7 uses for old socks

Happy 2015 all!

Well, I’ve not written any resolutions yet (or my yearly ideas of things I could…), I’ve not cleaned the house for the new year, or put away the Christmas decorations or even written a list (and I am a big list writer)…

But I did clear out the sock drawer this morning. Whoop whoop.

I freed about 20 old pair-less or holey socks from the confines of the chest of drawers and then wondered what on earth to do with them all.

A quick Google later and I have some great suggestions.

7 great uses for old socks: a round-up of some of the best recycling ideas for socks from Wolves in London

For once I haven’t rushed out to start a Pinterest board (it felt like a slightly esoteric topic, even for my great love of Pinteresting absolutely everything) but I thought I’d share a few of my faves with you. Because, surely, clearing out a sock drawer is everyone’s idea of a good new year habit, isn’t it?

1. A sock puppet

Sock puppet giraffe
© Craft Jr

Oh yes, you hardly need me to tell you this, I know, it’s so blinking obvious that you can make a puppet. But I just had to share this adorable giraffe with you from Craft Jr. Because, really, this isn’t any ordinary sock puppet, is it, this is more of a work of genius… Check out the full tutorial.

The thing I love best about this (well, apart from the extreme cuteness of the giraffe) is that it uses a pretty boring sock to start with. And, believe you me, with a lawyer husband, we have a lot of pretty boring socks in the house.

2. Sock monkey

Sock Monkey
© Craft Passion

Of course, there’s the good old sock monkey. You couldn’t do this with a sock with holes in, but it could be a good plan for a sock whose partner has been swallowed by the washing machine…

There’s a free tutorial and pattern on Craftpassion.com

 3. Sock hobbyhorse

Hobbyhorse made of a sock | Wolves in London
© Mummo

If you’ve got a particularly large, woolly holeless sock, then take inspiration from these amazing sock hobbyhorses, found (via Pinterest) on Mummo.

I think these are actually for sale, so there’s no tutorial, but with a bit of wool, a stick and some basic sewing skills, I think I could probably figure out my own version of this.

4. Sock sloths

Sock sloth | Wolves in London
© Lauren at Cut Out + Keep

Need I say more?! Sock sloths. Oh my goodness, just look at him!

There’s something of a sloth obsession in our house; we spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos of squeaking sloths. (Search for “sloth squeak” if that sounds like your cup of tea…) But my, oh my, it never in a million years occurred to me to try and craft one from an old sock.

I’m adding this one to the list of things to make for the sproglet’s next birthday. (It’s in July so there is plenty of time still to make one forget all about it…)

Full instructions at Cut Out + Keep by Lauren.

5. Sock snakes

snake
© Craft Foxes

To be honest, I could go on forever with cute stuffed animals made from socks, but I’m going to resist adding any more after showing you this last one. Surely the easiest sock creature ever to make: a stuffed snake.

There’s a full tutorial over on Craft Foxes, which claims it’s so easy a four-year-old can do it. Not having a four-year-old myself, I can’t verify this information, but I can say it certainly looks easy enough that I could make it even when weary and bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation after a night of combined baby teething and toddler nightmares. (Which is basically most of my days, at the moment.)

So this one is going straight to the top of the sock recycling to do list.

6. A “hard to reach places cleaner”

Sock cleaner | Wolves in London
© Wikihow

I nicked this idea from the insanely long list of ways to recycle socks on wikihow.

Tape the sock onto a long stick (or ruler) and use it to clean under sofas, cupboards and so on. Now, let’s face it, this is by far the least cute and attractive idea I’ve included here, but it is also, without doubt, the only one that I am sure I will definitely, definitely actually get round to doing.

7. Sock blanket

Sock blanket | Wolves in London
The greatest thing ever made from socks?!

This is perhaps my favourite idea of all: a sock blanket (or quilt, really…) Head over to the Flickr picture to find out all the details of how it is made, but apparently these argyle socks were first turned into scarves, which were then all knitted together to make this amazing-looking blanket.

This, my friends, is “upcycling” at its finest!

If my socks make it into some impressive new form, I will be sure to share some pics and info with you. (Well, not of the sock cleaner, I’m not convinced I could spin a bit of cleaning hard-to-reach-places into a fascinating blog post with scintillating photos, no matter how hard I tried…) And if you’ve seen or made anything else with old socks that I need to know about, please do drop me a comment below…

Homemade Christmas decorations: 7 of the best

The best homemade Christmas decorations | Wolves in LondonThere’s something about Christmas that never fails to bring out my inner crafting obsessive.

Perhaps it’s memories of endless paper chains and papier mache bells and baubles as a child (the latter usually too heavy to actually be strung up anywhere in the house, for fear of head injuries if they pulled down the bit of string, or perhaps even the bit of plaster, to which they were attached…)

Whatever the reason, the minute I start thinking about Christmas, I start thinking about what I can make. Presents, food, wrapping paper, decorations… …someone stop me because I just want to make it all!

Sanity usually (usually!) prevails and I realise that – short of sending the kids down the mine for a few weeks to give myself a bit of peace and quiet – there’s no way I will find the time to make everything I would like to.

This year, rather than homemade presents, I think I’m going to focus on homemade decorations.

Here’s a round up of seven of my favourites from the wonderful world of the web (really, truth be told, the wonderful world of Pinterest…)

1. Snowflake garland

Homemade Christmas decorations | Wolves in London
© Martha Stewart

First of all, let’s revisit some childhood memories with a paper chain display. Not having an amazing clapboard porch, like this house in the Martha Stewart photo, I won’t need to make these snowflakes out of weatherproof paper as suggested, but some bog standard normal printer paper would do the trick, I’ll warrant, just as well.

I’ll also hang these horizontally, rather than vertically, and festoon them across my entire house I suspect…

Full tutorial here: Martha Stewart’s frosty banners

2. Christmas village window display

Homemade Christmas decorations round-up | Wolves in London

Okay, this isn’t a tutorial at all, but a set of stickers you can buy from Cox and Cox. However, I don’t think it would take a genius to make these from scratch. (I have yet to actually *try* and make these from scratch, so I may be later eating my words…)

Some stiff cardboard, a knife and a pencil is surely enough to get the same effect? (Though, I do wonder about combatting condensation on the window. Hmmm. Perhaps a white plastic bag would work better?)

At any rate, I had to include these because I definitely intend to replicate this on my window this year in some form or other.

3. Fabric baubles

Fabric baubles DIYI made these last year and was really very delighted with them. Now packed in a box somewhere, exact location unknown, I think I’d better whip up a few more before December strikes. Find more info on last year’s post: Liberty fabric baubles.

4. Paper baubles

Homemade Christmas decorations round-up | Wolves in London
© The Guardian

Last year, I also made a lovely collection of paper concertina baubles, following this tutorial in the Guardian.

I printed off lots of vintage sheet music (from the Graphics Fairy, of course) and then cut it all into circles and assembled into lots of lovely, pretty baubles. (I’m now trying to wonder why on earth I didn’t photograph them at the time…)

However, by the end of the festivities, they had got pretty crumpled and dirty and didn’t look very nice at all. I chucked them all in the bin.

This year, when I make them again, I will print the images out onto card and hope that they last a little better. Yes, I love making stuff, but I love it even more if it can actually last a year or two…

5. Snow village

Homemade Christmas decorations; a round-up | Wolves in London
© My Tiny Plot

I’ve been eyeing up this adorable winter snow village from My Tiny Plot for three years now. This year will be the one I finally make it!

I love the houses, the lights shining out from the windows, the idea of adding to the village, slowly, year-by-year, a house at a time and – most of all – the knowledge that this couldn’t fail to be something remembered by the kids as a pretty cool Christmas tradition.

You can read all about it on My Tiny Plot here: expanding snow village.

6. Snow globe

Homemade Christmas decorations round up | Wolves in London
© Allparenting.com

At Christmas, there is one thing that is absolutely essential. Yup, that’s the one, fake snow…

And this idea especially appeals to me. Fake snow inside a glass bauble with a teeny tiny tree. Ha! What’s not to love?

I was going to link you directly to the tutorial (from Allparenting.com), but the website has got a super annoying automatic pop-up showing some Marvel superheroes cartoon, which just took so long to load up it slowed down my entire laptop for about five minutes. Instead, here is the link to my Pin, and you can click through from there if you choose and have a few minutes to spare while you wait for the pop-up to appear and be closed again: DIY snow globe.

7. Cross-stitch crochet stocking

Homemade Christmas decorations | Wolves in LondonAbout once a week, I see something on Pinterest that makes me wish I could crochet. This is that project…

Okay, in order to make this I would not only have to learn how to crochet, but also develop considerably more patience in order to do the cross stitching nicely too (weirdly, I love to knit, but hate to hand sew) so the chances of this getting made, by me, this year, are really quite slim.

But then again; look at the glorious stocking! I would really, really like to have four of these hanging from my mantelpiece on December 24th. So perhaps I could give it a go…

The pattern, which is free, is available from Yarnspirations here: Cross stitch Christmas stockings.

Do you usually make your own decorations? Have you seen anything else equally amazing I should consider? Do leave me a comment and let me know…

Grow, forage, cook: a Christmas hamper

If there’s a better present in the world than a hamper at Christmas, I’ve yet to come across it.

Oh, wait, I do know of a better one: a homemade hamper, stuffed to bursting with delicious goodies made over the previous 12 months. (Note to readers: please do feel free to read this as a hint, if you’ve been umming and ahhing about what to get me for Christmas, ha ha…)

This year, as you may have seen, I’ve been busy with a new series, Grow, forage, cook, with my lovely friend Laura (of Circle of Pine Trees). We’ve been sharing recipes, ideas and inspiration for homegrown, foraged and seasonal food.

So, for the middle of November, it seemed like a pretty good idea to put together a Christmas hamper using some of our favourite makes.

Homemade Christmas hamper from Wolves in London
The perfect Christmas present? A homemade hamper, stuffed with homegrown goodness…

Come, take a look and see what’s inside…

Well, marmalade is a staple for any hamper, in my opinion. Laura and I, both being bloggers, are naturally Seville Orange marmalade makers (yes, they actually make you sign a contract when you get a blog: you have to promise to make some marmalade and some elderflower cordial before you’re allowed to publish your first post…)

I usually follow a recipe in my ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook. Laura goes by the Riverford recipe to make her equally delicious looking batches.

Homemade jams in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London
I only have small jars of marmalade to give away, because I’ve already scoffed the rest…

But preserving doesn’t stop there in a hamper, for me. Oh no! I think I am possibly a little addicted to making jams and chutneys, so I’ll be putting in a jar of each of the following:

Spicy plum chutney

Apple and sage jelly (this is my favourite, favourite ever preserve…)

Pumpkin chutney

Blackberry and apple jam

Homemade apple and sage jelly in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London
Apple and sage jelly: the king of all preserves.

Then you’ll need something to eat with all those chutneys and jams. A few homemade biscuits is a good start. I’ve included some absolutely amazing ginger biscuits, following Laura’s recipe for ginger snaps.

These were unbelievably tasty, and I had a hard time keeping these six biscuits out of ravening maws for long enough to photograph them…

Homemade ginger biscuits in a Christmas hamper | Wolves in London
A little parcel of delicious biccies
Homemade ginger biscuits
A few seconds later, there was just a little pile of crumbs…

If ginger’s not your thing, you could also try the even more festive white chocolate and cranberry cookies.

And then on to the cabbage:

Pickled red cabbage
Cabbage haters, look away now

Now, I know what you’re going to say about my inclusion of pickled cabbage. Cabbage? For a present? For Christmas? My sole rejoinder: if you’re friends with someone who wouldn’t, secretly, love to consume a jar of pickled red cabbage on a winter’s evening, then you should probably stop being friends with them.

I haven’t actually posted a recipe for this on the blog (yet!) but I shall get on the case forthwith. ‘Til then, you can find plenty of different versions with a quick Google.

Homemade cherry vodka in a Christmas hamper
I never get over how much I love the colour of this stuff

Then for the booze. I’ve made some morello cherry vodka, this year, which will certainly be going in, along with some of last year’s blackberry and apple vodka.

Sadly, my haul of damsons from my Dad’s garden was left in the footwell of a hot car, but had they survived I would definitely be adding a bottle of Laura’s amazing damson gin.

Food and drink complete, a few little festive touches to adorn the hamper. I’ve followed Laura’s tutorials for some pinecone firelighters and this lovely orange peel garland to adorn the wicker basket.

Pine cone firelighters in a Christmas hamper
I dried these out in the oven and they smelt amazing…
Homemade orange peel star garland in a Christmas hamper
String this across the lid, or just along the front of the hamper for a suitably festive added extra…

Oh; a word on presentation. It is absolutely key in my opinion when giving homemade presents.

I spent a ridiculously long time once making some chocolate truffles, only to give them away in a Tupperware box. In fact, an old Indian takeaway box at that. I don’t think the recipient can have had any idea that I had lovingly concocted them over the course of a few days.

Homemade looks caring and loving if it’s dressed up prettily. Otherwise, it can just look a bit slapdash and unthinking. (“Oh, shucks, I forgot I was seeing so-and-so today and I haven’t got them a present. Let’s just bung them a jar of this year’s marmalade from the larder, still sticky on the sides and with a scrawl of identification on a peeling old label…”)

The labels I’ve used here are downloaded from the World Label website (free, fillable templates designed by Cathe Holden are available here: Apothecary labels). For the text, I’ve used a free font called Jane Austen. (Available from Da Font here: Jane Austen font.) And I’ve got to say, I’m pretty happy with the way it all looks!

Actually, I should have really covered all those mismatched lids with a nice circle of pretty fabric but, hey, hindsight is a wonderful thing…

So there you have it! A very first Grow, forage, cook Christmas hamper, full of delectable treats (in my humble opinion).

Will you be making any foodie presents this year? Is there anything I’ve missed out that really deserves a place in its wicker belly? Do leave me a comment and let me know: I’m always on the hunt for lovely new recipes and lovely new ideas!

And, finally, don’t forget to keep tagging your makes with #growforagecook on instagram and twitter. This month will be the last round-up we’re sharing until the Spring time, as Grow, forage, cook goes into hibernation for the winter months, so please do share anything before then! We’ve loved the little glimpse we’ve had so far into your winter / Christmas preparations…

Finding vintage images

Finding vintage images: a guide to 5 handy sources | Wolves in London

If you’ve visited me here at Wolves in London before (hello! if you haven’t, nice to meet you!) you’ll know I am a huge fan of beautiful old illustrations.

There is something so wonderfully evocative about a good vintage image. Perhaps it’s the delicate detail of some drawings that transports you back to a world of explorers and inventors and the collector’s drawer. Perhaps it’s the romance of a perfectly depicted rose. Or perhaps I’m just a sucker for good old fashioned nostalgia, which pictures like these have in abundance.

At any rate, I use vintage images all the time. From everything such as making my own wrapping paper or soap packaging, to weird lobster jewellery and even our wedding invitations and wedding favours.

(I have plans in the pipeline to open an Etsy shop soon, selling babygrows and T-shirts with some of my favourite images on the front. Watch this space to see if I can get off my arse and do it…)

In the meantime, it occurred to me that it might be useful to share some of the websites I use to find all those wonderful vintage pictures in the first place.

Here, then, are my five favourite blogs and websites that catalogue hundreds of copyright free vintage images:

1. The Graphics Fairy

Vintage pears
Vintage pears found on the Graphics Fairy site

If I’m looking for a new image, the Graphics Fairy blog is inevitably the first place I visit.

Completely eclectic, the website is packed with a phenomenal range of images in loads of different styles of loads of different subjects. You can run a search to find images of specific things, but it’s much more fun to just lose yourself for hours browsing the different categories.

All images are copyright free and fine to use both for your own use or to sell commercially…

Especially good for:

Everything! This really is my number one site. Great for black and white images as well as colour. There’s also a host of reader’s projects (my lobster necklace was once featured here) as well as hints, tips and DIYs if you’re looking for inspiration with what to do with all this fabulous imagery.

 Projects I’ve made:

DIY advent calendar
Vintage images advent calendar

Most of my projects use Graphics Fairy images somewhere or other. My vintage advent calendar was made entirely with images I’d found here.

2. Vintage Printable

Ladybirds from Vintage Printable
Ladybirds from Vintage Printable

I’ve got to say, I always find Vintage Printable a little frustrating to navigate, but persevere for it is definitely worth it for some of the wonderfully weird things you can find. I especially love the illustrations of collections, like the ladybirds above. This is definitely a site for browsing and wondering what amazing thing you’ll stumble across, rather than one for carrying out specific searches.

Especially good for:

Plates from books, colour images and unusual things you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Projects I’ve made:

Homemade hat wrapping paper
Not a great photo, but I still think this wrapping paper is better than loads you can buy…

The hat print is one of my favourite images I’ve ever come across, which I used as an envelope liner for my homeprinted book plates and again for my home printed wrapping paper.

3. Clip Art Etc

Boarfish illustration
The boarfish! From Clip Art Etc

Looking for some weird and wonderful old-fashioned black and white images of animals or fish? Look no further! I scour this site — set up as an educational resource for the university of South Florida — on a regular basis. The images are available copyright free and you can use them for any personal projects without charge. If you want to use them for anything commercial, you can pay a one off fee that allows you to reproduce the image as many times as you like and in any way you like…

They also run the equally wonderful Maps Etc, which has hundreds of historic maps.

Especially good for:

Clip Art, obviously. All line-drawn black and white illustrations. The animals and plants sections are my favourite, but there are some great quirky scientific images as well.

Projects I’ve made:

Homeprinted babygrow
Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

I love the carrot illustration that I used in the babygrow I made the sproglet.

4. Botanicus

Orange botanical vintage image
Oranges from Botanicus

Botanicus is a new one for me, and I am yet to fully explore everything inside the site. Another one that is pretty difficult to navigate, but the website contains complete editions of lots of antique botanical books, including the plates — which is where you find the wonderful images.

To find your way around, you need to select the book you want (choosing by title or author) and then take a look on the left hand side in the box called “pages” — click on ones that say “plate” or “illustration.”  A good starting place is Koehler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, the book that contains this orange illustration above.

It’s also slightly complicated to figure out how to download the images. On the right hand side of the image is a box full of arrows, to help you scroll around and zoom the image. Click on the one that looks like this: ↓ and then right click on the image to save.

It’s a bit of a faff, yes, but it is worth it for some of the illustrations, which are truly stunning.

Especially good for:

Er, botanicals!

Projects I’ve made:

None, so far, but once I’ve explored the site a bit more, I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more vintage botanical prints from here in future projects.

I also think these would all look wonderful printed and framed for the wall, so once we’ve finally decorated the house I plan on festooning the walls with some of these images.

5. Old Book Illustrations

Vintage bird image
Image from Old Book Illustrations

Oh I truly love this site! Old Book Illustrations is nowhere near as extensive as the others, containing only a few categories with a few choice images in each one. But the images themselves are, without fail, stunning and stunningly quirky. And, as you might have noticed, I love me a bit of quirk.

The site says that all images are copyright free and can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Especially good for:

Black and white images. Once again, the animals and plants categories are my favourites. The French subtitles to the images make them especially appealing to me…

Projects I’ve made:

Screen print acetate
F is for fish

The smelt (a fish, doncha know) that I used in my F is for Fish screen printing attempts last year was from Old Book Illustrations. I loved it so much, I used it again on some of my Spoonflower fabric.

And that’s it! My five favourite sites. I hope it helps if you’re on the search for an old graphic anytime soon.

And if you think there are some amazing ones that I’ve missed off, please do drop me a note in the comments. I always love to add to the list…

Related articles:

  • I pin all my favourite images over on my Free Graphics board on Pinterest, so if you can’t be bothered to trawl all these sites yourself, just follow me over there for my pick of the bunch!

Pretty soap packaging

Since moving back to our house after the builders moved out, we’ve only succeeded in getting two rooms anywhere near a finished condition.

The kitchen has a single coat of paint up on the walls, but that at least makes it look better than everywhere else where the bare plaster sings out in all its beigey drabness.

The bathroom is, actually, almost entirely finished. Tiling done. Walls painted. Bath, shower, sink in place. Glorious custom made wood shelf fitted around the sink. The only things left on the to do list are fixing a bath panel and painting the window frame.

Vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London
Good enough for an interiors magazine! Well, maybe not…

And so it is, in this one little oasis of properly decorated living that I decided it was absolutely imperative that everything looks incredibly beautiful and ready to be photographed by an interiors magazine. (Ahem, sort of…)

Even the soaps.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London
Soaps and a rose. Because we all keep roses with our soaps…

I’ve got a bunch of soaps that I made a while ago (there’s a tutorial here, if you’re inclined to do the same: homemade soaps), which had been relegated to living in a brown paper bag in our bedroom, because they weren’t packaged as beautifully enough to be out on display. (And yes, I do know how that makes me sound and, trust me, it’s even weirder given that the rest of our house is a complete sh*t heap… But there’s something about the sparkling new shower and lovely tiled floor that just cries out for matchingly lovely accessorising.)

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London
Another view, same subjects: soap, rose, lovely soap dish

I won’t insult your intelligence by giving you a step by step how to tutorial. Clearly, all I have done is print off some nice vintage images, wrap up the soaps and tie them up in garden string.

If you’d like to do the same, the images I’ve used are this vintage lavender illustration from the Graphics Fairy and these amazing floral cigar cards.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London
The soap dish is new too. i rather love it.

I’m pretty pleased with them. Pleased enough that they are now allowed to sit in my glass soap jar, in full view on the shelf.

I know, I know, it’s time to get on with painting the walls now…

PS If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I was originally trying to shoot these soaps alongside some lavender, in one my first ever attempts at photo styling. (Oh, I find it so hard!)

The lavender was just too dark alongside the soap parcels, though, and I couldn’t get the colours to be right for both at once. But in case you were here, just looking for some lavender photos, here’s one of it sans soap, but looking rather glorious.

Lavender | Wolves in London
Beautiful lavender

 Related articles:

 

The original ickle trousers

Sometimes you come across a craft pattern so great you can’t help but make it time and again.

Sure, you think you to yourself, I could try out a different pattern this time round. I could make something new that I’ve not made before. In fact I probably should try out something new. Who knows? It might be better.

But you know, all along, that you’re going to whip up another version exactly the same as the others because you just can’t resist its charms. And you’re only likely to be disappointed if the new pattern doesn’t turn out as well…

Home sewn baby trousers | Wolves in London
Very very little baby trousers

So it is with the Made by Rae pattern for newborn baby “pants” (or trousers, to me and all other UK folk). Quick, simple and oh-so-very cute when finished, I made three of these for my friend Laura’s third baby and then another pair for my sister’s son.

Unpacking the sproglet’s newborn baby clothes a few weeks ago, in preparation for the new babe’s arrival, I came across the original two pairs.

Sewn almost two years ago now, these were my first foray into sewing with a sewing machine for many, many years. They were also my first time of making something that I had found through Pinterest, back when I used to pin craft projects imagining I actually was going to get round to making them all.

Sewn before the sproglet was born (and before this blog was born too) they almost seem to represent a different lifetime.

The grey stripy version was from an old shirt of my Dad’s, which I then appropriated at the age of 16, when wearing old too-large men’s shirts that you most likely bought in a charity shop was, briefly, the height of fashion.

Grey stripy baby trousers | Wolves in London
Ah this fabric brings back memories!

The blue striped version was made from my old primary school shirt, that was knocking around in a cupboard for some reason. (Ahem, that reason being that I am a hoarder.)

Blue stripy baby trousers, home sewn | Wolves in London
They look a bit like chef’s trousers, don’t they?

So, all in all, lots of memories stitched into these tiny trews. I can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can put them on the new babe too.

A boy’s favourite things

I’m the oldest of four siblings, all born within six years of each other.

(Looking back now, with the experience of having my own family, I wonder how on earth my Mum coped without having a serious breakdown, or running off with a Greek waiter at least once in my childhood. But, to the best of my knowledge, she never did…)

I don’t remember my next sister or brother being born, but I do, very clearly, remember the excitement I felt at my youngest sister’s birth. Or, more accurately, the excitement I felt about the fact that she brought me a present when she arrived. And not just any present, oh no, this was a ballerina Sindy doll… …one that my parents had already told me I wasn’t allowed to have.

Ha ha, parents, take that, it’s me and my new sister together against the world!

Ballerina Sindy from the 1980s
This delightful lady would win you round to any disruptive new sibling… (NB, not a photo of my *actual* doll who will have been given away to charity at least 20 years ago, but just a photo I nicked off the internet.)

Personal memories aside, I’ve been given advice by almost everyone I know with more than one child to buy the older sibling a present “from the new baby” as a softener and I’m certainly not above bribery to try and make everyone get along.

So the sproglet has been purchased a couple of new books; one about both doggies and counting, which are two of his absolute favourite things in the world. And last night I finally got around to making him some T-shirts with some more of his favourite things on the front, following my usual method (see more info at my fabric transfer tutorial).

This is they, photographed against the bare plaster walls of our bedroom, shortly before being wrapped.

Homemade dog T-shirt | Wolves in London

The dog print is my favourite. The image is from the Graphics Fairy website (here: vintage dog pic). There’s something so comical about waddling little dogs with long bodies, isn’t there?

Dachshund T-shirt | Wolves in London

The “R for rhinocerous” is from this amazing vintage alphabet I found at Rook No 17, with which I have also planned many, many other projects, but not quite got round to making any of them yet…

Homemade rhinocerous T-shirt | Wolves in London

Yes, it’s just possible that the sproglet’s actual name starts with an R.

Here’s the full alphabet in all its glory as well:

Vintage alphabet
Click on image to go straight to the site for download

Finally, this circus elephant image is also from the Graphics Fairy: circus elephant.

Homemade circus elephant T-shirt | Wolves in London

There is a whole selection of circus animals from the same series, again I have had something planned to make with all of these for ages, but once again not got round to it. I did, however, use the giraffe a while ago on another T-shirt as a present for a first birthday.

Homemade giraffe T-shirt | Wolves in London
Remember her?

So, hopefully these will appease the sproglet just a little when he suddenly has to share his Mum and Dad with a milk-guzzling interloper. Fingers crossed, at any rate…

Related articles:

  • You can find all my vintage image pics saved on my Pinterest board Free graphics.

A finished baby blanket

As I mentioned in my last post, I managed to summon up a burst of knitting energy recently and finish off the blanket that I started about three months ago for the impending new arrival (aka sproglet mi).

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
I’m loving this snuggly blanket a lot…

After sewing in all the ends (oh, such a tedious process, I always put it off and off and off for days…) and blocking overnight, I took a few photos this morning.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
A little close up of the pattern

A few knitting notes for anyone who might be interested… The pattern is the heirloom blanket by Madeline Tosh. (Costs $4 for an instant download on Ravlery. Well worth it, in my opinion.) It’s the second time I’ve made it and I think it’s a lovely pattern; difficult enough to keep you interested, simple enough to memorise.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
Just showing off my neat edges…
Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
…and my neat stitches

The yarn is Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino and sadly you can’t reach into your computer screen to give the blanket a stroke because it is soooo deliciously soft and stretchy and generally just the perfect thing for putting against a newborn’s skin.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
Sooo soft and squishy.

Full project details over on Ravelry as always: Blanket for bump.

In other knitting-related info, thanks so much for everyone’s comments and advice on my quandary in my last post. You made me realise that, yes, I really did feel like knitting something and I cast on that very evening. In fact, a bit of a knitting frenzy has since ensued and I am half way through the project already. Will share more details and photos once it’s finished and given away!

Related articles:

  • This blanket was the first thing I’d cast on for a while, back when I started it, and reminded me exactly why it is I love knitting: the joy of knitting.

 

Homemade baby presents; a quandary

Can you give my weary brain a little help this fine spring morning?

I’m having a quandary about what to make for the imminent arrival of my future niecephew (tbc) and could use some advice…

When my sister had her first baby, last summer, I put together a lovely little box full of homemade goodies: a blanket that I’d been knitting for the previous four months or so, some homemade baby trousers and some homeprinted babygrows.

In five weeks or so, my brother is having his first baby and I’d like to do something similar for them. Only problem is, in, oooh, two weeks or so, I am also having a baby (yeah, yeah, I know I’ve mentioned it a million times before) and my recent knitting has been dedicated to a blanket for him. (Which is, as of yesterday, finally finished. I’ll share some pictures after the weekend…)

So, I’ve got (probably) a few weeks of late pregnancy brain fug and lack of crafting mojo to work on something now, followed by a few weeks of new baby brain fug and, I suspect, no time at all for any crafting, mojo absent or otherwise.

So, what I’m after is a quick make, but still of something really special. Does such a thing exist?!

I trawled my Pinterest board, I could make that, to see what had inspired me in the past and this is the shortlist. Does anyone have any advice on these projects? Or any suggestions for something completely different? I’ve been pondering over this for so long now, I could have made something really nice in the meantime!

Seven homemade baby presents

Click on any of the photos below to go through to the tutorials…

1. Purl Bee big bottom baby trousers

Purl Bee baby trousers
The cutest thing ever?

These trousers from the Purl Bee are just too adorable, aren’t they? I have some really lovely fabrics in my stash so I could almost certainly make these without having to go to the shops. In fact, I think I must certainly have a go at these, irrespective of anything else I decide to make…

2.Rainbow blanket from the Purl Bee

Purl Bee baby blanket
So colourful. So perfect for a boy or girl…

I am still tempted to go for a knitted blanket, but making sure I pick something simple and quick. I’ve long admired this simple block colour blanket, also from the Purl Bee, and am tempted to try and make one with four rainbow colours (red, yellow, green and blue) and then add a border around the edge in cream.

But, two concerns: is knitting that much garter stitch going to be so boring that I can’t bear to pick up the needles? And, am I simply setting myself up for a sure and certain failure in trying to knit in a blanket in two weeks? Hummmm…

3. Fabric stacking blocks

Homemade stacking blocks
Every baby needs a lighthouse

These stacking blocks from the Shabby Home blog have been sitting on my Pinterest board for about two years now I think. I absolutely love them: the long teetering lighthouse, the nautical stripes, the hint of Italian (“mare” means sea) that every cultured baby should surely have in their toybox…

Potential issue: is this one of those projects that looks quite simple, but actually takes a long time to make? I have a sort of feeling that I could be spending hours trying to get the perfect pointed corners.

4. Squishy bunny toy

Homemade bunny
He’s squidgy, he’s a bunny, he’s red and striped. What’s not to like?

Then, of course, I could go for a homemade toy (or two). I love this little squidgy red-tummied bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe. Why haven’t I simply started making one already? I’m just never quite convinced that toys are the perfect new baby present. I know the sproglet has accumulated a lot of toys over the 21 months of his life so far and maybe it is better to give something a little more useful???

5. Little puppy

Homemade puppy
Woof woof

Then again, this little scrap fabric puppy is almost irresistible, isn’t he? And would surely keep a child company from babyhood all the way through to… …well, who knows how old?

6. Yoked knitted cardigan

Yoked cardigan
Love these big red buttons

Back to the knits though. Maybe I should still aim for something with the knitting needles (easier to pick up and put down and work on little by little when I have time and energy in the evenings) but just focus on something a bit smaller than a blanket? This cardigan is really gorgeous, and if I knit it in a neutral colour like grey, I could always add buttons to make it more feminine / masculine after the baby’s arrival. Again, I already have wool in my stash I could use for this too. And the pattern is available on Ravelry as an instant download.

7. Homeprinted babygrows

Homeprinted babygrow
Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

This is the only one I am sure about. I will definitely be making some homeprinted babygrows, with an appropriate picture on the front, once the baby has been born. (I’m kind of hoping they have a girl and call her something like Rose or Violet, so I can use some lovely botanical images…) Check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric for more info.

Well, even as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been vacillating wildly between all the different choices so, please, any suggestions to help my indecisive brain would be much appreciated!

Related articles:

Various other baby projects I’ve made are:

The joy of knitting

Now that my exams are over, I am itching to tackle my gigantically long to do list. And the very first thing at the top of the list is to knit a blanket for the impending arrival of sproglet number two…

Knitted blanket beginnings
Fresh on the needles. Ahhh, the relaxation of some good knitting…

What with one thing and another* I’ve hardly done any knitting for almost a year. I managed to whip up a bobble hat for my sister for Christmas, but, I have to confess, really disliked the whole process. I used cheap wool (we had a fixed budget for presents last year, I’m not just a total stinge-bag) that was horrible to knit with, on needles that were too small and from about the second round in already knew I wasn’t happy with how the end result was going to look, but had no time to frog and start again on a better pattern.

So it was, I had rather forgotten about the absolute joy of knitting.

This new project is made from some really nice Sublime yarn in a merino cashmere silk mix with a mellow taupey-mushroomy-grey colour. The wool is stretchy and soft and feels lovely, so I’m enjoying knitting every single stitch.

Sublime wool
Sublime in name, sublime in knitability

The pattern, Heirloom by Madeline Tosh, is one I have knitted before and that I know will look good when finished. It’s complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so difficult I worry about going wrong or checking the pattern all the time.

Knitting a blanket
Three repeats down, 24 to go…

But most of all, there is a huge pleasure in being able to quickly get my needles out and knit a few rows here and there when the sproglet is napping or temporarily distracted by Rastamouse. I had forgotten the enjoyment of a craft you can easily pick up and put down without having to get endless supplies out (or clear them away at the end).  One where the pleasure isn’t just in hurrying up and getting to the end result (being impatient, I tend to feel that way about most things) but in just slowly enjoying the making process.

Knitting a blanket
It’s going to be lovely when it’s finished.

So, knitting, welcome back to my life. It’s good to see you again…

As ever, project details for this are over on Ravelry if you want to see more: Blanket for the bump.

*Things = the exhaustion of pregnancy combined with looking after a toddler, revising for exams, not living in our house and trying to oversee a building renovation from far too far away…

Related articles:

  • I was more on the ball with knitting this time last year. Take a look at some knitted goods I made for Christmas presents or this rather nice lace scarf
  • If you’re after more inspiration for baby knitting, or baby presents in general, I put together a nice little homemade gift box for my nephew in the summer. Which, of course, also included a knitted blanket.