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!

craft kit · workshop

Print Club London – Screen Printing Kit

On Thursday evening last week I attended a fab online workshop to learn screen printing. I ordered a screen printing kit via The Indytute website (https://www.indytute.com/), which was designed by Print Club London (https://printclublondon.com/). The Indytute offers fab craft kits along with other home experiences and I quite often browse the website if I’m looking for something a little different to try. I decided to try this one as I saw them advertising it on Instagram along with a free workshop worth £20. The kit itself costs £54.95, so I thought this was a great opportunity!

Included in the kit was:

  • Wood framed screen
  • Squeegee
  • Black fabric ink
  • Wooden spatulas x2
  • Vinyl templates

You had to provide your own fabric to print on and they recommended t-shirts, tote bags or tea towels. I found a tote bag which was blank on one side that I didn’t mind experimenting with, so I just used that. The vinyl templates provided in the kit were great. There was one with a blank rectangle which could be used to create a design of your own choice or there were loads of pre-cut shapes to choose from including a speech bubble, the alphabet, stars and other cosmic shapes. I had actually had a migraine on the day of the workshop so thought I would just watch the demo and then log off, but once I was there I decided to join in. The workshop was hosted by Vicky from Bristol Print Collective (https://www.bristolprintcollective.com/) who ran through how to do each stage of the screen printing process before we all tried out our own designs whilst she was on hand for any questions or troubleshooting. 

I decided to keep my design quite basic to start with using the speech bubble and some letters. It was important to remember to create the design back to front on the outside of the screen so that when you placed it over your work with the inside facing up, the word would be spelt the right way round. I had a trial go on some paper before I moved onto the tote bag. 

I found that as the design was quite large it was harder to flood it with the ink before pulling the final print onto the chosen surface. I think this led to me over-inking as I didn’t want to have any gaps and on both my paper trial and the final print on my tote I did get a bit of ink squeezing out the edge of my design. I’m so pleased with how clearly the letters came out though.

I’m glad I made the effort to craft along with everyone else even though I wasn’t feeling great. It was loads of fun and so easy to do. I can see how you could get quite addicted to printing onto things! The only rubbish bit was washing everything up at the end!

workshop

Tea and Crafting – Polymer Clay Baubles

I had a super crafty weekend! I attended online workshops on both Saturday and Sunday and it was such a lovely way to spend my time, especially getting to hang out with other crafty people. I feel like I made so much this weekend, so I’m only going to talk about one of the workshops today: polymer clay Christmas baubles with Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/). 

I’ve done several workshops with Jane from Tea and Crafting, both in real life and online. She is such a fantastic host and is so great at talking through and demonstrating each instruction. I also love how enthusiastic she gets about what everyone has made! As this was an online workshop everyone was sent a pack of materials in advance. This is all included in the cost of the workshop, which was £38 plus shipping (£2.99). Included in the parcel was:

  • Fimo polymer clay x4 (white, red, blue, and yellow)
  • Polystyrene balls x3
  • Lolly sticks x2
  • Bauble hangers with caps x3

We did two different pattern techniques, marbling and terrazzo. We spent a little while conditioning the clay with our hands to get it warm and pliable before we could begin using it and once it was soft we could then start to create our patterns. We started with the marbling, rolling the clay into sausages and then twisting them around each other to create the effect. The lolly sticks were used for rolling out the clay to the right thickness. Once the clay was rolled out to the right size it could then be wrapped around the polystyrene bauble. Jane showed us how to trim away the excess and smooth over any holes to ensure there were no extra thick parts as this would affect the baking time. 

The terrazzo style was super easy too. Before creating the pattern we took some time to create some new colours by blending the colours together, I made green and purple. I also blended some yellow and red, but I didn’t add quite enough yellow for it to be as orange as I would have liked! Once this was done we could then roll them out into super thin sausages before cutting off tiny amounts, which were then placed all over the base colour, creating the terrazzo effect when it was rolled out. 

For my last bauble I just rolled all the colours I had together to make a super colourful marbled one! It was so much fun to see everyone else’s creations, everyone had such different colour combinations and styles. I was really glad that I attended the workshop and didn’t just try it out by myself at home, because Jane was able to tell us the exact temperature and timings for baking our baubles in the oven. If you don’t get this right then you risk the polystyrene balls melting inside! I also wouldn’t have known to allow them to cool down in the oven and would have just taken them straight out!

I think community is so important to the crafting world and it’s always so great to craft along with others. I can’t wait to get back to it in real life, but in the meantime I have another Tea and Crafting workshop coming up this week and I absolutely can’t wait! 

workshop

The Sewcial Circle – Pompom Power Hour!

This weekend I joined the Sewcial Circle for Pompom Power Hour! It’s been a little while since I did any workshops, I’ve mainly just been doing the subscription boxes that turn up at my door for the last few months. Like a lot of people this year I’ve lost my mojo a bit, but recently on my scrolls through Instagram I’ve been seeing some fab online workshops and one-off kits popping up and it’s really inspired me to be more active in my crafting journey again. 

I’ve been following The Sewcial Circle on Instagram for a while and have been very intrigued by the Loome tool they use to create their pompoms, so when I saw this online workshop I decided to sign up for it straight away! The workshop alone was £16, but as I wanted to try the Loome tool I added a pompom starter kit to my order, which was £23.80 (discounted from £28.00 as I ordered it along with the workshop). The starter kit arrived in the post a few days before the workshop and included:

  • Merino wool x2
  • Loome tool
  • Crochet cotton
  • Cardboard size guide

There was a choice of colour combinations for the wool on the website and I chose the rose and mustard option.

The workshop was hosted on Crowdcast rather than Zoom. The upside to this was that the focus was solely on the host (and face behind the Sewcial Circle) Katie. There was a chat feature if you needed to ask any questions, however I did think that without the interaction with the other attendees the social side of the workshop was a bit lost. Along with actually learning a new skill, socialising with other crafters is one of the most important aspects of a workshop for me.

I have made pompoms before so the techniques to achieve the different effects were familiar to me already, but I definitely picked up some good new tips. We made plain, half and half, triple stripe, sprinkles and colour block pompoms. Katie recommends using crochet cotton or another similar string to tie the pompoms as it’s not as stretchy and soft as yarn, so won’t give over time and ensures your pompom remains secure. She also showed us a couple of different ways to knot the string depending on how well you can keep the tension when tying the knot. The Loome tool has a larger and a smaller end so you can regulate the size of your pompom and Katie also showed us how to use the cardboard sizer to trim the pompom to achieve a consistent size, which is important if you are making something like a pair of earrings. I liked the Loome tool, but overall, I think I prefer the circular pompom makers that I have used previously. I feel like they hold the yarn in place more securely whilst you tie it and allow you to snip round the sides to open it out more easily. 

The best part of pompom making is the trimming! As I mentioned we used the cardboard sizer as the initial guide to trim the excess off our pompoms. Once this was done, we could then begin to refine the shape and snip off any straggly pieces of yarn to create lovely round pompoms! I think the best advice that I have both received and can give, and which applies to most crafts, is to make sure you have a good pair of sharp scissors! It makes everything so much easier…but don’t get carried away and trim your pompom to nothing!

Katie also talked through different ideas for using our pompoms, such as garlands and wreaths, showed us how to attached them to rope and a wreath base and also showed us how we could turn them into little animals using bits of felt to create ears, noses, eyes and mouths, which would be a great activity to do with kids.

The Loome tool can also be used to make tassels, cords and mini weavings, so although I favour the circular pompom makers there is still plenty of crafts to try with my new tool. There are loads of lovely kits and tools on the Sewcial Circle website so if you want to get into crafting I would definitely recommend checking it out (https://thesewcialcircle.com/).

I’ve booked a few more workshops in the run up to Christmas and I’m really looking forward to joining them, I just can’t wait until we can attend workshops in person again!

workshop

Embroidered Origami

Another week, another online workshop! I’m really enjoying online workshops, it’s such a lovely way to spend an evening crafting with other crafters, and it provides a real sense of community and support. This week I did an embroidered origami workshop co-hosted but Est of Origami Est (https://origamiest.co.uk/) and Beth of Freckle and Knot (https://www.instagram.com/freckleandknot/). Prior to the workshop they asked what colour we would like to use for the project and then they both posted out the materials we would need to join in.

Included in the parcels were:

  • Patterned paper x3
  • Plain paper x3
  • Ribbon x3
  • Glue
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needle
  • Tracing paper
  • Stitch practice sheet

Once everyone had joined the Zoom session Est showed us how to fold the paper to achieve the diamond shape we were aiming for. Each diamond was made up of a patterned piece and a plain piece of paper. 

When we had folded our diamond halves Beth then took over for the embroidery section of the workshop. We started off using the practice paper to try out the stitches. Some people in the class hadn’t done any embroidery before so Beth demonstrated each stitch. Sewing in paper is quite different to sewing in cloth, mainly because you have to punch the holes through the paper first. Beth showed us a good trick using a roll of washi tape to raise the paper up and avoid lots of holes in the table! Once we were confident sewing on the paper and had completed the test sheet we could then move onto the real thing. We used the tracing paper to draw our designs on, which meant that when we were punching the holes in the patterned paper we could see where the folds were. This helped with positioning the design. Having punched the holes we could then sew our design onto the paper. I used backstitch and lazy daisy stitch for my rain cloud.

After we had finished our embroidery, during which we all had a lovely chat, Est then showed us how to assemble the diamond. First we cut a small slit in the point of the top half, in my case the patterned side, and threaded the ribbon through to create a loop to hang it from. We put a small amount of glue on the inside to hold the ribbon in place and then finally attached the two halves of the diamond together by glueing around the edge and manipulating each side so that it would slot in nicely and line up.

At first I thought this was quite a time consuming craft, but when I moved on to my second and third ones I realised that it’s actually quite quick! I now have lots of ideas about creating baubles for the Christmas tree, even though that’s still quite a long way off! I’m really enjoying these online workshops and hope I can find more to sign up for. Although I’m missing going out and joining in with them in real life, it’s such a great alternative.

workshop

Crochet Bunny with Tea and Crafting

Last week I attended another online workshop, this time to learn how to crochet. It was hosted by the lovely Jane from Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/) who are running several online workshops at the moment so you should check them out if you are interested in learning a new crafty skill. 

I have had a go at crochet before a few years ago now, and actually created a blanket out of lots of basic squares which I sewed together. However, I have since totally forgotten how to do it! Crochet and knitting are two crafts that I would love to be able to do, but unless I continuously practice them I find that they just leak out of my head and I have to relearn how to do them every time I want to have another go. The first time I tried crochet I learnt it left-handed, which was such a pain because most tutorials are for right-handers, which means that you have to resort to finding YouTube videos. At the beginning of the workshop Jane asked if anyone was left-handed and I said I was, but she convinced me to give it a go right-handed. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical that I would be able to do it ‘backwards’, but I was willing to give it a go to make it easier for the rest of the class.

To start the workshop Jane talked us through how to check the wool label to find out information about what size of hook we would need to use, the tension square and washing instructions. We received all the materials we would need for the workshop in the post a few days before, which included:

  • Chunky wool in light grey
  • Wool in darker grey
  • Length of black wool
  • 6mm crochet hook
  • Darning needle
  • Stuffing

Once we had discussed the wool and hook size Jane talked us through how to cast on and create the chain stitch which would form the base of our square. She took us through each stage slowly and we followed along. Then she showed us how to begin the first row by stitching into the chain stitch. After demonstrating a few stitches she then left us to complete the row. I was absolutely fine whilst I was following along but as soon as I had to do a stitch by myself I just couldn’t keep each step in my head and got in a terrible muddle! I must have some kind of mind-block for crochet because this always happens and I find it incredibly tiresome having to keep referring back to videos or books to find out where I have to put my hook next. Well, Jane was incredibly patient with me. I’d like to apologise to the other people on the workshop for putting up with my painstaking progress as Jane talked me through it very, very slowly! Eventually though I did get it and made it up to the second row. By this point I think I was trying so hard and was so tense that it was showing in my work and the tension of my wool was so tight that I actually managed to snap the hook…by accident of course! I had some spare hooks from my previous ventures into the world of crocheting, which I quickly found so I could keep up with the rest of the class and I finally felt that I had found my rhythm and was starting to get it. I lost a couple of stitches along the way somewhere as my finished piece was more of a trapezium than a square, but I was pretty proud of it! 

During the workshop Jane showed those who were quicker and had finished how to create their bunny by sewing a running stitch across the square which was then pulled to gather the top half and create the head and ears. I put a bit of stuffing inside the head and then sewed the body shut, leaving a small gap for stuffing before finishing it off. Lastly I made a little pom pom with the darker grey wool and attached it to the bunny’s bottom and stitched on some eyes and a nose. For those who didn’t finish or wanted a reminder Jane emailed round a video of the workshop a few days afterwards.

Having completed my bunny I didn’t want to forget what to do so I made another sample piece out of the leftover wool. Unfortunately I ran out of wool so I couldn’t make a second bunny, but it was great practice. I also decided to give my new skills a bit more practice so I looked up a tutorial on how to crochet a granny square and had a go at that too. I’m pretty pleased with my attempt. It’s a bit wonky in places so I think I still need to work on my tension, but I might continue making them to try and imprint the process on my brain so I don’t forget how to do it again! Maybe one day I’ll be able to make something more complicated…

workshop

Easter Pom Pom Wreath

A couple of months ago I booked myself onto an Easter Pom Pom Wreath workshop hosted by Christine Leech from Sew Yeah (https://sewyeah.co.uk/). I was really looking forward to it because I’d seen so many handmade wreaths on Instagram at Christmas and I really wanted to make my own. So then when the country went into lockdown a few weeks ago I was gutted that I wouldn’t be able to attend. 

Imagine my delight when I received a message from Christine asking if I would still like to participate in an online class and that she could post me the supplies! I of course immediately said yes and duly received an exciting parcel through the letterbox. Included in the parcel was:

  • Wreath base
  • Pom pom makers
  • Giant yarn
  • Several small balls of various coloured wool
  • Sheets of felt
  • Felt balls
  • Sequins

Despite being extremely excited to make my wreath I actually ended up not being able to log on for the online workshop, however the lovely Christine made some videos and shared them on IGTV showing how to cover the wreath base and several pom pom tutorials to create a range of different patterns and effects including speckles, stripes and even a flower, plus a tutorial on trimming. I was amazed at how much trimming you should do to get your pom poms looking their best.

I followed the tutorials online so that I was all caught up and then the following week I joined a second Zoom meet up where Christine showed us how to construct our wreaths and how to create little leaves and flowers out of the felt, balls and sequins. It was so lovely to hang out with all the other creative ladies and do our crafting together and to see what their creations were like. Despite all receiving the same instructions everybody’s wreaths turned out so different!

The wreath was so easy to make and Christine’s instructions are so easy to follow. She has even shared some videos on creating your own base and pom pom makers if you can’t get hold of any so it’s definitely worth checking out her IGTV. Pom poms are such a great way to use up scraps of yarn as well so if you have lots of leftover bits lying around then give it a go.