Handmade valentine – a chip off the old block!

Handmade valentineMy little girl has started nursery a couple of afternoons a week. It’s a dual thing – it gives her a little independence and also gives me some time to get on top of orders.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I when to pick her up the day before Valentine’s Day. She’d made us a Valentine’s Day card with her handprints. It’s very cute and was very unexpected.

Handmade gifts are just perfect and I love the way the nursery gets the little ones involved in making things like this as hopefully it will be a something they want to continue with. Obviously I don’t mean making hand print valentine’s cards, but the pleasure that you get from making something yourself.

I can remember rainy days when I was little – they were for making things. Covering balloons with paper and paste, learning to crochet, peg dolls, that cotton reel knitting thingie, painting with pieces of potato, pom-poms, pipe-cleaner animals and so on and so on. None of these things ever cost much money but gave so much pleasure!

Tangled wool solution – recycled, fantastic, elastic bands!

I have finally found a good use for something that I avidly save rather than throwing away… OK, I don’t like to throw things away. Fact. I buy spring onions from the local supermarket and they always have a blue elastic band holding them together. I always, always save these little elastic bands. My kitchen rammel draw is full of the little things. It’s handy to have elastic bands at hand, but I have lots of them!

I’ve used them occasionally in crochet, if I need some elastic. But there are still lots of them, just sitting there, looking for a new purpose.

Zombie tea cosyToday I had some free time so decided to have a bit of a tidy up. I have a box in which I store my almost finished/just started projects. So if I’ve just sold a zombie tea cosy, then I’ll start to make up a new one, so its all ready to go when the next person wants to give one of my little zombies a new home. The problem is, I very often get side-tracked, either by a new order, or something else I’d just like to try out… yes, you’ve guessed it – this box is bursting at the seams and has lots of wool in there. Lots of little bits of wool that I use for finishing off.

Because I keep stuffing things in there, then rummaging around for some half-finished piece of work, the bits of wool continuously get tangled. It’s annoying.

Well I sorted it out today. Moved out the wool I’m not actually using and put it in one of the wool boxes and then attempted to tackled the ‘tangle’. Basically it’s lots of those small balls of wool. All tangled together. Again.

Wool boxSo, this is where I had the light bulb moment. I popped one of my fantastic elastic bands around each the little balls. Job’s a good ‘un. The wool isn’t tangled, and I get to use something that I felt like I was hoarding because I couldn’t bear to throw stuff away that should be useful 🙂

Oh, there are still quite a few of these elastic bands left, so I either find another use, of just simply buy more wool…

Real nappy stories, or “Really, and she poos in that?”

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I like to reuse and recycle and don’t really like to throw things away.

When I was pregnant I came across a couple of mentions of reusable nappies so I looked into it a bit more. The more I looked the more I realised that I didn’t like the idea of having a bin full of dirty nappies clogging up my rubbish and going off to refill. Not to mention the plastic and chemicals.

Did you know that if Henry VIII had worn disposable nappies, that they still wouldn’t have broken down in he landfill yet?

Anyway, times have really moved on from when I was a baby and nappies were a terry square, a pin and some crackly waterproof cover. It can be quite bewildering looking at all the different types. As I was a novice to all this I originally went for AIO (all in ones) as I thought they’d be easier. I later tried some pockets (PUL outer with inserts) and found they were as easy to use and dried a bit more quickly. I use 2 parters (PUL shell and fitted bamboo nappy) at night as they are more absorbent and last her the full 12 hour (plus).

I struggled a bit for the first 2 months as the BTP (birth to potty) nappies I had really didn’t fit my long skinny baby very well. I wish there’d been more information around to help me as I should have been able to cloth bum from newborn. I later found out lots of suggestions for cheap newborn solutions. I eventually managed to find some cheapie velcro nappies that I could adjust a bit more for a snug fit and we moved properly away from disposables.

Real nappiesBut, it’s now been a year of using them!

We use the odd disposable now and the – like if we go away and visit family – but I really like the idea of how I’ve saved all that rubbish going off to the tip. And the nappies are really cute. And, my little girl looks really cute in them 🙂

I’ve had some interesting comments along the way including “does she poo in that?”, “you’re brave”, “how cool are they!” and “wow, Batman nappies?”…

I’ll try and post more on this and other greener things I do like my reusable wipes!

 

Quick crochet – baby bunny blankies

I don’t have quite as much time to spend on new crochet projects at the moment so I’ve been trying to think of some new things to try that don’t take me too much time.

Crochet baby blanketsI quite like the ‘growth’ of blankets, either doing round and round of granny stitch or by making lots of little granny squares and then crocheting or sewing them together. I’ve also been liking doing a spot of amigurumi over the last 18 months, but it can be quite fiddly doing some of the smaller bits and needs a biggish stretch of time to concentrate and count rows.

Crochet amigurumi rabbitI’ve also been using my sewing machine quite a bit more and have been making some taggy blankies – as per my previous post on this – taggy obsessions.

I thought I might try to combine these so decided to crochet some baby comfort blankies with bunnies in one corner.

I managed to work a couple up pretty quickly, doing the blanket bit during the evening when I don’t have to concentrate too much and then the bunnies during the day when my little girl was having her short naps.

A friend recently had a baby, so I thought one might make a nice gift for her, and the other one has now gone into my Etsy shop.

What do you think? I think he has quite a cheeky little face 🙂

 

Crochet rag doll project

Crocheted toysOver the years, I’ve crocheted a lot of different things – some with better success than others. I’m not very good at following patterns and tend to look at a few patterns and then pretty much make it up on the fly. A bit like my cooking really…

Anyway, as a child my mum knitted me a sort of rag doll for Christmas one year. I used to love the doll. All soft and raggedy. I had the idea that I’d try to make one for my little girl.

I spent a bit of time googling patterns and looking on Ravelry and Etsy. I couldn’t really see exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something all loose limbed and without one of those prettied up faces.

I settled on a freebie pattern but not long after I’d started, it just didn’t seem to be working, so I did what I usually do and started to make it up. Yeah, I know that takes longer really, but I get something more like I originally wanted.

Well, saying that she didn’t end up being quite as I intended, but hey she doesn’t look too bad! The hair was a whole different matter, so I think I’ll write about that in a different installment, but let’s just say she has plenty of it!

I did make some little shoes to match the dress, but they already seem to have gone missing…

Taggy obsessions – a baby sewing project

My little girl is obsessed with all things taggy – tags on clothes, bits of ribbons, bits of string, cables and even stray bits of cotton on clothes. She can’t find any taggy on any toy, even in her sleep. Every new item is turned and turned around until she finds its taggy. Every day her toys get a ‘taggy inspection’.

It inspired me to try my hand at some little taggy comforters. These are the results of my efforts!

They have worked out quite nicely. I have made one side in a soft fleece and the other side in a bright cotton.

taggy blanketI’m always loosing things so I thought it would be a good idea to use my new Kam snapper and create a little strap so the taggy can be attached to a pram or bag. I actually made the little straps myself from the matching cotton rather than use a ribbon – I think it looks pretty cool (and it’s a bit more sturdy).

For the taggies I used a mixture of textures as it all about the texture for babies! Soft fleece on one side and bright cotton on the other. There are different widths of ribbons and some velvet, plus I crocheted some pieces like twists and knots. Lots of things to be twirled around in little fingers 🙂

For extra safety (and neat freakness) I top-stitched the blankies too. It also helps them lay nice and flat.

My sewing machine also does embroidery so I’m thinking I might have a go at doing some personalised ones next – when I get a spare moment or too from tidying away all the toys after my little girl has finished her daily taggy inspection!

Crochet Doll Toilet Roll Cover

I get more requests and click-throughs on this website and my Etsy site for this one thing – crochet toilet roll dolls!

I first started making them quite a while ago and blogged about how it was impossible to find a good pattern. That started me on making my own pattern for these retro dolls. I’ve been making the dolls and selling them on my Etsy site and various vintage and craft fairs for a while. They are always popular. I make them in all sorts of custom colours!

I’m constantly asked where I got the pattern and the dolls from. Well, I’ve finally got around to writing the pattern up. It’s now available for immediate PDF download on my Etsy shop. Happy crocheting!

I might eventually get around to writing up a few more of my patterns… maybe it will be the zombies next 🙂

 

So, I’ve just dyed a doll’s hair…

Bride crochet toilet roll dollAs you know, I make all sorts of things. Some of the most popular of my creations are the toilet roll covers and toilet roll dolls.

I have been using the same dolls from the same supplier for quite a while now. It can be quite hard to find the right size (at the right price). The dolls are all white and blonde and I’ve just not seen any others.

A couple of weeks ago I had a custom order from my Etsy shop for one of my bridal toilet roll dolls, but a brunette. Well, I searched and searched and managed to find one but the price was ridiculous!

So, I had a sudden flash of inspiration – could I dye the doll’s hair? I tentatively started to Google, thinking I wouldn’t find anything, and low and behold found quite a few links to how to do it. Mainly on how to create a goth doll, but I didn’t let that put me off 🙂

Anyway, a couple of links were suggesting acrylic paint for vinyl dolls and I used to do quite a bit of painting so dug out my acrylics. I chose a raw umber for the dye and gave it a go. The first attempt was a bit wishy-washy, but I tried it again with a bigger blob of paint and less water and it seemed to work quite well. What do you think?

The biggest tips I can think of for doing this is:

  • Pop the doll’s head on something like a pencil if you can – it makes it much easier to handle
  • Pop some vaseline on the dolls face so you don’t dye her face too
  • Use a brush or something similar to do the roots
  • Comb the paint through before it dries, otherwise it clumps and is a pain in the bum to sort out.

I’m really pleased with the results and it wasn’t even difficult to do – every day’s a school day!

Oh Etsy, why?

Quirky Purple EtsyJust a moan really…

Etsy swapped a few menus around a little while ago and I’ve only just got used to them. It just wasn’t as quick to get to my Shop Activity. I don’t know about you but I really like to keep looking at this. I love it when people favourite my things and then someone else favourites it.

I’ve just popped onto Etsy today to add my hot water bottle covers back up now that the weather is getting colder and it’s only gone and bloody changed again!

Arrrgggh, all the menu bits are now on the right-hand side rather than the left so my finger keeps twitching the wrong way for the menu.

Now, don’t get me wrong – those new little icons look really cool and I particularly like how my purple logo is used up there. But, yeah you knew there’d be a ‘but’, right? Now I have to do 2 clicks to see my shopfront?? It’s another thing I like to keep an eye on and change my featured items and I like to look at the shop to do this so I can see it how potential buyers will see it.

Is this just me? I’m not really a computer luddite and over the years I’ve changed enough large websites myself to know that you can’t please everyone all of the time. I guess there’s been a lot of user testing on something as big as this, so it probably is just me 🙂

I’ll shut up now and go and bath the baby…

First sewing projects

Well yesterday I had a play around with my new sewing machine. It’s been years and years since I had a decent machine. For my first project I chopped up an old dress and made a simple skirt.

Today I wanted to try something different. My little girl loves all things ‘taggy’ so I thought I’d have a go at a taggy blankie.

I’ve used soft fleece on one side and cotton on the other. I think all little ones like different sorts of taggies (silky, textured, knotted etc) so I tried to come up with something different to the usual bits of ribbon that you see on them. I’ve noticed at the moment my little girl likes knotted things as she’s teething, so I included a few of those too. Also, as crochet is my usual weapon of choice, I crocheted a few taggies too.

One thing I find useful with toys is to have something to attach them to the pram with. Imagine losing their favourite toy or blankie! So, I made a little strap and I just need to pop the Kam popper onto it. Actually, it will have a dual purpose as my little girl currently has an obsession with all things strap-like. I guess you could also use it to attach a dummy?

Anyway, I also top-stitched it so it has a double set of stitches to keep the taggies safe and I think it makes it look better too. Oh and I had to use a scooter fabric 🙂

What do you think?