Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Harry Potter Inspired Party - Part One!

I love preparing for my childrens' birthday parties.  I just sort of wish that I didn't have to actually run the party.  Normally how I've planned it in my head is lot better than how it actually turns out.  This year something exciting happened, the party worked better than I had imagined it possibly could.  Even though some of the children hadn't read the Harry Potter series (they are only 8 year olds), they still seemed to be happy to be at Hogwarts!

To stop myself from running out of time I decided to write a timetable for the day:

Get supplies in Diagon Alley 16:30
Sorting in the Great Hall 16:45
Spells Exam 16:55
Charms Class 17:05
Quidditch Practice 17:20
Herbology class 17:40
Magical Beasts and their Care Class 18:00
Dinner in Great Hall 18:20
Defence Against the Dark Arts Class 18:40

As you can see we had a lot to fit in!

I created a lot of supplies for the day, and I wanted the children to have access to some of them throughout the party so we created our Diagon Alley.  As they arrived we handed them a list of the supplies they had to find:


Hogwarts Carryall bag

Quidditch Practice Rules

Mini Book of Monsters

Standard Book of Spells

Herbology Handbook

Maurauders Map


Owl Pack



I had made each child a bag that was to be used to carry their supplies and also serve as a party bag at the end.  I was lucky to fund some suitable material - it was that disposable table cloth material, in a charity shop for 50p a metre.  I think I used 4m.  I topped the bags with some black cotton tape.

For their textbooks I used a lot of free printables that are available on the internet.  Honestly it was hard picking out which ones to use.  For the Standard Book of Spells I found one here.  We didn't do Divination for the party, but we've printed out the "Unfogging the Future" booklet from there too and it is a lot of fun.  We printed them out as leaflets and then I simply hand sewed up the spine to create them individual books (luckily I wasn't doing this for too many kids otherwise it would have got quite dull).

I created the Herbology Handbook using information from a variety of sources, I customised the information to the seeds I had bought for the Herbology lesson.  I used a couple of books I had bought for the kids and searched "magical properties of____" for seeds that weren't included in these books.  I also searched online for black and white pictures of each of the plants so they could be included in the book.

I had a lot of fun creating the Mini Book of Monsters.  Firstly I found some reduced fluffy pencil cases and bought them all - 6 in total.  The next job was to find notebooks that would fit inside the pencil cases and allow me to create the number I needed (14).

At one point I didn't think it was going to be possible, I thought I was going to have to abandon the whole project.  Then I came across these little notebooks in sets of 12 and as an added bonus each pack was only £1.

I dissected the pencil cases, and cut them into three separate book covers, stabilised the notebooks with old cereal packets, cut and sewed felt into tongues and teeth,  then glued it all together including the googly eyes using a glue gun.  I won't lie these were shedding fur the whole time up to, and during the party, but I think they look awesome!  The idea was from here.

I didn't need the Marauders' Map for any of my planned activities, but I saw this and I couldn't stop myself from adding these to their party bags.  It was satisfying work to fold these up, the instructions are so good, they are super easy to create and very effective.

For quills we simply washi taped some craft feathers onto pencils.  The children were still calling them quills throughout the party!

The broomsticks were created using the tube from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper and fringed newspaper.  We had done this for a friend's Harry Potter party too, so I knew it would work.  I added some jute string to cover the sticky tape and they were done.  The trickiest part of this project was finding enough tubes!  Although effective, they do not stand up to a lot of wear and tear, several had to be repaired during the party!  We have some made out of plastic tubing for the kids to play with and these are a lot sturdier.  If I'd known I was going to be doing this party I'd have been stocking up on cheap brooms at a Halloween sale.

The wands were made from cheap (and I mean cheap - something like 99p for a billion) chopsticks. You add glue with a glue gun to create the handle and then paint them.  I've also added beads in with the glue to make fancier wands, but for mass production I would recommend as little glue as you feel you can get away with.  I do think some of the very simple designs are very effective.  I let my kids pick the colours to paint them.  You could organise it so you had enough colours for one for each child, that way they would always know which wand was theirs.  Or alternatively have them all the same, so it doesn't matter.  My husband made a cool wand holder for the "Olivanders"  shop and we attached an old cupboard door to hide the holder.  I thought it looked brilliant.

The owl packs were so each child could create their own owl that would wait in the Owlery during the party in case it was needed for any postal work.  It also meant that the children had something to do whilst we were waiting for everyone to arrive and collect their supplies.

We also got them to have a photo shoot if they were waiting so we could turn them into thank you gifs that looked like Azkaban Wanted posters.

There were so many other things I wanted to do as well - I wanted to make robes and scarves and chocolate frog wrappers, and a hundred other cool things I had seen online, but in the end I felt that this was probably enough!  I had also run out of time and money to spend on more things.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Yummy Brussel Sprouts

I love sprouts, I think they are delicious.  So when I saw these little beauties on folksy, I thought I must have one immediately.  Unfortunately they had already sold out, and I'm not surprised, they were total bargains and very cute.

My husband said, something along the lines of surely you could make one though?  How hard can it be. Ummm, actually not too hard.  In fact I now have a little army of sprouts, enough to give some to friends who admired and named them...

Thanks Jolly Spoon for letting me use your photo.

So to make these, you need to create three circles and one sphere and then sew them together.  Add eyes and you're sorted.

To make these ones I used a 3mm hook with double knit yarn, but you could use anything.  This is in American terms (sorry I know I chop and change between the two - it just depends on which patterns I've been using most recently).

Pattern for the circle:
R1: Chain 2
R2: 6 single crochet (sc) into the 2nd chain from the hook ( 6 stitches)
R3: 2 sc into each stitch (12 stitches)
R4: 2 sc into the next stitch 1 sc into the next stitch x 6 (18 stitches)
R5: 2 sc into the next stitch 1 sc into the next 2 stitches x 6 (24 stitches)
Leave a long tail so you can sew this onto the sphere

You need to make 3 of these.

Pattern for the sphere:
R1: Chain 2
R2: 6 single crochet (sc) into the 2nd chain from the hook ( 6 stitches)
R3: 2 sc into each stitch (12 stitches)
R4: 2 sc into the next stitch 1 sc into the next stitch x 6 (18 stitches)
R5 - R7: 18 stitches around
R8: 1 sc decrease, 1 sc into the next stitch x 6 (12 stitches)
Stuff your brussel now, I use the stuffing from an old pillow.
R9: 1 sc decrease x 6 (6 stitches)
Leave a long tail and then sew up this bottom

Now put them all together.  I glue gunned on the eyes and then ended up creating one for everyone I know...

By now I'd become a little sprout obsessed, and so I needle felted this little guy.

Here he is with his mates.

My son has claimed him as his own.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

April Showers

Today it is wet and miserable here, not so much April showers as April down pours. Bleurgh. It did remind of a lovely little decoration I'd been inspired to make after seeing a similar one.  A simple cloud, which I felt simply needed the addition of raindrops.  So I immediately got to work.  I used:
  • some thick beading wire
  • my heart punch 
  • some white paper
  • some insulation tape
  • some thin white cotton
  • some normal sticky tape

I shaped the beading wire into the cloud shape I was after and then wrapped it with the blue insulation tape to make it stand out a bit. Next I punched out several hearts and used those to create the rain drops (cut in half and slightly shaped).  I tied the cotton onto the cloud shape and added my half heart rain drops to the cotton and that was it.  I was finished.  Tah Dah.  A nice easy peasy craft that still looks super effective now.

I think you could possibly make this work as a coat hanger too, a flat bottom to the cloud, without the raindrops, and then add a hook to the top.  That would make it into something useful, as opposed to just looking pretty.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Another Little Flower Pattern

Imaginative title, I know.

I just wanted to create another little pattern for a flower.  The reason was exciting, I was off on a spa weekend with some friends.  Squeal.  Whenever I'm in a spa (every weekend - in my dreams) I'm always worried I'm going to end up with someone else's robe.  I don't think you'd even know until you tried to open your locker and discovered you couldn't because the key in your pocket isn't yours!

Last year, for a similar trip, I made everyone the flowers I made for my brother's wedding.  The pattern for those is here.  I think for me one of the highlights of our spa trip this year was that several people had kept and remembered to bring, the flower I'd made for them the previous year.

This year's flower is a more pointy affair.  It wasn't based on a particular type of flower, I just liked the idea of playing around with the petal shape.

Pointy Petal Flower Pattern

US terms.  Hook Size can be anything but I made these using DK yarn and 3.5mm Hook

Round 1: Chain (Ch) 4 and slip stitch (sl st) together

Round 2: Ch 2 and 12 double crochet (dc) into the circle, sl st together.

Round 3: Ch 1, 2 single crochet (sc) inn each stitch, and sl st together

Round 4: Ch 4, skip 3 stitches and sl st into next stitch, repeat to end

Round 5: sc, half double crochet (hdc), 2dc, 1 treble crochet (trc), 2dc, hdc, sc and sl st into each loop and finish off after the final petal.

Alternative Round 5 (for when you have very little yarn leftover!): sc, 2hdc, 1trc, 2hdc, sc and sl st into each loop and finish off after final petal.

To create the flowers for the spa I used tiny little scraps of yarn from my stash so I used the alternative round 5.

I am lucky that people know how much I love yarn and so I get some as presents.  This means that I have enough colours so that everyone can have a different coloured flower.  I simply added a safety pin to the back of the flower and then you have your very own robe marker!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter Egg Doodle

I wish I could call this an Easter Egg Zentangle, but I think that would overstate this little doodle of mine.

Each year the kids enter an Easter Egg Colouring Competition, and I don't like to feel left out, so I photocopied one for me to have a go with too.  Obviously I didn't enter mine into the kids competition, tempting though it was it would have been a little embarassing to lose against the kids!

I hope everyone has a lovely Easter holiday, we're aiming to find as many Easter Egg hunts as possible to complete, but so far we've only managed one.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Crochet Cross Bookmark

A while ago my daughter was invited to a Confirmation Party for a friend.  I was not sure what the drill was for a confirmation party, as we're not religious.  However I did decide that it would be nice to make a little something for the little girl who was getting Confirmed.  I decided to do something more in keeping with the occasion than either a hat or a bag like I would normally do.

I searched the web and found this lovely pattern for a crocheted Cross Bookmark.  I thought it was perfect.

I found the pattern easy going once I'd understood the meaning of the long single crochet stitch (basically reaching further in than the standard stitch, but still using a single crochet stitch to do it).  It was probably the first time I'd tried working in anything other than DK yarn, so I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I still am if I'm honest!

I think this could make a lovely addition to my Easter Tree/Easter Decorations.  I'm just hoping that I'll have some need to make another one in the future as it was a fun pattern to complete.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bookcase Makeover

Recently my husband and I bought a new bookcase.  It was to replace one we inherited when we moved into our last house.  We didn't really like it, but we are both hoarders, and we needed storage.  Especially for books.  We still do.  I have a problem when it comes to buying books.  So even though we had replaced an old, unloved bookcase with something a lot prettier we didn't feel we could just chuck out the old one.  I really must remember to take "before" pictures, but I'm too impatient to get on with a crafty project to stop and take pictures.  So instead here is the "after" picture to start with!

Actually I didn't manage to take any of the pictures for this post, they were all taken by my husband. He was pretty keen on this project, in fact the whole thing was his idea.  Although up close this isn't the prettiest project in the world, it is functional and from across the room it is very pretty indeed.

I mentioned we were hoarders, but I think this project illustrates it perfectly.  Not only did we use an old bookcase we didn't really want, but couldn't throw out, we also found a 2000 UK road map whilst we were de-cluttering.  It didn't have any special memory attached to it, we didn't go on a lovely trip around the country in 2000 that we never wanted to forget.  We were keeping it, just in case.  Just in case the roads magically reverted to how they were 15 years ago overnight and no one else had a map perhaps?!

The bookcase we had inherited when we moved into the house, and was a black ash like this one you can buy from Asda (Walmart). Obviously, we forget to take a proper 'Before' photo, opting instead for 'Midway Thru' and 'After' photos only.

As a family we like maps (obviously we are hoarding them from 15 years ago), so it seemed logical to try and create something from the map and the bookcase.  When my husband suggested this I wasn't sure whether he was hoping it would go horribly wrong and that we could throw the whole thing out, or whether he was hoping it would work and would be able to house my ever increasing collection of cookery books.

We set to work, I did help, but mainly it was my husband deciding which parts of the part should go where.  We have London on the top shelf and a pretty coastal area along the bottom.

We used a glue and varnish in one (like modge podge) and just covered the whole thing.  We worked in sections, waiting for bits to dry before moving on to the next section.

Finally using the very last of a pot of glue, and the last couple of pages of the map we were done.

It is now proudly up in the kitchen with my cookery books and some board games on there.

And so finally, here's the after photo again.  We're really pleased with it.  It's a lot brighter than the black ash, and is certainly a unique piece of furniture.