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Craft Box Club – Heart Felt Garland

The project in this month’s Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) was a heart felt garland. I have to say that needle felting is not one of my favourite crafts, once you get past the satisfaction of stabbing something I find it becomes a bit repetitive. However, I do think that the rainbow heart design for the garland is very sweet and brings its own message of hope and positivity.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wool skein x7 (rainbow colours)
  • String x7 (rainbow colours)
  • Heart cookie cutters x 3 sizes
  • Felting needle
  • Sewing needle
  • Cotton string
  • Sponge

The basic premise of needle felting is to form the wool into a shape by using the needle to condense the fibres together, thus creating felt. In this case the fleece was formed into hearts using the cookie cutters to mould it into shape. As well as the usual video tutorial at the link provided, there were also instructional photos, which I found really informative. I actually felt that I could do the project without watching the video, however I have done felting before on a couple of occasions. I think having the video there as well would be very useful as a beginner so you could see the technique involved.

The process was repeated for each colour of the rainbow twice, once with the large cookie cutter and once with the small. This was the part I found a bit repetitive! I think that the project probably took me around four hours to complete in total.

Once all fourteen of the hearts were done it was then time to string them onto the cotton using the needle provided. When they were all in place the coloured string was then tied in bows between the hearts. I really liked that each skein of wool was bundled with a co-ordinating coloured string, which was then reused in the project as a decoration.

There was so much wool provided in the kit that I could probably make a second garland if I wanted to, or it could be used in another project like a weaving or something similar. I also now have the heart cutters to use for another project, whether that be cooking or clay!

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MakeBox – Amore Soy Candle

I’m a little late on this one as it was meant to be for Valentine’s Day, but who says you can’t spread a little love any day of the year? February’s MakeBox is the Amore Soy Candle, scented with rose. As always when I make candles I was surprised at how quick it was to do and it was yet another technique for melting the wax.

Included in the box was:

  • 600g soy wax flakes
  • Plastic jug
  • Glass container
  • Rose scent
  • Wooden lollipop sticks x2
  • Wicks x2
  • Labels
  • Gift box

At first when I opened my box I thought that one of my wicks was missing, but after rummaging through all the packaging I found it. It unfortunately was missing its metal base, so I used the complete one and if I decide to make a second candle I will just have to make sure the spare one is attached to the base well. There is enough wax to make two candles (or more depending on the size of your containers and how many wicks you have), but only one glass container included in the kit. I have a nice shaped jam jar in the fridge that I’m eyeing up for my second candle once all the jam has been eaten! As I said, the making process was very simple starting with weighing out half the wax. Only 200g fit in the plastic jug provided, so I weighed out the remaining 100g into a spare container from the recycling. Once the first 200g had been melted down in the microwave, you could them gradually add the rest, stirring it in and using the microwave in short burst to keep melting it down.

Once all the wax was completely melted it was time to add the scent. When I made candles with another kit the instructions said to pour in the whole bottle, but this one said just a few drops. I think it’s really hard to get the balance right as the other candles are a little overwhelming when I smell them now, but with this one, even though I added more scent than it said to, I still find it quite subtle. However the scent may get stronger once the candle is burning.

To create the candle I positioned the wick in the centre of the container and used the lollipop stick to hold it’s position before pouring a small amount of wax into the base and allowing it to set in the fridge for a couple of minutes. This stopped the wick from floating up when I then poured the rest of the wax in up to about a centimetre from the top. 

I left the candle to set for about 24 hours before moving it to ensure an even set and no sinkholes. There were a couple of labels provided, one with the MakeBox logo on and one blank. I decided to use the blank one to create my own handwritten label using a sharpie. I really like the inclusion of the gift box as well, so I can give the candle away to someone I love!

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Craft Box Club – Lino Cut

Another week, another linocut! This time its from Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/). It was interesting to compare the two linocut kits, especially as they were making the same thing; greetings cards.

Included in the box was:

  • Lino
  • Linocut blades
  • Wooden handle
  • Sponge
  • Blank cards and envelopes
  • Tracing paper
  • Paper template
  • Paint powder 

The tool itself (handle and blades) were the same as the Makerly kit I did the other week, however one of the selling points of Craft Box Club is to be as eco friendly as possible and Adam, the founder, puts in an admirable amount of effort to ensure that his kits meet that standard every month. Reading Adam’s blog I found out that the lino was a traditional biodegradable type, the ‘ink’ was made from earth paint which comes as a powder so can be packaged in paper, the sponge was made from wood fibres rather than plastic and the cards were made from recycled paper.

The process was exactly the same in terms of transferring the image to the lino using tracing paper. The image provided was a leafy border and there was a link to print out templates for the alphabet along with the link to the video tutorial. I couldn’t decide which letter to use on my cards as I wasn’t sure who I would send them to if I just chose one initial, so I decided to draw my own design for the centre of the card. I used the leafy border to inspire me and drew a songbird singing a love song as it’s so near to Valentine’s Day.

The cutting out took a long time as the design was quite intricate and there were also a lot of empty spaces to cut out as well, but once I was done it was time to print! The instructions said to keep the paint thick and only use about a teaspoon of water, but I found that the mixture was still quite dry and powdery so I added extra water. My first attempts at printing came out blobby and you couldn’t see the finer details of the design. I added small amounts of water to the paint mixture to try and get it to spread more nicely over the linocut, but I just couldn’t seem to get the consistency right to get a clear print.

In the end I decided to use the ink pad from the other linocut kit to try and get a clear print of my work (sorry Adam!). I just felt that I had spent so long cutting it out that I just wanted to see it in all it’s glory! The standard ink worked well and I printed several good looking cards with it. I hope it’s not too environmentally unfriendly!

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MakeBox – Bee Bold

A nice familiar craft to start the year from MakeBox (https://www.makebox.co/). This Bee Bold embroidery kit featured their signature bee emblem and a second hoop with a botanical rainbow, which feels like a hopeful and positive way to kick off January.

Included in the box was:

  • 7 inch embroidery hoop
  • 6 inch embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery thread x5 (pink, black, yellow, green, blue)
  • Linen
  • Felt
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Carbon paper
  • Paper pattern
  • Bee Bold postcard

After cutting the linen in half to fit both the hoops, the paper patterns were transferred onto the fabric using carbon paper. I started with the smaller design of the bee, mainly because that’s what was first in the instruction book! I liked the ‘sketching’ style of the black back stitch around the wings and legs, leaving the focus for the floral design inside the shape of the body. The 3D effect roses were a big part of both designs too giving a nice textural feeling along with the use of French knots.

I particularly liked the use of chain stitch to create the rainbow. I thought it was a really clever way to fill in the stripes using a fairly under used stitch, without resorting to satin stitch which, whilst I love it, can become a bit arduous over large areas. Again, by placing each row of chain stitch so closely together it gives the piece a nice textural quality. 

The hoops were backed with felt stitched on around the edge of the linen which had been tucked in the back. Although I think it is nice to cover the back of a piece so that the messy side is hidden it’s not really my preferred way of backing. I actually prefer to glue the felt on as I feel like this achieves a neater finish over all. 

There were the usual problems with the instruction booklet with some photographs obviously in the wrong place as they did not match up with the numbered instruction, and the colours on the colour chart for the rainbow did not match the photograph of the finished piece. Of course this doesn’t actually matter because you can do the colour placement in any way you like, but when they are on pages next to each other it really jumps out at me. I always try to imagine I am a beginner working my way through the instruction book and how helpful I would find it. I know I have said this before but I’m always so surprised that for a company that values quality and customer service, they are always let down with their printed material.

Lastly there was the Bee Bold postcard to stitch. I punched holes where it was indicated with my needle first and then used the left over thread to decorate it. Another cute addition for my inspiration wall!

The finished pieces are lovely as usual and I always enjoy the variations on design and themes even within the same craft. I’ve just seen a hint on Instagram of what will be in the March MakeBox and it looks pretty exciting, but first there’s candle making in February to look forward to!

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Makerly – Latch Hook Wall Hanging

This latch hook wall hanging box from Makerly (https://www.makerlycrafts.com/) actually arrived in December, but I just did not have the time to squeeze any more crafts in before Christmas! I saved this one and have been doing it at a fairly leisurely pace over the last week or so. I’ve been wanting to learn latch hook for a while, I love the soft fluffy result, so I was quite excited when I opened this box up.

Included in the kit was:

  • Latch hook
  • Canvas
  • Dowel
  • Chunky wool
  • Pattern
  • Blank pattern sheet

The instructions were really easy to follow, although it did take me a few goes to get the hang of the latch hook tool, mainly I think because I had to translate it to left-handed, which I always find quite tricky. It was definitely worth the practice on a spare bit of canvas though. I decided to follow the pattern provided as I’ve never done this technique before, but now I am more confident with it I might use the spare canvas and the blank pattern sheet to create my own.

I have to say that this is a labour intensive craft! There is quite a lot of prep work, cutting all the lengths of wool before you start, and quite a lot of counting involved. The hooking itself is quite slow work, although I would imagine that the more you do, the quicker you get. I sat up at the dining table to do mine and I think I would have struggled doing it on the sofa with nothing to lean against, and I did find it gave me a bit of a backache leaning over it as I worked, which is why I took my time with this one, doing small sections at a time.

As I was working I was really worried that my pattern wouldn’t show through very well, it looked much messier than the picture and the strands of wool seemed to have a mind of their own, but as soon as I started trimming it down (the most satisfying bit) and getting rid of the uneven ends, it really started to pop out. I did have to spend some time rearranging some of the strands to get them to sit in the right place to neaten up some of the lines.

I’d actually quite like to turn it into a cushion as it is soft! I’m supposed to be doing an online latch hook workshop later in January, so it was a bit of a surprise that this kit came through the door first! I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any different tips, tricks and techniques to learn, and am looking forward to having another go at this craft.

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Craft Box Club – Poms & Tassels

More wreaths! This time from Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) and although they are from December and were sent out as a Christmas box, I think these ones can probably stay up all year round as they aren’t too festive!

Included in the box was:

  • Balls of yarn x4 (grey, pink, white x2)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Glue
  • Corks x2
  • Wooden stars x2
  • Wooden buttons x6
  • Lolly stick
  • Paper template
  • Dragonfly teabags x2

The link for the how-to video guide was also included along with some top tips and a lovely Christmas message from Adam. As usual I found the video easy to follow and each step was clearly demonstrated. The first thing to do was to glue the buttons and stars onto pieces of cork ready for attaching to the hoop at the end of the project. I thought the cork was going to be quite difficult to cut, but actually I just sliced them up with a bread knife! This is done first as the glue takes a little while to dry and you can be getting on with your tassels and pom-poms in the meantime.

This kit really appealed to me as I am a pom-pom lover! I feel like I’ve become well versed in pom-pom making this year. I made a pom-pom wreath back in April and more recently did a workshop using the Loome tool, and now this. Each one has used a slightly different method to create the pom-poms. For this project we used quite an old fashioned method with two pieces of card cut into circles and the yarn wound around. I always find this method quite tricky as you need about four hands to cut the yarn and tie the string around the middle and hold everything in place at the same time! I did accidentally hack my card template up a bit when I was cutting the yarn open, but it survived long enough to make three pom-poms! If I was using this method again I think I would use some thicker card, maybe cut the shapes out of the box it came in instead.

The tassels were really easy to make and were created around your hand, no special equipment required at all. I haven’t made tassels very often and was very pleased with the result as they all came out the same size!

I really like the use of the embroidery hoop to create the two wreaths as it felt as though you were getting two for the price of one! The larger hoop was wrapped in yarn, leaving gaps for the buttons and stars to be glued on. The most difficult part of this kit was having the patience to wait for the glue to dry before tying on the tassels and pom-poms to complete the wreaths!

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Craftiosity – Winter Felt Wreath

I had so much crafting to do before Christmas that I just couldn’t fit it all in! As we are still in the ‘Christmas period’ I think it’s ok to still be posting wreaths, especially one as nice as this from the December Craftiosity box (https://craftiosity.co.uk/).

Included in the box was:

  • Felt sheets x4 (orange, ivory, light green, dark green)
  • Embroidery thread x4 (orange, green, white, gold)
  • Metal wreath base
  • Needle
  • Paper template
  • Christmas gift of gold flecked baker’s twine

Wreaths, fruit, felt and embroidery seem to be very much the trend of the season, based on what I’ve been making over the last few weeks and this snowberry and orange slice wreath certainly fits the bill. Ever since I saw this kit on Instagram I’ve been looking forward to making the orange slices! The kit was very straightforward to put together, and each step had some great techniques to try. I thought that wrapping the metal hoop in strips of felt to attach the components to was a great idea, and I particularly liked creating the snowberries using a running stitch to gather the circle of felt together. Filling them with off-cuts of the felt was a neat way to use up the scraps and create less waste.

The orange slices were the most time-consuming part. The segments were created using long and short stitch and there were three slices to do, with six segments on each. I’m not really sure how long they took me as I sat and did them in front of the TV, but I do know that I love the result! My only issue was that I ran out of embroidery thread after making only two of the slices. I’m not sure why as I followed the instructions, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the third slice. I looked into buying the thread online, which was easy enough to find on Love Crafts (https://www.lovecrafts.com/en-gb/), but before I bought it I decided to check in my sewing box. I have done a lot of kits and have a lot of leftover thread so I rummaged through and miraculously found a skein that was almost identical in colour to the original thread! It is ever so slightly lighter, but I don’t think it notices at all now that they are all attached the to hoop. Once I’d finished the final slice with my found thread I then added the finishing gold touches.

Once I had all the components and the hoop prepared I could then decide on the placement and sew it all together. Although this wreath didn’t quite get made in time for this Christmas I will look forward to hanging it up in my home next year! 

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Craftiosity – Brush Lettering Baubles

Two more decorations for my Christmas tree with the November Craftiosity kit (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! Using brush lettering pens to decorate wooden baubles, it had a bit of a Nordic feel to me. 

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden spindle bauble
  • Wooden diamond bauble
  • Brush letter pens x3 (black, red, green)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Lettering guide

This project took me around 1.5 hours to complete. I started off practising the writing I was going to do on the spindle bauble. I was glad that I had recently done the workshop on faux calligraphy as it set me up really nicely for my lettering. As before you had to remember that upstrokes were thin and downstrokes were thick. It’s quite a strange way of writing and the temptation is to try and do the whole word in one go, but actually you get a much better result if you do one letter at a time and just make them look joined up! I also measured the gap on the bauble where I would be writing and drew some guidelines for myself so I could practice writing the letters to the correct size.

After practising the writing it was then time to decorate the baubles, starting with the white paint and then embellishing with the red and green brush pens. I followed the pattern provided in the instructions, but I think you could be as creative as you like with this. I like the foliage theme though as it has a real Christmas feel in those colours. 

Once they were all decorated and the paint was dry it was time to add the lettering I had practiced. I drew it on in pencil first to make sure I spaced it out nicely and then went over in the black brush pen. There were some surfaces on the bauble where the wood had been cut in a certain way which meant that the pens bled slightly, which makes it look a bit messy, but once they are up on the tree you really can’t notice from a distance.

This was such a simple craft, but so effective in its results. The baubles have a really rustic, traditional feel to them, which is always nice at Christmas time!

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Craft Box Club – Rope and Wool Basket

I think this is going to be one of the last non-Christmas crafts I do for a while! I’ve just completed the November Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/), a rope and wool basket. I’ve done quite a bit of basket weaving now, but the thing I like about it is that it is very rewarding and each of the kits or classes has something a little different to the others in terms of materials and techniques.

Included in this kit was:

  • Cotton rope
  • Coloured thread x2
  • Wool
  • Needles x2
  • Needle threader
  • Lolly stick
  • Teabags x2

As usual the link for the online video tutorial was also provided. The video this month was only about ten minutes long. I tried to craft along with it as the beginning of the basket is quite fiddly and I did have to pause and rewind a few times, just to make sure I’d got it right, but once I’d got into the swing of wrapping the rope I found that I could do it without watching until finishing off at the end. 

As I mentioned above, the start was a little fiddly, but I liked the use of the two needles to hold the first coil in place as you began to create the stitches that form the base of the basket. Previously I have only done basket weaving with raffia, so I really enjoyed having a go with rope and wool instead. I also liked the technique of wrapping the wool around the rope in between the stabilising stitches. It gives the basket a really nice texture and allows you to play with colours. I think my joins where I finished one piece of yarn and started another could use some work as they are a bit scruffy, but I wanted to make sure my work didn’t come completely unravelled so I was double knotting the ends!

The other part I liked was finishing off with the decorative coil that was held in place the same way as the very first coil. It gives the basket a really neat finish, rather than just cutting the rope off. I was very impressed with how little wastage there was and how good the instructions were, as I had the exact amount of rope to complete the basket and very little wool or thread leftover. There was the second skein of coloured thread which I didn’t use at all, but it was nice to have the colour choice and I will definitely be able to use up the spare thread in another project!

I’m not sure yet what I will do with my new basket, but I think it would look quite good on my dressing table so I’m sure I’ll find something to store in it. On the instruction page on the website it said that this project would take about two to three hours. I think it might have taken me a little longer than that, although I wasn’t timing myself, but I did do it over two sessions. It’s always good to be able to put a craft project down and come back to it again later!

I’ve got some lovely Christmassy projects waiting for me and I can’t wait to get started on them. I’m especially excited as last week two crafty advent calendars arrived in the post! Roll on December so I can start opening them!

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Craftiosity – Marble Clay Coasters

This month’s Craftiosity kit was marble clay coasters, made using polymer clay. I always have mixed feelings when I receive a kit with polymer clay in, because I am so familiar with it and have used it for years so I’m not as excited as when I receive a box containing a craft I’ve never done before. On the other hand I’m always interested to see what different techniques and tricks I might learn that I may never have tried.

Included in the box was:

  • Fimo polymer clay (black, white and gold)
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Baking paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard cutter
  • Paper template

I usually use a brand of polymer clay called Premo Sculpey, mainly because that’s what I used when I was first taught, so I haven’t used Fimo very much. One of the things I really liked about it was the division guidelines. Premo only has four guidelines for slicing off blocks of clay, but the Fimo had larger guidelines on one side and smaller guidelines on the other. This is so useful if you want to make sure you are using the same amount of clay each time, or you want the same amount of several different colours. I was slightly sceptical that the cardboard cutter wouldn’t be any good, but the Fimo seemed to be a lot softer than Premo and the cardboard cutter had no problems going through the block. 

Marbling the clay is always the fun bit! There isn’t really any science to it, you just make sausages with your chosen colours and twist them together. Obviously the more you twist the less defined your pattern will be as the colours start to blend together and the less you twist the more blocky your pattern will be. Once the clay has been twisted in on itself enough, you can form it into a ball ready for rolling out.

Once the clay had been rolled out to a large enough size to accommodate the paper template (the instructions recommended a 3mm thickness) it was time to cut out the hexagonal shape of the coasters. Here is where the cardboard cutter had a bit of trouble. The cardboard had to be a certain thickness to maintain its rigidity, but that meant that it didn’t produce a nice clean cut. I completely understand the complications of sending blades through the post, but I think a tissue blade or even a craft knife would be better to use at this point. I always find that the cleaner you can make it before it goes in the oven, the less sanding it will need when it comes out. 

The instructions said to put it in the oven for thirty minutes, however I know that my oven can be a bit fierce, especially with thinner items, so I set a timer for fifteen minutes and checked them. I felt that the white clay was started to look a bit dark and I didn’t want them to burn so I took them out. After they had cooled I then sanded them. The sand paper provided was a finer grade which worked really well and didn’t leave any scratches on the coasters. I did actually trim some of the rougher edges with a pair of scissors as well! I squashed the offcuts together and rolled them out to create a fifth coaster so I didn’t waste any of the clay, which I then baked whilst I was sanding the others!

This was such a great project, which I think would also be great for older kids as long as they were supervised by an adult, especially with the oven part! The whole project took me around an hour and a half in total, which I guess would vary depending on how long you bake the coasters and let them cool down for. Another good one from Craftiosity (https://craftiosity.co.uk/)! 

I’m looking forward to receiving some Christmas themed boxes in the post soon. I don’t normally start thinking about Christmas until December, but I think this year we could all use some extra cheer! I’m also starting my gift shopping soon as it will be mostly online and I want to support small businesses so I want to get in early and beat any postal cut off dates!