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February 2008
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April 2008

Holiday quiz and new kid craft favourites

Guess We're off for a week tomorrow. Guess where? I'll have a drawing that includes all of the people who answer correctly and I'll send the winner something special, don't know what - but it will be special, maybe something from the holiday.

This is like one of those silly TV quizzes that everyone knows the answer to, do people actually enter those - do people actually win?

As I'll be away, thought I'd leave you with a few images from the past week.

My kids have been off school for Easter break and we haven't had the best spring weather. It's been very cold. Snow on Easter Sunday and bitter the whole week.

Daffssnowed_2

I broke out some crafty bits that I've been stock piling and we've been dabbling in this and that while waiting for the sun and a few rays of warmth.

Gracieshrinkies1

Gracie has been enjoying Shrinkie Dinks. She can't get enough of them. And she can't quite believe the fact that they've been around since mummy was a little girl - she thinks they're way too cool to be so old.

Shrunk

Magic! We have lots of plans for her little creations, but we'll have to reveal them at a later date.

Dogfelting

Tristan has been introduced to needle felting. Both of the children are loving this but I've found it particularly useful for holding the interest of my 9 year old boy. Any other parents out there trying to limit computer games and telly, I highly recommend needle felting.

Being allowed to stab something repeatedly with a very sharp needle was very satisfying for my son, try it with yours - I guarantee it will keep them away from the computer or the telly for at least an hour.

I explained a little about it here if you aren't familiar with it. For needle felting supplies try Myriad, I've talked about them before, if you're in the UK get their catalogue - lovely stuff.

Paintedeggs

To start the holiday we had a little egg painting, of course. Decorating the boxes with a bit of decoupage was fun too.

Decoupagebox

Then the hunt. The coldest Easter egg hunt I've ever experienced. Thank goodness the children were quick, any dawdling would have meant numb fingers and toes for mummy.

Hunt_2

What will all of your children be up to over their Easter/Spring breaks?

If you still remember my terribly difficult quiz about where we're going for holiday and you know the answer, email me with your answer (friends and family can't take part because that would be even easier than it already is.)

I really will send a nice pressie to the winner. Have a lovely week!

J x


Favourite finishes

Topstitch_3

Ever mentioned my love of top stitching? I love the way it makes whatever I'm sewing all finished and tidy looking. Top stitching usually also means the project is nearly complete and what follows is that rosy feeling of accomplishment (I still get that feeling even though my projects are mostly quick & easy.)

Composite

For Tegan. A cheery little bag for a sunny little girl - and of course a few favourite Rosie Flo's to go in it.

And to the person who asked how I cram in all the things that I do - just look at the old, ill-fitting clothes my daughter went off to a birthday party in. Knocking out the bag took precedence over helping my child dress.

It was just a bowling party after all ;)


Spring Crafts at Mistletoe Cottage

Springcmc2_2

A lovely time had by all.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our doodle embroidery sessions at Mistletoe Cottage this past week. I was warmed by the sparks of creativity flying from the fingers of all who participated. We hope to see you again soon!

Click here to see more images from the two days. Email us if you are in the Kent area and would like to know more about future craft days.


Naughty little bunnies

Twobunnies_2

I'm not usually one to create little narratives about the toys I make (Lyn is the best toy maker/story teller in blogland, bar none) probably because my toys often end up looking as if they lack personality. These two are different, the more I added to them the more they started talking to me.

This is what they told me. They are are sisters. Camille is the brown bunny on the left. She's the oldest and thinks she's very glamorous. She loves to have her photo taken but pretends to hate it. Camille's always confident yet she's a bit self-conscious of her ears because they're rather long and not as petite as her sister's - mummy insists she'll grow into them, but she's not convinced.

Issy is younger by only six months and she has a habit of giggling at the most inappropriate times. She is very kind-hearted and doesn't ever feel the need to stand up to her bossy older sister. Issy secretly wishes she had chocolate brown fur like her sister but is glad she doesn't have her over-sized ears.

Camille and Issy love chocolate and when mum's not looking they stuff themselves silly.

Chocolatefill_4

Look, Camille is doing it now!

They are very naughty little bunnies - but so much fun to make.

I had intended on making these with the children but whipped these up in the wee hours for a quick gift. We'll make some together this week as school holidays have just begun.

Here's how to make them.

Supplies: Paper and pencil, felted wool or thick felt, two pipe cleaners, straight pins, buttons, embroidery thread and needle, scraps of coloured felt, fabric, lace or ribbon. Optional: Sewing machine, bag of chocolates

  1. Measure the height and width of your chocolates and draw a rectangle on paper for a pattern using those dimensions and add 3cm to the top and bottom. Determine the size you want your ears to be and cut out a smaller, narrower rectangle for those. Round off one end of each of the paper rectangles and cut them out, this is your pattern. NOTE: This pattern can also be used as a hand puppet. If you're not using it for chocolates, the measurements I used are: 18cm tall x 12cm wide for the body and 14cm long x 2.5 - 3cm wide for the ears. The fabric centres of the ears can be cut from the same ear pattern less one centimetre on the width.
  2. Cut out two pieces of wool for the body and two ears. Then cut out two pieces of patterned fabric for the centres of the ears.
  3. Pin the patterned fabric pieces to the centre of the wool pieces for the ears. Machine or hand stitch all the way around the patterned fabric leaving the base of the ear open (I used a small zig zag stitch.) Repeat with the second ear.
  4. Cut the pipe cleaners to a centimetre longer than the length of the ear. Turn one end of each pipe cleaner into a circle then insert the end with the circle into the base of each ear. You now have two bendy bunny ears.
  5. Decorate the front of your bunny. Sew on buttons or felt circles for eyes. Embroider a triangle for a nose, or sew on a felt triangle. Then use a backstitch or a split stitch to make an upside down "Y" starting at the base of the nose.
  6. Add other details, needle felt a heart (see below to learn more about needle felting) or sew on a felt heart. Make clothes. Lay on strips of fabric and/or lace and ribbon and trim them to 1cm over each side of the bunny.
  7. Sew the clothes along the edge of the bunny on either side. (I used a zig zag stitch again.) Then trim the excess of the edges to tidy it up.
  8. Tail_2Take the back of the bunny's body and needle felt a tail or sew on a pom pom.
  9. With wrong sides facing and the ears positioned at the top of the head tucked in between the front and back of the body pin the parts in place. Sew from the base around the head and back down the other side - leave the base of the bunny open.
  10. Let your bunny stuff herself (or himself) with chocolates!

Alternative: Use the bunny as a hand puppet or stitch up the base and stuff with filler to make a stuffed toy.

A note on needle felting: Sarah Rosensweet is a Toronto based artist that specializes in exquisite needle felted children's clothing. She gave a fantastic tutorial on The Martha Stewart Show a while back and it's the best one I can find that shows how easy it is. If you've never tried needle felting, it's inexpensive and very easy - try it!

And on embroidery: Mary Corbet has a really nice little library of stitch tutorials for embroidery on her site Needle'nThread. I highly recommend her videos for embroidery beginners.

H A P P Y  E A S T E R !


Heart strings and stitches

Ellysheart

A little heart for one of the many new babies in the family.

I've been making these hearts with felted blankets. They're so quick and easy, a nice little project to do with both beginners or advanced stitchers. We had a mixed group of abilities at our latest craft workshops at Mistletoe Cottage this week and everyone found these a joy to make.

Busygroup1_2

We just combined vintage buttons, beads and trimmings then doodle stitched whatever came to mind.

It was such a relaxing project, and great to see how unique each design turned out.

Click here to see more photos from this first spring session.


A project close to my heart

Coverimage2_2

I'm so thrilled to finally be able to share this very special project with you. I've been working on the design of this book for several months now. It's called Remembering, a type of book/journal to help children work through bereavement.

It's author, Dianne Leutner, the illustrator, Daniel Postgate and myself have all experienced the loss of someone close to us and through research we've found that a child in the UK loses a parent every 30 minutes. This doesn't even take into account the loss of a sibling, friend, grandparent or other people close to them.

Raincloud_3Dianne's text has just the right touch sensitivity, and Daniel's illustrations are outstanding. There is space for photos and drawings as well as spaces to write about the loved one. This book is like a special little place for a child to return to, helping them remember their loved one, whenever they wish.

The response to the preliminary copies of the book has been overwhelming; local teachers, vicars and doctors all wanting copies to distribute as needed.

Lady Mountbatten, the Honorary President of The Child Bereavement Charity has said Remembering is "A very helpful little book of comfort for bereaved children."

It's not even published yet and a copy made its way into the hands of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, they are writing about Remembering in their national newspaper column this Saturday. For those of you in America, Richard and Judy are the Oprah equivalent in the UK with their own book club and talk show.

Backcovercomplete_2Now we are searching for the right publisher to take it on. While it's in the hands of several publishers at the moment, if anyone has any publishing contacts for this specific type of book that might help speed up the process, please let us know through this site.

There's such a huge need for a book like this, people are offering to buy copies printed from our inkjet printers not wanting to wait for a real printed version.

If anyone is in need of a book like this, email us at dianne.leutner@btinternet.com or leave us a comment and we'll add you to the waiting list. As the book is ready to print, it should be ready for distribution soon - with or without a publisher, we'll get it out.


A little peek

Embroiderywip_2

I'm in one of those "loads going on but not a lot to show for it" stages. This is another little embroidery item I'm working on. Not sure what it will be used for yet, it may fly off to one of the three new babies in our family (if Gracie will let it go.)

Congratulations Miles and Brittany on the birth of little Elise, Trevor and Sue for lovely Elly Grace and Donald and Lucy for the birth of their big strapping lad Reid. Wish I could be with you all for a great big cuddle.

Copy

My new work room is smaller than the old one, but nicer because it's downstairs and therefore seems to get more of my attention. But it doesn't take long to pile it up.

I love seeing other people's spaces and what goes on there, the Crafter's Companion, by Anna Torborg is a great little insight into other crafter's work and spaces and there are even Flickr groups on the subject, like this one. So here's a little snap of mine, what I get up to in it and why it gets piled up. My fabric cupboard didn't fit in the photo, it might deserve a post all it's own one day :)


A bag for spring & summer

Summerbag

I've been trying to get around to making a pattern for my messenger bag, I will one day Becki I promise. This bag by, Claire (AKA bouncyflea) over at Craftster, just looks like spring. So until I get my pattern made you might want to give this one a go.

Here's her tutorial. I haven't made one yet myself yet but her instructions are very clear and it looks quick to make - my kind of project. Thanks for generously sharing it with the rest of us Claire.

WhipupnewbuttonAnd also a big thank you to Kath at Whip Up for featuring my personalized paper doll project, love that Whip Up :)


A cozy little meal

Favouritesoup

One of my favourite, tasty and easy (what else would you expect from me) soups. And the colour that peaks up at you from the pot while you stir it is an added little treat.

The ingredients: a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, 1 onion, 150g of pancetta or bacon diced (roughly 1 cup), 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery sticks, 1 tin of plum tomatoes, 2 tins of rinsed beans of your choice (I use 1 tin kidney, and 1 tin of cannellini), 1 litre of vegetable stock, 1 small savoy cabbage finely chopped, chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and pancetta for 3 or 4 minutes until soft and golden. Add the carrots and celery and fry another 4 - 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, beans and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, simmer for about 10 minutes. See that was quick, quick, quick!

To serve, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and add a nice chunk of crusty bread on the side.

I wish I could let you smell the comforting aroma :)