I’ve been funded by Kilkenny Leader Partnership to tutor two community gardens during this past year and we’ve just finished the morning classes on a very festive note. For two days I was surrounded by ivy and spruce, laurel and holly which the gardeners wove into willow wound hoops and decorated with seed heads and cones.
Are you looking for an indoor activity that will entice kids of all ages away from the TV or computer for a couple of hours? If so these mini scarecrows can be made by young and old alike using household odds and ends.
How to make mini scarecrows
All you need to make these scarecrows are wooden spoons, pipe cleaners or lollypop sticks for the arms, permanent markers to draw on the faces (with googly eyes optional) and a selection of wool, fabrics, buttons & beads. Glue, staples or needles & thread can be used to fix the ‘clothes’ on or just tie them with wool or string.
Simply wrap a pipe cleaner around the wooden spoon, or fix a lollipop stick across it to form arms and tie them on securely with wool. Add fabric and accessories to create hair and clothing.
I found this activity very calming for all involved and enjoyed sitting down, letting the imagination run away with itself, and seeing how differently each of the mini scarecrows turned out, developing personalities as we clothed them.
Children might enjoy having a puppet show with the scarecrows when they’ve finished making them, before they’re finally placed into the garden to scare the birds away.
The joy of this activity is seeing where the imagination goes. Armed with the same bag of bits and bobs, every mini scarecrow is different. They can also be adapted for themes such as Halloween scarecrows, Christmas scarecrows. The only limiting factor is imagination!
If you’re looking for some more ideas that will help to keep kids away from the TV or computer, you might like some earlier blog posts.
I’d like to be able to give you a step by step guide on how to weave these willow and wool natural Christmas decorations, but I wouldn’t know where to begin!
Basically it’s a very simple weaving activity and if you’d like to have a go at making it, just look very carefully at the photo above and copy it. All you need are pieces of freshly cut willow trimmed to your desired size (ours are around 30cm) and some red wool to tie them together.
We were given one of these by a (then) 12 year old friend of the family who’d made it himself as a Christmas gift for our family. We’ve been making them as small gifts for friends every year since.
No matter how busy life gets, if you can find some time to make some naturally crafted decorations for Christmas, you’ll be pleased you made the effort. I used to look at people’s lovely festive door wreath’s longingly but they always seemed an unnecessary extravagance at a time of year when every cent counts. Eventually I had a go at making one for myself and have never looked back. Everything contained in the wreath above was foraged from the garden, the only cost being some forestry wire to hold some of the flora and fauna together.
Materials for a Natural Door Wreath
Four willow wands
(if you don’t have access to willow, garden centres or florists sell wire hoops, in which case you’d need to wrap them in moss first)
Seed heads and evergreens
(I’ve used Pittosporum, Hydrangea, Sedums, Hypericum, Rosemary and Ivy)
Twine to hang the wreath
Taking the first piece of willow, wind it into a circle shape. Tip: use fresh willow as it’s pliable. Then wind the next piece of willow around the circle, adding additional pieces until you have a chunky frame.
You can add more or less willow depending upon the size of wreath you’d like. Once you have the basic frame you can start threading the seeds heads and evergreens that you’ve gathered around it. When adding ‘features’ such as the Hydrangea, use odd numbers as they catch the eye.
Most of the materials can be tucked and threaded through the willow but you may have to tie florists wire around some to ensure they’re kept in place. This can be disguised towards the end by adding more greenery.
That’s pretty much it. Keep building up your design with more plant materials until you have your desired effect. It may take a bit of fiddling around and mind changing but that’s all part of it. I prefer a more natural look and we don’t have any red berries, but you can add ribbons and bells, dried orange slices, pine cones – whatever takes your fancy.
That’s all there is to it. Finally tie the twine to hang your wreath, stand back and enjoy. The first year I made one Mr G looked at it and said “where did you buy that”… “, I made it” I replied, “oh, I thought it looked too good for that”…. this year he’s learnt his lesson ;)
Postscript: Now my wreath’s been hanging on the door for a couple of hours I’m thinking it needs some Christmassy reds (though I’m not a big fan of red nylon ribbon). As Mr G wont let me use the last red chilli, I’m off to forage a few small red berries from the hedgerows…
Not quite veggie gardening, but they’re green! I’m talking about my new tie dye curtains for the little room in the house….
I’m delighted with the outcome and the cost. I have always liked the tie dye effect but have never tried doing it myself. However, I needed a set of curtains for the small toilet, couldn’t find a fabric I liked anywhere, so here was my chance.
Last year I’d picked up a huge dust sheet from Aldi made from 100% Cotton for just €7.00. I thought at the time that I could dye it and make a throw but never got around to it. I only needed half the quantity of fabric for this window and I picked up a cold water dye from town, followed the instructions on the box and voilà! I’m delighted with the tie dye result. Total cost: €8.80!
So how did I do it? I measured the window and cut the fabric roughly to size (I allowed quite a bit extra in case it shrank, which it didn’t as it happens). I then randomly bunched pieces of fabric together and tied them tightly with string. The dying instructions given with the dye were very easy to follow, which I did to the letter.
The exciting part is untying the bunches once the die has taken and the cloth has been hung out to dry… Will it, wont it work? What will it look like? Will I like it? There’s a great sense of childish anticipation!
If you’re interested in having a go at this inexpensive little project, there are LOTS of YouTube videos and websites explaining in detail how to achieve more intricate patterns. Mine really were just cobbled together.
Once dyed I attached the curtain header to the top, hemmed the sides and base, ironed each curtain using a damp cloth to protect before hanging them to the rail. Ta daa, job done.
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