I had forgotten about the magic of hobby horses. This simple toy has really added to the play here in this house, and they were so incredibly easy to make. Perfect for a rainy day. Numala Kinder now has a stable of black beauties ready for a run. Hobby horses are a wonderful way to add movement into children’s dramatic play …. and we have a lot of galloping space here!

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My daughter received a hobby horse for Christmas, one that plays an authentic galloping and whinnying sound when you squeeze the ear. She loves it and fondly named it Ana. When Numala Kinder restarted after the new year Ana was very popular. Amazingly though,  one hobby horse between three four-year-old girls worked out quite well but all the same we decided to make some more lovely ponies. One rainy day this week,  when I just couldn’t coax the children outside (“I have had enough of WET!”) we made a few more.

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Of course sticks are in abundance around here, old socks are never hard to part with,  and I have stashes of emergency craft supplies so I knew I had some wool stuffing,  elastic and just the right buttons for eyes.

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Yes, I did most of the putting together and all of the stitching,  but the children were very engaged in helping to hand-card and stuff the wool into the socks. My 7-year-old made the bridles, which I had forgotten about.

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Joy! They love them! Humble and homemade, these horses don’t even seem to mind that they don’t make sounds like Ana. They have a life of their own.

HOW WE MADE THEM:

1) Gather your bits: old socks, stuffing, elastic, felt scraps, a good strong stick or broom handle, buttons, yarn, needle and thread.

2) Stuff the toe and the base of the sock well. Really well! squeeze and shape with your hands as you go to make a good horsey muzzle. When you reach the heel of the sock, place the pole inside and continue stuffing well around the pole. Secure the end of the sock by tying a piece of elastic tightly around the sock and pole together. Wrap and tie a few times so it is nice and secure.

3) Cut two ears out of some felt. I used some scraps of some strong hand-made felt I had – I imagined the shape of a cathedral door when I cut them out. Fold them in half and stitch onto the horse – along the heel of the sock. I stitched across the bottom of the ears, and then a little way up the sides to encourage them to stand up tall.

4) Make little bundles or tassels of yarn and stitch them between and just behind the ears to create the mane.

5) Choose some cute big round buttons for eyes and stitch them on. You could also glue one some felt circles.

6) My daughter added a bridle by wrapping yarn around the muzzle and attached a rein to hang on to for when those horses want to gallop fast.

This post was originally shared on http://www.numalakinder.wordpress.com

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Craft: Knitted T-Shirts

My children’s school, Silkwood, has a very unique uniform: a different colour for each day of the week. We love it! It helps the little ones move through their week, marking the days by the colour shirts they are wearing. It helps them mark their activities too – different things happen on different colour days. And it makes things colourful. A new adventure every day. Our week moves in this rhythm:

Monday – purple day

Tuesday – red day

Wednesday – yellow day

Thursday – orange day

Friday – green dayIMG_3194

Did you notice it doesn’t exactly follow the rainbow? I do admit that it bothers me too that yellow comes after red, but there is a deeper meaning behind the colours and the days, and they don’t stop at Friday. The weekend days have their colours too. The colours are related to the energies of the planets, and each day is in tune with the energy of a particular planet. This is ancient philosophy, and the colours were chosen for our school uniform years ago when Silkwood identified with steiner education. I am very glad that the colours have remained to brighten our school environment, to keep things interesting, beauty-full and rhythmic. Here are the planetary connections and (my interpretation of) their energies:

Monday – Moon – Purple – reflection/rhythms

Tuesday – Mars – Red – decisive action

Wednesday – Mercury – Yellow – communication/thinking

Thursday – Jupiter – Orange – judgement/wisdom

Friday – Venus – Green – feeling/emotional balance

Saturday – Saturn – Blue – wisdom/lessons of the past

Sunday – Sun – White – balance / wholeness

In any case, this is a post about craft … so back to the shirts. What do you do with all these shirts when they are too grotty to pass on to someone else? My sons shirts were quite revolting at the end of last year. They were hand-me downs to begin with, and then he wore them for another three years. The yellow shirt, in particular, becomes very grimy and grey. I love yellow day at the beginning of the year, everyone is sparkling in their brand new yellow t-shirts, but at the end of the year Wednesdays start looking a little dull!

I had enough rags at home, and I didn’t want to throw them away … so I knitted them. I cut his t-shirts into long strips and knitted them on chunky size 10 needles. 40 stitches across the needle in garter stitch. I had to knot the strips together where I cut over the seams, but I like the look of the knots in the knitting, it adds interest.IMG_3172

They made a beautiful mat, soft to stand on, and so pretty. Even the yukky yellow turned up looking colourful again when it was knitted in with the other colours. I added a few more colours from my husband’s old shirts (yes, I did ask first!) and I had a whole rainbow. What I love most is that inside this mat are knitted some wonderful memories: my son’s first day of school, the friends who gave us the shirts in the first place, special new friends made, and wonderful memories of the time I taught at Silkwood too. There in my mat. I couldn’t throw those memories away.

It was so quick, easy and satisfying to knit that I have no almost no t-shirts left in my drawer as I’ve started cutting them up for more mats ….

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Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Resources for Celebrations

linden garland 3I believe that our celebrations should be given thought – there should be an understanding of what we are celebrating – and why – and then we should consider how to celebrate it according to where we live. It has always felt strange to me to celebrate winter festivities at Christmas time when it is summer in Australia … and Australia is a country with great variety in landscapes so each celebration for each family would be strengthened with an inclusion of local foods, plants, animals, landscapes and people.

The following posts are my journey into understanding Christmas and Advent, and making it real for us according to where we live. I hope you enjoy them, and I would love to hear your ideas too.

ADVENT POSTS

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Advent

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: The Four Kingdoms

Advent Week One: The Mineral Kingdom

Advent Week Two: The Plant Kingdom

Advent Week Two: The Plant Kingdom Story

Advent Week Three: The Animal Kingdom

Advent Week Three: The Animal Kingdom Story

Advent Week Four: The Human Kingdom

The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Epiphany

CHRISTMAS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE POSTS

Finding Meaning In the Festive Season

What to Do About Santa Claus?

The Christmas Tree

The Jesse Tree

The Summer Solstice

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

Raw Gingerbread

Christmas Spice Muesli

Raw Chocolate Cherry Christmas Stars

CHRISTMAS CRAFT

Handmade Fabric Christmas Garlandslinden garland 3

OTHER CHRISTMAS ARTICLES AND RESOURCES

Christmas in the Middle Ages Part 1

Craft: Fabric Garland

I saw the most beautiful fabric garland – a HUGE one in lots of colours – stretched across the width of the Prep classroom at my children’s school. I just fell in love with it and couldn’t help inspecting it to see how it was made: SIMPLE! One of my favourite words. Short lengths of fabric, about 2cm wide and 12cm long tied on a length of rope and pushed down nice and tight. That’s it.garland2WM

What a brilliant idea –  and what a fantastic way to use up those little bits of fabric I have stored in my craft room. I knew I was saving them for something! I bought my rope from the hardware store and tied a loop at each end (for hanging). I began tying the fabric just under the knot so it was nice and neat.

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It didn’t really take that long to make and it was very meditative tying little bits of stuff onto rope. I got into the rhythm of pattern-making and colour blending and before long the garland started appearing. I put in some shiny and sparkly bits of stuff and I’m relieved to have found an alternative to tinsel garlands at Christmas this year. Every year I get tired of stepping on tinsel, vacuuming up tinsel, finding scraps of tinsel still sticky-taped somewhere months after Christmas has been and gone.garland3WM

My daughter loved the fabric scraps, and my son helped too (he even worked out my pattern), and at another time a friend began a section and we spent a happy hour talking and tying. I loved thinking about the fabric pieces that went in, and where they came from: scraps from my priestess cloak from my initiation, one of my husbands worn work shirts, fabric given to me from a friend, bits I was saving for another project that I had to be honest would never happen. Now I want to make a rainbow one, and one in various shades of colours. One for my daughters’ room, one for my son …. well, how about I just start with a couple of Christmas ones?

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Pattern: Knitted Nappy Soakers

I’ve been making these little soakers since my first child was born eight years ago. I explored a lot of nappy options, but by far the cheapest option at the time was square cloth nappies and a woollen cover. They are very satisfying and slightly addictive because once you have knitted the waistband then you drop a stitch every row until you have none left – so each row is shorter than the last. The main part is finished very quickly, then it is just a matter of knitting up some leg bands for a snug fit, stitching up and adding elastic if you wish.

You can knit them plain, in stripes or work out a pattern. I’ve only ever done that once …gave them a big heart bum :).  I love to knit these in order to use up my yarn scraps in random colours and stripes. I also like to vary my stitches to give them an interesting texture, which looks great when knitted in a plain colour. I’ve even needle felted yarn on to the bum in a pattern (because I was too lazy to stitch it ) you can see that in the photo below of the orange pants with the spiral on them. I’ve also picked up the stitches at the base of the waistband, doubled them and knitted a frilly skirt over the top. Those took a while but were worth the effort! My baby girl looked so sweet in those.

 

Knitted Nappy Soakers

Use 3.5 needles and 8 ply 100% wool

Cast on:

88 stitches for newborn

92 stitches for medium size

Knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches for approximately 8 rows, or until your work is about an inch wide.

Knit one row, this will make a ridge-line along all the purl stitches in your work – this ridge will be used as the fold line for the waistband.

Continue to knit 2, purl 2 for another 8 rows or so;

Making sure that the ridge line for the waistband is facing you, begin to use stocking stitch (knit a row, purl a row). Stocking stitch for about 10 rows then begin to decrease:

Decrease by knitting together the first two stitches on every row. Your work will gradually decrease in length until you come to one stitch left. Break the yarn and thread it through the last stitch.

MAKING THE LEG CUFFS

You can either knit a ribbed cuff for the legs before you stitch it all together, or you can stitch it together first and then crochet a cuff on afterwards. The ribbed cuff gives a nice snug fit, which is useful for those moments when the contents of the nappy may overflow! The crochet edge gives a pretty lacy look which is very sweet on baby girls.

To knit the ribbed cuff fold and pin the soakers together to see where the leg cuffs need to go. Mark where the seams meet on one side, unpin the soakers and pick the stitches up between those two points. Knit 8 rows ribbed ( knit 2, purl 2) and cast off. Do the same for the other side, making sure that each side matches.

To crochet the cuff follow the direction to stitch up the soakers then crochet a few rounds of loose double stitch on the leg holes to form a neat cuff. For frills do one round of double crotchet and then crochet three doubles into each stitch to make the ruffles.

STITCHING UP

With right sides together stitch from the top of the waistband to the point where the work begins to decrease. Fold waistband over and stitch down, with the ridgeline showing on the right side, leaving a gap to thread the elastic through. Stitch up gap once elastic is secure.

Position your work so that the seam is in the middle of the front. Bring the point up to meet the bottom of the front stitched seam. Pin in to place so that there are two gaping holes either side of the pin. Estimate half-way from the pin to the end of one of the leg holes and pin slightly above that point. Stitch. Same on the other side. Just be wary of chubby thighs….don’t make leg openings too small!

WASHING AND CARE

Soak the pants in a solution of warm water with a small amount of lanolin dissolved in it. These will give the pants a light waterproofing which means when wet they will only need an airing in the sunshine, which will neutralise any germs and smells from urine.

For soiled pants wash by hand in warm soapy water, lanolise as above and dry flat.

If these pants slip into the hot wash cycle they will felt and shrink! You can do this on purpose if you want thicker pants….just make them bigger to start with. I can tell you from experience that medium nappy covers shrink to newborn size when felted!

 

 

Craft: Home made Water Colour Paints

These watercolour paints were another great idea I found – the instructions are here at Happy Hooligans, which is a really great blog to visit. It was really simple to make, and also a really lovely thing to do with my three children who were not up to much activity after being sick from a horrible virus during our holidays. We had all the ingredients right there in our kitchen cupboard too, so they are completely non-toxic, but I wouldn’t recommend eating them 🙂

We doubled the recipe (so that we had enough so everyone could stir something) and set the watercolours in two ice cube trays. These trays have lids, so we can put the paints away for later on.

We used liquid food colouring – perhaps a bit too much because it took a while to set – but I think it turned out brilliantly! The colours are clear and vibrant, the paint goes on the paper really well and the bicarb in it makes it set with a sparkly sheen. Which, according to my 2-year-old, is just as pretty on clothes and skin, as well as on paper.

Celebrating Thriftiness: How to Hide a Stain in a Nice Shirt!

We have been given lots of beautiful clothing for the kids over the years. They come from family and they come from children of friends who don’t fit them or need them anymore. Often I am given a big bag of wonderful bits and pieces and we take what we need and pass the bag on. I’ve had to buy the kids very little clothing over the years, actually!

One of the wonderful gifts was a little pink shirt with an oriental collar, pearly buttons and butterflies machine embroidered on it. Rosella is neither here nor there about it, but I love it and I felt really sad when I found that it had been tossed off the verandah onto a part of our garage floor that we hardly visited, and sat in a puddle for probably two weeks. I washed it and soaked it and scrubbed it and it mostly came good except for a big brown stain on the back. The stain didn’t bother my daughter because she couldn’t see it, but I could!

Not ready to toss the shirt, and not able to pass it on to anyone with a big stain on it, I decided to cover it.

I could have cut out a patch in some nice fabric and machine stitched it on, but NO – I decided to embroider an elaborate and very large butterfly – much larger than the stain!!

Fortunately about the time I was taken with idea, we were spending the weekend at my parents place, where the kids disappeared and happily played and pottered about – and I had the opportunity to virtually disappear behind my embroidery, not emerging until the butterfly could stretch it’s pretty wings. I found mum’s book of crewel embroidery stitches and tried out some new ones. The butterfly’s body is made with cretan stitch, and the wings have chain stitch, long and short blanket stitch, french knots and a few woven spider webs (my new favourite embroidery trick!).

Now do I hear you say “I wish I could embroider”? No excuses! Embroidery is great because it is work you can take with you anywhere, and do a bit at a time. You can trace a picture you like or draw one of your own, and then choose which stitches to use. Crewel embroidery is very flexible, has no rules and you can learn new stitches easily with online tutorials. Even youtube have embroidery tutorials. You can make anything beautiful when you know a few basic stitches.

With just three stitches my grandmother embroidered a massive copy of this Egyptian picture of the garden of a high official of Amenhotep. My grandfather copied the design and sketched it out for her onto the fabric and she embroidered it. It now hangs in my parents house and I love looking at it. So simple and so amazing!

On a much smaller scale, I have a new long-term embroidery project. My friend gave me a pair of camouflage print shorts and even though I am not a fan of wearing camouflage I kept them because they actually fit me (a rare occurence! I never pass up clothes that actually fit!) so I am making them pretty with embroidery. Will show you what I’ve done with them when I’m finished … or maybe before then because who knows when that will be!!