Handmade Holiday (pt 3)

I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen.
A packed schedule, grandparents visiting, work commitments, the need to sleep occasionally. At what point exactly were the decorations going to go up?

But we have finally, finally, brought them out of the loft, dusted them down, and put them up.

I find the look is becoming more pared down with each passing year.

In the main living areas that is.

We won’t talk about the kids take on dressing a tree.

So for downstairs lots of greenery and candles

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We’ve gone for a real tree this year and it is a real beauty. A bit bigger than originally envisaged – I fear the angel may have a bit of a crick in her neck after a few weeks with her nose pressed against the ceiling- but a beauty none the less.

And isn’t it lovely bringing all the old decorations out and discovering them all over again?

For many years we paid an annual visit to Catherine Shinn in Cheltenham for traditional German handmade glass decorations.

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Small children and glass being what they are we haven’t been for a while.
Looking at the website today I was tempted – but then I saw the torsos which made me think of BoxingHelena, and so I decided to stick with the homemade aesthetic 🙂

Although the garden is looking very sorry for itself at the moment, there’s still lots of evergreen foliage to help make the house feel,Christmassy

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Holly, Rosemary, Ivy and conifer tie together beautifully to make a door decoration

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And then just in case it was all getting a bit too low key and tasteful

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Candy cane colour door wreath!

Another easy one to do with the kids.

First take a base -this could be wire, wicker or polystyrene like this one I’ve had hanging around the craft cupboard for ages.

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Next take some wool- this can be a nice tasteful hue or fairly bright and gaudy like this red- and wrap it around your base.

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Just like you were making a giant pompom….

Once the base is covered, secure the end of the wool.

Now get some felt-again colour choice is up to you and I certainly would not want to impose the bright red and green on to anyone else’s house- and cut out lots (and lots) of star shapes. However many you think you’ll need, double it. And then add a few more. You’ll need them.

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Get some glue. You could use good old upv glue. Or like me, you could decide to use a hot glue gun for the first time.

You know,that old music hall song When Father Papered the Parlour? That was our dining room this afternoon.
Hot glue hung on the dresser
It hung from the doors
At one point it was in danger of hanging youngest child from the ceiling
It floated on the air like spun sugar
Or possibly ectoplasm
Or the gunk from the egg scene in Aliens

But eventually we rescued youngest child and the stars were glued (mainly) to the base and we had a colourful-if not exactly tasteful- wreath for her bedroom door

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The wreath will come down in January but I’m not sure her glue gun PTSD will disappear so quickly.

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Moon gazing

Sometimes you can get a little bored of seeing the same Halloween decorations everywhere. The same bright orange and shiny black plastic. Is it even possible, or desirable, to have a more tasteful Halloween? Or are the two things mutually exclusive?

I’ve been trying to come up with some cool crafts for the kids to do in the run up to Halloween. I have thought of a few, but found myself getting slightly sidetracked.

As you do.

Well, as I do anyway.

Have you seen the moon over the last few nights? Beautiful. And, um, VERY, American Werewolf in London. Awooooo (that’s a wolf impression in case you couldn’t guess).

20131023-145110.jpg20 October.

Which kind of lent itself to a bit of crafting. Not exactly scary, or Halloween-y, but a bit eldritch. I hope.

20131023-145317.jpgFelting the moon.

20131023-145406.jpgwith hare.

Those vines look more like talons than ivy. Of course that was the effect I was going for. Honest.

20131023-145538.jpgMoon gazing hare.

And then I turned my carefully needle felted piece over.

AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH

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Is it supposed to look like a badly frightened cat on the ‘B’ side?

Halloween crafts

I remember when Halloween wasn’t a big deal. When I was growing up in the North East of England in the 1970s, Halloween meant carving lanterns out of turnips (what folks in the south call swedes) and perhaps telling a few ghost stories. It certainly didn’t involve trick or treating (my mum would sniff that it was “little more than begging”), dressing up, or the whole carnival atmosphere that seems to surround it nowadays. For me Halloween will always be the smell of burnt turnip

20131020-191955.jpgJack-o-Lantern (photo from Wikipedia )

Be that as it may.

Halloween is nearly here and actually, I embrace it with gusto. It may be a throwback to my years as a Goth, or it may be that weird masochistic bent so many of us having for being delightfully scared in a safe and non threatening setting. Whatever. It’s fun.

It’s also a great excuse to make stuff.

I’ve had a needle felting kit for several months and haven’t been inspired to make anything.

Until now.

Needle felted pumpkins. Well, it had to be didn’t it?

And These are actually dead (ha!) easy to make. Which is good as I’m a complete novice when it comes to felting techniques.

Anyway, start off with a clump of orange roving. This stuff feels so good, it’s very tempting to just sit there stroking it. But no! Be strong and continue with your project.

20131020-192851.jpgorange roving.

Now run a basin of hot water and add some mild soap. Take your lovely, soft, fluffy roving and dunk it in the water, rolling it between the palms of your hands quite vigorously. Keep doing this until the wool has formed a ball.

20131020-193030.jpgfelted ball.

Let it dry and then take some very thin strands of black roving and a fine felting needle and poke at the strands of black wool until they bond with the orange ball, making the segments of the pumpkin

20131020-193212.jpgadding the black lines.

Keep going until you have made segments all the way around.

Now take a very small piece of green wool and roll the very end of it between finger and thumb until it clumps together – this will be the stalk.

20131020-193507.jpgthe stalk
Put the green wool on the top of your pumpkin with the stalk sticking up and do some more prodding around the base of the stalk to attach it to the pumpkin. Take the loose fuzzy bit of the green wool and loop it round to make a leaf shape, then prod that into position on the pumpkin too. Your little fuzzy pumpkin is now ready to go

20131020-193706.jpgbaby pumpkin

You could make a whole pumpkin patch’s worth of them

20131020-193808.jpgpumpkins!