Saturday, 30 August 2014

Marvellous Mermaids - A Tutorial

I have well documented the Fairy obsession in Where Wishes HQ. I've also mentioned that there is a bit of a Unicorn fixation too. Basically, magical, mythical creatures are always welcome in these parts. 

The latest craze is Mermaids. 

I can't imagine you're too surprised by that!

Sábha recently asked me to 'knit' her a mermaid. Sábha calls most crafts 'knitting' even though she has probably only seen me knit once in her entire life... and that was only a scarf... which is about my limit when it comes to knitting.

So, I took to the internet to figure out how I might be able to cobble together a simple mermaid that she would enjoy playing with. I quickly found these gorgeous bendy dolls from The Enchanted Tree and, although there are mermaids featured, the tutorial is for the dolls rather than those. I decided to put together the tutorial for my version of the mermaids and add a template for the tail - which was the trickiest part for me to figure out.

To make one bendy mermaid doll, you will need: 

  • 1 Wooden Bead 
  • 2 Pipe Cleaners 
  • Wool/Yarn
  • Embroidery Thread in white and one other colour
  • Felt Scraps 
  • Sewing Pins
  • Sewing Needle
  • Sequins & Clear Thread (optional) 
  • Paint or Permanent Markers

  1. Cut a little bundle of the wool/yarn into lengths for hair and bend the first pipe cleaner in half over it.
  2. Thread the pipe cleaner ends into the bead.
  3. Pull it through until the bead feels secure and the hair sits nicely.
  4. Cut the second pipe-cleaner into a 5 inch length and cross it over under the bead to make arms.
  5. Start wrapping the white embroidery thread around the 'chest' area by cris-crossing it over and under the arms until it is well covered. Then start wrapping down the length of one arm, bending some of the pipe cleaner back to form a hand at the end and tightly securing it in place with the thread. Then begin wrapping back towards the body, making sure the pipe cleaner is well covered. Repeat with on the second arm. Make sure to wrap the rest of the torso to just below 'waist' level and tie off.
  6. Print out the Mermaid Tail Template, cut out two pieces in felt and pin in place on the mermaids 'body'.
  7. Optional: You might like to add some sequins to the tail before you start sewing it up!
  8. Sew up the tail in whichever stitch you prefer. (I used blanket stitch because it's my favourite.) Make sure you secure the waist well. That's basically it - BUT:
  9. For decoration you might like to use a teeny tiny piece of felt to make a bikini or a bejeweled crown or use a tiny shell as a necklace. (Use PVA glue to secure the crown)
  10. Use the paint or permanent markers to add the facial features - let dry - and get playing!

As you can see - I haven't actually done the last step myself yet! That's because I got distracted creating an extra special project that goes with these little guys.

I'm really happy with how the Merfolk look and the bonus project is coming together nicely too. I can't wait to share it with you over the next few days. 

And I really AM going to properly share it with you as I will be giving away both of these dolls AND the extra-special-bonus-project-surprise very soon.

Stay tuned!!


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Good News Bad News (not really)

I have two pieces of good news and one piece of bad news. Except that the bad news isn't bad news at all - but why waste a mediocre title?

The first piece of good news is that I made the shortlist in one of the two categories I was nominated in for the Blog Awards. I was on the longlist in the Parenting and Craft categories but apparently I'm not 'parenty' enough. I am, however, deemed 'crafty' enough to be shortlisted. Which is amusing, as I would probably have thought the opposite.

Anyway, I'm THRILLED to bits to have made it to this stage and so grateful to those who nominated me in the first place. I'm also a tiny bit terrified that I'm not crafty enough to go any further. I mean, just LOOK at the others on the list - there's some seriously amazing competition...

Suffice to say, I'm putting on my game face and things are gonna be getting seriously CRAFTY around here for the next while. Well... that's the plan at least...

I do have a new tutorial, which I'm dying to share with you. It'll be ready over the next few days will also come with a giveaway - so keep an eye out for it! After that... I have no idea... we shall see...

The other piece of good news is this:

The ACTUAL Ice-T 'favourited' my tweet about him. I'm totally positive he also clicked through to my blog and read my piece about him and left an AMAZING comment but that Blogger ate it. That's possible, right?!

So, considering I'm down with the O.G. - those other crafters had better watch their backs *wink*!! 

(that's not an evil wink, by the way, it's an 'I'm joking' wink, okay... I SWEAR)

As for the bad news that isn't really bad news? It's just that the back to school season is horrendous for people like me. People who suffer from stationery addiction. 

It started long ago with collecting fancy paper as a child and escalated into me starting an entire greeting card company - which I've since sold in an effort to 'get clean' ;) ... but I honestly can't help myself at this time of year.

The shops are chock full of fabulous papery stuff and even though I know I don't need it and I know trees died to make it... I just waaant iiiiit aaaaallllll!!!!

I obviously can't have it all. And I already have most of it. So instead I attempted some restraint and gave myself a budget of just €10 to feed my habit.

This is what I got. (And I only went over by €0.49cent - which is a minor miracle.)

I love the pencil case. It has cute pictures on it, is a really nice shade of blue and came with a bonus gluestick, sellotape and white-out pen. I don't NEED a pencil case, because I'm not a schoolgirl... but I wanted it... because I have a problem....

Those labels shall henceforth be known as the Ice-T labels. (See HERE.) I have no idea what I'll use them for... but they're pretty... and I bought them...

My favourite, however, is the Weekly Organiser (spelled with a Z, I've just noticed) I do enjoy a good planning session and making lists is a longtime hobby of mine. I think I will actually use this to death.

Look inside if you don't believe me:

How brilliant is that?! Attractive, useful and made of paper. I'm in love.

Now, if I could just bring myself to actually write in it instead of just looking, misty-eyed, at it's pristine fabulousness I'd be doing well...

Or, better yet,  if I could think of a way to CRAFT with it... then I might just have a chance at the finals afterall.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Smarty Cat Games Review

It's Back to School time again. The air is cooler. The grass and leaves and evenings are turning gold. Parents are complaining about the expense of books and uniforms and worrying about how their little ones will settle into the new school year. 

I've decided to give my daughters another year at Naíonra (Irish language preschool) and put off the inevitable until they are 5. They LOVE their Naíonra and so do I, so I'm in no hurry to pack them off to big-school just yet.... BUT this is the year we have all of the stress of trying to get a place in the 'right' school and a good portion of time will be spent filling out forms and keeping an eye on registration dates and crossing our fingers, hoping we get two places in our preferred school.

I want our girls to attend a Gaelscoil (Irish language immersion school) and I hope that by sending them to a Naíonra and speaking as much Irish as possible at home they will be well prepared for next years leap to Primary School. Some Gaelscoileanna have an interview process for families wishing to attend the school, so I want them to be ready for that too.

I'm a fluent Irish speaker (my parents sent me to a Gaelscoil too!) and I've worked in the area of Irish language revival for many years - helping families who want to use more Irish at home make language plans and advising them on resources to help them along the way. I always get excited when I see new Irish language resources come onto the market - especially ones that encourage spoken language - so I was thrilled when I was contacted by Smarty Cat Games and asked if I wanted to review a couple of their products. I was given two games Caith an Cat Cainteach (The Chatty Cat Ball) and a Snap game with the theme 'Éadaí' (clothes) to try out with Lile and Sábha.

Over the years, I have come to recognise that one of the most daunting things about learning a new language is actually hearing yourself speaking it. I don't remember learning Irish because I acquired it in early childhood but I DO remember learning French and German in my teenage years and cringing at the sound of myself pronouncing new words in accents that sounded completely unnatural to my own ears.

That's why I really like the idea of the Chatty Cat Ball especially. It encourages children to ask questions and give answers in a really fun, informal way. There are prompts and 21 questions/actions printed on the ball, so there is plenty of scope for 'chat'. The earlier children get used to hearing themselves speaking Irish, the more natural it will become for them so fun and informal is the way to go!  My girls really enjoyed this game and even enjoyed naming the colours and pictures on the ball itself. Already 'knowing' things is a good way to build confidence in language skills too.

The Snap game is one part of a set of 10 games which are perfect for a classroom setting. I have already used this game with the girls as flashcards, as a traditional snap game and as a memory game. My sister, (who is a primary school teacher in a Gaelscoil) suggested putting paperclips on the cards and using the magnetic 'fishing rods' we have from another game to add another element to it - so really there is a LOT of potential for fun with this simple game!

If you are keen to help your child with Irish, these games are a fantastic way for the whole family to learn/practice together. Don't forget to check out their other products HERE.

You might also like to mention Smarty Cat Games to your child's teacher too, these games would be a wonderful investment for any school.

For more ideas to help you start using more Irish at home visit to see the guest post I wrote earlier this year: 5 Easy Ways To Use Irish With Your Children.

Disclosure: I was given the Chatty Cat Ball and the Snap game free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to give them.


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