Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Cowabunga Dudes

I've wanted to make slime for ages, but all the recipes I'd seen to make homemade slime seemed to involve borax.  Now I don't think I have a problem with borax, but I certainly do have a problem finding borax to buy.  Then a couple of days ago I came across this on pinterest.  The ingredients for "Bubble Dough" are cornflour and Washing Up liquid and they are things that are nearly always available in our house.  Almost immediately we had to have a go.

We actually had friends over when we started this and the kids decided to try and add some other materials to the mixture.  Other things included a little water, glue, and hand soap.  We still ended up with a silky smooth feeling slime.

We've made gloop before with cornflour and water.  That is weird stuff, you can shape it but it collapses immediately.  This stuff doesn't.  It collapses slowly and is less messy.

I think this would make an excellent slime for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Party.  Either as something they made at the party, or as little party favours of ready made stuff.

Talking of TMNT, here is a little artwork I did for my son this week.  I love a craft that only involves cutting out rectangles!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Knights and Castles

My son is learning about Castles at school at the moment and he is really interested in knights and their amour and their weapons.

While I was looking around for some fun knight related things to do I stumbled across this and realised I would have to make it straight away.

The first part of the pattern came together really easily, as it is a basic hat pattern with a bit at the bottom.  The Husband was laughing at me as I kept trying it on, and when I moved on to crochet the next parts I left it on my head because it was lovely and cosy!

Ah yes, apparently I wasn't concentrating very well for the bit that goes round the mouth.  As you can see it is a little wonky, I think I probably repeated a line a couple of times.  I figured it probably wouldn't make too much difference once it was part of the helmet.  Fingers crossed.

I was really pleased with how it turned out.  Whilst I was trying to persuade my son to try it on he was watching the Husband play Minecraft and that is far more interesting than anything else. Ever. Sadly, once completed, he looked at me and asked why I'd made him another hat as he had plenty already, so it hasn't been the biggest hit. 

I found it quick to make, the pattern was awesome, and free.  I still need to move the buttons a little higher, I think, but I'm pleased with it as it is at the moment.   I do think it is going to be really good as it gets colder and he wants something to keep him warm.

I hope he comes round to the idea of wearing a knight's hat before they stop playing knights on the playground!  Luckily he redeemed himself when he was super excited by this little fella:

He asked to take him to school straight away.  The pattern is from here and is fab.  I had to adjust it slightly as I obviously have inferior sized wine bottles and using a 4mm hook it turned out way too big. There are a couple more free cork and crochet patterns on there too.

Right, I'm off to search for wine bottles which don't have inferior sized corks!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Marbling on Paper

So, I explained how much fun I was having with the marbling technique on the glass gems on the last post here.  It occurred to me, that as people use this method to do their nails and it had worked on the glass, that it might work on paper.  And it does:

I had lots of fun playing with nail varnish and water.  I found that you can create a couple of different styles, very little polish will create a much lighter marbling effect that is easier to handle.

Obviously you can't wrap up paper in sticky tape - as per the tutorial for marbling on glass beads.  So I just dropped it on the section I wanted to use and then carefully picked it up again. I had already used my paper punch to create the heart shaped pieces of paper, but I'm sure you could marble first and then cut the paper to the shape you wished, well once it had dried anyway.

It is tricky not to get it messy with the polish around the outside, so I would recommend moving that out of the way to the side of the cup while you take out the paper.  I also think a pair of tweezers would allow you to be more accurate, but I was too lazy to go find mine at the time.

The kids had a go too and they had a lot of fun.  We did discover that certain kinds of polish will eat through the plastic cups if left long enough.  This only really happened when the amount of polish dropped into the water was so big it didn't stay on the surface, but dropped to the bottom.  We ended up with water everywhere!  I was pleased it was only water and by that stage I'd put newspaper under the plastic cups so that any polish spillage was caught on that.

I think I'll be using this technique for all sorts - cards and jewellery making, I think it would be great for scrap booking too.  I wonder if you could do a whole sheet if you had a bigger tub to do it in, or whether it would dry too quick.  That might be an experiment for another day!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bead Making

I recently spotted some beautiful little flower beads being used as part of a memory wire bracelets.  Gorgeous, huh?  I immediately became obsessed.  This led me to start looking up cabochons on ebay.  But ebay purchases take time don't they?  You have to bid on them, wait to see if you've won (I didn't), and then wait for them to actually arrive.

Could I wait that long?  Er, no.  I started having a look round for ways to make my own.  I found this video about using some of those glass gems to make jewellery.  I had some glass gems in the cupboard as I bought them to decorate playdough with some time ago, and later we used them as part of fairy garden creations.

I had a go with the galaxy style gem first, and it was looking good.  I am super pleased with it.  I've no idea what I'm going to do with it yet, maybe a magnet.

Then I had a try with the marbling technique.  I've never been very good with my nails, but I like buying polishes so I have a few available.  My first attempt went ok, but I was too slow and it dried a bit.  By the second attempt I had got it to work.  Pretty patterns, loads of fun, cheap, what's not to like about it!

These techniques would work so well at a jewellery making party for girls (or ladies actually!).  Now I just have to decide what I'm going to do with a load pretty gems! 

 And still I've not managed to get my hands on some of those beautiful flower cabochons.  Sigh.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Card Making and Creepers

I rarely buy cards now, normally I make them.  Sadly this doesn't take me any less time.  However, it does mean that I can create one fairly quickly even when the shops are shut.  Handy if you need one for a birthday right away.

I decided some time ago that taking an hour to make a card was kind of pointless, so you'll notice my cards don't tend to look perfect.  That's the charm of home made stuff!

My latest fave design is very minimal:

I love it because it will work with any shape.  You could use stickers too.  I mainly use paper punch shapes - as I appear to be addicted to buying them and I have a lot!

I've been working on another project too, another cushion cover.  I've always loved the designs made by quilters, but as I cannot sew with a sewing machine at all, I've never been able to see how I could create something like that.  Then just recently it came to me, I could use crochet squares.

So I started crocheting in the colours I needed and I kept going, and soon I had enough to make a start.

I don't sew well by hand either, so it is taking me time, but slowly, slowly,it is coming together.  I add a few squares each evening, and I think eventually it will be an eight by eight square of Minecraft Creeper awesomeness.  I've already mentioned that our family is Minecraft Mad at the moment, so I don't think anyone will object to this cushion cover once completed, in fact I have a horrible feeling that requests for more of the same will be made!

Despite the slow going sewing, I already want to do something more using this technique.  You can see that I am using a traditional Granny Square for this project, but the options for textured/patterned squares are endless.  I realised that any Minecraft project would be ideal for using Granny Squares because the game is based on squares too.  Whether I stick to Minecraft related square projects or branch out to something else has yet to be decided.

I'm still slowly sewing squares together, but hopefully it won't be too long before I can share this as a completed project.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Asymmetrical Crochet Flower Necklace

I was getting an outfit ready for a night out last week, and decided I needed a new necklace to go with it.  I had spotted this on Pinterest recently which advises you on what type of necklace goes with what kind of neckline.  I'd love to say that I followed this, because it seems to have some really great ideas, but I also keep spotting asymmetrical necklaces and loving that look, so that is what I decided to create.

As I could remember seeing a lot of them, I thought that it would be easy to find something that someone had already done and just copy it.  Maybe I was just not typing in the right search terms, but in the end I just decided to go for it and see how it turned out!

I made 3 twisted flowers, of different sizes.  I started with chains of about 35, 27 and 23 - I can't remember exactly.  To make these flowers I follow the below pattern and a 3mm hook. (UK terms)

Chain a length of crochet - depending on how big you want it.
Row 1: Treble crochet into the 3rd stitch from the hook, *chain one, skip one stitch and treble crochet into the next stitch* Repeat until end of row.
Row 2: half treble crochet, 2 treble crochet, half treble crochet and slip stitch into each space until end. 

Leave longish tails, roll the flower up, when you're happy it looks flower like start sewing together.   This pattern was what I could remember of this flower pattern, so it is very similar, but does create a slightly different looking flower.

I had some cord I had bought to make beaded wrap bracelets a while ago, and recently I bought some clasps to go at the end of the cord.  I would like to say I simply threaded the cord through, but I'd sewn up the flowers quite tightly, and so I sort of had to yank it through.  Anyhow I managed to do that and knot either side of the flowers, so that they stayed where I wanted them and then I added the clasps.

I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Flapjack Recipe

A few years ago I found a recipe on the MSE forums for Hob Nob Biscuits.  I wrote it down and I've used it ever since.  Sadly I can't remember the name of the poster, but needless to say I'm very grateful for this recipe as it works for me every time and I nearly always have the ingredients available.


8oz Butter
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp golden syrup (I've used honey in the past if I've run out of golden syrup)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

I melt the butter in a pan, and add the golden syrup and hot water, when it is all melted together I add the bicarbonate of soda.  It froths up quite a lot.  

While it is melting I get the dry ingredients ready:

8oz Porridge Oats
8oz Self Raising Flour
5oz Sugar (the original recipe suggests 8oz, but I find 5oz is plenty)

Once the pan of melted ingredients is ready I add it to the dry mixture, stir until combined and then I put the delicious (you've been warned) uncooked mixture spread out onto a fairly high sided baking tray and bake at about 180 degrees for about 10 minutes until golden on top.  Let it cool for while and then cut into flapjack slices (the original recipe suggests making this into individual biscuits, but I find this easier).

This recipe is delicious as it is, but I do like to try and add fruit/other good stuff to as many of the sweet recipes that I can, so I've made a number of variations to this recipe that I think work very well.  Below are some Chocolate Orange Flapjacks:

  • Chocolate Orange - swap 1oz of Self Raising flour for cocoa powder and use orange juice instead of hot water
  • Raisins - I've found you can just add these into the mixture, up to about 2-3oz or a couple of handfuls without it affecting the recipe at all.
  • Seeded Flapjacks - again I've discovered you can pretty much add whatever seeds you have to the mixture without it having an impact on the structure of the flapjack
  • Chocolate Cranberry - swap 1oz of self raising flour for cocoa powder and add dried cranberries to the mixture
  • Spiced Orange - add a tsp-ish of mixed spice to the dry ingredients and the zest of 1 orange to the melted ingredients, this is my current favourite.
  • Ginger - add a tsp+ ground ginger to the dry ingredients
  • Lemon, Poppy Seed and Coconut - add the zest of a lemon, swap the hot water for the juice of a lemon and add 2+tbsp of poppy seeds and 2tbsp of dessicated coconut.
Here are the Lemon, Poppy Seed and Coconut Flapjacks:

A while ago I can remember seeing a coconut mocha combination somewhere and thinking I must have a try of those flavours together someday.  I'm sure nuts would work well too, ground, chopped or I think you'd get away with peanut butter instead of the syrup, but I use these for packed lunches a lot and due to allergies in school you can't have anything with nuts in a packed lunch.

And here are some Orange Spiced Flapjacks with the Lemon Poppy Seed and Coconut Flapjacks:


And just because Valentines Day is coming up, here is a simple little heart craft too.  Draw a heart (I drew around a cookie cutter) and then use the eraser on the end of a pencil to stamp on the circles.  I used a variety of ink pads I had hanging around.

You can see I was still in orange, red and pink mode after making my Mixed Stitch Cushion Cover.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

More Hearts

I've been enjoying using hearts to make more bits and bobs recently.  My Mum found some cards that weren't the traditional stand up kind of card.  Instead you hung them up.  I loved the idea, and immediately had to copy it!  The ones my parents found were owls and monkeys and butterflies I think, but I could see that it would work with a lot of different shapes.  Here it is with hearts.

I used co-ordinating paper, and a heart template.  On the back of the paper I attached the string, which is actually embroidery thread, and on the back of that I added some thin card, I embellished using some craft jewels (mainly from Poundland!).

I was really pleased with the result, and plan to do more like this in the future, I can see that it would work well with flowers, birds and stars and I'm sure many more designs.

I also love seeing what other people can create using felting techniques.  Mine never seem to turn out how I imagine them in my head, but the process is fun.

I was hoping to make this into a family project, but halfway through their first hearts, both children managed to injure themselves with the felting tool.  Normally they are very good with it and manage to keep their fingers out of the way, but not this time, and I'm not sure how long it will take me to persuade them to have another go.

So I think rather than the bunting project I had planned, I'll just do a little hanging garland thing.  I quite like these, even if I can see I've not quite managed the design I had in mind for them.

As well as being able to get involved with the felting, card making and other crafting I do I like to get my kids to create some art of their own for a "sort of" gallery we have for them.  At the moment I really want them to make me something with hearts on it for Valentines Day.  

Often I can encourage the type of art I want by finding printables online with the right subject matter, or I do love the Usbourne colouring books and sometimes I photocopy pages that I know I will want them to do more than once!

This time I created my own doodle page, and I thought that it might be fun to share it, so others could colour it in too: