Free and Easy

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

mobile library

Going to the library is fun.  Browsing the books, choosing something you like and taking it home for weeks at a time.  For nothing.  This is something to be truly appreciated and not taken for granted.

If we don’t use it, we might lose it 😮

If you live in the sticks like us, miles from the nearest library building, there might be a mobile library that visits your area.  They usually come by every couple of weeks.  Contact your local county council to find out where and when your mobile library is coming next 🙂

The Andersons’ Bus Part Two

For those who don’t know who the Andersons are, they are characters in one of our stories – a vegan family who live in an old bus. Look here

Anyway, I had such fun building a model of their bus last week that I didn’t want to stop there – I had to furnish it!  Now, before I show you what I did I want you to bear in mind that I have no previous experience of doing anything like this and I just made it up as I went along.  So forgive its many imperfections and picture how much I enjoyed doing it – that’s the main thing 😉

First I re-opened the cardboard model and carefully cut out its windows with a tiny pair of nail scissors

First I re-opened the cardboard model and carefully cut out its windows with a tiny pair of nail scissors

Then I cut out some clear plastic from an old fruit punnet and stuck it on the inside.  Now my windows have  'glass'!

Then I cut out some clear plastic from an old fruit punnet and stuck it on the inside. Now my windows have ‘glass’!

I covered the inside with decorative paper ...

I covered the inside with decorative paper …

... and stuck on some cupboards and a woodburner on one side, and drew some storage racks above the windows.

… and stuck on some cupboards and a woodburner on one side, and drew some storage racks above the windows.

I found some boxes of matches in the drawer and decided my husband wouldn't mind if I used the boxes - I left him the bit with the striking strip!

I found some boxes of matches in the drawer and decided my husband wouldn’t mind if I used the boxes – I left him the bit with the striking strip!

I made one of them into a bookcase and used the other two to raise the bus floor so that it was above the wheels.

I made one of them into a bookcase and used the other two to raise the bus floor so that it was above the wheels.

I drew shelves and books on the shelves ...

I drew shelves and books on the shelves …

... and coloured them with coloured pencils.

… and coloured them with coloured pencils.

Looking at the pictures I’d drawn of the inside of the bus in episode 1, I wanted to make furniture to match – ish.  So I needed a driver’s seat with a partition behind; a table and chairs behind that; and a settee behind that.  I made these out of cardboard and stuck them to another piece of cereal box, the same size as the bus roof, covered in decorative paper for the floor.  They are very basic, and too wide which is why I only had room to draw the furniture on the other side of the bus, but it doesn’t matter, I can still get a feel of how things are laid out in Old Red.

11 fully furnished

15 drivers seat

I see now that the driver’s seat is waaay too big! Oh well.

Then I re-closed the outside of the bus and slotted it over the inside.

Then I re-closed the outside of the bus and slotted it over the inside.

And you can see the furniture through the windows

And you can see the furniture through the windows

And look - there's people inside! Denzel is cleverly disguised as a spaniel and Casey is also in fancy dress - but honestly, it is them!

And look – there’s people inside! Denzel is cleverly disguised as a spaniel and Casey is also in fancy dress as a knight – but honestly, it is them!

Old Red

Old Red.  What fun! Why don’t you make one?

Make a bus like the Andersons’ Old Red

cardboard bus

Take a look at Old Red in The English Family Anderson and have a go at making a model bus just like it 🙂

You’ll need:

some cardboard, a pencil, a rubber, a pen, some paint, some scissors, a ruler and some sticky tape.

some cardboard, a pencil, a rubber, a pen, some paint, some scissors, a ruler and some sticky tape.

measuring it out

First measure out the shape of the bus.  Using a cereal box made it easy because I could use the side as the roof (so it already had neat folds).  The front needs to be the same width as the roof; make the length at least twice the width of the bus.  Mine came out a bit short but you can make yours as long as you’ve got room for on your cardboard.

Once you’ve got the two sides, roof and front measured out you can draw in the details.  My bus is open at the back because I want to be able to furnish the inside later, but if you’ve got a long enough piece of card you can draw a back too (see the video at the bottom for how it should all be laid out).

front

windows

windows and door

When you’ve got it all mapped out, go over all the good lines in pen.

pen

Then rub out all the untidy planning lines you don’t want anymore.

rub out pencil lines

Then paint it 🙂

paint

When it’s dry, cut it out:

cut it out

Now you’ve just got to fold it and stick it.  If you’ve used a box like I have, you should already have good tidy creases between the sides and roof, but you’ll need to score a neat crease where the front folds to meet the other side.  Carefully place a ruler on the wrong side (inside) of the bus, along the line where you want to fold it, and score a line with your scissors.

score

NB: If you want to furnish the inside of the bus then take a look at this before you stick it together.  Then put a piece of tape on the top and side edge of the front of the bus (again on the wrong side)

tape

Then you can fold it and stick it to the top and other side of the bus.

It’s a bit fiddly but you’ll get there 🙂

And there you have it!

cardboard bus

model 2

model 3

I got this idea from Dylan Bryan.

Watch him do it (especially look out for his mum interrupting) I love this video* 🙂

* sadly, Dylan’s video is now deleted from youtube 😦

If you want to furnish your bus, go to Part 2 🙂

Say it with knitting!

knit writing

Whether it be on your clothes, a cushion cover or a patchwork blanket – you can say it with knitting!

First of all decide what you want to write.  Then make a plan.

You’ll need some squared paper which you can buy or make yourself.  Each square on the paper will represent one stitch on your needle.  So number the squares and then mark out whatever you want to write in knitting.  Once you’ve worked out how many stitches wide your whole piece will be you can cast on in your background colour, and have your contrasting colour ready to use when you come to the stitches mapped out on your plan.  As you change colours you just string the other colour across the back of the knitting ready to use next time that colour is required by your plan – you don’t cut – just keep changing between colours while keeping all yarns attached until you’ve completed your design.

knit plan

It’s important to make sure you’re counting from the right direction so that your writing comes out the right way round.  Look what happens if you don’t:

knitting word backwards

This should read NEVER TRUST A MAN IN A SUIT but the words A MAN have come out backwards because the stitches were counted from the wrong direction – ie On your plan, on a purl row the stitches should be counted from the left and on a knit row you count from the right.  Let me show you what I mean.

knit plan 2

In this picture the purl rows are indicated in purple and the knit rows in red.  When you want to produce an image or writing on your knitting you have to remember you’ll be building from the bottom right.  So, if you’re following your own pattern, starting the bottom line of your words with a knit row, you need to count from the right.  For example, the first stitch for which you’d use a different colour in this example would be the 21st stitch of a knit row which is the tail of the G.  Then, on the next row, the first purl stitch for which you’d use a different colour would be the 6th, for the bottom of the V.

Does that make sense?

So that’s it.  Be a crafty activist and make your own outspoken jumpers, hats, scarves and blankets 🙂

Oh, and if you don’t know how to knit but would like to learn, here’s a really good video to get you started:

For the right handed:

For the left handed:

Re-Knitting

knitting

Knitting is a very enjoyable hobby as well as being a very useful skill.  To be able to make your own clothes, toys and accessories is a brilliant way of being self-reliant and can also be eco-friendly.

As a vegan shopper you won’t want to buy wool or alpaca or silk, but as an eco-minded shopper you won’t want to buy acrylic.  The problem is that organic, eco-friendly, natural yarns are very expensive.

So what do you do if you can’t afford the eco-stuff?  Simple – you Re-Knit!

Browsing in charity shops and second hand shops you’re bound to find knitwear that is a pretty colour, but unattractive design.  If you buy it, wash it and unravel it, you can re-knit that colour into something beautiful.  It’s just another way to recycle, or upcycle if you like, and it’s very enjoyable and satisfying.  Here are a few things we made with unravelled yarn and oddments:

This matching hat and mittens was made by acrylic yarn unravelled from 2 different machine-knit jumpers. The problem with unravelling machine-knits is that the yarn is cut at the end of each row, it's not continuous like with hand-knits. So the ends of the yarn had to knotted together as each row was unravelled. Quite tedious and time-consuming but it results in interesting balls of yarn which, when knitted together, produce a unique effect. Leaving the dangling ends of each knot untrimmed creates a shabby chic effect .

This matching hat and mittens was made with acrylic yarn unravelled from 2 different machine-knit jumpers. The problem with unravelling mass-produced machine-knits is that the yarn is cut at the end of each row, it’s not continuous like with hand-knits. So the ends of the yarn had to knotted together as each row was unravelled. Quite tedious and time-consuming but it results in interesting balls of yarn which, when knitted together, produce a unique effect. Leaving the dangling ends of each knot untrimmed creates a shabby chic effect .

 

Blanket made by sewing together little knitted squares

Blanket made by sewing together little knitted squares

 

The yarn from these saggy old hats was unravelled and knitted into ...

The yarn from these saggy old hats was unravelled and knitted into …

... this gorgeous beret

… this gorgeous beret

An enjoyable way to give new life to old knitwear and keep it out of landfill 🙂

Don’t know how to knit?  No problem – watch this brilliant video:

And for the left-handed:

UPDATE:

I’ve just finished the hoodie I was knitting in the photo at the top.  I wanted a warm chunky knit but didn’t have any thick yarn so this is knitted with 3 strands of unravelled DK acrylic; lots of different colours and oddments.  It’s so soft and warm, like wrapping yourself in a blanket before you go outside.  Now I’ve just got to find a zip for it 🙂

upcycled knitting yarns

upcycled knitting yarns

upcycled knitting yarns

Further update:

I’ve just finished another one here and if you would like to make one yourself, the pattern is at the bottom of this post 🙂

Reflecto Girl Paper Doll

Make your own Reflecto Girl paper doll 🙂

All you need is some cardboard (maybe from  an old cereal box); some paper (I used the back of some sketchbook pages I'd already used); a pencil; some paint or crayons and some scissors (careful with those!)

All you need is some cardboard (maybe from an old cereal box); some paper (I used the back of some sketchbook pages I’d already used); a pencil; some paint or crayons and some scissors (careful with those!)

First draw a picture of Renee in her underwear

First draw a picture of Renee in her underwear (include a semi circle at the base which will form part of the stand)

colour her

colour her

cut her our (remembering to cut around the semi-circle at the base, not around her feet)

cut her out (remembering to cut around the semi-circle at the base, not around her feet)

You might find at this point that she flops over a little when you stand her up.  If so, you can draw around her on another piece of card, and make her stiffer by sticking that to the back with a little water-based glue

You might find at this point that she flops over a little when you stand her up. If so, you can draw around her on another piece of card, and make her stiffer by sticking that to the back with a little water-based glue

Now draw her some clothes.  I chose to draw her Reflecto Girl costume and her dungarees which she wore over her costume in episode 3 - but you can make any clothes you like, and as many as you like.  Place the cardboard doll on a piece of paper and draw round her.  You can hold them up on a window if you're having difficulty seeing through your paper (this will also help with seeing where the neck and feet are).  Once you have the outlines drawn, you can use your imagination in drawing the clothes.

Now draw her some clothes. I chose to draw her Reflecto Girl costume and her dungarees which she wore over her costume in episode 3 – but you can make any clothes you like, and as many as you like. Place the cardboard doll on a piece of paper and draw round her.  To draw where the feet and neck are on your clothes, hold the paper over the doll against a window and trace. Once you have the outlines drawn, you can use your imagination in drawing the clothes.  NB You must also remember to draw the tabs that will be folded round her body to attach the clothes.

Colour them in and cut them out.

Colour them in and cut them out.

Now you need to get her standing up by herself.  To do this you need a strip of cardboard into which you cut 2 slits (half the length of the width of the strip), the same distance from each end.  Then cut 2 slits of equal length in the semi-circle base of the doll (close but not too close to the outer edges).

Now you need to get her standing up by herself. To do this you need a strip of cardboard into which you cut 2 slits (half the length of the width of the strip), the same distance from each end. Then cut 2 slits of equal length in the semi-circle base of the doll (close but not too close to the outer edges).

Slot these pieces together like so.  And there she is, your own Reflecto Girl

Slot these pieces together like so. And there she is, your own Reflecto Girl!

Now you can dress her ...

Now you can dress her …

... and dress her again (and yes I have noticed that her feet don't quite line up with her shoes, but nobody's perfect, so let's not worry about it.

… and dress her again (and yes I have noticed that her shoes don’t quite line up with her feet, but nobody’s perfect, so let’s not worry about it).

We hope you enjoy making your own Reflecto Girl and if you do we’d love to see photos 🙂

And whenever you feel like it, you can make her more clothes and accessories.

Miranda wanted her to have some pyjamas and a doll to sleep with:

new pyjamas