Hanging Apple Ring Frame
At the turn of the autumn equinox, with days getting shorter, temperatures getting lower, earlier bedtimes and the school rhythm in full swing, I often realise that my handwork practice (if one could call it that) also transforms. Those long, ongoing summer projects that could have me focused for hours at a time on lazy pyjama days, or with the whole family gathered around the table during those long evenings, are now replaced with short, simple, individual crafts that can be done out and about, as a way to keep the practice going. On school days, my children are quite tired in the afternoons and have less ability to focus on an elaborate and long project, so doing little bits at a time works really well for us.
I’ve realised that short pockets of time such as car journeys, the dentist waiting room, the bench we stop on to rest on our walks, have become great opportunities to do meaningful handwork and make those little moments joyful. For that, I make sure I always have a few crafting essentials in my bag on top of the basic paper and crayons and/or pencils. A good folding knife and colourful yarn are my go to at the moment. With small children, I never know where I’ll end up and how long things take, so always be prepared.
Something that always works for us is finger knitting. Finding a colourful, thick yarn in natural materials makes it fun and attractive for little ones, and if you don't know how to do it this bare hand knitting book may inspire you. We turn our finger knitted cords into balls and use them for all sorts of things.
Here’s an idea for something you can do with them this autumn, a Hanging Apple Ring Frame:
This harvest moon has gifted us a generous amount of apples so we’ve decided that on top of processing it for puree, we’d try drying some. As I mentioned, I’ve become ‘on-the-go’ crafters, so we do an apple or two at a time. Watching the collection grow every time we add a new one is a wonderful sight. It is not only satisfying but a great opportunity for children to visualise time and understand process. It’s become a sort of calendar in our home. Starting from scratch on Monday, they know its the weekend by the time the rack is full! Leave it to dry in the warmest spot in your home and enjoy when they are ready. We tend to eat ours half way through, as we like them still moist and chewy, but depending on how warm your home is, you might need to finish them off baking them at the lowest setting in your oven for a bit.
Steps to make the frame:
1. Finger knit 1 meter of cord (you can use your bare hands or this fun fork or flower to make it a bit more special). Remember: you can do this anywhere and a bit at a time, it fits in your pocket and keeps you from reaching for your phone every time you have a few spare minutes.
2. Whittle some sticks: go on a walk with your child. Find sticks no longer than their arms length. And when you need a break on your walk, take out your pocketknives and start whittling away. If your child is young and new to this, it’s a good idea to start off with a whittling peeler instead of a knife. Once they learn how to hold their stick and peel safely, move on to small knives. Make sure you take the time to teach them how to use the tools safely, reminding them of the downward and outward movements.* It takes courage to both teach and learn the process, but once you overcome the challenge, you will treasure these moments of connection with your child forever, where often the best conversations happen while you gift them a valuable life skill.
3. You can finish off by sanding the sticks to ensure a smooth surface. Make sure the children experience the changes in the surface, enjoy smelling the fresh wood and play to identify the tree their stick came from. This memory game is a great resource to learn to identify trees in a playful way.
4. Putting your frame together: Fold your finger knitted cord in half and position your stick on each end making a triangle. Slip each end of the stick through the first and last loop on your cord. Add as many sticks as you wish, keeping them 10 cm apart. Your frame is done and you are now ready to cut your apple rings!
5. The apples: Wash, core and cut your washed apples into thick slices. Put them on to the sticks, making sure they don’t touch each other. This simple activity is a wonderful lesson for children to experience weight and balance and a great opportunity for counting games.
6. Hang up to dry in a warm spot, wait a week (if you can) and enjoy!
If you are interested in whittling and would like more guidance take a look at our Whittled Picture Frames blog.