Friday, 9 December 2016

Waltz of the Snowflakes

When perusing Pinterest sometime last autumn I came across some adorable paper ballerinas with snowflake tutus. Grown up though I am, I really liked them, but thought maybe they wouldn’t work in our home; they seemed more suited to little girls, and I’m the only female in the family. After several weeks, I reconsidered, thinking “well, there’s no guarantee I’ll ever have any daughters, and even if I do, they might not like ballet”. So, I decided to make a few snowflake ballerinas anyway, and have them as decoration for the “girls’ night in” I was planning with some friends.

In the summer I had made snowflakes from mini Hama beads that I had left from a project I did years ago. I made every one unique, though some of them are rather similar.

Then a few weeks ago I got caught up in making snowflakes with paper quilling; there are lots of tutorials on YouTube and on Pinterest if you’re interested to try it. All in all, I had enough suitable items to make a proper Walts of the Snowflakes decoration.

I used this template for the ballerinas, but edited out the skirt, which I then cut out of thin cardstock. I chose to make all three of them hold the same pose, to echo the feel of a corps de ballet, but made the tutus different, just as no two snowflakes are alike. The tutus were made from classical folded and cut paper snowflakes. I made the ballerinas rather smaller - 13,5 centimetres (5 5/8") from head to toe, smaller than my hand - than the inspiration pictures, as I think smaller quite often is prettier. I cut the snowflake tutus up the back, and glued them together again, using strips of paper, once they were in place on the ballerinas. The join is almost invisible. 

I hung the dancing snowflakes from the lamp fitting over our kitchen table, together with the quilled paper snowflakes and mini Hama bead snowflakes. On the threads that I hung the snowflakes from I also strung white glass beads, and put some threads with glass beads between them here and there to fill out any spaces. It became a very pretty, wintery decoration, the pictures really doesn't do it justice. The ballerinas make pirouettes when the heat from a candle under them makes the air move. I am quite delighted with them, and my boys also like them. It is not exactly a Christmas-y decoration, so it’s probable it will stay up well into the next year.

Have you made something similar? Please share a link!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Button Tree Ornaments

These little ornaments are a bit whimsical, but cute. They also make a nice craft for children. Remember those bags of non-matching buttons I mentioned in my last post? A while back I decided to get some use out of the green ones. I apologise for the poor quality of the WIP images, the lighting was pretty bad.

The supplies I used were green buttons of varying sizes, wooden beads for the trunks, yellow glass beads for the toppers (star shaped buttons are nice too, but I was working from stash), and I stringed the ornaments on green linen thread that I’d twisted to make thin cords.

I put the wooden bead on first, making sure it was in the centre of the cord. Then the largest button went on, after that one of the smallest ones, and then a large one again, as the trick to making this look like a spruce/Christmas tree and not a cone is alternating the buttons of a decreasing size with really small ones.

For buttons with two holes the cord naturally will run through each of them, and on four hole buttons, the cord will go through two holes diagonally across from each other. When all the buttons are stringed, add the bead on top, tie off the cord (make sure the knot is big enough to prevent the glass bead from slipping off), and your ornament is done!

This is a great project for left-over buttons, and if the buttons don't match from one tree to another it's actually not a bad thing, as no two trees look exactly the same in real life. If one would someday want the buttons for something else, they are easily redeemable.

Have you made a neat holiday craft using buttons? Please share!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Crocheted Star Ornaments

When browsing Pinterest I came across these crocheted little stars made by Persia Lou, and as each star only require two rounds, I though they’d be quick and fun to make. The pattern called for wool yarn, but though I love wool, I've had wool ornaments eaten by bugs when in storage, and as I'm in enough worry over my stash of wool fabrics and yarn, not to mention my historical clothes, I decided against that. The cotton yarn that I had of a suitable colour was too thin, so I tried making them from hemp twine that I had at hand. It worked very well, except that the twine was a bit rough to work with, so I could only make one or two stars at the time to protect my hands. Unlike the instructions in the pattern, I did not starch my stars, so they are a bit less crisp and pointed than the originals, but nice anyway.

Once they were done I thought they needed an extra little something. I once got three small bags of buttons, in green, red and blue respectively. It wasn’t the best deal of my life, as it turned out that rather few of the buttons actually matched. For this project they would work well though, so I picked out every red button of the size that I wanted, and stitched one in the centre of each star. I made a hanger from the twine, and the ornaments were ready to be hung.

Simple but pretty, if one is into a Scandinavian Christmas decor, an "old fashioned" Christmas or the “rustic” Christmas (whatever that’s supposed to be) that seem to be one of the trendy themes right now.

Have you crocheted some kind of ornaments for Christmas?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Jingle Bell Ornaments

One day when I went through my stuff I came across a bag of tiny jingle bells that I got several years back when making a costume for a friend (Esmeralda in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and thought that they’d make nice ornaments for our Christmas tree. They don’t jingle very well, but they look pretty, and I had lots of them.

As they are so small (each bell 11 millimetres in diameter), I stringed four of them on a piece of hemp twine, grouped them together tightly and made a knot to keep them in place. I tied the ends of the twine together, then bound a little satin ribbon bow around the top, secured with a few stitches to prevent little fingers from undoing it. In the end, I got eleven little ornaments.

They don’t make much of a statement, but not every ornament has to be big or flashy. We have rather a small tree anyway, so it doesn't look ridiculous. I really like how they came out, even if they are very small.

Do you use jingle bells to decorate for the holidays?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

First Sunday of Advent

I love this time of year! As I live in Sweden where many people get uncomfortable when one talks about religion, I don’t often mention it, but I am a practicing Christian (Latter Day Saint/Mormon to be exact), and Advent is filled with the hymns I love the best. Music speaks to my heart in a way nothing else does, it allows me to express the feelings I find it difficult to put words to, and the centuries old hymns reminds me not only of Christ and His role in my life, but also of my ancestors that might have sung them during cold December Sundays, wearing layers of clothes made from wool and sheepskin to keep the cold of the unheated, white limed little churches at bay. All the fairy lights, illuminated stars and candles that quite literally brings light to the dark of the Northern winter makes me happy. For me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

In Sweden many, many people, believing Christians or not, have Advent candlesticks at home. Traditionally, the four candles are set in a line on a special candlestick, but nowadays many variations exist. After trying out one of these modern ways, I have returned to tradition, and I like it better. This year my candlestick is decorated with a brocade ribbon, a plain satin ribbon, both from my stash, and a couple of twigs of boxwood held in place with a hemp string. Earlier this evening I lit the first candle as the children were eating porridge.

 Sometime around the first Sunday of Advent is the time when most Swedes start to put up their holiday decorations. Earlier this week I decorated two of the kitchen windows with greenery, fairy lights and red bows. The greenery is artificial wine vines that we got to decorate for our wedding reception, but with the lights (also from our wedding) and the red bows, it looks Christmas-y enough. When Eldest saw what I’d done he said “How pretty! I’m so proud of you, Mummy!” Children are often good for one’s self-confidence. Although the lights don't go all the way down, it's not as noticeable in real life as in a photo, and it does look rather cosy.

 How do you prepare for Christmas? Any traditions from your country or family you’d like to share?

Monday, 21 November 2016

A Paper Chain

A while back I tried making a classical paper chain, but unlike the heavy, clumsy ones we made in school, I wanted a small, dainty one.

I used 12” x 12” two-sided scrapbooking paper that I had in my stash. One sheet of paper made a 57 link chain that is approximately 59” (150 cm) long. I made two, and have not yet decided if I want to join them or not. The fact that my paper had a gingham print on one side made it easy to cut without much measuring and with no drawing at all.

Making a paper chain is really simple, but I took a step-by-step picture anyway.
-          Cut your paper into strips; mine were 5/8” (Ca 1,5 cm) wide.
-          Cut the strips into shorter lengths; I cut every strip in three, making 5/8” x 4” (about 1,5x10 cm) strips.
-          Run every strip through your fingers a few times, carefully making them curl so they won’t chink later.
-          Glue the chain together.

If you want, you can leave a strip or two, in case your chain gets broken and needs repairing – a definite possibility if you have pets or small children.

Do you decorate with paper chains? Please tell how, or share a link!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A Door Wreath for Advent

Next weekend marks the beginning of Advent, and I'm looking forward to start putting up my Advent/Christmas decorations. I have been listening to Christmas music for more than a month already, and been making several types of ornaments that I plan to share, but let's start with a welcoming door wreath that I made today.

I made the base from fresh birch branches that I twisted into a circle. Round it I attached twigs of northern white-cedar (not a native plant to Europe, but not unusual in gardens and parks), spruce and ivy, and decorated it with spruce cones. I picked everything from what was once gardens in our neighbourhood, but have stood abandoned for years. To keep everything together I used string, as it will allow me to take it apart after the holidays, and put the plant materials back into nature.

As a finishing touch I looked through my stash and found a strip of cotton fabric, in a shade of red too bright for me to be likely to use it indoors, which I wound round the wreath.

The result was rather cheerful and pretty, I think, and though the weather is very mild and often wet right now, it did raise my Christmas spirit both to make it and to see it on my door.

Do you make your own wreath (or other door decoration) or do you buy it? What's your style?