Sashiko stitching with Craftiosity

After I finished university I went and taught English in Japan for six months – I totally fell in love with the country and the culture. Sashiko has been on my (very long) list of crafts I’ve wanted to try ever since I lived in Japan but I found it a bit daunting to undertake by myself…

So when the lovely Moira from Craftiosity asked if I’d like to review one of her craft boxes I jumped at the chance to try sashiko. Each month they design a box around a new craft and inside the box is everything you need to complete the project. The sashiko box included indigo cotton to make two placemats, as well as authentic sashiko needles, sashiko thread, tailor’s chalk, a pattern, full colour instructions and a pretty greeting card.

Sashiko involves marking the pattern onto the fabric with chalk before you begin, and the geometric pattern was really easy to follow and mark up. The colour instructions are brilliant but if you need further guidance Moira also puts together video tutorials for all the boxes in case you get stuck. Once the pattern is marked on you can start stitching – sashiko differs from normal embroidery by holding multiple stitches on your needle at once, hence the longer needle. This also helps you get them even in size and is incredibly satisfying to do. It was definitely one of those of projects you don’t want to put down!

What I really love about the boxes is that the projects are beautifully designed and will look amazing in your home, but also that the kit includes proper tools that will enable you to pursue the craft as a hobby if you want to carry on. The needles are fantastic (and I doubt you could pick them up in a normal craft shop) and there’s advice about what fabric to choose if you want to make more sashiko projects.

I’d bought my first Craftiosity box the previous month and tried my hand at copper embossing which was awesome! Here’s a pic of the copper embossed lid I made for the wooden box (which was also included)!

For disclosure I bought the copper embossing box myself, Moira kindly sent me the sashiko box to review, and I have since bought myself the July box so I can try cyanotype printing 💙

If you’d like to try a Craftiosity box you can enter HOLLYPIPS at the checkout and get free postage! The August box is going to be macrame so order before the end of the month so you don’t miss out ☺️

Happy crafting everyone!

African Flower Blanket 🌸

I love crocheting African Flowers – they’re such a pretty design, and I’ve made a whole host of Heidi Bears designs using them – they’re also quick and easy to make in batches. 

My latest blanket is destined for a new baby girl, and they wanted something in pale grey, pink and white – we added in a pale yellow too as I find this design works best with four colours.

I used Paintbox Yarns Simply Aran yarn in Stormy Grey (4 balls), Blush Pink, Banana Cream, and Paper White (1.5 balls of each).

As the blanket is 6×6 squares I made them in batches of 6 at a time, with each group having a different colour combo in the middle/petals. By doing them in batches I managed to get this whole blanket completed in 2 weeks – a good job too as the baby has arrived!

If you’re looking for a good pattern to square off your African Flowers I can recommend this Made in K-Town blog post.

I didn’t get time to measure it before it was collected but it came out roughly 1 metre square and was lovely and cosy due to the Aran thickness.

For the joining I used a flat slip stitch join which have a nice neat finish. I went down a hook size to do the border (I used 5mm for the squares and then a 4.5mm for the border) which was made up of a row of double crochet (sc if you’re using US terms) but making htr’s (hdc) into the point where the squares join. I then followed this with a round of htr in the back loops only, of white, then yellow, then pink.

Anyway here’s hoping it is very loved in its new home, and keeps baby V all warm and snuggly….

Christmas Crochet Wishlist

My brother told me recently that he went into a yarn shop and asked them what he could get his sister for her birthday as he wanted to get me something crochet related. They basically told him if she has hooks and yarn then there’s nothing else you really need for crochet! Bless him, he got me some sewing bits and pieces instead, but it got me thinking about what gifts you could get for keen crocheters.

The first thing that springs to mind is a magazine subscription – I love getting a magazine through the post each month and they are an endless source of inspiration. My current favourites are Simply Crochet (which I think has a more fun slant on crochet) and Inside Crochet (which is a bit more serious and features more clothing item patterns). A relatively new magazine is #Crochet – it’s quarterly but packed full of fun things to make.

Carrying on with the idea of inspiration, there are some fantastic crochet books out there. I’ve put together this collage of my favourites!

So what about hooks? The basic aluminium ones are fine, but if you’re working on a big project it’s nice to have a really comfy hook. I’m a big fan of the Clover hooks and have them in mid-range sizes from 4-6mm. I’ll probably expand my collection over time but these are the sizes I mainly use. I stumbled upon these Cornerstone Crochet Lite Illuminated hooks the other day…


I’ve not tried them but they look fun! I’m not sure I would crochet in the dark just using this but they do say it helps when using dark coloured yarns…and at £5.99 they make a fun little stocking filler!

I’ve also seen a few people on Instagram using these pretty Brittany birch crochet hooks:

They look beautiful! I don’t know what they’re like to work with but I’m quite keen to find out!

Another wishlist suggestion, and I’ve been dying to play with one of these for ages, is a yarn winder! I’m pretty sure if I suggest one of these to my husband he’ll jump at the chance to get out of being the one that sits there with his arms out holding skeins of yarn while I manually wind a ball! A quick search on Amazon suggest this one has good reviews but I’d love to hear from people who’ve tried it or who have alternative suggestions!

And finally what about the ultimate crochet christmas present – well for me it would have to be a yarn bowl. If you haven’t already seen Earth, Wool, Fire’s creations on Etsy you definitely need to have a look! I know you can use a colinder to stop your yarn rolling all over the floor but these are just amazing! Here are a couple of pics (not mine – they are Earth, Wool, Fire’s)



So what’s on your crochet christmas wish list? I’m sure there’s some brilliant items out there I haven’t heard of, and I’d love to hear everyone’s suggestions – especially as my husband is yet to organise my christmas present!!

Craft Day with DryNites

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a craft event organised by DryNites. It was hosted by Tamara Melvin (from the Great British Sewing Bee) and was at Tea & Crafting’s beautiful studio in Camden.

The event was organised to bring Mums together to discuss potty training particularly at night. Psychologist Emma Kenny was on hand with the DryNites team to provide a whole range of advice throughout the day (though not on the craft front as she was quick to point out!)

So to the craft bit! Tamara had come up with a couple of projects we could make to help our children feel safe and reassured during the night. First up was a lamp for their room. We’d all brought along some old plastic toys – in my case chickens (Pip is a little bit obsessed with farm animals at the moment). Using Annie Sloan chalk paint (which comes in a fantastic range of colours) we painted the lamp base and toys.


The paint went on brilliantly and only took a couple of coats (we sanded the lamp first to help it stick better). While they were drying we started on our lampshades – made of card and which Tamara had helpfully cut to size in advance! Using a star template we drew stars along the length of the card, then cut them out with a craft knife, keeping the cut outs as some were used later. After they were cut out we used pretty coloured paper behind some of the holes, and then glued the card to the lampshade that came with the lamp. A slightly tricky process but rolling and sticking as you went seemed t work well.

We then folded some of the cut out stars in half and glued them on, giving a nice 3D effect, and added some trim to the top and bottom of the shade. We then glued our painted toys onto the lamp base and ta-dah!


After lunch when we had a good chance to chat to the other mums, it was back to Tea & Crafting for the afternoon session, where we made beautiful pinboards for our child’s room. We’d all brought in an old sheet/pillowcase to use, and by layering two layers of wadding onto a canvas frame, followed by our fabric, we could use a staple gun to quickly and effectively secure them to the back.


Then we positioned pretty elastic diagonally across and used the staple gun to fix in place. We used butterfly pins to poke though where the lines of elastic met, and glued some buttons on top. Using some ribbon we then made a cute bow to use to hang it and voila – a fantastic, quick and easy project to make at home.


It was a fantastic day out and a great opportunity to meet some fellow mums. Pippa is still a bit young for potty training but she is starting to tell me when she’s done a number 2, so it was really helpful to get some advice on how and when to start. My NCT mum friends and I are all equally clueless as we’re on our first children so it was great to hear from people who are tackling this currently or who had advice to share. I wasn’t even aware of DryNites pads for the bed, for when they are transitioning to making it through the night without accidents – such a good idea! It was very much a case of you don’t know what you don’t know, but I now feel pretty confident we’ll manage ok when we start potty training, and we’ve introduced a potty in the bathroom for pre-bathtime (when she’s running around in the nude!). We’ve also been and got some stickers to decorate it with as a little activity to do together.

All in all a brilliant event. It’s also got me thinking about ideas for what else I can upcycle for Pip’s room. I’ve kept some of our favourite baby clothes and I’m planning on turning these into a quilt, and I might use some old fabric to make a reading cushion as well (a cushion with a pocket on the front for a book). So many ideas so little time!…..

Big thanks to the DryNites team, Tamara, Jane from Tea & Crafting and Emma Kenny.


V-stitch LoVe

After seeing all the amazing V-stitch blankets on Instagram, I finally caved and made one of my own. A big inspiration was the Patchwork Heart and she’s got a guide to the stitch on her site – my blanket used a foundation chain of 132 and turned out the perfect size for a pram blanket (or todder size if you have a rather petite child like me!).

I also thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the Caron Simply Soft yarn I’d been hearing about lately and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s acrylic but unbelievably soft and I’m a fan of the large ball size (170g). I love jewel colours so I picked: Grape, Blue Mint, Passion, Fuschia and Berry Blue.


V-stitch is so easy once the first row is completed and works up incredibly quickly. I took it to Cornwall and it was the perfect holiday project.


The whole thing was completed in a couple of weeks (probably because it was so addictive), and I finished it with a border of SC in Grape, followed by a HDC round in Blue Mint.

I haven’t decided yet whether to keep it (tempting but running out of space), gift it or sell it, so it’ll just have to sit looking pretty for a while.