A good friend and very special person to me recently commented that she loved the blue tit papercutsÂ I had been working on. They were not intended for any particular project and I hadn’t yet worked out what, if anything, I could do with them. A […]
Yesterday was Darwin’s last day of nursery for this year, as he has now broken up for the summer holiday. Though he will be back again next year (he actually has another two whole years of nursery ahead of him!), I thought it was important […]
Since Darwin was a few months old I have always tried to encourage him in mark making and exploring colour with art materials. We have progressed on somewhat from our first experiments with making baby-safe cornflour paint, and now that our young one is less inclined to eat all of the bright colours have a huge drawer dedicated to nothing more than bottles and bottles of bright, ready-mixed paint (thanks, Nana and Grandad, for encouraging his messy, colourful side!)
We’ve always hung Darwin’s artwork on the walls of our home, because it is bright and full of happiness, but we decided that our hall needed a bit of a refresh, and that we’d replace the gallery of paper-plate crafts that we created at the library playgroup with something a little more permanent.
Over spring, Darwin became enthralled with the tree just outside of our living room window, watching it spring to life in a cloud of pink blossom. Every morning he ran straight to the window to check on the blossom and to tell us all about it. Then, one morning, after a particularly rainy and windy night, he threw open the curtains and slowly said ‘blossom… gone…’
It was actually almost heartbreaking the way the words came slowly and sadly across the room. So, we decided to explain to him (as best as you can to a two year old) about the seasons, and trees, about blossom, the green leaves of summer and the reds and oranges of autumn.
So I quickly sketched out the basic shape of a tree trunk and bare branches, four times over. As I drew them quickly, and freehand, mine are all a bit different, but if you wanted to have four identical tree bases then I have put together a simple and freeÂ Four Bare Trees Printable Template.
Older children may wish to paint the sheet while it is whole, but younger ones will probably benefit from being presented with each pre-cut tree template in turn, as well as the corresponding selection of paint colours (or confetti, small pieces of tissue paper, or whatever seasonal decorations you are applying).
We used a small cotton bud dipped in the paints to apply the blossom/leaves/frost to the trees, but fingerprints would give another personal and unique touch, especially when making a gift. If you have a larger family then the fingerprints of each member might form the tree decoration. Babies can be guided to gently make fingerprint leaves by helping to gently push baby’s fingers onto a paint-saturated sponge and then onto the paper in turn. The template provides a lot of open-ended possibility to create colourful scenes. Older children may wish to add birds, or snow and autumn leaves on the ground.
Once Darwin had painted his trees and left them to dry we went to find the four-aperture frame that I had some vague notion that I had lying around. When I found it, it had three apertures. Of course it did. My memory betrayed me again. My husband suggested we could just have spring, summer and autumn. My inner voice screamedÂ what are you thinking…how could you live with that?!Â at him, but my outside voice said ‘well, let’s just go to the shop and buy one!
Yeah, so, they don’t exist. At least not in the shops I went to. Three? Yup. Five, a-huh. Six, seven? Sure thing. Not four. So, I panic-bought these:
A matching 3-aperture and single frame. I had the genius idea of hanging it around a corner.
Apologies for the picture quality on that one. It’s our entrance hallway and very short on natural light. Now it looks like I purposefully wanted a three aperture frame and a single one, for design purposes, and not like I panic bought these at Wilkos because I was hungry and wanted to go home.
So, whether a rainy-day activity, or artistic work worthy of a wall and a dash to buy the nearly perfect frame, download and print up a few of the free tree templates and see what you come up with.
PS: four aperture frames definitely exist by the way… I could have had one the very next day if I was patient (I’m not) and sensible (nope) and less fond of ‘creative’ solutions to problems.
There have probably never been more photographs taken on a day-to-day basis than as we snap away today. Almost every person has a good quality camera in their pocket pretty much all day, every day. Digital photography has freed us of the nervousness of ‘wasting’ […]
All crafty endeavors this week have been turned towards finishing Alex The Mouse, because I need to have him finished before I can move onto the next project which is a (deep breath) deadline knit. I don’t usually decide to take on deadline knits, so my gift knitting usually extends only to my very immediate family, but for some crazy reason I have it in my head that there is a something that I need to make for a someone. If people could have more flexible birthdays and special occasions I’d probably do a bit more of this kind of thing.
Alex The Mouse is getting himself together quite nicely. His simple colourwork body is jazzy enough that he feels confident in walking around without even a stitch of clothing on, which he takes on trust as he has not yet got the eyes to see the triangle emblazoned stranded knitting that his body is made of. It will all happen in time, as though he is not yet fully assembled, he does at least have his limbs knit and is now just waiting on a bit of finishing to his second ear, and the all-important tail.
Ella Austin‘s lovely pattern uses some clever construction tricks to minimise seaming. The head and body are contiguous, marked only by a change of yarn colour working together with the shaping to give a definite neckline. The ears are joined with an applied iCord edge to cleverly hide the edge stitches of the shaped pieces, whilst also enhancing the shape of the rounded mouse ears. I worked the iCord of my ears slightly differently to how it is given in the pattern, to provide a slightly thicker ear edge and a bit more structure, cupping the ear as the iCord is worked.
I’ve attached the iCord across the sides and cast on edge (leaving the bind off edge for attaching to the head as my bind off looked better than my cast on) and also used a 4st applied iCord instead of the given three stitches, as so:
With frontÂ of ear facing and working r-l, c/o 4sts, *pick up and knit 1st through ear edge, slip stitches to opposite needle end to start iCord, then k3, k2tog tbl; repeat from *).
This is basically a 4st version of the Apply On the Fly iCord I used for my Emberwarm Shawl pattern. There’s a short tutorial video available to show it in action which helps demonstrate why it works for me – knitting that last k2tog through the back loops helps to snug the stitches up to the fabric for a really nice finish, whichÂ I think it just suits my personal style of knitting a bit better.
I also knit the iCord a bit shorter (leaving the occasional longer gap between picked up stitches) to Â the edging to be shorter than the ear circumference it was covering, to cause the ear to ‘cup’ which I think helps to give the ear a bit more form and stability.
Picking up stitches through two layers, one in colourwork, proved a bit fiddly, so after sticking the needle tip into both layers and wrapping my yarn I pulled it through the back layer first, then after checking it was through that first obstacle, brought it through to the front. I also Â tacked the ear front and back together with a line of long running stitches in some sewing thread to keep them in place whilst I knitted, to remove later, which prevented the two ear pieces from shifting about and becoming misaligned.
If all goes to plan I will be able to get the second ear edged, the tail knit and the assembly all done tonight. If Alex is extra lucky I will even put the finishing touch to bring him to life into place: some lovely little mousey eyes.
Extra bit of mini good news: I finally got the name of my Facebook Page changed to reflect the new website, so please pop by and say hi on the Mimi Codd Facebook Page if you are passing by!