Making pastel pom pom sheep

Today is University Mental Health Day, an important day for all university communities and the biggest day of the year for student mental health which as we know from reading the media is an increasing problem for not only students, but all in this age group. At our university we’re using the day to bring our university community together and make mental health a university-wide priority, showcasing ‘self-care’ and the support available in our community.

This post is one of the rare posts where my work-life meets my blog-life, and I’m happy with that because it’s such an important topic. I’m hosting a craft session where people can come along and try crafts such as knitting, crochet and making pom pom sheep or just bring along their own project and craft in company. Those of us that craft regularly know why crafting is good for our mental health, and this session aims to demonstrate that first-hand.

So I thought I really should practice making some pom pom sheep…

If you want to try these too, you’ll need:

  • Two toilet roll inners

  • Wool to make a pom pom for the sheep’s body (I used a pistachio green)

  • Wool to make a smaller pom pom for the sheep’s head, this works best as a dark plain colour (I used black)

  • Scissors

1 Take the two rolls and catch the wool for the sheep’s body between the two rolls.

Wind the wool around the two tubes until it’s about a centimetre thick.

The more wool you wind around the tubes, the more rotund your sheep will be.

Wrap wool around two toilet roll inners

2 Next you’ll need to tie the pom pom together using the darker, plain wool for the sheep’s head.

Tie the black wool loosely between the two tubes, and ease the tubes out carefully.

Tie loosely between the two tubes and ease the toilet rolls out

3 Now tie this tightly, this will form your sheep’s body.

Leave the long ends of the dark wool, you’ll need this to attach the sheep’s head.

4 Carefully cut the loops, forming your pom pom and sheep’s body.

If you want, trim the shape to form a sphere.

After tying tightly, cut the loops

5 Now make a smaller pom pom for the sheep’s head using the dark wool.

Wrap the wool around three of your fingers (not too tightly!)

Slip this off your hand and tie tightly as before, cutting the loops to form a pom pom. This time cut the ends the same length to match the pom pom.

Add a smaller pom pom as a head

6 Using the long lengths you use to tie the body pom pom, tie the head to the body, then cut the wool so it no longer shows.

7 Add a loop, for hanging up your sheep, and legs.

Cut two lengths of dark wool, one about 30cm and one about 20cm.

Tie a loop in the longer length and tie the length around the body pom pom about a third of the way along the body, closed to the head. Tie the shorter length about two thirds of the way along the body.

Trim the lengths which are hanging below the sheep’s body so they are the same length, adding a knot (for feet) if you wish.

Tie a loop so you can hang your sheep up

8 Now step back and admire your work!

I made five sheep - two pistachio, two pink and a black sheep.

Well, there had to be one didn’t there? The black one though was by far the hardest, most probably as it was hard to see where to tie the pom poms together.

I think they work better two-toned, and love the bright colours.

Tie in lengths of wool for legs

You can of course use more traditional natural colours, but I’m rather keen on the pastel versions which have been adorning my bookcase for the past week or so, and will be joining me at the craft session today.

Display and enjoy

What do you think? Are you giving them a go - send me your pictures if you are, tag me on social media - @lifeat139a - I can’t wait to see your flock!

A few new crochet projects

Somehow I seem to be accumulating crochet projects - there’s just so much I want to get on and crochet. Well, not just crochet, but let’s stick with that for this post. I have at least a couple on the go - the main one is the Vintage Hearts colourful throw and the latest additions are these Granny Flora squares. Strangely they’re much easier than they look. They’re the last design I have to complete from the first section, and I’d left them until the end as they looked tricky. So discovering they weren’t has been a bonus.

GRANNY FLORA FROM THE VINTAGE HEARTS THROW

GRANNY FLORA FROM THE VINTAGE HEARTS THROW

The colours are great aren’t they? The completed throw is destined for our conservatory, and with the bold and colourful cushions I think it’ll fit right in. As well as this I’ve got the square a week green, natural and pink throw almost there. At one point I thought it might be ready in time for Christmas, but soon I realised that was just pure folly. The plan for that when it’s completed is to complement the material throw over the arm of our new sofas, in an attempt to prevent wear and tear.

But you already knew about both of those, so they’re hardly new are they?

This little box of colourful loveliness was one of my Christmas presents. It’s full of small stone or river washed scheepjes wool, with just about every shade imaginable. I spent a few days over the break just admiring them and pondering how I could use them and show them off at their best. I’ve decided on something a little different to my usual squares, and that’s hexagons. I’m thinking something with a flower centre with a couple of colours against a darker background.

colour everywhere in this scheepjes pack means I'm happy
SCHEEPJES STONE WASHED DESTINED FOR A HEXI “FLOWER” THROW WITH A DARK BACKGROUND

SCHEEPJES STONE WASHED DESTINED FOR A HEXI “FLOWER” THROW WITH A DARK BACKGROUND

I spotted a pattern online, with a pattern for sale but on further investigation only a hardcopy if you lived in South Africa, so that didn’t work. But of course I can’t get that pattern out of my mind so I’ve been trying to work it out from the picture. Strangely the centre of Granny Flora has helped a bit, although I’ve managed to draw a chart that looks as if it might work, I’ve still some testing to do before committing these little balls of wool to it.

My next project is already started, and it’s a lot less colourful than anything else I’ve even got planned. In fact every time I look at the photo below I’m convinced it’s black and white, then realise the bookcase isn’t.

MONO - NOT BLACK AND WHITE - QUITE THE CHANGE FOR ME

MONO - NOT BLACK AND WHITE - QUITE THE CHANGE FOR ME

I saw a beautiful Portuguese tile inspired throw in a magazine, full of yellows and blues and whites, just like my post of Portuguese tiles and patterns and in a complete shock to the system, I chose the monotone wool to complete this in. Clearly it will have a completely different look, but it fulfils my need for variegated wool and crochet, and I don’t think it will suffer for that. And, let’s face it, if I enjoy it and want a colourful version then I can add it to the list.

The tweedy wool below is for another project, this one without a pattern as such. I rarely wear a coat - I find the sleeves oppressive - and the fleecy type wrap I have is getting a bit bobbly. So in a spate of positivity I decided I could create my own. A colleague at work had made a scarf in a stitch I liked and the idea was sown. I’m intrigued to find out how this will work up, and also now wary about if it will work at all.

FOR A WEARABLE WRAP PONCHO TYPE THING

As I’ve no pattern, I haven’t really got much of a clue as to how much wool it’ll take - and so I’ve probably got too much, so I could be branching out into everything tweed - or having a very short wrap, who knows. Not me, that’s for sure - but even though I’d be happy to have this completed by the end of the winter, I suspect it may take a little longer to complete - because there’s one or two other projects to make progress with too, along with everything else!

But it’s good to have a plan!

A just in time handmade gift

In Monday’s post I mentioned the Christmas gift that almost wasn’t ready in time, and which only managed to be under the tree with some last minute sewing Christmas Eve evening. MOH was bemused my by last minute industriousness, even more so when he realised it was for him. I was keen to get it finished, so he stood a chance of working out what it was, and of course to get it finished and wrapped so it could be opened on Christmas Day.

It was a bit out of the norm you see, but I needn’t have worried as he got what they were for as soon as he opened them, phew.

park here - the handmade gift for moh

They’re mats for the wheels of his bike, for when it’s wet and dark, and so the bike stays in our conservatory overnight. Up until now he’s been parking his bike on some newspaper, which while it serves a purpose and does a job, tends to hang about for a bit and so I thought something more aesthetically pleasing must exist. Then I realised it probably didn’t, but was something I could make.

The trouble was when I had time on my own in the house, usually his bike wasn’t there so what size? In the end I guessed and cut a leg of an old pair of jeans to be approximately 40cm x15cm - I knew I wanted something hardwearing, but I also wanted something softer for the newly varnished conservatory floor, so a leg of some old pyjamas were just the thing, and I had some batting somewhere I’m sure…

PYJAMAS AND JEANS REPURPOSED

PYJAMAS AND JEANS REPURPOSED

But I also knew it’d need to be more than just two pads for MOH to know what it was for. With a flash of inspiration one night I hit on the idea of adding some lettering, but what: bike park, stay dry, clean floor, no mess, not newspaper and so on, but in the end I went with the simple instruction of “Park here.”

The original plan was to embroider both words, in script, and “here” looked to be the easier and more continuous to do, so I started with that using twine. I’d written the design onto the jeans (and you can still see it in both photos) and it wasn’t onerous to do, and there was lots of tracing where the flow of the letters should go with my fingers, I realised I wanted more of the pyjama fabric on show too.

TWINE EMBROIDERY

TWINE EMBROIDERY

So a new plan was hatched for the “park” which involved using my die cutter to cut out the letters from fabric ironed onto interfacing, which I hoped would stop them fraying (we’ll have to see how that works out), then stitched onto the denim. I toyed with the placement and went with a more jaunty arrangement, as time wasn’t on my side, and I preferred to have them clearly not straight rather than trying to be straight and failing.

APPLIQUED LETTERING

APPLIQUED LETTERING

I’m rather pleased with how they turned out, with more planning I think I’d have quilted them some more perhaps, and given them a wash to remove the red felt tip lettering, but there’s time for that.

What was more pleasing was that when he opened them, he knew what they were for and sweetly suggested I could make these and sell them, however as they often say on Dragon’s Den, I think this is solving a problem that not many people know they have, so I don’t expect there’s much demand for these. They were fun to make, and to give, and as well as their practical-ness they’ve also demonstrated to MOH that sometimes old fabric can be put to good use, and uses you might not have first thought of!

Park here  - a simple instruction - on MOH's bike mats

How were your handmade gifts received?