Whew it’s been while since I managed to get anything up on here. Between the summer holidays and technology failing it’s all been against me. But I’m back today with a tutorial that’s perfect to keep you and the kids occupied as the light draws in and the days get increasingly cold. Learn how to make pompom animals and you have hours of activities at your fingertips. They can be themed (robins & snowmen are great for Christmas) made large or small and the range of possibilities is limited only by your imagination! Today we’ll be making a bird pompom animal (actually inspired by our Quail).
What You’ll Need
Pompom maker – of course you can make these the old fashioned way with circles of cardboard but these little machines are super cheap and easy to use, I’ve even seen them in the pound-shop.
Take your pompom maker and open up the sides completely. Begin winding your wool around one of the arms until it’s nice and thickly covered. Do the same with the other arm, for our bird we used a lighter coloured wool on the second side.
Fold both arms back into the centre of the pompom maker. Cut between the gaps in the arms (see pic) do this for both sides. Using some extra wool tie all the way around the pompom through the same gap where you just cut with the scissors. Tie up tightly.
Open up both arms again, your pompom should stay put. Pull the pompom maker apart and you should have a lovely squishy pompom. Trim off any excess wool until you’re happy with the shape.
Cut out felt shapes for the feet, if you’re making a bird a small square folded in half makes a great beak. Glue into place on the pompom (fabric glue works very well). Then stick on a pair of googly eyes and you have one happy little pompom creature.
Last weekend the family and I whizzed off for a mini break full of Medieval fantasy and Knightly charm. Sit back and enjoy our Knight’s Village at Warwick Castle review complete with a mini video tour of a Knight’s lodge!
Staying on a weekend in the middle of the Summer holidays at a hugely popular tourist destination might seem a bit mad but that’s the beauty of Warwick Castle, no matter how busy it is (and it was!) there’s always plenty to see with outdoor displays such as falconry or jousting and most of the indoor areas require no queueing. There’s also the brand new outdoor Horrible Histories maze which is definitely worth a visit. To see some of our favourite attractions take a look at some of my previous posts.
The Knight’s Village has its own dedicated parking area within the large main car park which is brilliant if you’ve just had a long drive. Check in is technically from 3pm but every overnight stay comes with two days entry to the castle so it’s worth getting there early and checking your bags in at reception so you can enjoy a full day of fun. The Knights village also has its own priority entrance into the castle which means no queues!
After a long hot day we were all very tired as we bumbled back to the village. We were met at the gate where staff asked for our name and immediately gave us our lodge’s keycard (no waiting at reception as we’d arrived early).
The Knight’s Lodges
The lodges are all semi-detached buildings hosting up to 5 guests in two bedrooms plus an en-suite wet room. Note. There are larger lodges available for bigger parties.
Every lodge boasts an outdoor deck with medieval style bench. Ours faced straight towards an open area with huge trees and a large wooden wagon, it was perfect for keeping an eye on the kids as they played.
Each lodge has a theme of either Archer or Falconer, ours was a Falconers and was decorated with Falconry equipment hanging on the wall.
The interior decoration is wonderful and really enhances the experience of staying by the castle, it also seems to excite children exponentially! The beds are also really really comfy.
On a personal note I was impressed with the Elemis toiletries in the bathroom and having the wet room to wash off my grimy mini knights definitely helped!
Take a look at just how great the lodges our in this mini video tour.
To be honest the kids hardly needed any extra entertainment. The Knight’s Village was pretty full and it seemed that every child was out of their lodges/tents and making friends. Our three immediately knew the names of every child staying nearby and at every available opportunity they were all outside playing. It was a huge gathering of miniature knights and princesses and they all had a fantastic time and didn’t want to leave their new friends.
As for the organised entertainment there’s have a go archery (with long bows) which is amazing!
Knight’s Training Camp which all the children loved!
There’s even a school for Jesters!
We also paid a little extra (the rest of the activities are free) to get up close and personal with a bird of prey experience where we got to fly some of the castles falcons. This has to be my favourite activity as I’ve always wanted to try it.
We didn’t eat in the Knight’s Village, instead opting to walk into Warwick for Fish and Chips but the staff were supremely helpful even providing a map and recommendations.
In the morning breakfast was an all you can eat buffet with continental and cooked options, fruit, cereals and even freshly cooked pancakes. I love breakfasts like this because they suit everyone no matter how picky.
Could our stay have been improved in anyway?
I could only think of teeny tiny mini niggles but here goes.
The Lodge only had two mugs inside – considering that it will almost exclusively be families staying it seems a bit bizarre to only provide two of the guests with drinking facilities. Kids get thirsty quickly and access to a glass of water would have been helpful. Thankfully we’d taken bottles with us. However I’m sure you could request extra cups from reception as we requested soya milk and extra teabags and were immediately accommodated. I just think they ought to be there as standard really.
If you find you can’t get the TV to work (we couldn’t at first) it’s probably because of the fabulous gold frame around the outside, a quick change of position solves this though.
Would I recommend staying in the Knight’s Village?
Most definitely, it was more than just a stay, it was a real experience and one which we will all remember. The kids are asking to go back and I think visiting during a busy time when there are lots of other little ones to play with is actually an unexpected bonus. From a parents point of view it’s great to be able to sit on your deck watching the kids with a cup of tea and let them have that little bit of independence while keeping a close eye.
We have always loved the castle anyway and there’s more than enough to fill two days, so staying overnight really enhances your visit. It actually allowed us to take a leisurely pace and really enjoy all the exhibits rather than rushing about trying not to miss anything.
It’s been quite a while since I last posted a tutorial and with the summer holidays in full swing that (hopefully) means extra time on your hands for getting crafty. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to reuse coffee sacks and make a coffee sack bag!
I love old coffee sacks with their rustic charm but finding a use for them can be harder than you think. They’re made for strength which means the material can be quite rough with a largish weave. They’d make great looking cushions but you might not enjoy leaning against them but their hardwearing nature makes them perfect for a shopping bag tote!
What You’ll Need
1 Coffee Sack
Colourful/patterned fabric to use as lining
Fabric to make bag handles (needs to be reasonably strong, not a lightweight cotton)
Give the sacks a good wash, it’s easiest to do this in a rubber tub outside if you can, then peg up on a washing line to drip dry.
Once dry cut out two large rectangles from the sack, both the same size as each other. The actual size you cut will depend on the design printed on your sack and how large a bag you want to make. As long as both rectangles are the same size it doesn’t really matter.
Using your lining fabric cut another two rectangles the same size as those made from the coffee sack.
Now take the fabric you have chosen for the bag handles and cut two identical long rectangles of fabric (length is dependent on how long you want you handles). Fold each long rectangle in half and iron to make a centre crease. Unfold the rectangle, fold each of the cut edges into the centre meeting the ironed crease, iron into place and then refold in half. This should enclose the cut edges. Sew along the open side.
The handles can now be sewn onto the right side of each coffee sack rectangle along the top short edge.
Next sew the top edges of the lining fabric rectangles to the top edges of the coffee sack rectangles (right sides together). The handles will hang between these two layers.
You can now sew the whole bag together. Unfold the lining and coffee sack piece that you sewed together in the last step. Lay with the right side up onto a table, then lay the other coffee sack/lining piece on top so that the right sides of the fabric are together. It will make one large rectangle which you sew all the way around leaving a gap at the bottom of the lining.
Before turning the right way we’re going to give the base of the bag some structure. To do this you need to squash each of the four corners to make a triangle and then sew straight across (see pic), do this to each of the corners. If you’re unfamiliar with this technique then check out this tutorial on the sewing directory. Trim off the excess fabric.
Now turn the entire piece the right way out through the gap left in the lining. Sew closed the gap in the lining and push inside the bag.
Optional Step: Once the bag is complete you can top stitch around the top edge of the bag to give a good finish and extra rigidity.
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