November: Month of books at Whipup.net
Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations By Joel Henriques, Published by Roost Books (October 11, 2011).
I have a been a big fan of Joel Henriques blog for a while now – even though my kids are a little older than his – I really appreciate his style, design, colour, and imaginative sense of play. On his blog he regularly posts projects, colour in sheets, and templates for simple toys that he makes for his twin pre-school age kids. The toys are all pretty simple but ingenious at the same time – often made from recyled materials – bits of wood, wire and cloth, they are glued, stitched or nailed – all really accessible projects.
His book follows on from his blog with fresh toys and projects to make for that pre-school age and older (my 11 year old daughter found a few wire dolls and simple toys that she is planning on making herself). The animal finger puppets on the cover are an example of simplicity and cleverness all rolled into one – all you need is paper, tape and crayons – the kids can do most of it themselves too. More projects incude little carved wooden animals and those birds pictured above which are made with feathers, card, wire and a wooden thread spool. Joel also makes a wooden dolls house out of bits of timber with some modern furniture made from wire and cloth to go inside.
My personal favourite are the slotted building discs – which Joel recommends for older kids as they are little bit trickier to build with (but simply made with notched paper circles). My son has made the rubber band racing cars. There is also a chapter on homemade pretend and real musical instruments and another chapter on dress-ups – this project excerpt – modular leg bands is from this chapter. The last chapter is about making art – from simple animations to 3D drawings to little wood and wire sculptures.
Now because I know you want one of these books – Roost books is kindly giving FIVE whipup.net readers a chance to win one – Yay! Thank you Roost.
So please leave a comment here – telling us one toy you have made with/for your kids.
You have 48 hours to enter, winners will be drawn at random and notified by email. Thanks – and good luck! Comments are now closed the winners are #63 Abbington, #50 Bethany, #156 Mountain girl, #103 Nichole, #33 michelle: and you have been contacted via email. Thanks so much for entering.
Katie Startzman blogs at Duo Fiberworks. She writes about simple wood carving, knitting and felting, and is right now obsessed with making sandals and shoes.
Knitting pattern: felted milk & juice bottles for pretend play
I like making small felted toys for my two sons. We’ve been working on adding to our play kitchen by making play food from wood, but I wanted to bring some softness to the space.
These sturdy felted bottles are just the thing for a pretend glass of milk or juice. You can knit up both bottles in an evening, and the pattern includes illustrated directions for how to hand felt, embellish and shape the bottles.
The bottles are knit in the round and require only simple shaping. It’s a great project for beginners because minor mistakes will be unnoticeable after felting. The yarn choice determines the finished size, the juice bottle is knit with a heavy worsted wool and is a bit larger. The bottles are adorned with a simple wool-felt label and the cork stoppers are an old-fashioned touch.
Download the PDF knitting pattern here.
Amy Adams is a Designer and Crafter who blogs under the name LucyKateCrafts where you can see more of her softies and patterns. Her first book was published in April 2011 by C&T Publishing as part of their imprint range, Stash Books, and is full of cute and quirky softie patterns for all sorts of wildlife including a swan, otter and hedgehogs. There are other insects, such as a dragonfly and bumble bees, to go along with the ladybird, in the book.
Lady bird felt softie
You will need:
- 1 piece of fabric 3” x 6” (7.5 x 15cm) for the body
- 1 piece of craft felt 3” x 4” (7.5 x 10cm) for the wings
- 1 piece of craft felt 1” x 2” (2.5 x 5cm) for the eyes
- 2 small buttons
- sewing thread
- small pebble to weight the ladybird
- plus the usual needle, pins, scissors etc
Making the body
- Cut 2 body shapes using the template provided from your chosen fabric, place them right sides together and pin.
- Sew round the edge leaving the turning gap open.
- Turn the body right side round, stuff with a little of the stuffing, then pop in the pebble to give the ladybird a little bit of weight. Continue to stuff until it is almost full then fold in the raw edges of the turning gap and sew it closed.
Adding the eyes and wings
- Cut 2 eye circles from the smallest piece of craft felt. Hold one in position on the body (the opposite end to where the turning gap was), and anchor in place by attaching it on with one of the small buttons.
- Repeat for the other eye.
- Cut 2 wings from the other piece of craft felt and attach one to the body using small random straight stitches along the short straight edge. Flip the other wing and attach in the same way so both wings line up as indicated on the template.
- Add some french knots dotted around each of the wings. To do this, anchor your embroidery thread to the ladybird’s body with a knot underneath one of the wings. Bring the thread up through the wing, wrap it round the needle 3 times and then take the thread back down through the body, coming up where you want the next french knot to appear, pulling the previous knot tight as you go.
- Add some antennae by passing a short length of embroidery thread through the head from one side to the other, just above each eye. Remove the needle and tie a knot in each end of the thread, trimming the length if need be.
Your ladybird is now complete. If you have any trouble getting hold of small buttons for the eyes, here are some ideas of other alternatives.
Katie writes for Ohdeedoh, but her number one job is taking care of her 3 kids, an overworked husband, and an antique cat. She’s addicted to making stuff, and tries to share as often as she can at Ohdeedoh or at her personal blog, matsutakeblog.
Autumn is my favorite season, and here in Minnesota it’s especially beautiful. I started making this corn maze marble run for my kids, and ended up going totally overboard with the Fall details.
The marble starts in the farmer’s wagon (made of tiny raisin boxes) and you have to get it inside the barn (a small milk carton) by tilting the whole thing (a cardboard file box lid) in your hands.
Be careful to avoid the duck pond and the pig’s mud puddle. To make these obstacles, just cut a hole in the bottom of the box and glue a piece of cardstock on the bottom of the box to cover the hole.
Then you have to choose between going through the pumpkin patch or past the old apple tree to enter the cornfield. You can find a tutorial for making the tree at my blog. The little felt hay bales keep you from going straight into the barn yet.
Once you’re inside the cornfield, you have to avoid making wrong turns into a dead end. To make the corn, cut cotton swabs in half and paint them yellow.
Once you pass through the grain silo (a toilet paper tube) you can roll around to enter the barn. You’re done!
Be sure to glue all the parts down really well so that nothing flies off while the kids are playing.
Happy Autumn! Thank, Kathreen!