Have a Cracking Christmas!

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Christmas is literally just around the corner! Usually I have great plans to make this that and the other, bake biscuits, make a Christmas cake, knit stockings and create the most magical Christmas anyone has ever seen ever. And I never get round to it. Not this year! (Ok so I havent made any biscuits, a cake, and I havent knitted any stockings but I made a tree topper so that’s something!)

Homemade crackers was my plan this year and I’m chuffed to say I’ve actually done it! (Well, 5 out of 9 isn’t bad, right? I have loads of time left!)

It was actually pretty fun and I’m looking forward to having nice chocolates fly across the room rather than a cheap plastic toy.

You still have time to make some! (Probably anyway)

You will need

Toilet roll tubes – one per person plus two for shaping

Twine/ribbon

Glue

Paper

Snaps (Although if you can’t find any in time, just yell “bang” when you pull them. No one will notice!)

Whatever you want to put inside

I got a pack online with snaps, hats and jokes but you can use anything you like.

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First, glue or tape the snap to the inside of a loo roll inner.

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I used a glue gun but tape will do, just as long as it won’t slide one way when it’s pulled.

Then, use your two spare inners and slot one over each end of sticking out snap. Then cover all three tubes in your chosen paper. I used brown but you can use whatever you want provided it’s not too thick as it needs to tear easily when pulled. 

Once your tube is covered and glued, slide one of the spare tubes out slightly and push the paper down in the gap you’ve just made. Use some twine or ribbon and pull really tight to close the hole. If you leave a gap, your innards might become outards and no one wants that!

 

Before you close up the other end, stuff whatever you want inside down that end. Make sure it goes all the way into the middle tube and isn’t sticking out because it’ll still be sticking out when you tie the end closed. 

Slide the other tube out slightly and do the same as you did with the other end, finally pulling the tube out completely. 


I decided to personalise my crackers and stamp people’s name onto the font. This would be especially good if you had personalised the contents of the crackers to your Christmas guests. I’m also planning on using mine as place settings 🙂


Now all you need to do is place them proudly on the Christmas table and hope that everyone gets the cracker intended for them!

I hope you all have a truly cracking Christmas and a stonking New Year!

 

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Eskimo Hat

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Hats make great Christmas presents for just about anyone. A homemade hat is even better. And a homemade hat that can be knitted in two evenings? Perfect!

I’ve had this Drops Eskimo yarn in my stash for a while now. I think it was on sale and I liked the colours so I bought it always intending to make myself a hat, however I could never find a pattern to knit a hat with this particular wool so I made my own. I give you, the Eskimo Hat!

To make this hat for yourself or as a lovely present for someone special, you will need:

At least 100g (two balls) of Drops Eskimo Uni Colour (I used one ball of Navy Blue and one of Light Blue Grey and went right to the end of both balls. I only just had enough for the pom-pom so it might be worth getting two balls of each colour you choose)

7mm 40cm circular needles

Stitch marker

Pom-pom maker

Tapestry needle

This hat will fit heads 22″-24″ but can be adjusted for other head sizes 🙂

Cast on 64 stitches in Main colour (MC), place a stitch marker and join in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches

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Knit 9 rows of double rib stitch (knit one, purl one)

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Once you had done 9 rows, it’s just knit stitch from here on in 😀

Knit rows 10 and 11 in MC and then switch to your contrast colour (CC) To switch, put your needle into the stitch as normal but instead of wrapping the working yarn, loop the CC yarn and hook it over the needle. Then simply start knitting with you CC. But DO NOT break your MC yarn off, just leave it hanging in the back so you can pick it up later. (For a clearer explanation of how to change colours, check this video out)

Changing colours will leave you with a jog in your knitting. This is because, although it’s called knitting in the round, it’s actually a spiral. I didn’t bother getting rid of the jog as it’s just a hat for me but if you want to know how to knit a jogless hat, this tutorial is great.

Now, knit rows 12 and 13 in your CC. You’re going to repeat this until you have three stripes of CC. To switch back to your MC, just drop the CC yarn, and pick up the MC yarn. Easy!

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Once you have three stripes of CC, knit two more rows of MC (rows 22 and 23)

Then, we’re going to start with the fair isle section. With your MC, knit 3 stitches in your MC, then insert your needle as if to knit a fourth, but instead of using your MC, pick up your CC yarn and knit the stitch with that. Then pick your MC yarn back up and knit 3 more stitches. Continue with 3 MC, 1 CC for the rest of the round, which will end with a CC stitch. (It sounds complicated but you’ll get into the rhythm of it.)

Knit the next row in your MC.

For the next row, knit 1 stitch in your MC, 1 in your CC and then 2 in your MC again. It’s still 3 stitches of MC between each CC stitch once you’ve knitted these first 4 stitches. This row will end with 2 MC stitches.

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You’ll notice as you’re going that your CC yarn is forming little loops on the back of your work. These are called floats and they will add and extra layer of warmth to the hat 🙂 Just make sure not to pull them too tight as your changing colours.

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Repeat these 4 rows once more.

Now we’re just sticking to one colour, your CC yarn. Drop your MC and leave it hanging at the back. If there’s a lot of yarn left, feel free to cut it but leave a 6″ tail for weaving in a the end.

Now knit 11 rows (rows 33-44 if anyone is still keeping track!)

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For the last row, knit two stitches together all the way round so you’re left with 32 stiches on your needle.

Cut a 6″ tail and thread it onto your tapestry needle. Slide the needle through all the stitches and slip the knitting needle off.

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Pull the yarn tight to close the hole. Now, knit your pom-pom. I used a 2.5″ pom-pom maker and it used up all my remaining yarn.

Tie the pom-pom securely into the top of your hat and you’re done!

Because this hat is made with 100% it will be warm but could irritate sensitive skin. It can be washed on a handwash cycle but not tumble dried or ironed.

If you enjoy making this hat, let me know! I would love to see some finished creations!

Happy Knitting!

P.S here is the colour chart if you find following that easier than following my intructions! 🙂

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Silent Night, Holy Night

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I love Christmas. I love the lights and the songs and the tree and the general feeling of jolliness. But I also love that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. My favourite part of Christmas Day is going to church. Partly that’s because I get to see my friends and all the children (including me and my friend admittedly) get to show off something they’ve opened. But mostly, I love getting together with the church to celebrate and worship God 🙂

When I was younger, we had a wooden nativity set. All the figures were put into the little stable except for the kings who would make their long journey around the lamp, over the television and across the hearth before joining everyone else on Christmas morning. Not historically accurate but fun!

The wooden set, sadly, is no more and since I recently started needle felting, I had a bash at making a simple nativity scene out of felt.

You will need:

Needle felting needles

Felting mat (you can but special mats and pads but I use a chunk of memory foam or a car washing sponge works too)

Core (rougher, cheaper unspun wool)

Wool roving topper (softer, more expensive unspun wool)

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Start by making the basic shape of the figures out of the core. Roll it up into an oval shape, place it on the foam and use the felting needle to stab the wool repeatedly.It takes a little while but it’s very satisfying! It will get harder and smaller the more you stab it so don’t worry if it seems way too big to start with. Once you have felted it a bit, you can mold it like clay to get the shape you want.

Decide which end will be the base and stab it until it flattens out and the figure will stand up unsupported.

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Once you have the basic shape, you need a face. Tear off a small piece of face colour topping (whatever you fancy!) and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hands. then place it on the core shape. Stab again, shaping it into a circle with your needle as you go.

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The choose the colours you want for the clothing. The one in the photo is Mary so I went for blues.Wrap the topping around the core shape and needle felt it on, remembering that the while you’re felting on the topping, you’re also felting the main shape so it will continue to get smaller and firmer.

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For her head covering, I used a darker blue and wrapped it round her like a shawl.

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Once you’ve finished the colours, Mary is done! The just repeat the process to make all the other figures in the nativity scene. (I did Mary, Joseph, two shepherds, 3 kings, an angel and a sheep)

Use different colours to make each character recognisable. For Joseph, I gave him a head covering and then a band around his forehead (think children in the school play with a tea towel tied on with a dressing gown cord!)

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For the kings, I did two similar to Joseph but put coloured jewels on and the third I gave a crown.

Once you’ve done the grown up figures, it’s time to do Jesus in the manger. I felted a piece of brown wool roving fairly flat and when it was at the stage I could mold it, I used my thumb to make it into a dish shape.

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For Jesus, I used a small piece of grey wool roving and gave him a little pink face, using the same technique as for the others.

Lastly, I made a small sheep using a tiny piece of white wool roving with an even small piece for the head. I then felted it onto the side of one of the shepherds so it wouldn’t go AWOL! (See the main photo)

I really enjoyed making this nativity scene, it’s unique and I can’t wait to put it on my mantle piece when we decorate the tree tomorrow! And yes, the three kings might still make their journey around the sitting room 🙂

I hope you’ll have a go at needle felting, it’s very addictive and entirely satisfying!

 

Get crafty for Christmas!

Pom-poms are amazing. Christmas is amazing. Putting them together? Amazing!

Christmas wreaths are the icing on the Christmas decoration cake. They look fab on a front door, back door, house wall, wherever.

This year I decided not to pay £15 for a wreath but to have a stab at making my own. In previous years I have tried this with an oasis ring and some bits of tree cut down from the garden. The results were mediocre at best. So this year I decided to use a skill I’m actually good at and make a pom-pom wreath instead. It wasn’t too hard although it was a little time-consuming but I think all the best things are! If you want to make one, you will need;

25cm polystyrene circle

300g green yarn in different shades (I used two different shades)

Packet of red mini pom-poms

Pom-pom maker (or cardboard circles see here)

Glue gun

Twine

Embroidery scissors

Large glass of wine (optional)

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First, thread a piece of yarn through the middle of the ring and tie to make a hanger. I didn’t do this and then had to negotiate the pom-poms!

Start making the pom-poms. If you have a pom-pom maker, the process will go quicker.

I used around 30 pom-poms to make my wreath but I was daft and only had 100g of yarn in each colour. If I did it again I would buy at least 100g more and probably use nearer 35 pom-poms. I played yarn chicken and lost!

Once you have made all the pom-poms, you can begin gluing them onto the polystyrene ring using the glue gun. Make sure all the sides are covered so none of the polystyrene shows through.

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Once you have glued all the green pom-poms on, you can start added the little red ones. I added them randomly and stopped when I thought it looked right.

When the glue has dried, hang your pom-pom wreath proudly from you door and wait for the compliments to come in 🙂

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I had a lot of fun making this wreath. You can experiment with different coloured yarns to create bright wreaths, monochrome wreaths or whatever takes your fancy. The world is your pom-pom oyster!