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….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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make your own slippers

Imperfect gifts to make now

Hands up who loves giving a handmade gift you’ve made yourself. OK, lost some of you there. Don’t go anywhere. I may be about to change your mind.

Right, those with their hands still up, keep them up if you’d like to make a present but think you either lack the skill or time, or both.

Some hands down there. That’s OK, you’ve probably got December sorted. Still. I have a few more ideas that you might like. Don’t go anywhere.

It’s OK, the rest of you. Hands down now. You’ll need the blood supply to your hands for this next part. I’m going to show you a few imperfect crafts that produce the perfect gift. Presents that can be coupled with shop bought gifts to give that more personal touch.

Can you knit?

These are felted slippers. They could be embellished with felt flowers, ribbons or pompoms. Gifted with a bottle of foot lotion or anything relaxing. They are easy to knit. Then you throw them in the washing machine and they shrink. They start off big and shrink down to the right size, like magic.

This is the clever part. When they shrink they disguise most imperfections or mistakes you might have made. Even a dropped stitch or a purl instead of a knit. They are truly forgiving. They can even be reshaped, while they’re still damp. Handy if you made one slipper a size too small. So forgiving.

Quick to knit too. If I remember rightly, this pair took me two evenings to knit.

Can you sew?

Next suggestion is a fabric bookmark. Maybe slipped into a book you are giving. These can be hand sewn or whipped up at the speed of light (OK, only kidding, but it doesn’t take long) on a sewing machine.

No need to be perfect like most patchwork projects. In fact, the less perfect they are, the better. You can use scraps of fabric that are special to the recipient. A favourite colour. A favourite theme. A truly unique, and useful, gift to give.

Can you craft?

These are felted soaps. I love them. It is a flannel and soap all in one. Wrap the bar of soap in roving (wool) and shrink it in warm water. You’ll need some determination and elbow grease to encourage it to shrink, but that is as skilled as it gets. I made these ones with the children. The designs are organic and abstract, so plenty of room to be imperfect again.

It could be gifted with bathroom goodies. Maybe a bottle of bubble bath or a soap dish. Use colours to match their bathroom or to complement it.

After the recipient has used up the soap, they can add more soap. Alternatively, they could recycle the wool in their compost heap or use it in the garden as a slug barrier around a plant.

(I’ll be posting up a more thorough step by step guide to felting soap soon, as the one above I wrote in the early days of my blogging!)

Can you measure?

No cooking involved in this craft. There are so many ideas out there for jar gifting. We’ve given jars filled with cookie mix, granola or hot chocolate. Everyone always loves this kind of gift. It looks good and it’s also a useful gift. I know I thank the giver when I reach into the cupboard a month or two later and pull out a jar to make cookies. Most of the ingredients are there and no measuring required. Speeds up cookie baking no end.

With this one, you do need to measure carefully, but after that you can be as creative as you want. Decorate the jar with pretty fabric and a handwritten label (with instructions). Maybe a sparkly flower or bow.

I think the hot chocolate version was the most well received. We added special chocolates to it.

Also, if you can measure and make a sand castle (not at the same time, of course) you can make bath bombs. Really easy to join the children in with this one and incredibly easy to make a professional looking bath bomb. Package it up and you may need to add a note to say you made it, as they may not guess.

So, your turn

Some of these crafts will need a few supplies bought in. Others you may have everything you need on hand. Crafting a handmade gift does not have to be perfect. Choose the right project and any lack of ability tends to be disguised in the end. Couple it with another gift, or give it on its own. Either way you will be giving a unique gift.

How about you? Are you making handmade gifts this year? Does the idea of making imperfect gifts appeal to you?

 

 

Silver birch felted slippers

First craft project of the year is complete. It’s a simple one, made more complex by its numerous stages. For the sake of sanity, this process was fortunately spread out over successive years of near inactivity. Slow crafting at its best. Allowing plenty of thinking time.

Do and leave. Repeat till done.

Some projects seem to mature with time. This was one of them. Let me tell you its story.

The beginnings of this project arrived in our kitchen in the form of a bag of sheep’s fleece. Excess to a friend’s requirements. Did I want it? Otherwise it would be wasted.

The photo above dates back to summer 2010. A year that lent itself to washing and drying fleece. Making the most of the gentle breeze and warming sun.

Roll on two years. (I said it was slow). On a warm spring day, out in the garden, the clean fleece was carded and sorted. Then hid in sacks ready to use, another day.

It stayed hidden for another three years. Until, one evening, I spun it up into balls of yarn. Returning it into hiding, in a drawer, until the time was right to use it. The photo is from January 2015.

Until finally, this month, this year, it’s ready to use. The fleece can finally be transformed, by knitting (and a need and an idea).

The story is not yet ended. They are now two, not one. Still not ready. They need one last stage before my work is done, but a pre-felting photo is compulsory. Right?

One day later, they are finally transformed into something useful. After time tumbling in the washing machine, with towels and jeans, they have taken shape. Slippers. Fun slippers. Ready for my middle girl. Once they are dry.

But, wait, there is something I did not intend. Something that magically happened long ago in one of the early stages. Not corrected at any of the other moments of making. Do you see it? The flecks of brown? Streaking across the felted slippers.

As if the slippers were made from the bark of a silver birch. Not fleece at all.

The fleece is from a Jacob sheep. Brown and white. When we separated out the colours, some small flecks of brown must have sneaked into the cream mix.

I’m sure six and a half years ago, when she helped me wash the fleece (she’s the one in the red dress in the photo at the top), my girl did not imagine that it would turn into slippers aspiring to be patterned tree bark.

Or did she?

I like them. I like that they turned out not as I imagined. An unintended twist. Maybe an endorsement that some of the best things take time to grow and should not be hurried. Childhood, trees and, now, felted slippers included.

My job is done. Over to the new owner. The magic of handmade felted slippers is that the final transformation takes place on the intended feet. They begin to adapt to the shape of the feet. Working and stretching to fit perfectly, until they would suit no other.

Probably a good time to mention, that my girl hasn’t got pointed toes. That is my added fun to the slippers. I was contemplating turning them up and adding a bell. Maybe next time.

First stash busting project complete. Right time to start another pair. Let’s see if I can beat my six years record.

Linking up to #Trash2Treasure and Made By You

I heart my slippers

homemade felted slippers aAs I live and breathe, I made these slippers. They were a bit of an experiment for me. I used recycled yarn from my stash and two of my evenings. It really didn’t matter too much if they succeeded or not, but I so wanted them to. They really didn’t let me down.

homemade felted slippers on feet g

To be honest, not everything turns out matching the picture in my head. Imagination is a wonderful thing. But these did. They really did. Maybe it’s because they’re so simple. Not many steps (pun not intended), so less chance of mistakes.

homemade felted slippers on feet 2a

It’s the first time I’ve knitted something into the desired shape and then felted it. Totally appeals to the instant-reward side of my nature. Press a button (washing machine, in this case), and it does the rest. (Of course, ignoring the hours spent knitting.)

unfelted slippers ready for wash a

Slippers pre-felting

I used this pattern. I didn’t have the required 8mm dpn (double pointed needles), on hand, so 9mm straight ones had to do. I sewed up the front join over the top of the foot. It doesn’t show. Well I don’t think it does!

They are still wet and need a bit of shaping. I’ll be able to throw them back in the wash if they start to bag or get dirty. They are thick felt and pure wool, so they’re going to keep my feet wonderfully warm. Not sure if I’ll add a leather sole to them, but will be adding non-slip stuff to improve the grip. I may never buy slippers again.

This pattern is really easy. If you can knit, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

homemade felted slippers with heart aWhen I took them out of the first wash this morning, the children were intrigued. I can imagine making a pair for each member of the family.

Adding to my Becoming a greener me in 100 steps project. Making my own footwear from my craft stash.

Photos

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