Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Pattern for Crochet Acorns and Fantastic Ways to Use Them

Hodge and Eric showed us over the last few weeks how acorns are a treasured gift among squirrels, but I think the crocheted variety could come in handy for us humans too. Below are some unique and creative ways you might use these acorns. And, as always, here’s the free pattern to make your very own!

My pattern includes instructions on making a cap and a bottom, which you sew together to form an acorn. If instead you don’t sew the cap to the bottom of the acorn, you’ll have a unique gift box in which to hide a little present.

Gift Acorn

Add acorns to a fall wreath or mantel display.

Acorn Decor

Crochet your acorns in holiday colors or all white and hang them on your tree or display them in a decorative bowl on your coffee table.

White Acorn

String a cord through the stem and wear the acorn as a necklace.

Acorn Necklace

Use bright colors and a crochet hook size H-8 (5.0 mm) or larger to make an acorn like Eric’s bioengineered one. These acorns would make wonderful pincushions, present toppers, or even cat toys.

Neon Acorn

Crochet Acorn Pattern Continue reading

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Make It! Challenge #3: Needle Felted Sloth

felted sloth 042 (800x600)

Thanks go out to Alicia Dollieslager for challenging me to make a needle-felted sloth. I had never needle felted before and that made this challenge even more exciting. I learned that needle felting is pretty fun and simple enough that anyone could do it, but because the needles are very sharp, it might not be suitable for young children. I love how Jane Davis puts it in her book Felting: the Complete Guide. She says, “Unfortunately, when starting out in needle felting it is almost inevitable that you will stab yourself with those sharp needles at least once, so have first aid supplies on hand and keep your tetanus shot up to date.” I guess I should feel pretty lucky that I completed this project unscathed.

The basic idea of felting is that when you move your needle in and out of the wool, barbs on the shaft of the needle grab the fibers and tangle them together to create felt. On the subject of needles, the package I purchased came with four types: a 38-gauge star-point needle for felting large areas, a 36-gauge triangle-point needle for fast felting, a 38-gauge triangle-point needle for attaching one item to another, and a 40-gauge triangle-point needle for detail felting and smoothing the surface. After trying them all out, I ended up using the 38-gauge needles for everything except the details on the face and the surface, for which I used the 40-gauge needle.

A foam pad is used as a work surface, both to protect your fingers and to help form the wool into the shape you desire. I started by poking the wool fairly deep to ensure that the center of the figure was felted. Then I switched to the 40-gauge needle to felt the surface. It’s amazing how quickly the wool begins to take shape and how forgiving this medium is.

Use my instructions to make a felted sloth of your own! Continue reading


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A Gift You Still Have Time to Make: Super Comfy, Super Quick Knit Scarf

Super Comfy, Super Quick Scarf free knit pattern by Squirrel PicnicThis scarf is the answer for those of us who want to give a handmade gift but are running out of time to make something really special. Bulky yarn, large knitting needles, and a very easy stitch allow for this scarf to be whipped up in under 3 hours (at least that’s how long it took me and I’m not a very fast knitter).

What makes this pattern special, though, is that it creates a fun, unique texture that looks intricate. The lucky person who receives this scarf will never suspect you knit it in an afternoon.

Super Comfy, Super Quick Knit Scarf

Difficulty rating 2

For this pattern you will need to know basic knitting stitches, including how to do a basic knit cast on, knit a stitch, yarn over, pass a stitch, and bind off. For your convenience, I’ve provided a step-by-step photo tutorial, with links to additional video resources, below the pattern. Enjoy!

Finished Size: 6 inches x 76 inches

Materials

Bernat Roving bulky yarn in Cranberry,
80% acrylic, 20% wool, 3.5 oz (100 g)/120 yds (109 m): 2 balls

Size 35 (19 mm) knitting needles

Note: The yarn is doubled throughout this pattern.

Directions

CO 10 stitches.

Row 1: k1, *yo, k2, pass the yarn over st over both knit sts, repeat from * across to last st, k1.

Repeat row 1 for every row.

BO loosely and weave in ends.

Here’s a tutorial to help you complete your scarf.

You will need 2 balls of yarn for this project. (Unlike the balls of yarn pictured here, you will use full balls of yarn. See materials above.) You will also need a set of size 35 (19 mm) knitting needles.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf Materials

Double up your yarn: one strand from each ball. You will be working with 2 strands at once throughout the pattern.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 2

Let’s begin by casting on our stitches. Make a slipknot with your doubled strands of yarn.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 3

Place the slipknot on one knitting needle and hold it in your left hand.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 4

1. Insert the other knitting needle and position it behind the first, as if to knit.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 5

2. Wrap the working yarn around this right-handed needle and bring it to the front. This is a yarn over (yo), which we will use later in the pattern in addition to casting on (CO).

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 6

3. Move the tip of your right needle down and to the front, drawing the yarn-over strands down and through the slipknot as you go.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 7

4. Pull this yarn over through and place it on the left handed needle.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 8

Now you have 2 stitches on your needle.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 9

Repeat steps 1-4 until you have 10 stitches on your needle.
Remember, the yarn is doubled, so when you count your stitches, count in pairs.

If you’d like more help with the knit cast on, check out this video by Kelley Johnson.

Now let’s work the pattern. Knit the first stitch (k1).

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 11

Yarn over (yo).

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 12

Knit the next stitch by inserting your needle as you normally would and wrap the working yarn around behind the right-hand needle, between the needles, and to the front.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 13.1

Complete the stitch as you normally would to knit.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 13.2

And knit the next stitch as well.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 14

Now to pass the yarn-over stitch, insert your needle into the front of the yarn-over stitch (it’s the third one back on your right needle).

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 15

Lift it up and over the two stitches you just knit.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 16

Pull it off your needle and let it go.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 17

Repeat these steps (“yo, k2, pass the yarn over st over both knit sts” in the pattern) until there is only one stitch remaining on your left needle.

Knit the last stitch.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 18

Now you have completed your first row.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf 19

Keep repeating the pattern for each row until you run out of yarn. Then BO loosely.

It might seem a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, your needles will start to fly and you’ll have a unique scarf in no time.

Super Comfy, Super Quick Knit Scarf Free Pattern by Squirrel Picnic

Look at how thick and luxurious it will be!

Super Comfy, Super Quick Knit Scarf by Squirrel Picnic

And finally, here is a closeup of the stitches that make up this pattern.

Squirrel Picnic Knit Scarf Stitch Pattern Swatch

See a mistake or something I overlooked, please let me know in the comments or at squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com. Thanks!

 


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Springerles: Celebrate the Holidays with This Traditional German Cookie

The springerle is an anise-flavored, eggshell-white cookie that is said to have originated from German-speaking parts of Europe. Typically baked for the holidays, this cookie is best known for its beautiful embossed designs.

I have many fond memories of Christmasses spent with family, the adults relishing the springerles my mother had baked while the kids nibbled at less exotic treats. We kids all considered the springerle to be a stuffy, grownup cookie. “An acquired taste,” my mother would say. I remember how at these holiday gatherings the adult conversation would always turn to a debate over the best way to eat the springerles. Some would claim that they are best when they’re less than a week old and still soft. Others would swear that you should never eat them until at least two weeks had passed, until they are rock hard and require dipping in tea or soaking in rum in order to eat them without breaking a tooth. I didn’t care for them as a child, but the first time I tried one as an adult, I was hooked. Anyone who loves the flavor of licorice will love this cookie too. Continue reading


Great Packing Idea from Mom

When sending out Christmas packages to your grown children this year, instead of using bubble wrap, use their old stuffed animals. As a friend of mine mentioned, it’s an eco-friendly way to tell your children, “It’s time for you to get your junk out of my house. Mom wants a craft room!”

Mom's Packing Tip


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Mini Rosette Wreath

I’m not entirely certain that this wreath is a winner. This might be an example of one of those situations where you try to re-create something you’ve seen only for it to morph into something entirely unexpected.

I’ve seen several rosette wreaths over the past few years and it seems like all of them have been made with slightly different techniques and styles. I was feeling pretty confident that I could easily create my own with my own unique spin.

But once I hung it on the door, I had to scratch my head and wonder. I had wanted my wreath to have a lot of texture, so I cut the strips with pinking shears, but now I looked at it and thought, Is the texture too busy? I also hadn’t been particularly careful about making the strips even because I thought the variety might be appealing, but now I wondered, Does it just look sloppy?

Even though I’m not overly thrilled with this creation, it will hang on our door throughout this season nevertheless. I feel like it says to visitors, “Welcome. Come on in. Relax and be yourself. We don’t expect perfection here!” And you know, I have a feeling that’s a pretty worthwhile sentiment for me to keep in the coming month.

Materials

7 ¾” x 1 ¾” x ¾” Styrofoam wreath form
1 yard of 1 ½” wide red satin ribbon
2 12″ x 18″ pieces of green craft felt
4″ of red craft felt (72″ wide), divided into four pieces each 4″ x 18″
7″ of green craft felt (72″ wide), divided into four pieces each 7″ x 18″
Sewing pins
Tacky glue for attaching fabric to fabric
Hot glue
Pinking shears
Scissors

  1. Trace the Styrofoam wreath form onto each 12″ x 18″ piece of green felt. On one piece, cut along both the inner and outer circle lines, set aside.
  2. Cut the other piece into a circle that is about 4″ larger than the wreath form, using the outer circle line you traced as a guide. Fold this circle in half and clip a hole in the center. Open the circle back up. Cut eight lines out from the center hole that you clipped to about 1/4″ from the inner circle line. Cut from the outer edge of the green felt to the outer circle line to form eight equal parts on the outside too.
  3. Place the Styrofoam wreath form in the center of this circle. Pull up on a triangle of felt from the inner circle and lay it flat on the back of the Styrofoam. Pull up a piece from the outer circle and lay it on top of the triangle piece. Pin through both pieces into the Styrofoam. Repeat all the way around the wreath, making sure that all the Styrofoam on the front and sides is covered.

  4. Hot glue the green felt circle with the hole in the center to the back of the wreath form to cover it.
  5. Wrap the ribbon around the wreath and hot glue it to the wreath form.
  6. Cut the red felt into 1″ strips, alternately using scissors and pinking shears, so that one side of each piece is jagged and one side is straight. You will have 16 strips of red felt.
  7. Repeat with the green felt. Then take each strip of green felt and cut it in half so that each strip is now 9″ long. You will have 56 strips of green felt.
  8. Roll up all the strips of red and green felt and secure each end with tacky glue.
  9. Attach the flat side of each rosette to the wreath form using the hot glue, alternating placement of red and green rosettes. Depending on how tight you make them, you may end up with a few leftover rosettes.
  10. Hang wreath from your door knocker or wreath holder by tying the ribbon in a bow. Finish the bow’s ends with the pinking shears.