DIY Woolly Sheep

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It’s spring here this week. Yup, it is. Regardless of the temperatures and weather forecasts, to me it is SPRING.

There are some woolly sheep that live down the road from us. They are absolutely adorable especially at the end of the winter when their coats get big and thick.

Have you ever been to a spring sheep shearing? It’s so much fun to watch. I would highly recommend it.

I found these adorable little sheep at an antique sale recently. They looked out of place and had to come home with me.

I purchased the three sheep on the left, the one on the right I made to go with the others. Here’s how I did it:

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Supplies:

White and Black Wool Roving (you can purchase this from craft stores in the knitting department)

felting needle

Cinnamon sticks or twigs for legs

small piece of floral foam

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I began by winding the white wool roving tightly around the palm of my hand to make a ball. After I started this I realized I wasn’t going to have enough wool, so I ended up using a piece of floral foam in the middle of my sheep body and winding the wool around it to save on materials. You can do it either way. You could also use a cheaper wool yarn in the middle of the ball/body and put the white wool roving around the outside.

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After a time, I slipped my palm out of the wool, and began winding in the opposite direction. Continue winding as before changing directions until desired body shape is formed.

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After I formed my body (remember mine has foam in the middle, I forgot to take a picture of it), I used the black roving to make a head.

I just bunched up the wool and used the felting needle to secure it into the wool. It takes a bit of stabbing, but it does work.

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After the face, came the ears. I used more wool and draped it across the top of the head, then secured again with the felting needle. Sorry for the poor picture, I don’t have a tripod yet, it’s hard to shoot and use the needle at the same time.

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I used cinnamon stick legs, and secured them into the foam body with hot glue. Make sure your sheep will stand up before gluing.

Then the last step was to “fluff” the sheep out by adding scraps of wool around the body to give a curly effect. I had bits of leftover roving about 2-3″ long, and worked great for this process. I applied them randomly in a curly pattern all over the sheep body.

I did not felt my sheep, but you certainly could. If you decide to felt, be sure to use 100 percent wool yarn, and do not use the foam. Make your yarn ball/body, then put it through the wash cycle and dryer cycles to felt it before adding the head, ears and legs.

Be sure to come back March 3 for the Mega Spring Linky Party!

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Baaaaa, Baaaaa

DIY Knitted Hat

 

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We had a birthday here yesterday. Our sweet boy turned 16. It’s so hard to believe, seems like we just brought him home from the hospital yesterday. He is growing up far too fast. One of the issues I have with my kids growing up is that they have become harder to buy inexpensive gifts for.

Remember the days when you could find a cute little outfit for a few bucks at a rummage sale? Or the simple gift of a few precious new books to read?

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Teenagers are hard to buy for.

Even harder to make things for.

I am undaunted by this challenge, I refuse to give in to conventional gift giving rules.

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 A few weeks ago I signed myself up for a knitting class on how to make hats. Living in Wi, we always have a need for hats. In fact, we loose about 3-4 of them per person per year. Somewhere there is a giant pile of lost hats from our family.

I have decided to personally make my own so that they will stand out in a pile of lost hats, and will be distinctive and easy to find. I tend to favor bright colors, especially for the boys.

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This is the hat I made for our boy for his birthday. He loves it. He actually wore it IN PUBLIC. This is a good start!

You would be amazed how easy it was to make. I am not saying I didn’t have issues, because I did. My dear friend had to come and help me finish the top of it because I had accidentally knitted it into a lopsided point. But, we figured it out and I can’t wait to make another one.

If you can knit and purl, you can make this hat. It’s that simple.

If you are not a knitter there are tons of videos on how to do basic stitches on You Tube. Don’t be daunted, you can do it.

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Here’s what you will need:

2 Skeins of color coordinated bulky yarn ( mine were neon yellow, and tweed blue)

Size 8 circular needles, 16″ long (or needles appropriately sized for your yarn)

Set of double pointed needles in same size as the circular needles

Darning needle

This pattern is based on one created by master knitter Liz Avery. This hat fits a medium head of 23″- 25″ circumference. If you need a larger size, increase the number of cast on stitches.

Directions:

Cast on 64 stitches.

Using blue yarn, knit 2 stitches, purl 2 until end of round, place marker. Join needles to knit in the round.

Knit as directed, K2, P2 until ribbing is 2″ wide.

Begin increase round, adding 8 stitches evenly throughout the first round (you will have 72 stitches total).

Knit every stitch for 2 rows using blue yarn.

Change to yellow yarn color, leaving a 4″ tail. Knit 3 rows. Change back to blue yarn by pulling yarn up inside the hat to the next section.

Continue to Knit 3 rows blue, then 3 rows yellow. Repeat 4 times to make stripes.

Change to blue yarn, knit until hat measures 9″ in length from the edge of the brim. Change to yellow yarn to begin decrease round.

Begin decrease round, divide number of stitches by 4, knit evenly onto double pointed needles, adding a marker at each interval (tip, use different colored markers than the beginning of the round marker).

Round 1 Decrease: Knit by k2tog before marker, skip marker, K1 SSK, repeat until end of round. Make sure to make both decreases before and after each marker ( or the top of your hat will be a lopsided point).

Round 2 Decrease: Knit

Repeat rounds one and two until there are only 8 stitches left. Cut yarn leaving a 6″ tail. Thread yarn through darning needle, pick up remaining stitches from the double pointed needles. Thread needle through all stitches, then down through the top of the hat. Turn hat inside out, weave in end of yarn, snip to finish.

Let me know how it works, I would love to see your finished projects! I am also on Ravelry, you can follow me at designermom4.

Have a great day!

Christmas Knitting for Gifts

I have been inspired this last week to make a few last minute Christmas gifts. It all started with our recent visit to Chicago. Everyone there looked so nice in their beautiful hand knit hats and scarves. They didn’t seem to mind being out in the cold because they were dressed for it.
I decided I am under-dressed for the weather. I also decided, that everyone else I know is under-dressed as well and it’s my duty to fix it.
Hence, the flurry of last minute knitting.
Then I discovered the most beautiful line of imported yarn from Germany.
I am obsessed with it!

I love how quickly it knits on these jumbo needles. I always wanted to learn knitwear design in college. But back then knitwear was just ugly.
You remember those giant T-shirts with the word “WHAM” on the front?
I rest my case. Knitwear today is so much more attractive.
I call this cowl blue smoke. It’s a gift for my sister in law, shhhhh don’t tell!

This teal number is for my mother, she loves teal. Hummm, I think I am going to need one of these too.
The other nanna is getting neutrals. I love Oatmeal-like color combos.
This infinity scarf took me forever to finish. I am keeping this one, but I decided to show it to you anyway. I wore it to the movies for the first time the other day.
 I love how you can wrap yourself up in it. It is so soft and warm. I can’t wait to make another one.
I call this cowl bubble gum. Aren’t the colors just amazing? You could wear this with a million different things.

This scarf is for Gramps. Salt and Pepper is a perfect color combo for him.
This last one is still in progress, but I decided to show it to you anyway. It has a bit of gold in the yarn, nothing like a little Sparkle for the holidays. 
As soon as the snow storm lets up I will head back to the yarn store again so I can finish it.
As of the first of the year, I will be adding these items to my Etsy store. They will be available for custom orders after the holidays, more details to come!
Have a relaxing day!
Only two more days til Christmas! Plenty of time to knit a few more last minute items!

Repurpose Your Christmas Tree for the Birds: From the Archives

The first thing I do on January 1st is to take down the Christmas tree, and put it outside, stand and all. I hate wasting a perfectly good tree. Although it is very dry, the tree is still good for many garden projects. We made ours into a bird feeder. It’s a project from my childhood. It takes a bit of time and effort, but it will attract many birds to your yard. Your kids will love it. What a great way to bird watch! 
Our yard is rather lacking in trees. The poor birds don’t really have anywhere to hide. By adding a “fake” tree to the yard, it gives them a place to rest. I positioned the tree about 10 feet from our deck. Close enough to see the birds, but far enough away so they feel safe. It is also about 10 feet from a larger tree (the only one in our yard), so I am hoping it will be an easy place for them to reach. I put some water in the base of the tree stand to freeze it into place. The log at the base was necessary to keep it from tipping over in the wind.

Now for the decorations. First step was to pop some large kernel popcorn. Let it sit out for a day or so to get stale. The more stale it is, the better.

Using a large needle and some heavy thread, the popcorn can be strung while you sit by the fire. It is a labor intensive process. Fortunately, you can eat the kernels that fall apart as you go along.

After you have popped your popcorn, head to the store to pick up a piece of suet from the meat department. Sometimes you can find suet pre-packaged at the meat counter, sometimes you have to ask the butcher for it. I bought a big chunk (6 pounds). I also picked up a 5 lb. bag of bird seed, some Dixie cups, and some peanut butter (chunky is best). From my kitchen cabinet I rounded up some stale cereal, corn meal, and old flour. It’s a good way to use up just about anything, including old crackers, bread crumbs, cooked rice and pasta, dried fruit, veggie scraps, nuts, etc. Just be sure there is no meat, and nothing too salty. 

I melted the suet over low heat with 2 cups of the peanut butter. It would melt faster if the suet was chopped up, mine had been frozen so it took some time.

Mix bird seed, chopped dry cereal, and other old kitchen scraps in a big bowl.
I added some dried fruit as well. Chop any big pieces in a food processor.

Add 3 cups corn meal, and 1 cup flour. Mix well.

Fill the Dixie Cups 3/4 of the way full with the bird seed mixture. Put the Dixie cups on a cookie sheet.

Ladle the hot liquid suet mixture into the Dixie cups on top of the birdseed mix. You may have to stir it a bit in the cups, and then ladle in some more suet. My batch was huge, I figured I could always re-freeze what I didn’t use right away.

Place the cups outside to cool until the suet hardens.
I  had some suet leftovers so I put them in a jello mold with my leftover popcorn, and leftover birdseed mixture.
After the suet has hardened, pop the cakes out of the Dixie cups. I tied some left over yarn around them to make bell-like hanging ornaments.
You can also use raffia. It works just as well. I have also seen people use mesh bags from onions or other fruits and veggies. These work great for smaller birds, but not so well for the larger ones. By the way, the yarn and raffia are great for nesting materials for the birds.
Then decorate your tree. 
I am still stringing more popcorn. Who knew it would take so long? Or that the tree would need so much? Will the birds notice it not symmetrical? Am I crazy? Don’t answer that.
I will let you know who comes for dinner.
By the way, I hung the bird seed and popcorn wreath from our gazebo, outside my kitchen window.
Let me know how it works for your birds. 

Designer Mom