Yes, I know it is not the first day of Christmas, but why let that get in the way of a good post title!
Last night I manically finished my origami advent calendar. My previous post had some different ideas for homemade calendars and I went for the easy option, the origami one. It’s not quite as fancy as the one in my link, but it does look good. I haven’t added anything to hang it yet though.
The tutorial for the origami pockets is here. I used origami paper, but you could use an sort of paper, magazines, wrapping paper. I used stick on numbers from Hobbycraft. In each pocket is a piece of paper with an activity, mostly for Betty’s benefit (but a couple for us!).
I’m really pleased with it, though not sure about it’s longevity with the kids, being made of paper, but it was easy to make so nothing lost. The pockets are glued on to a large piece of foam board type thing, £2.50 from Hobbycraft.
Today’s activity is ‘Write a letter to Father Christmas’ which we will be sending here and awaiting our reply!
I absolutely adore these soft logs by My Imaginary Boyfriend. You can buy ready made logs or a make-your-own kit from her etsy shop. I no longer have a flat with a fire place but if I did I would fill it with these logs. I may just have to order a kit anyway to make my house feel a bit more country cozy!
Last Saturday we visited the pop up exhibition of Jeff Josephine Designs, run by the talented Sophie Elm, who makes delightful ceramics, fabrics, prints and 3D pictures (I’m sure there is a technical word for these sort of things that she makes!). Sadly the exhibition has finished but I just wanted to share some of my favourite pieces from her blog:
Ooh, I just want to climb into this house!
I’d love this print to for my hallway to welcome my guests.
Simple and elegant. Living in Cheltenham, and attending art college in Edinburgh has obviously given Sophie plenty of architectural inspiration.
Let me get this straight to start with. I am NOT one of these freaks who starts Christmas shopping in January. I get visibly disturbed (and not afraid to voice my displeasure) at shops displaying Christmas stuff in September. I do not believe that we need to spend a quarter of the year preparing for a 2 day holiday. And I don’t send Christmas cards (Happy Christmas to all my friends reading – don’t be offended! It’s not you, it’s me – I’m lazy!).
But Advent doesn’t really count as it starts at the beginning of December, so if you are making a calendar you will need some notice. Actually, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive, but this is a secular blog, so we won’t be pedantic here.
I thought I would showcase a few projects that I have come across in my search. This fab Advent Jar from the Just A Girl Blog is one of my favorites. Fill covered match boxes with tiny treats or challenges for your children. She has some great ideas here.
The lovely Stitch This made this beautiful creation, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time, so you are not frantically sewing the stars only a few days before each one is meant to be hung!
If you’ve got time and space this Advent Town will delight your kids (though perhaps not as much as a Buzz Lightyear one filled with cheap chocolate if your children are anything like mine).
Space and time are two things I am short of. However I am not short of origami paper so Origami Advent Calendar from Homemade Gifts Made Easy (now that’s my sort of website title!).
If you are even shorter on time and creativity, then I love this anti-poncey advent calendar:
Now I promised there would be no wanky photos on here, unrealistic snapshots into a seemingly perfect life. Well, I just thought I would show you a picture of my sewing cabinet. This is as close to wanky as I get. It’s not as pretty or vintage looking at some I’ve seen, but I love it. It is a place to gather my crap.
It is an old computer cabinet from IKEA. We’ve not had a PC for years but I refused to get rid of it, sure it would come in useful someday, and it has. The keyboard draw pulls out, and with a little bit of wood for stabilisation I can sit my machine on it and sew at it, which I haven’t done much admittedly.
I actually got the idea from the book Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. Suffice to say hers is much lovelier than. But then she has a craft book and makes living from this. I have a part time job, a tiny rented house, 2 young children and an IKEA cabinet. I do have crochet bunting though. That was on there just for the picture though. It would definitely be wanky if I kept it there all the time.
I absolutely love the blog Counting Coconuts. She makes all kinds of educational resources for her children, based on the Montessori methods. Now I am not really into these fringe educational ideas. I’m a state girl to the core, a mix of liberalism, socialism, and down-right laziness! However, I might just make the Continent Bags for my daughters, I think they are fab. Unfortunately I am not well travelled, mainly due to my poor upbringing <sob>. I had no university gap year, I slaved away in sweaty kitchens and smelly bars to pay for my education. So I may have to beg, borrow and steal paraphernalia.
I also love these I Spy jars. I’ve seen tutorials for the I Spy bags, but let’s face it, I’m not going to battle with clear PVC and my sewing machine, I’m far more likely to do this with some jars I don’t have to make myself, after all, it’s the filling that’s the fun part. Check out the blog, it’s great. And she’s just had a baby you can coo over too!
Ok, if I’d sat and thought about it I could probably have come up with a more inventive post title. I’ve been playing with paper for the past few days inspired by this book, Girligami by Cindy Ng. A lot of the patterns are cutsie shoes and bags and things, which are nice but not for me right now. But there is a lovely heart pattern which make for precious little things to send through the post, and a little envelope that you can write a loving message in.
Galvanised by the book I did a little googling and found this website, and got to work using some of the piles gorgeous papers given to me by a friend who hosts Japanese students.
Got back yesterday from another weekend with faaaamily. This time it was way up north to a party celebrating my dad’s wedding. The packing and the journey went amazingly well. DH and I had not a cross word to say to each other. The kids were really well behaved. Betty often gets car sick and is not allowed books or toys to play with. We’ve also resisted the lure of a DVD babysitter for fear that it would exacerbate the car sickness. What we’ve opted for is a really cheap and cheerful cd Walkman and a case full of talking books (and a near constant supply of batteries!), which seems to keep her amused pretty well. We just hear the occasional giggle or singing along to a song from Fantastic Mr Fox.
Anyway, the weekend was lovely. My dad didn’t want a present seeing as it was his third wedding, plus DH was doing photographs for them. But I didn’t want to go empty handed and wanted to make something. After a bit of google image searching I came across something I liked the look of. Now I’m not entirely sure of the etiquette when it comes to, um, being inspired by someone else’s work. Part of my being a dilettante is being able to be inspired by other people’s ideas but not great a coming up with my own. I’m like those people who forge Old Masters. Well, you know, obviously a lot less talented! If these forgers can meticulously reproduce these wonderful works of art does that make them artists too?
Unlike the forgers I’m not selling my copy just giving it as a gift. Hopefully if I link to the original the crafter will be flattered at my imitation and will appreciated the traffic in return. And you will all see that hers is far superior.
And here’s mine:
I was discreetly trying to finish it right up until the last minute. Then after I’d wrapped it I had to unwrap it so that DH could take a photo! I used a lovely silky linen remnant that I got from from eBay (though it looks a bit weird in the photo). I printed out the words using a font that I liked so that I could trace it on to the fabric. I wasn’t the size I wanted though, so I ended up doing it free hand. I traced it onto the fabric using a kind of carbon tracing paper. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d use it again. It was quite hard to use, wasn’t very fine. And when I inevitably deviated from the pattern it left a smudgy mark which was difficult to remove. I need to investigate better ways of marking a pattern if I am going to keep going with embroidery.
I think they liked it. I deliberately left it for them to open after I had gone as I was worried they’d think it was a bit wanky rather than kitch like I was going for. I’ve had enough master pieces presented to me by my daughter to know the plastered on smile and I didn’t want to see it. They text me on the way home to say they would treasure it. I wonder if it is ‘treasure it in a special box’ type treasure it or whether they’ll actually hang it up…
Leaving embroidery in the hoop is the technique du jour from what I can see in my limited journeys into the craft world. Some other examples I love are this large hoop from Ballpoint+Pen.
And these cute little designs from rugglestitch’s Etsy shop. This is a bandwaggon I’m going to be jumping on!