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Personalised Vinyl Decoration On Wooden Christmas Eve Box

Personalised Vinyl Decoration On Wooden Christmas Eve Box

We have a tradition of giving each other a small, but personal gift to each other on Christmas Eve. My husband and I have done this since our first Christmas together, and when our son was born we included him in this by buying him […]

Glamourless Self Care

Glamourless Self Care

I wanted to write a little about the other, perhaps more important side of self-care that is not being covered in glossy magazine articles about trendy coffee bars and fancy spa retreats, and the kind of self-care that is accessible to people like me in […]

Woodland Creatures – A Toddler Craft for Autumn

Woodland Creatures – A Toddler Craft for Autumn

After welcoming in the cooler days of autumn with our hand dyed paper leaf wreath, we have a bit of a bug for autumn colours and textures in our toddler art and crafting at the moment. As well as the falling leaves we have been talking about hibernation and woodland creatures, and watching the many squirrels from our window. when talking about the animals we decided on a quick hand print activity to help describe the characteristic the spiky spines of a hedgehog and the bushy tail of the squirrel.

In a moment of silliness, I have managed to delete all of the ‘in progress’ pictures of this activity taking place, in readiness for a family visit, but they were mostly my little boy grinning with paint all over his hands, and the finished pictures are pretty self-explanatory.


You will need:

  • Coloured paper or card in light brown/buff (hedgehog) and orange/brown (squirrel)
  • White card (one A4 sheet per animal)
  • Paint in a selection of suitable colours (brown, white, black, orange and red all work well)
  • Paintbrush
  • Sellotape or glue stick
  • Black marker pen
  • Scissors, craft knife or cutting machine (for use by adult)


Download the Hedgehog and Squirrel papercut files. The download includes both a PDF file of each creature that can be printed directly onto paper and cut using scissors or a craft knife, and SVGs for anyone who uses a cutting machine.

Note on SVG files:

If you are using the SVG files with a cutting machine, please note that the lines for the leg definition, nose and ear markings are intended to be draw lines, for machines with a draw capability. Please make sure that these show as draw lines before cutting, and convert them if they do not. If your machine does not have a drawing function the lines can be deleted and added after cutting, using a marker pen.

Take your range of child-friendly paints and arrange lines of colour in parallel lines on a painting-dedicated plate or palette.

If this activity is intended for a toddler, it may be best to roughly sketch out with pencil the approximate shape of the Squirrel’s tail and hedgehog’s body, lightly in pencil, on the white card.

You are ready!

Making The Woodland Creatures

Draw the paintbrush through the paint in the same direction as the lines of paint, to create streaks of colour. Brush a thin coat of pant over the hand from the base of the palm to the fingertips. Older children may wish to do this themselves, but younger children may benefit from an adult’s helping hand. Press the hand firmly but gently to the paper, and remove. Use the pictures of the completed hedgehog and squirrel below to get an idea of the direction that the hands should be placed to best mimic the direction of the spines or furry tail.

Toddler handprint hedgehog with free downloadable PDF and SVG files for cutting by hand or machine

Replace in another position and print again. Try to press the hand to the paper two to three times per paint-coating, to prevent over-application of paint (which causes splodging), but also to give depth and crispness to the prints, and allow for variety in colour and shade.

Try to pick up a variety of paint colour combinations as you apply the paint, and you can observe with your child how the colours mix and change.

Handprint squirrel for a toddler and child activity. Free PDF and SVG files for hand or machine cutting are included.

The colours of the paint used are those of autumn, so you can also bring into the activity conversation about the changing colours of autumn, and older children may enjoy joining in discussions about camouflage and hibernation.

Once the handprints have been completed, set aside to dry. Once dried, cut around the handprints and attach to the body cut-outs using either a glue stick or some sellotape on the back. If you are lucky enough to live near a woodland with oak trees, an acorn can be attached to the squirrels hands with a hot glue gun, safely out of the way of children.

Handprint hedgehog and squirrel art activity for toddlers, with free PDF download for cutting by hand and free svg for cutting machines


Twin Misura Hats: A Woolly Wormhead Treatment

Twin Misura Hats: A Woolly Wormhead Treatment

There are occasions when I feel a bit (as Scarf Lady would say) ‘knit stuck’. In case you do not know who Scarf Lady is, this is she. My future (or maybe present) self. I just need that top knot. Because I do not have […]

What Have I Made?

What Have I Made?

I had an evening that required a dip into the Craft Snack Drawer. My Biopsy results were good, a couple of problems with white cell count, but overall, doing OK. The weight of the wait just meant that I was burned out and needed to […]

Getting Ready To Learn Something New About Helical Knitting

Getting Ready To Learn Something New About Helical Knitting

The third single-focus, deep-dive technique book by the Arnall-Culliford team is about to land with knitters in the form of a new eBook about …Helical Knitting, and the project promises to be pretty exciting.

Following soon behind the release of the new Something To Knit With Aran yarn range, The book utilises this easy-to-handle yarn to explore the perhaps underused technique of helical knitting. If you’ve knit either of Jen’s Spiralling Socks designs or the Hyacinthus Armwarmers, that I knit last year, then you’ve knit two stripes helically already. There are but a few other patterns that make use of this technique, and this new publication seeks to bring it further into the spotlight, and to embolden knitters to use the helical technique not only for striping, but for stitch pattern and construction purposes.

Ok, let’s step this back to basics before we lose ourselves. What is helical knitting, at it’s most basic? Well helloooo, if I don’t just happen to have a nifty diagram to show you (ultra nifty, because no other than yours truly designed the helical knitting diagrams for the book). It was a great project for me, firstly because it was my first ever commission for design work using Illustrator, which made me feel great, but also because it really gave me the opportunity to actually explore the concept of helical knitting in a very bold and graphic way, which is really what settled the concept, construction and (dare I say) possibilities of helical knitting into something clear and definite.

Helical knitting diagrams

On the left is described a standard piece of knitting in the round. Stitches work their way around in a cylindrical formation, stacking on top of each other in a spiralling fashion (actually, this is, correctly, a single helix, so yes, you have most probably knit a helix of some form before). This book isn’t really about that, though, because you’ve most likely got that covered (and if you haven’t knit in the round before then I fully encourage you to go for it, as it will open up a whole extra universe of knitting). Where this book takes a big jump forwards is in expanding this to a double helix (and way, way, beyond).

In the image on the right, the grey Storm coloured yarn spirals around as before, but on top of it, intertwined like the stripes of a barber’s pole, lay the Mustard yarn. Before the grey yarn makes it back to the starting point, the mustard yarn is joined in, and the two yarns climb around the cylindrical piece in a double helix.

How is this different from knitting stripes? Well, firstly, there is never a change of colour at a particular stitch (which would usually be done at the start of a round) which means, there is no ‘jog’. These are the ultimate jogless stripes. There is no carried yarn. Though this becomes quite apparently magic as you start to knit helically, the magic of three, four (or more) stripes knit with no colour jogs, no yarns carried over multiple rows is pretty special. There is a related diagram that I made for the book which shows the technique beyond the two colour spiral, but you’ll have to wait for the Arnall-Culliford team to share that.

And how far could you take the technique? Well, a look at the very front of the book will probably give you a very big hint. Of course, once you’ve explored the technique you might want to take it in your own direction, and go one (or two, three… sixteen?) better than the fourteen balls of wool on the cover.

The phased release of Something New To Learn About Helical Knitting begins on October 9th, with the first chapter with a set of five tutorials and points of knowledge and understanding and the first pattern. Three further chapters comprising many more techniques and learnings, and six further patterns are scheduled for fortnightly release, allowing you to digest and experiment between  bursts of knowledge.

I am ready to roll with an Aran rainbow and itchy needles.


Our First Two Years Together

Our First Two Years Together

It’s been two years since our family grew by one. I think we were always a family, Russell and I. From, perhaps, the day that I felt like I trusted in his goodness to let go of that little bit of certainty and security of the path I was on, soon to have my own little place to live, and took the leap that I could trust in this human to be good and to care and love enough that I could uproot once more and move in with him to a pokey little cold flat in Whitley Bay. Boy it was cold. And it was so tiny! But perhaps it was my favourite of all the places that I have lived due to it being where our story began and the first place in which I had felt safe in a very, very long time.

But my favourite chapters of the story so far all burst into colour two years ago when a tiny human popped into our world, a mixture of Russell and I. This whopping great blackcurrant stained baby shot into the world at a faster rate than I could really handle it. But after all the worry and panic there lay this 9lb bruise with a wrinkle for a nose and Russell and I cradled pure love in our arms. It had not been so very long previously that I did not think that I could trust anyone to truly love in my lifetime, and now I had these two pillars of love, one huge and protecting and one (not so very) tiny, heartbeat fluttering fast upon my chest, and I knew that I would never feel the same again. And our family was strong.

I truly love being a parent, but as so many people will tell you, parenthood is tough. Gosh, yes we have our off days. Tired, grumpy days, days of illness and the mystery maladies of baby and toddlerhood, sometimes that write themselves apparent three days after the screams and sobs with a scarlet rash and sometimes which manifest on no physical symptoms that you will ever detect and are put down to some mystical condition which may or may not have existed. And you are always, always doing it wrong. So says that lady in the supermarket, or the health visitor who you’ve known for four minutes of your life, or that relation who’d do that differently, or the neighbour who is old enough to remember when babies did not cry because in those days 10 month old babies did as they were instructed, and probably earned their keep down the mines at the same time.

If my little boy knows or feels anything I would hope it is just how perfectly I love him and that I love learning from him more than from any of those people. I hope that Russell and I can teach him, above all else, how to be kind, how to be thoughtful and how to have empathy for all the people whose lives touch on his. I do not expect that as he grows and natually makes mistakes for him to always be good, or that he will always make the right choice, but I do so hope that we will always have time to put three chairs around the table and to talk about how we feel and how others might feel, and the effect of our actions on others. And from him I am learning how to best see the world anew. How the most basic and fundamental feelings that I have can be best nurtured and put to use. I am tougher in my resolve to surround myself with good and kind people and to not let damaging influences into our lives without guard, and to that end I have a strong determination to stand up for my family and to know when to say ‘no more’.

I hope that our third year together will be one of greater learning and growth. I hope it will be full of rainbows and colour, but when there are grey days that we can make things better with love and understanding. I hope that that there will be laughter, kindness, and, importantly, dinosaurs.