subscription box

Craftiosity – Woven Coasters

I really enjoyed the Craftiosity kit this month. Weaving is a craft I really like, but it can seem like a big commitment to start a new project. These woven coasters were like four mini projects, each with a different design, without the pressure of having yet another large work in progress hanging around!

Included in the kit was:

• Weaving loom
• Warp thread
• Cotton yarn x2 (pink and sand)
• Plastic needle
• Paper templates

I started off with the most basic design, just plain stripes, to get back into the weaving mindset as I haven’t done it for a little while. I do have a tendency to pull too tight which causes the sides to pull in so I was keen to try and improve my technique during this project. I definitely think I made an improvement, but there’s still work to do on that front! The mini weaving loom was easy to warp, although I did find the prongs on either side a little annoying whilst weaving as the yarn kept getting caught around them.

I liked that there were four different designs as it kept the project interesting and meant there was plenty of opportunity to practise geometric shapes. There were two options for weaving around the geometric shapes. One was to weave up to the warp thread next to the shape, but this left a small gap between the shapes so I decided to do the interlocking method instead. This is a lot trickier, but by looping the yarn through the adjacent yarn loop of the geometric shape you can close the gap.

For the first two designs I did use the paper templates as a guide to ensure I was on track with the size and shape, but once I’d mastered the technique of creating the triangles I felt more confident to weave the designs without have to keep holding the templates up to my work.

The other tricky bit was adding the Rya knot tassels. They are fairly easy to loop round the warp threads, but they aren’t secure until the weaving has been taken off the loom and the warp threads are tied off, so there is a moment or two where you feel like it could all fall apart!

This project is quite time consuming. The instructions say that each coaster will take about 2-3 hours to complete, although you obviously don’t have to do this all in one sitting. The good thing about weaving is you can put it down and pick it up again whenever you have the time. I think that the first coaster took me longer than three hours, but as I progressed through the project each one was a bit quicker than the one before. It’s definitely good to get into a rhythm with weaving as it all flows much better. Although I just made the four designs included in the kit there is plenty of yarn and warp thread left over for some more projects, and of course the mini loom can be used again and again!

I’m really pleased that this kit came along when it did. I’ve been looking to get back into weaving for a while now and I have several weaving projects looming on the horizon (pun definitely intended!) so it was good to have a bit of practice before starting something bigger.

subscription box

Makerly – Zentangle Cushion Cover

This polar bear cushion cover from Makerly inspired by the practise of Zentangle is suitably wintry for this frosty weather we are having at the moment. Zentangle is a combination of art and meditation by focusing on the formation of patterns. It made this a really mindful project to complete as well as being inspiration for creating designs for future projects by taking the same principle of filling each section of the design with a different pattern.

Included in the box was:

  • Cushion cover
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Transfer paper
  • Paper template
  • Selection of threads including embroidery thread, metallic thread, waxed cotton thread, acrylic yarn, and sewing thread

I had a couple of issues with this project but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. The polar bear design was quite large to fill the space on the cushion cover, however the sheet of transfer paper included in the kit was quite small, which meant that you had to move it over halfway through transferring the design to the cushion cover. Although this wasn’t too tricky, it did feel a bit awkward and I was worried about making sure the design was lined up properly. It was a problem that could easily have been resolved by having a piece of transfer paper just a bit larger. The other issue I found was that the design rubbed off the cushion cover quite quickly and I had to redraw it a few times with some tailors chalk to make sure my sewing didn’t go wonky. This was mainly for the leaf design and the face.

I liked how many different stitches were used in the design and how you could make such effective patterns with even the most basic straight stitch. The instructions for each stitch were clearly written out and the photographs were helpful too. I also thought it was great that there were so many suggestions for patterns included in the instructions outside of the ones used in the main design. This project really allowed for a lot of individuality and opportunity to make it your own. 

There wasn’t a cushion insert included in the kit. I have temporarily filled mine with stuffing, but I will order a proper insert for it as I think that will really finish it off nicely. I like the idea of using Zentangle to inspire designs with each section being a different pattern and the use of different threads for each one gives the piece a lovely texture and highlights the different areas, even though they are all in shades of white and cream.

subscription box

Craft Box Club – Wisteria Flower Felt Mobile

I’m clinging on to summer here with this beautiful wisteria flower felt mobile from last month’s Craft Box Club. I thoroughly enjoyed this project! I always enjoy working with felt, but the simplicity of the process combined with the satisfying results made this one a real hit for me.

Included in the box was:

  • Green felt sheet
  • Purple felt sheet x3
  • Lilac felt sheet x3
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Wooden bead
  • Needle
  • Needle threader
  • Green cotton
  • String

When I unpacked the box I was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough green cotton, but there was actually plenty. As usual the link for the instructions was also included. I found the video more helpful than the photos this time around, especially for knotting the string onto the hoop.

The project started with cutting out the leaves. There wasn’t a template for this, just cut as many as you could from the sheet of green felt. The pictures and video gave quite a good indication of the rough size required. The project used thirty leaves. I cut a few more than this, which was quite good as I could select the best ones as I went along. Some of the leaves were pinched at one end and sewn to create a 3D effect. This process was repeated again at the end to add the final leaves to the hoop, although I would have preferred to do them all at once rather than in two lots.

The best part was making the flowers. They were made by cutting strips of felt which were then threaded on to string creating folds of material as you go, and the less neat the better to achieve a ruffled effect. There was enough material for three flowers of each colour, purple and lilac. Two pinched leaves and a non-pinched leaf were added to the top of each one.

The trickiest part was tying the flower strings onto the embroidery hoop, which acted as the frame for the mobile to hang from. The knot was quite easy to do, especially with the help of the video as I already mentioned, but the hardest part was trying to make sure there were evenly spaced and all the same height. Lastly two pinched leaves were stitched together and sewn to the top of each knot, before tying on the string and wooden bead to hang the mobile from.

This was such a lovely project to complete and I love the results. It was a fairly quick one too and not too much mess either, always a bonus! Even though we are heading into Autumn now I can always be reminded of sunny days when I look at it.

subscription box

Craft Box Club – Bargello Tea Lights

I’m still playing catch up with all my subscription boxes, but I feel like I’m getting there at last! I’ve just finished the latest from Craft Box Club; another eco-friendly project creating Bargello tea light holders. 

Included in the box was:

  • Glass jars x3
  • Jute ribbons x3
  • Soy tea lights x3
  • Blue yarn
  • Green yarn
  • Yellow yarn
  • Needle
  • Needle threader

I really like the use of the jute ribbon as the canvas. It’s loose weave is perfect for doing the long stitches of Bargello to create a uniform pattern. At the link for the video guide there was also a step-by-step picture process included with written instructions, plus the stitch pattern for the triangle shapes. The video was well paced and showed how to do both the stitches used clearly. I liked that it showed how to use the needle threader at the beginning as well. For this project I did prefer the photos to follow rather than the video.

The only deviation I made from the instructions was sewing the ends of the jute ribbon together. In the video the ends were sewn together around the jar to ensure the correct fit, but I found this a bit tricky so instead I measured the ribbon around the jar and folded it to mark where I needed to place my stitches.

This was such a great project to have on the go if you don’t have the time to dedicate to a sit-down-for-hours project. Although it looks like quite a simple craft it does take longer than you think it will. I completed mine in several sessions over the course of a week. I just left it on the table and picked it up whenever I had a spare half hour, which I think was a good way to do it as the Bargello stitch can be a bit repetitive. The end result is another lovely eco-friendly piece of home décor! 

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

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! 

subscription box

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.

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!

workshop

Tea and Crafting – Latch Hook Wall Hanging

Way back in January I attended an online latch hook workshop hosted by Jane from Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/) and I’m very excited to say that my wall hanging is now complete! It’s a slow craft, but the results are extremely satisfying.

Before the workshop we were sent the materials in the post. The package included:

  • Latch hook tool
  • Canvas
  • Bamboo cane
  • Length of t-shirt yarn
  • Length of wool 
  • Knooking needle

You had to provide your own yarn to create the wall hanging, but I have a lot of half used balls left over from various projects, so I just rummaged through my basket until I found several colours that I thought went together. I did actually end up ordering a couple more balls of some of the colours because latch hook is quite a greedy craft, and isn’t really any good for using up scraps. Jane had a good tip of waiting for the sales on your favourite stockist’s website and then buying lots of balls for cheap!

During the workshop Jane talked through how to create different lengths of yarn to achieve different effects, how to use the latch hook tool and some advice about trimming at the end as well. We all started our wall hangings during the class, but it is a time-consuming process so we obviously weren’t able to see anyone’s finished pieces. My one is about 60cm long by 43cm wide (62cm including the bamboo stick) and I didn’t time myself exactly, but I estimated that it took me in the region of 32 hours to complete.

Jane also showed us how to use the knooking needle to create a stitch where you have a central piece of yarn running along with another piece of yarn hooking over the top. It’s quite a good stitch for filling in larger areas, but I didn’t use it in my final piece as I love the effect of the latch hook too much, it’s so soft!

Once I had finished my design I then had to finish the back. Jane showed us during the workshop how she had folded the canvas back behind the design and stitched it in place on her example piece. She also showed us how to stitch on the bamboo cane, however I liked the technique I learnt in a previous latch hook project where you create a channel for the stick to go through. I think it looks a bit tidier, so I left some extra canvas at the top of mine to allow for creating the channel.

Lastly is the trimming, the best part! It’s just as satisfying as trimming pom poms! As I had used different lengths of yarn for the different areas and colours I already had an idea of how it would look and it was mainly just a case of neatening up each section and trimming the tassels at the bottom. I decided to leave the beige-flecked-with-yellow section untrimmed to give it a more organic feel and provide a contrast with the rest. I’m also very pleased with the effect I managed to achieve with the yellow flecks fading out at the bottom to leave just beige and then fading back in at the top! 

I still have quite a bit of yarn left and I have ordered myself some more canvas (Jane helpfully emailed her list of preferred brands and stockists after the workshop), so I think I will make some more abstract pieces to use them up. I will definitely be on the look out for discount wool though, I’d love to make a latch hook cushion, it would be so comfy to lie on!

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!