animal crafts

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The Christmas Stockings

Posted by on 15 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: animal crafts, Christmas, family, needle-felting, sewing, winter, wool felt

Two days in a row! Woo-hoo!

And another big Christmas project, though this one was from last year. Looking back, I’m not entirely clear how I managed to needle-felt three stockings with a newborn, though I guess he was still sleeping a lot of the time in his father’s arms, so maybe that explains it. Years earlier, I had decorated felt stockings for our little family of three people and ten animals, but I’d used the cheap synthetic stuff and had never gotten around to making one for Lucas after he was born. So I was determined my children would have lovingly-crafted felt stockings, newborn baby or not!

I found a pattern for a Santa on etsy for Jonah’s stocking:

Jonah Santa Stocking

I’m really proud of the Santa — and I was impressed how much heftier he was than he would have been had I not followed a pattern — I actually needle-felted him first and then sewed him on rather than needle-felting him directly onto the wool felt. I am disappointed at the shape of all the stockings — they ended up too long and skinny, with boxy toes. But I do love that Santa:

Santa

For my ballet-in-general-and-Nutcracker-in-particular-obsessed daughter, I attempted a Sugar Plum Fairy. Mia loves her, but I’m afraid she turned out a little too manly in the face and shoulders. I tried and tried to fix it until I’d needle-felted everything so firmly there was no more tweaking. Oh well!

Mia Ballerina Stocking

And a close-up of Mr. Sugar Plum:

Ballerina

And finally, for Lucas, I used as inspiration, the wonderful, beautiful book we discovered last year thanks to our friend Lynn — Eve Bunting’s Night Tree

Lucas Night Tree Stocking

The animals ended up a little cartoonish, but I still think it’s sweet. It’s decorated with strings of popcorn, apples and oranges. The family in the book goes to the edge of town each year to decorate a tree for the animals. It’s such a wonderful story, and when they are back home, there’s a scene where the little boy is lying in bed, thinking of all the animals coming out to eat from the tree. Covering the little boy is a quilt with a tree and all the animals on it — a sweet touch this crafty mama really appreciated!

Here’s a little more detail on Lucas’ stocking:

Night Tree Bear

Night Tree Fox

And now I need to get to crafting for this year! I have lots of littler gifts, plus a large crafty gift for each child still to make! I’ll be back in this space, sharing a little of our decorating and crafting as we go!

A little something for my midwife

Posted by on 03 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: about me, animal crafts, family, needle-felting, sewing, wool felt

Our family was lucky enough to get to experience a perfect and wonderful homebirth under the care of our dedicated and much loved midwife. During the course of my pregnancy, we bonded over our mutual love for animals, and both she and her birth assistant enjoyed having our pup Audrey there for Jonah’s birth. When it came time for me to make a gift for her, I decided to attempt to render in felt a photograph of Audrey and Jonah shortly after his birth. I also included a little vervet my midwife raised and who now lives at The Primate Rescue Center in Kentucky.

Here’s the original picture:

Jonah and Audrey

And my attempt to recreate it:

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I don’t think I succeeded in recreating sweet little Jonah — his nose is clownish, I couldn’t get his hair right and those adorable little forehead furrows… I think I should just stick to creating REAL babies. But I’m pretty pleased with how our Audrey lady and Bob the vervet ended up looking.

The founder of the sanctuary where Bob now lives is featured in part of the book Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species, a chilling investigation into the trade in exotic animals in this country. It follows paper trails that lead from AZA accredited zoos to canned hunts, explains the dangers and cruelties of keeping wild animals as pets and is just generally one of those books that you can’t “unknow” after you read it. You’ll find yourself recounting horrifying details to innocent bystanders, but who knows, you might end up influencing just the right person to make a difference… [steps off soapbox...]

The crafting is coming along slowly around here with a baby who has suddenly started making the distinction between Mama’s arms and just about anyone else’s. So while we manage to never actually put him down, he’s needing specifically me in the evenings when I would be crafting. I’m still getting a few minutes in here and there, and I have some plans for Valentine’s Day, but progress is slow. I’ll try to post some older projects if the newer ones take too long, so keep checking back!

A little bunny for a little friend

Posted by on 26 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, friends, sewing

A little bunny for a little friend who was much sicker last week than any little person should ever have to be (or any mama should have to see), but is thankfully all better now:

Bunny

I used the now famous Wee Wonderfuls Bunny Pattern, but with Bitter Betty‘s modifications (moving the face to the back). It also took all my determination not to make the bunny out of solid-colored corduroy. I’m all about corduroy and plain colors. But I love how quilts look, and while I don’t trust my ability to choose coordinating fabrics, I made myself follow through. I honestly had to fight the urge to return to the corduroy even once I had cut all the pieces and sat down to my sewing machine.

And as midnight came and went (why do others use the term “whipping up” a few of these or “quick and easy?” Am I really that bad on the sewing machine? Yes, yes I think I am.), I began to panic that I am terrible at embroidering even, round eyes and that I’d ruin the fabric trying. And I didn’t want to use sew-on eyes for such a little person as the recipient. Being rather sleepy myself, it occurred to me that maybe a sleepy, wool and lentil-filled bunny was in order.

Bunny

I think he’s pretty cute, though I think I sewed the side-seams a little too far down, not leaving enough room for the bottom circle, which I then had to butcher a bit to make it fit. It’s a little wonky, but he still sits, so I’m calling him a somewhat reasonable success. Now I just have to make three more for my two little ones’ Easter baskets and one for a little cousin who will also be at Tony’s aunt’s house for Easter.

The End.

Bunny

Little Bear Valentines for kids by kids (well, mostly)

Posted by on 09 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, kids' crafts, tutorial, Valentine's Day, wool felt

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I could have just gotten the Tinkerbell valentines at the drugstore. It would have been quick and easy, and Mia would have been over the moon about them. But I couldn’t resist making handmade valentines, and figured out a simple way to not only make them, but have Mia do some of the work (an older child could do ALL of the work).

I’ll go ahead and do a little tutorial here (though you hardly need one!), and leave my going on and on about us for the more skippable bottom of the post.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • this easy little pattern for tracing
  • dark brown felt for the bear bodies (I think I got about six to a sheet)
  • tan felt for the bear muzzles
  • red and pink felt for the belly hearts
  • 7 mm black pompoms for bear noses
  • 7 mm googly eyes
  • blank cards (I used a value pack of blank ivory cards that measure 6 1/2 x 5 inches when folded)
  • Scrapbook paper (I love the gingham pink and blue!) — by putting a horizontal, then a vertical and then vice versa, you can get four cards out of one 12×12 sheet
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • school glue

First, trace the bear, heart and muzzle patterns onto the corresponding pieces of felt. Cut out the shapes.

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Next, cut the folding cards along the fold (optional, keep them whole if you want cards that open). You can go ahead and write your greeting on the other side now if you wish. Especially if you have little people doing the writing who you know will long be in bed by the time the cards dry!

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Cut the scrapbook paper to cover the cards and glue on with a glue stick.

Glue bears onto the cards, the muzzles onto the bears, the noses onto the muzzles, the eyes onto the bear faces and the hearts onto the belly.

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look at those dirty digging in the dirt at the park fingernails! I guess tonight should have been bath night!

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Give to someone special!

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I think we both would have enjoyed the process a little more if it hadn’t been such beautiful weather today. So beautiful that we we had no choice but to go to the park with friends instead of staying home to make the 17 Valentines for Mia’s class, which are to be turned in tomorrow.

We probably would have finished them by bedtime, but Mia wrote each child and teacher’s name. She did a beautiful job, and I was really surprised how few letters I had to show her. She has trouble with drawing an “s,” and she likes to add five horizontal lines to her “E,” but wow, she’s got many of the others down pat. I can’t believe she had the patience to get through all 17 of them. Though that may explain why the joy of gluing, which she had been looking forward to all day, had worn off by about card number five.

I’m proud of my girl and her pride in our handmade valentines. I hope her friends at preschool like them!

The Mitten

Posted by on 29 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, knitting, needle-felting, winter

Thank you to all who have been following along as I’ve been crafting Jan Brett’s The Mitten for my little man. And welcome, if this is your first visit! It’s finally finished and I’m pleased with the result! I think he’ll like his little Valentine’s Day gift. I think his sister will probably like it, too, and exclaim, “he will want to share it with me!” which is only fair, since she is very good about sharing with him. Most of the time.

Here is the mitten I knitted using a very, very old pattern I picked up at a craft swap fundraiser for a local art group:

The mitten

It’s knitted with wool from the little working farm our county has at a park about ten minutes from our house. We like to visit the sheep there, and feel pretty good about using their wool. Not only do my little ones know the sheep who produced it, but their mama knows they are a rare breed and they don’t get eaten or have their babies made into kid gloves. Only humanely-shorn mittens like this one!

Here are all the mitten inhabitants (some simply crafted while looking at the book or google images, but only after learning to make some of them with this wonderful book):

All the animals

Here they are, eyeing the mitten:

All the animals and the mitten

And here they are stuffed inside of it:

Animals in the mitten

Oooo, it’s going to be hard to wait until Valentine’s Day to give this to my little guy! For those of you who haven’t been following along, here are the pictures of all the individual animals. Thanks for visiting!

Felted Fox Felted Hedgehog

Felted Owl Felted Bear

Felted Mole Felted Mouse

Felted Badger Felted Bunny

The badger

Posted by on 28 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, needle-felting, winter

Even though I have the completed project ready, I am giving the badger his own post first. I feel like he deserves one, since all the other animals got their own. And I have to admit, he may be my favorite. (Though I’m pretty fond of the bear, too.) I’m really pleased with the badger, especially since I’d been dreading attempting him. I didn’t have a pattern for him, but feel like I’ve gotten a feel for needle-felting through this project, so I was able to look at google images of badgers and create my own.

It is really incredibly satisfying, over the course of an evening, to go from a bunch of loose wool roving to a solid little creature my children will be able to hold in their hands. And looking at those google images, sculpting my own little badger, I noticed what cool black stripes they have. Starting just below their eyes, they extend up their faces and seemingly through their little ears to continue behind them. Something I never would have noticed without this project. Something seemingly unimportant, but still something I’m glad to know.

And now, without further ado, I present, the badger:

Felted Badger

Little hedgehog

Posted by on 27 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, needle-felting, winter

Here he is:

Felted Hedgehog

He looks so prickly in the book, but the two times I’ve been lucky enough to hold a little hedgehog, they haven’t been so spiky. Both times were in Germany. The first was when I got to stroke the belly of a little baby hedgehog at a hedgehog care class I took. Although it’s illegal there to keep them as pets, if they weigh under a certain amount as winter sets in, people can take them in and care for them until spring. A friend of my mother’s even had one living in her bathtub one winter. As an animal-obsessed 13-year-old, I took the class in preparation for the little baby hedgehog I was sure I would find that fall.

I didn’t find a baby hedgehog that fall. My next hedgehog encounter was almost eight years later in a park in Berlin. We had spent almost every evening over the previous year in this park, but that night was our going away party. Our friends, their dogs, and our own beloved dog Bogie, were there, and we were reminiscing, grilling, laughing and mourning the end of our wonderful year in Berlin. It was already dark when the dogs focused in on the bushes behind us. When we investigated, we discovered a cute and snuffly little hedgehog. We carried him out of the dogs’ reach, admiring him a moment before giving him his freedom.

Tomorrow will be the last mitten critter — the badger. I promise I don’t have any nostalgic badger tales to tell, so come back and see the badger with the rest of the critters in their mitten home!

Happy crafting!

The next mitten inhabitant

Posted by on 27 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, needle-felting, winter

Felted Fox

He’s got a bit of a geriatric look to him, but all the more reason he needs some other animals and a mitten to warm his old arthritic bones, right? Just two more critters to go. And then I (and my bleeding finger) will be ready for a non-needle-felting project! I already have one in mind, so stay tuned. Thanks for visiting!

Another mitten critter

Posted by on 25 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, needle-felting, winter

I finished this guy a couple of nights ago:

Felted Owl

I’d been putting him off because there wasn’t really any creature in Little Felted Animals that looked even vaguely like an owl. I had to wing the mole, too, but he was pretty simple. I ended up just using The Mitten as a guide and came up with a passable owl.

I’ll have another critter to post pretty soon, as well as a little weekend sewing machine project that reminded me of why it’s not my favorite activity. But I’m determined to learn to love it — it’s so useful! Help me learn to love it. Please.

We have a winner!!!

Posted by on 23 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, contest, winter

Ellen, you guessed it!  I am making the animals from Jan Brett’s The Mitten

Our daughter has always loved books. Simply opening a book could stop a complete screaming fit from the time she was 2 months old, and the love continues. Much to our dismay, our little man has never shown much interest in books. Until now. He loves The Mitten!

His little still-not-talking self drags me to the couch by my pants leg multiple times a day, demanding a reading. And because we are so happy about his newly found book love, I think he deserves a sweet little critter-filled mitten of his very own!

I was just thinking last night that I wasn’t sure I would be able to guess it, and we’re reading the book multiple times a day!  I’m impressed, Ellen, and I’m sure your mom will be proud!  A little felted bunny will be on his way to Korea next week!  Pretty convenient, since I already need to send you a very belated package!

I’ll keep posting the critters as I finish them, so keep checking back!

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