Polka & Bloom on Etsy

December 14, 2018

Friday Links :: Christmas Jumpers, Mosaics, Embroidery

Santa on a shelf
I've not come across many share-worthy links this week, I've been too busy making our NYC photo album. It's all done and I ordered it on Wednesday, hopefully it will arrive in time for Christmas. I'm actually amazed that I have got it all done this soon, our trip was only three months ago, usually it takes me ages to make an album! ;-)

Some Danish Christmas traditions.

Speaking of Christmas, apparently today it's tradition to wear a Christmas jumper to work here in the UK. It may seem like a bit of harmless fun, but considering that a quarter of Christmas jumpers were worn once and discarded last year (2016), that's not super great for the environment. The thought of wearing something once and then binning it (?!!) just seems appalling to me. Why not make it your tradition to wear the exact same Christmas jumper every year? Take pride in not adding to the mountains of clothes that are thrown away each year.

Traveling Artists Use Embroidery to Immortalize Inspiring European Architecture.

Interesting discussion about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

NYC Subway Station Gets Redesigned with Colorful Dog Mosaics. So delightful! I wish I could have seen it on our trip to New York.

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December 13, 2018

Happy Lucia Day

Lussekatter - Saffron Lucia buns
Two or three years ago, I started a new tradition: on the 13th of December I make lussekatter (saffron Lucia buns). It is mainly a Swedish traditional bake, but I felt like I needed something to brighten up the middle of December.

And lussekatter definitely brighten things up, just look at that beautiful yellow colour! It is even more yellow in person. And they are delicious too. The saffron ads just a hint of spicy sweetness.

Danes mainly bake biscuits in December, and I don't fancy biscuits for breakfast, but lussekatter work very well for breakfast! :-)

Lussekatter - Saffron Lucia buns
Ohh, the golden yumminess!

If you want to make your own lussekatter, this is the recipe I followed. Minus the raisins, because I didn't have any. And I would also suggest adjusting the oven temperature. The recipe says 250°C and I did mine at 220°C and that was still a bit too hot, they became rather well done on the outside before being cooked properly on the inside.
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December 7, 2018

Friday Links :: Quilt Decor, Landscapes, Long Lost Friends

Festive tea towel cushions
Throwback to five years ago, before we got out current sofa, and the cushions covers I made from tea towels from Tesco. And before we got Blake, because he spends half the day sitting/standing in that window, barking at people and dogs. There's no way we could have ornaments there now! :-D

Gloria Vanderbilt’s Quilt Decor. WOW!

They were best friends, then pen pals — until one day, the letters stopped coming. I can so relate to this. Last year I met with a friend I hadn't seen in 18 years. It was emotional to say the least.

Intricate Landscapes and Tiny Houses ‘Painted’ With Multi-Colored Thread.

25 Reasons To Keep Making Stuff. A LOT of F-bombs and other swear words. Definitely NSFW, ye be warned. ;-)

And the follow up to that post: First The Why, Now The How: 25 Ways To Keep Making Stuff. Still not NSFW.

The act of drawing something has a “massive” benefit for memory compared with writing it down. I have definitely found this to be true!

UK Sewing Magazines Show Lack of Diversity in Cover Models. Surely, it can't be so difficult to find models who aren't white?! C'mon magazines, do better!

Designer Creates Guessing Game About Incredible Women Who Have Changed the World. {via SwissMiss} This looks great!

Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper?

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December 4, 2018

Embroidery Class // Embroidery Books

Noël embroidery
I'm teaching beginner embroidery at The Village Haberdashery on Saturday and next Tuesday. The Saturday is sold out (yay!) but there are still space on the Tuesday class. Come join us!

We'll be working on this Christmas inspired pattern to get you started completely from scratch with embroidery. AND there's 10% off December classes with the code DECCLASS. Here's the link to the class on Tuesday. Hope to see you there! :-)

Of course, if you already know how to embroider, you can get your hands on the pattern right here: Noël Wreath Embroidery Pattern.

Embroidery books
My book case is overflowing, so I have to get rid of a few books. Sadly, we do not have room for another book case! :-D

So if you'd like some embroidery books for cheap, here's your chance: £4.50 each including postage in the UK. Outside the UK I'll have to adjust for the extra cost of shipping, depending on your location. The Samplers book and the Embroidery from Afghanistan book are no longer available, just FYI.

If you're interested, please send me an email: carinascraftblog@gmail.com.
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December 3, 2018

Winner :: A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space

I, well, actually it was Tony, picked a winnder of the book:


The winner has been notified.

Thank you all for entering. :-)

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December 1, 2018

Gingerbread Christmas Embroidery Patterns

New pattern: Gingerbread Christmas Joy
I was reminded of my gingerbread patterns the other day and I thought I'd mention them again, they're so fun and colourful, they deserve to be seen. :-)

This is the first one, called Gingerbread Christmas Joy. I think I made it in 2013, time flies! The pattern has an alternative version where the gingerbread men have been nibbled on. :-D

Lollipop Gingerbread House detail
The second pattern is from 2014, it's called Lollipop Gingerbread House. It was really fun to draw. Adding all the lollipops and the other bits of candy decorations. :-)

You can buy your own copy here: 

New pattern: Gingerbread Christmas JoyLollipop Gingerbread House

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November 30, 2018

Friday Links :: Do The Dishes, Bake Off, Camouflage

Routemaster bus
A red London bus for you! :-)

Reminder: enter the giveaway for a copy of A Geek's Guide to Cross-Stitch: Journeys in Space. Giveaway closes on Sunday!

Intricate Appliqué Embroideries.

This Thanksgiving*, Just Do the Dishes. *Replace with any other (holi)day where the men folk typically don't do any of the clearing away or wait to be told what to do.

Meet the Guy Who Draws Every Great British Bake Off Recipe Illustration.

This talk by Austin Kleon is very inspiring. I can't wait to read his next book when it comes out next year.

Camouflaged Self-Portraits Conceal Photographer Cecilia Paredes Against Bright Floral Patterns. Beautiful but also kind of unsettling.

There's still no light at the end of the tunnel. A different, but similar situation to mine. I have things to say about the Brexit situation, but I have to do so when I'm a frame of mind where thinking about it won't send me to a very dark place. :-/
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November 29, 2018

Stitch Improv :: Oak Leaves

Oak leaves stitch improv
I've started another 'stitch improv' piece. Or I guess you could call it a textile collage. I love making these. I love they can't be rushed. I have to find the right bits of fabric, the right embellishments and the right stitches. And I don't know when it will be finished until it is finished.

I've been wondering if maybe there's a wabi sabi element to these. I like to use bits of textile that are worn or a bit frayed around the edges. I cut the scraps by hand, not with a rotary cutter and ruler. I want the human hand to be visible.

The stitches are not uniform, I don't want 'perfection'. I don't know if I understand wabi sabi correctly, but that's sort of my interpretation of it...

Oak leaves stitch improv
The important thing is that at some point, all the element come together and create a whole that I couldn't imagine looking any differently, but I don't know exactly how it all came together.

One of my favourite things is where lots of stitching goes across multiple layers of fabric, as in those yellow stitches on the left. It creates the most amazing texture to run your hands over. :-)

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November 28, 2018

Manhattan Skyline Appliqué

Manhattan Textile Portrait
Another textile picture inspired by our New York trip. And not the last one, I'm sure! I have no concrete plans right now, but there are some ideas bubbling away...

This is the Manhattan skyline seen from Liberty Island. I had a goal to do lots of sketching on the trip but we were rushing around and often I was too tired to do as many as I'd hoped. Or more concerned about cooling down in the heat!

Anyway, I did take a few moments to do a sketch of the Manhattan skyline and I'm glad I did because it became the inspiration for this textile picture. And sketching helps capture memories too. Not just on paper, but in my mind. I can clearly remember sitting there, looking across the water. Quietly sketching while all the other tourists were milling about, taking pictures.

Manhattan Textile Portrait
I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do with the buildings but I didn't know what to do about the water. I thought about adding scraps of fabric to give it a bit of texture but in the end I just settled on wonky lines in two different blue colours to give a sense of waves. I think keeping it simple was best, so the water didn't take attention away from the buildings.

At first I didn't like how the water fabric didn't want to lay completely flat, I tried pressing it a couple of times. But now I think maybe it actually makes the water seem more 'alive'. See the top photo where you get the whole effect.

Manhattan Textile Portrait
The Empire State building seemed so small in the distance! I think I may have exaggerated its size just a little bit. ;-)

It was quite fiddly to add all the little fabric scraps for the buildings. I used hemming web, but I think next time I might just use a glue stick. It was a close call with the iron a few times!

The fiddly-ness is also the reason for the background buildings of Midtown just being machine stitched without appliqué. It was just too fiddly with layer upon layer upon layer. But I think I prefer the outline effect anyway. Makes it seem more in the distance than it would have if I had added fabric to it.

Manhattan Textile Portrait
I think this little section here is my favourite. It may be because of that little bit of pink in one of the buildings. It's a nice contrast to all the blue, grey and taupe.

Contrast is also the reason I used the pink and orange fabric for the binding. I auditioned several different fabrics but I think this is the perfect one. It is a contrast to the picture but not so much it takes away from it. And it has those lines that kinda echo the lines of the buildings. I'm happy I had it in my stash! :-)

Manhattan Textile Portrait
Like the water, I had trouble deciding what to do about the sky. It's mainly just plain light blue fabric. I added the strip of cloud fabric because I thought it would make an interesting effect and break up the (potentially) monotonous sky.

And when I'd laid out my skyline on a piece of card, it was a bit too short, so I added a strip of a different colour card and liked the effect. Serendipity. :-)

At first I just machine embroidered the clouds on the plain fabric but it was almost invisible so I was at a bit of a loss for how to add clouds without distracting too much from the buildings.

So I'd put it aside for a couple of days and then one day I was tidying away fabrics I'd used in the project and I picked up the last little bit of the cloud fabric. I thought 'maybe I can cut out the clouds and appliqué them..?'

I cut them out so they still had a bit blue around and then I did the machine embroidery on top and into the plain blue to sort of mix the colours together. I think it worked out ok! I especially like how the clouds are unraveling a bit at the edges, it makes them feel more cloud like. :-)

Manhattan sketch
This is my original sketch. Very quick and very loose! It's interesting to see it next to the appliqué picture.

And yes, we did buy a kitschy tourist souvenir. But just the one. It will be a nice addition to our Christmas tree. :-)

Manhattan Textile Portrait

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November 27, 2018

Spruced Up Embroidered

Embellished Spruced Up block
A little while ago, Jenny of Papper, Sax, Sten asked me if I would embellish a quilt block with embroidery for her. Of course I would! I'm always up for trying something a bit different. :-)

She sent me the block, which is a sample for her new pattern called Spruced Up. It looks like a very simplified Christmas tree and it is really cool! Check out the post Jenny wrote about the pattern, with some other examples of the block. It's pretty amazing to see all the different versions.

My humble embroidered version pales in comparison! :-)

Embellished Spruced Up block
Here's the top of the tree (you may remember it from my DMC Etoile review). I think this is my favourite bit. I didn't plan any of the embroidery in advance, I just wanted to stitch what I fancied as I was working on it. I'm glad my brain decided I should add those finials to the star. :-)

Embellished Spruced Up block
The middle section of the tree. You can never go wrong with star stitch. It is one of my all time favourite stitches. :-)

Embellished Spruced Up block
This bottom section of the tree felt really vast compared to the other two and I really wasn't sure how to stitch it. I started with the embroidery along the edges: cross stitch and fly stitch. All the while still pondering the interior.

I finally decided to try pointe russe and I really like the effect. And by sheer accident it does resemble pine needle ever so slightly. :-)
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November 26, 2018

Street Artist in Bushwick

subwaydoodle - Bushwick Collective
Our trip to New York went by in a bit of a blur. We wanted to see as much as possible so we did maybe (probably) rush from place to place a bit too much. I'm going through our pictures to make an album and that helps lot to jog my memory of what we actually did! So far, the folder for the album has 340 photos, not sure how I'm going to whittle that down to a more manageable lot! :-D

One of my favourite things we did was to go see street art curated (I guess that would be the term to describe what they do) by The Bushwick Collective.

Compared to the previous days, it was a more pleasant day, overcast as we set out. When we got to the area where the street art is, it was still fairly early and the streets were pretty much empty. Quite rare for New York! It felt so quiet.

We wandered the streets of the small area and admired the art. Taking LOTS of pictures. I'll post some more once I edit them.

In one street we happened upon this guy working on a piece. It was interesting to see the work in progress. I was kinda surprised that he was using a brush and not a spray can. Goes to show what I know about street artists! Here's the finished work.

We spent a couple of hours looking at the street art and by the time we left around noon, the streets were filling up with groups of other tourists looking at the art. So if this is your kind of thing, I'd recommend getting there early so you can take pictures without getting in the way of people's Instagram selfies. ;-)
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November 24, 2018

New York Inspired Make

Times Square machine appliqué and embroidery
An appliqué and machine embroidery picture I made from one of my New York photos. Can you tell what it is? In case you can't, I'll tell ya. It's Times Square. Based on a blurry photo I took one late afternoon as we were making our way 'home' after another day of sightseeing.

We never actually made it to Times Squares, we just saw it in the distance a couple of times. It sounds like we probably didn't miss much. Unless one is into lots of people and very bright lights. I have to say I'm a 'no' to both of those things. ;-)

Times Square machine appliqué and embroidery
A little close up. It's kind of a different way of working to make appliqué/machine embroidery like this. I wasn't quite sure how to achieve the effect I wanted of the neon lights. But I think it turned out ok in the end. But those tiny bits of fabric were really fiddly!

For the larger bits, I used hemming web, but for the teeny tiny bits I decided to just use a glue stick. Less risk of burning my fingers on the iron!

Times Square
This is the photo I used as inspiration. In used this very blurry version for a couple of reasons. One, because I like the blurriness! Look how pretty the neon colours look, all blurring together.

And two, if I'd used a photo that was more in focus, I might have got too bogged down in details and probably given up. I wanted the feel of that late afternoon, not the minutiae of the real place...

Times Square sketch
To make myself focus even less on the details, I did a small sketch, with only the essential information. I figured I could always add, or make up, the details when I was actually working on the machine embroidery.

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November 23, 2018

Indie Friday Sale :: Support Indie Makers

Snowflake embroidery
I finished stitching this version of an old snowflake pattern. Well, I think I finished it...I could always add a few more stitches. Maybe.

Hey! Support the indie artists and makers you love, we need your support more than Amazon etc! :-)

If you like my work and want to support it (book contracts do not make you rich, unless you're JK Rowling et al), you can do so by buying a pattern or two. :-)

♥ polkaandbloom.com where I'm slowly rebuilding a pretty looking shop, so it doesn't have all my patterns on there.
♥ Or payhip.com/polkaandbloom for the full 'catalogue' of my patterns. This site is not terribly pretty and there's no search function, sadly.

Use the code INDIEFRIDAY in both places to get 15% off until Monday (Nov 26). Only valid on PDF patterns and ebooks.

♥ Or etsy.com/polkaandbloom if you'd rather use a site you're already (I assume?) familiar with.

On Etsy you also get get 15% off until Monday (Nov 26), but the discount has been applied already so no code is necessary.

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