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Filtering by Category: Crafting

Creating an Art Space for Children - Part 1

Andrea Sanchez

One thing I believe to be very important for young children is having a dedicated space for art. Creativity is one of those things that comes naturally to every child but takes a little watering to help grow. D enjoys being artistic but it is not necessarily his first choice of activities (he's a bit more rough and tumble as you can tell by this photo) so having a space that is inviting and encourages him to be artistic is vital. 

There are 4 kinds of basic art spaces (however, since we are talking art, there can be many more variations on these!): a mobile art space, an art space incorporated into your home, and outdoor art space, and an art studio. In our home we don't have a dedicated play room so our art space is part of our dining room.  Here are some things to keep in mind when creating an art space for children.

Make it inviting

You want your child to want to sit down and work with the materials and no one wants to work in a space that is cluttered or messy. So this means well organized and neat (yes, think a place for everything and everything in its place). Children should be able to see their supplies and readily access at least the most basic ones. 

Having an inviting art space also means teaching your child to keep it clean (having a space for everything will help!). We do a big clean about once a week. This means tossing old/broken materials, wiping the table and chairs, wiping the wall as well sometimes...

Location, location, location

This goes hand in hand with making an inviting space. One of the reasons our art space is in the dining room is because there it can be next to our giant windows that look out into our back yard. You are trying to create a space that is inspirational. For us, this means near the window where one can look out and see nature. Last fall we hung a bird feeder near the window to encourage some wildlife to come visit!

If you don't have a window, try setting some plants near the art space or even inspirational pictures your child might like. Think about their favorite outdoor spaces, take some photos the next time you're there and hang those on the wall nearby. 

Also, don't try to hide it away. Keep it out in the open as much as possible since kids love to be where you are (like you don't know that already! ha!). Having it near the kitchen has worked great for us since D loves to be nearby when I'm cooking or cleaning. And when I used to have time to sit and work while D was awake (read: before baby) I could set up at the dining room table and D could work at his too.  

Easy to clean

We keep crayons, color pencils, stickers, and paper out at all times. Each of these items has a home in a little tub that hangs above the art table on a rod. There's also a tub for playdough toys since when we make play dough I keep it stored on the art table for easy access. Messier stuff like glue and paint are used under supervision because D is still just three. Older children can manage more and to be quite honest, if they are using an art space on a regular basis can learn to be responsible for more.

Because your little will have spills, keeping your art space on a floor that is wipeable is a good idea too. If that's not possible, look for those inexpensive table cloths at the dollar store. Some of the heavier duty one can be tossed in the wash. Also, when I repainted my dining room last winter I chose a heavy duty paint that could stand up to some scrubbing if needed. 

Include a gallery space

One of the best ways to encourage kiddos to keep creating is to have a place to display all their works of art! Displaying their work shows children what they do and create is valued. When I was thinking about where I wanted our gallery space to be I knew (for me) it needed to fit two criteria: it had to be easy to switch out and I wanted to use it as part of our home decor. Like I said, I repainted the dining room last year and had a big empty space that needed some art. I used a curtain line and clips from Ikea and boom! Gallery wall! D loves picking out his favorite pieces to display, especially during the school year when we are brining a ton of art home each week.

You can see in the above space that we even hung a very special piece of art right on the wall. D's preschool was studying Vincent van Gogh (it is an awesome preschool) and painted these precious canvases as part of the school's art show for the Akron Art Museum. Isn't that amazing?!

I'd love to hear what kind of art spaces you have for your kiddos in your home. Let me know if there's anything else you'd like discussed. Later this month I'll be talking about the other types of spaces as well as art and kids literature! So stay tuned. 

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Crafting for Life

Andrea Sanchez

This week we have guest blogger Nikki Wagner back with another fun yarn craft for your littles. You can find Nikki in our Winter 2015 collection as the designer of the Sylvan Hat and Mittens, as well as on her blog, or on Ravelry. I've said it before, but she makes the best pom poms.

Growing up I was fortunate to be surrounded by crafty people. My grandmother, as I wrote last month, was not only an expert knitter, but she was also an accomplished seamstress and a beautiful artist and calligraphist.  My mother paints, writes, sews and jumps on any opportunity to add little craftiness to her life.  Last time I visited, she had crafted a little playhouse for my son out of a utility-sized cardboard box.  Which is pretty cool!  My grandfather liked to make things with his hands as well, paintings, bird feeders and really anything that needed fixing. Every time I go to a hardware store I feel at home because he would bring me with him to show me how to build things from the bottom up.  I mention this,  not as a means to brag about my family, but more as a reflection on how we as crafters, knitters and parents foster a curiosity in our children to make things by hand. I think we do it naturally out of our love for all things creative.  

There are many things that are gained from living a craft-filled life. And by “craft” I mean mending, painting, building, growing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, threading. Basically I am referring to creating at any capacity.  

I feel strongly that engaging in lifelong crafting has heightened my problem-solving skills and strengthened creativity in all aspects of my life.  I appreciate creative thinkers and surround myself with people who think creatively because that is what I am familiar with. All the building and making through my life has connected me to my creative family members in very tangible and memorable ways.  I was also given the opportunity to learn practical skills like sewing, building, painting, knitting and gardening; all of which will be helpful if that zombie apocalypse ever happens. But I also learned how to rely less on consumerism and I focus more on do-it-yourself-ism; which is totally empowering!

I reflected this week on the things I do everyday and the things I could do as routine that may help instill a love of handmade in my son. Everyday crafting introduces him to a family tradition – crafting as life. My little guy is still a too young to do too many organized crafts, but I was thinking that there are so many little things every day that I can do to engage with him in a craft-centered life.  One of my other favorite pastimes (outside of knitting) is baking.  Baking is a way that I show love, and I bake many times a week for my family.  My little guy loves to help and since I bake as often as I do, we’ve found things that he can do that are helpful and fun. He engages in craft when he mixes or pours or even eats (safe-to-eat) dough.  He is engaged in the process and I hope that it keeps him interested in getting his hands dirty for life.

During this reflection on the life-crafty, I decided to make another kids-crafts activity to spend time with my son and to encourage him to explore the world through crafting.  Also, as you may have noticed in my previous posts (here & here) that I am highly motivated to use up scrap yarn.  I have so much of it and I just can’t bring myself to throw it away. So, this week we painted with yarn tassels.

Yarn tassel paintbrushes  

I didn’t make a tutorial because it is very basic, so instead here are a few words about what we did. See the pictures sprinkled throughout this post for an idea of what we did as well.

I found some scrap yarn of different weights and colors and I made some tassels out of the different yarns. Using R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. rainbow colors I made 7 tassels and matched each tassel with a like color from our finger-paint collection.  

We dipped the tassels in their matching colors one by one and then smudged, wiped, and blotted the paint onto the paper.  It was a lot of fun. Although, my sweet little boy is accustomed to using all the colors in our finger-painting set, so he had a bit of a meltdown during our craft time. BUT it still turned out to be a beautiful project.  Maybe full-out tantrum mode brings out his inner artist? Let’s hope he drops the tantrums and keeps the artist as he matures.  

This is a very simple craft with big results.  Honestly, I thought it would be a hot mess, but instead it is beautiful. I saved the tassels and will bring them out for more craft-times in the future.

If you make this activity with your littles, be sure to share it with us on Instagram using #knittinlittle or tagging us @knittinlittle.

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Succulent Wreath

Andrea Sanchez

While I was pregnant I kept swooning over all the weavings and felt flower wall hangings that were popping up. I really like the idea of making something special for each of my children to decorate their nursery. For D, I made a sheep mobile. But for N I had my heart set on a wreath of succulents. 

For this wreath I used the succulent pattern from Lia Griffith (Part 1 and Part 2) using felt from Benzie Designs (their Succulents palette), the yarn is from Spud and Chloe (Outer in Soapstone)

To cut out the felt pieces, I cut out the paper template and then taped it to the felt with a little piece. 

I chose two large succulents and three smaller ones. I loved making these so probably could have gotten carried away with making them but felt that five was a good number. I used the sharpest scissors I had and hot glue to assemble. 

Once they were assembled I cut a small piece of felt that I used to secure the whole set. I went ahead and cut a larger piece than I needed and just trimmed it later. 

Prior to assembling the flowers I had cute and secured some lengths of yarn to the bottom of the hoop. I really just eyeballed it but they ended up being about 2 feet long. 

I put the hot glue onto the hoop at the place where I wanted my flowers and stuck them on. 

And that was it! So easy! The hardest part beside all the cutting (I did manage to do that over the course of a couple days with my still meager free time) has been to make sure the wreath is balanced. It wants to pull to the left because that's where it is heaviest so I may attach something to the back to make sure it is centered. I really enjoyed piecing the flowers together and may be up for another felt craft soon. Do you guys have any suggestions on good sites for patterns and/or felt resources? Let me know in the comments below.

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Stop Light Pom Pom Sorting

Andrea Sanchez

This week we have guest blogger Nikki Wagner sharing a fun pom pom activity for your kiddos! You can find Nikki in our Winter 2015 collection as the designer of the Sylvan Hat and Mittens, as well as on her blog, or on Ravelry. I've said it before, but she makes the best pom poms.

This week I made pom pom sorting activity for my little man in hopes that I could use up stashed yarn and find a new a fun way for him to pass time. And boy do I love to find a project that uses up my yarn stash! Make this project your own, as these instructions are a guideline to give you the basic idea of what we created.  I like crafts that are easy and fun, and with a toddler that is worth its weight in gold, amiright!? 

In my yarn stash I have some red, green and yellow - voilà - stop light colors!  Also, making 9 pom poms with 3 colors seemed attainable for me, so I went with the stop light theme. You could really do any colors that you have (and nix the stop light theme), this is really just a two-birds-with-one stone kind of way to get rid of some yarn and occupy the kiddo with a fun activity. 

In essence: Two bowls are stapled together at the rims with bottoms outward to make what I’ll refer to as a “bucket”.  One bowl is cut along the top so that little hands can stuff the color-matching pom-pom into the color-matching bucket (aka color sorting). You make three buckets and string them together and there you have it, a stash-busting, pom-pom sorting activity. 

Age Level:

Toddler (Knittin' Little note: Sorting by attribute is an important skill that students are practicing through preschool and into Kindergarten!) 

What we used:

  • Green, red and yellow yarn, approximately 20 g of each, and a little extra for yarn scrap in the color of your choice. 
  • Pom-pom maker (affiliate link)
  • 6 paper bowls
  • Stapler with staples
  • Green, red and yellow markers
  • Poster tack
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors 

Make your buckets: 

  1. First, have your child color on the bottom side of one bowl with a red marker.  If he or she can’t color the entire bottom of a bowl (like mine), no worries, just encourage him/her to color enough to recognize which color should be sorted into that bucket.  
  2. Then check out the artwork on the bottom of the bowl and pick the area where you want to cut an opening. More specifically, measure 2” from the top and make a mark so that you’ll have an idea of where the cut should be made.  Then cut across the top of the bowl to create an opening.  
  3. Choose an unmarked bowl to be the backside of the bucket.  Take the cut/red-colored bowl and match the rim together with the unmarked bowl, then staple the two bowls together with the bottoms facing outward. I used only two staples on each side of the bucket along the rim. 
  4. Punch a hole at the very top of the bucket and punch a matching hole at the very bottom of the bucket. 
  • Repeat steps 1-4 Substituting a yellow and then green marker to make yellow and green buckets. Now you have your three buckets: red, yellow and green.

Pom-poms: 

  • I am in love with my pom-pom maker and for this project I made my 9 pom-poms with a small pom-pom maker; 3 pom poms for each color.  Use approximately 5g of yarn for each pom pom.  If you do not own a pom-pom maker and want to try to make a pom-pom here is a helpful video tutorial by Bernat Yarns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSFZ42uq6x4

Assembly: 

  • Cut a 11” piece of scrap yarn in your choice of color with which to hang your pom pom stoplight. Then cut that 11” piece of yarn into 3 separate and smaller pieces: 1 piece – 5” long and 2 pieces – 3” long each. 
  • The red bucket is placed on top. With the 5” long piece of scrap yarn, thread the yarn through the top hole of the red bucket.  Secure the ends of the yarn with a tight knot. 
  • Take a 3” piece of yarn and thread it through the bottom hole in the red buck and through the top hole of the yellow bucket, and then secure it with a tight knot. 
  • Take another 3” piece of yarn and thread it through the bottom hole in the yellow bucket and through the top hole of the green bucket, and then secure it with a tight knot.
  • Optional: Place a little piece of poster tack on the back of each bucket to hold the buckets in place along the wall. Not crucial, but a nice touch. 

Hang your creation with the yarn attached to the top of the red bucket, we used a wall tack to secure it to the wall. Get sorting! 

If you make this activity with your littles, be sure to share it with us on Instagram using #knittinlittle or tagging us @knittinlittle.

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