Friday, December 6, 2013

Gnome Doll Tutorial (Waldorf Style)

Hi everyone! 
Here's a quick little project you can make for a last minute Christmas gift. These take just a few minutes to make and sewing is optional - you can glue everything together if you're not good with a needle. 

I am admittedly terrible at handwork, so please don't judge my lack of embroidery skills. It's the thought that counts, right? And practice makes perfect - I'm already lots better at it than I used to be. Each little doll is easier and easier. Just don't ask me to make a french knot. :P

So here's what you need to make a little doll:

Doll pin - 3.75" (I got mine at Joanns)
Felt scraps
Tacky glue
Embroidery floss and needle, optional

The pattern I am posting will not work for wood-turned or tiny doll pins, but seriously, you can make your own pattern in about ten seconds. Just cut a scrap of felt, twist and turn it around your pin, and adjust as needed. 

First, cut out your pattern. This is not to scale because I am also not good at computer stuff, but I did put the dimensions on it so you should be good to go.




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Pin it to your felt and then cut it out. I used a cream color for the cape and hat, and brown for the cloak.

Once you've got your felt cut, position your doll pin and put glue all over it and the felt. Work quickly because the felt wants to absorb the glue. 

 


Roll it up carefully and hold it. It will take a minute or two before you can let go.







Now you can put on your cloak. I used 6 strands of green embroidery floss and just did a little running stitch all around it.



Place it around your gnome. Now you can either glue it down or stitch it on. I used a "satin stitch" - in quotes because I am very bad at satin stitching - to hold it all together. I think glue would work just as well and probably look better, unless you're familiar with handwork and know what you're doing. :P

 

Put your gnome in your winter scene and then get to work on another, because they're fun, cute and easy!!





Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tibetan Bowing Excercise

Lama Jigme has a series on YouTube where he shows different forms of bowing exercises. We really enjoy doing these each morning; usually it turns into kids collapsing everywhere in fits of giggles. It's a good way to get the blood flowing and sets a pleasant tone for the day.



In this video, Lama uses some words that are tricky for the kids, so we switch it up. Where he says "sky, scalp, lips, sternum," we say instead, "sun, head, lips, heart." 

Who am I to judge a Lama? I'm in no position to judge, but to be honest, Lama Jigme has lost a lot of my respect. He seems to have lost his way a bit and is no longer a teacher I look to, as he started a weight-loss facebook page and began spamming it to all of his fans. It is my belief that the appearance of the vessel (body) is not important. We must keep it healthy because it's the only one we have, but we don't need to worry about making sure we have "the body of a tantric sex god," as Lama suggests. However, his bowing exercises are a great starting point to learn how to bow like a monk. I suggest watching more of his bowing videos, but his website is not one that I recommend for study. As our beloved Buddha has said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Waldorf Style Felt Advent Spiral Tutorial

We love Christmas-time. We love to bring in the tree, decorate it, and fill up our winter table with little dolls and trees and such. We do not celebrate Christmas in the religious sense at all.

So... why do we do an Advent Calendar? The main reason is so that the kids have a visual about how long until Christmas. Without it, my younger kids are certain that Santa is coming every night, despite my telling them otherwise, and then they're disappointed every morning. Since we get our tree the day after Thanksgiving, that's nearly a month of waking up disappointed. With the Advent Spiral, they can count and see how many days until Christmas. 




This tutorial is completely free, however, you may not sell any projects made using this tutorial. Please be sure to link back if you use this idea!

To make an advent spiral, you will need:
Blue felt
Yarn 
Thread to stitch your yarn on - I chose a metallic silver
Yellow embroidery floss
Battery operated tea-light
Something to move from star to star - we use a blue stone
Needles and scissors

First, cut your blue felt into the size you want. I don't measure, I just eyeball it.

Place your candle in the center and draw around it with a white crayon.

Freehand a spiral outwards from the candle.

That's the easy part - now you've got to sew on your yarn!

When you start to stitch you will notice that the yarn doesn't really want to stay on the pattern you drew. It wants to go all caddywhompus on you. Maybe if you are using wool felt and wool yarn, it will stick better, but I was using acrylic felt and cotton yarn (I'm cheap.) 

But never fear, I have the solution!

Place the end of your yarn down at the middle of your spiral (working out.) Now bring your knotted thread up from the back, in the very center of the line you drew. Send it over the yarn about 1/2" away from where you came up and put it back down, again in the very center of the line you drew. The yarn will naturally follow the spiral if you work in this way. 




Place a stitch every inch or so, making your stitches 1/2 inch long. Remember, you'll be reinforcing this with stars, so all you're really doing is tacking it down. I used metallic silver thread which is a huge PITA work with, but adds a nice sparkle.


Here's the completed spiral. You can still see a bit of my marking in the center, but that's okay, because the candle will be covering it. If you have more visible markings, don't worry about it, because you can strategically place your stars to cover up any goofs.

Now it's time to stitch on the stars. The nice thing about stars is, no two are alike, so you can make them bigger and smaller. Just try to place them in such a way that all 24 will fit on your spiral. 

Use all 6 strands of embroidery floss and come up from the back (call it 12 oclock) , about 1/2" away from the yarn. Now go over the yarn and back down, at 6 oclock. Come up again at 2 oclock, then down at 8 oclock, now up at 10 oclock and down at 4 oclock. That sounds insane ... let me show you with pictures.






Now you need to take two stitches in the center of the star, or its going to just flop around on the yarn and look crazy. 




Knot it off, and you're done with your star!



 Now just repeat 23 more times - this isn't as time consuming as it seems, I promise! I got it done in about 3 hours, which includes getting up numerous times to play with kids, get lunch, clean up messes, and even a little boy's haircut. If you have uninterrupted time, you should be able to get it done in an hour or so.