Handmade Holiday – Garlands

My kids saw a photo on the computer of a garland someone had made, and are crazy about the idea of making holiday garlands to string around the house. So, in the spirit of a handmade holiday, I’ve collected our favourite garland-making tutorials for you to enjoy. When we’re finished making ours, I’ll be sure to share our finished product!

Lynden’s favourite type of garland is a felted-ball garland – here’s a great little how-to that results in all sorts of lovely – Felted Garland from MegaCrafty.

Because Raina loves anything to do with paint and paper, she voted on this lovely Leaf Garland from The Present Family, though she’d like to do snowmen and top hats instead of leaves. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Here’s a beautiful paper-craft garland from Oh My! which I love, but realistically won’t get done in time for the holidays. This garland has made it’s way onto my list for something to do in mid-winter when we’re going stir crazy and we need a little something to brighten up the house – I’m thinking dinosaurs and fairies for the kids’ room.

I really love how into it the kids are about our handmade holiday, and how enthusiastic they are to create things with their own hands.  How have you been incorporating handmade into your home & holidays?

Handmade Holiday – Spinning Some Yarn

This year I’m trying to give everyone on my holiday list a handmade gift.  In this house, that usually means something crafted from wool or yarn.  I’ve been working on one particular gift since September, and finally making some good progress.  I won’t tell you who it’s for, or what the finished object will be, because most of my family members read this little old blog and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise! But I will share the entire process with you.  Here we go!

The story of this project actually begins in Spring of 2011.  You may recall that I visited a friend’s farm for sheep shearing day, and came home with a lovely fleece.  The sheep was named “Morag”, and I must put in a word of thanks to her here, because that fleece of hers sure is a delight to work with.  In September, I began the process of blending some of Morag’s wool with another fibre (I won’t tell you what until after the holidays – don’t want to give it away!) with my hand cards.  Let me tell you, hand-blending these two fibres has been a long and tedious process.  Now that the carding stage is complete, everything else is going quickly.

Seeing the rolags pile up in my basket, blended and ready to be dyed, has been quite satisfactory.  The finished product is worth the blisters the carders put on my hands.

I was tempted to spin the fibre in its natural colour, but decided I needed to go ahead and dye it.  I don’t have much on hand right now, so I chose some food-grade dye hiding in the back of the cupboard and left the fibre to soak in a bath of vinegar and water.  I’d love to include a photo of the dye process itself, but my kitchen was too dark and none of the shots turned out well.

I mixed some red and blue for a lovely range of blue, navy, and dark purple.  After rinsing the dyed fibre and patting it with a towel, I set it out on the coffee table with a fan pointed at it to dry.  It’s still pretty wet in this photo, so the colours look a lot darker than they actually are.

Time to spin! I haven’t had a chance yet this Autumn to get my dear wheel out and spin up some yarn, so opening the case and setting her up was like reconnecting with an old friend.  Oh, sweet wheel, I do so love to work with you!

The kids were pretty excited to see my wheel out again, and clamoured around me to watch the fibre being spun.  Lynden used my phone to take this photo, and although it’s blurry, I do love it – it seems to me that the essence of the afternoon is captured quite well by a 5-yr-old and a phone.

The fibre is spinning up beautifully, I must say.  Some of the fibre had not quite dried yet, so there’s a lot more waiting to be done, but I can’t wait to set the twist and get knitting with it!  So luxuriously soft, just what I was hoping for!

I know you’re dying to find out what kind of fibre I blended Morag’s wool with, aren’t you?  And what will the finished product be? If you can handle the suspense, I’ll reveal all my holiday creations as soon as they’ve been gifted to the loved ones they’re intended for! Stay tuned!

Winter Projects

While waiting for this long and cold and snowy winter to come to an end, I have been keeping myself busy with a few projects.  If we must be cooped up in the house so much of the time, the least I can do is enjoy the process of creation!

I was fortunate to come into posession of hand carders, and have been carding away.  Our Angora bunnies, Henry and Madison, give up lots of beautiful, soft, lustrous fibre when they are brushed each day, and it makes for a wonderful blend with sheep’s wool.

I love how the wool gives the Angora fibre a bit more spring and strength, while the Angora makes the wool much softer.  It really is a lovely combination!

My mother-in-law was kind and generous enough to surprise me with a bag full of roving in various beautiful colours, and so I have been spinning away…

… and knitting socks for the kids!  I’ve always been a bit timid when it comes to socks, but now that I’ve knit a “test” pair with success, I’m hooked!  Once I’ve finished the multicoloured socks for the kids, onto toasty warm Angora socks for my mother-in-law!

I also decided to try my hand at a new venture and have been experimenting with dyeing the wool that I’ve been hand-carding.  So far, so good!  I’m anxious to spin this stuff up!

With all of this crafting going on, I have finally launched my Esty shop! (Insert excited squeak here)  I will be adding items as frequently as I’m able to create them and I’m hoping to have a wide variety of natural wonders up for your enjoyment.  Check it out for yourself, and share the link with anyone who might like to peruse – http://trinityfibrecraft.etsy.com 

And the biggest project of all – caring for sick kidlets.  We were on a roll this winter, not catching anything until February came along.  Now we seem to be hit with one nasty bug after another!  First it was the barfing bug of doom, then a nasty cough/cold, and now a fever that has kept Lynden in bed for two days straight.  He finally came down to join us on the couch this afternoon, cocooned in a blanket made with love by his aunt.  Look at those sad, sick eyes :(

Of course, for as much time as we spend in the house, there are a few things that draw me outdoors….

Edward, our billy goat, a sweet and beautiful boy who likes to pee on himself to impress the ladies.

There are animals needing to be fed; we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of goat kids in the spring! 

And every so often, we try to get outside just for the sake of enjoying the snow. 

Warmest wishes to you all!  Spring is almost here!