Since I first discovered and started reading craft blogs one of my favourites has been Carina's Craftblog, for her engaging writing style and for colourful photographs of inspiring projects (plus occasional pics of Blake the dog!).
If you are familiar with Carina's blog too, or follow her on instagram, you'll know that she designs and sells pretty, imaginitive and quirky embroidery patterns and that she is the author of Mandalas to Embroider and a new book Folk Art Embroidery to be published in September. Now in a slight departure she's published an ebook in which embroidery and applique feature as the embellishment on different sewing projects.
The book is called Polar Bear Country and it is inspired by her fascination with Greenland and manages to combine her fondness for polar bears and other arctic fauna with her love of flowers!
There are thirteen projects in the book which makes the price (£16) seem very reasonable. These include a variety of both pretty and practical items, two quilt tops, and as a bonus, there's even a cupcake recipe.
There are three sections - first there are pictures of all the projects together with detailed instructions on how to make them. The second section has instructions for embroidery stitches, and tutorials for techniques you will need in more than one project. The third section has templates which can be printed out (and as they are at the right size you don't need to faff around with enlarging or taping pattern parts together).
This all means that you have everything you need to know in order to get making - the only thing not included is instructions for finishing the quilt tops into quilts, since many people have their preferred way of doing this and if not it's easy to find instructions online.
I love the chatty and encouraging way in which this book is written - it's liberating to read a 'pep talk' telling you that wonky embroidery adds personality to your work, and that mistakes aren't a big deal in the grand scheme of things! It's also good to know when you can omit a step 'if you can't be bothered'!
The projects are very adaptable and can easily be modified to suit your needs - for example you could enlarge the applique pattern for a whale tail brooch and use it to make a cushion instead, or put different templates together in a number of ways. Some applique templates have additional details so that they may also be used as embroidery patterns.
The different projects also lend themselves to a range of different levels of ability or ambition and would appeal to both a developing beginner and a more advanced sewer who likes to add their own spin, and they are very charming!
These qualities might also appeal to someone like me who would like to do some parent-child bonding over a shared craft project. I'm planning to do just this and make the sea eagle table runner with my daughter as a present for a friend who particularly loves these birds (watch this space).
You can buy Polar Bear Country here if you are in the UK/EU and here if you're outside.
Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this article other than a free copy of the book for review and the opinions in this article are my own.