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.

Kim Sielbeck

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.

Findhorn and Forres, Scotland

I recently had the pleasure of taking a trip up to Scotland. It took me 5 trains to get from my parents home in England up to the small town of Forres situated on the Moray coast. I was lucky enough to be attending a training course in Forres and had the opportunity to explore this idyllic corner of the world.

On our free afternoon my fellow participants and myself visited the ecovillage at Findhorn, and wow what a place! Not only has this ecovillage grown from nothing to a thriving community in the past 50 years, it has been at the forefront of eco-friendly design and experiments in community life. However, the thing that struck me most about this place was the undeniable commitment to craftsmanship. This was most evident in the construction of the Universal Hall that plays host to many events.

This stunning building, nestled between the trees, is a showcase of craftsmanship. From the conception of the overall design through to every detail of the stained glass windows, mosaics and interior decor this building is exemplary. The mosaics on the pavement outside immediately caught my attention:

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But I think that one of the most impressive features is possibly the dry stone walling. Dry stone walls are common in this area but usually have a rather rough appearance. Not so in Findhorn ecovillage! Here dry stone walls have been taken to the next level and the precision is pretty mind-blowing.

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On this wall the stone even creates a mural showing the river Findhorn flowing through the Cairngorms and running out to the sea at Findhorn Bay.

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As mentioned above, in the ecovillage they have also experimented with various types of sustainable construction and eco friendly design. This house is incredibly made from an upcycled whiskey barrel! Apparently you could still smell the whiskey for 5 years after the house was complete!

After visiting the ecovillage, we took the short walk over to the beach.

Walking down the beach, we took a short cut across the dunes and arrived at the little harbour and sat down for a well deserved fish and chips. The north of Scotland gets ridiculously long days in summer so we were able to sit outside into the evening and enjoy the fabulous reflection of the boats on the mirror-like water:

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The next day we had another treat as we were able to spend a couple of hours at the Highland Games in Forres. We saw various races and athletic competitions, a very competitive tug-of-war, traditional Scottish dancing, Haggis burgers, plenty of kilts and of course…a whole host of bagpipes!

 

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.

 

 

 

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Highlights of Croatia #2: Zadar, Split & Brac

Part two of my highlights from my travels in Croatia last year is here! Part 1 covered Zagreb, Karlovac and Plitvice Lakes. This second part is about the beautiful Croatian coastline.

First up is Zadar! I visited Zadar twice last year while travelling around Europe. It is a charming little city perched on a peninsular with plenty to see and do. The historic centre, with its red roofs and white towers, is very picturesque.

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View from one of the aforementioned towers

If architecture or history is what you are in to you can find it all here. Roman, byzantine or Venetian the architecture is top notch!

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But one of the main attractions in Zadar is neither historical nor architectural – it is in fact musical. The sea organ, located on a promenade with a fantastic view, uses the movement of the waves to push air through organ pipes set into the sea wall to produce some pretty amazing sounds. This is accompanied by a solar powered light show (think dance floor) to make a unique experience.

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Te sea organ is set into these steps/seating
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View from sea organ (yes that is a yellow submarine)

Next up was Split. Now I have to make a confession from the start that I didn’t much like Split. I found it to be dirty, smelly, tacky and over-priced. However, I will admit it has its beautiful parts.

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Another great thing about Split is that ferries leave from here to many of the islands including the one I chose to visit: Brac.

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Bol Harbour

I stayed in the little town of Bol on the island of Brac and I loved it! It was the end of September when I visited so the busy summer season was coming to an end and Bol was returning to being a sleepy fishing village. I really enjoyed sitting at a cafe by the harbour (pictured above) and watching the locals coming and going.

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Lovely tree-lined walkway leading to Zlatni Rat

Walking along this tree lined walkway you arrive at Bol’s most famous attraction. Zaltni Rat is a spit of beach that stretches out into the water, changing shapes depending on the currents. What most people don’t realise is that it is a stone beach rather than a sandy one – but I loved it because you don’t leave feeling like you have sand in all the wrong places.

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Zlatni Rat beach
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Sunset at Zlatni Rat – stoney beach not sandy

Bol was my last proper stop on my European tour last year before heading back to Zadar for my flight. And what a way to finish. Despite catching a cold (was lovely and hot in the sun, but chilly in the shade which was not good after swimming), it was one of the best places I have visited and would highly recommend a visit.

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Simply stunning sunset Bol, Brac – no filter needed
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And the sunrise on the way to the ferry back to Split

Final words on the Croatian coastline: is becoming touristy and over priced but there are still lots of gems that make it worth it.

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.

The Peak District, UK

A quick post to share a few photos of my brief visit to the Peak District this weekend:

My family and I have spent the weekend at a lovely little cottage just under the Roaches, a prominent rocky ridge, a perfect location for walking and exploring. I captured a few shots while out walking, but I have to say I am no photographer, so I have had some fun with photo editing.

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Fantastic views
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Trying to make the grey sky blue
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Dramatic landscapes
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The loneliest tree

I actually find the process of photo editing quite useful. Firstly, to draw out the essence of the picture, you really have to look at everything in the picture and find what it is you want to show. Why did you take this photo? What were you thinking about when you took it? Then you need to work out the best way to bring out these qualities through editing. I often use my landscape photography as inspiration for creative projects, so editing the photos helps me process the photos in preparation for that.

Top 10 Etsy Buys for Rustic French Style Interiors

hereIf you are looking for that oh so charming, paired back, rustic French style here is some inspiration for you.

First up: I just love the simplicity of old French linens, they really give that rustic charm. This large tea towel with a perfect red stripe is an easy first step to achieving the rustic French kitchen.

Check out this vintage mannequin, dated 1900-09 here.

Or for something ultra chic and elegant to grace your walls this deco advertisement will do the trick.

Spruce up an old chest of drawers with these decoupaged draw knobs.

Fancy some DIY craft home decor? This cross stitch kit will give your home that je ne sais quoi. (Translation: Always the same sh*t)

Brighten up a kitchen or dining room with this set of rustic yellow pitchers.

A little something for the garden here. This vintage planter screams French chateau.

If pastoral scenes are more your thing these antique plates are for you. Simple yet charming.

A simple galvanised water pitcher can make a big statement in the right setting.

And finally: Looking for a gift for the man in your life? Or just have inclination towards the industrial look? Either way this rustic alarm clock is for you.

 

 

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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