Secret book safe

OK, so if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen a sneaky preview of this project (along with a promise to get this post written last week, but, you know, life and stuff…) And here it is!

The idea for this actually came from an excellent book I bought big brother for Christmas, called “The Boys Book of Things To Make”.
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If you have a little boy I can highly recommend tracking down a copy of it, it’s fab! Full of fun craft projects and aimed at just the right level for kids to get involved with.

But this book safe isn’t only a good project for kids, it’s actually quite a good idea to have around the house. My husband is already planning on hiding things (credit cards, passports, etc) in it when we’re away. I might have to make another one for him to avoid arguments 😉

For this project you will need:

One large, hardback book
Craft knife
Ruler
PVA glue
Paintbrush

Open the book and flip passed the first few pages, the idea being that it’ll look like a regular book to a casual observer (this is hilarious if you’re 3 apparently!). Then with the ruler and craft knife you need to start cutting out the centre of the remaining pages. As a rough guide the outside edge of the text area is an ideal line to follow. You don’t want to cut too close to the edge of the pages otherwise your book safe won’t be strong enough to hold anything without buckling.

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You won’t be able to cut through all the pages in one go, so find something heavy to weigh down the cut pages after you’ve turned them.

This is the long part, especially if you’ve chosen a 600+ page book… 😉 So if you’re doing it with a little person, don’t be surprised if they lose interest a little at this point.

Don’t worry if your craft knife slips a little while you’re cutting, as long as it isn’t on the first page you won’t be able to see it when you’re finished.
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Continue until there are roughly 10 pages left at the end of the book. Then put down your craft knife and retrieve your small person for the next fun part 🙂

The final part of the project is to glue the cut pages together to create a solid box in which to hide your treasures. Pour a little of the PVA glue into a dish and water it down with slightly less than the same amount of water. Mix until you have a thinned glue mixture and paint it liberally onto the insides and outsides of the cut pages of your book.
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Place something non stick between the cut and glued pages and the first pages in the book (you don’t want them to stick together otherwise it defeats the purpose somewhat!). Close your book and weigh it down to dry, this will help the pages to stick.

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Meet our ferengi. He’s full of pennies so is nice and heavy for the job!

Leave overnight and repeat the gluing process if necessary. And now you have your very own secret hiding place!

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Personalised trinket dishes

Hands up: who’s not ready for Christmas yet? Not just me I hope!

If you’re still looking for an easy little present or stocking filler, here’s a very simple idea that doesn’t take long to do.

Personalised trinket dishes

You will need:

Porcelain dishes (or mugs/cups/plates)
Porcelain pen
An idea of something to doodle!

I would recommend using a proper porcelain pen and not just a marker, as it will mean your finished piece can safely be washed without your design coming off. I bought mine at hobbycraft. This one can (apparently, I’ve not tested it yet!) even be put through the dishwasher at up to 50°!

Then comes the fun part: drawing on your design!

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I’ve gone for simple repeating patterns to keep it easy to decorate, but you could go as complex or personalised as you like. For example: write a word, name or phrase; draw a more complex picture; a significant date or location. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination!

It’s also good to know that until the ink is fully dry and set, you can still wash off your design and start again if you’re not happy *phew* 😉

Then just follow the instructions on your marker. I’ve got to leave mine to dry for 4 hours, bake for 30 minutes at 160° before leaving them to cool completely in the oven.

I’ve got some cups and saucers I’ve been meaning to decorate for myself for ages. Maybe once the Christmas craziness is over I’ll have a chance to do it!

Happy crafting! 🙂

Review: MakeMee Fox Travel Buddy by LuMoo

I just had to write a review of this fantastic craft kit, as young sir and I have had so much fun making it!

He got his Fox travel buddy as a Christmas present, and I must admit I was a little sceptical at first about whether he would enjoy making it. But I’m very happy to say that he did!

The kit comes with everything you need to make your travel buddy, a blanket to keep them cosy on their travels, a travel case and a passport notebook. There’s some basic sewing to do, sticking and cutting out, so mummy’s help was definitely needed. But an older child should be able to make the whole thing unaided.

First task was sewing the body front and back together using a running stitch and a nice, child friendly, round pointed needle. He really quickly got the idea of poking the needle through the pre-cut holes, and pulling the wool taught. After the first few I didn’t really need to help him other than pointing him in the right direction and reminding him not to pull the needle off the end! I was very impressed and he really enjoyed it. When Daddy came home from work half way through he was excitedly told all about “sewing my fox friend”. So sweet!

I had envisioned it being a multi-day task, but he insisted on finishing the whole thing before bed that night! After the sewing we had to stick on fox’s features. He loved checking the instructions to see if we were doing the right thing, and matching the sticky pieces to the pictures before we peeled off the backing paper. I helped him position the pieces and he stuck them down (with glee!).

Finally we stuffed him and sewed up the final seam before Mummy had to tie a knot in the wool and cut the ends.

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Fox, as he has imaginatively been named, has become a firm friend already, and has been on a trip to visit Granny and Grandad. We’ve also made a start on decorating his blanket and I’m looking forward to all the fun adventures we can have with him.

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I have great plans about sending Fox off on his travels around the world as a way for us to learn about other countries and cultures. If we are successful in this I’ll (try to remember to!) share with you how we’re getting on and what works well.

Easy, no sew infant car seat blanket

It can be tough to know what to dress babies in with the cold weather, especially as thick padded snow suits are not recommended for use in a car seat. And blankets shouldn’t go under the straps and when they are laid on top they can be kicked off. So how do you keep baby warm?

It’s easy! (in every sense!)

You will need:

  • A piece of fleece at least 30 x 40 inches (I cut up one of the really cheap IKEA fleece blankets which only costs £1.50! And now I have more fleece left over for another project)
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure

Cut out a rectangle which measures at least 40 inches wide, by 30 inches high. If you want to get a little bit fancy you can round the corners like I did, but it makes absolutely no difference to the final thing!

Then fold the blanket in half vertically to make a rectangle of 20 x 30 inches. Half way up the blanket, on the fold, cut a straight line in from the edge, through both layers, 1.5 inches long (so when the blanket is unfolded the hole is 3 inches wide). This is the hole for the clip part of the seatbelt to go through (does that bit have a proper name? Am I just having a major baby brain moment?!).

Feed the clippy bit through the hole on your baby’s car seat. You’ll probably find there’s a little fold over needed at the top edge of the blanket under the shoulder straps, but it leaves room to grow!

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Then find yourself an adorable baby and pop them in it!

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As you can see you strap them in before you cover them with the blanket. Then fold the blanket like an old fashioned swaddle, folding over the excess at the feet, and you’ll have one toasty little baby all ready to go!

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He is never that happy to go in his car seat when it’s actually going in the car… How can he tell the difference?!?

Tutorial: yarn wrapped wreath

I love handmade Christmas decorations. I think it’s so nice to have unique and individual looking homes at Christmas time, not just straight from the shop. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for shop bought too, but I love to see some homemade bits in the mix.

Last year I made us all new Christmas stockings:

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(get the free pattern and tutorial here). I also made some festive bunting which I don’t think I showed you, but as it went up yesterday I can show you now!

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My first new addition this year is a yarn wrapped wreath for our living room door. I chose a dark blue and a sparkly white acrylic yarn, nothing expensive, to match our color scheme.

You will need:
Yarn
Empty cereal box
Bubble wrap
Tape
Yarn sewing needle

To start with I opened out an empty cereal box and drew 2 concentric circles on it. I made the hoop about 5cm/2″ wide and made the outer circle as large as my box would allow. You can make your hoop any size you like, I’m thinking of doing a mini one for young sir’s wardrobe door, and the technique is exactly the same. Don’t worry if your hoop goes over a bend in the box. It’ll all be stiffened up as we go on.

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I didn’t want my wreath to be too 2 dimensional, but I also don’t have hours to spend on wrapping the yarn. So I cheated! I bulked up my hoop using strips of bubble wrap, about 7/8cm wide, wrapped round the cardboard. Start by taping one end of a piece of the bubble wrap to the hoop, then start to wrap it around. Depending how much you want to bulk up your wreath will depend how much of an overlap you use. I left about 1.5cm between edges.

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Continue wrapping until the whole hoop is evenly covered, taping the ends of each piece in place.

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Now it’s time to start wrapping the yarn. My hoop is big enough to pass the whole ball of yarn through, but if you’re making a small wreath then you’ll have to cut lengths of yarn to wrap.

Simply wrap the yarn round and round on top of the bubble wrap, but not too tight or it defeats the purpose of bulking up the hoop! You’ll need the yarn to be at least 3 passes deep to give a nice full look. Just wrap:

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And wrap!

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I decided to have a 2 colour wreath, with blue covering 3/4 of the surface and the sparkly white on the top 1/4. So once I was happy with the amount of blue on my wreath I switched yarns and continued to wrap:

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Until the whole surface was covered. I also added some white crosses onto the blue section, which I simply did by wrapping at an angle from one end of the blue to the other end, then back again. Once you’re finished wrapping, use your wool needle to tuck the ends away under the rest of the layers, and your wreath is complete!

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You can add extra touches to it or leave it as is, depending on the look you want to go for. I was undecided between one big pompom in the centre and three small ones hanging from the bottom. In the end I chose to make one large pompom to hang in the centre of my wreath. To make it I wrapped my yarn 200 times round the top of a pint glass, which gives a large, floppy pompom. Then tied it round the centre, cut open the loops and trimmed it all to the same length.

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Some other ideas for finishing touches: you could hang ribbons from the bottom, a bauble in the centre, or even make a dreamcatcher style wreath with a yarny snowflake in the centre.

To hang my wreath I made a very simple twisted string using lengths of my two colours of yarn. Ta da!

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A simple way to make a wreath, which is easy to customise and will last year after year 🙂

Quick tip: counting rows when knitting in the round

Obviously when using a circular needle or double pointeds you can’t use a regular stitch counter as there’s not a needle end to put it on. But you might still need to count your rows, so what should you do?

If your pattern repeats over a small number of rows as my current project does (4 in this case) then simply tie a slip knot in the tail left over from casting on each time you pass the tail. Then once you’ve completed the pattern simply untie the knots and start again. It’s a simple way to keep track and makes it much easier to leave your project and know exactly where you were when you come back.

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If you need to count a large number of rows I would thread a stitch counter onto the tail and loosely tie it to the work. Then every time you pass the tail you add another row on the counter.

Easy! Hope you find it a useful little trick 🙂

Matching hats, and tips for knitting magic loop

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OK, be honest, is this too much? Matching hats for young sir and new baby. I think they’ll look adorable. Well, I hope they’ll look adorable because they will be wearing their new hats come winter! (And yes, that may be a clue about the flavour of my bump!)

As I was knitting away in the park this afternoon, I thought it might be useful to pass on some tips I’ve picked up to make magic loop knitting a bit easier. If you’re unfamiliar with it, magic loop is a technique to use a long circular needle for a project with a small circumference. For example I’m using a 31 inch long needle to make baby and toddler hats. It is an alternative to using multiple double pointed needles.

I’m not going to go through the whole technique as there are already plenty of good instructional videos on YouTube, these are just my tips to make it a bit easier. I’m making the basic baby hat from Mama’s Stitchery Projects.

Tip 1:

When casting on, split your total number of stitches up into three even sections and place a stitch marker after each section (3 markers total). Now at each of the two markers in the centre of the work (the third marker is at one end) pull half of the excess length of the needle cable through, so that it looks like this:

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See the two loops and the stitch markers? This is what your work should look like each time you finish one section and before starting the next. I know some videos say two sections is enough but I found that far too awkward, three gave me much more freedom of movement with the needles.

Tip 2:

Always remember to transfer your stitch markers! It’s so much easier to slip your marker than to have to count a third of the stitches each time you finish a section. Trust me 😉

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Tip 3:

I find it easiest to put my left pinky finger through the loop of my needle while I’m working:

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Otherwise I feel like my fingers are getting in the way, and it stretches the last few stitches too much.

So there you go, my three top tips for working with magic loop! I hope you find them helpful 🙂

Oh, and if you’re concerned I was being neglectful and ignoring young sir at the park, fear not. He got too excited at the prospect of going to play and fell asleep en route! Oh well!

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