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Lughnasa – Harvest Time

Early August sees the start of Lughnasa, the late summer festival celebrating the ripening of berries and nuts in the forest and the first harvest in the fields.

Lughnasa is named after the Irish hero, Lugh, who many think of as a sun god. In later times, Lughnasa was named Lammas (‘loaf-mass’) in reference to the beginning of harvest.

In farmlands all over Europe, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and so was made homeless by the harvest. It was the custom to fashion the last sheaf of wheat into a corn ‘dolly’, so that the spirit of the corn could spend the winter in this home, until the ‘dolly’ was ploughed back into the land in the new season.

In forest glades and edge-lands, wild grass, rather than cultivated grain, is in seed, and can be used to make a simple ‘dolly’. Here, in this extract from The Children’s Forest, we show you how to make your own Plaited Grass Dolly:

This extract is taken from The Children’s Forest: Stories & songs, wild food, crafts & celebrations by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli. Many of the songs from The Children’s Forest are now available online, so you can sing along even if you don’t read music.

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Beltane Celebrations

Beltane takes place on 1st May, exactly half way between the spring equinox and summer solstice. The word comes from the Old Irish, meaning ‘bright fire’, and the day is now often known as May Day.

Beltane marks the transition between spring and summer and celebrates the start of the light half of the year. It is the time of fertility.

In the cycle of day and night, this time of year is akin to mid-morning – when we are active and moving.

It is a time of enthusiasm, joy, vigorous growth, love, harmony, fertility and the fire of creation.

This extract is taken from The Children’s Forest: Stories & songs, wild food, crafts & celebrations all year round by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli. Enjoy some of the songs of spring from The Children’s Forest on our YouTube channel.

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Easter Activity from The Children’s Forest – natural egg dyeing

The egg, so fragile and yet so strong, with its promise of new life, has always been a potent symbol and a part of Easter celebrations. In this extract from The Children’s Forest we show you how to paint eggs using natural dye, leaves and flowers.

For more seasonal activity ideas and stories see The Children’s Forest by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli.

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Present and Activity Ideas for a Quiet Christmas

For many of us, Christmas will be quieter than usual this year, with fewer friends and family members around us. But there is still plenty we can do to embrace this atmospheric time of year and plenty of fun to be had.

Storytelling

Short days bring cosy nights, which are perfect for storytelling. For seasonal stories, Advent and Christmas Stories includes a treasury of verses, stories and songs.

Interested in telling nature stories? Then The Natural Storyteller has stories for telling orally. Using the story maps, you can easily tell the stories without reading and become a family storyteller.

You can find world stories in 147 Traditional Storiesfor children aged 7-12 to retell, and storytelling tips. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without Findus and Pettson and their seasonal fun in Findus at Christmas and Findus and the Christmas Tomte.

Seasonal Nature and Craft

Booksuch as The Children’s Forest offer stories and songs, wild food, recipes, crafts and celebrations for all the year round. Families can enjoy these, with seasonal things to look out for while out walking.

If you have ever wanted to try a new craft but never seem to find the time, now is your moment. Crafting is a great way to either spend time with family or to lose yourself in to counter feelings of anxiety or loneliness.

Making with your hands is a great way of giving children the creative life skills for navigating this age of disruption. We have a wide range of craft books, including Making the Children’s Year, Making Simple Needle Felts, Making Soft Dolls and Making Peg Dolls. Materials supply shop, The Makerss, have hosted many online tutorials this year, that can help you get started and are still available to watch on YouTube.

Lastly, we recently came across the wonderful work of Star in the Apple Stories and their beautiful, seasonal musical storytime, now available to watch online.

For more ideas, visit the storytelling and craft pages at hawthornpress.com

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’tis the season to be crafting

As we spend more time at home again, make the most of chilly days and early evenings by taking up a new craft project.

Hikaru Noguchi-darned jumper

Darn it! As discussed in a recent article by Rosanna Dodds, visible mending is about more than thrift – it is a process by which we can save favourite garments and make them unique to us. It is also a craft that can fit into the time you have available. As Hikaru Noguchi, author of Darning: Repair, Make, Mend says,

“Most projects are finished within a few minutes to an hour. There’s no need to take out a sewing machine; the tools are as simple as a darning mushroom, needle and scissors. You can darn just as quickly as sewing on a button. If you’re set on darning a larger area, you can continue to enjoy the pleasures of sewing and working methodically, giving you a great sense of satisfaction in a job well done.”

Whether you are new to darning, or already an enthusiast, join us for a new season of Meet Make Mend with Katy Bevan and Kath Child from Atelier Stroud. The mending and darning circle meets on the first Wednesday of each month, starting on Wednesday 4th November at 7 p.m. Register here to join us online.

Rainbow peg dolls by Steffi Stern, inspired by Making Peg Dolls by Margaret Bloom

If you prefer to make rather than mend, then one of our many craft titles could inspire you, from needle felts to knitted animals and soft dolls. For online guidance author Steffi Stern runs a number of YouTube tutorials, which you can follow in your own time. These include a soft dolls workshop, with accompanying materials kit that can be bought from Steffi’s shop, The Makerss. You can also find more craft ideas on our YouTube channel.

Steffi is running a brand new workshop on Sunday 8th November at 11 a.m. celebrating winter with a hands-on robin masterclass.

Learn to make needle felted robins in Steffi Stern’s online workshop

Throughout November Steffi will also be running workshops on making nativity figures, from her book Making Simple Needle Felts. Watch live or catch up on YouTube.

For more seasonal crafts, both indoor and outdoor-based, The Children’s Forest, Findus, Food and Fun and Making the Children’s Year all have a variety of activities that are fun and educational.

Many of us may find this winter more challenging than usual. We hope that by immersing ourselves in the fun of crafting, we can make the most of this unusual time.

We’d love to see the results of your projects! Do share pictures of them on our social media – Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We look forward to it!