How have you coped with the second lock-down? For some it has been easier as we had slightly more freedom than in March, but for others the less clement weather made the days drag by more slowly.

We are certainly looking forward to seeing more pictures of squares arriving in our inbox at West Horsley Place! The first of these is from Jane Maycock who stitched this delightful vase of flowers. I love cross-stitch – it was one of the first things I learnt with my mother and the start of a love of stitching (from embroidery to patchwork, dressmaking to tapestry – and beyond!).

As last time I wrote about how you could use paint and print on fabrics, I thought I’d look at a couple of stitch ideas this time – and I hope might get some of you interested in feltmaking as I’ve not focused much on my favourite pass-time. You can get wool fibres from places like Hobbycraft, but if you don’t want a large quantity all in one colour, I do have small packs of single colours for £1 and slightly larger ‘cones’ of four colours – just email me at [email protected]

Lots of people now drink coffee from machines that use those cute little metallic pods. It occurred to me that they might just make something interesting for our squares. I don’t drink coffee, but my helpful neighbours in Silkmore Lane provided me with plenty of stock! These were all blue, black and purple, but I gather you can get lots of other colours depending on the make and taste.

From what they gave me I can tell you the blue and black ones scrape out and clean up the best – the purples ones seem to have a red dot in the middle which may or may not indicate a filter (as I say, I don’t drink coffee!) These cleaned up less readily.

Here are four ideas, all of which need a 17cms square fabric backing, the side we need your square to be – ie a 15cms square with a 1cm margin all round for it to be joined to others. If you are not a coffee drinker, I do have plenty more little pods left but will take them in for recycling before Christmas, so don’t delay!

First prepare your pods! For this you will need: a knife, a teaspoon, a mallet(optional) and/or a smaller hammer

1.Cut into the flat top/bottom – easily done with a sharp knife.

2.Peel back the foil. It is quite soft and you don’t need to be precise. Just make an opening large enough to dig out all the coffee grounds – for this you can use an ordinary table knife or a small tea/coffee spoon

3.Rinse the pod well

4. Put the pod down on a suitable surface with the dome uppermost.

5.Bash with a mallet or a hammer (very satisfying). If you want, turn it over and bang a bit more with a smaller hammer which will cause it to dome slightly

Idea 1.

You will need: colourful yarn, a needle with a big eye

Thread the needle. Place the flattened pod on your fabric and stitch all round to attach it to the fabric. You could make a big flower with one circle in the middle and 5-6 pods placed around it, or add some beads or buttons around the outside of your stitched circle to create petals and thus several smaller flowers. I am going to direct you to which is a magical site with several ways of doing this and so much better explained with all their diagrams.

Idea 2

You will need: a needle, cotton, pencil, fabric offcuts, a wineglass or something similar to draw a circle larger than your crushed pod

Draw and cut out a circle of fabric approx 1cm larger than the pod

With the wrong side facing you, place your pod in the centre (coloured side up) and draw around it

Sew a line of running stitches (in and out, simple!) about 4mm outside this line. I suggest doubling your thread to make it stronger.

Pull the stitching up gently around the pod, tucking in the raw edges as you go

Fiddly, but stick with it! Secure the stitches so the pod circle is encased (it will look like the circle on the lower right) – add some beads around the outside edge and slip stitch it onto your backing fabric with others to create a big single flower or a vase of pod-flowers

Idea 3

You will need: a needle, pins, cotton thread, pencil, light fabric offcuts, a pudding basin or saucer or something similar to draw a circle larger than for the previous idea. And one bigger still

Cut two circles (or more) of fabric, each larger than the other/s. You could even make each layer a different colour for fun!

Place your fabrics down on top of each other (smallest on top) with the right sides facing you pin in place and draw around your pod

Sew a line of running stitches about 5mm outside this line, going through all the layers at the same time. If you want, you can cut petal shapes around the outer circumferences

Place your pod (coloured side up as before) in the centre and draw the stitches up tightly to form a frill of petals all the way round

Idea 4 – my favourite!

Wrap your disc with several layers of wool fibres. Mark the BOTTOM of the disc side with some other colour wool so you know which side to cut into

Make this very wet and add some liquid hand-wash soap Tie it up in an old pair of tights or nylon netting

Rub hard on both sides and around the edge. To start with it will slide around a bit, so grip the netting tight so it doesn’t slip too much

As you rub the wool will shrink and tighten around the foil

Cut a small hole in the top (ie the side opposite your marker) with sharp scissors

Don’t make this hole too large as it will get bigger as you continue to rub

Rub until the wool is really tightly anchored around the foil. You can enlarge the hole a bit if you want, but don’t make it so large the foil can slip out. If you do enlarge the hole, rub the cut edges to round them off again

Add beads if you would like to jazz it up a bit

Make several to form flowers on your square

NB These wool-encased ones also make nice brooches if you sew a pin on the back – a great little gift for a teacher or friend.

If you have missed getting some pods from me or friends, and if you just want silver centres, you can rumple up a disc of tinfoil to use instead for all these idea – just make it thick enough not to bend while you encase it.

Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Fibre Art Network, Heritage Craft Association and current Chair of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen.

Nancy lives in West Horsley. She teaches feltmaking and sells her work through The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen Gallery in Milford and Haslemere Museum.