Sunday, 27 November 2011

Knitted Hand Warmers

You really really can learn to knit this weekend. I promise! I don't think that this whole project is manageable in a weekend for a knitting beginner, but in two weekends you could definitely have these finished. 

homemade knitted hand warmers easy knitting pattern learn to knit

You will need:
4mm knitting needles (bamboo needles are better for beginners - bendy and less slippery than plastic)
DK size wool, about 125 metres will give you enough to practice with and complete 2 handwarmers, preferably washable (light colours are better for learning knitting)
A wool needle (big enough to thread wool)
Buttons, to decorate

If you know how to knit... is how to make the handwarmers. Cast on 34 stitches, knit a row, knit 4, pearl 26, knit 4, repeat to get the stocking stitch with the garter stitch border which stops the edges from curling. Keep going until you have enough to cover your hand excluding your thumb when you stretch the piece a little. Weave in the ends and join with mattress stitch leaving a 2 inch gap for the thumb about an inch from the top.

If you don't know how to knit... 
...follow these videos and you soon will. These videos are done by the lady who taught me to knit - she is brilliant. You'll need to practice these skills before you get started on the handwarmers.

1. Learn to cast on here (the long tail method is better)
2. Learn garter stitch (i.e. knitting!) here and more explanation here
3. Learn to cast off here
4. Learn mattress stitch to sew your rectangle into a tube here

If you feel happy with casting on, knitting and casting off, you are ready to start your hand warmers. You need to cast on 34 stitches, and just keep knitting until you have enough to wrap around your hand (not too loose) excluding your thumb. Use your needle to weave in the tails and then use the mattress stitch to sew the rectangle into a tube. Remember to leave a 2 inch gap for your thumb (at this point just weave the thread into one side of the piece, not both, and weave together again for the last inch. If you go wrong, don't worry! It helps with the handmade feel.

The handwarmers in the picture are a different pattern to plain garter stitch. It's done with a mixture of garter stitch (in the border) and stocking stitch in the centre. For this you need to learn the pearl stitch which is also on Catherine's website. When you are on a pearl row, you need to knit the first and last 4 stitches to get this effect.

I hope you enjoy your knitting and you're really proud of your project - I am certainly proud of mine!

homemade knitted hand warmers easy knitting pattern learn to knit

Best served with mulled wine!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Easy Peasy Flapjack

Flapjack reminds me of baking when I was little, along with rice crispy cakes. You can add so many things to this recipe - try it with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruit....maybe a mixture!

You will need:
220g light brown sugar
350g butter
2 dessertspoons golden syrup
350g porridge oats

In a saucepan, heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup until the butter has melted. Remove this from the heat and stir in the oats. Grease a tin and press the mixture in. Cook for 40 minutes at 150C. Leave the tray to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

easy flapjack recipe

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Button Heart

This is such a simple thing to make but it looks brilliant. I've made some of these to hang on the Christmas tree, I think they're good to have up any time of year. Buttons are easy to get online or at craft stores, but you never know what family and friends may have in the sewing box or in the loft, you might come across a treasure trove of vintage buttons :)

button heart decoration tutorial

You will need:
Wire (I have used 28 gauge and doubled up)
Assorted buttons

Lay the buttons out in a heart shape to make sure you have enough and you like the design. Thread the buttons onto the wire starting with the one you want at the bottom of the heart. Keep the buttons close together. When all the buttons are on the wire, lay it out straight. 

button heart decoration tutorial

Fold in the middle (this is the top of the heart) and then bend the edges into a heart shape and twist the wire together at the bottom. 

button heart decoration tutorial

On the back, twist the spare around into the wire in the pattern. My heart was a little flimsy so I have weaved another piece of wire around the back to strengthen it. Add a ribbon if you want to hang the heart.

button heart decoration tutorial

Monday, 14 November 2011

Shaker Cards

I love shaker cards as they are that little bit more interesting than a normal card. You get the interactive element to them!

shaker window homemade cards

You will need:
Aperture cards
Clear plastic or acrylic
Double sided tape
Foam mounting tape
Peel-off's or stickers to decorate

Open the card and lay it down with the inside facing up. Cut out a piece of acrylic about 1cm larger than the hole, surround the aperture with double sided tape and stick down the acrylic. Then place the mounting foam around the aperture without leaving any gaps. Be sure to stick this down well to stop the confetti getting stuck to it. Line the bottom of the card with double sided tape as this will help stick the backing down.

Place a pile of confetti in the middle of the aperture & carefully peel off the back of the tape. Fold down the left side of the card over the middle (be sure to fold the correct side else your card will open the wrong way!) and push down firmly to stick the tape down well. Now you can turn the card over and give it a shake! You can decorate the front of the card however you like - I have used peel off stickers on mine.

shaker window homemade cards
1. Line with double sided tape and stick down the acrylic

shaker window homemade cards
2. Line with mounting foam tape

shaker window homemade cards
3. Place the confetti in the aperture. Add tape to bottom of the card.

shaker window homemade cards
4. Remove the back from the tape, stick down left third of the card. Shake!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Autumn Tomato Chutney

I've been growing tomatoes for the first time this year and decided to use the extras to make some chutney for Christmas presents. I found a lovely recipe on BBC recipes (click here) although there are many other kinds of chutney (ideas here). Chutney is a lovely winter food...I like mine with the immense selection of cheese and crackers you always seem to accumulate around Christmas.

You will need:
Ingredients as per the recipe
Fabric, ribbon & stickers for decoration

homemade tomato chutney

The most important thing here is to properly sterilise the jars. You can do this by washing them and placing them in a low oven for 15 minutes. You must put the hot chutney into hot jars to kill the bacteria and to stop the jars breaking. The vinegar in the recipe preserves the chutney but you need to make sure there is no bacteria to start with. Be careful because the jars are extremely hot. Knock any bubbles out of the jars and fill them as high as possible.

I bought my jars from Hobbycraft but you can reuse old jars by steaming off the label and cleaning them well. Try not to use jars of strong smelling food as the smells are difficult to get rid of.

It's good to leave the finished product in the dark to mature for a month or so before using to get a better flavour, but it's not necessary.

I think these make really beautiful handmade presents.

homemade tomato chutney

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Felt Christmas Tree Decorations

I warn you now...I'm a sucker for Christmas. Nearly all of my posts from now until December will be Christmas related. Us crafters have a reason to get into the Christmas spirit early - there's so much to do!

You will need:
Coloured felt or fabric
Embroidery thread
Polyester filling (or cotton woll)

easy felt christmas tree decorations

Cut the 2 pieces of felt or fabric into any shape you'd like - shapes with round edges work best. It helps a lot if you make a template from card to draw around. Hold the two pieces together (pattern side out) and begin to sew around the edge. Remeber to sew the ribbon in so that you can hang your decoration. Once you are 3/4 finished, stuff the decoration with filling to give it some shape and the sew the remaining edges. The stitch that I have used on the edge of the star is called blanket stitch - it gives a lovely decorative edge. There's a good tutorial on how to do it here.

easy felt christmas tree decorations

easy felt christmas tree decorations

 photo homeeee_zps214aed0e.jpg
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