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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.

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Spring 2022 Craftpod

The long awaited Spring Craftpod is here! Even though the subscription is quarterly with one box per season, the wait between the Winter and Spring boxes always seems the longest, although that may just have something to do with the weather! As usual there were two lovely seasonal projects to complete; the Sweet Violet glasses case, and the Little Lamb soft sculpture.

Included in the kit was:

• Embroidery thread x6 (dark green, light green, dark purple, light purple, black, white)
• Black linen
• Interfacing
• Calico
• Wadding
• Transfer paper
• White felt
• Pink felt
• White wool fleece
• Pipe cleaners x2
• Black elastic
• Wooden button
• Needle
• Pins
• Paper template
• Herb garden notebook and postcard
• Teabag

Although the Little Lamb soft sculpture looked difficult as it was so small I would say that the glasses case project was the more complex of the two as you had to ensure all the layers were in the right order when sewing them together. There were two design options that you could choose from to embroider onto the case, but as I like to give everything a go I decided to do both designs, one on each side of the case. The instructions included in the box were for the sweet violet design, which was probably the more complicated of the two. The instructions for the herb garden design were available on the Craftpod blog which was easy to find via the website. The designs were transferred from the paper template to the black linen fabric using the white transfer paper which worked well, but you did have to be careful not to handle it too much otherwise it would fade and eventually rub off.

The Little Lamb sculpture was quite fiddly as the pieces were so small, requiring delicate stitching. The actual piecing together of the body parts was straightforward though, especially if you took your time at the cutting stage. I found this quite a quick project to complete and I liked the use of the pipe cleaners to fill the legs and give structure and support to the sculpture to enable it to stand freely.

I’m definitely in the mood for Spring now I’ve completed these projects and I’m even ready to head into Summer with my new sunglasses case!

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Craftiosity – Painted Stained Glass Craft Kit

Last month’s Craftiosity box was a painted stained glass kit. The box was inspired by Kew Gardens and the beautiful glass houses and foliage found there. I’ve always wanted to have a go at stained glass at home as the real thing is a bit more complicated.

Included in the kit was:

• Arch-shaped glass
• Black relief liner
• Green glass paint
• Paintbrush
• Toothpicks
• Paper template

The process of painting the design was very easy but there was a lot of drying time involved to ensure you didn’t smudge any of the lines. The black liner was easy to use and after a little practice I was able to get a thinner and thicker line. I did have some trouble tidying up some of my mistakes though! I must have missed the window for using the toothpicks to tidy up the lines because it was either too wet so I smudged it or too dry and wouldn’t move.

The green glass paint was quite versatile in terms of varying the shade, getting a darker colour by layering it up on the leaves, or spreading it out to get a more transparent effect. I also liked the use of watered down liner to create the wood effect bench that the pot is sitting on.

The stained glass effect was so easy to achieve with the relief liner and glass paint. It was a lovely project to do at home and would make a great gift, or a nice ornament for a sunny window in your home.

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Cosy Craft Club – Alice and Stars Enamel Jewellery

I heard about Cosy Craft Club on Instagram and started following them as I liked the look of their kits. They do offer a monthly subscription, but I decided to buy a couple of kits as a one off to get a feel for their style. It looks as though Cosy Craft Club collaborates with a maker each month to put a kit together. The first kit I’ve tried is the current kit for this month – enamel jewellery, created by Alice and Stars. I was really excited about this as I’ve done enamelling before as part of my jewellery diploma, but had got it into my head that you needed a kiln. It turns out that this is not the case and all that’s required is a normal kitchen oven!

Included in the kit was:

  • Enamelling powder x5 (green, blue, white, pink, red)
  • Wooden spatula
  • Bunting flag copper blanks x5
  • Round disc steel blank
  • Sieve
  • Chain
  • Jump rings
  • Clasps

I was amazed at how quick and easy this craft was to do, with instant results. The enamelling part was so quick, using the wooden spatula to transfer the powder into the sieve and then creating a nice even layer of powder on the blanks. I liked how easy it was to create interesting effects as well like an ombré. I also played around with using paper to mask areas of the blanks to create lines, but I enjoyed the ombré too much to keep them like that! Once the designs were done they only needed ten minutes maximum in the oven.

The second part of the kit was to turn the enamelled pieces into jewellery. There was enough chain, jump rings and clasps to make a necklace with the bunting and a bracelet with the disc. The instructions for both parts of the kit were easy to follow. There weren’t any pictures of the process included, however I didn’t find this a problem. On Cosy Craft Club’s Instagram there were plenty of videos and pictures showing the process and ideas for designs.

There are lots of kits available on the website covering a range of crafts. The main kits cost between £24-£30, although there are some mini kits available for less. The monthly subscription is £24 and it looks as though you would get a good variety of crafts coming through your door each month.

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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.

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Winter Owl Craftpod

Starting the crafting year with my favourite of all the subscription boxes I’ve tried, it’s Craftpod of course! The Winter box this year is no exception delivering three lovely projects to complete. The theme of the box is owls, with the major project being an appliqué embroidery of an owl soaring through a cold starry sky. The second project is an owl shaped case for a pair of embroidery scissors, and lastly a paper garland to cut out and hang in your home.

Included in the box was:

  • Felt (navy, white, beige, brown)
  • Calico
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Embroidery thread x6 (white, ginger, pale brown, dark brown, yellow, green)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Needle
  • Card pictures (to cut out for garland)
  • Twine
  • Mini wooden pegs

I started the appliqué embroidery first as it looked like the most complicated and time-consuming piece. I really like the composition of the design and it’s quite different to other pieces I’ve sewn. Although the owl was strengthened with the iron-on interfacing it was definitely the trickiest part of the project as the edges still frayed a lot when the initial border was sewn round to keep it in place. Once this was completed it did get a lot easier to manage, and of course it eventually gives the owl his feathery look. I liked the use of the interfacing on the back of the felt to get an accurate crescent for the moon and also the dusting of tiny stitches around it to give it its glow.

The scissor case was a much quicker project which I did all in one evening. Once the cutting out and sewing the feathery details on the front panel were done then the rest was just construction. The instructions were really easy to follow and I especially like the way the eyes were done. It’s a much safer way to carry my scissors around, rather than just loose in my bag!

The paper garland was a fun little project which took all of ten minutes to cut out the images and peg them to the twine. I felt like this box kept me entertained and occupied for many evenings of enjoyment. As always I’m looking forward to seeing what the spring box brings in a few months!

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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!

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Makerly – Macrame Owl

I’ve done a little bit of macrame before, but I’ve never made anything as exciting as these owls! Makerly have really pushed the creative boat out here to come up with such a fun take on a familiar craft. 

Included in the box was:

  • Cotton macrame cord
  • Jute macrame cord
  • Wooden dowels x2
  • Round wooden beads x4
  • Faceted wooden beads x4
  • Silver feather charms x2

In addition to these materials you also needed some sticks or small branches to complete the project. The project was started on the dowels and there was the option to leave the top of the project on the dowel and just finish it off with a stick for the owl’s feet to perch on, but one of the example pictures included in the instructions had both owls sitting together using a stick for the top and bottom, so I transferred both my owls onto one long stick before finishing off the feet and adding the feathers.

As well as the instructions to make the owl there was also a basic knot guide, which not only included the knots for this project, but some other knots too in case you wanted to try out some different styles. I made the same owl twice, one in the cotton cord and one in the jute cord. The cotton cord was nicer to work with, but I think for this project the jute is actually more effective overall.

I also added the feathers to the bottom of my owls using the contrasting cord for each owl. The cotton cord worked much better to achieve the feathery effect because it unravels better than the jute and has a fluffy look to it. I also added the feather charms. There wasn’t any instructions for using them, they were just a nice little bonus present, but I wasn’t sure what else I would use them for so I attached them to the macrame feathers.

This was such a fun and different project to do, something which I consider to be Makerly’s USP. They quite often have crafts I’ve never tried or even heard of before in their kits, but even if the craft is something fairly common, the project is always inventive.

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Craftpod – Autumn 2021

The autumn Craftpod has arrived containing two projects, both giving out very seasonal vibes! The larger project is usually my favourite in this subscription box, but this quarter the smaller mini hoops project definitely won top spot for me. The designs were just so cute and fun to sew.

Included in the box was: 

  • Printed fabric
  • Plain fabric
  • Embroidery threads x5 (dark brown, light brown, red, yellow, white)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Superglue
  • Mini embroidery hoop frames kit
  • Rose hip enamel pin
  • Teabag

Although the mini autumn embroideries seem like the secondary project in the box I decided to do them first as you needed the large embroidery hoop for sewing the designs and I knew I wouldn’t want to take the larger project back out of the hoop once it was finished. The mini embroideries were my favourite part of this box. They weren’t so small that they were fiddly and they were quick to complete. The designs are simple but very effective. I also love the tiny embroidery hoops, I just need to decide what to turn them into. The instructions have lots of suggestions such as tree decorations, adding to chain to turn them into necklaces, adding brooch backs, or just displaying them on the wall. I like the idea of displaying them as tiny artwork, but I also quite like the idea of turning them into keyrings.

The larger project was embellishing the pre-printed design with a range of stitches. Whilst I liked the design and especially enjoyed creating the trunks of the silver birch trees, I felt that it was quite a simplistic project. I have come to think of Craftpod as a subscription box for embroidery lovers who are more advanced than beginner level, but this felt quite basic compared to other projects I have completed from their boxes. When I first saw a picture of the design I thought that the layers were going to be built up with appliqué, which would have added an extra dimension to the project and I was slightly disappointed when I realised that the design was already printed onto the fabric.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the box overall and both the projects were great for doing in front of the TV in the evenings. I think I am slightly addicted to the mini embroidery hoops and might just have to do some designs of my own! I find autumn to be a particularly inspirational time of year so now is the perfect time.

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MakeBox – Polymer Clay Jewellery

I often get so wrapped up in textile projects that I forget to go down my shed and play with clay instead, so the polymer clay box from MakeBox & Co was the ideal opportunity to do so. I was quite excited about the orangery slab design as well. I have made some very simple slabs before but never one as complicated as this so I was really looking forward to giving it a go.

Included in the box was:

  • Polymer clay blocks x4 (blue, white, orange, green)
  • Rolling pin
  • Scalpel
  • Circular cookie cutters x2 (large and small)
  • Pliers
  • Mixed bag of jewellery findings
  • Toothpick
  • Paper templates

The first half of the instruction book was full of helpful tips for working with, baking, and storing polymer clay, as well as jewellery making. I didn’t agree with the advice to pull open jump rings as this can make them misshapen when you try to push them back together. It’s always better to twist jump rings open and closed for a much neater finish.

There were three slab projects to complete to give you a range to shapes to make jewellery out of. A slab is a flat sheet of clay which a design is created on and then shapes can be cut out either with a knife or a cutter. The first was a marbled sheet, made by twisting the blue and white clay together to create a marbled effect. This is probably the easiest to do but is very effective and can be done in so many different colour combinations, and with three or even four colours, depending on the look you want to achieve.

The second project was an abstract slab, which was great for getting used to attaching different shapes to a sheet of clay and discovering how the clay would react when you pushed it or rolled it. The design was made up of really simple shapes that combined gave a really fun, colourful finish.

The final slab design was the most difficult. It’s called the ‘Midnight Orangery’. It is a dark blue background with oranges nestled amongst green foliage and white blossoms and it was difficult because it was made up of so many tiny parts that had to be placed with care onto the background to create the right effect. I think it’s a beautiful design and love the 3D effect of so many layers built up. It did take me a long time to do and was very fiddly, particularly adding the lighter green stems on top of the leaves. I actually started it and then wrapped it up to stop it drying out and came back to finish it the next day as I could feel myself getting tired and careless and I wanted it to come out looking neat.

Once all the pieces were baked and cooled and the edges had been sanded it was time to make some jewellery. I really liked that some clip on earring backs were included as I don’t have my ears pierced so it’s nice to be able to wear some of my creations!