DIY Craft Kits

Want to try something new? In need of some craftsperation (craft+inspiration – terrible, I know)? Or looking for that perfect gift for the crafty person in your life?

Look no further! These DIY craft kits are exactly what you need!

Embroidery Kits by KirikiPress

These a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e animal doll embroidery kits can be found on etsy. I still can’t get over their cute little faces! My favourites have to be the hedgehog and the beaver. Just look at this face!

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What a stylish dude! Super cute kits, well packaged and totally do-able, with all the instructions and materials you need included.

 

Coil Rope Bowl

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Another etsy find here. These stylish rope bowls look effortlessly cool and if you follow the instructions in this kit learning how to make them will be (more or less) effortless too. With this kit you’ll receive:
10 yards of beautifully soft 8mm cotton and jute rope / or Bright nylon rope
10 yards of waxed cotton cord
Easy to understand instructions with photos
The right sized needle
*You provide the cup of tea and scissors and you’re set to go!
You will be able to make a bowl at least 18cm x 7cm high. Other colour combinations are available in the drop down menus and other colours and styles and loads of supplies can be found in the shop.

 

Leather School® Belt Kit

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Next up we have a belt making kit from the Leather School®. This would make a fantastic gift – whether you want to give it to some crafty for them to make it or make it yourself and then give it, is up to you.

 

Get Crafty Chicken Doorstop Sewing Kit

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Hobbycraft UK stocks a variety of craft kits many from Kirstie Allsopp or their own brand Get Crafty. I like this chicken doorstop sewing kit for its practicality as well as cute design.

 

Weaving Kit – Peaches & Cream Woven Wall Hanging

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Back to etsy with this kit to make a woven wall hanging. This is bang on trend, easy to learn and you can make many more projects with the hand loom included in the kit. This could be a gift that keeps on giving. There are plenty of other weaving starter kits out there, but I love this peaches and cream colour combo!

 

DIY Flower Crown Kit

And finally…one for the young and young at heart. Flower crowns are fun and colourful and these kits add an extra slice of creativity to the mix. Make your own before heading out to a festival…or round the supermarket…your choice.

 

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed this quick round up of craft kits. I will continue to add more to the list as I discover new gems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Contains some affiliate links**

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Craft Crush: Cacti!

After a week with no wifi (what did people do before internet?!?!?) I’m back with a new craft crush.

I noticed a while back that cacti are very ‘on trend’ this year. But to be honest I wasn’t really on board with this trend. I had two little cacti when I was younger and never really liked the spiky little things. That was until I started seeing this trend being translated into craft!

Handmade cacti made from all sorts of materials have been popping up on pinterest and in etsy newsletters for the past few weeks and I think they are just adorable. You have the chic look without the actual prickles.

So here are a few of my favourites:

These stained glass cacti by MooncalfGlass are adorable. I love them lined up by the window, bringing in colour without blocking the light. There is also a hanging version.

Pet Plant Knitting Kit, Succulent Kit, Christmas Gift, UK Shop, Scotland. Plant craft kit. Plant felt kit. Christmas Stocking Filler

If you want to have a go at making a cactus yourself try out mybaboo‘s Mini Knit Kit! This looks more like aloe vera to me but you can find lots more knitted cacti on etsy. I particularly like this luxury wool pin cushion.

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I love this project by Veronika Richterova featured on Colossal made from recycled PET plastic. It is visually stunning and has an inspiring message. Her website a tribute to PET bottles is really informative and in the gallery of her work you can see many more examples of her sculptures made from PET plastic. Time to start collecting bottles and having a go myself I think.

Here’s another simple cactus craft kit, this time made from felt. Probably easy enough to be a nice craft project for kids. The great thing about this one is that it is in flower all year round 🙂

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I’ve seen an awful lot of variations of stones painted to be cacti. They are cute and fun and is an easy craft project for kids. Here (above) you can see some by Salt and Pepper Moms.

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I just love these colouful and quirky paper cacti by illustrator Kim Sielbeck featured on Brown Paper Bag.

And finally, what is life without some concrete? These concrete cacti could make a great paperweight or bookend.

Natural Dyes and Eco Printing

I’ve recently become quite fascinated with natural dyes and eco printing. It is amazing what you can use to dye fabric or yarn… food remains like onion skins and avocado pits or flowers and leaves create a variety of colours and sometimes pattern too. There are several different methods which can give different results depending on what look you are going for. But I will cover the different techniques individually in more detail in later posts.

As with most of my new obsessions, it started with something I saw on Pinterest. I have now made a board on the topic, so if you are looking for more inspiration check out my ‘Natural Dyes and Eco Printing’ board. My next step is usually to look on etsy to see what other people are making. I found this amazing project by ImmySmithArt which uses plant dye to make ‘chromoscapes‘ in order to “create a visual chemical memory of the places plants were collected”. How awesome is that?!

 

You can buy a chromoscape here

You can also find a whole range of different items of clothing that have been eco printed on etsy. I have picked this shawl to showcase as I think it shows the real potential of eco printing. It is well designed, has vivid colours and crisp lines.

Find the shawl here

So having been inspired and done a little research, I decided to have a go myself. I was lucky enough to be at my parents house where I could plunder the garden for the materials I needed. I more or less followed the instructions from Frankie, using rose petals, a variety of leaves and some rusty nails.

I pinched some apple cider vinegar from my mum and soaked the plain white cotton fabric in it. Laying the fabric out flat, I then placed on it the petals and leaves before wrapping them around the nails. I tightly tied the bundle up with string and put it in a steamer for just under two hours. The results were mixed, but not bad for the first time. In some places you can see the rose petals coming through and the outline of some leaves.

I think it could have done with a little more time in the steamer to really let to the colour of the rose petals show through. I then made part of the fabric into a little drawstring bag:

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For a first attempt I was quite pleased with the result and it is definitely something I will be trying again in the near future. Keep an eye on the blog for more about natural dyes and eco printing.

For more information there are several resources out there on this topic including Angela Daymond’s Dyeing from Natures Store Cupboard.

 

 

 

Includes affiliate links

Highlights of Croatia #1 (Zagreb, Karlovac & Plitvice Lakes)

This time last year I was exploring the delights of Croatia. Most people know by now about the stunning Croatian coastline and wonderful islands. However today I want to share my love for inland Croatia and the cities of Karlovac and Zagreb.

I was travelling from Trieste, Italy where I had spent  a wonderful few days with my mum. Heading into Croatia, once again solo, my first stop was Karlovac. I wanted to stay in a small city, a bit off the beaten track, in an attempt to get to know the ‘real’ Croatia. I had a nice few days in Karlovac, relaxing on the river banks, exploring the old city walls and hanging out at the castle. I even did some embroidery with a view:

While I was in Karlovac, I also took the opportunity to visit the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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It was quite a grey day when I visited – which meant the long walk around the lakes was bearable – but was not so great for getting stunning photos. But with a little help from some filters I hope you will get an idea of the tremendous beauty of the place.

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The greenery and the reflections where absolutely stunning, not to mention the amazing waterfalls that connect the 16 lakes.

After Karlovac and the wonderful day trip to Plitvice, I unwillingly made my way to Zagreb. The capital city was definitely not top of my list of places to visit – I thought I’d had enough of big cities – but it soon became a firm favourite.

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No filter – I just love the light hitting the leaves and the water in this photo.

There is something about Zagreb that really struck with me and I felt at home almost straight away. I say almost….if you discount an incident with a giant moth you could say immediately. I loved the architecture, the parks, the seemingly endless festivals, craft markets and open air concerts, the pockets of alternative culture, the people, oh and the food…

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Lunch

Zagreb is not the most photogenic place, but it has a certain atmosphere that really appeals to me. Perhaps it is the meeting of cultures – the Austro-Hungarian influence meeting the Balkan/Ottoman – that creates this unique place. Whatever its secret to success, it is somewhere I have returned to and will hopefully return again in the near future.

Berat, Albania

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Deep in the heart of Albania is the beautiful city of Berat. The two neighbourhoods of Mangelem and Gorica face each other across the river, each displaying the characteristic architecture of the Ottoman era, cobbled streets and a certain undefinable charm. High on the hill above Mangelem is the castle and from here you can capture views of the surrounding mountains.

I was lucky enough to spend some time in this city learning about its history and up close and personal with some of its wonderful architecture. The most memorable aspect of the city for me is the neighbourhood of Mangelem where the house almost look like they are built one on top of another and hundreds of windows stare out – getting the city the names ‘city of a thousand windows’ or ‘city of a thousand eyes’.

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But I will not only remember Berat for its architecture – trust me to unwittingly arrive on the day of a craft market. There were still several stalls out when I arrived late on a Sunday, but I was drawn to one in particular. This couple sold me some stunning woven table runners made in the north of Albania, in the Shkoder region. The weaver has won national awards for her stunning designs and craftsmanship.

I was attracted to the simple and elegant red and white designs which I think are so typical in the Balkans and although they appear simple there are some deceptively intricate patterns.

Final words on Berat: Character, Charm & History.

Ohrid – Pearl of the Balkans

Perched on the edge of the lake that shares its name, the city of Ohrid is known as the pearl of the Balkans. The city and the lake are both protected by UNESCO as cultural and natural heritage respectively.

As well as being home to beautiful vernacular architecture, amazing natural diversity, stunning scenery and a fascinating history, Ohrid is also home to some wonderful craftsmen. Traditional crafts in this region include wood carving, silver filigree and handmade paper.

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Sunrise view of the lake and the old city

At the handmade paper workshop on Car Samuil you can witness the process of paper-making that has been passed from generation to generation and find unique souvenirs like handmade cards and beautiful prints of scenes of the city or people in traditional dress.

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Traditional methods of paper-making being demonstrated

Just along the street from the paper workshop is the Tron woodcarving gallery exhibiting the work of woodcarver Dragan Nelovski. This craftsman will show you his work and the process of creating it, explain the different types of wood he uses and share his passion for the craft with you.

Tucked away by the Church of Saint Sophia is one shop that is not to be missed. A deceptively small shop is an absolute treasure trove for traditional, handmade textiles. Outside you will see a selection of folk costumes, but inside is where the magic is. If you are looking for a handwoven kilim rug made here in Macedonia you will find no better place. Stored away in the back rooms are all conceivable sizes and colours so you are sure to find the perfect souvenir!

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Folk costume on display outside shop
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And inside hides a treasure trove of handmade textiles

My final words on Ohrid: inspirational, tranquil & authentic

Welcome to Macedonia

Last week I arrived in Macedonia (FYROM). I’m going to be based in a the small city of Struga in the south west of the country for the next few months, so expect to see a lot more about this beautiful country and its crafts. For now here’s a taster:

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Current project #1: Travel Set

For Christmas I received a sewing machine and I couldn’t wait to try it out! To be honest my machine sewing skills were a bit rustier than I expected. My first attempt to make something was a apron upcycled from an old dress. However I was far too excited about getting to use my lovely new sewing machine which resulted in a rather wonky, thrown together apron. Not a very auspicious beginning.

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Then I spotted this printed fabric in my local fabric shop. The colour and pattern caught my eye and looking closer I saw that it was made of old post marks and stamps. I decided it would be perfect for making a kind of travel set to hold all my bits and bobs while I am travelling.

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First I made a laptop case for my little HP notebook. Like with the apron, I was a bit too eager and made quite a few mistakes. But it functions pretty well as a padded case so I’m happy with it. I also made a pencil case and two drawstring bags to keep my chargers and cables in to save them getting tangled or lost. I am really pleased with the drawstring bags. The time I put into thinking through how to make them and measuring correctly really paid off and the red cord from Norwich market is a nice finishing touch.

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I still have some of the fabric left over and I’m wondering what else to make. Any suggestions?

My Top Craft-Travel Ideas

Today I thought I would share a little of my craft-travel wisdom with y’all. For those, like me, interested in crafts and travelling there are several great opportunities available to combine the two.

Craft Holidays

The Raku Garden – Brac, Croatia

Maybe, like me, you have been watching the BBC’s Pottery Throwdown and were inspired by the Raku challenge. Well here’s your opportunity to try it out yourself! Join Julie and Tim on a beautiful Croatian island to experiment with this exciting ceramics technique. I spent a week on the island of Brac last year so I can attest to its beauty and I’m sure it would make a great place to get creative.

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Dipping my toes in the beautifully clear water of the Adriatic Sea. Brac, Croatia.

Stitchtopia

From a weekend of knitting in Yorkshire to a fortnight exploring the textiles of South Africa or India – Stitchtopia has it all! As the name suggests these holidays are a real utopia for all you stitch lovers including knitting, crocheting, quilting embroidery and all things textiles.

Responsible Travel, Craft Holidays in the Scottish Highlands

Responsible Travel is a website dedicated to tours, holidays and excursions which invest locally, save water and energy, and protect local wildlife and culture. They have several craft related holiday options, but the one that particularly caught my eye was a holiday in the Highlands of Scotland learning about organic wool, natural dyes and felting techniques. Sign me up!

Helpx and Workaway

For a totally unique experience and craft-travel on a budget, check out these websites.They offer free accommodation, food and  cultural exchange in return for 4-5 hours work a day (can be more, or less, depending on the host) all over the world. Alongside farms and family-run accommodation businesses several makers are listed.

Searching using keywords such as ‘ceramics’ or ‘weaving’ in the websites’ host lists will unearth some amazing opportunities to live and work with makers. You can help a ceramicist in the Netherlands, learn about natural leather tanning in Austria or join a weaving project in Portugal. Not all helpers offer hands-on experience with their craft (some require help around the house or garden or looking after children), so be sure to read the profiles carefully.

Whether you are an experienced maker or a total novice, looking for a short break or longer learning experience, there is plenty on offer here!

Last year I spent two weeks in Slovenia with a couple who grow herbs and berries and collect wild flowers to make various teas, herbal salts etc. You can read more about my crafty adventures in Slovenia here, here and here. And finally, here a few photos from my HelpX experience in Slovenia to inspire your craft-travel:

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Experimenting with weaving and wild flowers in Slovenia
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Explore amazing places that your average tourist never sees
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The view from my bedroom during my helpx experience in Slovenia.

Venice: canals, gondolas, masquerade…craft…?

This week I am finally getting around to sharing some of my favourite things from my travels last summer. So I thought I would start by finally posting about my day trip to Venice with my mum last June.

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What you you think of when you think of Venice? Canals and gondolas? Churches and palaces? Masks and carnival? Well, I have something new to add to the list…when I think of Venice I think of craft and upcycling!

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When we arrived by at the central train station in Venice we followed the crowds trying to make their way to see the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. Winding our way along narrow alleys, over picturesque bridges and besides canals we discovered several shops selling local handmade wares. Alongside the usual textiles, ceramics and glass, I also found some charming upcycling like the flowers and masks above.

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The theme of upcycling continued when I visited the Architectural Biennale. The 2016 curator, Alejandro Aravena, is a personal hero of mine, and emphasised waste as one of the themes of the year. In response several of the participants tackled this issue in interesting and creative ways. Upcycling was a very popular response and I loved these plastic bottle chandeliers!

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And these upcycled pigs!

Another highlight of the biennale was the wonderful papercraft of ADNBA from Romania. They had created a whole cityscape in paper and cardboard. The scenes could only be viewed through cutout holes, giving the viewer the feeling of being inside the scene and offering different perspectives.

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What a wonderful day in Venice!

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