Saturday, December 26, 2015

DIY Nutcracker Creche or Playset

For Christmas this year I thought it would be fun to make a Nutcracker themed Christmas decoration.  The framing from the stage gives it a sort of Creche-like appearance.  Based off a play set you can buy (if you don't want to make one yourself)

The Characters:
I cut the figures roughly out of balsa wood, then refined them with sandpaper.  I used a hot knife (a knife blade attachment to a wood burning kit) for cutting the balsa wood, which worked pretty well.  For the fine details, I used large grit sandpaper if I needed to completely re-shape something, or fine grit to just smooth edges. 
Here you can see a rough cut (right) and sanded (left) present box

I painted the figures using basic kids acrylic paints and simple shapes and patterns.  I started by painting the background colors first (boots, pants, jacket, face) then adding details on top (buttons, eyes, mouth). Spaces I couldn't cut out (eg the triangle under the arm) I left un-painted so that it blended in with the bases.
Here you can see the characters in various stages of painting

I broke two of the characters while cutting them out (an arm and a sword) and used wood glue to put them back together.

For the bases I bought little round wood circles at a craft shop.  The characters wouldn't stand on their own, so  I cut out triangles of balsa wood and used wood glue to attach them to the bases.  

Once the triangles were secured, I next wood-glued the characters to the bases and triangles (in front of the triangles).   

I then painted the backs of the characters white.  I left the bases un-painted.  

The scenery was made in a similar fashion, with triangle supports to help hold them up. 

The bulbs on the tree are just single dots of gold or red with a smaller dot of white in the upper left corner of each.

For the presents I made 4 separate boxes, then layered them across the base.

The curtains are three pieces (top and two sides) with diamond embellishments to help glue the pieces together.  There are also rectangle embellishments on the back to further secure the pieces together. The curtains sit on two stands with very large triangle supports.

A few of the characters up close:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Free Dinosaur Hat Knitting Chart

I've been learning how to knit (poorly) and started designing my own two-tone patterns. 

I used worsted weight wool and US 7 round needles.  Cast on is 120; each dinosaur is 30 wide and 25 tall (23 tall if you ignore the bottom two rows). 

I would recommend a knit-purl for the bottom 6 rows before you start the second color, but obviously I didn't actually do that for this hat. Click on the image of the chart for the larger version

 The orange bars are not part of the pattern, they just show where to put the yarn markers

To finish the pattern I did: 
1) knit 11, k2tog*, repeat thru 1 round
2) knit 1 round
3) knit 10, k2tog, repeat thru 1 round
4) knit 1 round
5) knit 9, k2tog, repeat thru 1 round
6) knit 1 round
7) knit 8, k2tog, repeat thru 1 round
8) knit 1 round
9) knit 7, k2tog, repeat thru 1 round
10) knit 1 round
11) knit 6, k2tog, repeat thru 1 round
12) knit 1 round
13) knit 5 k2tog thru 1 round, 
14) knit 4 k2tog thru 1 round,
15) knit 3 k2tog thru 1 round,
16) knit 2 k2tog thru 1 round,
17) knit 1 k2tog thru 1 round,
18) k2tog 1 round
Use darning needle to tie off.

*k2tog - grab two stitches instead of one and knit them together to decrease the total number of stitches by one