Friday, 5 February 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #1

Welcome to the launch of the Crafting is my Therapy linky!

I had been thinking for a while about looking for somewhere to link up some of my regular crafty update posts, and after a conversation on Twitter I connected with Nicola at Me, You and Magoo, who was planning on starting a monthly linky inspired by her recent post The therapeutic effect of being creative.

The post really resonated with me, and I know that I definitely need to make space for crafting in my life. For me it's a way of relaxing, as well as finding a way to express myself and my own individuality. I also love seeing what other people have been working on as I find it really inspiring. So today we are launching a new monthly linky - Crafting is my Therapy - so that you can share your crafty blog posts. You can find more details about how to link up at the bottom of this post.

My main crafty project at the moment is my Sky Blanket. I love having a little project that I can work on every day (although it won't be that little before long...) and each row only takes me about fifteen minutes so I can easily fit it in. I've started working on it in the early evenings while the children are in the bath and reading, I think it's important for them to see me crafting and then perhaps when they are a little older they'll be interested enough to want to learn crochet or knitting for themselves.

Sky Blanket at beginning of February

Next up, in my Baker Ross box this month there were some blank wooden hearts to decorate. As well as letting the children loose with them I also quite fancied decorating some myself, although they aren't finished yet. Below is one that I've painted (unfortunately I managed to mix up a paint colour which matches the colour of the wood exactly so you can't really tell!) and I added a border using thin red felt pen. The thick hanging lace is from Tiger, a fantastic shop that my Mum introduced me to the other week. Now I just need to find a suitable quote to put in the middle!

Blank wooden painted heart

Finally I'm slowly plugging away at my granny square crochet blanket. After a big push over Christmas to get all the squares sewn together I'm now adding a wide border. It's a big blanket now so it's going to take quite a while to get it finished but I don't mind as I like having something easy sitting there ready for me to work on when I get a few minutes! I'm having a bit of trouble with the border curling up and looking uneven, so I'm decreasing stitches to try and make it lie flatter and hoping that as the border gets bigger it will be less of a problem.

Granny square crochet blanket

We'd love you to join in with our linky and share what you've been crafting this month.

The “Crafting is my Therapy” linky will open on the first Friday of each month and stay open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.

You can link up with maximum of three posts per month, old or new.

Grab the linky badge or link back to our blogs on your post.

Please share the love and comment on other people’s posts.

If you could share your post and the linky (using the hashtag #craftingismytherapy) on any social media channels that would be great. This will help us to grow the community. We will retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us (@pouchvintage/@JenniferJain)

And finally, if you would like to follow me on TwitterPinterest and Facebook, you're more than welcome. Nicola's links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook

Jennifer's Little World

Thursday, 4 February 2016

What I've been pinning recently

I'm a huge fan and user of Pinterest, and as well as my own Pinterest account I also work on the BritMums Pinterest account. Over the last few months I've been neglecting my own account a little bit as I spend a lot of time pinning for BritMums, so recently I've been making an effort to pick it up again. I love Pinterest as a source of inspiration (you can see some of my favourite Pinterest wins here!) and always feel rejuvenated and ready to craft after spending a few minutes browsing my newsfeed and looking back through my own boards. So I thought I'd share a few of my boards that I've been pinning to lately.

Most of my recent pinning has been to my Craft - Blankets board. It's one of my oldest boards, started way back when learning to crochet was just a distant dream. Now that I've picked it up and am running with it, I'm pinning crochet blankets that I could actually see myself making one day. But there are so many beautiful ones out there that I won't know where to start!

Another crochet board is my Sky Blanket board, which I started when I was planning my Sky Blanket, and I've been continuing to pin ideas that I might yet use in my blanket. When I began I was intending to just do simple rows of sky colour but I've seen so many variations that it's given me lots of ideas that I could use as the year goes on.

One of my favourite and most popular boards has always been Craft Inspiration. I pin ideas that I've seen for craft projects which are easily doable and that I'd love to try. I must admit that I try to keep this board looking quite pretty, with lots of bright, clear images of gorgeous crafts.

My newest board is the board that I created when I was planning Harry's Minecraft party. Even though the party was a few weeks ago I'm still pinning to it because creative ideas keep popping up in my newsfeed. I found that the Minecraft party required a lot of thinking about because there isn't that much official party merchandise about to buy, so I hope that my board will be a useful resource to anyone else that's looking for ideas.

Finally, I don't always keep up with it, but I do try to pin all my latest blog posts to my Jennifer's Little World Blog board, or at least my favourite posts.

What are your favourite Pinterest boards? I'd love you to leave me a link in the comments so that I can make sure I'm following!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Valentine's Day crafting with Baker Ross

This month I was lucky enough to receive another fantastic box of crafting materials from Baker Ross! So many that I'm going to be splitting them across two posts, and to start with I'm sharing some fab crafts for children with a Valentine's Day theme

Heart Lanterns

We started off making some simple but pretty heart lanterns using the Heart Lantern Kits (£3.49 for 4). There are four different coloured lanterns, as well as plenty of tissue paper squares in the different colours, so the children had a choice of which colours they'd like to use.

Tissue paper and card lanterns

The tissue paper pieces are the same sizes as the sides of the box so it was really easy for the children to stick them where they needed to go, and Harry enjoyed cutting out his tissue paper pieces to cover different parts of the design. Then when they'd finished I folded them up to make the lanterns and we strung them up across the banisters. They'd make great gift boxes for Valentine's Day treats too!

Valentine's Day hanging lanterns

Craft foam and wool heart hanging decorations

Foam and wool hearts for Valentine's Day

To make these heart hanging decorations I cut out my heart shapes from pink coloured foam sheets (£2.75 for 12 A4 sheets), making a larger and a smaller heart for each decoration. I used a hole punch to make holes around the edge of each heart, then gave the children a needle and coloured wool, not really giving them any instructions as to how they could sew the wool through the holes. 

Materials for making foam sewn hearts

Harry kept his simple, sewing around the edge of the larger heart and criss crossing the smaller heart with wool. Mia chose to decorate her hearts with some Pink and Silver Stick on Jewels (£1.99 for a pack of 480) and her felt pens. We glued the smaller hearts to the centre of the larger hearts, and used ric rac and ribbon to create a hanging loop for the top.

Valentine's Day sewn heart

Valentines Day hanging picture decorations
The other week I shared these Valentine's Heart Collage Pictures using two Baker Ross Card Picture Panels (£2.99 for 4). The cardboard backgrounds are really sturdy and would be great for all sorts of artwork whether it's painting, drawing or collage. 

Hanging heart picture decorations

Blank wooden hearts

Our final craft is going to be some painted wooden hearts. We have a pack of plain Heart Wooden Decorations (£2.96 for 8) and I'm planning to paint them with a plain background colour and then let the children decorate them with more paints of stickers. I've seen some gorgeous examples on Pinterest that include a quote, so I think I'm going to be making some for myself too, look out for them in a future post!

Blank wooden hearts to paint

I received these items to review as part of the Baker Ross Bloggers Network. Prices correct at time of writing.

Monday, 1 February 2016

My Sky Blanket in January #skyblanket2016

January is over already, and the first month of my Sky Blanket is complete! I've been finding it pretty easy to keep on top of and have almost always completed my row on the same day. I'm also managing to keep up with sewing in the ends! I think it's looking pretty good, with a lovely mix of colours.

Sky Blanket 2016 crochet project in January

I began with a foundation chain of 200 stitches, although I suspect that I've added a few more, particularly in the first row. It's a nice length as it doesn't take me too long to do each day, although I am starting to fret that it's not going to be wide enough. It's 146 cm wide - about the right width for a single bed. The final blanket is going to be quite long though - it's 24 cm so far so I make that an estimate of 2m 88cm - so it will be a nice long thin blanket, plenty long enough to go along the whole length of our sofa for us all to sit under at once! I could always add a border when it's finished, although at that length it would be quite a mission!

First month of my crochet Sky Blanket

It seemed to take ages to get going with it, but it's building up nicely now, and I'm looking forward to when it becomes more blanket like. This is when I'd just started and was so eager to do more!

The beginning of my Sky Blanket

I've found that the project isn't just about completing my row of crochet for the day, I'm also spending time looking at the sky throughout the day while I decide what colour to choose. It's definitely the most attention I've ever paid to it, and I'm really enjoying it!

I'd planned to just stick with simple sky colours for the blanket - basically blues and greys. But quite early on in January there were gorgeous rainbows in the sky twice during one day and it seemed a shame not to incorporate them somehow.

Rainbow in the sky

So I found some bright rainbow ribbon, and sewed a short length around the edge of the blanket. I also added a mottled dark grey button to each end to represent the corresponding rain clouds.

Rainbow ribbon on a blanket

Similarly, on the 13th January the sky first thing in the morning was a beautiful pink colour.

So I sewed a tiny pink button on to the blanket to match it. I also added a sparkly clear button for the only really frosty day that we had in January, and for Harry's birthday he chose a green flower button from my stash. I've now gathered up a few beads and buttons to save for special occasions throughout the year, for example I've found a little anchor bead which I'm saving to mark the date that we are going on a cruise later in the year. For these rows I've also started doing a row of trebles instead of the half trebles that I'm usually using.

Sky Blanket with themed buttons

The edges of my blanket are starting to look a little wonky, I'm not sure if I've been losing or adding stitches or if it's just my uneven crochet. I'm hoping that they will be less noticeable when it's blocked or if I add a small border.

I really like the way that using the occasional row of trebles has broken it up a bit, and also that because the colors are so varied it makes the blanket look more interesting, especially when there is a dark row next to a lighter one. So my one white row (for fog not snow!) looks really pretty and loopy next to the dark grey of the next day.

Close up stripy crochet blanket

I've settled down into decisions of when to use the different colours - I use light grey for cloudy days and dark grey for those days when it just seems to rain all day. Light blue is for when the sky is blue but with some pale cloud cover, medium blue is for a completely brilliant, blue sky. The first three rows were all the same light grey and funnily enough so were the last three! Apart from that I've only had two colours next to each other a couple of times, usually I'm ending up with a different colour than the day before.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed not to get any snow in January, and I'd saved a couple of sparkly buttons and some silver ribbon for frost, but there's really only been than one frosty morning. Perhaps I'll be able to use them at the end of the year!

Crochet bits for a Sky Blanket

There are lots of people taking part in the Sky Blanket 2016 project and sharing their progress on their blogs and across social media using the hashtag #skyblanket2016. Sky Blanket 2016 is hosted by three bloggers - Bug, Bird & BeeThe Boy and Me and You Little Sew and Sew.

#skyblanket2016 logo

With thanks to Make it Coats for providing me with the yarn for this project.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Chinese New Year crafts with Springboard Supplies

Just before Christmas I shared a selection of Christmas crafting projects from Springboard Supplies, and with Chinese New Year approaching on the 8th of February 2016 we've been having fun with some of their Chinese New Year themed crafting kits. Springboard Supplies are specialists in the supply of creative, educational resources to schools and other groups, and with their craft kits being sold in packs of 30 they are perfect for groups of children to work on together.

The kits contain everything that you need for a craft, and there is plenty of scope for customisation so that you don't end up with a collection of identical pieces. They are also simple to put together so that an adult can easily supervise a large group of children while they craft.

We started with some Concertina Dragons. This is a nice, quiet craft, with quite a complex dragon head and tail that need to be coloured in, and both children spent a lot of time on this.

Child colouring in a dragon

Then a long strip of paper is folded into a concertina, and when the head and tail are glued on and some sturdy lollipop sticks added for handles you have a brilliant dragon puppet that you can move around and play with. These would be great to perform a puppet show with a group of children and they could really customise their dragons to reflect their own creativity. Mia added streamers on to hers, and you could also decorate the concertina with glitter and sequins.

Concertina dragons craft

Next we made some cheerful Chinese New Year Lanterns. The kit itself is very simple, some pre-cut lanterns and shapes to stick on, and we were also sent some gorgeous gold patterned ribbons which we used for the handles. If you are making the lanterns from scratch they can be very fiddly to make, so it's brilliant to have them cut out already, especially if you were making them with a large group of children. You can fold the shape in different ways to create variations on the basic shape, and we made one each. They look lovely hung up around the house!

Chinese homemade lanterns

The Dragon Spirals use the same dragon head and tail as the concertina dragons above, which are glued on to either end of a spiral and hung up with some string or ribbon. Mia loved making her spiral dragon and she waved it around the house before we hung it up. I remember when I was at school the teacher would often hang things that we'd made from the ceilings, and a ceiling full of these dragon spiral decorations would look amazing!

Hanging spiral dragon craft

Finally Mia and I made some Tactile Dragons. The kit comes with lots of pretty patterned and coloured strips of fabric that are threaded and knotted through holes in the cardboard dragon shapes. It makes a really fun dragon decoration, perfect for running around the house with.

Tactile dragon craft

We had a lot of fun with these kits, and I think that they are brilliant for both larger and smaller groups of children crafting together.

I received a selection of crafting supplies in exchange for this review.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Jigsaw review - The Inventor's Cupboard

This week I've been enjoying completing a new puzzle from Ravensburger that I've been sent to review - The Inventor's Cupboard from Colin Thompson.

Inventor's Cupboard jigsaw puzzle

I've reviewed a couple of other puzzles which use Colin Thompson's illustrations and enjoyed them very much, so I was very keen to see this one. His puzzles are beautiful, with lots of intricate detail. They can be a little daunting at first, because there are often no large blocks of colour or obvious ways to sort the pieces, but once you get started you quickly get to know the image and can begin to put the different areas together.

Inventor's Cupboard by Colin Thompson

I began the puzzle with the large white area at the top of the image which I thought would be the easiest place to start, but it ended up being more complicated than I expected and was actually where the last pieces of the jigsaw ended up! Instead I found it easier to concentrate on the bolder colours, like the reds and the yellows.

Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle review

Once I'd got going I found that it was quite straightforward to complete the puzzle, and it didn't take me too long. I really enjoyed searching through the box for particular pieces, or pulling out an interesting piece and finding where it went. It was definitely a puzzle which required constant reference to the finished picture, and it was really handy to have a separate copy of the illustration apart from the one on the box as then you can use both halves of the box to help sort out the pieces.

Inventor's Cupboard jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger

If you enjoy challenging puzzles with lots of detail then this is definitely a puzzle for you! I have been lucky enough to review another couple of puzzles by Colin Thompson and you can find the reviews here - The Gardener's Cupboard and The Red Box.

I received this jigsaw in exchange for a review.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Minecraft themed party bags

Minecraft birthday party bag fillers

At the weekend I hosted a Minecraft birthday party for Harry and his friends. I was particularly pleased with the Minecraft themed party bags that I put together, so I thought that I'd share the details here.

When I started looking around I found it difficult to find Minecraft related toys that were reasonably priced and suitable for putting in party bags. I was a little bit stumped as I really wanted themed bags, but with a bit of looking around on Pinterest I found and came up with some ideas that I think worked well.

For the bags themselves I used green paper bags and drew a Creeper face on them using black marker pen. It's not my original idea, I'm afraid that I can't find an original source to credit for these as there are so many about.

Creeper Minecraft party bags

Then we made a few things to put inside. First I printed out some bookmarks which are made using this awesome Minecraft bookmark printable. Our printer is pretty basic, so I printed the foldable versions onto paper and laminated them. Then I punched a hole in the bottom and threaded through some co-ordinating ribbon. I didn't recognise all the characters, but Harry assured me that his friends would!

Make Minecraft laminated bookmarks

I bought some cheap notebooks from Asda and printed out some Creeper faces. I glued these to a sheet of green card which I glued to the front of the notebook and then covered the whole thing with clear sticky backed plastic. I also added a black pencil in each which I also found in Asda.

Homemade Minecraft notebooks and pencils

Another item that we made was our Hama bead Minecraft keyrings. I was super proud of these keyrings and I hope that they'll be appreciated by the recipients. Harry has had one on his book bag since we made them and it seems to have stood up well so hopefully they will be sturdy enough.

Minecraft keyrings for a party bag

I found some sheets of Minecraft puffy stickers on eBay which I thought were very good value. There were several available but I bought mine from this seller and they arrived promptly. I also added some McVities Gold Bars to represent the gold bars in the game.

Minecraft stickers and gold bars

The sweet cones were the last thing that I put together, and again I was very pleased with them. I'd not tried making sweet cones before but it was a lot of fun and I think they look really good, I'll definitely be making more for parties in the future. I bought a pack of large clear cone cellophane bags and some green curling ribbon, then went on a hunt for green, black and brown coloured sweets.

Minecraft themed sweet cones

It wasn't as easy as I'd hoped and I found it difficult to judge quantities, but I got it pretty much spot on (I didn't fill the bags entirely as I didn't them to be too large). I made up 14 cones. For the green sweets I bought a 150g bag of green jelly beans. Black was more tricky, and I ended up with a 250g bag of blackberry and raspberry gums. I had intended to separate out the black ones, but I ended up putting the red ones in too to make sure that the bags were full. Finally most of the cone was filled with Aero Bubbles sweets - three packs of brown chocolate and three packs of mint which are half green and half brown - which were on special offer when I bought them at £1 a bag. On the front of the sweet cones I added one of the spare Minecraft stickers.

Minecraft party bag fillers ideas

I hope that you liked my Minecraft party bag ideas! If you are planning a Minecraft party you can see some of my inspiration on my Minecraft Party board on Pinterest:

Follow Jennifer Jain's board Minecraft Party on Pinterest.

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