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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Craft Tutorial by Elemental Handcrafts of the Natural Kids Team

How to make a wool felted ball, by Stephanie of Elemental Handcrafts.

Sheep are awesome. They are cute, soft, smell good and if we treat them nicely*, they will share their wool happily and we can make things, lots of things! One such thing you can make with your kids is a wool felted ball. Here's how:

*Please note that not all sheep are treated nicely. If you buy wool to make this craft or anything else, please research your source. Some sheep people are only in it for the money and don't take proper care of the animals in their flock or treat them nicely and humanely. Buy wool with good karma! Locally raised on a small farm is often best.

Supply List
Humane wool roving in different colors
fabric scraps (I use old cut up wool sweaters)
Old stocking
twist ties
laundry soap
washing machine

This craft makes good use of old fabric scraps. I like to use scraps of old wool sweaters that have been cut up for different projects.

Start by balling up your scraps into a tight ball. The tighter the better as this will give your ball some weight.

Take strips of wool roving and begin wrapping your fabric scraps until you have well covered them. Keep in mind the color you use first won't show much, so this is a good place to use a color you have but don't love.

As you wrap your roving, carefully spread the edges out. This will help with the felting process, giving your ball a more smooth appearance.

Once you have your ball to the approximate size you would like it, (keep in mind it will shrink a little during felting), finish it off with some strips of color, if you desire.

Once you like the look, carefully put your hand into the hose- (I've used some stripey Halloween tights that had a hole in the knee), and like a glove, carefully grab the ball so the inside of the tights is next to the ball. Flip the tights over so the ball is now inside and either tie, or twist-tie both ends. Keep doing this until you have all of your balls wrapped in the tights. I like to do as many as I can at a time so we don't run the washing machine for just one ball.

Once your tights are full, toss then into the washing machine with a little detergent and either a towel or some sheets or something without any hard edges. Wash your daughter's overalls with the metal clips in another laundry load. Don't add too much laundry. You want something to help agitate the balls, but if you add too much you won't get enough agitation. If you are using dyed wool, don't wash it with anything light as the dyes may run!

Run your washer with hot water and use a little laundry soap. No fabric softener!

Once it has finished the wash cycle, untwist your ties, take out your balls and reshape them. The wool should be well felted and you shouldn't be able to pull fibers off very easily. If you can pull fibers off, wash them again. Once felted, take them all out of the stockings and either air dry, or toss into the dryer on hot for more felting.

You're done! If you made six, like me, you can now give them to your kids and look up, "How to juggle" online. Have fun!

This tutorial was written by Stephanie of Elemental Handcrafts.

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Treasury: Halloween is for Natural Kids!

'Halloween is for Natural Kids !' by EvesLittleEarthlings

A collection of Halloween inspired items from the Natural Kids Team.

Needle Felted Moust...

A Teeny Tiny Pumpki...

Pumpkins for Fall, ...

Dark, Evil and Sini...

Boo Ghost Wooden Tr...

Pumpkin, Hand Knit,...

Little Blue Witch G...

Scarecrow Bendy Dol...

Needle Felted White...

Natural Wooden Pump...

Sprite atop a Pumpk...

CUSTOM Doll Shoes f...

Licorice Spider - H...

Vampire -- Limited ...

Scardy Cat - Not Sc...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Feature with Harvest Moon by Hand!

Today's interview is with Ann, of Harvest Moon by Hand. Enjoy!

Tell us little about yourself!

I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my two daughters (ages 9 and 7). Both of my daughters were born in China, and adopted at 11 months and 10 months respectively.
I have always enjoyed crafting – especially embroidery, needle-felting, needlepoint, crocheting, and cross-stitching. I hope to pass the joy I feel when I craft along to those who purchase my items. My other interests include: photography, traveling, reading, cooking/baking, and bird watching.
My home is in Scandia, Minnesota (a small rural town about 35-40 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul) on a ten-acre hobby farm. With a miniature horse, pony, two dogs, and five cats…there always seems to be a lot of activity here.

What do you make?

The most popular item in my store is by far the translucent window stars. These are some of the first items that I started with when I opened my store, and I continue to add new patterns and colors each month.

I also sell:
- art kits and supplies for creative people of all ages (children to adults);
- all-natural children’s toys (e.g., felt food, small stuffed animals that tie into children’s books);
- supplies for sewers and homeschoolers (e.g., fabric-covered buttons, needlebooks, patterns);
- handmade gift items (e.g., fabric gift bags, eco-friendly postcards, greeting cards featuring my photographs, Christmas ornaments);
- paper bags made from vintage children’s books; and
- educational supplies (e.g., postage stamp sets).
In addition to these items, I also do custom orders based on what people see in my store or on my Flickr site.

 How long have you been creating?

As a child, I loved to color, draw, and do crafts. My parents were very supportive of creative expression, and registered me for summer school arts and craft classes. When I was junior high, I took a lot of art classes – including pottery, calligraphy, and rug making. Now as a mother, I enjoy crafting with my daughters and seeing their enthusiasm for expressing their creativity.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the creative work that I see on Flickr and Etsy. I also like browsing through craft books and magazines that I check out of the library.
Living in a rural area, I’m always inspired by nature and wildlife.
Last, I’m inspired by my daughters. It’s interesting to see what they use when they play, what their play centers around, and what they tend to gravitate towards when we go shopping. I try to create all-natural items that they and other children would enjoy playing with and using.

What got you started working with the window stars?

When my daughters were younger, I took them to a weekly program at the local Waldorf school. The windows were decorated with a variety of the sun catchers, and I thought they looked so beautiful with the sunlight shining through them.
While the children were playing, the parents would attend a “class” about different topics. One session was focused on creating a calming and beautiful home environment for children. I immediately thought of the stars and how they could enhance different rooms in the home.

How long have you been on Etsy, & how has it been for you so far?

I opened an account in February 2008 after reading about Etsy in our local paper. In Spring 2008, I began listing items in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. Being a part of Etsy has been wonderful. It has given me an opportunity to create and sell my work to people around the world.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Try to stay visible by listing often, by listing a variety of items, and visiting the Forums. Include your business card and a small promotional item with each order.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

Being a part of the Natural Kids group keeps me aware of the breadth of natural, eco-friendly toys and home furnishings that are available. If people are looking for a place to get a well-made, handmade toy that they will be safe for their children, I always refer them to the Natural Kids website.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Because both my daughters love to play and use their imagination, I make many of their toys by hand – all from natural materials (primarily wool and cotton). Knowing they have quality, safe (and lead-free) toys is important because I know they won’t adversely affect their health.

Natural toys – in addition to being safe for children to play with – also seem to be more open-ended which fosters deeper and more imaginative play. Children are not limited by what a toy does (e.g., makes a particular sound, can only be used one way), but rather can use natural toys in multiple ways in their play and daily life.

Your links:


Today's interview by Kat, of kats in the belfry.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

How To: Make a Felt Starfish

This week's How To was originally posted by one of our newest Natural Kids Team Members, Natalie. Welcome to the team and keep the crafty coming!

Autumn Starfish: Felt Inspiration

Inspired after posting my starfish photo I just had to make some Autumn Starfish out of orangey Wool Felt. And here they are!

And here's a Pattern Starfish Template so YOU can make some too!

To make some wool felt starfish cut out 2 of the above pattern without a seam allowance (here is the full size pattern - just print it as is). Blanket stitch around and fill with a small handful of wool stuffing.

I have made my starfish with matching felt in orangey autumn tones, but of course starfish come in many other colours. They could be embellished too… fancy stitches, sequins, whatever you can dream up. I have left my starfish simple.

Here is another view of them:

Natalie has been making dolls from natural materials for ten years. Her shop, Woolhalla is stocked with Waldorf dolls, dollhouse dolls (so cute) and felt animals. Everything is "Designed & made by me, inspired by my children, friends and mother nature."

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mini Wednesday - Finns and Flowers

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Melody and TJ  of  Finns and Flowers  :

Finns & Flowers Toy Co. is a small family business in the beautifully small and rural community of Palermo, Maine. My wife and I are the toymakers and we are endlessly inspired by our three magical children. We believe that children need toys that invite them to be active not only physically, but mentally as well. They need toys that are pleasing to look at and enjoyable to touch. Most of all they need toys that are fun and safe!

We try to accomplish this by using wonderfully dyed wool and different species of wood. We don't paint or stain the wood, but rather let the natural variations in color and grain patterns speak for themselves. We then hand rub each wooden toy with either a mixture of beeswax and jojoba oil, or environmentally and child safe linseed oil to further enhance the beauty and protect the wood.

We buy all of our wool from either local farms or from Peace Fleece, a Maine based company. Our wood comes from small landowners and small sawmills around Maine.

article by prettydreamer 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe: Cinnamon Dessert Bread

I love it when a "bread" requires no kneading, rising or proofing. That usually means it's a cake masquerading as breakfast! Call it what you like, this delicious recipe from kat is welcome on my table anytime.

i cannot bake. i can destroy even a boxed mix. i am not a baker.

but i was desperate for a sweet treat, & couldn't convince manlyman to get in the car in search of baked goodies for me. apparently spending the entire day pampering me wore him out. selfish beast. i scoured the internet found a recipe that looked easy enough. i decided to make a few substitutions, & gave it a go! it was amazing! here is my version:

cinnamon dessert bread
1/4c butter
1 1/3c sugar, divided
1 egg
2c all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1c vanilla soy creamer
2tsp apple cider vinegar
1tb cinnamon
preheat oven to 350
add vinegar to soy cream, & set aside
beat butter, 1c sugar, & egg
combine flour, soda, powder, & salt
add flour mixture, alternatively with curdled milk, to butter mixture
combine cinnamon & remaining sugar
pour half the batter into a greased loaf pan, sprinkle half the sugar mixture atop it, then the remaining batter, & finally the remaining sugar mixture
bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean

(note - i use evaporated cane juice, not white sugar - i cannot vouch for the flavor using white.)

it was very rich; most likely due to using soy creamer rather than soy milk; so tasted more like a dessert than the breakfasty bread i'm sure it was meant to be. i am definitely going to make this again!

From peg people to pencil pouches to birthday crowns, there is something for everyone at kats in the belfry. Kat says, "i enjoy making toys that inspire creative play. all creations are made from natural materials: fabric, wood, felt, paper. i strive to make things that spark the imagination, feel good in their hands, & are just plain pretty."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Make a Skeleton Bread (A Video Tutorial)

A video tutorial for a spooOOOooooky kid-friendly project by Eve!

This delicious and funny Skeleton Bread is just the thing for a Halloween Party or part of a fun and nutritious meal just before trick or treat time on Halloween evening.

Eve’s video instructions will guide you through the shaping process!

Eve used this recipe from Martha Stewart for the dough. The recipe explains how to poach your skeleton before baking to give it an authentic soft pretzel taste and texture. (Martha shapes fingers in this recipe).

Use the video to make a skeleton, or use the idea to create your own creature!

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

How To: Make an Autumn Wreath

Once again, Donni of The Magic Onions has created a beautiful, seasonal tutorial. You can view the original post with even more of her stunning pictures here.

Our door says... WELCOME AUTUMN!

One of the ways we notice the changing of the season in our home is to make and decorated a door wreath for each season. As we collect the nature bits for it, we talk about how our world is changing with the new season. We talk about what we loved about the outgoing season, what we will miss about it and what we look forward to when it returns. As we make our new wreath, we talk about what the new season means to us, what new things we see around us, what other new things we will expect to see. This is one of the ways my children and I notice and 'feel' the seasons.

Today, we made our Autumn wreath.

We started with
* straw wreath (from a craft store)
* Autumn looking fabric
* Scissors
* hot glue gun
* nature bits collected from the world around us
* red wood beads (from my necklace that broke)

Kitty cut the fabric into strips. Each strip was about 2 inches wide and as long as you want (ours was about 18 inches long). I put a glob of glue onto the wreath from my hot glue gun. We stuck one end of a fabric strip to the wreath.

Then we wound the fabric tightly around the straw wreath. When a strip of fabric ended, I stuck another, different, one to the end of the last and started the tight winding again, sticking the last of the wrapping fabric down with my glue gun.

Then came the 'really' fun part. Kitty and Teddy selected which nature bits to go where. I administered a dab of hot glue in the exact spot they had designated and they carefully stuck their bit into place... acorns, moss and Goblin Balls, leaves and beads.

We hung our wreath on our door and sat back to admire it and welcome in the new season...

Welcome Autumn!

Fairyfolk, Donni's shop, is filled with colorful felted acorns, felted stones and a world of needle felted toys. Everything listed is Waldorf inspired, all natural, handmade, eco-friendly and absolutely beautiful.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mini Wednesday - Chimera

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Kerstin of Chimera:

I've been playing with fiber and crafting my entire life. Wool is my favorite material because it is so versatile. With wool I can make a silky scarf, spin colorful yarn, sculpt a landscape or felt a durable rug. Adding to the fun is the ability to dye wool any colors I choose, and to add in other fibers to create something truly unique.

You can visit more with Chimera here too:
article by prettydreamer 


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recipe: Rose Sugar

Summer has faded into Fall, but the roses in my yard are still going strong. Marie of Knecht Ruprecht uses her rose petals to make Rosen Zucker, Rose Sugar. She first shared her technique on her blog. Read on, and learn how to capture the flavor of summer.

We have lots of roses in our garden blooming all summer in all different colors. Once a year we make our own Rose Sugar.

The rose enhances the flavor of the sugar and makes a beautiful decoration. It is great to sweeten a fruit salad or a cake or just sprinkle a little bit on top of cookies or fresh yogurt.

To make Your own Rose Sugar, use roses that you know have not been sprayed with chemicals. Pick the roses in mid-morning, after the morning moisture is off of them.
You can experiment with the rose colors. Use dark red rose petals for pink Rose Sugar for example.

Dry the rose petals.

Use a mortar

or rub Your dried rose petals between your fingers until they are fine.

Mix them with sugar and put all together in a preserving jar.

"Knecht Ruprecht is dedicated to handcrafted Waldorf dolls for any occasion and for every age. Since my own Waldorf schooling, I have created handmade toys from natural materials. I believe very strongly in the importance of dolls and dollplay in a child's life, and it is a great pleasure and honor for me to create these important little friends for children who accompany them through the most significant childhood years." -Marie