Every December from 2006 to 2015 (with only one year off) I designed and made a PlanetJune Poinsettia. As a multi-crafter, it was a fun challenge to keep making the same thing using different tools and materials and slightly different styles, but I’ve let the project drop for the past few years.
But, after designing a new crocheted poinsettia for my Christmas Decor pattern collection this year, I was inspired to revisit my poinsettia collection this holiday and add another craft to the collection: needlefelting!
This Poinsettia is made from Lion Brand Spinnables roving, sent to me by a kind friend many years ago, and it’s been sitting in my craft stash since then, just waiting for inspiration to strike! The most interesting part about Spinnables is that it’s 100% acrylic roving. It’s very soft and fine and has some very pretty and muted variegated colours.
Although Spinnables has the benefit of being completely non-itchy for my wool-sensitive fingers, I found it more challenging to felt than natural fibre roving, so I kept my poinsettia very simple and didn’t worry about making it too perfect – after all, real plants aren’t perfect either.
I’m not going to write up a tutorial for this poinsettia:
If you know how to needlefelt, it should be fairly obvious how to assemble it by making 12 individual leaves and 3 balls, and felting them together.
If you’re new to needlefelting, I recommend you find a book or YouTube tutorial to cover the basics, then look for a tutorial on how to felt animal ears – the leaf shape is very similar to an ear, so that should give you the idea of how to form a leaf shape.
And now let’s take a look at my entire collection to date…
The Poinsettia Collection
11 poinsettia designs – it’s a real collection, spanning 14 years!
(You can find almost all my Poinsettia designs as PDFs in my shop, or use the links above for the free online versions of most of them.)
Which is your favourite?
I don’t know if I’ll continue adding to this collection, but I suspect I’ll be drawn back to it again and again in future – I’ll leave it flexible and just add a new poinsettia whenever the inspiration strikes.
I love seeing how similar and yet different these all look together, and how it’s a tangible record of many different crafts I’ve played with over the years. I wonder what else I could make a poinsettia from..?
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my collection, and maybe it’ll inspire you to try (or re-try) a different type of crafting this holiday! 🙂
Yesterday, I took the opportunity to learn more about photography and plants at a photowalk workshop hosted by Colour Paradise Greenhouses and taught by local photographer Abbi Longmire. It was a great pairing – Abbi encouraged us to experiment with our cameras, and the greenhouse offered beautiful and varied subjects to photograph (and maybe some ideas for future PlanetJune plant designs…)
I used the manual (M) setting on my camera for the first time ever(!) and, after a shaky start, ended up with some half-decent shots. I thought I’d share my favourites with you – bear in mind that composition etc is not my strong suit and I’m very much a beginner at this type of photography!
(These are unprocessed, out-of-the-camera shots – all I did was resize them to blog size.)
Not too bad, are they? 🙂
Thanks to Abbi and Colour Paradise for the inspirational afternoon! I hope I’ll be able to bring what I learnt into my nature photography, and maybe even my pattern photos…
For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a collaboration with my mum, Lilian Linden, who is an acclaimed Scottish music pianist and the founder of the Invercauld Scottish Dance band.
For three decades, Mum has been composing original music ranging from lively jigs and reels to traditional strathspeys and lyrical slow airs, and now we’ve collected them all for the first time in her own music book, The Lilian Linden Collection of Scottish Music!
From learning how to use professional quality music notation software to create the sheet music (mostly Mum’s side of the collaboration), through designing, editing, laying out and publishing the book (mostly my contribution), via endless international Skype calls to progress the project, publishing this book has been a new challenge for both of us, but we’re delighted with the result.
Doesn’t it look good?
When I visited my parents last week, Mum and I had a final check of the proof copy to make sure it was 100% perfect, and now it’s up on amazon and available to purchase worldwide!
Amazon links: US, UK, CA, DE – and you can also find it on all the other Amazon international sites by searching for “Lilian Linden”. 🙂
If you know anyone who enjoys playing Scottish or Celtic music or who plays for Scottish dancing or ceilidhs, please let them know about this book. It includes 33 original tunes with chords, and is intended to be played primarily on piano, accordion and/or fiddle.
I’m so proud of Mum for all the work she’s put into this project and for finally getting all her original music published in print form. Please leave my mum (Lilian) a comment to congratulate her on this huge achievement!
As always, I was not compensated for this review, and the following is based on my honest opinions!
Making Pipe Cleaner Pets by Takashi Morito was originally published in Japanese, and has now been translated into English.
I’ve previously reviewed another translated-from-Japanese craft book (Crafting with Cat Hair) and, like that book, this is another book of adorable crafts you’d probably never think of making until you see the book!
Throughout, this book has a very Japanese aesthetic. On the photo pages, the dogs are posed in cute tableaus with a variety of unrelated props – books, craft supplies, crackers – and a haiku-esque poem to introduce each dog, for example:
The morning air feels good
Now, we’ll all play ball
And bathe in the morning sun
The overall effect is charming in that bizarre Japanese craft book kind of way.
(I should mention that ‘Making Pipe Cleaner Pets‘ is a bit of a misnomer if you’re looking for a variety of pets – this is a book of dogs. It has designs for 23 different dog breeds, plus puppy-sized miniature versions of several of the breeds.)
A few more of the included dog breeds.
After the cute photo gallery of all the dogs, we get to the tutorials for how to make them. The first three dogs (Toy Poodle, Pug, Boston Terrier) have detailed step-by-step instructions, including both a diagram of each step and a photo of the result.
Those three designs teach you the basic techniques you’ll need to make all the dogs. The other 20 dog breeds have text and diagrams only, but the basic idea is the same for all the dogs, so you’ll rarely need to look back once you’ve tackled a couple of the easier dogs.
I found the perfect pack of pipe cleaner colours (two browns, grey, white and black) and got started! I planned to make 2 or 3 dogs, to give myself a chance to get the hang of the technique.
First up, I tried the Toy Poodle, the first and apparently easiest dog in the book:
My completed effort definitely looked like a dog, but nothing like a poodle! The legs were too short, so I decided to embrace that: I shortened them further by folding over the ends, and reshaped the face a bit (by squashing it around), and now it’s a dachshund puppy. 🙂
For my next attempt, I thought I’d try the actual Dachshund model:
I felt like the proportions in the instructions weren’t quite right, so I lengthened the body and shortened the legs as I made my initial bends in the pipe cleaner, and I think it looks pretty good!
Okay, I’m getting the hang of this now; time to step it up a notch with a multi-colored dog. I tried the Jack Russell Terrier:
I like the result – the head colours are good – but I somehow made it all a bit skinny (my fault, not the book’s). I think mine has a bit of greyhound in him 😉
And then the Pug:
I learnt from my mistakes and used the basic method from the book, but tweaked all the proportions to be more suited to how I think a pug should look. I ended up with lots of the dark brown showing on the back of the head, so I wove a bit more of the light-coloured pipe cleaner over to hide that. What a cute pug face!
After making a few dogs, you get a feel for what you’re doing, as the basic concept is very similar for all the dogs. I decided to make some modifications for my last two dogs…
The Miniature Schnauzer model seemed like a bit of a cheat to me – the white beard and eyebrows were formed separately and glued into place! Instead, I used what I’d learned from the Pug and built the beard into the face.
And finally, the Corgi. I used the book for the face colours, but built the body myself, plumping it up and omitting the tail completely.
The advantage of this book is that, as all the dogs are constructed along the same principles, once you’ve made a few, you should be able to get a bit more creative and extend the same principles to different animals. I thought I’d test my theory by trying – what else – a grey cat!
I basically made another dog, but tweaked all the proportions as I went (shorter muzzle and ears, wider face, longer neck, etc) to make it more feline. The great thing about pipe cleaner models is they are completely poseable, so it’s easy to adjust the leg positions, add a curve to the back, or reposition the tail, if you decide it doesn’t look quite right.
The book suggests some finishing touches – glued-on plastic eyes and noses, trimming some of the pipe cleaner fuzz to make e.g. pointier ears, and an occasional glued-on mouth or tongue. Even my smallest (4.5mm) animal eyes are too large for my dogs, so I decided to keep my dogs (and cat) as pure pipe cleaners. I’m sure they’d look even cuter with faces, but I like them as they are, and I like that there aren’t any glued-on parts this way – they are simply twisted pipe cleaners and nothing more.
The first stumbling block is that all the designs in this book use 1m (40 inch) long pipe cleaners, which may be common in Japan, but I’ve never seen in all my years and countries of craft shopping! The book instructs that you can instead twist multiple regular-length pipe cleaners together to make a long one, but I’d recommend you use one at a time, and twist on a new one as you reach the end of the old one – it’s a lot more manageable that way. I used 3 or 4 pipe cleaners for the main colour of each dog (and 1 or 2 of any secondary colour).
All the dogs’ muzzles are made by coiling the pipe cleaner and then feeding the remaining end through the middle of the coil. I found this to be impossibly difficult to do neatly, until I coiled the pipe cleaner around a narrow tube (I used a small knitting needle), which gave perfectly round coils, and a nice space in the middle for feeding the end through.
I found the concept of pipe cleaner dog models to be fun, but it was more challenging than I’d expected. Although it looks like a kid’s craft, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for young children – it’s not easy to make a dog that looks like the photos! Teens with good dexterity and patience may enjoy making dogs, and it’s great for crafty adults like me.
The dogs are very cute and fun to pose, but there’s a bit of a learning curve, and every dog will end up with its own personality, no matter how closely you follow the directions. But that variation is part of the enjoyment of making things by hand: I feel it adds to the charm – just like a litter of real puppies, you never know exactly how each one will look until you see it!
If you persevere through a couple of practice runs, you’ll be able to make cute pipe cleaner pups too, and, once you’ve made a few dogs, you’ll see how the general idea works, and be able to try designing your own animals, if you want.
If you’re looking for an unusual craft to try, I can recommend Making Pipe Cleaner Pets as a fun diversion, and a great introduction to sculpting pipe cleaner animals!