Milkweed & Monarch Pin Art

With the end of spring nearing, I wanted to create another pin art piece that depicted a perfect summer scene.  The first thing that came to mind for me was the Monarch Butterfly.  Living in Massachusetts, Monarch butterflies tend to arrive in my area around July and August.  Since they lay their eggs on the leaves of the milkweed plant, I wanted to include the plant as the main focal point in my piece.

Milkweed is becoming scarce as many people aim to keep their lawns weed-free. Open expanses of green grass may be pretty to look at, but eliminating weeds and wildflowers is detrimental our pollinators. Not too far from where I live is a soccer field that is literally filled with milkweed. This warms my heart, because it is the food source of the Monarch butterfly and is so important to our ecosystem. Every year I visit the fields to gather seeds in hopes of creating my own milkweed patch. I also try to search for any monarch eggs. I have tried several times to get my own milkweed patch to grow in my yard, but I haven’t had any luck yet. I’m hoping by creating this pin art to raise awareness of the importance of milkweed and wild plants that benefit both butterflies and bees.

Supplies

Clip art images of milkweed and butterfly and a piece of tissue for tracing.

1 piece of 8×10 pink velour contact paper

Assortment of 1 cm sequins

1 piece of 8×10, 1/2 inch Styrofoam

Clear seed beads and 3/4 inch sequin pins

Black embroidery thread for butterfly’s legs and antenna. 

Two black map pins for butterfly’s antenna

To start, I found a couple of clipart pictures of milkweed and Monarch butterflies. After printing out the pictures I wanted, I traced the milkweed using a piece of discarded tissue paper from a gift bag. Then I positioned the image of the butterfly over to where I wanted it to be in the picture and traced it into place. After that, I was ready to pin it to my board and adding sequins.

Before I could sequin, I had to prepare my piece of 1/2 inch Styrofoam. To do this, I covered it using a piece of pink velour contact paper. I found this online and it was not expensive. The contact paper helps to keep the Styrofoam from falling apart. Then, I pinned the tissue paper image on top of the pink velour. For the sequins, I was able to find a variety pack of sequins in an assortment of colors online, but they are also available at any local craft store.

Next, I began to sequin. For the milkweed flowers, I used lavender sequins and sprinkled a few dark purple sequins in for added color. I also used two different colored green sequins for the milkweed’s leaves. When I was done, I simply tore the tissue away to reveal the finished product.

When I finished the milkweed plant and butterfly, I decided to add a few blades of grass in all the green sequin colors I had.

To finish, I wanted to give the butterfly an antenna and legs. To do this I used a few pieces of black embroidery floss and two black map pins. Using a small length of the embroidery floss, I tied the ends in a knot. Then, using the sequin pins, I stretched out the floss tight to the black map pins. Make sure to leave the knotted end underneath a sequin to hide it. I did the same for the legs, the only difference is that I spread out the floss to create two legs.

After finishing this piece, I can’t wait to go back the soccer fields by my house and search for Monarch eggs. Watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then emerge as a butterfly is a great way to teach children the wonders of nature. It also is fun for adults, too! I hope this inspires you to create a pollinator pin art piece of your own.

Canvas Pin Art

I love to paint.  Many years ago, I took a painting class offered by my local craft store. I was determined to become a better painter.  But, try as I might, my paintings always looked horrible.  I have found I am much better at painting objects like wood signs or plaster village pieces.   Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I enjoy painting.  So, I came up with this craft as a way to use both paint and sequins to create canvas art.  Using some old Styrofoam from a discarded package, I was able to find a way to stick the sequins to the canvas.

By combining both paint and sequins, I was able to create a unique wall hanging that is both pretty and eye-catching. This is a perfect craft for a teen or tween, or for anyone who wants to create some sparkle on their walls. For this project, I used a picture of a butterfly, but you can use virtually any object, and you can use sequin colors that match the color of your room. The great thing I found about using painted canvas as a backdrop for my sequins was that if you have any gaps, you can simply fill it in with paint.

The items needed are fairly inexpensive. You can find sequins at any store that sells crafts. I found the pack of sequins I used for this project at Jo-Ann Fabrics. The canvas was part of a pack of two that I got at Walmart. Next, I printed a picture of a butterfly to trace. For the tips of the butterfly’s antennae, I used silver map pins that I found online. To fasten the sequins to the Styrofoam, I used ½” sequin pins and clear sequin beads. Then, using a fine tip black sharpie marker, I drew the antennae on the canvas. Once you start to add the sequins, the Styrofoam will hold nicely to the back of the canvas, so there’s no need to use glue. Since the canvas is porous, glue will show through onto the painted canvas.

Supplies:

1/2” sequin pins

Clear sequin beads

Cup sequins in color of your choice

2 silver map pins

1 8X10 canvas

Acrylic paint

Tissue paper and pencil for tracing

1 piece of 1/2” Styrofoam and craft knife Fine point black marker

A 2 pack of 8×10 canvas was only a few dollars at Walmart.

First, I painted the canvas with three coats of lavender acrylic paint. Allow the canvas to dry between coats.

Using a sharp craft knife, I cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit inside the back of the canvas.

Next, I traced the picture of the butterfly I printed onto a piece of tissue. Then, I taped the tissue onto the canvas.

This is where the fun begins! Using your sequin pins and beads, start to trace outline of the butterfly.

Once you have the outline complete, you can start to tear away the tissue. I used a pair of tweezers to help with this step. Then you can start to fill in the butterfly’s wings with color.

I decided to keep the canvas a simple lavender, but you can always add painted highlights or even use a sponge technique to give your canvas even more dimension. To finish, I found an old frame that I had spray-painted silver.

For those of us who are drawing-challenged, I found this was a way I could still create fun wall art. Plus, I was able to find a good use for some old Styrofoam packing that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage.

Macrame Caroling Angel

A few posts ago I mentioned a macrame angel that used to hang on my mother’s tree. I stole her often off of the tree to play with in my room with my other toys during the Christmas season. To me, she was the most elegant of our Christmas ornaments. I considered her an honored guest for my other toys. I even staged an elaborate wedding in my bedroom for her when she wed another treasured Christmas ornament, The Christmas Yarn Clown. My grandmother even had a similar angel on her tree. Unfortunately, some Christmas boxes in my mother’s basement got damaged a few years back and the macrame angel is no more. All I had of her were memories. Thankfully, I still remember vividly what she looked like. I have wanted to recreate her for a long time, but I wasn’t sure my limited macrame skills were up to the challenge.

Finally, last month I started searching for the perfect materials. I had to at least try to recreate this beautiful ornament. From my memories, the angel was made from thick, white yarn or rope with a wooden bead for her head. A simple silver pipe cleaner served as her halo. To practice, I bought some standard macrame cord. Though it was helpful to practice with, I quickly realized it was far too thin to work for this project. Back to the internet, I found some thick, white clothesline rope that looked the closest to my memories. I also picked some wooden beads and silver pipe cleaners. After a bit of practice I realized with just a few inexpensive materials I could recreate the caroling macrame angel.

clothesline rope purchased from Amazon.
Beads bought on Amazon.

Materials:

1 1 inch wooden bead with a 3/8 inch opening

1 4” piece of silver or gold pipe cleaner

2 20” pieces of white clothesline rope

Black and red Sharpie markers

Optional items: wood stain and gold paint or marker for hair. I also used a large tapestry needle to thread the rope through the opening of the bead.

First, stain and draw the face onto your wooden bead. My old macrame angel was a simple stained bead with a drawn-on face and no hair, but you can also get creative and paint hair for your angel. The stain I used was a light golden pecan. You can also leave the bead its natural color if you like, though I recommend staining the bead since I found that the sharpie markers bled on an unstained bead. To draw the face on, I used an ultra-fine tipped sharpie in black and red. The eyes are simply two semi-circles with small lines indicating her eyelashes and her mouth is a red oval. Let the wood stain dry before you draw on the face. Allow the bead to dry completely before moving on.

To start the angel’s body, pull the two pieces of white rope through the top of the angel’s head so that there are 4 pieces hanging down to knot.  I used a large tapestry needle to help get the rope through the small opening of the bead. I pulled the rope so that the outside pieces hung about 4 inches longer than the two inner pieces of rope like the picture above.  The clothesline rope is much thicker than standard macrame cord and I found that when I started to tie the knots that the outside pieces ended up much shorter than the inner two pieces unless I gave them so more length.

Use a large clip or clipboard to help keep bead steady while you knot.
This is what the ornament looks like after first square knot is completed.

Start by tying a basic square knot.  To stabilize the bead, I used an old desk fan clip, but you could also use a clipboard to keep it steady.  Again, the thicker rope makes tight knot making difficult, so do your best to get it as tight as possible.  After I completed the first square knot, I made a square knot with a loop to create the angel’s arms.  It took me a bit of practice and youtube watching to get the loops even on both sides, so it may take a couple tries.  The good news is that if you screw up, you can simply untie the knot and try again.

Once you’ve done the two square knots, the upper body of the angel was done! On to her flowing dress. To achieve this, all you need is a fork and some time. Some pent-up aggression helps too. Using the fork’s tongs, I ripped it down the frayed ends of the rope, slowly traveling up to the end of the knots. Of the entire project, this took the most time, but the fork certainly helps things move along more quickly.

Lastly, I cut a piece of 4” silver pipe cleaner for her halo. The halo can also be used to hang her on the tree. My angel’s halo stuck straight over her head, so that’s how I made my recreation, but you can bend the halo so that it hovers over her head if you want. I used a spare wooden bead as a guide to make my halo a perfect circle. Dab the end in a little bit of glue then insert into the opening of the bead.

Use something round to help shape your halo. I used a spare wooden bead.
Golden haired angel.
One angel with no hair and straight halo and another with golden hair and bent halo.

When I finished, I brought out my old Christmas Yarn Clown and sat him next to my new macrame angel. Along with a few other tattered ornaments, he is the oldest ornament on my tree and always gets a place of honor. It was a reunion nearly 40 years in the making. I can’t wait to hang them both on my tree next holiday season.

Reunited and it feels so good!

Artminds Love Sign

On a recent trip to Michael’s Craft Store to gather supplies for another project I came across a bin by the register filled with simple wooden signs made by Artminds. The wooden letters spelled out either Love or Blessed. Instantly I knew I had to have one of the Love signs. My mind filled with ideas for painting and decorating. At the register I was even happier when the little sign rang up on sale. At only 79 cents, I had unexpectedly found my next craft project.

If you’re like me, your house looks a little empty once the Christmas tree gets put away and the long month of January commences. I have a few snowflakes and a few pine cones I picked from my backyard. But other than a few hearts, I don’t have many Valentine’s Day decorations. So to make this sign pop on my mantle, I decided to paint each letter of the word love a different hue of red. I was hoping to give it an ombre look. To give the sign some sparkle, I decided to add Diamond Dotz to both the front of the letters and the edge of the base. To find coordinating paint and Diamond Dotz, I prefer Joann Fabrics to Michael’s. I was able to find good matches and then set to work creating my new project.

Here is a list of the paint and coordinating Diamond Dotz (DD) color I used for this project:

For the “L” I used Artist’s Loft paint in bright red and DD in color 8015 Red.

For the “O” I used DecoArt Americana paint in Royal Fuschia with DD in color 8073 Bright Cerise.

For the “V” I used Craft Smart paint in pink and DD in color 8071 Puce.

For the “E” I used Craft Smart paint in light pink and DD in color 8068 Pink Mist.

I painted the base with Craft Smart paint in White and DD in color 8002 White.

Additional Supplies: To attach the Diamond Dotz I used Aleene’s Tack-It glue, a q-tip and a drill pen to apply the Diamond Dotz.

First, you may have to lightly sand the piece with a fine piece of sand paper to smooth out the edges of the wood. Then you can paint the sign with two to three coats of paint. The wood absorbs a lot of the paint and it’s important to paint the piece well before adding the Diamond Dotz.

Once the piece is painted, apply a thick coat of the Aleene’s Tack-It glue to the areas where you want to apply the Diamond Dotz. For this project, I only wanted to make the front of the letters and the edge of the base sparkly. But you can cover the whole piece of you wish. I used a Q-Tip to spread the glue easily without getting it all over my hands or ruining a paint brush. The glue should be thick enough that it appears white. This will ensure that the Diamond Dotz stay put and don’t fall off. Don’t worry, once it is set it will turn translucent.

Allow the glue to set for at least an hour, or until the glue appears translucent. Then you’re ready to apply your Diamond Dotz.

Since the letters were so thin, it was a challenge to apply the Diamond Dotz. Though it was hard to stick to the edges, I do think applying the Diamond Dotz as neatly as possible makes the finished product look the best. When you are finished, you can use a roller to press the Diamond Dotz firmly into place. If you don’t have a roller, simply press down gently on the gems with your fingers.

I decided to place this piece on my mantle since it desperately needed a pop of color. I love the way the morning sun makes the small gems sparkle. If you get a chance to grab one of these signs, it’s the perfect weekend project that will be a wonderful addition to your winter decor.

Quick Wooden Ornament Craft

As a crafter, I like to make something special for everyone on my list at Christmastime.  But there is no way I could knit a scarf or complete a pin art masterpiece for everyone.  With work and family obligations, it’s impossible to turn myself into the nonstop crafting machine I aspire to be.  Still, since I love to craft, I usually start my Christmas planning before the ball drops on the New Year so I can try to make as much as I can before the next Christmas season.  One of the best seasons for craft buying is in the weeks after Christmas, when all the Christmas supplies go on sale to make way for Valentine’s Day.  I use this time to scour craft stores for ideas on what I will make next Christmas.  I love this time of year almost as much as the Christmas season.  It was in one of these discount bins that I found this month’s blog inspiration: laser-cut wood ornaments.

In my craft room, it’s always Christmas. I even keep a small Christmas ornament hanging by my desk all year. My way of showing love is through crafting. I much prefer hand-made presents than store bought. This fall, when I took out the small wooden ornament I had bought months earlier, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But this small craft turned out to be the perfect quick gift that is both hand-made and incredibly easy. The best part is that it can be used to dress up a plain gift bag or to simply hang on a tree.

Supplies:

 White, gray and light blue acrylic paint

Wood stain in cognac and golden pecan

Ribbon or burlap cord to tie ornament

Red, white and light blue Diamond Dotz

Tacky glue to attach the Diamond Dotz

Using both paint and stain, the project took less than a day. I first stained the ornament then painted it. That way if the wood stain bled I could easily hide it by covering it with paint. I decided to paint each snowflake a different color to give it a pop of color. To finish the ornament, I decided to add some Diamond Dotz to the snowflakes and to give the reindeer a red nose. The Diamond Dotz give the ornament a little sparkle when hanging on the Christmas tree. This project is the perfect reminder that a craft project doesn’t have to be complicated or big to show you care. Whether you add it to a gift card or attach it to a gift bag, these small ornaments are a perfect way to show you care.

Using some burlap cord, I attached the ornament to a bag as an added gift.

Lighted Display for Christmas Village

About twenty years ago, I went to a Michael’s craft store and fell in love. There, at the end of one of the aisles was a display of plaster village pieces by California Creations. That day I brought home the Bookstore and the Fire Department, but I went back many more times over the years and bought several more pieces. I’m ashamed to say I now have over twenty completed plaster village pieces and many more yet to paint from both California Creations and among other brands.

Over the years I put my love for painting aside as I got married and had children. Some years I didn’t even have the energy to unpack them all at Christmas. Then, about ten years ago, my basement flooded and some of my pieces were damaged. I lost the bell to my schoolhouse and most of my little village people, but thankfully, the village pieces were able to be saved.

I decided this was the year I was going to finally bring light to my plaster village, but light it up. Why keep something I worked so hard on hidden away in a plastic bin? But since I have so many pieces, I didn’t want to put them all in one place. So, to break it up, I came up with a plan to display a few pieces on either side of my mother’s ceramic Christmas Tree, which I display on top of my buffet.

I got the idea for my little pods, as I call them, from another crafter, Carol Duvall. She had a craft show on HGTV. Yes, HGTV had shows other than real estate flipping back when it first started. I loved her show. One of her crafts was a paper village that she cut out of card stock. To display her little paper village, she used an old Christmas gift box and poked holes in the lid. Then, she put a string of white lights in the box and pushed the lights through the holes in the lid and sat her paper houses over the lights. Now, my village is a bit too heavy for a gift box, but I used her as inspiration to build a small display of my own made from 1/4″ plywood.

Supplies:
Piece of plywood, cut to size and three side pieces to elevate pod
Acrylic paint
Drill to make light holes and a saw to cut the wood

I bought the wood at Michael’s Craft Store, and cut the top to 15” x 12”. This was the perfect size to fit on the side of my ceramic Christmas Tree. Though I am severely lacking in carpentry skills, I bought a small hand drill which made cutting the wood a breeze.

The underbelly of the pod.

Then I used scrap pieces I had from an old project to elevate the pod so I could fit the lights underneath. Using finishing nails and wood glue, I nailed the 2” pieces to the top display. I left the back open since it was going against the wall. You can cover the pod in faux snow cover or just paint it white, but I decided to make a road in the middle of mine, so I designed a simple scene with nothing more than paint. I placed the village pieces I wanted to use in the places I wanted, then traced a crude road and walkways. Once I painted the piece, I put the village pieces back on to determine where to drill my holes for the lights and marked the spots with pencil. I drilled four holes for each piece. Then I took a small strand of white lights and did my best to poke them through the tiny holes I created.

My local dollar store sells small village people and accessories that I used to further add life to my scenes. I like that they are made out of plastic which makes them virtually indestructible. Since the sides of the pods looked a little unfinished, I hid them with garland. I’m very pleased with the final product and am busy working on a pod for other side of the Christmas tree.

The back of the pod.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I recently made the painful decision to spend Thanksgiving at home this year. With two high risk parents and a job in healthcare, I can’t chance going to a crowded Thanksgiving dinner this year. To cheer myself up, I started listening to Christmas music. Some of my coworkers have started to do this at work as well. Like holiday movies, Christmas music puts me at ease and makes me think of the good in this world. When Judy Garland came on singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I knew I had to take the last verse and put it onto an ornament for my parents to hang on their tiny tree this year.

Front
Back

The song was sung by Judy Garland for the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis. Some other recordings have the lyrics slightly changed, but I like Garland’s recording of the song the most. It is the last verse of the song that really touched me and took on new meaning for me during this time. It is supposed to be a sad song, but also has a hopeful message, which I think is perfect for this year.

The ornament is a simple white heart I found at Michael’s Craft Store. I wanted to use my Cricut to cut out a stencil, but it is currently not cooperating with me. Instead, I wrote it out using a paint pen. If you can’t find a paint pen, a magic marker or Sharpie should work fine. I know it’s not the best-looking, but I think it looks more personal this way. I think I might buy another and have my daughter write it out for my in-laws to hang on their tree. If you can’t find the heart that I used, there are plenty of other options at the craft stores.

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Maybe you or your child can take a verse from that song and make a special ornament this year.

Supplies
Paint pens or magic marker in red and green
1 blank craft ornament

I started by drawing a line down the middle of the ornament to keep the verse centered. Next, I drew horizontal lines for each line of the verse.

After I wrote the verse (I know it is not the best writing, sorry!) I next added some color by drawing holly berry and leaves by hand and writing the year 2020 in red pen. You may also want to spray it with a clear sealer once it is dry.

Add Some Sparkle to Your Lakeside Home Sign

I love decorations that change with the seasons. A couple years ago I bought a home sign from the Lakeside Collection catalog that sits on a shelf in my family room. The “O” in home changes every month with a different seasonal wooden cutout. A few months ago, I bought the additional wooden cutouts for the sign they were offering. One of the pieces I was most excited to get was the holiday ornament. Unfortunately, when it arrived and I unwrapped the ornament, the paint was smeared. I was bummed at first, but then I decided I was going to fix it, and the results turned out even better than I thought.

This is what the ornament looked like when i unwrapped it.

A new craft I’ve been obsessed with is Diamond Dotz. Much like knitting or doing puzzles, I find it a great way to relax after a stressful day and it is great to do while listening to a pod cast or watching T.V. Add to that the sparkly finished product, and it is just the craft for me. But before I could cover the ornament in Diamond Dotz, I first had to fix the smeared paint. Since you can see the paint between Diamond Dotz, it is important to first paint the wood the same color as the Diamond Dotz your using. I simply used some acrylic paint on I had on hand and did my best to mix the colors so they matched the piece.

Then I went to JoAnn’s Fabrics to find loose Diamond Dotz in the right colors for this project. They’re pretty inexpensive, so I bought a few reds to find the best match to the ornament. The best match I found was Sangria (#8081). Most craft stores sell loose gems, just look in the area where the store sells Diamond Dotz projects. But if you cannot get to a store, there are also craft catalogs or online that you can order from instead. The only issue I have with catalog or online ordering is that it is difficult to see the true color of the gems on paper or a computer screen.

The end result.

I love the way it came out. With the Christmas Tree lights, the ornament really sparkles and looks even more festive. Since I had such a success with this project, I think I might start adding Diamond Dotz to the other wooden cutouts I have.

Supplies
Acrylic paint to fix smeared paint
Alene’s Tacky Glue
Diamond Dotz used:
Sangria (#8081)
Emerald (#8222)
White (#8002)
Pale Slate (#8184)

If you piece has smeared paint, like mine, use some acrylic paint to fix the smears. Once the piece is painted and dried, the next step is to cover the piece in tacky glue. Using Alene’s Tacky Glue. This glue is supposed to be for things that will not be permanently glued down, like stencils. But if applied in a thick layer, it is also great for Diamond Dotz application. Apply a thick layer of tacky glue all over the wooden piece. Then let it dry for at least an hour or longer.

When the glue is transparent, you can begin applying the Diamond Dotz. Starting at the edge, I first covered the red area of the ornament, then applied gems to the dots.

This ornament went from being my least favorite piece to my favorite piece and I cannot wait to put it out for the holidays. Perhaps there is an old Christmas decoration collecting dust in your closet that could be given a new life some new paint and a little sparkle. It couldn’t hurt to try. You may end up with a treasured upcycled piece you will display for years to come.

Santa Baby Hat and Mitten Set

This month I have another baby knitting pattern to share. I have two co-workers having babies at the end of November, and I thought a Santa set would be perfect. The red yarn I used is Lion’s Brand Feels Like Butta in red (for a girl, try Feels Like Butta in pink) and the white is Lion’s Brand Nap Time in white. This was my first time using Nap time, and I love it. It has the feel of a bulky, soft chenille, but is thin and can be knit using small needles. The only warning I have is that if you use Nap Time yarn to make the pom pom of the hat, it can get a little messy with fly aways (it is chenille after all). The fix I found was to cut the pom pom over a table to catch all the debris. Give the pom pom a few shakes, and it should be good to go.

The pattern is knit on straight needles (I still cannot figure out how to knit using four needles), so there is a seam, but I hid it by folding over the tip of the hat. I added a stitch to connect the tip of the hat to the side, which keeps the seam hidden nicely. The key to making this hat work is the gradual decreases of every K row, which takes many rows of knitting to achieve. Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing. You can increase or decrease the size of the hat to fit any size baby, just keep the stitches even.

To finish the thumbless mittens, you can tie the them with green or red ribbon to keep the festive spirit of the set, or you can use pink or blue ribbon for a girl or boy. I found 1/8″ ribbon works perfectly in the small eyelet holes. Hope you enjoy and keep knitting!

Santa Baby Hat
Size US 6 straight knitting needles
White baby yarn (I used Lion’s Brand Naptime in white)
Red baby yarn (I used Lion’s Brand Feels Like Butta in red)
Pom pom maker and ruler to measure your knitting
Tapestry needle to sew seam

Using size US 6 knitting needles, cast on 50 stitches using white baby yarn. Work in ribbing (K1, P1) for 1 inch. Cut white baby yarn, leaving enough yarn to sew seam. Then, attach red baby yarn and knit in the stockinette stitch (K row, P row) until piece measures 4 inches.

For the first row of decrease, start by K2 together, then knit the rest of the row until the last two stitches and K2 together to end row. For all even rows, P entire row with no decrease. Continue knitting first two stitches and last two stitches together of every K row until you are left with four stitches on your needle. This will give you the gradual point of a Santa hat. Cut yarn, leaving enough yarn to sew seam. Gather stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam.

This is what it should look like before you gather the stitches (pictured using Feels like Butta in pink).
Seam
Seam gone!

Using pom pom maker and white baby yarn, make a fluffy pom pom for the top of the hat. Then, using the tapestry needle, sew the tip of the hat down to hide seam.

Bring thread up from inside hat.
Then bring needle through a stitch at the top of the hat.
Then bring back through to the inside of that hat and knot thread to secure.

Santa Baby Thumbless Mittens
Size US 6 straight knitting needles
White baby yarn (I used Lion’s Brand Naptime in white)
Red baby yarn (I used Lion’s Brand Feels Like Butta in red)
Tapestry needle to sew seam
1/8” Ribbon

Begin using size US 6 knitting needles and cast on 30 stitches. Work in ribbing (K1, P1) for 10 rows.
To make eyelet for ribbon, K1, *yo, k2 together. Repeat from * ending with K1.
Work in ribbing for another 4 rows. Then cut off white baby yarn, leaving enough yarn to sew seam. Attach red baby yarn.
Work in stockinette stitch (K row, P row) for 2 inches.

Then decrease mitten as follows:
K2 together across row
P row
K2 together across row, ending with K1
P row
K2 together across row, ending with 4 stitches. Cut yarn, leaving enough tail to sew seam. Gather stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam.
Weave ribbon into eyelet holes and tie into a bow.

Lion’s Brand Nap Time in white with Feels Like Butta in Pink with green ribbon.
Lion’s Brand Nap Time in white with Feels Like Butta in Pink with red ribbon

The 2020 Yarn Clown

Pepe & Bongo

2020 so far isn’t going great. Between the pandemic, politics and social injustice, I’ve been burying myself in crafting to avoid social media and ease my anxiety. Since fall is nearly upon us, I’m starting to think about the holidays. I like to make at least one thing for my family at Christmas, but I was stumped this year. Yes, I could craft a simple mask and embroider the year on it and dangle it on the tree, or I could delve into my older crafts and find something that better represents this scary year. The answer was sitting in my hutch: a yarn clown.

The origin of the yarn clown comes from my family’s Christmas tree. I don’t know where he came from, or who made him, but I’m pretty sure it was the 1970’s. He was pink, and his long yarn legs would rest on the pipe cleaner tree branches or our tree. Every Christmas I could not wait to decorate the tree to free the ornaments from their boxed prisons. There were so many fun ornaments to play with and the yarn clown was one of my favorites. At night I would wait until everyone was distracted, then I would sneak my favorite ornaments off the tree to play with them in my room. The yarn clown took center stage in many of the Christmas-themed dramas I created. I imagined he was an ex-circus clown who finds love and happiness as a Christmas ornament. Engaged to a macrame angel ornament, they married in my room surrounded by my She-Ra dolls, Monchichis and Barbies.

The original yarn clown

Years later, when my mother was cleaning out her basement, I was reunited with the yarn clown. The years had not been kind to him, but my memories of him and the stories I created stayed with me all these years later. He was damaged and stained with age, but thankfully I was able to save him before he was thrown away (sadly, his wife the macrame angel was not so lucky). I took him to my house, where he lives in my hutch wedged between my china. That is where I keep all my precious items. He comes out every Christmas to sit on my Christmas tree. I place him near the top in a place of honor.

It does not seem fair to me that I am the only one with a yarn clown for my tree. So, for this month, I have instructions for you to make your own. I hope your yarn clown represents for you all the fears you overcame this year. Whenever the world throws another punch (and it will), look at your clown and remember how strong you are. Perhaps you have a friend or a relative who could use a yarn clown to cheer them up. This was a scary year, so what better way to beat our fears than putting a clown on your tree?

I found the clown was sturdier when I used worsted weight yarn. Baby yarn made the clown flimsier, but if it’s all you have, use it. You can use any color as this project is perfect for that ball of leftover yarn sitting in the bottom of your yarn pile. Your clown can be green or red to make it more holiday, or your favorite color. I used Red Heart yarn in lavender and white and baby yarn was used for the orange and pink clown. For his shirt and hat, a simple piece of felt works, or if you can sew, you can get fancier and use a piece of fabric. Red velour contact paper was used to make the mouth and nose of the clowns, but red felt would work fine, too. For this project, a glue gun is your friend and makes attaching the pom poms and felt easy. Use pom poms, sequins, button, beads, or simply cut more felt to decorate your clown.

Supplies
34 pieces of yarn cut 18”
26 pieces of yarn cut 6”
1 ½” styrofoam ball
Fabric glue and a glue gun
Sharp pair of scissors and a hole punch
1 tack, optional
felt in various colors
decorations like pom poms, sequins, button, beads, lace trim, felt, etc.

Once you have the yarn pieces cut, take the 18” pieces of yarn and take four pieces away, so you have a bundle of thirty. Use one of the four pieces and tie the bundle of yarn pieces together in the center like in the picture above. Then, spread a good amount of fabric glue on the styrofoam ball. This will help keep the yarn in place. Place the center of the yarn bundle where it is tied on top of the styrofoam and then spread out the yarn so that it covers the ball completely, gathering the yarn at the bottom. I stuck a tack on the top of the clown’s head through to keep the bundle of yarn secure. Using another 18″ piece, tie the yarn at the base of the clown’s head (see below). You may want to cut an extra piece to tie the base twice or use an elastic to make the yarn covering the ball as tight as possible. This will make decorating the clown’s face easier. Let the tied ends fall to join the other pieces of yarn. Allow to dry for about 1 hour. Once it is dry, you can remove the tack if you want, but the hat will be covering the top of his head, so it is not necessary.

A small nail or tack on top of the clown’s head helps to keep the yarn secure.

Next take the pile of 6″ yarn pieces and take 6 pieces away from the pile, leaving twenty. Then divide the remaining twenty pieces of 6” yarn into two piles of ten. Place ten pieces behind the clown and ten pieces over his chest.

Sandwich the 6” pieces around the body to keep it sturdy.

Use two of the six pieces you removed from the pile to tie the clown’s arms at the shoulders to secure it to the body (see below). Instead of cutting the ends of the tied pieces, let the ends become part of his arms.

Then, take the last two pieces of 18” yarn and use them to separate the legs. You can count the yarn or just eyeball it. Tie just underneath the chest. Take the last four pieces of 6″ yarn to tie the wrists and ankles. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the arms and legs evenly.

I waited until I sewed on the clown’s shirt to cut the frayed ends, but you can do it sooner.

Now you can cut out the felt shirt and hat. Starting at the legs, wiggle the yarn through the neck hole until it reaches the clown’s neck. Then pin the felt together at his arms and side. I used a blanket stitch (in my case, a very messy blanket stitch). For the hat, fold the felt in half and sew seam with an applique stitch.

If you should pause your project at this point, I suggest hiding your yarn clown under a blanket as it could pass as a crude voodoo doll. Don’t worry, with some embellishments, it will soon look like a cheery clown!

To attach the hat, I used glue gun and put a few dots on the inside of the hat to secure. Keep the seam of the hat to the side of the clown’s head. Then fold the hat down over the seam and put more hot glue on the tip to secure it to the base of the hat. Don’t worry if it looks messy, you’re going to hide the tip with a pom pom.

Notice the seam is on the clown’s left side.
When you fold down the tip, the seam will be hidden.

Now to decorate! I used leftover pom poms and hot glue, but if you want to put your clown on the tree, sequins would add some sparkle. To give the neck a nice trim, I used some lace, but you could also use more pom poms.

The lace I bought was too thick, so I cut it in half and tried to pleat it neatly under the clown’s head with hot glue. A hole punch makes the perfect size for the nose and eyes, and I cut a pom pom in half to glue as cheeks. You can even hot glue the year onto the clown’s shirt so you never forget why you made him in the first place.

If you have a cricut, there is a shapes button that includes both a circle and a diamond, which you could use instead of my template for the eyes. Using a glue gun, I glued the diamond shape for the eyes on first. Then I used a hole punch to punch out the nose and eyes. I cut a 1 cm pom pom in half and glued it on either side of his mouth for this cheeks. The mouth I drew free-hand on a piece of tissue paper, then traced on the back of a piece of red velour contact paper.

There are many different ways to dress your clown up. For the black and white clown, I made half the clown’s hat black and half gray (template is above). Then end result was a motley crew of yarn clowns that honestly look a little terrifying. But it was the perfect craft to keep me occupied and away from bad news. To me, the yarn clown perfectly sums up my feelings on this year. Hope you enjoy creating your own!

My attempt at a harlequin clown, but he looks goth to me. His name is Gene.
A sad orange clown. His name is Donald.