Wampa creature, wizard and diver

November 2017

Ah, a use for those Tempest proofs, loosely inspired by James Kochalka’s Dragon Puncher Island, which makes a comic from his kids and cats.

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What Louis made…

October 2017

And so to Halloween… Medium child is obsessed by all things Potter and was very motivated to make a Gryffindor scarf and we based one roughly around this kind of thing. We used ten, 15cm rectangles in alternating colours for each of front and back, sewn together, seams pressed out with care because of the fleece, front and back sewn together, turned through, and ends folded inside and zigzagged.

While I did the sewing together of front and back as handling of the vertical seams is needed and there is a lot of length, sewing together the rectangles was a perfect job for a child, with just a little bit of support with forward and back and keeping everything straight as you run out of fabric. I found it helped to put a piece of of masking tape on the plate as a guide (to where the edge of the fabric should line up) as the seam guide on the machine is not easy to read for a little ‘un.

Speaking of Potter, we also tried making wands using this tutorial, made from rolled paper and a hot glue gun to dribble on the detail, so fun but too hot for wee ones to do by themselves. Layers of paint and varnish (PVA plus a little water) create the effect of age while they would, handily, be unlikely to take out anyone’s eye during excitable spell-casting.

Happy Halloween x

Frilly pinafore

October 2017

Brrr, chilly. Pinafore with no fastenings and frilly hem; it just ties on the shoulder. Wee Alice chose the fabric for herself and chose well. The pattern is by Whimsy Couture. I might try adapting the shape and fabric next time. Meantime I’m trying one from a men’s shirt so with the buttons running down the front.

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& more knot bags, for some very lovely people (you know who you are)

Summer 2017 (but posted a teensy bit late)

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& more knot bags made with Harris tweed and some lovely and very old upholstery fabric remnants, passed on by the mother-in-law of a lovely friend. Details and links on how to construct were given on a previous blog post.

I still haven’t made that Japanese apron, but working again on little girls’ pinafores, which I love.

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Parties without (ok then, with slightly less) plastic

May 2017

So little ones love their little things, there’s no doubt about it …and their expectations are formed by their experiences of being given little (and sometimes not so little) gifts when they go to parties. The ‘party bag’ is a thing, a big thing, and it’s really difficult to break away from because no-one wants to make a child cry, even when we know that they really don’t need any more things.

Providing small gifts for a perhaps large number of children for most people means that the gifts have to be cheap, and that leads us directly to throw-away plastic – and a sugar fix. Over a good few years now of working in the space between, a) trying to keep the children broadly happy, given their expectations and experiences, and b) trying to avoid contributing to just massive amounts of waste, I’ve arrived at a handful of criteria for semi-ethical but realistic and not too exacting party bags or gifts:

  • does the child have to create something?
  • is there some connection to nature?
  • is it remade?
  • even if cheap (and of unknown ethics in terms of production), will the item last and actually be played with?

If the item satisfies one of these, or more, then it goes in. It’s imperfect, and it doesn’t break at all with social convention because I think that’s only something that you can do collectively or with the understanding of older children – and you do want their birthdays to be nice – so it’s a better than nothing/trying my best without being too dogmatic deal in sustainability terms.

Here are some of the things that I’ve tried or seen others try:

  • bird feeder kit with pine cone, string, seed and instructions
  • bulbs to plant
  • pavement chalk
  • origami rabbits made from old books (any animal?)
  • LED tea light and pyramid lantern kit to make up (see this historical post for a pic)
  • a transparent plastic (I know!) bauble, to find a natural world treasure to put inside
  • a juggling scarf (they come in multi-packs and are one of the most consistently played with, appealing across ages and open-ended toys in our house)
  • willow crowns (been meaning to do the star wands too – see The Stick Book which is a wonderful)
  • wooden castanets (anything that makes music?)
  • pond dipping kit with net, tray, credit card style magnifying ‘glass’, and laminated ID sheet
  • pixie wand kit with a bangle and long ribbons to loop and attach (see this post for a pic, very pretty in the wind)
  • beanbag or oaty/lavendar bag to make up (young children love scooping in the rice or beans through the hole)
  • books, pads and colouring pens or pencils are always nice
  • my favourite, poo, yep poo, coprolite (dinosaur poo) from the fossil shop (see the fabulous¬†Mr Woods)
  • latest, were L’s handmade beach treasure necklaces (see pics) where he learned to do some basic wire-wrapping and use pliers, definitely one for the child who likes to work carefully with his or her hands (as always u-tube is teacher)

I would love to hear thoughts about party excess and just good ideas for wee gifts so please do comment below! x

Home school various

May 2017

Having a really nice, flexi-schooling spell with my never-still, precocious, ferociously determined, sometimes-put-upon middle-sized boy. (Hover over for more information.)

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Springtime and springtime creatures

April, 2017

So some nice springtime pictures, although sadly the bunnies moved too fast for inclusion (this time). The tadpoles are now wiggling/being poached by blackbirds. The game shown is L’s version of noughts and crosses, with signs of spring, snowdrops and birds. It was one of those stage-at-a-time projects which I like, with lots of different bits for different moods, days and even different children (collecting, choosing, cutting, pasting, varnishing, choosing again, sewing, threading, knotting). L sewed a lot of the bag on the machine himself – lots of nice straight lines – and was strangely intrigued by threading the cord ¬†(tie). He was also insistent on an inside pocket so he could organise the contents, and it interested me that he had such a particular view on how it should be. So yeah, boardgamesgeeks (not me), I know it’s not much of a game, but as an artefact/creation – and process – it’s lovely.

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