Thursday, 26 July 2012

Tie Dye T-shirts

One of the things R got to do this holiday was a Brownie Fun Day on the first weekend.  R was very excited about one activity in particular - tie-dying a t-shirt.  Unfortunately the experience did not live up to expectation and the white t-shirt she was sent with came home a creamy colour instead of the golden yellow with patterns promised on the day; although the rest of the day more than made up for any disappointment!
When R got home she was a little upset her top hadn't worked and I said "Never mind we'll do some here at home."  Truth to tell it had already been on my to-do list for this summer and had been removed once I found the Brownies were doing it.  True to my word we went out yesterday and bought three different colours of dye and some sports t-shirts from Tescos.  (about £10 spent in all)
Here is what we did:
First we decided if we wanted stripes or circles for our pattern. For stripes we folded the t-shirt backwards and forwards like an accordion until we had a long thin sausage.  Then we tied string at intervals along the body - we made sure to pull the string tight (at this point R realised this is where she went wrong last time as her string was so loose it came undone in the dye bath).  For circles we pinched part of the shirt between finger and thumb and tied string round this about 1 inch down to hold it in place.  We then continued down the cone shape formed by the fabric tying string tightly at intervals all the way down.
The resultant pile looked like this:
We then threw these in the washing machine to have a rinse and short spin so they would be left quite damp.
Whilst the washing machine was doing its thing we prepare our 3 dye baths according to the instructions on the packet.  Luckily the beautiful sunshine meant we could do this in the garden otherwise we would have stood everything in the bathtub.

The kids were then allowed to lower the t-shirts in and stir them gently round.  We came back and gave them another stir every 10 minutes or so for about three quarters of an hour (to ensure the dye soaked in evenly; if the t-shitrts floated the top the bit poking out of the water would not take the dye as deeply). Amazingly all three were riveted the whole time by these magic potions.
Then came the big reveal.  First we had to wash off the excess dye in LOTS of changes of clean water (not one to do if you are worried about the water meter).  Then with our hearts in our mouths we cut the string away.  Would it work, if the string was not tight enough or the time spent in the dye was too long they would be a solid colour and whilst they were nice colours all our work would be ruined.

This is what we got....

Cue three amazed kids, one impressed Dad and a relieved Mum. Even the Brownie top got a make over with the green dye and is now R's favourite so much so she went round the neighbourhood telling everyone!  The rest of the dye is stored away for another day;  since she now knows how to do it and has been told any light coloured thing will do R has designs on her sheets, duvet, curtains.....

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer Holidays are here!

The summer holidays are finally here in the UK with a vengeance this week. Unlike other countries the UK only gets about 6 weeks off school. I must be weird because whilst other parents all around are bemoaning the fact that they have to put up with the company of their little darlings for a whole six weeks I actually like the company of my kids and wish it were longer. One parent I was talking to the other day actually described it as "torture" and this was in front of her children!
In order to keep us all happy and avoid spending everyday in front of the DVD player I did a little inspiration search a few days ago and have a plan for things for us to do together that don't involve us spending a fortune. (I hope!)

Here are the links I plan to use first:
Science kit with instructions and materials from Girl with a Gluegun.  One a day for 17 days and I'm sure I can add other experiments in the same vein.
Dinosaur ice excavation from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
Angry Birds from Sun Scholars
101 ways to embrace summer and 101 more ways to embrace summer from Home Your Way

Yesterday was spent gathering together all the materials I think we will need for the long haul.  This year I have also included a notebook for each kid so we can use them as a journal.  R and A will be writing in them themselves - B will be telling me what to write.  A struggles with literacy at school and I hope doing this everyday about the things he has enjoyed doing will give him much needed writing practice.  B starts Reception Year in September (how did that happen!) and he still doesn't want to write anything himself; apart from the letter B on everything including the walls, his sisters pictures etc etc etc...

After a lazy start we had painted dinosaurs (A and B) and butterfly prints (R) completed yesterday.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Repurposed school clothes-hair clips and slides

R has grown out of last summers school uniform dresses.  Being in the UK the dresses themselves had not seen an awful lot of wear (though not as little as this year!) but the school does not have a "swap-shop" where items like these can be passed onto others.  Instead of sending them to the charity shop I decided to reuse the fabric and my newly learned crochet skills to make some hair clips for R.

These caused such a stir at school that I used all the fabric making a batch to sell at the school summer fair next week.  Normally something like this sells for about £2-2.50 in the shops; I'm going to charge just £1 and we'll see if they go, as a bonus R gets to earn a number skills Brownie badge if she helps with the change.  All we need now is good weather!

Update - all we needed was parents of children at the school to volunteer to man the stalls ready for the crowds; unfortunately this did not happen, only 3 people volunteered (of which I was one) and so it has been cancelled.  The cynic in me says that the first people who will complain that school trips and swimming are too expensive this coming school year are going to be those who wouldn't donate even half an hour of their time to help with what is for the school the biggest fundraiser of the year.  Here's hoping we can recoup the loss somehow!