Sunday, 20 October 2013

Christmas Craftalong #2 ~ Pompom Bookmarks

I feel very strongly about encouraging children to give gifts at Christmas. It's all too easy for the meaning and spirit of Christmas to be lost, especially with young children. Everything gets completely overpowered by the fact that they are going to get huge piles of presents and sweets and all kinds of fun stuff!!!

I encouraged my son to make and give gifts from a young age, to help him realise how good it feels to think of others and give them a gift that will make them smile, just like they do for him.
This a lovely simple craft that you can make with your kids in just a few minutes, and it costs pennies. All you need is:

yarn (approx. 5g per bookmark)

There are several ways to make a pompom, I used my fingers but if you are making these with little ones I would suggest either a pompom maker or a piece of cardboard, so as to avoid cutting off the circulation to the tips of their fingers! (you can see the colour of my fingertips in the first photo!)

Begin winding your wool, making sure to leave approx. 12" length of yarn. When you have a thick enough wodge, cut your yarn, leaving a tail to match the one left at the beginning.

Now cut a piece of yarn four times as long as the tail and double it over. Use this to tie nice and tightly around your bundle in a double knot ~ be careful as you tighten it not to be too rough and snap the yarn! I found it easier to use a crochet hook to pull the yarn through between my fingers, the tied a loose knot and carefully slipped the whole lot off my fingers before tying a good tight knot.

Now you need to cut all those loops. I found it easier to hold all 6 long lengths of yarn so you don't accidentally snip through them.

When all the loops have been cut you will be left with a pompom that looks like it's been drunk in a hedge for a week!

 So you need to tidy it up. Snip and trim the stray ends until you're happy with what's left. You will probably trim quite a bit off, but do it a bit at a time, fluffing the pompom out between trims in order to spot any stray long bits you may have missed.

When you are satisfied that you have a lovely neat pompom all that remains is to tidy the lengths up. I chose to plait mine, but if macramé is your thing then go for it! This is where it's handy to have six lengths instead of just three. On two of my bookmarks I accidentally trimmed away a couple of the long tails but as I still had three left I could still make a nice neat plait. Finish by knotting the end of the plait and separate out the strands of yarn to give a nice fluffy end piece. Et Voila!

I used chunky wool, because I happened to have some nearby, so my pompoms came out quite fat. I could have trimmed them down more but I quite like them that way. You can of course use whatever kind of wool you like. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Rainy, Mossy, Marvellous!

I suppose some might consider it strange but I adore the rain, and I love to go walking in the woods in a good downpour. The rich sweet fragrance of wet woodland, all the colours vibrant and fresh, squelching and kicking through mud and leaves, rain soaking through the front of your trousers and down the back of your neck, all the while happy in the knowledge that a big pot of beef stew and a pair of warm pyjamas are waiting for you when you get home.


Last weekend we went to the Devil's Punchbowl, a stunning mix of woods and heathland a short drive away from us in Surrey.

I started the walk looking forward to an hour or two of fresh air and exercise in a beautiful location, and some lovely quality time with my son. I certainly achieved that, but was overwhelmed by how much inspiration I found too.

The patterns formed by trees . . .
the textures of mossy roots and logs . . .


and the colours and patterns in the undergrowth . . .

I found myself overflowing with ideas for incorporating these elements into my knitting and as soon as I got home (well, after I got dried off, and into my pyjamas, and ate my stew) I started makes notes and sketches. It'll be a while before I can get to work on any of my designs, what with Christmas gifts, tutorials, and festive stock for the shop (watch this space!), but I can't wait to get started!