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Handmade Christmas Gifts: #PHWinterWorkshop Charity Auction!

A few weeks ago, Parcel Hero contacted me to ask if I would be interested in taking part in a charity campaign they were running. They were asking craft bloggers to decorate a little wooden box and make a small handmade gift to go in it, which would then be auctioned on eBay to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH). How could I say no to that?

Their charity campaign last year raised nearly £1,000 for Oxfam, and this year they are hoping to beat that and raise £1,500 for GOSH. That’s enough money to cover the cost of a portable heart monitor! How wonderful would it be to reach that target?

With that in mind, I set about creating something truly special for the auction. I wanted my box to appeal to eBayers looking for a treat for a loved one, and so I decided to create a wintry themed necklace. I pulled out my jewellery making bits and bobs (which haven’t been used in far too long!) and set to work creating something that reminded me of frosty mornings and nights dusted with just a little bit of snow.

Turquoise and seed bed two strand necklace #PHWinterWorkshop charity auction GOSH

The end result was this – a two strand necklace made with turquoise chips (of two different sizes) and seed beads in both clear and blue tones. I was so happy with how it turned out, especially as I’ve never made a two strand necklace before, and really hope that whoever wins it in the auction will treasure it for years to come.

I knew I wanted to combine a blue tone rather than going full-on white for my wintry theme, and the turquoise reminds me so much of the pale wintry skies we get during this time of year. And I’m so glad I managed to add a semi-precious stone in here too, because I love crystals and wearing them in a necklace is a great way to benefit from them.

Turquoise is a really great choice of crystal too, as it has so many healing properties. A quick look in my favourite crystal book told me that turquoise helps to balance the energy meridians in the body and so can support all of the chakras. However I have always associated it with the throat chakra, and its ability in assisting us to speak with truth and integrity. If you want to know more about the properties of turquoise, as well as its influence across the globe throughout history, then do check out this page.

Of course it wasn’t just the necklace that needed making, I had to find a way to decorate the little wooden box it would be placed in. I decided to go with decoupage in order to merge the different blue and white tones which reminded me so much of this time of year. This time, however, I went with a slightly darker theme than the necklace, to reflect the longer winter nights rather than the frosty mornings! I completed it with a royal blue painted inside and complementary gold trim, to add a bit of that Christmas sparkle – the light in the darkness.

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I am so pleased with how it all came together and I really, really hope that it helps Parcel Hero to reach their target of £1,500 this year. If you would like to bid on my box and necklace you can do so here. Bidding starts at just 99p and postage is completely free.

But don’t just stop there – why not check out the amazing range of hand decorated boxes complete with wonderful gifts inside. There really is something for everyone, and if there’s someone on your list you have yet to find the perfect gift for, you may just find the answer on eBay!

Some of my favourites include the:

  • “Live The Life You Love” Box, which has inspirational quotes, 3 healing crystals (I spot rose quartz, clear quartz, and a heart which may be moonstone, perhaps?), and a sweet Christmas decoration. It is a really lovely selection, and having realised it was made by the wonderful Becky of Baby Budgeting I am not surprised – Becky is so lovely! I may even have to drop a few hints about how much I love this box, to see if Santa may make a bid or two for me…
  • Crocheted Wrist Warmers in a Fashion Styled Box, because who doesn’t love a good pair of wrist warmers for the bitterly cold days ahead? They look both warm and snuggly and gorgeously detailed, and as a fellow crocheter I can appreciate the work that would have gone into them. They were made by Vicky of Blush Crafts, which is a blog that is immediately going on my bloglovin list!
  • Christmas Stars in a Christmas Box, which contains enough golden stars to really add a bit of sparkle to your Christmas tree. It was made by Natasha of Serenity You, another blog I am going to enjoy exploring! I love the fact that the box itself is so clearly made for Christmas – can you imagine bringing it out year after year, maybe filling it with small after dinner treats or little inspirational quotes to hand out at the end of the day, making the magic last that little bit longer?

There are so many more boxes than this in the auction, so please do pop along and have a look. You can find all of the listings by checking out the Parcel Hero eBay listings page, or you can see updates about each item on their blog.

Handmade pumpkins

Handmade Halloween Home

Halloween Kids Art

Halloween is a big thing here at The Patch. We just love this time of year, the autumn colours, the cooler weather (and snuggling up warm in the evenings) , and celebrations galore. Halloween is the first, quickly followed by Guy Fawkes, and then it’s not long before the run up to Christmas. We all need reasons to celebrate during these colder, darker months and there’s nothing we need more in our family right now than some cheer during the harsher season.

I know Halloween can be a bit of a tricky holiday for some, and I thought about explaining how we celebrate it, but in the end I decided I didn’t really want to do that. What I want to do is share with you the way we have made Halloween our own this year.

It’s the first year that Little Man has really been able to grasp the concept of celebrating and the changing of the seasons, so we have had fun doing autumn and Halloween crafts with him. We’ve done lots of art, hung on the wall (under our Wheel of the Year display) as directed by Little Man himself (hence the higgledy piggledy nature of the display!)

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We have also made pumpkins… there’s the decoupage pumpkin we did together (or rather mummy did most of because Little Man didn’t like being sticky!) And the crochet pumpkin I made.

Handmade pumpkins

And then there are the actual pumpkins… as we have been ill lately, I am rather behind in Halloween preparations and so we haven’t actually carved the pumpkins this year. I am still debating whether to carve them when Little Man gets home from nursery or whether to simply cook something with them for tea, to eat whilst answering the door to the multitude of Trick or Treaters we are bound to get.

And talking of Trick or Treaters, this year I have bought some non-food related treats to put in the bowl, as inspired by my US friend Jen and the Teal Pumpkin Project. The idea is that some kids can’t take part because they have allergies and cannot eat the things we hand out, so it’s nice to have a non-food alternative for these kids. As someone who struggles with food intolerances (not even allergies!) I knew it was something I wanted to try and incorporate. I’ll print out a sign for our door so people know we do have food-free treats (you can get these online).

I scoured the shops and found these ghost bottles of blowing bubbles so decided they would be fun. To bulk up the treat bags I have added some monster stickers and Halloween balloons. Here’s hoping no-one has a latex allergy, hey?!

Non Food Halloween Treat Bags Teal Pumpkin Project

I wasn’t sure how many to get, after all the novelty of bubbles after lots of sweets may be tempting even for kids who can eat the chocolates we bought, but I didn’t want to be left with loads of bubbles afterwards if no one took them. So this is definitely a trial run! Any that are left can still be used next year.

We decided on treat bags this year as it means we can make sure all the kids get a nice treat. The food ones all include a small treat-sized chocolate bar or bag of cookies, plus a smaller chewy sweet and either one sticker or one balloon. I had so much fun putting them together – I think I may have overdone it and so sent a dozen to work with TJ today too!

We usually go all out for Halloween decorations too, but most are cheap ones from the supermarket that do not last. This year we wanted to add some extra special bits, so aside from our own handmade items we bought something too…

Handmade Halloween wreath from Ashleigh's

It is hanging inside our door (to keep it safe), hence the very orange photo as our hallway doesn’t have any natural light!

I bought this from someone I know through the HG world who has set up her own handmade business. Ashleigh’s Wonderland is filled to the brim with the most gorgeous handmade Christmas decorations and I cannot recommend her work highly enough. She made a few Halloween items earlier this year and I had to buy one of her rag wreaths. Just look at it!

Halloween Wreath close up

Isn’t it marvellous? She has added some truly charming details to it, like Halloween shaped buttons above. I love the colour combinations too… and we have two felt decorations to match!

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They’ve all been sitting in a bag for weeks now waiting to come out and I am so excited to see them hanging in my hallway. It will last us for many, many years and it only cost £20 which is an absolute bargain when you consider the cost of materials and the time it must have taken to make. Seriously, do check out Ashleigh’s other work and see if anything takes your fancy.

Finally, I couldn’t end this post without letting you see Little Man’s make-up for today’s celebrations. He’s gone to nursery with two little pumpkins on his face (the theme was orange and black) as I didn’t have time to sort out a costume for him. Isn’t he cute?

Kids pumpkin face paint

And that’s it from me. A quick peek into our Handmade Halloween Home, I do hope you liked it. Tell me, do you decorate at Halloween?

crochet fingerless gloves

What We’re Working On: Crochet Fingerless Gloves

Welcome to a brand new feature here at the Patch – “What We’re Working On”. It’s my version of a “Work-In-Progress” (WIP) round-up, to share some of the fantastic patterns I’ve come across and enjoyed making. I’m going to try and stick to a theme for each round-up, because at the moment my focus is on using up my yarn stash to create handmade gifts for the wealth of birthdays we have in the autumn and (dare I say it?) Christmas. There’s nothing nicer than making a gift for someone, because no matter how small they know it will have taken time and effort. Last year Little Man made his own Christmas wrapping paper, and I am so excited to see what he can get up to this year now that he is a little bit older! I’m also looking forward to making things for Halloween and keeping warm throughout the autumn months too. But for now, let’s get cracking with my first post – fingerless gloves. crochet fingerless gloves This first pair was a absolute dream to make. Despite messing up my stitch count the first time (skipping 3 stitches instead of 2 and making the first glove way too tight) I still managed to start again and complete the pair in just one evening. But don’t let the simplicity fool you… the gloves are very pretty, without being overly fancy. The v-stitch design gives it a lovely finish and the ribbing around the wrists is a great touch. V Stitch Fingerless Gloves Crochet The pattern I used for these gloves can be found both on ravelry.com and the designer’s own blog. She writes on her blog post about how she came about creating this design, which I loved reading, as it is always nice to find the story behind a piece! I made these using Sublime Baby Cotton Kapok (DK) , which is a yarn I discovered when Black Sheep Wools kindly donated 30 balls of it for my Nine Months Of Crochet Challenge last year. I fell in love with the yarn straight away and went out to buy some extra balls just for my own use, and this is what I used some of it for. My next pair is still very much a work in progress… want to see? Crochet Star Stitch The reason this is still a work in progress (WIP) is not because it takes very long – the pattern is really quite simple – but because the star stitch is a new one for me and it took me a while to figure it out. I’ve steered clear of fancy stitches like this for far too long… this pattern has actually been in my ravelry queue for years! But I don’t know why, because it really isn’t that hard once you get the hang of it. However I did have to search for a video tutorial on youtube to figure it out initially, as I just couldn’t make sense of written instructions at all!

Isn’t it pretty though? If you want to learn how to create it I highly recommend checking out this video by New Stitch A Day on You Tube. If you want to try the pattern for the fingerless gloves which uses this stitch, it is right here.

I am making these using rico creative cotton in fuschia. I love rico yarns and have done ever since I found them when pregnant. I am very limited to the fibres I can use due to eczema on my hands and so good quality cotton yarn which is also available on a low budget is a winner in my book! That’s all I’ve been working on this week, but I’m going to cheat right here and share with you a pair I made at the end of my pregnancy. I know we’re not working on them right now, but they do fit the theme, so I’ve decided it’s okay! Shell Wrist Warmers Crochet Unlike the other two, these do not have a thumb hole because they are officially “wrist warmers” rather than fingerless gloves. However I have found that you can easily (and comfortably) poke your thumb through a gap at the base of each shell if you want to use them as fingerless gloves instead. As I say, I made these when pregnant, so several years ago now, meaning I actually cannot remember the specific yarn I used. I know it was a super soft acrylic yarn but that’s about all I remember. If you want to have a go at the pattern, it is one by Drops Designs and can also be found on ravelry here.