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#isolationartschool — good news


Isolation continues to keep us all indoors, and that of course includes children who are home from school since all the schools (in Italy anyway) have been closed until further notice. Many teachers have organised themselves — and their students — to continue on a home learning basis in the hope that the kids will not lose out too much on this year’s curriculum. But then there are numerous children who are relying on their family to ‘entertain’ them, or assist them with school work.

One of the lovely initiatives which has evolved as a result of this crisis, is the spontaneous gathering of artists, teachers and crafts people on the social media, all of whom are offering lessons, tutorials, drawings and more for adults and children alike.

But there has also been the negative side to all this activity, and it seems even that has now — at least in part — been resolved. So where’s the problem? The lack of materials needed to participate in these activities. Many artists and makers have gone out of their way to limit the projects offered, as far as possible, to this and that which can easily be found in most homes, either through recycling or delving into the bottom of a desk somewhere. But stationery has been a problem. Some well meaning suppliers have come forward and offered ‘art packs’ to kids in some areas, but for the rest of us, they would have been almost impossible to find. The reason for this is that with the lockdown, all non-essential shops were closed, and even supermarkets selling stationery, had to make if off-bounds to customers.

So today’s good news — in Italy at least — is that supermarkets can now sell stationery and basic art supplies so that those with the wherewithall can purchase these items and get on with some of the wonderful activities being offered online!

Keep your eyes open on Instagram for the hash tag #isolationartschool and their amazing selection of offerings to keep you and your kids busy and creative during lockdown. There are others on social media, but the one I have mentioned seems to be offering the broadest collection of freebies. Check it out.

Fat quarter drawstring bag

Fat quarter drawstring bag


Looking for things to do during isolation? Here’s a quick and easy idea for a fat quarter — or any textiles measuring at least 50cm x 50cm you have available to use — to make a drawstring bag to use for all manner of things. Here are just a few suggestions — a shoe bag, a grocery bag, a craft bag, maybe to hold your latest sewing or knitting project. The box corners are optional. Download the instructions here.

Isolation ideas

Just to put this post into context, we are in the middle of a pandemic, caused by the coronavirus, or more officially, COVID19. Without going into all the details of ‘how come’ — you will find plenty of that sort of information here, there and everywhere — I just want to say a few words about what the restrictions are doing to us socially.

First and foremost, one at a time, countries around the world are locking down with severe regulations about the movement of their population — and with the almost total block of air traffic in and out of the country. The situation at the present time is absolutely horrendous — yet again you’ll find details elsewhere covering this point — but what essentially it means for just regular folks, is that we are obliged to stay indoors at all times apart from essential outings to buy food or medicines.

This situation has inevitably had a global effect on people’s habits. With few exceptions, people are unable to work and are confined to their homes in search of something to fill their time usefully and/or creatively. There has been a surge of generosity on the part of many creatives/teachers and the like, who are offering free courses in all manner of creative activities both for kids and adults.

Geisha bookmark


But it must not be forgotten that many of these creatives are suddenly without paid work, and so a balance has to be found. For my part, I have included a number of freebies and tutorials here at Boho Shack, but have also opened up a page for inexpensive cross-stitch patterns and charts for immediate purchase and download. I will be adding more to both sections in the near future for those who might be interested.

My thoughts are with all those who find themselves stopped in the tracks of life, having to deal with something that very few of us, even in our wildest dreams (or nightmares in this case) could have imagined happening in our life time. Here in Venice the sun is shining which makes it even harder to stay indoors — but it must be done and we will do it.
As they say here ‘Andrà tutto bene’, which basically means, ‘Everything will be alright’…

Pattern marker

Improvised cardboard pattern marker


Now I would like to say that this idea came straight out of my head, but in fact it didn’t. What is embarrassing is that I can’t remember where I saw this in the first place, so if anyone does know, I will be more than happy to give full credit to the blogger in question.

In fairness, it’s not as if the wheel was reinvented with this idea as I’m certain most knitters/crocheters use something to keep a tag on the pattern line as they work – for instance I always used a ruler – but this little instrument doesn’t slip and slide around so cuts out the frustration factor from the equation.

Just pick up a piece of cardboard or stiff card – about 10 cms wider than your pattern and about 10 cms deep – and laying the pattern vertically on top of the card, measure off about 1/4″ either side of it and then cut a line between your markings. You can now just neatly slide your pattern through the slit you created and slide the pattern upwards as you work, keeping the working line just visible above the cut in the card.

Recycle pretty boxes

Recycled box covered with designer paper

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know that every now and again you find a box – for instance – your hand cream was packaged in a pretty box – and you wish you could find an alternative use for it, even if only to put a small gift inside for someone’s birthday or seasonal gift. But more often than not the thought of attempting to cover it with pretty paper to hide the graphics for the original content puts you off right from the start.

What I do when I come across these boxes is, I carefully peel them apart and use them as templates. If the original carton is a little flimsy, just copy the outline onto some stiffer card, and draw dotted lines where the folds should go – and make notes to remind you how to put the box together and where the glued bits should be. Then when the need arises, I can use cardstock to create a personalised box, maybe adding my own graphics or stamped images or patterns in keeping with the item I want to put inside. For larger templates, it might be necessary to cut the original box into several pieces unless you have access to large cardstock where the whole template will fit comfortably. If you remember in time, it’s useful to take note of the dimensions of the finished box, and even to take a quick snap to remind you of what it looks like. Makes it easier if you are looking for the right size box for a gift at a future date.

A lot of my templates have been transferred onto bits of cardboard boxes and are all ‘filed’ in a ring binder with clear plastic ‘envelope’ pages. The box in the picture originally contained a set of 4 ceramic mugs.

Into card making?

Aluminium canister seals

If you are into card making or die-cutting of any sort, use these canister seals to sharpen up the cutting edges of your die-cutting tools. They are usually found on all sorts of food packaging –- those in the image came from a canister of dried milk, gravy granules and similar. With few exceptions, when you buy die-cutters or punches, hidden away in the instructions somewhere there will be a note telling you to sharpen up the blades by cutting aluminium. Not everyone has aluminium sheets to hand, so these aluminium canister seals are the perfect solution. Just keep them well out of reach of small children of course as they are very sharp, and even more so after they have been passed through punches and die-cutting machines.

Pink Flamingo free cross-stitch pattern

pink flamingo cross-stitch image

Difficult times for most of us right now. The Coronavirus has turned our lives upside-down and being closed indoors can be trying, particularly where there are young children to keep occupied and feeling safe in such an uncertain world. So this pattern is offered to those who need to keep their hands and minds busy in order to relax and calm down.

You will find a colour chart attached to the pattern — the DMC threads chart has been used, but of course you can use any brand of threads you like, and even substitute colours where it would be more economical to do so. You might even have a stash of threads that you can use. No rules here — just take it easy and remember that every little coloured square on the chart represents a stitch.

Using an 11 squares per inch canvas, your finished work will measure approximately 30 cm x 40 cm — but there are no rules to say you can’t do this pattern on a scrap of fabric — or even as a knitting pattern. I’m no expert there, but if you are, you will know how to transfer the chart to knitting I’m sure.

Satin cord bound eggs

bound-eggs003

Bound eggs [Tutorial]

These pretty bound eggs don’t have to come out just at Easter, and of course, they don’t have to be bound in satin cord. Why not go for the rustic country look with jute string? Another interesting version could be with long skinny strips or recycled fabric — your imagination is your only limit. The tutorial suggests a polystyrene egg, but that can be substituted with tightly wrapped and shaped newspaper, for instance to remain with the recycling theme.
Click on the download button below for instructions.

Recycled hearts for wall hanging

3xhearts-gold-white02

Biedermeier hearts wall hanging [Tutorial]

I’m afraid the image doesn’t do the wall hanging justice, but these are really very attractive and make nice little gifts so you might like to try this one out for yourselves. There is only one heart in the photograph, but the wall hanging actually has 3 of them, one above the other.
Click on the button below to download the PDF file instructions.

Christmas carriers

wordle-xmascarrier

Eco-friendly shoppers

Let me just remind you that you can find our tutorials for Christmas themed carrier bags in these downloadable pdf files. You will need to download the images and the tutorial pdf.

We offer two different versions of the carrier — one in traditional reds and greens and the other in more elegant shades of grey.


Just download the files and instructions for these shoppers using the links below.




Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'
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