Monday, 9 December 2019

Scandi inspired Hama bead Christmas mat

I've often looked at Hama bead projects and thought that they would make a great base for cross stitch, so I decided to experiment a little by making a small Hama bead mat and seeing how well cross stitch would work. I was really pleased with the result!

Hama bead and cross stitch Scandi inspired coaster

I wanted to create a Christmas, Scandi inspired design, so I used red and white beads to make a large base for the mat. When ironing the base you need to make sure that you don't over iron and there are still nice big holes in the beads that you can easily fit your needle through. I also like to place large flat pieces underneath something heavy, like a pile of books, while they are still warm. This means that when the beads cool the piece will remain flat and not warp.

Related post - Ironing tips for Hama beads

Then you just need to stitch your design through the beads using embroidery floss! Be aware that it can take quite a bit of floss to complete the design. I googled for Scandi inspired images to get some inspiration.

Using cross stitch with Hama bead projects

The back of the piece looked quite messy when it was finished, so I used a small piece of felt on the reverse side, glued into place. This also helps to make sure that all the ends are secure. Just be careful to choose a shade of felt which matches the mat, as it may show through the holes.

Backing a coaster with felt

 Now I have a lovely little mat which makes a great festive coaster for my Christmas hot chocolate!

Hama bead and cross stitch Scandi inspired coaster

If you liked this craft, you might also like my Scandi inspired Hama bead battery candle holders which are designed to hold battery powered tea light candles.

Scandi inspired Hama bead battery tea light holders

Friday, 6 December 2019

Christmas gift ideas for readers

This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links

If you are looking for a fun or useful gift for the reader in your life this Christmas then look no further - I've collected together a lovely range of book and literary gifts that you may not have thought of, and that will definitely be appreciated by the book lover on your gift list!

Gift guide ideas for readers

For reading in bed

Bed is my favourite place to read, it's warm, cosy, and away from the rest of the house. We don't have many cushions so it can get a bit uncomfy, I'd love a proper support cushion so that I could sit up properly! I've also got my eye on one of these portable tables that you can prop up over your lap, the perfect place to keep a notebook and pen, a drink, and a plate of biscuits!

For reading on the move

When I go on holiday or for travelling I always take my Kindle, because I like having access to as many books as I can, including new titles and old favourites, so I always have something that I'm in the mood for reading. I find a waterproof case really useful, it's great for reading on the beach or by the pool (and I also use it at home for reading my Kindle in the bath!) A personal reading light is always useful, as the ones on planes don't always point where you want them to or might disturb fellow travellers. If you are reading while sitting in once place for long periods I like this tool that holds the pages open without causing you cramp in your hands

To mark a place

You can never have too many bookmarks! I know that I have loads, and yet I'm always hunting for a scrap piece of paper to use when I need one! You could buy a lovely personalised bookmark, or even have a go at making one yourself.

To make sure that books come back home

My library is very fluid, I'm always lending out books and passing on the ones that I've finished with. If you want to make sure that a particular book always returns to you it's a good idea to mark it in some way, whether that's with an embossed stamp or just a simple book plate.

To store and display the book collection

I love having my books on display, and there are some really unusual bookshelves around if you are looking for something a bit different. I can't also never have too many bookends, they are a great way of making your shelves look tidier, especially if you like to display other items as well as books.

To share a love of reading with the world

Finally, some fun items to make sure that everyone knows about a love of books and reading!

I hope that you find some inspiration here!

Photo credit - Prasanna Kumar via Unsplash

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Hama bead Christmas wreath hanging ornaments

Hama bead Christmas wreath ornaments craft

These simple Hama bead Christmas ornaments are made using a basic wreath design. All you need is a circular pegboard (either the small or large size) and a selection of Hama beads in different shades of green along with a few red beads. If you only have the one shade of green, that will work too, and you could use different colours instead of red for some variety. For the decorative picture behind the wreath I used old cut up Christmas cards, and added a small piece of red ribbon to make a bow for the bottom.

First you need to make your Hama bead wreaths, and they are very simple to make. Once ironed, while they are still warm, I like to press them under a couple of heavy books while they cool to make sure that they keep a flat shape.

Small Hama bead wreath design and pattern

I chose to use a Christmas themed picture to fill the centre of the wreath, although I think they would work just as well if you left them empty! I delved into my collection of old Christmas cards which I cut up each year for making gift tags. You could also use Christmas wrapping paper, or pictures cut from festive magazines. You need a picture with a design small enough to fit neatly into the centre circle. Cut the picture to size and glue to the back of the wreath, I used white PVA glue to stick them firmly. You might also want to add a circle of coloured card to the back of the wreath so that the back looks neater, or you could even glue two of these ornaments back to back so that they can spin freely and look good on both sides.

Hama bead mini wreaths for hanging ornaments

I finished my Hama bead ornaments with a small bow made from a narrow red ribbon and glued into place. 

Hama bead wreath mini Christmas ornaments

Then all you need to do is to add a loop for hanging. I used red embroidery floss and used a needle to thread it through one of the Hama bead holes at the top. Even if you have ironed your project more than I have and the hole has started to close you should still be able to poke a needle through, or else you can just use glue or tape to attach the string. And you're done!

Hama bead mini wreath ornament tutorial

If you liked these Hama bead Christmas ornaments, then you might also like these Hama bead and ribbon baubles!

Hama bead and ribbon Christmas bauble ornaments

For more Hama bead Christmas crafts, take a look at my selection of Hama bead Christmas crafts for children.

Monday, 2 December 2019

The crafting projects that I'll be working on this Christmas

I love crafting at Christmas time. I'm an indoors sort of person anyway, and when it's cold and dark outside I'm always happy sitting somewhere warm with a craft project on the go. This Christmas I have a few things lined up that I want to work on, and hopefully I'll be able to get a few of them finished!

My current large project is my Persian Tiles crochet blanket which I received for Christmas a couple of years ago. I've been working on it in bursts and I'm doing really well with it - I only have three octagons, eleven triangles and the border to do. I've already sewn together the pieces that I've finished and it's looking really good, it's definitely given me the motivation to get on and get it completed.

Persian Tiles crochet blanket nearly finished

Then I have a few Christmas themed craft kits to work on. I bought this mini cross stitch kit from Hobbycraft last year. They quite often have some reasonably priced little cross stitch kits, usually cleverly displayed by the checkout so that you can't miss them as you enter or while you are queuing. It's a sweet little design, I might turn it into an ornament or small framed picture.

Hobbycraft mini Christmas cross stitch kit

I received these felt Christmas ornament kits to review earlier this year, and while I've finished the owl I still have the others to work on. They are quite quick and easy to complete and there is plenty of scope to experiment with different colours and stitches to make them unique.

Felt Christmas ornament kits

I definitely want to make gingerbread houses again this year. I've always got on well with making them (the trick is to use royal icing, and to make it nice and thick) and it's a lot of fun. They taste delicious too! For the last couple of years I've made two mini houses so that the children have one each to decorate, maybe this year I'll make one all to myself!

Selection of our gingerbread houses

And finally of course there is one Christmas crafting project which I'm really pleased to have completed well before Christmas - my Christmas ABC Sampler. I was always intending to have it finished ready for Christmas 2019, and right on schedule it's all framed and ready to be displayed proudly by the fireplace.

Christmas ABC cross stitch sampler

Will you be working on any crafting projects this Christmas?

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Review - Hidden Wonders and Wild in the City - two new kids books from Lonely Planet

I received a copy of these books to review. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Today I'm sharing a review of two wonderful new books from Lonely Planet - Hidden Wondersand Wild in the City. We are big fans of Lonely Planet books in this house and these two are great additions to our collection - they are both brilliant books for children to browse through and pick up all sorts of interesting and fun facts.

New books from Lonely Planet kids review

Hidden Wonders

Hidden Wonders brings together a collection of strange and wondrous places from all around the world, both natural and man-made. There are 150 delights to be discovered, like Hidden Beach which is only accessible through a water tunnel linking it to the Pacific Ocean, or Lake Hillier in Western Australia which is bright pink! Some are places that anyone can visit, but many of them are a little more difficult to get to.

Hidden Wonders from Lonely Planet Kids

This collection of the planet's wildest and weirdest places is divided into sections according to their lines of longitude, and each attraction has a dedicated page with such enticing photography and descriptions that you want to rush there and see it immediately. I'm fairly well travelled and almost all of these places were new to me - it's an amazing book to spark a desire for exploration and discovery!

Hidden Wonders book review inside

Wild in the City

Wild in the City shares the secret lives of more than 30 extraordinary creatures that share our cities. Although the city might seem an unlikely place for animals to thrive, there are a surprising number of animals that have learned to make the most of city life, whether they have recently moved in or have learned to adapt to their surroundings.

Wild in the City from Lonely Planet Kids

The book features animals from around the world, from the Red Foxes that we are used to seeing around where we live, to more intimidating creatures like the Reticulated Pythons that roam Jakarta or the Polar Bears that wander the town of Churchill in Canada. The book is beautifully illustrated, and is divided into sections that cover each type of animal, for example mammals, reptiles, bugs and birds.

Wild in the City book inside

There are several pages dedicated to each animal, along with information about how the animals survive in this environment and how they are affected by human activities and buildings. There are also tips for spotting them, and the signs to look for that point to their presence. The book includes lots of information as to how we can make sure that our cities are a home for both us and the local wildlife.

Children's books from Lonely Planet Kids

Both of these books would make a wonderful gift for a child this Christmas!

Friday, 29 November 2019

Launching my social media Advent Calendar of Christmas crafts

Christmas crafting countdown logo

Every year as Christmas rolls around I go back through my catalogue of old blog posts and pull out my favourite Christmas crafts ready to share them again on social media. I've been blogging now for over eight years, and during that time I've published a lot of blog posts, many of them featuring seasonal craft projects that I've worked on by myself or with the children.

This year I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how many Christmas crafts I've shared here on the blog over the last few years! So I decided that I wanted to make the most of them, and I've put together my favourite 24 crafts to share on my social media channels as a Christmas Crafting Countdown. Every day in December I'll be publishing a link to one of my Christmas crafts on both Twitter and Facebook, and hopefully it will give my followers some fun ideas for Christmas crafts to keep themselves and the children busy as we look forward to Christmas.

As a reminder, if you aren't following me already you can find me here:

Twitter - Jennifer Jain

Facebook - Jennifer's Little World blog

I hope that you will come and follow along!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Hama bead gift ideas for all ages and abilities

This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links

Where would my Hama bead craft blog be at this time of year without a Hama bead gift list? I've used many different Hama bead products and kits over the last few years, and so I thought I'd put together some gift ideas if you are thinking about buying Hama beads for friends and family. I've included some ideas for Hama bead crafters of all ages, as well as a couple of extra ideas for those people that already enjoy Hama beads and might be looking for something a bit different.

For young children - the very first Maxi Hama bead kits

Maxi Hama beads are the very largest size of bead, and are aimed at children around 3 or 4 years old. I must confess that my children started on the next size up, the Midi beads, straightaway so we never used this size of bead, but they look like a brilliant product for young children and would also be very easy to reuse if you didn't actually iron them - a great way to improve fine motor skills. A kit would probably be a good place to start although might be a bit limiting as the boards can only be used to make one shaped design. A tub of beads and a simple pegboard or two would be a fab way to spark their creativity.

For older children - working with the Midi Hama beads

The Midi Hama beads are the most popular size, and are aimed at children aged five and over or adults. They can be used by younger children (I wrote here about my daughter using them when she was two) but little ones will need to be very carefully supervised to make sure that the beads don't end up somewhere that they aren't supposed to be.

If you know that your recipient already enjoys using Hama beads, then you can't go wrong with a large box of mixed colours. If you want to introduce them to the craft then there are some brilliant gift sets available to get them started by working on some fun and easy projects. In my experience these kits always contain plenty of beads so that there will be some left over to make some other items, and they often come with some fun, shaped boards.

For adult crafters - making projects using mini Hama beads

Related post - Hama bead projects for adults

I personally love working with the Mini Hama beads, because you can use them to create some really intricate and detailed projects. They can be fiddly to use though, especially at first! If you are buying Mini Hama beads for an adult crafter I'd recommend beginning with a kit to get them started. However if you know that your recipient already enjoys using the mini beads, then there are some really good value packs of mixed beads available which include many beads in a wide range of colours.

Related post - A guide to mini Hama beads

For seasoned Hama bead crafters

I'm pretty sure that any regular Hama bead crafter would be very happy with a massive tub of mixed Hama beads in either mixed or plain colours - I know that I would! But there are also some fun themed Hama bead kits available that might inspire them to try out some new ideas. Finally, a pretty and practical storage solution for all those beads would definitely be welcome!

You could also point them towards my blog post sharing an entire year of Hama bead project ideas - An entire year of Hama bead project ideas

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