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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!