June 2011

The Ultimate Guide to Felting

First of all, as any knitting pedant will inform you, technically what you're doing is probably "fulling." Felting refers specifically to when you take a bunch of loose fibers, and do stuff to them until they turn into felt. Fulling is when you knit something, then do stuff to it until the piece turns into felt.

But everyone calls it "felting" anyway, even though we know it's wrong.

Moving on!

Go Yarn Bombing

Okay, there is definitely a line between graffiti and trash, and guerilla art—but I just don’t know where that line is! I think it’s a subjective thing, myself. Anyway, I think if I saw a yarn bombing somewhere, I would get a kick out of it rather than be irritated by it (like I am by old yard sale signs that have been up for months).

DIY Toys and Games

Some of the best times we have in our home are with the toys and games we make ourselves. My daughter’s all-time favorite toys we’ve made are probably the “Soot Sprites” we made with googly eyes and black pom pom balls (inspired by those in the film My Neighbor Totoro, one of her favorites). Sure, it’s downright easy to do, but they made the cutest little soft toys for her to enjoy playing with. In fact, she still has the little puffy creatures.

One of our latest favorite DIY games is something we call ABC Hopscotch. I simply taped together seven pieces of construction paper in hopscotch formation, drawing a letter on each one in marker. My daughter can then play with it two ways:

1.      Play typical hopscotch, jumping on each letter and saying its name, or

2.      Rolling a die, and whichever number and letter it lands on, that is how many words she has to come up with featuring that letter (for example, four “G” words). This also works in two ways, as sometimes we do words that start with the letter, and others we do words that simply have the letter in them.

Another favorite DIY toy my daughter loves are mini-books made just for her. I use whatever scrap paper I have around after our other crafts and fit them to size (sometimes snipping the edges), fold them all in half together, then staple them together at the crease. Simple, right? My daughter loves tiny things, though, and the idea of tiny books for her to write letters or draw pictures in was just amazing to her. Of course, if your child likes bigger things, you can always make full-sized books for him or her to fill. The important thing is to let your kids write or draw whatever they like in them!

Another cool game to make for kids—especially if you have a big family—is to make Family Bingo cards. Make a generic bingo square, then print out pictures of family members and glue them onto the board. Call out family member names and have your children find them. This is a great activity for family reunions as well as for family members who rarely see each other. For those with smaller families, you can always include friends and pets if you like.

Musical instruments, which are often expensive when purchased at the store, can often be easily made at home for little to no money as well. Filling plastic Easter eggs with things such as lentils or beans, then taping them securely shut, make excellent shakers. Stringing beads along some durable strands of yarn, then tying them securely around a stick (adding a dab of hot glue if you prefer) can make a fun dangling instrument that also works as a fancy baton or magic wand. Add some other embellishments or let your kids decorate it with colored duct tape for an extra vibrant touch.

For more awesome DIY projects for children’s toys and games, check out this post at Modern Parents, Messy Kids.