Tag Archive | National Craft Month

How to Make a Yarn Basket

For National Craft Month, I’m revisiting crafts that inspired me as a child.  When I was in elementary school I made this “basket” out of a butter tub and yarn scraps.  original basketMaterials

Butter Tub (empty and clean)

Scissors

Yarn Scraps

Instructions

Start with a plastic tub like butter or margarine comes in.  I used a small one that had held almond paste.  Make sure to wash it very well to remove any food residue.  Make evenly spaced cuts down the sides of the tub.  It is very important to cut an odd number of sections, or your weaving will not alternate properly.  cut sectionsDo not pull the yarn too tightly.  The original basket I made years ago is lopsided because I pulled it too hard as I wove in and out.

lopsided

Do not pull the yarn this tight.

Starting at the bottom, weave scraps of yarn over and behind the sections. It won’t look perfect in the beginning, but it will straighten itself out a bit as you continue.  When you reach the end of the yarn scrap, or you would like to switch to a new color, knot the new yarn to the old one so that the knot is on the inside of the basket.  weaving yarnI decided to use only green yarn because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up.  Depending on the yarn you use, this could be cute way to make Easter Baskets.  At the top of my basket, I used some green eyelash yarn that I’ve had for a long time.  Eyelash yarn is easier to work with when you use it with regular worsted yarn.  I used it with green yarn, but if you use it alone, it is fluffier.finished basketWhat’s Next?

March is National Craft Month, all month! More easy crafts for kids or adults!

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How to Make Perler Bead Coasters

March is National Craft Month!

Materials

Perler Beads

Perler Bead Tray

Perler Bead Paper

Iron

Felt

Hot Glue Gun

Instructions

Choose a pattern if you like, or make up your own as you go.  I used this pattern, which is 34×34.  By dividing the pattern into quarters, each coaster will be 17×17.  Start placing the beads along an edge of the tray, then work each different shape.  This is easier than placing beads row by row.

start the patternAfter you have placed all the beads, make sure you like the design before moving ahead.  I changed the colors on mine several times before I was happy.complete the designUsing the paper that came with the perler beads, iron the beads on a medium setting.  Leaving the beads on the tray, place the paper on top, then iron using light and even pressure.  You should be able to see the beads through the paper, and judge how much you have fused them together.  After the beads have cooled, peel off the paper.  Flip the coaster and iron the other side.  This will make the coaster more durable and help make sure all the beads are well fused.

iron the beadsLay out the coasters to determine which side is the “up” side.  Mark the up side with post-its.

lay out the coastersCut a piece of felt the same size as the coaster.  cut a piece of felt

Using a hot glue gun, glue the felt to the bottom of the coaster.  Start with just one edge.  If you try to spread glue over the entire coaster and then place the felt, the glue will cool before it attaches the felt.  glue the felt

Continue gluing the felt a small amount at a time until the entire piece of felt is attached.  Trim any excess edges from the felt, and you’re finished!

finished coaster

What’s Next?

Use up scraps of yarn by making a basket!

Make a Spiral Friendship Bracelet for a Friend!

As I continue to celebrate National Craft Month, I keep looking back to my favorite crafts as a kid.  While maybe not my favorite craft, friendship bracelets were an important one.  Everybody in my circles as I was growing up was making, giving away, and wearing friendship bracelets or anklets.  I was always more of an anklet person.  I have freakishly tiny wrists, and all of the bracelets I tried to make for my friends were too small, and all of the ones they made for me were too big.  Anklets are easier to fit for some reason.

The Easiest Friendship Bracelet Pattern I Ever Found

I was never particularly good at the more complicated designs of friendship bracelet, but there was one I found that I liked a lot.  I forget where I found the pattern, but I have a feeling it might have come from an American Girl magazine, because I read a lot of those.  The finished bracelet looks like a spiral of tidy knots.

There are more complicated designs that use the same basic knotting technique, but this is a good pattern for turning out a nice-looking bracelet quickly.

What Materials Do I Need?

Most friendship bracelet designs call for embroidery floss, and this one is no exception.  No matter how many colors you choose, you should always use at least four strands of embroidery floss.  Otherwise, the bracelet will be too thin for the spiral to show up nicely.  I like to use two colors.  It’s also important to remember that these knots use up more embroidery floss than you think they will, so you’ll need to cut the initial strands nice and long.  I cut mine close to three feet.

How Do I Start?

Here is a breakdown of the steps. It was a little hard to photograph, so don't judge!

Knot the strands together at one end, and tape the knot to something like a desk, table, or anything that gives you room to work.

Choose one strand and separate it from the others.  With the single strand to the left and the others to the right, cross the single strand over the others so that it looks like a ‘4.’

Then take the loose end underneath the other strands and up through the open space of the ‘4.’  Holding the other strands taut, tighten the knot.  Repeat this step, making sure that you keep each new knot close to the last one, until you are ready to switch colors.

How Do I Switch Colors?

Here is how you switch colors.

To switch colors, simply move the knotting strand you have been working with to put it with the other strands.  Then choose the next color, separate the strand, and continue knotting with the new strand.  Keep making knots and switching colors until you reach your desired length.  Then knot the end, trim off extra, and find a wrist or an ankle to wear it on!

There’s also a lot to be said for a simple braided friendship bracelet.  It’s easier to make, easier to cut the right amount of embroidery floss, and it feel less bulky when worn.  My friends and I used to add a bead or two to spruce up our braided bracelets.

What’s a Fun Alternative to Bracelets?

Another thing my friends and I used to do a lot of was friendship pins.  These are super simple to make.  Just take a small safety-pin, slide a few small beads onto it, and pin it on.  You can pin them to your book bag, lunch box, or wherever.  We used to pin them to our shoelaces.

On an unrelated note, I also found out that March is National Crochet Month!  Keep those hooks busy, and remember, I’ll answer any craft questions you send my way!  How are you celebrating March with crafts?

Happy National Craft Month!

March is National Craft Month!  National Craft month was created by the Craft and Hobby Association in 1994.  How do you plan to celebrate?  I plan to celebrate by bringing you one of my favorite childhood crafts each week.  Each of the crafts in this small series is a craft you can do with children.  Some will make more mess than others, but that’s half the fun of crafts sometimes!

Soap Making for Kids

I’ll start out with a really easy one.  I’ve mentioned before that I had a soap making kit when I was little, and that it used a very different method than most of the soap kits you see in craft stores today.  I’ve never seen anything like this kit before or since, but it’s very easy to recreate using items you can buy in most stores.

What do I need?

It’s going to sound like a weird list, but stay with me…I promise this works!

You’ll need bar soap, a cheese grater, cling wrap, a paper plate, a plastic spoon or something else with a smooth edge, something to use a mold, and the patience to deal with a little mess.

The color soap you buy will be color of the finished product, as this method doesn’t allow you to easily use dyes.  I bought purple and blue.

For molds, there are a few different options you could try.  Play-Doh molds, soap molds from a craft store, or cookie cutters should all work nicely.

If you’re worried about children grating their little fingers off, use a rotating grater like the ones used in Italian restaurants.

How do I start?

First and foremost, take off your jewelry and put down a towel or two.  Then, use the cheese grater to grate the bar of soap over the paper plate.  When you have grated enough (this depends on the mold, but generally, I say use the whole bar) add a little water.  It will take much less water than you think, and each brand of soap will need a different amount.  I remember that Ivory Soap turns to dust when it’s grated, and takes a bit more water than a moisturizing soap like Caress.  You have to mix the water in with your hands, and it may take a while.  Using a spoon will get you nowhere.  It’s best to add only a little water (a teaspoon or less) at a time until it is the right consistency.  It should feel a little stiffer than Play-Doh.

This was with Zest soap and a two-sided mold.

Line your mold with cling wrap.  If you are using a two-sided mold, line both sides.  This will allow you to release the soap from the mold.  Also for two-sided molds, do not use too much soap.  If you do, you will never get the mold to close.

Pack the soap into the mold, making sure that there are no large wrinkles in the cling wrap, or any air pockets.  Carefully remove the soap from the mold and let it cure for a day or two.   Now you can pretty little soaps!  Use a plastic spoon to tidy any edges or smooth out rough spots.  If you’re having trouble removing the soap and cling wrap from the mold (I had some trouble with the cookie cutter method) try a little water or cooking spray in between the mold and the plastic.

This was with Olay soap and a cookie cutter.

This method is definitely safer for kids than the traditional method found in most craft kits.  The other method involves melting glycerin soap base—I haven’t tested it out on my own arm, but I bet it would cause a nasty little burn.

This was with a one-sided mold.

What’s next for National Craft Month?

Some of my favorite crafts were anything with beads, yarn, weaving, and painting things.  What were your favorite crafts as a child?