Recycling, Home Craft

Ariadne Family

Materials;

  1. A Newspaper.
  2. Two types of Black Fabric (textured and shiny).
  3. Darning needle.
  4. A pair of scissors.
  5. Black wool.

Step 1 – Roll the paper into a spider body shape and squash until firm.

Step 2 – Wrap the paper body in the chosen material and cut away the excess.

Step 3 – Sew the material, stretching it back to the centre of the body ensuring the stitching is on the underside of the body. Once all of the material is stretched tightly over the body tie off and cut away the excess thread.

Step 4 – Making a smaller roll of paper, shape the head in proportion with the size of the body.

Step 5 – Cut the second material to make the head, I chose a shiny material which looks like lots of  different spider eyes.

Step 6 – Sew the material into the centre of the underside of the head, stretch until it is stitched tightly at the back and tie off to secure.

Step 7 – Using the excess thread sew it to the end of the body until secure, once satisfied tie it off and cut off the excess thread.

Step 8 – For the legs, I will either crochet the required lengths and stitch centrally to the base of the body from the centre of the leg.

8A – To knit cast on the amount of stitches required for adequate length for two legs and knit 4 rows, cast off and tie up the seam. Obviously you will need to repeat this four times for the eight legs. Once they are complete stitch them centrally, so it is halfway along the leg  and secure to the underside  of the body. This can then be tied off when all four strands are set in position.

8B – Alternatively you could buy black furry pipe cleaners and twist them around a button at the base of the body, the button can be secured and tied off before the excess thread is removed.

The idea;

I remembered on one of the autumn make-over pictures, there were some papier-mache spiders so I thought about what we could use to make our own. Truly they are not a favourite character, however these are soft and textured something tactile for the children to play with, they are child friendly as there are no additional small parts. The body is simple to shape and can be as big or as small as you would like, I have made several in a variety of sizes.

The materials were from items which were on their way to the clothes bin, so it cost nothing but a bit of time and effort. These will last for years if stored in a suitable container, on completion I used some garden fleece and black lace from one of the tops to make a web over a white box.

After adding a play tea-light I set them all out together, I plan to add a few large ones to web drapes on Halloween but until then; I will have a bundle of legs to make once my Main Project is finished, see how Sénor Skeleton is doing on my other posts.

I am happy with our little craft project, they are unusual and fun additions to add to our pumpkin projects!

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

knitting project!

Sénor Skeleton – Part 4

This morning being the first quiet moment as my daughter got up I decided to build up the shoes, this is a relatively small knit although it has a few complex increase rows which take concentration to complete. After around and hour both pieces were complete.

As you can see there is a decrease of stitches on the second row, leaving the excess at 20 cm for making up, start were you tie off, folding the stitches knit side in ensure the stitching does not cover the leg opening and mattress stitch the shoe seam to completion.

The easiest way to remember is to follow the reduction along the shoe line until you reach the centre of the base of the shoe. Once both are completed you should have two tiny little booties, that are ready to fit to the base of the legs, once the stuffing is in place.

The next pieces are the jacket and arms, which will take a reasonable amount of time to complete being three pieces. So I will return to my project as soon as I get a moment but until then this is the character pieces so far, it is better to secure the shoes using the excess from the base of the trousers so any excess wool can be cut back after tying off.

Again if you wish to make your own Halloween project today, with this day of the dead inspired character! You will find the website link below, whether you are seasoned or a novice it is worth the time and attention as the nights draw in to create something unique for your family!

AlanDart.co.uk\Holiday knits (Sénor Skeleton) for £2.50.

Happy Halloween!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests, Storage

Seed to Table – Sweetcorn

The weather this spring was irregular, after a few early sowings had dampened off my children and I set off a final round of seeds in a hope to grow our own little corn field. I find that larger seeds are the best to share with them, they are large enough for them to grip and place irrelevant of their age and fine motor skill ability. For this reason, seeds such as; Broad Beans, peas, pumpkins, gourds, melons, squashes and Sunflowers to name but a few are our staple sowings completed by the children.

For my littlest I obviously maintain setting the position within the pot in which they are sowing, however for my older children they are brilliant at spacing out the seeds having plenty of practice over the years. I really enjoy sharing this process with them, engaging them into counting the seeds out for and back in to their new home. It is nice to be able to work outside on a warm spring day and see their progress.

Eventually we hopefully receive wonderful seedlings, Tomatoes we try to plant early to ensure a good variety and once sown they pot them on at the various stages until their final position in the greenhouse. Obviously this is guided as they have to be careful with their seedlings, but they do a fantastic job. It can be a messy play activity as soil often escapes in the process, however I believe it is wonderful to see their faces on seeing that their tiny seedling is now a strong plant.

After potting on their sweetcorn we delivered it to the greenhouse at the allotment placing it into a tray for water. After a week they were around a foot tall so I set them in lines of 6 seedlings between the pumpkins in the bed which was already mulched with straw. The seedlings set well and grew on fantastically even in the height of the drought they were holding their own.

After waiting for the cobs to mature this month we finally removed the cobs and plants from the ground, this bed now being already dug and clear for spring the strong roots were still evident in the ground as I turned over and weeded the soil. The harvest was around thirty cobs, varying in size which was a reasonable return for our invested time and energy.

To Store;

Once clearly ripe which you can check by making a slit in the outer leaves, when the cob tassels are browning off, if the cobs are still white, a good few weeks will be needed until they are ready to harvest. After around a month they were ready so we removed the cobs and brought them home.

After stripping the outer leaves, using boiling water I washed the cobs and placed them into freezer bags. Finally placing them in the freezer, to store until ready. in the final count their were around twenty reasonable sized cobs.

The learning curve;

So from seed to table, it takes a long time to produce the wonderful cobs, which are a family favourite. It may seem a poor return but when you have a process your children can focus on and complete a few stages at a time, counting, watering, potting on and seeing the fruit ripen I believe with the amount of crops we grow the experience is both valuable for seeing how their food is grown, as a practical learning process and for reinforcing basic mathematics.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

knitting project!

Sénor Skeleton – Part 3

A few days ago, during a quiet evening I started to knit the legs, these are not a massive knit but they do take longer being a pair. Casting on the gradual increases are relatively simple to follow, I managed to knit one leg completely and cast on for the second leg up until the first increase.

Putting it aside I finished it the next evening, until I had two equal size legs, there is obviously a stretchable element as these will hold the weight of the shoes once stuffed. With this in mind I always tend to test whether they will be a similar length by measuring one against the other to ensure they are equal. It is important to remember that you need at least thirty centimetres of wool to complete stitching up the seam of the legs.

Once completed taking the first leg, once cast off and tied off the panel will require to turning pearl face out and folding across its length. The thirty centimetre of excess can the be used to thread through the first loop. Continuing with mattress stitch the seam is sewn to the end of the leg, once complete it can be tied off and turned so that the knit face is on the outside.

Repeat again for the other leg ensuring you turn it pearl face out, stitch the seam until the end of material and tie off. The next pieces to complete are the shoes and the arms, which again will take a little longer as there are two of each, I will do the shoes first as they are a quicker knit.

A few of my older children choose to enjoy the face paints, dressing up and carving, for this I will make an effort to prepare a little, this is a good way to make something to last I plan on adjusting the attire, maybe a different hat along with the original that is integral to the knit.

Again if you wish to make your own Halloween project today, with this day of the dead inspired character! You will find the website link below, whether you are seasoned or a novice it is worth the time and attention as the nights draw in to create something unique for your family!

AlanDart.co.uk\Holiday knits (Sénor Skeleton) for £2.50.

Happy Halloween!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own

Autumn Sunshine!

Today has been another busy day, post walking the children to school I arrived at the allotment for twenty past nine. After a generous lift from a friend, I had saved myself the twenty-minute walk and the vital energy saved I used to dig over my pumpkin bed.

The early morning sun was delightful, as I carefully turned over the soil it was clear that the manure put into the bed had worked its magic the soil was still soft but was not as sandy. The added humus obviously adding vital structure to the soil, the weeds were small and patchy thanks to the straw layer, which I separated and added to my wheelbarrow. I hope to dry it and use it on my rhubarb next year, as it will be a new bed and there is enough to give it a thick mulch.

The weeds and couch grass I placed into an old soil bag, I have not managed to remove these yet so I am using them to clear off the grass and weeds in my fourth fruit bed. This will ensure next year I can weed it and transfer my strawberries as I plan to put a slabbed area next to my shed so the children can sit in comfort and we can relax once our work is completed.

I would not have done this however the raised beds we have added are producing far more, requiring less weeding so I can allocate a little space for potting on and relaxation. The grass is still making its mark on my paths so I will be pulling out the roots again at the next visit.

After around forty minutes, turning over and weeding I had completed half of the groundwork for the bed. I took a stroll around the vegetables and found a few beautiful white cauliflowers beginning to form. The beans had managed to fill out a few large pods since the weekend and the Nasturtium has set seedlings in the border and by the bench which were a lovely surprise. I have left them to see if they last, I may pot them on and sit them in a water tray to overwinter or set a few in my hanging baskets at home.

I found several ripe tomatoes in the greenhouse, so harvesting them and putting them in my satchel I watered up to ensure the plants last; to ripen the rest of the fruit. My peppers are still small but they are peppers none the less and I am still amazed that the melons are flowering!

After returning to the pumpkin bed I continued to dig over the last quarter leaving a small area of pumpkin and courgette plants to continue for another week. This means that three-quarters is complete, weeded, edged and cleared by a few strands of straw which will add to next years much, when it is the flower and bean bed.

After collecting my harvest and setting the pumpkins to ripen I noticed a multi headed sunflower growing in my parsnip box the colour was beautiful in the early autumn light.

Finally I closed the gate and set off home, I want to strim the edges and walkways but it is just not possible at the moment. I enjoyed my brief but productive visit today and hope to return in a few days to work over some more of the ground. My potato bed is nettle heaven so I am going to add them to my nettle barrel and dig it over as well. This area was difficult to clear so I do not want to allow the weeds and brambles to establish where the grass was removed.

The tranquillity of early morning on the allotment is fabulous, but returning home exhausted, with a harvest, a warm greeting and a seat cannot be outdone!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

Harvest- 09th October 2018

Yesterday as a flying visit between, dropping the children off and the weekly shop I checked on the allotment, I am sad to see the pumpkins beginning to lose there foliage but my pumpkins never the less look great. I managed to harvest a small Jack-o-lantern which has been left to ripen on the vine for at least a month and is now being stored with a few others and the corn cobs in our fridge. The beans we planted at the end of the holidays are just about two metres tall, they are growing away nicely even with the beginnings of the frosty mornings.

My main crop is still producing its large pods, the flowers are still blooming away and the autumn pollinators are enjoying the sunny weather! I have decided to keep my Bean and flower bed intact as the  and nasturtium plants are still blooming nicely. The allotment is quiet as most of my neighbours have dug over their half plots bar a few rows of crops.

I will have to wait for a quiet day! if there is such a thing and spend a few hours digging over, preferably without the twenty minutes it takes to get there. the walk is not an issue, it is the few hours work and walk back which is the killer, with a few months to go I do not want to push myself too hard.

My daughter however has her social requirements to attend so, I will find a fine weather day to go spend a few hours clearing the pumpkin bed and weeding. I am still waiting to have the paths mown, but it is recovering nicely from the drought so I will not have to sow any grass seed which is a bonus. Hopefully I will manage to get it done before I need a scythe to cut it back.

A few of my Broccoli florets are just beginning to show so I may get a full head by November, our first success with broccoli will taste that little bit better for the effort it has taken. All in all the season has gone well and the seedlings appearing in my carrot box are germinating nicely, so next week my newest raised bed will be cleared and I will add another rebar cloche and fill it with the thirty plus seedlings graciously donated.

My tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse are doing well, even my watermelon plants are beginning to flower, it really will surprise me if we end up with fruit after sowing them late on with the children in the holidays . October on the plot is looking good, I am enjoying the mild weather this Autumn and hope it lasts as the warmer the days the longer the crops.

I did manage to source three different gourds from the supermarket, I have plans with some assistance from my children to make some Halloween additions and this will obviously allow me to harvest the seeds, my favourite one is (little drum) which I found alongside a small black colour gourd. At 89p they were a lot cheaper than the website equivalents at £3-£5, I will have to wash them well treat the seeds like gold, to ensure they survive until we are ready to plant them in spring!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

Home Craft, knitting project!

Sénor Skeleton – Part 2

Making up the body;

A few nights ago I started on the body, following the pattern for the body you will have cast on in black, however I chose purple for my trousers so to avoid any confusion, please keep this in mind. The base of the body starts with the colour of trousers you chose, anyway as you can see by the above photo in part 1; I covered the making up of the skull and neck components.

Once the body is completed it will be set in three colours, the trousers (black), the cummerbund (signal red) and the shirt (white) as per design. Mine are purple, green and white but you get the idea, each area should have at least ten centimetre of excess thread to sew up the different colours.

When the body panel is complete fold it with the pearl side pacing out, to ensure all finishing is inside the character. As before using the white, stitch together the first two loops and continue through each loop with mattress stitch, tying off on the completion of each colour and cutting back the excess thread. This ensures the threads do not show against the white when stuffing your finished piece.

I have shown the tying off of the green section through its final loop, ensuring each section is tied off securely will prevent any holes appearing over time. Finally the purple thread is used to complete the body, again tying of firmly to the end as the body will be filled from the shirt area of the piece. (please note; the body has a white trim to the cummerbund as it has not been turned, knit side out which will need to be done before filling!)

As you can see from the final picture I have left excess white threads at the sections were the different pieces shall be secured together. The shape of the skull is clear once sewn together and the basis of the character is visible even with the completion of these few parts.

My next step is to make the legs as these along with the arms will take some time to complete. I am making the individual pieces before I make up the character as I have to collect some more stuffing, I usually source it from The Range or through the local market for around £6 per 250g, however I want to check online to see if I can find a cheaper alternative.

Again if you wish to make your own Halloween project today, with this day of the dead inspired character! you will find the website link below, whether you are seasoned or a novice it is worth the time and attention as the nights draw in to create something unique for your family!

AlanDart.co.uk\Holiday knits (Sénor Skeleton) for £2.50.

Happy Halloween!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Home Craft, knitting project!

Sénor Skeleton – Part 1

Making up the skull and neck;

As I previously discussed my first Knit is Sénor Skeleton by Alan Dart, being a project I started last week I am able to show you the first section of the make which for me was to knit the head.

The knit itself is relatively straight forward and took around an hour to complete, once you have cast off the panel for the head you are ready to put it together. Allow around twenty centimetres of wool on the end of the piece for making up, I find this reduces waste and any excess can often be used to link the finished pieces.

I find the best way to stitch the seam is to have the knit face inside, leaving the pearl side on the outside as this ensures your stitching and tying off remains on the inside of the piece once stitched.

So folding in half using the length of wool left for making up stitch together the first loops, then using each following link sew through using mattress stitch to the top of the head and tie off the final stitch through the last loop.

This will make a clear skull shape and due to the stitching leave a large enough gap for stuffing and linking to the neck of the piece. As this is a relatively small knitting component  and uses the same colour, I knitted the neck at the same time.

Again once it is cast off the same sewing method can be used, the excess wool is then saved as this will be used to sew up the two pieces together when building your character. I have chosen to only show the head and sewing method for this post as for beginners it is key to completing the project with an excellent finish.

The brilliance of these knits is evident in the completion of the project, the components themselves always look like a selection of rough body parts. However do not be fooled once put together they make an amazing character, why pay for a cheap plastic alternative when your Sénor Skeleton will last generations.

As you can see mine I added to a simple wooden wreath, which in time I hope to add knitted foliage and seasonal leaves, however you present him he is a great addition. If you wish to make your own Halloween project today, with this day of the dead inspired character! you will find the website link below, whether you are seasoned or a novice it is worth the time and attention as the nights draw in to create something unique for your family!

AlanDart.co.uk\Holiday knits (Sénor Skeleton) for £2.50.

Happy Halloween!

Cheryl

Home Craft, knitting project!

Halloween Knitting Project!

The beginnings of autumn are just beginning to show in the local landscape, and as the allotment ripens off the last of the fruit it is time to focus on a new project. Last year I made a mariachi  Skeleton, the pattern is one of my favourite along with a large collection from Alan Dart. I used to invest in one a month through the simply knitting magazine as I was drawn to my success with his creations, amazing shapes and great details which is easily replicated within the use of the pattern.

Today I collect them when found in simply knitting magazines, or online if it is something special but over the years I have built up a huge collection of characters. After losing a few patterns to the children’s curiosity I now laminate to ensure the longevity of my patterns, a good idea if you are around a busy family.

I have to admit I would love clothing knits but do not have the time to focus on producing anything more than baby knits, being quick and easy to complete in an hour. I have found that being a busy mum I can, utilising a few hours a night have a character finished within around a week.

I find this designers patterns whether large or small can be completed with consistent but moderate skills, the difficulty as always is the finer details which becomes easier with practice. I have created many a character of my own but donated them to my sons schools in the years following my Dart design education, you collect an insight to the patterns relationship to shape and devising your own becomes achievable.

I am not anywhere near the likes of the masters, I have seen some technically precise character builds which clearly define the original focus in blogs which are fantastic. The focus of this blog is to show the gradual build process from pattern piece, stitched component and eventually the final filled piece.

I find character builds are great as within an hour you can complete, one or two components without any holding of position and mass counts of larger knitting patterns. My first projects took me months, I started on completion of my degree as I was used to a few hours work an evening, needing a homebased substitute i switched my focus between, knitting, writing and growing which even in my life was achievable.

So today I am introducing you to ‘Bones’ my wreathed version of Sénor Skeleton, the pattern is currently £2.50 online which is extremely reasonable for such a great pattern. I am aware it is not the best photo presentation but I wanted to show it in all its glory, horizontally the face was only visible. This pattern would be great as a skeleton on a shelf, substituting beans for the base of the body over the original stuffing which I feel I will do this time.

I chose traditional colours on the first knit, this year I am knitting it in a selection of greens, purples and oranges. I have a large collection of wool obtained over the years through charity shops and sales, occasionally I will purchase a specific colour for something special but I prefer to use the colours I have available and create my own. However this pattern is created with specific reference to wool colours produced by Hayfield Bonus DK in 100g sizes.

So whatever the skill level, if you can Cast on, pearl, increase, decrease, Knit 2 together, Skip one, Knit one and pass over, and Cast off; you can complete any of his patterns with ease. Changing colour is essential but if you struggle I am sure there is some online workshops available to assist beginners. It really is just a matter of knitting patches of material, whether you build as you go or save them all to build together at the end, eventually you have a character your family can share which is both fascinating and fun.

If you are interested in following my Halloween character build, or joining me by visiting the website referenced below and purchasing the pattern as a Halloween project, I will be adding regular blog posts on the different stages of the knitting panels and making up.

I would like to thank the designer for his support in approving the using of his spooky design and the sharing my Halloween project!

ref;  alandart.co.uk\ holiday knits (Sénor Skeleton)

Happy Halloween!
Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own

Crop Rotation!

It is well-known that to ensure your crops and growing areas are not full of pests and diseases you have to rotate a different type of crop into the space every time you harvest.

Year 1 – The first year of planting potatoes you are meant to follow with legumes (beans) this is because they replenish the nitrates in the soil. I find this rotation can be completed within one season as the field or broad beans can grow overwinter ensuring a spring crop. This can then be chopped post harvest leaving the roots in the soil and adding green manure directly into the compost bin or the soil itself.

Year 2 – Brassica plants such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflowers follow beans, the prefer compacted soil and require covering so that they are protected from butterflies and caterpillars. This bed will require weeding lightly and a nettle feed will be necessary to give your plants an extra boost. As I already have three cloche covered beds, I will use rebar tunnels and scaffolding material to cover the additional spaces.

Year 3 – Finally this area will be trench dug, adding manure into the trenches leaving a few inches for soil to be raked back over the manure level. The peaks will be planted with 3 pumpkins evenly distanced allowing for the space to be used. This year this will be last years potato bed, which failed to produce more than a handful of potatoes. Finally straw will be added to retain water and suppress the weeds along with the majority of the ground growing spaces.

Many Gardeners do not rotate when using raised beds or no-dig methods but I feel it is better to prevent than deal with the cost of resolving the problems.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl