Thursday, December 29, 2016

Winter Holiday Felt Crafts with Toddlers

I love doing craft projects with Lucky.  We've had a lot of success with $1 kids from craft stores and using glue and stickers to put things together.  It would be a lot cheaper if I designed my own crafts, so I wanted to see what simple crafts I could come up with that involved minimal cutting and giving him a lot of chance to glue.

The green felt I'm using is left over from the Dinosaur Hooded Sweatshirts I sewed for the boys.  The blue and white felt is left over from their R2D2 and BB8 Halloween Costumes (which isn't on the blog yet but you can check it out on my Instagram account.)

These projects are very simple, but I still wanted to provide step by step instructions to remove any guesswork so you can do it, too.  I highly recommend using a craft felt glue versus standard white glue because that doesn't sink into the felt as fast so things have a better chance at staying glued the first time.

Christmas Trees

  1. Cut out 3 triangles and one little rectangle.  
  2. Glue the rectangle to the bottom back of one of the triangles.
  3. Glue the remaining two triangles on top of the first triangle.  Voila!  You have a tree
  4. Decorate the tree with sequins or glitter glue.  (With an older child you could decorate right away, with a toddler I'd recommend waiting for the tree to dry before decorating.)

Star of David

  1. Cut out two triangles. (I held two pieces of felt together while cutting so they would be the same size)
  2. Flip one triangle over and glue on top of the second triangle as shown.
  3. Decorate with sequins or glitter.  
I completed one of each of the projects by myself while Lucky was taking his nap.  This way I could make some that fit the vision in my head before I allow Lucky to have complete creative control.  I find that it helps stop me from "correcting" him.  

When I was waiting for my projects to dry, Lucky saw them and got really excited.  He couldn't wait to make his very own Christmas trees!  We glued the pieces together and then waited for them to dry before decorating.

It was hard for him to pick up the sequins, so it might be easier to (gasp) use glitter with a 3 year old than sequins, but nevertheless he had a blast.  

While Lucky was busy gluing, I was inspired to attempt a more complicated felt project.  

Menorah (or chanukiah as Lucky likes to "correct" me.)

  1. For the Menorah itself, cut out a semi-circle,  a small triangle, a small rectangle, and then a rectangle large enough to fit all of the pieces.  
  2. Cut 9 skinny rectangles for the candles (try to make sure they are thin enough so they can all fit on the menorah.)  
  3. Cut 9 little orange diamonds to be the flames.  
  4. Glue the pieces together.  
  5. If desired, use some glitter glue (I used glitter puffy paint) to make the flames sparkle.
  6. Decorate your menorah with sequins.  
  7. (Optional) Cut a second rectangle large rectangle and glue it to the back of the entire project to reinforce it.  I glued my whole project onto some scrap felt and then cut it out after it had dried.
At the time I was writing this post, I hadn't had a chance to do the Menorah with Lucky. Since this one has so many more pieces I know that it will be harder.  However, since I've decorated a window ledge with our bedazzled holiday items Lucky has been asking to make his own Chanukiah every day.  I now need to wait for a Rowdy nap so we have some uninterrupted gluing time.

There are so many pieces this time but I plan to let Lucky take it step by step.  I'll show him my version and ask him how he thinks the pieces should go together.  I'll give him the menorah pieces first, then the candles and finally the flames.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with!  

This was a two-for-one project for me.  I added some more holiday cheer (especially some Jewish symbols since our tree sort of dominates a lot of the decorating process) AND had a lot of fun crafting with Lucky.  

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Happy Winter, ChemKnits readers!  My dear friend made my family this name sign, and it is so perfect and crafty I had to share it with all of you.

Check out Boston University "B", Knitting "R", Dinosaur "O", Purple Wellesley "W" and Lightsaber "N".  If this doesn't sum up the Browns then I don't know what does!  

I hope you are all having a warm holiday snuggled up with a lot of wonderful fiber.  Happy Crafting!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Triangle Dinosaurs

When I came across these triangle popsicle stick dinosaurs I realized that this was a perfect project to do with Lucky.  All of the pieces would be easy to cut out AND it could involve both painting and gluing.  What more could a 3 year old ask for?  (Plus it is an added bonus these dinosaurs could work as decorations for Rowdy's first birthday party!)

We started by painting some wooden craft sticks into different colors.  Lucky got really into the "painting project" and enjoyed having an object to paint.  He also really liked mixing the colors on his plate.

Whenever we paint, I spread out the leftover paint over the paper plate to use for future crafting projects.  You'll see the plate he was using today featured in another dinosaur project!

I glued the first two triangles once the paint was dry to see how it came together.  I used Elmer's school glue and it seemed to hold okay with the overlapping edges.  Lucky helped me glue the remaining triangles. I placed the glue and he placed the ends on top.  He needed some assistance to complete the triangles, but enjoyed the "project" time.

I cut the pieces freehand.  In the picture below my triangles look perfect, but you can't tell that there are some slight cut out pieces because those will be hidden by the craft sticks.

I set aside multiple color options for Lucky in a take out food container and started gluing my samples.

Now it is time for Lucky to create his dinosaurs.  He likes to "let me look at the picture" when he is doing a project and follow along.  I don't care how he glues the pieces to the dinosaurs because these are HIS crafts and I already got a few "perfect" ones out of my system while he was at school.

Lucky wanted to help draw the smiles on his dinosaurs.  He did a really good job!

I really enjoyed this project because it gave us a THREE different periods of activity: painting the sticks, gluing the triangles and then finishing the dinosaurs.  Lucky LOVES doing projects, even something as simple as doing a little glue.

Want more inspiration?  Check out my dinosaur birthday party Pinterest board!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Wool Turkey Hat for Florida

When Lucky was born (October 2013), I really wanted to make him a turkey hat for his first Thanksgiving.  I quickly realized that I didn't have the yarns in my stash for the feathers, so I made a drumstick hat instead.  As Rowdy's first Thanksgiving approached, I realized that I finally had my chance to adorn him with turkey feathers!

I waffled a bit on which Wool of the Andes brown to pick for the base hat.  I actually ordered 3 different browns because I couldn't tell about the tones looking on the KnitPicks website.  (Why I didn't go upstairs and look at my color sampler is a bit beyond me, but I wanted to hit $50 for free shipping anyway and extra stash brown yarns frequently come in handy.)  Besides the brown and the teal (Spruce - 10 g, 22 yards), the rest of the yarns came from my stash.  In the end I selected the lighter brown (Chestnut, 38 g, 84 yards) and used remnants of Maroon (10 g, 22 yards), Orange (10 g, 22 yards), and Semolina (5 g, 11 yards).

Well, I need to knit a base hat since a pattern isn't provided.  What should I chose?  My snowy penguin hat is just about the right size to fit Rowdy now.  I'll that on him and then modify that as needed to fit my 9.5 month old cruiser.

While I waited for Rowdy wake up to try on the Snowy Penguin Hat to get a sense of sizing, I decided to start making the feathers.  This is the part I need to follow the pattern for anyway.  I like size 5 needles with worsted weight yarn so I was going to stick with 5's instead of the suggested 7's.  However, half way the first feather I realized that I was using my size 7's.  Whoops!  I accidentally followed the pattern instructions!  The hat fits Rowdy really well so I'm going to follow the SNOWY PENGUIN HAT pattern as the base for this turkey.  I cast on 90 stitches on size 5 needles and started knitting.  (Whoops!  I should have stuck with the 92 stitches to have it even for the ribbing. I cast on 2 more and THEN started knitting.)

Before I had finished the first feather I wasn't sure if I would want 5 or 7 feathers.  From the scale 5 won't quite fit the whole way around and if I do 7 they should all fit with a bit of overlap which might look nice.

NOTA BENE - There is an error on round 12 of the pattern.  You should K7 where it says K6.

I don't know if I'm going to knit the beak and waddle of the turkey.  I'm planning to complete the hat with just the base and feathers and see how I feel about it from there.

I really like this sunny photo but you can't see the details as well as in the next photo.  

They fit!  The pattern has you stuffing the feathers before putting them on the hat but I decided to let the flop a bit.  With some blocking I knew that they would stick up.

Maybe we need a candle hat, too!  I do need something for Rowdy's first Chanukkah...
It was really fun to keep trying this hat on Rowdy as I assembled it together.

Although he escaped me and ran off with the hat!

He was so darling that I couldn't select just one of these photos, and the hat wasn't even completely finished yet!

Right when I was finishing up the hat I realized something horrifying.  I was making my baby a WOOL turkey hat when we were planing on spending the holiday in Florida!  (We had amazing trip filled with 75+ days.)  Thankfully the temperatures indoors were moderate enough that Rowdy tolerated the hat for me to get some Turkey Day pictures.  

The hat is big enough that it should fit Rowdy a while into this winter.  I don't want to let some cheerful turkey feathers go to waste!  I'm super thankful for many things, but I am so happy that I finally got this project out of my queue and off of my needles!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Behind the Design of the Cloudy Rainbow Hat

My cloudy rainbow hat design is a really simple pattern.  You knit a tube and then graft the top together with the kitchener stitch. I even provided some tips on how to resize this hat to fit any sized head.  It took me some trial and error to get the right shape for Rowdy's head, and I sort of made up the design as I went along.  Today I'm going to share some of these notes as I was designing this hat PLUS take the opportunity to share more adorable pictures of Rowdy.

Why was there trial and error?  I knew that I only had 22 yards of my handspun chunky yarn and that that was probably not enough yardage to make a hat for a 9 month old baby.  I knew that I needed to push the design as far as I could to get something that would fit him.

I really like the "cloud" that ended up on top of the hat, even if that was not part of my original vision when I started spinning.

I started by casting on 33 stitches, but I quickly realized that this was going to be pretty big on Rowdy's 8.5 month old head.  Since I was only a few inches into the hat and already on the green yarn, there was NO way that I could create an entire baby hat.

I started over with 27 stitches.  This fit with negative ease (and likely wouldn't last very long), but I got almost to the top of his crown by the time I ran out of yarn in my chunky gradient.  

You may note that the pattern itself starts with 28 stitches.  I did this because I really wish I had used 28 stitches and it is easier to write insturctions for grafting an even number of stitches than an odd number of stitches.

So what was I going to do about my yarn shortage?  I had some thinner (worsted weight) yarn with the same colors that I had intended to use all along for the pompoms.  What would happen if I held this double with some white Tuff Puff to finish up the top of my hat?

And this is how I got the cloud on top of my rainbow.

Before I started knitting, I considered doing vertical stripes with a K1B technique but I REALLY REALLY wanted to show off this true gradient without breaking it up.

There was only 11.5 g left of the worsted weight before starting the pompoms.  I really wanted to make sure there is enough for 2, so I wound the yarn with care and kept my fingers crossed.

Each one a red-red colorway when winding.  Woot!

It would have been nice to have denser pompoms, but I knew that these were going to be super cute.  

I mean, look how cute they are before they even made it on to the hat!  

So there you have it!  With a little trial and error (well, a few errors), I ended up with a hat that I designed from dyeing the fiber, spinning the yarn and the knitting the hat.  

I know that I've done a good job when people I pass on the street start grinning at me.  

How can you not grin when you see this little hat?  I suppose the baby is pretty cute, too.  ðŸ˜‰