot... so be wary of this.

Once you have cut out your print you use printing inks and a roller to cover the image and pop it only your printing surface. After applying a little bit of pressure to the back of the block you can carefully lift it off and you should be left with a lovely relief image. There are a couple of really simple tutorials on youtube for this so I seriously suggest you go check out how easy this is.

I do think I could do with a bit more practice though! I managed to get a bit too much ink on my roller and it has gone into all the grooves of the print. Because I was printing onto jersey the fabric has gone into the grooves and picked up all the paint which was there, giving me the kind of opposite effect to what I was after, but this really doesn't matter, I think this version worked out great and I am really happy with his little smiley grizzly face :)

I hope you liked this little idea into decorating your own baby grows/onesies. If you want to give this a go yourself then don't stop there... you can use block printing on cards, invitations, t-shirts, bags anything so give it a go yourself. 

Edit: I have just booked onto a short lino printing class with a friend as well so hopefully I will be able to hone in my skills and make some even better prints, I will let you know what we make on the night! 

14 November 2014

Fox Cub Hoodie

Well... if you are going to have a little fox cub you might as well dress him like one!

I am very pleased to show off this adorable little fox hoodie which I have knitting for the little man. I found the pattern on Ravelry and I just couldn't pass it up!  Its knitted in really chunky wool so it made up really quickly (unlike these darned 4ply baby knits I keep picking up!). 

The pattern was easy enough in the most part, but I had a lot of trouble with the ribbing cuffs etc. The pattern is translated into English so although it probably makes sense to the more seasoned knitter, as a bit of a novice I struggled with some of the sections. I still dont think I have the ribbing correct... I mean look at those sleeve cuffs, what are they all about? But I dont think it matters, it came out ok in the end and it should fit a little boy brilliantly. 

I made it for a 1 year old as the pattern was only for ages 1,2 &3 but at least he will have time to grow into it, hopefully by next winter when he starts needing new outerwear again. 

The wool is some very cheap Wendy Serenity 100% superwash which I purchased from what is fast becoming my favourite online wool shop www.loveknitting.co.uk. They are always doing 10-15% off something, email you free patterns and they send out your parcels in gorgeous little bags which arrive very quickly. You couldn't ask for better service. I just need to stop buying wool for projects before I am near to finishing the last one... oops!

I really have discovered I love a baby knit because they are so small, quicker than an adult knit, and easier to port about. I just hope I still find a little bit of time to do some more when he arrives as it would be a real shame to have to stop!

One thing I will say though it that I am really missing sewing my own clothes. I know I really should have done a bit more maternity sewing, but I had one of those bad experiences with some elastic (which seems to be in all maternity sewing patterns) and I just couldn't face picking it back up again. I have however already started shopping patterns and fabrics etc for when I do finally (fingers crossed) return to my old shape so I really can't wait to get back into that again. I really hope I can find some time (and energy) for it! I will just have to get Mr Fox looking after baby whenever I can!

But for now... on to the next knitting project! I don't like to blog about a project though as I feel like I get a curse and they never end up finished, so you will just have to wait and see on that front.

Have you got any projects on the go at the minute you want to share? Or do you have any baby sewing/knitting kawaii/fancy dress ideas you want to give me? You know I am always on the look out for more! Do feel free to comment and share away.