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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.

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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!

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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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Weave Your Genes at The London Loom

Last week I went to the ‘Weave Your Genes’ workshop at The London Loom (https://thelondonloom.com/v2/) and I had such a great time! I booked this workshop a little while ago and when it rolled around I wasn’t really that up for it. The London Loom is based over in East London which is a bit awkward for me to get to so I wasn’t really looking forward to travelling there and back. By the time I left it was a completely different story, the three trains were totally worth it!

I arrived a bit early but Francesca, the founder, gave me a lovely warm greeting and put me to work straight away. The idea of the workshop was to complete a questionnaire relating to various aspects of your genetic make up, for example: eye colour, bitter taste perception, odour detection etc. Each answer was given two letters which correspond to the four ‘building blocks’ or bases that make up DNA: Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, Guanine. I chose four different coloured yarns and assigned each one to a base, then using my answers I created a design for my weaving.

Once I had completed the questionnaire and coloured in my design Francesca set me up on a loom. She showed me how to wind the yarn onto the bobbin and then feed the shuttle through the weft to begin creating my fabric. I did get into a few knots at the start but once I’d got into a rhythm it was easy to become absorbed in the process. I did have to have a few breaks to stretch my back out…I don’t know how women in the olden days managed!

After I got to the end of my design Francesca cut my fabric off the loom and showed me how to tie the ends so it wouldn’t all come unravelled. Now all I have to decide is what to do with it! I’ve had suggestions of a bag or a cushion so far.

The London Loom is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Francesca is really welcoming and talks through each stage in a clear, concise way. The people using the other looms were also really friendly. It’s based in a complex with lots of other creative businesses which gives it a really relaxed vibe. I absolutely loved Francesca’s massive rainbow wall of yarn! She recently won in the ‘best workshop’ category at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards (http://www.molliemakes.com/lifestyle/mollie-makes-handmade-awards-2019-winners/) and she totally deserves it.

If you’re looking to try something relaxing and rewarding I would definitely recommend taking a workshop there. The ‘Weave Your Genes’ one that I did cost £65 for a three hour session including all the materials.