A pair of merino wool felt boots for Kelly

I have not forgotten about the Cattail Doll tutorial, but I thought I would write about a pair of merino wool felt boots I made for Kelly yesterday.

You can read how to make felt shoes in one of my previous tutorials;


The materials required were; merino wool, soap and warm water

merino wool boots-1 (Large)

I drew around one of Kelly’s feet to obtain a pattern and then added 1cm around the circumference of her foot.  In addition to making the two shoes, I also made a strip of felt.  I sewed this strip of felt around the shoe opening using a blanket stitch to form a boot.

merino wool boots-2 (Large)

I am very pleased with the end result and have decided to make a pair for myself also.

merino wool boots-3 (Medium)


Baby mobile

Today I have made a Baby Mobile for Kelly today using dental floss, chopsticks

kellys mobile

and a series of Constrictor knots.

Bushcraftage – Rocking & Rolling – Having fun

Can you remember the last time you rolled down a grassy slope?

I certainly can – I was about 45 at the time and even though I got bumped, bruised and a little bit dizzy I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am told I can appear to be grumpy a lot of the time (even though in my my mind I am happy, grumpy is just my default expression) but I really do like to have fun and better still I like to see the folk who are with me, wherever that may be, are having fun.

This is the last in the Bushcraftage series of posts I’ll be doing for Kevin so I thought I would finish with looking at some other fun bushcraft activities I like to run. We have looked at lots of fun activities including shelter, fire, food and using tools in this series so it would be good to look at those that do not necessarily fall into these categories.

An activity I try and run on all my courses is a bit of archery. I try and teach the skill to as many adult instructors as possible so that they can hopefully enthuse their cadets as well. On one memorable occasion Alan Lewis ran a session on Tai Chi before archery as a warm-up. It did the job: they had fun, got warmed up, and also focused their minds.


Limbering up before archery

The adult instructors love a bit of archery just as much as the kids, maybe even more…

Archery 1

Teach the adults first

To begin with I try and introduce kids to archery using the lighter Father and Son bows.

Archery 2

Introduce the cadets to light bows

Eventually we get the bigger bows out for them. Archery seems to appeal to everyone: I never have anyone reluctant to have a go. My friend Charlie Brookes pictured here is very keen on archery and loves to teach it.

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Then move on to the big boys

My kids love archery.


Family archery

And so do my friends’ kids.


Friends archery

I was introduced to the Atlatl quite by accident by Andrew Packer from Nomad Bushcraft. It was at the Wilderness Gathering 10 years ago when I was supposed to be doing a masterclass on a Survival bow. The instructor failed to turn up so Roger Harrington asked if I would like to do the Atlatl class. I’m so grateful that the instructor did not turn up that day because this is one activity that everyone loves, especially me.


Atlatl – my favourite activity

The Atlatl is cheap to make and easy to use, but you can spend hours refining your technique and improving your aim and range. This is my friend Dave Lewis’s favorite bushcraft activity as he always seems to end up running it.

Atl 1 - Copy

Fantastic fun

Journey Sticks
Any walk in the woods can be turned into a story with the use of a Journey Stick.
My children have little walking sticks with elastic bands wrapped round them at intervals. As we wander they like to collect bits and bobs from the woods and attach them to the sticks with the elastic bands from top to bottom, as a visual record of the adventure. After the walk we use the sticks to talk about all the different things they came across on their walk. This is a fantastic activity for younger kids.

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Journey Sticks

A couple of years ago I was introduced to building Blobsters  – little clay creatures – at the Wilderness Gathering by Chris Holland. Catherine and myself had a ball creating our little people and a world for them to live in. If you come across a good patch of clay dig some out and with the use of small twigs (in the clay) you can have hours of fun.

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Blobster clay characters – Catherine’s Rhino and its house

Mat Making
Mat making is not just a chore you have to do in a survival situation, it is a great skill to learn, it is fun and it teaches good team work.

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Mini mat making

It is great for all the family. This type of loom can be time consuming to set up but is well worth the effort as some great mats can be created with it.


Mummy mat making

Woodland Art
Sadly, I cannot say that this is mine. One of the instructors at the BCUK Bushmoot this year produced this incredible piece of art from what he found in the woods and along the shoreline.


Woodland art

Afterwards everyone was wandering around trying to avoid stepping on all the little masterpieces the children had created.


The kids’ woodland art

I can sit for hours of an evening making cordage. This picture shows some being made out of raffia, as I always keep a supply with me. Normally I get the kids to harvest nettles and make friendship bracelets out of its fibres.


Cordage making

Also at the Bushmoot I watched Perry Magee teach kids to make rope out of bundles of grass. Great for an impromptu tug of war.


Grass tug of war

Water Divining
Don’t ask me how it works but it does. I love to do a spot of water divining. I have successfully followed underground pipes and streams with two bits of coathanger wire, it’s quite astonishing.


Water Divining

Whimmy Diddle
A few years ago Mors Kochanski came over to the UK and one of the games he showed us was the Whimmy Diddle, a simple toy consisting of a notched stick with a propeller attached to its end and another for scraping. You can spend hours trying to figure out how it works but when you get it, and the propeller starts spinning, it is a ball.


Whimmy Diddle anyone?

Air Art
Long before there were sparklers there were… sticks. Put a kid near a fire, give them a stick and it will not be long before they have an ember glowing nicely on the end of it. Perfect for some air art, or just writing your name.


Fire stick art

Little projects such as ladder building make for good teamwork.



Stalking games
There are many stalking games you can play. All are great for making people aware of all their senses: generally we make far too much noise when moving through the woods and the point of these games is to heighten our awareness of the world around us.

Stalking 1

Stalking games

This game I call the Fox Stalk (no idea if this is the correct name for it). My other favourites are the Drum Stalk (participants are blindfolded and the only guide to the finish is the beat of a drum) and the Water Carry Ambush (participants stalk through an area of woodland carrying a full cup of water and if they make a noise, blindfolded attackers will shoot water at them to try and make them spill the cup).


Fox Stalk

Free Fun
The best fun is usually free: just getting out there and enjoying yourself – maybe it’s time to find yourself a nice grassy slope 🙂

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Whatever you do do not forget the simple things

There as so many more games I could talk about but I’d better leave that to the professionals – I have put some links below to books on bushcraft activities that I like if you want to find out more.

I have had fun writing the Bushcraftage series of posts for Kevin, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I think that the theme of teaching children bushcraft in this series is particularly appropriate given the fact that Kevin is on a bit of paternity leave getting to know little Kelly.



Bushcraft Days


I love my World – Chris Holland

Sharing Nature With Children – Joseph Cornell

I Love Dirt – Jennifer Ward

Go Wild – Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

Nature Detectives

Woodland Trust – Resources for Teachers

The Whimmy Diddle

Bushcraft Days – Memorable Meals

I have started on my Bushcraft Days blog to write a few posts on some of the memorable meals I have had while out bushcrafting.

imageimageMy second post on the subject of memorable meals was titled ‘Before and After’. In it I tried to show different foods, cooking methods and how the foods looked before and after they were cooked. I did not go into any great detail but just let the pictures speak for themselves.

There will be some more posts on this subject in the future.


I hope you enjoy it? I know I enjoyed eating it all.

Link to the post – Bushcraft Days Memorable Meals – Before and After


Bushcraft Days

Bushcraftage – Tools

Kids run around, kids make noise, kids do not pay attention – right? Not when it comes to using tools on one of our bushcraft courses.

I find that many of our cadets get so excited on some activities it is hard to get their attention to show them how to move on in the activity, but when using a tool (particularly knives and saws) this is almost never the case.

Many cadets like to come on a course as they know they may be given the chance to carve something. They know from the start that if they pay attention they will get to use them, but if they do not pay close attention they will not get that chance – they will get a bit of time out instead.


Paying attention

Before starting any classes on using tools we always talk about the law here in the UK. A good article on this can be found over on the bushcraft forum BCUK. I have put a link to this at the end of the article.

I also cover First Aid at the beginning, pointing out where on the body cuts commonly occur and what to do if someone cuts themselves. Also the importance of getting into the habit of always carrying a First Aid kit if you are using tools such as knives, saws and axes.

We will discuss the ‘Blood Bubble’: the area around you that if you stretched your arm out while holding a knife you would puncture someone.
Also we will discuss the ‘Triangle of Death’: the area from knee to crotch back to other knee when you’re sitting down. As the femoral artery runs down your thigh, any cuts in this triangle are potentially very dangerous. See the article on my Bushcraft Days site on knife safety tips for more information (link at the bottom of the page).

Before picking up any tools I like to show cadets that they do not always need a knife, saw or axe to chop up wood. A good natural vice can be found where two trees are close together. This picture shows some Junior Sea Cadets helping me to snap some wood. This piece of wood was particularly dry so even though it was large we were able to snap it fairly easily, up to a certain point. The stump area was later sawn through. The cadets are taught to use this technique and they learn that if they have to put excessive force into the snap they should leave that piece of wood in a pile to be sawn through later. Also they are told to keep an eye on the bark of the tree they are using as a vice so they do not damage it.


Your hands make the perfect tool

I like to give a demonstration of what they will be undertaking in the next few minutes. In this picture we have moved onto battoning techniques.


All prepped for class – Demonstration mode

All my classes start with some basic and safe cuts. The link to the Knife Safety Tips post at the bottom of the page goes into more details on each type of cut.

Knife 1

Start with the basic cuts

I like to make sure we have plenty of instructors around to keep an eye on the spacing between cadets, ensuring they respect the Blood Bubble.


Good spacing – The Blood Bubble

Once they have had a practice, I get them to try working to each side to find which suits them best.


Working safely to the side

It is good to make use of your surroundings. Sometimes you see people using their knee as a support for the back of the knife but a small tree works a treat as well.

Knife 5

A tree can be useful and a nice safe cut

After trying out different knife cuts (also including the chest lever, fine cuts and using the shoulder), they are taught to batton so that they can split wood without the use of an axe.

Knife 2

Learning the art of battoning

Wherever possible I will get the cadets to use a small saw like the Laplander.

Coppicing 1

Learning a bit of Coppicing

Ensuring the hand holding the wood cannot be cut by the saw is a must. I have had a few saw cuts in my time and they are quite jagged and painful.

Saw 1

Safely cutting up firewood

The cadets who produced these butter knives learnt all the different types of cuts and also to batton. They took them home to give to their parents.

Carving 2

Finished Butter knives by the 10 and 11 year olds

When I have a little more time and just a few cadets we can go on to more advanced techniques such as carving spoons. I must admit this does not happen often enough for me and this activity is usually reserved for my courses teaching Sea Cadet instructors.

Carving 1

Confident Cadets Carving

The aim of these classes is to get the cadets to respect the tools they use, understand what they are designed for and to manage for themselves the risks that come with using them. These skills are, I feel, lacking a great deal in the youth of today, not through any fault of their own but because they so rarely are given the chance to learn what I was taught as a young boy.

I hope you can see now why the cadets for once do not run around, make a noise and do pay attention when it comes to classes using tools.

My last post in this Bushcraftage series will be on the other activities we do, including archery, atlatls and stalking games.




Bushcraft Days

BCUK article on knife law in the UK

Bushcraft Days How To….Knife Safety Tips

Just a few pictures

George is doing such a fantastic job with his informative posts while I am looking after Kelly, but I thought I would just put up a few pictures from the last week.

Here’s me preparing to go into the operating theatre when Kelly was born.

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Here are my favourite three girls

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This Kelly at home sleeping

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Kelly’s first bad hair day!!

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We needed a large, light container to weigh Kelly in, so one of my Birch bark containers was perfect.

weighing kelly (Large)

Here’s Emma feeding her little sister (Kelly needs supplementary feeding just now to help maintain her right weight)

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Emma changing Kelly’s nappy

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I have a Dreamdot baby carrier, so that I can carry Kelly around while doing other things.


Of course Emma does the same with her baby!

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Building a Father and Son Bow

Kevin asked me to share with you one or two articles from my Bushcraft Days site.


Father & Son bow in action

I thought that a good one to start with is my How To…. Step by Step guide to building Father and Son bow.

The name ‘Father and Son’ I think is fairly modern but other names for this type of bow I have come across are the Penobscot or Wabanaki bow.

If you are competent using a knife and saw then this type of bow should take no more than an hour or two to construct.

Select the link below and have a look.

    Bushcraft Days – How To….Build a Father & Son Bow