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Makerly – Sunburst Sun Catcher

I absolutely loved the most recent box from Makerly! I haven’t done any work with beads and wire wrapping for ages and it was so nice to spend time doing one of my first hobbies on such a beautiful project, the Sunburst Sun Catcher.

Included in the box was:

  • 25cm metal hoop
  • 8cm metal hoop
  • Glass seed beads (red, orange, and yellow)
  • Mixed acrylic beads (red, orange, and yellow)
  • 4cm sun catcher crystal
  • Snips
  • 0.4mm jewellery wire
  • Glue dots

The first step was to anchor the smaller hoop to the larger one with the wire and then create the first ‘ray’ of the sunburst from the top of the smaller hoop up to the centre point at the top of the larger hoop to hold everything in place. I was surprised at how effective the glue dots were at holding the wire in place. I thought the wrapping would be enough, but it was quite a fine gauge and the glue dots were a definite must to keep each ray where it was meant to be. Despite the fine gauge of the wire I found the snips a bit useless for cutting through it. I would normally use these kind of snips for yarn or thread and proper wire cutters were much better for the job. They did get through the wire, but not cleanly in one go like wire cutters would. 

The rays were left loose on the hoops until all of the beads had been strung on each one and then there were secured with the glue dots, allowing them to be positioned evenly around the hoop to create the sunburst design. I followed the design in the picture, alternating rays of larger beads and seed beads and graduating from yellow in the centre through orange to red at the edges, but there was plenty of scope in this kit to use the beads to create any design you liked.

The last thing to do was to secure the crystal in the centre of the small hoop and create a wire hook at the top of the sun catcher so it can be hung in the window. This kit was really straightforward to complete and didn’t take long to do at all. I’m so pleased with my finished sun catcher and I can’t wait for the rainbows to come pouring into my house! 

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Craft Box Club – Pink Beach Houses

My second painting project this month, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, was the Pink Beach Houses kit from Craft Box Club. I liked the nostalgia around the theme of this kit as it brings back memories of trips to the seaside when I was little.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden house shapes x3
  • Brush
  • Sponge
  • Earth paints
  • Twine
  • Glue
  • Wooden decorations
  • Strip of fabric
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper house template

The first step was to sand down the wooden houses to ensure they were nice and smooth round the edges. As always every effort has been made to keep the kits as eco friendly as possible and the houses were cut by Love HeartWood, a wood turning business specialising in sustainable wooden gifts and toys using FSC wood. I love that a small business has been used to supply these crafts kits to support the creative industry, rather than purchasing them wholesale from a huge supplier.

The earth paints come as a powder and you mix them up to the right consistency. The pink colour was created by mixing the white with a tiny bit of red and it was really easy to apply with the sponge and still let the grain of the wood show through to keep the rustic look. It was very important to let the paint dry between each layer, otherwise it would have smudged together. One of the good things about earth paint is that when it dries out you can just grind it back down to a powder and rehydrate it with a little water again. I smudged my black when I was adding some of the window details, but I revived the white and pink paints and managed to hide the mistake. I’m still not a huge fan of earth paint, I find it still comes away on your hands when you touch the painted pieces even though it is dry, but it does give a nice effect for this project and is of course eco friendly!

Once all the painting is complete the finishing touches were added. I liked the way the twine was used to give the effect of a roof texture and the addition of the bunting was really cute. I definitely felt as though I needed to sit on the beach with an ice cream after finishing them!

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Craftiosity – Marbled Candle Holder

I haven’t done any marbling for a little while so I was quite excited about the Craftiosity marbled candle holder kit! I thought it was a really clever idea to add a unique design to a something that would make a great centrepiece for a table or mantelpiece.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden candle holder
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Marbling tray
  • Marbling inks x2 (black and blue)
  • Disposable gloves

The first step was to paint the candle holder with the white acrylic paint to act as a base for the ink and also to be the third colour of the marbling pattern. The actual making time for this project is actually quite quick but there is quite a bit of drying time involved too. The instructions said that the paint would be dry after 30 minutes, but I actually left mine overnight because I had other jobs to get on with, which made it quite a good project to fit in between other things. I was also painting another project at the same time (see my next blog post!) so it was quite good to have this to alternate with!

Once the paint was dry it was time to get marbling. Using the marbling tray filled two thirds with water you could create your design using drops of the inks. I actually added some extra drops after I swirled my inks with the end of the paint brush but I think I used too much in the end because my finished candle holder took a very long time to dry. Restraint is definitely key here and I think it would still have made a nice pattern, I was just a bit over enthusiastic!

After dunking both sides into the marble pattern on the surface of the water and making sure that all the sides of the candle holder were covered and that it didn’t touch the bottom of the tray, all that was left to do was to let it dry. As I mentioned, mine took a little while to dry completely, but now it is done it looks great. I love with marbling that you never quite get the same design twice so every piece is completely unique. 

I also liked the suggestion of using the inks to marble some paper as well and experimenting with different patterns. It’s always nice to have ideas of what to do with the leftover supplies from craft kits. Now I just need to buy some candles to go in my nice new holder! 

craft kit

Inner Canvas – Abstractus

As you probably know I am currently subscribed to quite a few monthly craft boxes and have been considering cancelling some and swapping them for others to make sure I’m trying out a variety of things and not just getting stuck in a rut. It’s hard to cancel any of them though as I’m always excited to see what will come next and I do feel as though I’m sampling a good range of crafts. However, on the hunt for new craft subscription boxes I came across Inner Canvas. I had a look at the website and scrolled through the past boxes to see what kinds of things were included. Most of the crafts I had tried before, but the designs looked unique and the kits looked well curated. The thing that made me do a happy dance was that you could buy past kits on a one off basis! I love it when subscription box services do this as it means you can dip in and out of the kits without committing to a full subscription, which comes with the danger of receiving crafts you aren’t that interested in. I have several boxes stacked up down in my studio that I haven’t got around to making because I’m just not that excited about the contents.

I was attracted to Inner Canvas via Instagram where Nadia, the lady who runs the show, was posting about their latest box, an embroidery entitled ‘Abstractus’. The design is inspired by geodes and features embellishments of Czech glass beads and Aventurine beads – a semi-precious gemstone.  

Included in the kit was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Aventurine gemstones
  • Czech glass beads
  • Calico fabric
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Beading needle
  • Carbon paper
  • Paper template
  • Metal keyring blank
  • Metal hook (for hanging embroidery)
  • Care package (tealights and a tea bag)

Also included was a ‘Therapist Approved’ journal that included some self-reflective exercises to help reduce anxiety and improve the mindfulness associated with crafting and creativity. I haven’t had a chance to complete any of the exercises yet (to be honest I find crafting mindful enough), but they do look good and a journal is included with every kit.

The instructions that came with the kit were quite basic, just a paper template for transferring the design over to the fabric using the carbon paper and a photograph of the finished piece with a key to show which stitch and colour embroidery thread, or beads should go in which section. The photograph was really clear and easy to use. More detailed instructions were provided via a video link sent in an email. I was really impressed with the video, the steps were demonstrated well and the voiceover was well-paced and easy to understand. Although I already know how to do the two stitches I thought the step-by-step instructions showed how to do them both clearly, especially the two options for getting the satin stitch to go round a curve, which is sometimes tricky for beginners to get to grips with. 

There was a second instructional video for the bonus keyring project that was just as well created as the main video. The keyring was made first so you could ensure you would have enough fabric for both projects and it was nice to have a practice go at the satin stitch and attaching the beads before moving onto the main one.

I thought the design of the embroidery was really unique and I liked how you could really feel where the inspiration came from. I was also impressed at how what is a fairly simple design using only two stitches and the addition of the beads can have such an impact as a finished piece. It just goes to show that less definitely can be more!

I thoroughly enjoyed this craft kit and am keen to see what projects Inner Canvas bring out in the future. I will definitely be keeping an eye on their Instagram feed and will be ordering any kits that look exciting. I have already ordered another of their past kits, the Abstract Air Dry Clay Ceramic kit. I’m hoping to get the chance to have a play around with that one very soon as it’s been a while since I did any clay work and I’m hoping that I will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this one.

Event

Unravel…a Festival of Yarn

Over the weekend I went to the Unravel festival, a festival of yarn hosted by Farnham Maltings, an arts and cultural centre in Surrey. It was the first major outing I’ve done in a very long time and I was a bit nervous about going on the train, mixing with other people, and even being so far away from home!

This is the first time I have been to Unravel, but it is in it’s thirteenth year and due to the impact of Covid this year they not only had an in-person event, but also a virtual event as well. The ticket was only £13 for the in-person event, but this also included access to the virtual event of talks across the weekend as well. There were workshops you could book to attend in real life too, however I decided not to do any of them as they were mainly based around knitting and crocheting and seemed to require a level of skill in these crafts already in order to participate. I love knitted and crocheted items but unfortunately those crafts just aren’t really my forte. 

My main motivation for attending the event was to hunt for new yarn to include in future latch hook projects. I was hoping to find a big range of gauges there, and was especially on the lookout for chunky and super chunky yarns, however I was a little disappointed on that front. The event was very much geared towards knitters and whilst there was a fabulous array of yarns in some amazing hand dyed colours, the main gauges on offer were 4-ply, DK, and Aran. I did see some roving but whilst that would have been great for weaving it doesn’t work quite as well for latch hook. Having said that, I couldn’t resist making some purchases! I bought a lovely trio of blue/purple colour combo DK and an Aran weight stripy brown. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to use the brown for, but I’m excited about the DK colour combo for a wall hanging.

The Covid safety measures were well managed throughout the event. There were timed tickets to stagger the arrival of visitors, masks were required at all times inside the venue (with the exception of eating and drinking), and a one-way system was operating throughout to guide you round each of the rooms where the stalls were set up. 

From the conversations I heard as I went round sock knitting is a huge trend at the moment! I did also find Katie from the Sewcial Circle there too. I introduced myself as I have been on one of her online pom-pom workshops and we had a nice chat. It was good to see her there selling her Loome tools and other craft supplies amongst all the yarn stalls as the sheer amount of yarn was a little overwhelming! There were a few other stalls selling items like yarn bowls and magnetic needle minders too.

I don’t know if I would attend again next year as it was aimed very much at knitters and crocheters, but I did enjoy my adventurous day out and it was nice to be surrounded by people who are just as enthusiastic about craft as I am.

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Craft Box Club – Macrame Semilunar

Quite a quick craft this week from Craft Box Club – a macrame semilunar with a bonus keyring project. I’m really glad I’ve done some macrame recently, especially learning the double half hitch which made up the main body of this project!

Included in the box was:

  • Macrame twine – white
  • Macrame twine – forest green
  • Wooden dowel
  • Macrame comb
  • Keyring clip

The instructions say you will also need scissors but you will need a length of string as well to hang the dowel from. The instruction video for this one is great. All the knots are shown slowly and repeated so that you can see them clearly. I paused and rewound the video several times to make sure I was doing it correctly. I think for this project the video was definitely better than the pictures, although the pictures were still useful. With macrame I much prefer to see the knot being created, rather than just a picture or description. It helps me to understand the structure of the knot a lot better.

Both the projects were really quick to complete. The semilunar was much smaller than I thought it was going to be from the pictures I had seen prior to receiving the kit, but I think that was a good thing because it wasn’t too repetitive and I quite enjoyed making something fairly small for a change! 

I thought the addition of the keyring was great too. It was a good chance to use a couple more different knots; a square knot and a gathering knot. There was a separate instructional video for this project and again was clear and slow enough that you could craft along with it.

Although it’s nice to get involved in a longer project I do enjoy completing something a little quicker every now and then. It gives a nice sense of achievement and satisfaction for only a couple of hours of work.

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Makerly – Mandala Dotting

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been slowly working my way through the mandala dotting Makerly box from last month. This craft trend seems to have completely taken off recently and it seems like a lot of people are doing it at the moment. It certainly has quite a mindful quality to it, whilst at the same time requiring concentration and precision. 

Included in the kit was:

  • Dotting tools
  • Paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Stencils
  • White pencil
  • Black card
  • Round mandala canvases
  • Plastic stand
  • Self-adhesive acrylic gems
  • Rock

The first step was to try out all the different sized dotting tools and have a play around with positioning the dots to create patterns. I much preferred the ball shaped metal tools to the flat plastic ones. I found the flat ones left a texture on the dot, whereas the ball ones gave a much smoother, more precise dot.

There were several stencils included in the kit of varying sizes and spacing which were very helpful for creating even patterns. For my first test pattern I drew lines in the template but I then found that the lines were still visible as I didn’t completely cover them with my dots and they didn’t rub out nicely, so for my next designs I just made dots at each of the intersections. For my second design I ‘dotted’ but then joined the dots with a pattern I copied from the instructions as I knew that if I didn’t have the lines I would make a mistake.

In a typically ‘me’ fashion my first design actually turned out to be my best! Although I did like the design I ended up with on my mandala canvas, especially the limited colour scheme, I managed to go a bit wonky which kind of spoils the effect of the whole piece. 

Lastly I painted my rock. This seems to be the biggest craft trend at the moment, but now I have a painted rock I’m not really sure what to do with it! I started by painting a black circle on the rock and then once it was dry I did my dotting. I kept it quite simple as it’s a lot smaller than the card or canvas and kept to a limited colour palette as well. 

I’m not sure if this craft is for me, but I’m really glad that I had a go at it. I will definitely be using the basic principles of mandala creation for my future embroidery projects and I think the tools will come in handy for other projects too.

craft kit

Wild Floss Embroidery

I’m always on the look out for new craft kits to try and I actually saw this Wild Floss embroidery kit advertised on Facebook. I took a look at their Instagram account and Etsy shop and thought that the kits looked really different to the usual embroidery kits that I’ve seen.

The kit includes:

  • 6” wooden embroidery hoop
  • Fabric
  • Needle
  • Needle threader
  • Variety of yarns
  • Water soluble fabric

I actually didn’t realise that there was a sheet of water soluble fabric at first because it was all wrapped up inside the embroidery fabric. In the end I didn’t use it as it felt a bit plasticky and I thought it would annoy me as I stitched through it. I stuck to the age old technique of tracing the design onto the fabric by holding it up to a window to help the design show through. I don’t have a water soluble pen as the instructions suggested using so I used a pencil. The pencil didn’t show up that well on the fabric so after I made the first tracing I went over it back at the table where I could press more heavily with my pencil and used the paper template as a guide to fill in the blanks myself.

There were instructions for four types of stitches; running stitch, straight/satin stitch, seed stitch, and French knots. I thought the diagrams and descriptions for each stitch were well written and easy to follow. However, I wasn’t really sure why the seed stitch instructions were there as it wasn’t used at all in the design and to create the same effect as the example photo I actually used back stitch rather than running stitch for some of the sections. I did really like the technique for finishing the hoop off at the back. I have never seen it done like this before. The messy back was hidden by layering another piece of fabric behind the main fabric before securing them both in the hoop and then glueing it all in place at the back. It gives it a very tidy, finished look.

Although there were lots of different types of yarn included in the kit, I did feel as though I had to be a bit careful which ones I used for various sections as there were only a couple of strands of each type included and I didn’t want to run out halfway through a section. That did actually happen in one of the French knot sections, but it doesn’t really matter because nobody would know once it is finished. I think that is the beauty of a kit like this. Although there is a design and a pattern, you don’t necessarily need to follow that pattern if you don’t want to. It allows for creativity and freedom to make something completely unique. 

I was attracted to this kit because of the different textures and types of yarn used to complete the design. I really like tactile art pieces, particularly textiles, that make the viewer want to touch them. With this piece I also really like how the thicker yarns give the design differing heights as well. My favourite part is the section that looks a bit like cauliflower! 

I don’t think I would recommend this kit to a beginner sewer, but I would definitely recommend it to a more experienced embroiderer who was looking to expand their creativity and try out familiar stitches with new materials. I’m very pleased with my finished piece, it makes me think of a coral reef where lots of strange sea creatures are lurking!

workshop

Macra-weave Workshop

I’ve been trying my hand at macra-weaving this week; a combination of macrame and weaving. I joined an online workshop run by Daisy’s 60 Minute Crafts. The course was run over two evenings, a week apart via Google (I can’t wait to do real life workshops again!). I only signed up about a week before the first date, but the kit with all the supplies arrived well in time for the session.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden dowel rod
  • Plastic darning needle
  • Macrame string
  • Selection of yarns in different thickness/types

I was unfortunately unwell for the first session and I couldn’t join in, which I was so disappointed about because I was really looking forward to doing some crafting with other people. I emailed Nicki, the lady behind Daisy’s, to explain that I wouldn’t be able to make it and she very kindly offered to do a short session with just me to catch me up ahead of the second session. I honestly cannot praise her enough for this very kind gesture. She gave up an evening of her time just to show me what to do. I would have been happy with a video of how to do the macrame knots or even written instructions! I just got her to show me the knots and go through their placement to create the base of the wall hanging ready for the weaving so I could complete it at a later date. I didn’t want to keep her all night whilst I made the whole thing! 

We used two types of knots to create the macrame base; a larks head to attach the strings to the dowel rod and a double half hitch for the decorative knots. The lines of double half hitch were spaced out down the length of the wall hanging to create sections for the weaving. There were also a couple of sections where we did a more decorative style knot, using a single half hitch using four strings instead of two and leaving it loose to create a loopy effect.

Having made a ‘loom’ with the macrame, the second session was dedicated to weaving. I was well again for this one as it was a week later, which meant I could join in with the live workshop. Nicki taught us three weaves that we could use to fill in the spaces between the knots. The first was the plain weave, which is the basic in and out stitch. The second was the soumak weave, created by wrapping the yarn around the string, you could make it bigger or smaller depending on how many strings you wrapped it around. Lastly was the Rya knot used to create the tassels at the bottom of the wall hanging.

I really like the effect of combining these two textile crafts together. It’s a very relaxed craft and I think you could create a lot of different effects just with these few techniques, depending on the placement of the knots and weaves. I also like that there’s no pressure to fill up the whole of the piece with weaving, in fact, I actually think it looks better with sections of the string left bare. I have to send my thanks out again to Nicki for her amazing customer service. I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye on her events calendar for another craft workshop that tickles my fancy!

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Craftpod – Mimosa Embroidery

Another lovely kit from Craftpod for Spring, this time inspired by the Mimosa tree with it’s fluffy yellow flowers. There were two projects in the kit; an embroidered needle book, and a greenfinch cross stitch.

Included in the box was:

  • Pre-printed fabric
  • Felt (green and cream)
  • Cross stitch canvas
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x6 (dark green, light green, yellow, grey green, pink, and black)
  • Pins
  • Needles
  • Button
  • Cardboard bobbins
  • Stickers
  • Tea bag

I started off with the needle book as I have never made one before. I thought it looked quite complicated but it was actually surprisingly easy to make! Starting off with the pre-printed fabric in the hoop I followed the design using mainly one strand of thread for back stitch and split stitch for the stems and leaves and French knots to create the little flowers. Once the embroidery was finished I cut around the border to create a little rectangular patch. I then cut the rest of the white fabric away from the green and trimmed the cream felt to size so I had all the pieces ready to start construction.

Stitching the embroidered patch onto the green rectangle I was a bit worried that the fabric would fray too much, but as I sewed around it I felt like the stitches would keep it in place and the raw edges give it quite a nice rustic feel. Adding the button finished off the front of the book nicely.

To keep the book shut you had to finger knit a crochet chain. I couldn’t quite remember how to do this from my previous crocheting attempts so I used the video tutorial on the Craftpod YouTube channel to remind myself. The video was really demonstrative and I picked it up straight away. The only thing I found was that they didn’t show how to cast off to keep your chain secure, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out! This chain was sewn to the back of the book, allowing enough give to go around the button once the book was shut with all the felt layers inside.

After sewing the green felt to the cream with some back stitch down the middle to create the ‘pages’ of the needle book, the cream felt was then attached to the completed cover using blanket stitch. As the edges of the green fabric had also been left raw this added to the rustic aesthetic of the book.

The second project was the cross stitch of the greenfinch sitting on a Mimosa branch. I love all the colours in this embroidery, it’s so bright and Spring-like. I thought it was going to take me a really long time as cross stitches usually do, but it was actually quite quick. The design is fairly small and the stitch chart was very easy to follow. I also liked the use of a French knot for the eye, rather than just another cross stitch, it seems to bring the design to life.

Another very enjoyable box from Craftpod. I liked that neither of the projects were too time consuming, and they were both things that could be put down and picked up at leisure, there was no need to dedicate hours to them all in one go. I particularly liked the needle book, although it’s not really my usual style it will actually be really useful and I will definitely be filling it up and putting it in my sewing box.