Polka & Bloom on Etsy

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Links :: LEGO, Humpback Whale, Sketching

Blake storyboard
Google has a fun little app called Storyboard. It transforms your videos into storyboard type images. After loading a video in the app, you can change the look of the storyboard by pulling down on the screen. You can save the ones you like. Here's one from a video of Blake rolling on the grass. :-) To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what you would use this app for, but it's a bit of fun.

The World’s Largest LEGO Cherry Blossom Tree Blooms in Japan.

I can really relate to this Wear What You Make: On Being Visible post by Sonya Philips. ♥

These sketches by A. Rmyth from the kasbah in Marrakesh are delightful! I wish my sketching were this good. :-)

I am always fascinated to read about the behind the scenes workings of small/independent businesses, there's always something to learn, right? And it always puts into perspective how every single purchase we make from an independent biz has a big impact on that person's life. Case in point, this The True Cost of a Pattern - revisited post from Woolly Wormhead. You put in time and money to create a pattern (or whatever) and then you cross your fingers that people will actually buy it. It's scary stuff!

The humpback whale saved a diver. Whales are the best! ♥♥♥

In case you've been looking for a way to colour code emails in Gmail, Labels + filters are the perfect combo. Tony makes fun of me for my excessive (according to him!) Gmail organizing, but how can you just let all emails sit in the inbox?! Crazy! Anyway, if you haven't used labels and/or filters before, check out this post: How to Easily Color Code Gmail for Clear Visual Organization.

These Cheesy Chili Baked Potato Fries look delicious!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Shop Announcement + 50% Off


I am making some changes to the Polka & Bloom shop. For many years I have had the shop on my own website, but sales through the website have gone down a lot in the past couple of years. I suspect it is because of the EU VAT thing which means I've had to split the shop into two sections, one for UK/EU customers and one for everyone else. Which may be a bit confusing!

I hope it is because of the EU VAT thing, otherwise it would mean that people don't dig my patterns anymore! :-o

I'd prefer to have the main shop on my own site, because I am 100% in control of that, but at the moment that just doesn't make any sense. If people get confused when they go there to shop, they're less likely to feel comfortable buying anything. It is my job to avoid confusing people! :-)

Most of my sales come through my Etsy shop now, and combined with the fact that the (fixed) cost of the shop on my own site has almost doubled (!), I have decided that I'm going to downgrade the shop on my own site.

From now on, my own site will only have physical goods (so I don't have to worry about EU VAT) and patterns and ebooks will be sold through my Etsy shop.

As much as I am wistful about my shop/website, I am also relieved to have made this decision. I think the whole EU/VAT thing has been a bigger worry than I realised.

As I was typing the above, which was only supposed to be an announcement, I decided that I should say thank you to the ol' shop AND to you, so:

The change will happen on May 20 (2018), and until then you can get 50% off all embroidery patterns* and ebooks, including all the bundles of patterns. Use this code: THANKYOU.

One last time:
If you are in the UK/EU, please use this link. Because of those EU VAT rules which mean I have to email PDF files to you because otherwise you will have to pay VAT and I will have to deal with some very complicated VAT something-something. But I just thought I'd mention it for any new readers (hi! welcome!)

If you're outside the EU, please use this link.

*Patterns in the 'Tip Jar' category are excluded because they are donationware patterns, so you can get those for free or pay a small amount if you like.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Whales Quilt Top Take Two

Whales Quilt Top take two
I tested the Whales quilt top from the Polar Bear Country ebook, juuust in case I made any errors in the pattern. The pattern was fine (it's a fairly simple pattern after all) but I actually made a tiny mistake when putting the top together, can you spot it? It's not a big deal at all, it just gives the quilt a slightly different look.

In take two I accidentally swapped the position of the whale blocks, so instead of whales being below the squares in the block, they are above. I like it either way, it's nice when a pattern is flexible and works in different ways. :-)

Whales Quilt Top take two
To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure how the top would work out in these different colours. I mean, the original was made with ocean colours in mind, would it even work in this aqua and red combo? Happily, I think it does. It's definitely more cheerful! I kinda want to make another in very bright colours, just to see how that would look.

Whales Take Two will be a gift for my parents, I kinda wish I could keep it, but I already told them they're getting it, so there's no way back now. ;-)

If you want to make your own Whales Quilt, find the pattern here (or the whole ebook!):
If you are in the UK/EU, you can buy the ebook via this link. By now I think you know about the EU VAT rules which mean I have to email the ebook to you because otherwise you will have to pay VAT and I will have to deal with some very complicated VAT something-something. But I just thought I'd mention it for any new readers (hi! welcome!)

If you're outside the EU you can buy the ebook via this link.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Links :: Succulents, Meringue, Tin Can Art

Lavender in the front garden
This (English, I think) lavender in our front garden is so lovely. It makes me happy to walk past it, or see it from the window, because I planted that and it's thriving. I know lavender are pretty hardy but I like to think I had atleast a little to do with it. ;-)

This Pioneer Plaque Pin is So Very Cool. Want!

My friend June released new crochet succulent patterns recently, taking her total succulent collection to an impressive 24 different plants! Check them out if you're like me and can't keep real plants alive for very long. Most of the time, anyway. Because the lavender is thriving, remember?! ;-)

Tin Cans Transformed into Famous Art Historical Self-Portraits. Wow!

What You Need to Know about GDPR, the EU’s New Data Privacy Regulation. This is important stuff if you have a business or newsletter or any other entity that means you collect the personal data of EU citizens.

Century-Old Film Footage Edited to Present a More Dynamic View of New York City Life in the Early 1900s. This is fascinating! Especially since Tony and I are off to visit New York later this year.

Domestic Objects Wrapped in Needlepoint Scenes. Find more work by Ulla-Stina Wikander.

Jordan Nassar’s embroidery is taking on identity, geography, and hummus. {via}

Surprising Result of Crushing Non-Newtonian Fluids and Crayons in a Hydraulic Press. There's a YouTube video in this post, I couldn't stop watching it!

This vegan almond meringue cookie recipe sounds pretty delicious.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

New Pattern :: Spring Wreath

Spring wreath embroidery pattern
I have a new pattern ready just in time for Mothers Day (in some countries - why isn't it on the same day everywhere?) I got this together a bit later than I was planning, but this new pattern is quick to work up so you will be able to finish it in time for Mothers Day next weekend.

Find the Spring Wreath pattern in my Etsy shop.

Or you can skip the text and just stitch it for any day. Speaking of the text, as well as 'mom' the pattern also includes 'mum', 'mama', 'mam' and 'mor'. All in the correct size to fit in the wreath. You can also trace the letters to spell out the words 'amour', 'amor', 'Roma' and....any other anagrams from the five letters AMOUR?

The pattern uses the 'special' stitches spider web rose and buttonhole heart which I posted tutorials for yesterday. :-)

Buy Spring Wreath here.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Stitch Tutorial :: Buttonwheel Heart

stitch tutorial header

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
This is a cute stitch, I like it way more than the buttonhole wheel itself. ;-) I think I first saw it in a post by a Japanese embroiderer on Instagram, but I can't remember who. Anyway, when I saw it I had to try it for myself.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
1) Draw a heart and put a dot in the centre but a little bit closer to the top than the bottom. You can draw the lines so you get even segments of the stitches if you want.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
2) Bring the needle up at the point of the heart, then push it down at the centre dot while you hold onto the thread so you don't pull it to the back.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
3) Bring the needle up along the outline of the heart, inside the loop of the thread you're holding. Pull the thread tight.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
4) Then, again holding on to the thread, insert the needle through the centre dot.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
5) Bring the needle up along the outline as in step 6 and carry on in the same way until you reach the point of the heart.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
6) The last spoke of the heart should line up with the spot where you started the heart. Secure the last spoke with a tiny straight stitch.

Buttonhole heart stitch tutorial
Finished buttonhole heart. :-) ♥

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Stitch Tutorial :: Spider Web Rose

stitch tutorial header

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
I have been a little bit obsessed with this stitch lately, so I thought I'd share a tutorial for it. An obsession shared is an obsession...well, don't really know what it is, but anyway, here's the tutorial. ;-)

The stitch has a lot of different names, for example, woven rose, wagon wheel rose, woven wheel and woven spoke. The stitch is very effective in ribbon embroidery where you really get a petal effect, but it's very pretty with six-stranded cotton too. Use 3 strands of floss for this stitch it gives the fluffiest roses!

In this example I'll start with a yellow centre, then finish the rose in a different colour. You can do the roses in a single colour instead if you like. Variegated floss works very well for this stitch.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
1) Draw a five spoke star. You can eyeball it instead and just start stitching but if it's your first go at this stitch you might like the spokes to 'lean' up against to get things nice and even.

Bring the needle up at the end of one spoke, then bring it down in the centre.

TIP: If you want to make large spider web roses, say over 1"/2.5cm in diameter, make a 7 spoke star. This will give more places to weave the thread.

Important: The number of spokes must always be an uneven number.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
2) Repeat this for the rest of the spokes.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
3) Optional step: when you have returned the needle to the back of the fabric, turn it over and weave the thread through the back of the stitches. This will secure it for the next step.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
4 Bring the needle up in between two of the spokes, as close to the centre as possible. If you skipped step 3 take care not to bring the needle up too close to the centre or the last stitch may unravel.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
4 Weave the needle and thread over and under the spoke stitches. Keep going until the yellow centre is the desired size.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
5) Bring the needle and thread to the back. Secure and cut off the thread.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
6) With the second colour, bring the needle up where you finished in the previous stitch. Carry on the weaving over and under until the spokes are completely covered. Push the needle to the back. Secure the thread and cut off the thread.

Spider Web Rose stitch tutorial
Finished spider web rose!
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mandalas to Embroider :: Freebie And Giveaway

Mandalas to Embroider
A couple of nice Mandalas to Embroider things:

Over on The Daily Stitch, The Village Haberdashery's blog, they are sharing one of the mandala patterns from the book and I wrote a little tutorial for extending the mandalas if you want to make them larger than the patterns in the book.

On Bugs & Fishes Laura is sharing a very nice review of Mandalas to Embroider aaaand there's a giveaway too, yay! :-)

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Polar Bear Country :: A Closer Look

Since the Polar Bear Country ebook is a bit of a departure for me, it's not just embroidery patterns (!), I thought I'd share a little look inside the book to give you an idea what it's like. Don't forget that you can save 15% until Sunday, April 29. Please see the bottom of this post for the details.

This is the first project in the book. It has four polar animal embroidery patterns and the instructions for making this wall hanging. With each project you get a list of the materials needed. The measurements are given in both inches and centimetres.

It's funny, when I first started sewing years ago, I did everything in centimetres. I was very stubborn about that for some weird reason. Now, I guess because I've done more quilting, I 'think' mostly in inches. Anyway....

This cushion project really has turned out to be one of my favourites. I had finished the embroidery a long time ago and when it came to actually doing something with it, I was at a bit of a loss for some reason. But then I came across this cushion cover and I remembered that I really loved making the edging for it. So I wanted to do something similar but different.

It is quite time consuming, sewing all the tiny strips together for this border, but I guess I'm weird because I really enjoy it. :-)

However, if you don't enjoy sewing together fiddly skinny strips, there are alternative instructions for making a border using striped fabric instead. I have tried to add suggestions for alternatives in the projects wherever it was appropriate - and if I had space for it. The book was at over 80 pages at one point! I thought the final 73 was quite enough. ;-)

Whales quilt
I friggin' love this quilt. Is it ok to say that? I love the limited colour palette and the scrappy look and the whales that help it not feel too busy. Blake loves it too, he has already taken to sleeping on it in the evening.

You'll see this again next week, because I have made another version of it, to test the pattern. The colours for the second are quite different as you will see.

Some of the projects have drawings to help visualize each step. Here's an example of that, for the Whales quilt above.

The book has a few extra motifs/templates which I didn't use in the finished project(s). For example, I made two table mats, but then I thought it'd be nice to have a set of four different ones, so I added two extra motifs.

The whales, as used in the quilt, are just outlines, but the template is actually my original drawing with eyes and mouth etc so they can be used embroidery patterns. You know, in case you want to embroider a narwhal. And who doesn't? They're the unicorn of the sea, after all. Speaking of which, until a few years ago, Tony thought the narwhal was a made up creature just like the unicorn, what?! ;-D

I wanted to add as many options for your projects as possible in the space I had. One rule I had for the projects was that there would be no having to scale things up or down or print several sheets to tape together. Because who wants to mess around with that when you just want to get on a sew stuff? ;-)

If you are in the UK/EU, please buy the ebook via this link. By now I think you know about the EU VAT rules which mean I have to email the ebook to you because otherwise you will have to pay VAT and I will have to deal with some very complicated VAT something-something. But I just thought I'd mention it for any new readers (hi! welcome!)

If you're outside the EU please use this link to buy the ebook.

Save 15% off the ebook until Sunday, April 29th, with this code: POLARBEAR. Only valid for the Polar Bear Country ebook and the two separate quilt top patterns.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Ebook :: Polar Beary Country

Polar Bear Country Cover

Happy Tuesday, friends!

The work on the Polar Bear Country ebook is done and it is available in my shop, woohoo!

This ebook has been a loooooong time in the making. I had the idea for it two and a half years ago and the embroideries were (mostly) finished about two years ago. But then a book got in the way and then it took me a little while to get the embroidery mojo back to finish the projects. To be honest, for a little while I actually couldn't find the bag I had tucked all the projects and notes into. ;-)

But now it's here, finally, after two years, and a lot of time spent in front of the computer in the past couple of months. Putting it all together was more work than I thought it would be. I forgot how long it can take to fiddle with little details!

Anyway, here are the links to buy the ebook. The links go to the main categories for Polar Bear Country because I decided to make the two quilt top patterns available separately as well. My two first proper quilt top patterns!

If you are in the UK/EU, you can buy the ebook via this link. By now I think you know about the EU VAT rules which mean I have to email the ebook to you because otherwise you will have to pay VAT and I will have to deal with some very complicated VAT something-something. But I just thought I'd mention it for any new readers (hi! welcome!)

If you're outside the EU you can buy the ebook via this link.

Save 15% off the ebook until Sunday, April 29th, with this code: POLARBEAR. Only valid for the Polar Bear Country ebook and the two separate quilt top patterns.

Here's an overview of the ebook:

Polar Bear Country ebook projects
There are 13 projects, with 14 templates. There is a bunch of embroidery patterns as well (of course!) and because some of the templates are made so they can work as embroidery patterns as well, you get 13 embroidery patterns in the ebook. Nice!

The projects are a happy mix of bookmarks, cushion covers, a table runner, wall hanging and quilt tops plus more besides.

The projects are not super difficult, but if you have some sewing experience it would be an advantage. I have included stitch tutorials and tutorials for various techniques used in the book. There is some machine appliqué/embroidery in the book. I am still quite new to this, but I hope that since I had to use my own tutorial, it is easy for other beginners to follow too. If not, feel free to email me and make suggestions! :-)

Sea eagle table runner from Polar Bear Country ebook
I can hardly believe that I made a project with only grey! It is so far away from my usual riot of colours but I wanted this table runner to feel.. I dunno... elegant and minimalist. So grey it is. And you know what? I really love it! :-)

Iceberg quilt
This is a baby quilt I made for my cousin's daughter last year. I want to make a large version for me. I think if I double the size it should be the right size for a (short) adult. ;-)

Cushions from Polar Bear Country ebook
No less than three cushion patterns in the ebook. You can never have too many cushions, right? Well, I'm not sure my Tony agrees, but what does he know?! ;-) That cushion on top is one of my favourite projects in the book. It was one of those "I have no idea if this is going to work" but it did and even better than I was hoping!
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Links :: Murals, Monet, Cross Stitch

Spider web rose stitch
It is a beautiful sunny day here, as was yesterday. 25+°C! Very unusual for April! Of course, it won't last, so next week we'll back to more usual temperatures, and probably rain on my birthday, go figure...

Lately, I have been kinda obsessed with this spider web rose stitch. I don't know why but I'm just going to roll with it and enjoy it. :-)

Johanna - a photographer I came across on Flickr. I especially like her photos from the Columbia Road flower market.

Minima Muralia: A Collection of 15 Years of Murals by Street Artist Blu. I would love this. I love the work of Blu. :-)

Monet was here: Masterpieces and inspirations come to Google Arts & Culture. Fascinating to look at the places Monet painted in Google Earth to see what they look like now.

Karen Barbé has advice for creating your own cross stitch patterns.

I really want to try making Triple Triangle Squares. I think the block would make a nice scrap busting quilt. :-)

These embroidered landscapes by Libby Williams are delightful.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Polar Bears Are Coming!

Polar Bear Country sneak peek
It feels like a nice summery day today! So it's the perfect day to give you a little sneak peek at Polar Bear Country, an ebook I have been working on the past few months. Because polar bears and summer are like peas in a pod, right? ;-)

It is a collection of embroidery and sewing patterns inspired by flora and fauna of Greenland. There's an iceberg too!

Although I have never visited Greenland, it has always been a part of my life. My uncle lived there for many years, my aunt is from Greenland and so my cousins are part Greenlandic and part Danish.

My parents and grandparents have visited Greenland on more than one occasion. So it's always been a part of my life and I have always doodled polar bears. I still remember a painting I did of a landscape with polar bears I did in school.

A couple of years ago, I had the idea for this ebook but then life and the Mandalas book got in the way. But now the ebook is almost ready. It should hit the shop next week. I am so excited!

But frankly, also a bit terrified. When you have this idea and then you put a lot of work into it and you have no idea if anyone else is going to like it. And buy it, because let's face it, if no one buys it, I'll have spent a lot of time and effort with not much to show for. Which, as I said, is scary!

So I'm crossing my fingers that when I put my heart and soul into it, it will resonate with others too.

The ebook has embroidery patterns, machine appliqué patterns (that's new for me!) and a couple of quilt top patterns.

I can't wait to show you more pictures and tell about it in more details! But for now, I'm off to enjoy the sunshine in the garden. :-) xo Carina

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Home Sweet Home Embroidery

Home Sweet Home Stitch Improv
I finished this in January. Home Sweet Home. The text is actually almost irrelevant, I just needed something short. Pizza Sweet Pizza could have worked just as well. Maybe. ;-)

I just needed some text for the middle of this piece. As a sort of focal point. But of course, the real focus is on adding details and textures. That's what it's really about. That's why I enjoy making these 'stitch improv' pieces.

Home Sweet Home Stitch Improv
Layering and adding. Bits of scrap fabrics, buttons, trying new stitches. Like the bullion rose. We're still not the best of friends, but maybe some day.

Home Sweet Home Stitch Improv
I like the tulip stitch, isn't it a lovely stitch? Very sweet, I think.

Home Sweet Home Stitch Improv
Here's the whole thing, hanging in my studio. Actually, saying that the words don't matter, is not completely true. They do. Or maybe they started to matter as I was working on this. Thinking about what and where 'home' is.

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