Animal Advent Calendar

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You might not think a shark is particularly Christmassy or a rhino, erm . . . . how about a crab? Well, my eldest boy loves ALL the animals so, mix them up with some Christmas stars and it’s an Animal Advent Calendar.

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I do like the chocolate ones and ‘Yes! I would like a chocolate Advent Calendar thank you very much’  but until Rupes cottons on to the chocolate element, there  won’t be any in these pockets.  He is desperate to look in all the pockets as it is, so if chocolate were involved it might just tip him over the edge. Lots of people do the advent book thing, which is nice and the books don’t have to be new. Other people give something each day rather than getting anything at all, which I would like to do with my boys when they are older and understand more. We are also pegging out a family photo a day, on a little string, in the lead up to Christmas, like this, my favourite picture of my grandparents:

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the passage of time with an Advent calendar, so I wanted something physical and visual which would appeal to a toddler.  I also like the idea of getting something out year, after year and making simple family traditions.

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I started making the calendar when I was pregnant with the twins but never really got it together in time for last year.  I had every intention of hand sewing little, felt decorations to go in the pockets, probably after seeing one on Pinterest.  All those twin hormones clearly made me completely over ambitious. It may still happen one day in the distant future but for now, there are plastic animals, purchased for the bargain price of five for a pound, and Christmas stars adorning the tree.

I’ve found life with a toddler to be full of extreme emotions, but everything about Christmas so far, with an almost three year old is well and truly bringing the magic back.

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Knitflix and cowl

 

 

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Trump. Shit. Some people go running to deal with this kind of thing, some people drink copious amounts of alcohol and some people, like me, binge watch Netflix or, as I like to call it, ‘Knitflix’ and get their craft on.  I’ve been doing a lot of crochet lately.  This is mostly because it’s a really portable and pretty sociable craft.  I can crochet sitting on the sofa, outside, for 10 minutes between feeding or changing babies and before my toddler notices what I’m doing.  Also, designing stuff is my favourite thing to do and crochet is pretty flexible in terms of what you can produce.

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I find crochet to be super therapeutic and I always do it when I feel stressed or sometimes to just wind down from the day.  I’ve been tweaking this particular design for a couple of years and I’m happy with this year’s run in neutral colours.

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They are reversible and warmer than traditional scarves and cowls because of the two layer system.

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The outer layer is crocheted in an alpaca/wool mix and the inner layer is luxury faux fur.

I have just opened my Etsy shop for the winter and these are the first items to be listed.

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They remind me a lot of the natural landscape and walking on the beach in winter, hence why I have named them after some of my favourite beaches.  This also echoes my unstoppable desire to be near the sea, I can’t explain it, maybe it’s just a case of you can take the girl out of Cornwall . . . Matt would definitely blame it on my Cornish ways (I like to think he means my endearing ways, not sure if he does though!) personally I think it’s probably down to all the sea water I ingested as a small child.  When I was a girl, I could step out of my front door and see the sea, I spent hours on boats and surrounded by maritime paraphenalia. The first thing I wanted to do for myself after giving birth was to go and walk near the sea, albeit slightly uncomfortably. I don’t think I could live somewhere for very long if I had to travel far to get to it.  As it is now, occasionally, if the conditions are right, I can hear the waves from beyond the burrows when I go to sleep.  It’s a ridiculously romantic notion, but by hook or by crook, the sea salt has gotten into my system and I think it’s there to stay.

 

Drowning in cardboard

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(Cardboard sculpture by Australian artist Annalise Rees)

If like me, you are drowning in cardboard on a weekly basis (I blame the babies in my house) then here is some cool stuff to do with it all.  You could do something altogether over half term if you have kids to entertain or just on your own this weekend if you don’t. So much of what we already have in the house is reusable and these ideas need mostly cardboard, paint and maybe some other bits you might have lying around. First though, some inspiration:

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French sculptor, Eva Jospin’s deep, dark forests made from cardboard are amazing and beautiful , see more here.

However, perhaps the ideas below are more achievable for the next few days.

I love these underwater creatures with peg people:

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Look at these light up houses made from milk cartons!

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This Fox marionette would be fun to make with older children:image

Or this:

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Toddlers would really love this ball maze:

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This cardboard camper is so cool!

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A Cardboard kaleidoscope!

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You could easily extend play too as suggested in the original post.

If you are feeling really industrious and have just moved house (!) you could make a cardboard box maze once the kids have gone to bed!

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I love the one above but I can’t find the original source, such a good idea! Alternatively you could make one in the garden:

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Here is the original post showing children decorating this elaborate garden maze.

We did this once and it was amazing, but I’m not suggesting you give it a go, as it’s probably disaster waiting to happen. When some friends did it a long time ago I think the radiator came off the wall, but alcohol rather than rice cakes was probably involved.

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Bank Holiday Inspiration

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What I will probably be doing this weekend is feeding babies, changing nappies etc, lots of walking about with my boys, maybe a bit of beach time and brunch time if I’m lucky.

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I will also be thoroughly enjoying the fact that we have Daddy around for an extra day.

But here are some crafty things I might be doing if I didn’t have three children under three as bank holidays are always good for getting your craft on. I am happy to spend the time I am stuck sitting feeding these little bundles finding cool stuff to do, even if I can’t do it myself just yet. I’m thinking we might manage one of the food related items on the list, Matt is a good baker!  And maybe you would like to do some of it, let me know how it goes if you do!

  1. These fudgy beetroot chocolate muffins look great and are kind of healthy, from the minimalist baker.
  2. This tote bag would be great for kids or an adult magnetic travel scrabble, from ducklings in a row.image
  3. One of these sweet little turtles from the purl bee would be a good weekend project.
  4. These flourless chocolate brownies from running with spoons are amazing! They also don’t contain any black beans, sweet potato or avocado. I like the idea of healthy stuff in brownies, but the reality not so much! After trying them and being disappointed several times, black bean brownies can just do one. These, however, I have tried and tested and are really yum.
  5. How about you crochet some cute slippers from meet me at mike’s, it might be April but I definitely witnessed hail today, so the slippers are here to stay for a while yet! image
  6. Get the kids involved and make these cats from Molly moo crafts so easy anyone can have a go.
  7. These DIY marbled mugs from Mollie makes are also super fast and would be a good way to use up your old nail varnishes.
  8. Or you could have a go at your very own dinosaur terrarium from turtle crafty girl.image

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you get a bit of sunshine and some fun times with good people. x

Badges, badges, badges and a Christmas market!

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Westcountry badge set anyone?  I just had a lovely time at the Magdalen Road Christmas Market in Exeter where I sold some of these, as well as these:

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but you don’t HAVE to wear them all at the same time either:

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or maybe you’d prefer a set with a torch:

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or a bear:

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The mountains and bears they keep on coming!

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as well as these little guys, who come individually, as I think they will make nice stocking fillers:

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These would be available in my Etsy shop but I have sold out, so as soon as I make some more they will be there.  I am making the hats customisable in case you should want a copy of your best loved hat to pin to your jumper.  I also just made a custom ‘Tis Ansom magnet for a nice lady I met at the market and a few mountain necklaces as well.  It’s a lovely Christmassy event and I will definitely be going again next year.  Just let me know if you want something.

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Above is my ‘Zoe Did It’ array and here’s me manning the Arrietty stall, look at all Laurel’s lovely things!  There’s still time to pop in to the shop before Christmas if you’re in or around Exeter and get yourself a special handmade present.

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And I couldn’t have done it without these guys of course:

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Now best get on with the family and friends presents!  I’m a bit behind . . .

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. . . the only problem is that now I have an early riser, I don’t have enough hours in the day, it’s make or sleep, hmmm . . .  probably settle for crochet in bed with Mad Men tonight – I know I should have watched this a long time ago, but I’m very much enjoying working my way through season 5 (slowly!).

Perfect Strangers Project, Oh Comely Magazine

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I love ‘Oh Comely’ magazine. I am in fact hoping a certain someone is going to buy me a subscription to it for Christmas, if you haven’t seen it I recommend you check it out.  The folks there run an annual parcel project called Perfect Strangers where you can connect with a stranger via package swapping, snail mail style.  When I read about my swapper, it wasn’t too hard to decide to make her a handmade parcel; in a nutshell it seems she is as crazy about handmade stuff as I am.  It seems like we would get along really well!

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Here is what ‘Oh Comely’ suggest as a starting point for your package:

Dear Perfect Stranger,

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a parcel full of trinkets and treats for your swapper. Inside could be anything from sweets, a poem, to samples of your favourite tea.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s an inspiration list to get you going.

1. A wintry treat

The nights are drawing in, so get something to warm the cockles. The choice is yours, but how about scrumptious hot chocolate, a mini hot water bottle or a small hamster. Just kidding: definitely do not post hamsters. The price guide is £10.

2. A modern-day message in a bottle

For this, you will need an empty spice jar and a memory stick. Record something on the memory stick that you’d like to share: a mixtape, photographs you love, a film. Think about the songs or photos from your collection that you recommend time and again. Pop the memory stick in the jar, and seal it up ready to send into the world.

2. ‘What’s in my bag?’, photocopy edition

Pop into your local copy shop or accomplish this covertly at work. Empty the contents of your handbag, rucksack or favourite pocket onto the photocopier. Remove anything scratchy first, like your keys. Other than that, no cheating. That stray piece of chewing gum stays in, you hear? Make a copy. Now pick a colourful pen and annotate the objects as if you were writing a children’s science book. Lighters with sentimental value, bus tickets to see your Nan: tell ’em all about it.

If you don’t have access to a copier, you could send something you always keep in your bag instead, such as a fresh tube of your favourite hand cream.

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So here is what I put in the parcel:

1. A handmade wintry warmer cowl in black and white chunky knit

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2.  My other passion is music, so the memory stick is full of all time favourite songs along with some tunes to craft to!

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3.  My handbag contents is always ridiculous (thanks for letting me scan it Molly!)

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I thought she would definitely need some of these:

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And also one of these:

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The package would not be the same without these either:

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I’m getting a touch of the Christmas about me already, and yes I do know I’ve really got to keep that urge under control until December!

I also added some chocolate, of course, some cinnamon tea and some sparkly apple Christmas decorations.

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I really hope she liked it and I’d almost forgotten that I would be receiving a parcel too!  It’s a lovely way to get to know someone and this package from Stephanie really cheered up a grey day today, can’t wait to listen to the mix tape:

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Thank you so much for all the lovely things! Hopefully we’ll get to have a cuppa one day soon.

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I’m already in love with this fabric:

 

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She even put in little gifts for my boys:

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This was such a great idea from Oh Comely, I thoroughly recommend that you look out for it and take part next year, I know I definitely will.

Little Mountain Bear Cub

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So, all has been a bit quiet over here as I have been beginning to prepare for the Magdalen Road Christmas market in Exeter,  it’s on December 6th so I haven’t got that long before I need to have things ready!  I’m doing it with my friend Laurel from Arrietty who has a stall there every year.  Laurel has been knitting up some soft and lovely lambswool into beautiful patterns and she has kindly donated me a few bits for creature making:

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I used Laurel’s lambswool, linen and felt and the little bear cubs aren’t too big, they look like little totems.

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Im also working on some dinos and trying out some embroidery, I like the little touches of detail.  As well as being on sale at the Magdalen Road market on the 6th, they are available in my Etsy shop.   I’m sure they would make lovely Christmas presents, remember it’s great to shop handmade if you can, support small businesses and avoid mass production.  Everyone wins!

Winter Mountain Mobile

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I’m just a little bit obsessed with mountains at the moment, they are popping up everywhere over at our place.

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Oh and bears, bears feature heavily too.

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I have been meaning to make Roo a mobile since he was born, but it’s taken me a while!  Anyway, I was forced into it yesterday as at the weekend he destroyed his swallows mobile, which was my fault really as I should have moved them before he could get his paws on them.  They were still attached to the cot, from when he was very small, now that he is moving around and grabbing etc it was only going to be a matter of time before they got it.  They ‘got it’ after nap time two days ago when I walked in to find one of the birds crumpled in his hand.

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So yesterday afternoon I sewed the trees, mountains and bears:

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I spent the evening assembling the rest.  If you would like to have a go at making a mobile like this you will need the following:

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I knotted the fishing wire, and used a needle with a large eye to thread on the shapes and felt beads.  I tied each length of wire onto the inner circle from the embroidery hoop as well as some lengths for hanging and then tightened the outer circle over the top.

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I like the muted colours of the shapes with the brighter colours of the felt beads and the different lengths of wire.  I am going to add one of these on a ‘made to order’ basis to my Etsy, as well as some hanging decorations just in time for Christmas.

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Schnuggle-uppagus schnood!

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I remember one of my best friends, Faye, telling me about how her sister has been known to talk in her sleep, which can be embarrassing if you ever share a bed with friends or siblings, especially as you get older.  Thanks to Claire for coining the expression schnuggle-uppagus in dreamland, it’s the best way I can think of to describe this scarf.  I just want to crawl in as soon as the weather turns cold!

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I made this for myself really as it’s the kind of thing I want to wear in the cold, but a few friends and family now have them too.  They have been quite popular, it’s always extra special when you know gifts are very happily received.  I didn’t really want to model this myself, but it was too big for my baby boy and there was no one else around!  I managed to get one ‘normal’ (isn) face’ shot before I could no longer take myself seriously.

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I used a super chunky yarn and a pretty stitch which gives it a nice close weave, sometimes I find crochet can be a little too holey!

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It is a combination of a crocheted shell with a faux fur inner lining which really gives it a luxurious, wintry feel.

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It is completely reversible as well and I kind of like it both ways, you can choose which way to wear it depending on your mood or the air temperature.

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These will be available in two colours, scarlet and navy in my Etsy shop throughout the Autumn and Winter season.

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Little Cornish Jumper

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This is actually the second one of these that I have made.  The first one is testament to the fact that you really should make necklines very generous on baby jumpers to avoid:

1) not getting said jumper over baby’s head

2) annoying baby A LOT!  Oops!

In a nutshell, for younger babies buttons are good, likewise for not pulling stuff over the head.

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It reminds me of jumpers I used to wear when I was growing up in Cornwall which is why I’ve called it a ‘Cornish’ jumper, although technically it was made in Devon.  Hopefully this won’t cause as much controversy as the great jam and cream debate.  Of course, it is jam first.  

I love the nautical feel, it would be nice with some little anchor buttons at the neck, or even with a stripe.

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I used this basic pattern without the bumpy bits and adapted it slightly with contrasting ribbing at the neck, hem and cuffs.

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I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran wool, which is lovely for babies and quite chunky too.  It took three balls to make this jumper.

 

 

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I also began at one of the V stitches in order to leave the neck open, joining under the arms instead.  You could of course leave it open all the way down and adapt into a wrap cardigan.

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