subscription box

Craftiosity – Natural Dye Slow Stitch Project Bag

This project from Craftiosity is not to be rushed! Not only is the stitching section supposed to be slow and meditative, but the natural solar dyeing of the yarn first takes over two weeks before the yarn can be used. I’ve never done any natural dyeing before so I was keen to see the results from using turmeric, marigolds, and sunlight.

Included in the box was:

  • Skein of wool
  • Dried turmeric powder
  • Dried marigold petals
  • Cotton drawstring bag
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread (blue)
  • Embroidery needle
  • Yarn needle
  • Wooden stirrers x2

You also needed a few other materials in order to complete the project: two large glass jars with lids (I used Kilner jars), a sieve, a tape measure, a tablespoon, and of course scissors. 

After dividing the large skein of wool into three, the dye baths could be prepared. The turmeric one was straightforward as you just mixed the powder with the water and put the yarn straight in. The marigold one had to sit for a week with just the petals in the water before these were strained out using the sieve, leaving you with the water that you could then add your yarn to for another week to dye. 

The drying process then took a further couple of days, leaving them to drip dry over their jars first before transferring them to an airer to spread out and finish drying. Despite tying the mini skeins with lengths of thread to keep them bundled in the jars mine were very tangled when they came out of the dye baths and it took me quite a while to get them untangled. 

I was very impressed with the final colours of the yarn once they were dry, they were vibrant and not diluted at all. Although I do think I could have rinsed and dried the turmeric one again because as I handled it some powder did come off and my fingers got a bit stained, however I was too keen to start the stitching!

I roughly copied the design from the template provided by using a pencil to sketch the shapes onto the project bag. Stitching inside a bag, even with an embroidery hoop to help can be tricky, which is why its good to take this one slowly. I thought the limited use of only three stitches worked really well and adding couching in with satin stitch and seed stitch was nice as it’s not a stitch that is used very often in projects like this. I thought that the mixture of stitches, colours, and shapes gave the piece a seaside vibe.

It was nice having an ongoing project to keep checking on over the couple of weeks it took to dye the yarn and it was exciting to see the results of all that waiting!

subscription box

Craftiosity – Gathering Knot Placemat

I feel like I’ve fallen behind again with all my subscription boxes, the next Craftiosity box came in the post before I’d even started the last one and I’ve got several more from other companies lined up too! I’ve been quite busy recently with life in general, but after next weekend I’ll have the whole summer to craft away before starting my Textiles diploma in September, which I’m very excited about! I have now finished the ‘Gathering Knot Placemat’ Craftiosity box and I’m very pleased with the end result.

Included in the kit was:

  • Cotton rope
  • Cotton yarn x3 (grey, dusky pink, sand)
  • White sewing thread
  • Needle
  • Thimble

The placemat design was created using a gathering knot, which I have come across before when doing macrame projects. It’s a really secure way of wrapping yarn around a core material without worrying about it coming loose or tying off the ends properly. It’s also a very easy knot to learn, especially when you are doing it over and over again! I’m glad the instructions said to cut all the lengths of yarn before starting the knots as having them all measured and ready to go made it really easy to get into a rhythm with the wrapping. There was a point where I thought I would definitely have spare lengths of yarn because I would get to the end of the rope before using them all, but they fit perfectly in the end.

I accidentally went a bit astray from the instructions, which is why you should always take time to read them all before jumping in to the project! You were supposed to wrap about a metre of the rope and then begin the coiling process, then return to the gathering knots to the end of the rope before finishing off the coiling. I got so engrossed in the knots that I wrapped the whole rope before I realised I should have done some coiling half way through. Ultimately I think this suited my style of working better though. I prefer to complete one process before moving onto the next, rather than chopping and changing between the two. I think doing the coiling all in one go worked particularly well for me as I think I would have found the half done coil a bit cumbersome when trying to finish the knots.

The coiling of the placemat reminded me of basket weaving, placing the stitches at even intervals on the underside of the mat and making sure to catch some of the rope with the needle to secure it properly. I’m so glad that the thimble was included in the kit, it was a definite thumb-saver! It really helped with getting the needle through the rope properly, something I have struggled with in previous kits of a similar nature. 

The estimated time on the instructions for this kit was 4-5 hours and I would say that is about right. It depends how fast you do your wrapping really. It is a really mindful project and the repetitive nature of it allows you to really get into a zone and is perfect to do listening to relaxing music or a good podcast. Now, straight onto the next kit!

subscription box

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! 

subscription box

Craftiosity – Embroidered Moon Tea Towel

Back to embroidery for me this week with the moon tea towel from Craftiosity. I really like the idea behind the design of this embroidery of the waxing moon representing a period of building energy and achieving goals. Nice to have a reminder of this in the kitchen whilst I’m doing the washing up!

Included in the kit was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Cotton tea towel
  • Embroidery thread x4 (dark grey, mid blue, light blue, dusky pink)
  • Needle
  • Paper template
  • Inspirational postcards

The template was used to trace the design lightly onto the tea towel using a pencil and a dotted line rather than a solid line for the clouds as they wouldn’t be filled in completely. The instructions said to only trace the clouds first and then put the outline of the moon and foliage in later, but I doubted my ability to line up the pattern again so I just traced it all at once!

I really liked the use of the different stitches and coloured thread to fill the clouds. It was quite repetitive doing the seed stitch, cross stitch and French knots, but in a mindful and meditative way. I tied off the thread after doing each little grey star as I didn’t want to waste the thread and I didn’t want the stitches on the back to show through to the front. 

The moon was stitched in satin stitch using all six strands of the thread and the leaves were meant to be the same, but I felt as though I didn’t have enough left to complete them so I changed to only using three strands for the leaves. As the area of the leaves was a lot smaller than the moon it didn’t really make a difference to the overall look. 

I’m looking forward to using this and having it hanging in my kitchen, inspiring me to grow and work towards me goals!

subscription box

Craftiosity – Beaded Hanging Shelf

The project in this month’s Craftiosity kit (https://craftiosity.co.uk/) was a beaded hanging shelf. When I first got it out of the box I thought it looked quite complicated, but it actually turned out to be super easy and quick to make. I often struggle to find places to hang things like this in my house, but this one is so small and light that I was able to hang it off the end of my bookshelf!

Included in the kit was:

  • Copper ring
  • Cotton yarn
  • Small wooden beads x9
  • Medium wooden beads x17
  • Large wooden beads x5
  • Needle
  • Palm leaf tray

The first part of the project used some macrame knots. The first was a lark’s head knot to attach the lengths of yarn onto the copper ring. This is quite a simple knot and I thought the instructions were easy to follow. However, I had some difficulty with the second knot. This one was a gathering knot, which I have done before, but I found the first couple of instructions very confusing. It said to cut a 15cm length of yarn and then fold the first 6cm over and back on itself to create a loop. Doing this left me with a very short tail and the yarn in the picture was hidden by a hand, so I watched the video guide to try and figure out what I was doing wrong. The voiceover in the video said 15cm too, but the yarn looked much longer than that to me, so I decided to cut a longer length and try again. I cut a piece around 40cm long and this time I had enough to create the loop with a long enough tail to wrap around and achieve a gathering knot that looked a similar length to the picture. I’m not sure if maybe they meant 15 inches, but I don’t know why they would have changed from metric to imperial half way through…I figured it out in the end anyway! 

From there down the rest of the project was very straightforward and the instructions were easy to follow. It was mainly threading beads and tying knots to keep them at the right height. I liked the way the beads were spaced to support the tray and keep it in place. As it’s quite small it wouldn’t take a lot of weight but it would be perfect for a small plant or other little ornament. 

I also like the suggestions for personalising it by painting the beads or using a natural dye like avocado to dye both the yarn and the beads. Personally I like the natural colours of the beads and yarn, but you could definitely get experimental with this project!

subscription box

Craftiosity – Needlepoint Journal

There was a very mindful craft from Craftiosity (https://craftiosity.co.uk/) this month, stitching a needlepoint cover for a notebook. It was quite a simple and repetitive design, but very relaxing to do. I actually did mine whilst watching my favourite Disney films!

Included in the box was:

  • Yarn x2 (golden yellow and parchment)
  • Needlepoint canvas
  • Needle
  • Notebook

There was an issue with the supplier who had packed some boxes with 8 holes-per-inch canvas rather than 7 holes-per-inch, which affected the design, however an email was sent out alerting all subscribers to this as soon as they found out. I received my email only a couple of days after I received the box. A new set of instructions and pattern was sent out to accommodate the different canvas, as well as a method for determining which canvas you had. I actually had the larger size, so was pleased that I hadn’t started the project as soon as it arrived!

Once that had been sorted the process of making the cover was very straightforward. Starting with cutting the canvas to size, you needed four pieces to make the cover. Then the sewing could begin. The pattern was stitched as diagonal squares in an alternating pattern with the stitches slanting first to the right and then to the left. I decided to stitch all the parchment coloured yarn first and then go back and fill in the golden colour, but I think you could do it row by row if you were happy to keep swapping colours as you got further down the pattern.

This process was completed twice, once for the front and once for the back cover. The two smaller pieces of canvas were then joined to the larger ones to create a pocket for the covers of the notebook to sit in. This was done using a binding stitch. I thought it was going to be a basic whip stitch but it was actually more complicated than that and gave a nice solid finish to the edge of the cover. The notebook could then be slotted into the separate covers and lastly it was sewn together using the binding stitch up the spine of the book. 

I really enjoyed this project as it was so relaxing and could be done whilst watching the TV or listening to a podcast and the end result is something that can be used day to day.

subscription box

Craftiosity – Winter Felt Wreath

I had so much crafting to do before Christmas that I just couldn’t fit it all in! As we are still in the ‘Christmas period’ I think it’s ok to still be posting wreaths, especially one as nice as this from the December Craftiosity box (https://craftiosity.co.uk/).

Included in the box was:

  • Felt sheets x4 (orange, ivory, light green, dark green)
  • Embroidery thread x4 (orange, green, white, gold)
  • Metal wreath base
  • Needle
  • Paper template
  • Christmas gift of gold flecked baker’s twine

Wreaths, fruit, felt and embroidery seem to be very much the trend of the season, based on what I’ve been making over the last few weeks and this snowberry and orange slice wreath certainly fits the bill. Ever since I saw this kit on Instagram I’ve been looking forward to making the orange slices! The kit was very straightforward to put together, and each step had some great techniques to try. I thought that wrapping the metal hoop in strips of felt to attach the components to was a great idea, and I particularly liked creating the snowberries using a running stitch to gather the circle of felt together. Filling them with off-cuts of the felt was a neat way to use up the scraps and create less waste.

The orange slices were the most time-consuming part. The segments were created using long and short stitch and there were three slices to do, with six segments on each. I’m not really sure how long they took me as I sat and did them in front of the TV, but I do know that I love the result! My only issue was that I ran out of embroidery thread after making only two of the slices. I’m not sure why as I followed the instructions, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the third slice. I looked into buying the thread online, which was easy enough to find on Love Crafts (https://www.lovecrafts.com/en-gb/), but before I bought it I decided to check in my sewing box. I have done a lot of kits and have a lot of leftover thread so I rummaged through and miraculously found a skein that was almost identical in colour to the original thread! It is ever so slightly lighter, but I don’t think it notices at all now that they are all attached the to hoop. Once I’d finished the final slice with my found thread I then added the finishing gold touches.

Once I had all the components and the hoop prepared I could then decide on the placement and sew it all together. Although this wreath didn’t quite get made in time for this Christmas I will look forward to hanging it up in my home next year! 

subscription box

Craftiosity – Brush Lettering Baubles

Two more decorations for my Christmas tree with the November Craftiosity kit (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! Using brush lettering pens to decorate wooden baubles, it had a bit of a Nordic feel to me. 

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden spindle bauble
  • Wooden diamond bauble
  • Brush letter pens x3 (black, red, green)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Lettering guide

This project took me around 1.5 hours to complete. I started off practising the writing I was going to do on the spindle bauble. I was glad that I had recently done the workshop on faux calligraphy as it set me up really nicely for my lettering. As before you had to remember that upstrokes were thin and downstrokes were thick. It’s quite a strange way of writing and the temptation is to try and do the whole word in one go, but actually you get a much better result if you do one letter at a time and just make them look joined up! I also measured the gap on the bauble where I would be writing and drew some guidelines for myself so I could practice writing the letters to the correct size.

After practising the writing it was then time to decorate the baubles, starting with the white paint and then embellishing with the red and green brush pens. I followed the pattern provided in the instructions, but I think you could be as creative as you like with this. I like the foliage theme though as it has a real Christmas feel in those colours. 

Once they were all decorated and the paint was dry it was time to add the lettering I had practiced. I drew it on in pencil first to make sure I spaced it out nicely and then went over in the black brush pen. There were some surfaces on the bauble where the wood had been cut in a certain way which meant that the pens bled slightly, which makes it look a bit messy, but once they are up on the tree you really can’t notice from a distance.

This was such a simple craft, but so effective in its results. The baubles have a really rustic, traditional feel to them, which is always nice at Christmas time!

subscription box

Craftiosity – Marble Clay Coasters

This month’s Craftiosity kit was marble clay coasters, made using polymer clay. I always have mixed feelings when I receive a kit with polymer clay in, because I am so familiar with it and have used it for years so I’m not as excited as when I receive a box containing a craft I’ve never done before. On the other hand I’m always interested to see what different techniques and tricks I might learn that I may never have tried.

Included in the box was:

  • Fimo polymer clay (black, white and gold)
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Baking paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard cutter
  • Paper template

I usually use a brand of polymer clay called Premo Sculpey, mainly because that’s what I used when I was first taught, so I haven’t used Fimo very much. One of the things I really liked about it was the division guidelines. Premo only has four guidelines for slicing off blocks of clay, but the Fimo had larger guidelines on one side and smaller guidelines on the other. This is so useful if you want to make sure you are using the same amount of clay each time, or you want the same amount of several different colours. I was slightly sceptical that the cardboard cutter wouldn’t be any good, but the Fimo seemed to be a lot softer than Premo and the cardboard cutter had no problems going through the block. 

Marbling the clay is always the fun bit! There isn’t really any science to it, you just make sausages with your chosen colours and twist them together. Obviously the more you twist the less defined your pattern will be as the colours start to blend together and the less you twist the more blocky your pattern will be. Once the clay has been twisted in on itself enough, you can form it into a ball ready for rolling out.

Once the clay had been rolled out to a large enough size to accommodate the paper template (the instructions recommended a 3mm thickness) it was time to cut out the hexagonal shape of the coasters. Here is where the cardboard cutter had a bit of trouble. The cardboard had to be a certain thickness to maintain its rigidity, but that meant that it didn’t produce a nice clean cut. I completely understand the complications of sending blades through the post, but I think a tissue blade or even a craft knife would be better to use at this point. I always find that the cleaner you can make it before it goes in the oven, the less sanding it will need when it comes out. 

The instructions said to put it in the oven for thirty minutes, however I know that my oven can be a bit fierce, especially with thinner items, so I set a timer for fifteen minutes and checked them. I felt that the white clay was started to look a bit dark and I didn’t want them to burn so I took them out. After they had cooled I then sanded them. The sand paper provided was a finer grade which worked really well and didn’t leave any scratches on the coasters. I did actually trim some of the rougher edges with a pair of scissors as well! I squashed the offcuts together and rolled them out to create a fifth coaster so I didn’t waste any of the clay, which I then baked whilst I was sanding the others!

This was such a great project, which I think would also be great for older kids as long as they were supervised by an adult, especially with the oven part! The whole project took me around an hour and a half in total, which I guess would vary depending on how long you bake the coasters and let them cool down for. Another good one from Craftiosity (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! 

I’m looking forward to receiving some Christmas themed boxes in the post soon. I don’t normally start thinking about Christmas until December, but I think this year we could all use some extra cheer! I’m also starting my gift shopping soon as it will be mostly online and I want to support small businesses so I want to get in early and beat any postal cut off dates!

craft kit · subscription box

Craftiosity – Herringbone Marquetry Clock

This month’s Craftiosity kit was brilliant and like nothing I’ve ever tried before (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! I’d seen lots of pictures on Instagram of the kit before I received and opened it and really loved the look of the clock, but I thought it looked fiddly and like it involved a lot of sanding. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Included in the box was:

  • Wood veneer sheets x3
  • Wooden clock face
  • Clock hands and mechanism
  • Double sided tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Wooden bird tags (just for fun!)
  • Inspirational postcards

The project was divided into two main parts: cutting up the wood veneer into rectangles, and creating the herringbone pattern on the clock face. The first part of the project was a little repetitive, marking out the correct measurements and applying the double sided tape, but I’ve never worked with wood veneer before and was surprised by how brittle it was, but also how easy it was to just cut with scissors too. Once all the pieces were cut and sanded to ensure straight edges with no splinters it was time to start assembling the pattern.

This was the part I enjoyed the most. It was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, particularly around the edges trying to fill in the small gaps with offcuts, whilst still maintaining the pattern with the three different types of wood. The clock mechanism was easy to set up as well, just inserting it from the back and then adding the hands in the correct order: hour, minute and second. All that was needed after that was a battery! 

I had so much fun doing this project and it only took a couple of hours at most. The result is great quality and looks like it should have taken much longer to achieve. In addition there was loads of the wood veneer left over to create something else. I like the idea of getting another clock face to decorate as a gift for someone, but Craftiosity also suggest a box or a picture frame and also trying different patterns as well. It’s always great when craft kits are generous with the supplies included because it means that if you enjoy the craft enough to want to do it again you have enough materials to keep going as it can be daunting sourcing your own materials when you first get into a craft. Now I just have to find somewhere to hang my new clock…