One of Munchkin’s favourite toys, ever since we bought it for her when she was just 6 weeks old, is a soft ball made of cotton that has a bell in it. It was fabulous as all the seams are on the outside and she could grab, throw and play with it very easily. And as she’s grown, she’s continued to enjoy it. Almost every day it gets launched across the room or skittles over the floor, tinkling as it goes.
I’ve a couple of friends who are pregnant and so I went to buy some to give as gifts. Only to discover that they no longer make them. So I took this as a sign that I should change the pattern, make it a whole heap more colourful and get crocheting! The only down side is that Munchkin has discovered them and now thinks that they’re hers. It looks like I’ll be making some more!
I started this pattern in much the same way as I did the crochet baby noise makers. By filling a Kinder Surprise cylinder with popping corn kernels and taping it firmly closed. But you can use film canisters, small take away sauce tubs, anything that you can tape closed and that makes a good rattling noise. Or you could even recycle the rattle or bell out of an old baby toy.
Then you get crocheting! I used a 3.5mm hook and 100% cotton. Just check the hook size nominated on your yarn and adjust the hook size appropriately. You don’t want large holes in your work so that little fingers can’t pry out the stuffing.
Increase (2 single crochet in the same stitch) = inc
Cotton yarn in at least two colours
3.5mm crochet hook
Cotton wadding (using this instead of normal stuffing makes it much harder for little fingers to get at it, but either will work fine).
Plastic container insert from a Kinder Surprise or alternate small plastic container that you can seal.
Seeds, Grains etc
In yarn colour 1
Row 1: Create a Magic Ring and sc 10. Pull magic ring closed. Sl st in first dc, to join. (10)
Row 2: ch 2. dc inc 10. Sl st in second ch, to join. (20)
Row 3: ch 2. *dc 1, dc inc 1.* Repeat *to* 10 times. Sl st in second ch, to join. (30)
Change yarn to second highlight colour
Row 4: ch 2. *sc 2, dc inc 1.* Repeat *to* 10 times. Sl st in second ch, to join. Fasten off and sew in the ends. (40)
Repeat 12 times to make 12 circles.
Stitching below the last row of crochet using the holes in the crochet with a large needle. Stitch two circles together, using the increased stitches as a guide. Stitch between 2 sets of increased stitches as shown below.
Repeat with 4 following circles until your work looks like the image below. You need to stitch the sides together too, using the increased stitches as a guide again. Finish off and sew in your ends.
Repeat the above steps with your six remaining circles until you have two ball halves.
Taking the two ball halves, align the middle increased stitch on the open end of a circle with a seam on the opposing ball half. Sew together, leaving enough open to insert the filling.
Then, wrapping the shaker egg in wadding until it’s the size you want and push it in. This item is nice for younger children with less wadding making it softer and less likely to roll away. It also makes it much easier to grasp. For older children, you can make it firmer and the ball will roll if pushed.
Finally sew the remaining open portion together with the wadding and shaker inside. Finish of and sew in your ends.
I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as Munchkin!
My templates and tutorials are free for personal use only.
A couple of months ago, my friend Nikki asked me to come up with a concept. She wanted to make gifts to give to her children’s teachers at the end of the year as a thank you gift. What made this request really interesting is that Nikki is a genius with biscuits, royal icing, cake and fondant and I’ve been dying for an opportunity to pick her brains and to work on a project together, so this was the perfect excuse!
We also both have little ones very similar in age, so with this project we had crafternoons and play-dates all rolled into one! Admittedly it wasn’t easy, Munchkin and her friend O liked to keep us on our toes! But after quite a few catch ups and some work alone once the little ones went to bed of an evening, we got them done.
When it comes to icing and piping work, I’ve not touched a piping bag in… years! And so when coming up with concepts my mind instantly went to things I felt I could help with. Then I remembered these amazing cookies I’d pinned a few years ago. I love the idea of using the cookie dough to create the image and then adding just a little icing for the details.
Detailed cutting and splicing I can do!
This is what I came up with. A series of woodland creatures including a fox, owl, hedgehog, squirrel and bear. All to be packaged up peeking out of a ‘tree trunk’.
Nikki mixed up a batch of each her (I’m told) delicious chocolate and vanilla doughs at home so as to avoid accidentally poisoning me with gluten, I was just very careful to wash my hands after handling the dough and definitely didn’t taste test it!
To make the cookies, we rolled the dough out using rolling pin guide strips so as to ensure all the dough was the same thickness, then put the dough in the freezer to harden up. Using templates created out of wax proof paper we’d traced, we then cut the hardened dough using a scalpel to get a nice clean finish (an X-acto knife would work just as well, just make sure you’ve given it a good clean first).
As fate would have it, we made these on the hottest days we’ve had this Summer! So we had dough cycling in and out of of my freezer making sure it all kept hard enough to assemble. We then spliced the pieces together, gently used our fingers to join the edges and baked them.
Unfortunately I had my hands so full of dough and babies that I didn’t get many photos taken during this process. But I’m going to re-create it with some gluten-free recipes and another template I’ve made to create a tutorial in the coming weeks.
This is what the owls looked like just before we baked them.
And this is what they looked like afterwards
Flash forward a few days, after we’d both completed cookies on our own (once the little ones had gone to bed) and we were ready to add the icing details! Nikki, whipped up some royal icing and after laying the templates underneath wax paper, traced the features in royal icing. It is a fabulous method I can’t wait to try myself, particularly as it allows you to keep going until you’ve created one you’re happy with before you apply it to the biscuit! Here’s some information on royal icing transfers.
We glued the eyes, beaks and noses down with some more royal icing.
The limit of my piping on this project consisted of using royal icing to glue toasted slivered almonds onto the hedgehog to give him spikes, and piping on the hedgehogs noses.
I think they turned out really cute.
Then I got to work making the packaging! I wanted to display them standing up and so made a box within a box. I glued the biscuits in using royal icing which allowed them to be transported without fear of them falling out of their peepholes. But if you wanted to you could add some acetate or clear plastic to the inside of the box to ensure your cookie is safe.
I’ve included all the templates in a PDF file at the bottom of the post if you want to try and make your own!
Here are the steps to put the packaging together.
You’ll need an x-acto knife, adhesive (I used a Pritt Stick) and 3 pieces of A3 card stock about 160 gsm or as thick as you can get through your printer.
I then used a little bit of tape to hold the lid in place. But a clear sticker or double sided tape works well too.
Here’s the finished packaging.
And here they all are just before they went to school to be given to some lovely teachers!
I had a fantastic time working with Nikki on this project. I can’t wait until we get to do another one
It’s that time of the year! That time when Spring arrives and all the shelves in every store are full of chocolate bunnies and pretty chocolate eggs. That time when we eat too many and then swear never to eat chocolate again.
As I’m something of an enabler when it comes to spoiling ones-self and others; and in order to aid with your chocolate consumption and gifting this year, I’ve made up a pretty little Easter bunny milk carton template that you can customise with the names of both the gifter and giftee… or you could just fill in your name in both spaces.
It’s quite simple and subtle, so it will allow your gorgeous gift inside to take centre stage.
Or simply print it off if you want them left blank.
The finished box is 9cm wide x 9cm deep x 13 cm high
It’s as simple as printing it out on A3 card stock, cutting it out, scoring along the dotted lines and folding.
Update: I’ve had a question about ‘card stock’. Sorry, I should have been clearer. Just print it out on the thickest card you can get through your printer. Anything about 160 gsm should work well.
Then use double-sided tape or paper glue to stick it together and you’ll have a super cute little box in a jiffy.
In the interest of full disclosure, the inspiration for this little design came from one of my favourite outfits for Munchkin. We bought it in Australia. It’s this beautiful little jumpsuit by Oeuf NYC. I love it so much I’ve plans to buy it in more colours and larger sizes so that she can wear them for as long as possible.
My templates and tutorials are free for personal use only
Valentines Day is fast approaching. Are you prepared?
For those of you who aren’t, I’ve collated a collection of free Valentines Day printables. So if you’re stuck for ideas, why not have a look? Just click on the images to link through to the respective blogs and downloadable files.
My husband and I are a bit rubbish at Valentines Day. It’s often forgotten until the day before or the morning of.
We avoid all the really commercial aspects of the day and don’t go out to crazily expensive and often mediocre dinners or buy each-other expensive gifts. But we do something. This year my husband will have just gotten off the plane after an 11 hour flight followed by a 2 1/2 hour train trip, having spent just 3 days in San Francisco. So we’re going for low key this year. I’m going to make us a nutritious and delicious dinner and then, if my lovely other half can keep his eyes open, we’ll watch a movie.
Usually I make a card. But last year I forgot about Valentines Day all-together as I was suffering from a hideous bout of morning sickness. I have no idea what I’m going to do this year. Some people appear to be using my Little Mr Robot Advent Calendar as a Valentines Gift, so I may do something similar.
It’s coming round to that time of year wherein I look at the calendar and panic. I’ve not even started to think about Christmas presents for friends and family, let alone creating an advent calendar. And this year is particularly difficult as I’m trying to do it all whilst sleep deprived and often with a Munchkin who won’t let me put her down. So this year, I’m remaking some of the advents I created last year and thought you might want to do so too.
So here’s a slightly revised Little Mr Robot advent blog post:
A friend of mine dropped into conversation that she thought that I sketch I’d done years ago would look rather cute as an advent calendar. So I spent a little time this week playing with it to see if I could get it to work. Et voilà!! Here is the result!
I received an email from Ikea yesterday and immediately made arrangements to go and check out my local store. Why? It’s not like they were handing out free Sczchfgdudnkfdskj’s, and I’m not a huge fan of their disposable furniture. Like with my chocolate, I’m more a ‘one good quality piece rather than a 400 gram block of average stuff’ girl. But I do like their gluten-free cake! And cheap glassware, lighting and teacups for parties.
They do a roaring trade with the expats here. Where else can you go, do a confusingly long, windy lap through a warehouse and walk out the front door with a complete house-full of furniture and appliances?! We do have some pieces bought over the years that I’ve yet to find suitable replacements for, but that’s mainly because second hand and vintage are so insanely expensive here; and as up until recently we’ve not had a car for me to take ‘brocante excursions’ in.
So why was I heading to Ikea with haste?
I went to check out their new Paperstore. I love paper-stores! Switzerland isn’t the best place to buy wrapping paper or stationery. When we arrived here almost 4 years ago it was near on impossible to buy wrapping paper or cards that weren’t bedazzled in some form (usually with glitter AND metallic foiling) and that often cost more than the item you wanted to wrap! Thankfully the situation has changed of late, and whilst still expensive, the range and quality have improved. For example Globus have come so far as to stock limited ranges of letterpress stationery.
So the prospect of cheap wrapping paper and stationery lured me in and I went for an ogle. It’s not earth-shattering. The designs are relatively modern but nothing that you’ve not seen before. I’m looking forward to seeing what direction they take it in and how up to date they keep the ranges. I like the black and white, and brown paper and white ranges but wasn’t overly enamoured with the green, blue or pink options. But it is cheap (eg. 10 gift tags for 1.95 chf) and going by the number of people filling yellow bags with notebooks and gift tags, is quite popular. So if you find yourself having to wrap presents galore, need party favours or have decided that the Sczchfgdudnkfdskj you’ve just bought needs to be wrapped before you take it home, it’s the perfect place to go.
I’ve just backed this project on Kickstarter. It’s so very cute! I backed it for Munchkin. Seriously I did. Not for me. No. Not for me at all… I’m not dying to play with them and set up a series of them looking all gorgeous, cute and quirky in her nursery**.
The project is currently 92% funded and has 8 days to go.
**I’ve just discovered a side benefit of having kids! Being able to legitimately buy all the cool toys you really want.
As with the envelopes, they’re very easy. Just print your choice of ‘Front’ design on the thickest card stock you can get through your printer. For the ones in the photos, I used a 220 gsm.
Then, put the paper back through the printer, after flipping it so that you’ll be printing on the reverse. Select the ‘Back/Reverse’ pattern you want and print away!
Finally, grab your scissors or x-acto knife and ruler and crop along the dotted lines shown on the ‘Front’.
Perfect for that emergency thank you note or birthday message! They’d look really pretty with a little personalisation. Add some washi tape or your own illustrations for something really cute and personal.
If you do… send me a photo? I’d love to see what you come up with! Read more
We’re currently holidaying in South-West France. Enjoying some sunshine, sea air and the relaxed surfing culture that Hossegor provides. I’ve just commenced the third trimester and Munchkin is growing quickly! For this reason we are in the mood for a low key holiday. Lots of relaxing by the pool and beach, drives up and down the coast and attempting to eat our bodyweight in fresh seafood are on the agenda.
But before I left I put together a couple of posts that I’ll be sharing with you whilst we’re away. One of them is this cute envelope template! I love the coral and mint colours this season and have a bit of an addiction to paper doilies. So combining them all was something of a given. I love the results. They could be fabulous for letters, invitations, birth announcements, birthday cards or thank you notes… anything that requires a pretty envelope!
They’re really easy to put together. Just print out on A3 paper and print the inside pattern of your choice on the reverse side. Cut out and follow the instructions on the template to score and glue.