Hawkstone Handmade Blog

  • Sarah Matthews

Christmas is a great time for making things. Even if you don’t make anything for the rest of the year I think there’s a small bit of us all that wants to make something for the festive period. Whether it be fun new recipes from all the magazines or gift tags made from last year’s cards.

It’s easy to leave it too late to get started and I’m guilty of that too. The weeks fly by and before you know it we’re all in a mad last minute rush. This year as always I’m trying to do things differently and be ready earlier. With this in mind, I’ve been playing with my new Christmas themed wooden block stamps and creating hand printed fabric to wrap or decorate gifts with.

One of the things I’m sure we all think about on the big day is the amount of wrapping paper that gets wasted. In the UK it can be recycled but it still feels like a bit of a waste, both in terms of money spent and in the recycling effort. However, we all need something to wrap gifts in. There are some lovely designs out there and I wanted to see if I could create something equally as nice that could be reused.

For my test pieces I used a simple calico as my base fabric to get that rustic look. It’s also a cheap fabric to experiment with.

I cut out circles to decorate the tops of jars with,

loaded my wooden stamp with paint using the sponge and got stamping.

Here are the results:

To embellish things further and give them a bit of Christmas sparkle I added some hot fix jewels.

Here are the finished wrapped products.

What do you think of the results?

As you can see, I also made some cards to go alongside the gifts, using exactly the same methods.

If you fancy having a go at printing with your own wooden blocks drop me a message as I have some extra ones for sale.

Happy printing :)




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  • Sarah Matthews

Knitting has been making a come back recently, possibly as a result of TV shows like Sewing Bee and the Great British Bake Off where people can see the enjoyment making things can bring. Admittedly, there were some tears on the episodes as well but that shows how passionate people are to make something really nice.

I’ve only ever been a basic knitter. I’m happy with that and I think that will never change as a result. For me it’s an easy hobby to do whilst sitting watching the TV. Simple rows of knitting can be very relaxing and there have been studies showing the medical benefits and claims that it can be as relaxing as yoga, help with arthritis, bring down blood pressure, keep the mind sharp and boost general wellbeing. There are also lots of good causes that you can knit for, so it can be a win-win hobby.

With my simple knitting I’ve been making squares to make blankets for baby rhinos. Baby rhinos, like most baby animals, are very cute but so many of them are left orphaned due to the poaching of their parents. You might think it a bit strange that a baby rhino would need a blanket. In the wild their mothers would keep them warm and regulate their body temperature. The blankets provide them with some warmth and comfort.

The simple 20cm squares are knitted and joined together to make different sized blankets.

You can find out more details of this good cause at www.blanketsforbabyrhinos.org

The 22ndof September is World Rhino Day and everyone is encouraged to knit one red square to convey this wonderful animal’s tragic struggle as a result of the actions humans.

Here's my one red square.

Feel like you’d like to get knitting? There are plenty of groups looking for all sorts of different knitted or crocheted items, so there’s lots of choice in things to make. A simple search on the internet will bring them up and you too can join the knitting revival and feel the claimed health benefits that go along with it :)

#knitting #blanketsforbabyrhinos #knittingforgoodcauses

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  • Sarah Matthews

Cross stitch is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a form of needlework made up of tiny cross stitches in the shape of an ‘X’, a combination of cross stitches forms a picture.

Cross stitch has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. It was popular in the 1980s but fell out of favour in the 90s. I personally think this was because it became too difficult. The designs being offered at the time became more and more intricate and required more colour changes, with sometimes only 1 stitch being made in a particular shade. Don’t get me wrong, the designs were very beautiful but they required a lot of hard work, time and effort to get them right. I now feel that things have gone back to a simpler style with less shading. That’s just my opinion and I’m sure there are people out there who have studied such trends who would know whether this is the case.

There are also now some more modern and funky patterns available and it’s become trendy to stitch onto all sorts of different mediums from wood to phone cases. Embellish anything and everything seems to be the way.

There are plenty of patterns available online for free or as freebies attached to magazines but I decided to have a go at stitching my lovely camel ‘Cecil’.

I traced his outline onto graph paper and then marked in the ‘X’s to represent the stitches. Where the outline went across a square I marked it as a half stitch; a half ‘X’.

Having completed the working diagram I found some aida fabric and some embroidery floss (thread). Aida is an open even weave cotton fabric. It is manufactured with various differently sized spaces or holes to allow different thicknesses of thread to be used. The different sizes are known as ‘counts’. The embroidery floss is a 6 stranded cotton thread. Typically, 2 strands are used at a time but this can be varied depending on the count of the aida and the effect required.

The stitches are worked as follows:

To start I took 1 strand of embroidery floss, folded it in half so that it became 2 strands and threaded the needle with the 2 ends.

Next, I brought the needle up through hole number 1 of my first cross, pulling the thread part of the way through the aida, taking the needle down though hole number 2. I then turned the aida over to look at the back and slipped the needle through the end loop of the doubled embroidery floss to make a neat and secure start.

Then, following the working diagram, I continued to make all the cross stitches, working the holes of each stitch as per the diagram above.

To finish the thread take the needle to the back of the work and slip it under the previously worked stitches and cut off.

The completed design looked like this when finished. I decided to add it to the front of a notebook cover that I made so that I’d see it regularly!

Fancy having a go at cross stitch yourself? If so, do get in touch as we have plenty of kits available to get you started. You could even hold a ‘cupcakes, cocktails and cross stitch’ event with your friends :)



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