Covid-19 school shutdown

We’ve already been home for a week and the schools are now shutdown for most children.  This is a list of work and links provided by my daughter’s school.  This is a Year 5 plan of work for the two weeks leading upto Easter.  I’ve copied it here as there may be links and activities that are useful for other parents (though the main reason it so make it easier to access these things for my daughter).

I apologise that this is not my normal output but for anyone else with KS2 children at home you may find it useful:



Work through the video clips and activities. Adding and subtracting fractions, multiplying fractions, unit and mixed fractions, and simplifying fractions. Finish with Match of the Day football fractions.

Positive and negative numbers:

Play this game with someone else at home.


Practise your times tables by playing ‘Who wants to be a Mathionaire?’

Place value:

Aim for 500 – in this game both players roll the dice and use the numbers to make two three-digit numbers, then add them up. Whoever gets a total closest to 1500 wins the game. Clink on the link to find more challenging versions of the game.

Fractions, decimals and percentages:

Use the resources in the link (or write your own on paper) to play this fractions, decimals and percentages treasure hunt.

Prime numbers:

Play Prime Number Lotto with someone at home. Stick your lotto card and record the numbers you crossed off. Record the prime numbers you crossed off of your card.


If you don’t have skittles or the resources to make your own, then be creative. Perhaps line up some soft toys or action figures. You could even create skittles out of Lego!


Log in to your TT Rock Stars account and practise your tables.

Mental Maths:

Play ‘Hit the Button’. Choose what area of maths you’d like to focus on.


Addition and subtraction:

Play ‘Maths Invaders’. Choose your own level to play at.


Spelling practise:

Complete the ‘sporty anagrams’ and ‘fun with synonyms’ activities. No need to print the sheets, just record the title of the activity with your work underneath.

Grammar practise:

Make your own modal verbs dice. Use it to generate your own sentences which each include a modal verbs. Aim for at least 6 sentences.

Story writing:

Use the information in this link to write the opening paragraph to your own story. Feeling confident? Write the whole story!


Complete ‘Sky Hawk’ comprehension. Answer questions 1-12.

Poster (link with science and history):

Create a poster about the Space Race. Include facts that catch you attention. Make the poster clear and informative.

Book Review:

Write a book review about a book you have recently finished reading. How would you summarise the story? What was your favourite part? How would you describe the characters? Who would you recommend the book to and why?


Complete the work straight into your book.



Complete ‘Railhead’ comprehension. Answer questions 1-12.

Comic book edit:

Edit the comic by changing pronouns, adding adverbs and verbs to the text.

Newspaper article:

Follow the instructions on the link to help gather information needed to write a newspaper article about the missing black panther.

Other activities:


Complete ‘The Moon’ quiz and ‘Comets and Meteors’ quiz.

Have fun driving a Rover on Mars:


Log in to your DB Primary account (school account needed) Update your blog and send a friend an e-mail. Perhaps you have some other e-mails that need replying to?


If you can, go into your garden and choose something to draw. If this isn’t possible, choose something from your home to draw.


Choose a yoga video online to do. Cosmic Kids have some great ones to choose from.

If you’d rather have some fresh air, you could play a ball game in the garden. If you’re feeling creative, make your own obstacle course – indoor or outdoor weather dependent!

RE (link with history):

Research the history of Easter. Write 1-2 paragraphs about what you have found out.


Practise Dance Mat Typing. Choose the level you feel comfortable with.


Choose a planet of your choice to write a fact-file about. You can use the suggested websites to help as well as books you might already have at home and what you have learned in school.


Help someone at home in the kitchen. Bake a cake or help to cook dinner. Use scales to help weigh the ingredients and of course, carry out the all-important taste test!


Enter the Clubhouse and play ‘Astro-Matic 3000’ to find out what your age and/or weight would be on different planets.

Enjoy reading this online book

Research the history of women in football and compare this to the history of the men’s sport. For example, towards the end of the First World War, women’s football was very popular, with their games often attracting larger crowds than those of the men.


Solstice plus one

Last night I had a lovely evening discovering encaustic art.  I had a wonderful time playing with an iron, melted wax and a lot of colour.

It was great fun and messy – yet quick and easy to clean up.  And the smell of beeswax was delicious.  I think I’m going to have to do more.

Last night was the solstice and when I got home the highest white clouds glowed in the twilight:

And today I’ve been admiring tulips on a tree:

Experiments in Fimo

The Fimo and glass pendant I made at the weekend is now varnished (to protect the mica) and strung onto cotton threads. (I tried to buy more at the weekend but the selection in Hobby Craft was extremely poor, so it’s strung onto brown cotton).

I’ve also been trying out some new techniques. This swirl pendant was a lot of fun to make.

I tried making faux mokume gane (faux because I’m not working with layers of metal). During my first attempt I got carried away and rolled my block too many times, meaning the colours were almost blended together. I decided to use the cutoff scraps from my first attempt and have another go. So my mokume gane is somewhat random, but still interesting. I added flowers from a cane I’d made.

This resulted in a patterned sheet that I used to make a few hollow doughnut beads.

During my creative researches, I discovered that polymer clay doesn’t play well with all plastics. Polymer clay (in its raw form) contains a plasticiser, so any plastics of the same type will react with the plasticiser ruining both the clay and the plastic item. Plastics that are safe with polymer clay are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE – #1 when recycling), polyethylene – either low density (LDPE – #4 when recycling) or high density (HDPE – #2), polypropylene (PP – #5). Acrylic is also safe. Plastics that are not safe include polyvinyl chloride (PVC – #3), vinyl, and polystyrene (#6) from which things like CD cases are made.

It’s always good to know what the real thing should look like – so here are some mokume gane rings in precious metals. Very beautiful. I think this is quite funny, really. Mokume gane is technique to make woodgrain patterns in metal and faux mokume gane is emulating the metal in polymer clay 🙂

Hollow Bead Tutorial
Swirly Lentil Bead Tutorial
Plastics and Polymer Clay
Plastics by Numbers

Indian Summer

We’re having some lovely autumn weather at the moment. Which has enabled a couple of nice walks at Anglesey Abbey with the children. The second visit was prompted by my son managing to delete the contents of his camera’s memory card, complete with some lovely photos from our first weekend visit, when trying to copy them to the computer!

This morning I spent teaching binary complete with props – a set of weighing scales and ounce weights (plus extra pretend weights at 32, 64 and 128 ozs). This afternoon I went to Creating Space and made a pendant that incorporates a dichroic glass cabochon I made a few years ago.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get back into modelling with Fimo (polymer clay). The clay has changed from the Fimo I used years ago, so it’s taken some getting used to. This is made with Professional Fimo with mica and the glass cabochon, photographed before curing in the oven:

I’m looking forward to finishing this off and making it into a necklace.

Business Card Tutorial

Last summer I made my own business cards for Open Studios. These were great fun to create and allowed me to show off my handspun yarn! They were also considerably cheaper than ordering cards and used normal A4 card. The trick to making professional looking cards is how you cut them out.

I’ve created a template in word that can be edited. Feel free to change the fonts and font sizes, add colour, a logo, pictures or photos. Make the changes in one of the card spaces in the table and when you are happy with it select it and use copy and paste to paste it into each of the other business card cells in the table. Cutting lines are marked around the edges of the sheet but not on the business cards themselves. This means that when you cut the cards you’re not trying to deal with a line on the edge of the card.

A4 business card template in Word 2007 format

I printed my business cards onto 280gsm acid free recycled kraft card. I was able to use my printer’s manual feed and an alternative output slot (not onto the tray) so that the card went straight through the printer without it being bent. You’ll need to explore the options on your printer to see what’s possible. Also check your printer and choose a card stock that isn’t thicker than your printer can handle.

As well as the card you will need a sharp craft knife (I used a scalpel blade for this), a metal edged ruler and a cutting mat.

The sheets of cards fresh from the printer:

We’ll only cut one sheet at a time (do not stack the sheets hoping to make this quicker – it’ll be harder to do clean cuts on the sheets below).

Start by cutting the horizontal lines. It is easiest to cut lines from top to bottom, so turn the card around by 90 degrees before cutting. Use the marks at the edge of the card to line up the ruler and cut. Ensure you make the cuts above the top cards and below the bottom cards, it is easy to miss these. Leave the edges of the card uncut, but make sure you’ve cut right across the width of the business cards.

Like so:

Once all the horizontal lines have been cut, then turn the card back upright and cut the vertical lines. Start with the one on the right hand side, then cut the middle line.

The first set of cards will drop out at this point. Finally cut the line on the left hand side:

All the cards have been cut from the sheet.

They make a nice neat stack:

At this point you can stop. However, I wanted to wrap yarn around my cards. Ribbon may be added instead or fabric could to glued to the front. To wrap the yarn I added notches to the edges of the cards. Mark the edges of the card where the notch is going to be. I used the craft knife to mark a number of cards at once. Mark top and bottom (the cards in the photo are upside down at this point to mark the bottom, so the mark is made closer to the right hand side):

I then used a hole punch to make a half-hole at the top and bottom edges at the card:

Finally I wrapped the yarn around the card, made a reef knot and trimmed the ends of the yarn:

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial. I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’ve made your own business cards – please leave a comment below. Until next time…

Keep Crafting!

White Rabbits!

Oh my, it’s October. Summer seems to have gone in a blink. But this is because it’s been very busy. There’s been:

  • Open Studios
  • Tour de Fleece (I didn’t quite manage to spin every day)
  • Impromptu Home Schooling (for just 10 days when our relationship with my son’s school hit a brick wall)
  • Coach trips to the beach
  • Lots of walks
  • A weighted warp loom on display in a Viking exhibition
  • Knitting art yarn on trains
  • Spinning at Cambridge Rock Festival (where I discovered the music of Doris Brendel)
  • Panicked buying of school uniform. Almost every item for my oldest has to have the school name and logo, even the socks for PE (which was the only item I was confident on the sizing for)!
  • New schools for both children
  • And sunsets!

Now suddenly it’s October! The nights are longer than the days and I have to admit it’s no longer summer. We’re nearly 4 weeks into term and we’ve just had a lovely weekend (though there does seem to be rather a lot of homework). We visited the lovely Anglesey Abbey today to see their Dahlia Festival. It was muddy underfoot but a kaleidoscope of colour as always.

How’s your summer been?

Open Studios

The first weekend of Open Studios was brilliant. A vibrant show from four textile artists and a very busy time with lots of visitors. Here are a few pictures from the show:

If you are on Facebook, then The Silk Spinner’s Studio has posted more pictures of our show.

We are open again this weekend (8th & 9th July) from 11am – 6pm both days. We are at Harlton Village Hall, Coach Drive, Harlton, CB23 1EN. We are number 137 in the Cambridge Open Studios guide. Come and see us!

Open Studios and Tour de Fleece

I’m taking part, once again, in Cambridge Open Studios. I’m exhibiting with three other textile artists at Harlton Village Hall. I wrote a piece about us a couple of weeks ago on the Creating Space blog. Today was our first day and we will be exhibiting tomorrow and next weekend as well.

It was also the start of the Tour de France, and therefore also the start of the Tour de Fleece. I missed it last year – but this year I’m back in the saddle and managed to do some spinning during our Open Studio:

And now…

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to the last two months. I feel like I’ve blinked and been whisked from Easter to the school’s Whitsun holiday! I have a number of projects in progress (more on those soon).  However, last night I decided to get the dye pots going:

Two slow cookers ready to begin dyeing.
When I bought the slow cookers I intended one for dyeing and one for cooking dinners. After a few months where the second one hasn’t been used once, I decided that I would use both for dyeing!

A little while ago I bought some commercially scoured and carded batts of Shetland. These sounded just the thing to include in my spinning kits (I’m currently writing the instruction booklet). However, when they arrived I was exceedingly disappointed. I’d not noticed that the website said that they “may contain vegetable matter”. Sadly they did contain VM, and rather more than I thought was acceptable. However, as the warning was there I didn’t feel I could return them. So they’ve been sitting in my lounge looking like an expensive mistake.

It struck me recently that they could be dyed and then re-carded, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I split the 200g batt into two halves and dyed each half.

After drying I was interested to see the patterns on the batts (this may be something to try with better quality batts prior to felting)

I separated one of the halves into sections of different colours and put it through my drum carder to make 5 small batts.

I’ve been able to remove larger pieces of VM when I see them and more has dropped out during the carding.  There are still pieces of vegetation in the batts, but they are significantly better than before.

In my last post I introduced my Etsy shop. My food-colour dyeing kits are now also being stocked in my friend’s organic food shop. So, if you are in the Cambridge area or passing junction 11 of the M11, then you can see the kits in person at Organic Health in Hauxton*. The shop is a lovely stockist of hard-to-find organic food and special diet (including vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, soya free, egg free and wheat free) food. It also stocks ecological cleaning products and a range of natural toiletries. The shop’s open on Thusdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9am-5pm.

* Organic Health, Church Rd, Hauxton, Cambridge, CB22 5HS