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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.

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Craftpod – Winter Swans

The winter Craftpod was such a beautiful kit! I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but there’s just something so magical about the Craftpod kits. The projects are always so delicate and well thought out. The theme for this season was swans and there were three projects to complete; swan and wreath embroidery, felt swans, and a recipe for pine cone ginger biscuits. 

Included in the box was:

  • Pre-printed swan fabric
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x6 (brown, white, gold, orange, light green, dark green)
  • White felt
  • Brown felt
  • Fleece (for stuffing)
  • Tea bag
  • Swan needle minder

The image for the swan and wreath embroidery was created by illustrator Gordy Wright, who also did the design for my favourite ever Craftpod and the first subscription box I ever did and reviewed for this blog, Blackbird’s Nest! The design for this one was quite simple and the stitches were all very straightforward. The thing that sets it apart for me is the 3D element of the pine cones. I like the way they are cut out of the brown felt and appliquéd on to the wreath with long crisscrossing stitches to give the impression of the pine cone’s spines. I also like the gold crown to give it a little magical touch.

The felt swans were quite fiddly and a lot smaller than I thought they would be from the pictures! I decided to make mine in a production line style, completing each step on all three of the swans before moving onto the next step. I think this stopped me from having that ‘starting again from the top’ feeling and made me more efficient. Getting the fleece in the head and neck was quite tricky and required some patience, but the results are lovely. I liked that there was different options for the wing designs. I chose to do one of each design, but I think they would look nice all the same too. I also liked the option to either leave them as ornaments or add a string for them to hang on the Christmas tree. I decided to leave mine as ornaments as I already have so much going on on the tree! They will take pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Lastly the recipe for the pine cone ginger biscuits. It was such a simple recipe and didn’t require any ingredients I didn’t already have in the cupboard. It was really quick to make too, the longest part being the chill time in the freezer for 30 mins, but in that time I carried on stitching my swans. The idea of creating the pine cone effect by indenting the clay with the back of the knife was great, however my biscuits did quite a lot of spreading in the oven and rather lost the effect…they still tasted delicious though! If I were to make them again I might let them chill for another half hour in the fridge after shaping them and before baking, to help them hold their shape a bit more. 

I always sign up for a yearly subscription with Craftpod as I know I will enjoy all the projects. The Winter box was the last one in my subscription, so I must remember to sign up again as soon as they open for Spring. The boxes individually are £25 and the yearly subscription is now £92 (https://www.craftpod.co.uk/). Although this is a lot upfront it means I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the year, aside from getting excited for them to drop through my letterbox!

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Craftpod – Enchanted Woodland

This year’s autumn box from Craftpod (https://www.craftpod.co.uk/) had an ‘Enchanted Woodland’ theme featuring toadstools and an extremely cute badger! Included in the box was:

  • Printed toadstool design fabric
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery threads x7
  • Stuffing
  • Felt (grey, black and white)
  • Interfacing
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Eyes
  • Paper templates
  • Toadstool pin
  • Woodland stickers
  • English Breakfast tea bag

The first project was an embroidery of a Fly Agaric toadstool, a typical fairytale style red with white spots. Although the majority of the embroidery was made up of long and short stitch, which is one of my least favourite stitches, I still absolutely loved this project! Firstly, it was quite small so it felt really achievable, but the thing I loved about it the most was how effectively the stitches and thread colours were arranged to create the highlights and shadows making the whole piece look really 3D. The addition of the French knots as the warts of the toadstool, which of course are raised off the fabric, made it really special. I also liked that it was done on black fabric. Not only did it make the design really stand out, but it was nice to work on something other than white or cream!

The second project was a small stuffed felt badger. As a Hufflepuff I was pretty excited to make this, and it didn’t disappoint. When I saw how small the paper templates were I was a bit concerned that I would be able to complete it without the badger looking like a wonky mess, but actually the way it was constructed meant that there were very few fiddly bits. I really liked the addition of the little toadstool embroidered on his side as it tied the whole box together. I also liked the use of the pipe cleaners in the legs. I have made this style of pattern before and found that the legs are very tricky to fill with stuffing and often end up quite flat, but by bending and inserting the pipe cleaner into the legs it meant that they were filled and also moveable.

I think I have said this before but Craftpod really is one of my favourite craft boxes. If you are into embroidery I would highly recommend it. I always feel that the projects push my skills and the results are so rewarding. The winter box is launching soon and I cannot wait to receive it! This autumn box is still available in the Craftpod Extras shop over on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/868716864/autumn-2020-craftpod?ref=shop_home_feat_2).    

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Craftpod – Summer Meadow Embroidery

A bit of a summer throw back, especially as I know the Autumn Craftpod will shortly be on its way, but I really enjoyed doing this summer meadow embroidery kit. I think the Craftpod kits (https://www.craftpod.co.uk/) might be my favourites because, although they are always embroidery based, I always feel as though I’m doing something new or different. I also like that they are quarterly rather than monthly. Whilst I love getting monthly treats in the post it can get a little overwhelming trying to keep up with all the projects!

Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Square calico x1
  • Rectangular calico x2
  • Rectangular green fabric x2
  • Zip
  • Embroidery threads
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Cotton thread
  • Paper template
  • Cardboard bobbins
  • Inspirational postcard
  • Bird needle threader
  • Chamomile teabag

There were two projects included in this box; a summer meadow embroidery hoop and an embroidery zip pouch. I started with the hoop which was made up of a floral arrangement inspired by a summer walk in the countryside. Included in the design were chamomile flowers, wild carrots, cornflowers, ferns and lavender. The Craftpod embroidery projects always push me to improve my skills, especially as they are often worked with one strand of embroidery thread. In this project I learned three new stitches. I had done chain stitch before, but this one was done with a method I hadn’t tried so it was great to give that a go. The other two, whipped stitch and bullion stitch, I had never tried before. The whipped stitch was really easy, but it gave the stems more of the 3D effect than plain back or split stitch. The bullion stitch was also quite 3D, but a little more complicated and prone to tangling. I had a few goes on a spare bit of fabric before committing to it on the real thing, but despite a couple of wobbles I think the overall effect is brilliant. I’d love to learn more 3D embroidery techniques as it really brings a piece to life.

The second project was the one I was really interested in! I haven’t put a zip in anything since I was at school so I was really looking forward to re-learning how to do that. I think I sewed a little close to the zip as a bit of the fabric keeps getting caught when I do it up, but it’s a good lesson for next time. You could choose to have the calico or the green on the outside of the pouch and I chose the green as I liked it better, but it meant you couldn’t trace the design onto the fabric before embroidering, so it had to be free hand. This was good as you could do something a little different to the original design, but I think I could have used an outline for my flowers as I felt they came out a bit small! As I’ve mentioned before I like to make useful items so this pouch really appealed to me. It can be used for anything from make-up to pencils or even used as a small clutch bag.

I’m really looking forward to the Autumn Craftpod arriving, especially from the sneak peeks that have been appearing on their Instagram, so I can’t wait for it to drop through my front door!

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Spring Craftpod 2020

When I started my blog almost a year ago one of the first subscription boxes I signed up to was Craftpod (https://www.craftpod.co.uk/). As a quarterly subscription it is themed around the seasons, usually including an embroidery project and another project, sometimes embroidery based, sometimes not! It also always comes with a flavoured teabag and usually a few other treats too including notebooks, postcards and pins. The subscription only lasts for four boxes, so as soon as I realised I wouldn’t automatically be renewed I got straight on the website and signed myself back up for another year! 

The theme of the Spring 2020 box was ‘Serene Spring’, offering a little bit of calm crafting in this crazy world we are living in right now. Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery thread
  • Peach linen
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Water soluble interfacing
  • Felt
  • Fleece
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Washi tape
  • Needle
  • Keyring
  • Notebook and card featuring Harriet Lee Merrion’s illustration
  • Green teabag

As usual there were two projects included in the box both inspired by Harriet Lee Merrion’s illustration. The first project was an embroidery featuring elements from the picture arranged on a shelf. For this I used both interfacings. The iron-on one was cut down to size and ironed on to the back of the peach linen. I then used the washi tape to secure the water soluble interfacing over the template provided and traced it on to the fabric side. Once this was done I then peeled off the paper side to stick it to my fabric. This is my second time using water soluble interfacing and I actually really like it. It’s great for transferring detailed designs. I then had to stitch over the design, but just the outlines, no details. Once that was done I then had to soak off the interfacing to leave the design stitched to my fabric and when it was all gone I ironed it to get out any creases.

After fitting my stitched fabric into the embroidery hoop I could then go about adding all the details. This project was so good for using a range of stitches and I even learnt a couple of new ones, which was great! There were the usual stitches which I am familiar with such as split stitch, back stitch and french knots…and the dreaded long and short stitch, which I really don’t like doing but looks good when it’s done so I shouldn’t complain too much! 

The new stitches were what really made me excited! The first was daisy chain, which I do already know how to do but haven’t used in a really long time. It’s so effective for the leaves of the plant. The second was a weave for the plant pots. I made some long stitches up and down the outline of the pot and then used my needle to weave in and out of them to create this woven basket look. I started with the larger one and it went quite well at first but unfortunately I must have pulled a bit tight near the top as it went a bit wonky. The smaller pot went much better. Lastly was the ribbed spider web to create the fan, which was created by wrapping the thread around each of the spokes in turn. This was my favourite stitch and I’ll definitely be looking for opportunities to use it in future work.

The second project was a felt keyring. Also taking inspiration from the illustration it is a cute little cherry blossom. There was a paper template included to cut out two flowers in the peach felt and a circle for the centre in a darker pink. I started by attaching the circle to one of the flowers by stitching the stamens going out from the centre to each petal using back stitch finished with a french knot. The two sides were attached together using blanket stitch (another lesser used stitch for me!), leaving a 2cm gap to stuff it with the fleece. I looped the velvet ribbon around the keyring and inserted it into the gap before sewing it shut so that it was securely held in place. This little project only took me about an hour and it’s useful as well as pretty!

I’m already looking forward to my Summer Craftpod, even though it’s months away. I always find the projects a bit different, really achievable even if you are a bit short on time, and I always learn a new technique.

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Winter Craftpod 2019

I really enjoyed the winter Craftpod! There were two really great projects included, both something a bit different from previous boxes. There was a Scandinavian style cross stitch hoop designed by Lucy from the blog ‘Attic 24’, and a paper craft project designed by Clover Robin.

Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needle
  • Aida fabric
  • Range of coloured paper
  • Card
  • Coloured pencils
  • Inspirational postcard
  • Spiced red fruits teabag

I did the paper craft project first. The instructions were really clear and took you through the order in which to build up the picture. I especially enjoyed creating the pine cones. I really liked the use of the different colours and textures of the paper to create the effect. I also liked using the coloured pencils to embellish the picture at the end by adding some snowy branches onto the trees, the wreaths on the doors of the huts and the little hand drawn trees.

There was a suggestion to scan your finished collage and use it to print your own Christmas cards. I was a bit late for that this year, but that design may well be making an appearance next year!

The cross stitch project was nice to do over a few evenings in front of the TV. There was a great tip to find the centre point and then complete a quarter of the design at a time. I actually found this really helpful to break it down like that and it actually didn’t take me long to complete it at all. 

I’ve put both the finished projects on my mantel piece alongside my advent calendar and they have made me feel really Christmassy! I haven’t been feeling as festive as usual this year, but having completed quite a few Christmas projects over the last few weeks I am now feeling more than ready for the big day! Only two more sleeps to go…

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Craftpod: Autumn 2019

The Autumn Craftpod was a box of two halves for me. One project I really enjoyed and the other one not so much! I did, however, really like working in the autumnal colours. Yellow and orange are my favourite colours so it was great to open up the box and see all the gorgeous coloured threads inside.

In the box was:

  • Cotton tote bag
  • Piece of calico
  • Piece of yellow felt
  • Embroidery threads
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Copper craft wire
  • Two needles
  • Two brooch backs
  • Inspirational postcards
  • Seasonal cardboard thread holders
  • Paper templates
  • Ceylon black tea bag

The first project was embroidering a tote bag. The picture was made up of various seasonal vegetation such as a pumpkin, mushrooms, nasturtium and oak leaves. It made me think of being at school and going to harvest festival! The embroidery was very fine, using only a single strand of thread. I usually enjoy this kind of needlework, but I wasn’t a big fan of the design, so it felt a bit laboured to get it finished. Large sections of the design were done in long and short stitch which I really hate doing, but that’s just a personal preference! What I did really like about the project was that it was done on a tote bag. There was a piece of calico provided so you had a choice to do either the bag or an ornamental piece. A lot of the kits I have completed have been to make a wall hanging, so it was great to embroider something that I will use on a daily basis and is practical.

The second project was to make an oak leaf brooch. I really liked this project as it was a bit different and I hadn’t done anything like it before. I also really like brooches, although this one might be heading to my mum as I think she would love it and would wear it more regularly than me. The brooch was made of felt and craft wire. The idea was to shape the craft wire around the oak leaf template and then sew it to the felt so that it is completely hidden. You then add the veins and cut around the shape, ending up with a pliable leaf shape, giving it movement and a 3D effect which I love. The brooch back is sewn on the back.

So, the Autumn Craftpod was a bit of a mixed bag for me, but as usual I’m pleased with the finished products. Even when I’m not really enthusiastic about a project, I always think that it was worth the effort  and hard work in the end, and it’s always worth giving something new a try because otherwise you never know if you’ll like it or not!

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Craftpod: Summer 2019

There was so many lovely things inside the summer themed Craftpod that I can’t believe they all fit in the box! There were two projects to complete as well as some other nice surprises.

Inside the box was:

• Embroidery hoop
• Fabric
• Seven colours of embroidery thread
• Needle and threader
• Bee postcard
• Template for embroidery design
• Notebook
• Honeybush Açai Berry Punch teabag
• Bee brooch

The main project was an embroidery hoop designed by embroiderer Emillie Ferris. The design was called ‘Sweet Bee’ and features a bee inside a wreath of flowers. After fixing the fabric in the embroidery hoop you had to trace the design onto the fabric using the template provided. Then, following Emillie’s instructions, you built up the image using the embroidery thread provided. This is the most intricate sewing I have ever done. Each piece was sewn using only one strand of the thread and using tiny stitches to create smooth lines and curves. A lot of the outlines were done using a split stitch; bringing the needle up through the middle of the previous stitch. This can be quite tricky when you are only working with one strand of thread! The other part that I found to be very fiddly were the French knots. The centre of each of the flowers and all the flower buds were created using loads of tiny French knots placed very close together and again using only one strand of thread. There were times during this project when I had to stop because my eyes were hurting or my back was aching, but as I completed each stage I felt really proud of myself!

The second project was a recipe for a honey and ricotta cheesecake. I’ve never made a cheesecake before so I was really excited to see how it turned out! It was a baked cheesecake and there was a moment when I took it out the oven when I wasn’t sure if it was done. You have leave a slight jiggle in the mixture, but I wasn’t sure if I had too much jiggle! I was also worried that it had just turned into scrambled eggs and that my base was way too crumbly, but I should have just had faith because it all turned out fine in the end. I made it for my family and they all agreed that it was delicious and that the flavour of the honey really came through. My favourite bit was the nut clusters on the top. They were really easy and quick to make and tasted like sweets. I would actually consider making them just to snack on in the future! There was supposed to be real honeycomb and edible marigolds on the top but I couldn’t get hold of either of those so I added some honeycomb from my local sweet shop instead.

I haven’t used my notebook or worn my pin yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed this box. It was full of great things and it’s so nice to have that drop through your door each season. I also like to have an ongoing project to work on in front of the TV in the evenings or if I have a spare couple of hours in the day and this embroidery project provided just that. I can’t wait for the next one to come through my letter box. Roll on Autumn!

You can find more details and subscribe to Craftpod at their website: https://www.craftpod.co.uk/

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Craftpod: Spring 2019

I’ve signed up to Craftpod (http://www.craftpod.co.uk), a quarterly creative subscription box. Each of the boxes is inspired by the seasons and usually nature themed. They are mainly focused around embroidery and felting projects. You can either buy each box as it comes out (£23) or subscribe for the whole year (£84). Extra shipping costs are also charged on top of this. I decided to go for the yearly subscription so I could try out all the seasons.

I started my subscription with the Spring 2019 box and was very excited to receive it though the post. It was small enough to fit through the letter box, without needing to be signed for.

Inside the box was:

• An embroidery hoop
• Various coloured embroidery thread
• Fabric: calico, linen, felt and interfacing
• Fleece stuffing
• A packet containing a needle and some pins
• Paper templates
• Artwork that inspired the box
• Stickers of the artwork
• A lemongrass, ginger and citrus teabag!

There were two projects to complete, both with clear step-by-step instructions and photographs of each stage. The larger project used the embroidery hoop, fabric and thread to create an appliqué picture inspired by the artwork Blackbird’s Nest by Gordy Wright. The project was created by building up layers of fabric and adding texture and detail using the thread. It was really satisfying to see the image progress as I added each layer. Some of the stitching was quite fiddly, particularly the positioning and sizing of the blackbird’s eye and also the grass at the bottom of the frame as you had to remove the frame and replace it for each stitch so it looked as though the grass was growing from below the frame. The final result does look good so I think making the effort to get it right was worth it.

The smaller project was a felt pin cushion with small embroidered plants around the edge. This didn’t take me long to finish at all and the result is not only cute but useful too! It was made from three pieces of felt. I embroidered the side piece first. Some ideas for decoration were included on the pattern. The three pieces were then attached together to create the shape and filled with rice and the fleece stuffing. It said in the instructions that you can buy proper beans for filling pin cushions to create the weight at the bottom, but rice or lentils would also be fine. As I already had some rice in the cupboard I decided to go with that!

I haven’t done any embroidery since I was at school so when I first got it all out the box I wasn’t sure I was going to make a very good job of it, but I found the instructions really easy to follow and the pictures were nice and clear so it was easy to just copy what they had done if I wasn’t sure about something. Once I got started a lot of the stitches came back to me (just like riding a bike I suppose!), but I think even if I were a complete beginner I would have been able to complete both these projects. On the Craftpod blog there is a post called Botanical Stitch Practice which does have images and basic instructions, however it was a few posts back so I had to click through several other posts to reach it. I found it quicker to just type ‘botanical stitch practice craftpod’ into Google and it came up straight away. Although the guide is fairly useful it didn’t have all the stitches required for this box, such as blanket stitch. If you are new to embroidery or need a reminder on how to do some of the stitches I found it helpful to watch some of the videos on YouTube where you can watch someone demonstrate the stitches and talk through each step.

The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was that the interfacing I was sent was not long enough for the branch template. I managed to get it to fit by placing it diagonally only to find that the brown linen provided wasn’t big enough either. In the end it didn’t matter because even with a shortened pattern there was still enough fabric to stretch across the frame, I was just a bit surprised at this oversight as the box as a whole was clearly well planned and thoughtfully put together.

Overall I really enjoyed these projects and I will look forward to the Summer 2019 box dropping through my door!