Art & Craft

A Weekender for Every Day of the Week

I’ll admit it – I’m a bandwagon girl. Or, more accurately, if there’s a sweater parade going by, I’m definitely in the crowd watching, and, it doesn’t take much for me to hop on the float, and cast on the sweater du jour. When everyone started knitting this sweater, the Weekender by Andrea Mowry, I certainly put it in my Ravelry queue, and I kept my eye on photos of completed projects. I didn’t cast on immediately though, because I was concerned about the drop shoulder. A drop shoulder on an oversized sweater with no shaping definitely runs the risk of looking like a trash bag with a hole for your head.

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More Vintage Photo Fabric Creations

After posting about my last failed attempt at altering a fabric vintage photo, of course, I stewed about how to fix it, how to start again, what to do differently – that’s what I do sometimes when I’m staring at my computer at work.  Some people day dream about exotic vacations, or what they’re reading, or what to make for dinner, or what to wear tomorrow, I fixate on how to fix my projects, or starting a new project, or what kind of a mess am I going to make this weekend.  I may have resting bitch face, but underneath, I’m all about paints, and stitches, and pretty things.

So, here’s how I tried to pretty my failure up:

Again, here’s the big fail:

Time to start over!

Back to the original.  What first attracted me to this photo is the window, and the cuffs on her clothes.  I envisioned hanging flower baskets and french knots on the cuffs.  Why I strayed from my original idea I don’t know, but above is what you get when you don’t trust your instincts.

So, the french knots on the cuffs:

And, kind of weird sort of turkey work on the belt –

And, finally, the daydreamed about plants in the window:

And here she is, in a broken Ikea frame (have to do something about that!) –

 

I’m so much happier with how she turned out.  If I were to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t curve the stitching on the bottom of her dress – I was going for a look that suggested movement, but instead she just looks bloated, and strangely shaped.  Instead of using a bright paint in the windows, I used a subtle, chalk pastel.  The pink chalk pastel on her dress completely rubbed off, but that’s ok.  I thought out doing some bullion stitches on the back of the chair, to add some texture, but I decided that would be too much.  So, I’m basically good with it.  I love how the plants turned out, and I was right about the french knots.  Inspired, I whipped up another one:

Some embroidered silk roses, and a few fabric embellishments, and voila!

On Instagram, someone asked me why the hat?  And I think the better question is really why the wings?  Whenever you download collage sheets, or look at others’ vintage photo alterations, typical embellishments are wings, hats, stripes on socks, lollipops, balloons, etc.  I added the wings, because well, everyone adds wings.  Not such a good reason.  I added the hat, however, because after I embroidered the silk flowers, she really looked like she was wearing one of those oldtime plastic flowered bathing caps.  It wasn’t a good look for her.  The hat changed that look, and also, kind of goes with the rebel theme – that the rebel would wear a crooked hat.  Anyway, in the future, I’m going to try to tell my own story with my altered photos, instead of copying trends, like wings and such.  Of course the hat is from a collage sheet download, and a staple of vintage photo alts, but to me, it works with this photo more than the wings, which really don’t say much at all to me, other than to give it some whimsy.  So, that’s my thought process.

And the polka dots, by the way – to cover up some sloppy slops on the white border – oopsy!

A Summer of Unity Stamp Co. Stamps

As promised, and in a timely fashion I might add!, here’s a rundown of Unity Stamp’s Summer Kits of the Month.

First up, June – ah, so long ago it seems.

Love June’s kit..  If I had any quibble, the only thing it would be is that I don’t feel like that particular bird is a spring bird.  That crow says Halloween or fall or something like that to me, as do the wildflowers, but what do I know?  I do know that I love the ice cream sundaes, the fruit and the girl.  And, I’m happy to have a birthday sentiment to add to my tool box.

Here are the cards I made:

Here, I did some paper piecing, and some coloring with my Spectrum Noir alcohol markers.  Here’s the thing about markers – I am not paying $6/marker.  I don’t care how fantastic Copic markers are, I’m not a professional crafter, artist, whatever, and that’s so not going to happen.  I wouldn’t even buy a gold plated marker at $6 a pop, because who needs a gold plated marker.  Now, I guess, professional or non professional aside, if coloring were something I really really cared about, I guess I would pay that much – but I don’t.  Spectrum Noir markers come 6 in a pack, and A.C. Moore always has them on sale for $7.45.  Good enough for me.  The matting and little flag embelishments are from an Anna Griffin set I bought on HSN.  I don’t remember what the kit was called, but I bought it because it was 60% off, and I wanted the die that came with the kit.  I’m not really an Anna Griffin fan – I don’t get the thrill of simply gluing down embelishments to make a card.  Now, she has a huge following, and if her kits are your bag, there’s no judgment here.  Do whatever makes you happy.  That just wouldn’t make me happy.

And, here’s one with the fruit stamp;

This card is straight up watercolor. And, as always when my watercolor goes awry, I added some splashes to make my mistakes look intentional.

Next up, July:

I didn’t get around to using July until nearly August, and when I did, I realized that I had already lost that big flower stamp in the middle.  I have no idea where it went.  I’m certain it will show up . . . or it won’t.  I find it hard to believe that it fell in the trash, but you never know.  As you can see, I used the back of the sheet to do a color swatch of my Spectrum Noir markers – oops – I just grabbed what was closest to me, and this was it.

Here’s what I made with August:

First, I colored these images, and then I contemplated, hmmm, what to do now . . .

I used my Crafters Companion edge dies that came with the last Crafters Companion inspiration magazine, another HSN autoship.  Because I cut my paper around my stamped girl too small, I had a hard time figuring out where to put a sentiment.  Oh well.  I originally markered the birds in blue, and I really didn’t like that.  So, I went back to the watercolors for the birdies. The girl is Spectrum Noir markers.

I feel like I’ve used this kit more, but I think I feel that way because I stamped alot of sentiments trying to fit them on the girl card, and they just didn’t work out right.  I did use the big sunflower that says believe on the stem as a envelope decoration.  Unity has this new line of stamps for envelope decorating, but in truth, any stamp can be used to decorate an envelope, right?  So, no need for extra purchases there.

And finally, August.  August is the first kit that came in the mail, and I said, meh.  I think because there’s no girl, no critter, and a repeat of the butterlies.

I did play with it this weekend, and made these two cards:

 

 

The first card was an attempt to use my Crafters Companion first auto ship Kinetic Card, the side stepper die.  The problem with this die, which some would argue is not a problem at all, is that it sized for an A2 envelope, but that makes that side panel really small, and none of these kit stamps really fit on it, except for maybe the butterflies.  So, I tried to make a stepped garden, and I’m ok with the results.  I used a few of my watercolor Art Impressions Stamps as well, with distress inks and Tombow markers.

The second card, the poppies, has gotten a bit of Instagram love, and it was so easy peasy to make – here it goes.  Take your stamp, and ink it up with distress ink.  I used red on top, olive on the bottom.  Spritz the stamp with water, get it good and wet.  Stamp.  Put that one aside.  Stamp again – use this lighter, wetter version.  Tap in watercolor – dark near the center, lighter as you go up, dark in the folds of the flower.  That’s it.  The water will do most of the work for you.  And that’s it – you too can be a watercolor mad genius!

So, for my next card trick, I’m thinking of making a few of these boxes for holiday gifts and filling them with watercolor cards – maybe.

 

A Fabric Experiment

As you know, I’m a sucker for a sale.  So, when Ivy Newport ran a super duper birthday sale (40% off!) on most of the classes on her website, I took advantage and purchased a class, Fabric in Time with mixed media artist Stephanie Rubiano.

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This was a class I camethisclose to purchasing at full price, but with Skillshare and Creativebug enough to keep me busy, I just couldn’t justify it.  But, can’t beat almost half off, right?  Anyway, the class is chocked full of good advice and helpful tips about how to print on fabric, paint on fabric, and add embelishments to your final piece.  There’s also a bonus lesson on encaustic wax, but setting up a wax station is really not in my budget right now.

This class combines so many of the things I love – vintage photography, painting and embroidery, that I was immediately inspired, and went to work with the products I had on hand.  I can’t remember why, but I bought a set of cabinet cards from an etsy seller a long time ago that were perfect for this project, and I scanned them into my computer.  I then printed out my photos on quilting cotton.  My first attempt went wonky, but the second attempt was pretty good.  There’s a 50% coupon for AC Moore today, so I’m thinking about trying the InkJet printable fabric sheets, but we’ll see.  Then, I went into a creative frenzy, and whipped up my girl before I took any photos.  Because I immediately went to work, I didn’t exactly have all of the supplies I needed.  For instance, I didn’t have any finishing spray – so I had a little problem with the water on my brush mixing with the ink on the photo, but I just moved the paint around, and embroidered on top of any water blotches.

You can see the original photo in the top corner.  And you can see more improvising.  To give the cards structure, Stephanie uses a double sided fusible, and creates a fabric sandwich.  The only double sided stablizer I have is the Bosal Foam fusible, which is really great for tote bags, and quilted wallets and such, but not so great for this project.  While it lends stability, it doesn’t really have that stiffness that painting on a stiff fabric interfacing would have.  But, I made do.

You can see she’s a little puffy from the foam, but eh, it’s all good.  As you can see, I had a bit of a water issue on the edge there, but again, no big deal.  I mean, if I were going to sell it or something, it would be problematic, but for the walls of my craft room, I’m good with it.  The little background embelishments are sequins with seed beads, and the stitching is a combination of lazy daisies, french knots, and cross stitch.  I had to watch a few refresher videos on the stitching, but it came back.

To finish her off, I trimmed the card down, punched some holes with my crop-a-dile, and inserted eyelets.  Then, I used this funky beaded wire that I’ve had in my stash forever and never knew quite what to do with to add a hanger –

All done! I thought about binding the edge to hide the water splotch, but again, eh. She’s just hanging with the rest of the girls on the craft wall, no crafting police here.

I was really excited to start my next girl, but unfortunately, it was back to work on Monday, and then I didn’t get back into the craftroom until last night. By then, I had thought of so many ideas of what to do, and I had a vision of what I wanted her to look like.

Here’s the before:

I had this idea that I was going to embroider hanging flower baskets in the window, and lots of little white french knots on her collar and her cuffs. And then, I went south -I don’t know why – and the further south it went from my vision, the more I messed it up:

I hate how bright the blue is in the window. So, I abandoned my hanging basket idea, and thought maybe I’d cover the whole window with a vine. Then, instead of using my perle cotton thread that I love, I went with a cheap craft embroidery thread because the color was better, and my stitches look so sloppy. It didn’t help that I cut the fabric too small to get good tension in the hoop. Then, the only white paint I had on hand was a fluid acrylic, and that interacted horribly with the ink from the printer, and I got a really ugly stain on her dress. I tried to cover it up and it just kept getting worse. So, then I painted it red. I hate how the red looks with the pink ribbon roses. Sigh. She’s going in the garbage and I’m going to start over. This time, I’m going to print her the same size, but on a full sheet of paper, so I can get the fabric tight enough in the hoop. I’m going to go back to my original vision of the baskets in the window, and the knots on her dress. As for the blue windows – I’m going to stick with the blue, but I’m going to use a really light colored pencil instead of paint, so it’s just a faded outdoor look.  I’m ok with starting over.  Sometimes projects just don’t work out.

And, while I still have a few more cabinet cards to play with, I ordered these tintypes from ebay:

I really love this one:

Since she’s already got the crazy faux outdoor backdrop going, I can see myself embroidering wildflowers or trees or something behind her.  We’ll see.  Of course, when I ordered then, I didn’t really think about putting the tin on my scanner – I’m really afraid of scratching the bed.  I may try to photograph them rather than scan them, but I don’t have a light box.  Another problem to be solved!  But, it’s craft, it’s all good.

Stay tuned!

Not About the Eclipse

I know, today is all about the eclipse, and here I am, inside blogging for the first time in two months.  That’s what happens when you don’t get your NASA approved solar eclipse glasses – forced to finally blog.  I’m just going to have to watch some shade from my window.

Ah, now there’s some sun for you.  Last week we visited with Joe’s parents in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.  Doesn’t get much better than that!  Oh, unless you’re doing some arting on that lovely beach as well:

If you’re ever looking for an easy peasy travel project, pick up this book:

Remember those Ed Emberly books when we were kids? Well, when I was a kid – How to Draw Animals, Monsters, etc., that broke the creature down into shapes – draw a rectangle body, draw a rectangle shape, draw a triangle ear, etc., and then at the end you had a dog, a cat, or a whatever.  This book is the Ed Emberly book of flowers for the drawing impaired.  Every flower is broken down into steps, the steps are basically shapes, until the last step, when you do little hashmarks for shading.  If I can do it, you can do it.

Here’s me doing a daisy and a couple of tulips:

And, here’s a paper garden –

It actually makes me look like I know what I’m doing! In any event, the directions are easy to follow, and the materials are extremely portable – just a pencil, a micron pen and a sketchbook.  No fuss.

Now, for something that doesn’t look like I know what I’m doing – watercolors.  These are supposed to be peonies, garden roses, and anemones.

Remember the Show Me Your Drills challenge from the Happily Ever Crafter? Maybe not, because my blogging is so inconsistent, I may have forgotten to mention it altogether. The drills challenge was a calligraphy practice workshop – every day you either practiced your upstroke, or your downstroke, or connecting letters, or something of the sort.  Anyway, Happily Ever Crafter joined forces with water color artist, Stephanie Fehrenbach for a new challenge, Show Me Your Florals.  Everyday a watercolor lesson appeared in my inbox, and I kind of went, eh.  Every watercolor class starts the same way – how to mix colors, how to control the water on your brush, and paper etc.  I’d already done much of the exercises through Skillshare.  The week wrapped up with florals, finally.  I did end up buying the workbook at the end – which was what it was all leading up to anyway.  On the first day, the workbook was $12 – which was a nice deal, since all of the flowers that are illustrated in the book are also demoed on video.  I don’t know if I’d pay $24 for it though, since so much of it is on Skillshare and Creativebug.  But, for the price of two Starbucks frozen coffees, I was good with it.  Although, as you can see, my efforts weren’t so hot – I have to admit, I didn’t try very hard, nor did I practice very much.  We were packing up for vacation, and my craftroom was like 100F – so hooooottt!  Anyway, even though my flowers are meh, I’m not one to waste good watercolor paper, and I turned them into cards –

A good splash of watercolor is always a good background for a card, and they’re supposed to be abstract.

This one was a big sloppy wreath that I ended up cutting down to fit on a card base.  I did cut away some of the good bits, but i think it looks pretty ok The stamps are from Unity.  Not part of the monthly kit, but part of one of their sales.  There’s always a sale.  Luckily I get the monthly kit, or I’d be in big trouble.

By the way, I’ll revisit the kit next post, but I have to say, I have not bought one extra stamp (except for these creativity sentiments from Unity, that I bought because they work so well with anything) since subscribing three months ago.  Does that mean that I’m spending a little extra to save more in the long run?

Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Crafting On – Starting Point at the End Point

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Ah, this time last week we were just arriving in sunny California for the E3 conference. Myself, I’m not a big gamer. I dabbled in a little World of Warcraft, but I got bored with that, and I’m just not coordinated enough to play shoot em up games. But, for my husband and stepson, going to E3, the video game industry’s yearly conference at which they unveil all of the new games and gaming gear for the upcoming year, was like winning the Golden Ticket to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. it was like three straight days of Christmas.

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We did do the touristy things of course, like going to the Griffith Park Observatory, and hitting the beach and the pier at Santa Monica.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

I was sorely disappointed when we went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and I actually got to visit the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars.  It’s just a strip mall!  All of the glamour, gone.  Oh well.  Unfortunately, the last few days of the trip were hampered by Joe catching some kind of a horrible cold (I had something before we left, but I find it hard to believe that he would have developed it over a week later), so we didn’t get to go on our Hollywood Homes tour, as recommended by the Ellen DeGeneres show, darn!  And, we didn’t go to Venice Beach.  Maybe we’ll be back, maybe not.  I feel like we packed in a lot before Joe went down.  Gamer down!

Anyway, needless to say after listening to him hack up a lung for two days, I was ready to be home, and as soon as I got home, I got to work finishing up the last clue of the Joji MKAL, Starting Point.

Brilliant finish – no grafting!

 

I guess the question to ask at the end any MKAL is, would I have knit this if it weren’t an MKAL, if it had just been released as a stand alone pattern?

In this case, it’s difficult to say.  I used all stash yarn – I don’t know if I would have gone stash diving had I knit this with true intention.  And, I don’t know if I would have wanted to make the big investment in yarn that this gigantic thing calls for.  So, I’m really happy with the end result, I’m pleased with my stash busting, but I’m not sure if I would have looked at this and said, yep, I want to spend $150 to make this.  I don’t know.  But, I’m certainly not sad it’s now in my wardrobe.

After that big knit, I found myself ready for some crochet.  I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was wandering through Michael’s while Joe got his hair cut (I’ve convinced him that the Hair Cuttery next to Michael’s is so much better than the one next to Whole Foods), these Caron Cakes were on sale, 30% off – and my curiosity got the best of me.  I don’t knit with acrylic, so the project was going to be crochet, and I thought, yep, that is actually what I’m in the mood for – crochet it is!  Caron Cakes is actually 20% wool, and that bit of wool really makes a difference.  If you put this yarn in a bag with pure wool, and I were blindfolded, I’d probably have a tough time identifying the fakery.  Unlike a pure acrylic, this doesn’t feel stiff, nor does it squeak like the Caron pound skeins.  Because of the color changes, I really wanted to do something that just went round and round, so here is the beginnings of my shell blanket:

Easy peasy.  Round and round.  Of course, while I’m doing this easy peasy thing, I have my eye on something harder, the Nuts for Squares CAL, but I’ve promised myself I’m going to finish this first, or at least finish off the four skeins that I bought of the Caron Cakes, before I invest in another project – gotta keep that wandering eye looking firmly straight ahead.  It’s so easy to get distracted, and you have too much Ravelry time on your hands.

So, that’s what I’m crafting on about, hope your summer crafting is moving right along was well.  Linking up with Linking up with Frontier Dreams, Crafting On!

Not Yarning Along, Crafting On!

Hello Wednesday!  Is it really you!  Good to see you, my time suck of a calendar day.  Before the day goes poof, here’s a run down of the knit/crochet happenings since February –

The Ambah MKAL

As you may recall, my knit started out looking like this:

But I hated the cartoony speckle, and ripped it out – then it looked like this:

I was kind of meh about it, but I did finish it.  It looks like this:

 

I guess it turned out ok – I haven’t even blocked it, or weaved the ends in.  I guess I’m still meh about it.

Buzz the House Fly

So, to cheer myself up about my meh-ness, I decided to crochet a Lalylala critter – looking through my stash, I didn’t have the best combo of solid finger colors, so I went with some purple Koigu and Buzz, the House Fly:

 


I think he turned out super cute!  Emboldened with my amigurumi prowess, I decided to finally try an Octopus for a Preemie.

Octopus Fail

I joined this Facebook group probably the week it started, as I had seen an article about the program, and thought, well, since I like crocheting critters, and my husband doesn’t appreciate them, and my nieces and nephews are really getting to old for stuffed animals, this seems like a good idea.

I waited to crochet a little guy, though, because the group was just getting organized, and in the beginning, there was a lot of confusion, and a lot of failed Octopi.  Then, the group came up with a system of becoming a certified crafter – in order to ensure that the Octopi complied with the strict guidelines, you had to upload photos of your Octopus passing certain tests to show that the the tentacles weren’t too short/too long and that your stitching was tight enough.  So, after finishing my bug, I decided to give it a go –

On the face of it, it looks like the little guy passed.  But, alas, after it went to an Octopus Ambassador, who again threw it in her washer/dryer, the holes opened up, and the tentacles stretched out, and the head got smooshy.  I didn’t even bother to mail in my second one – I just gave it to my dog.  Later, it was revealed that others had problems with this yarn – I think it’s Caron, and while still approved, since it is cotton and it doesn’t bleed, it was kind of use with caution.

So, I pondered whether I wanted to go back to the drawing board, maybe with a different yarn, and the answer was no.  I broke every nail on my fingers, crocheting so tightly, and with the required yarn under method of crocheting – and my nails were not long to begin with – so they were broken down to below the tips of my fingers.  And, I had also managed to stab myself under the nail with the hook a couple of times, and I was literally sore for a week after finishing one.  So, while this is a good cause, there are over 13,000 people in the group, and they are much better crocheters than I.  And, I had already washed and dried the little guy above, and my machinery just doesn’t have the juice that the official tester had – or I would have already seen the problems, and never mailed it in in the first place.  I tried, I failed, I’m not going to beat myself up.

Which brings me to my current knit, the Joji Mystery Wrap

 

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When I first saw this MKAL, I wasn’t even on the fence, it was just a big no! I had no desire to knit a gigantic rectangle. It seemed like way too much boring knitting. But, then I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool (more on that another day), and it was kitted up everywhere – every booth had some kind of Joji MKAL kit, and I was mesmerized. But, I didn’t buy yarn – five skeins of fingering yarn is a big investment – the Miss Babs kits were $132, the Bare Naked Fibers was even more. Of course, it’s fantastic yarn, and for a project that wasn’t a mystery, reasonable. But, for a mystery … especially after the meh Ambah MKAL . . . So, I pulled random fingering Shetland out of my stash, and said, not perfect, but good to go.

It’s a really easy knit; it’s mostly garter, and fantastic t.v. knitting.  I’m relieved that it’s not developing like your typical rectangle.  And at this point, there are no live stitches on a holder, so that says to me no grafting – hopefully these two pieces will come together some other way, because I hate grafting.  We shall see.  Two more clues to go!

And there we have it, all of the yarning since February – I think.  I feel like I’m missing something – oh yeah, my Kate Davies’ sweater.  That’s on the back burner, maybe never to return – it was turning out pretty small, and I have to totally reknit a sleeve that turned out wonky.

 

 

Oh my!  I just went to link up with the Yarn Along and discovered it ended in March!  All of that Waiting for Wednesday and there wasn’t any Wednesday left!!!!

So Godot, really . . .

Go figure!

Linking up with the suggested alternative to the Yarn Along, Nicole at Frontier Dreams – Keep Calm and Craft on my friends!

The Quest for the Perfect Monthly Crafty Subscription

My my my its been a long time – February!  Here’s my tale of “woe.”  I like to link up to the Yarn Along on Wednesday.  And, for whatever reason, I kept missing Wednesday!  I would be in the mood to post on a Monday or a Tuesday, but think, eh, that post would be so much better to link up  with the Yarn Along on Wednesday – there was the finished Ambah knit-a-long, a crocheted bug, my crocheted Octopus disaster, Maryland Sheep and Wool, the start of the Joji MKAl, sheesh – that’s a lot of potential Wednesday content!  But then, somehow, Wednesday would disappear, poof! First it was 7:30 a.m. and I was getting ready for court, and then it was 10 p.m., and I was ready for bed.  And then, I’d think, there’s always next Wednesday.

And that’s it.  I’ve just been waiting for Wednesday.

So, here we are on Tuesday – whatever Wednesday, right?  Actually, I am going to try to post some yarny content tomorrow, and Wednesday looks pretty open on my calendar tomorrow – fingers crossed.  There were a lot of homicides over the holiday weekend, and I think I’m next up on the wheel.  One arrest, and I’m off to prison tomorrow, and that’ll blow up another Wednesday.  In the meantime, today I’m having a liquidy lunch scheduled with my team from this case, happy to close the book on that one.  Usually, when you close out a case like that one, there’s something waiting in the wings to take its place, sigh.

But, back to Tuesday, and today’s topic is my latest crafty pursuit, card making.  So, to recap, I started the year off with a handlettering flourish and frenzy.  That lead to InCoWriMo, and some watercolor cards.  The watercolor cards lead to me taking a class on watercolor card making at Online Card Classes,  This lead me to youtube, of course, and a lot of card making videos.  I became especially intrigued with cardmaking subscription kits, which is big fodder for youtube tuts – 10 cards, 1 kit, which appeals to me because I like to stretch my supplies, and use what I have on hand.  That’s not to say I don’t buy supplies – there is that giant A.C. Moore that plopped down right at the halfway point between my walk from the office to the courthouse.  Luckily, or unluckily, the supplies at A.C. Moore for the cardmaker are kind of meh – the stamp section is tiny, and tends to involve cute animals or florals, and they don’t carry any Tim Holtz, or any dies other the a handful of Sissix dies.  Therefore, I set my sights on subscribing to a monthly kit – curated supplies right to my door.

So, all kinds of things to think about – aesthetics, of course, but then there’s cost and commitment.  In the end, I did not go with the best buy, but with the product I thought I would use the most, and get the most joy out of, because that’s what it’s all about really.

The best buy out there is definitely, Hero Arts Monthly Kit.  For $35 plus shipping, you get at least a large stamp set (not quite 8 1/2 x 11, but it’s also bigger than 5 x7), with matching dies (between the stamps and the dies, you’ve already got your $35 worth), cardstock, and other miscellaneous items, this month it was a stencil, 3 small stamp pads, an acetate sheet, a bottle of ink, and some sequins.  I did not buy this month’s kit, I was sucked in by last months kit, which was Audrey Hepburn inspired:

This kit came with the paper doll stamps, matching dies, cardstock, three stamp cubes, a strand of faux pearls, a black ribbon, some blingy things, and some kind of droplets, I forget what they’re called.  And, here is the one card I ended up making, because there’s just not enough time in the day.  Crazy, because I saw this kit, didn’t love it, and then got sucked into the youtube 10 cards 1 kit scene, and had to have it.  Of course, by then it was sold out (the benefit of subscribing is that you’re guaranteed a kit – otherwise, you really need to buy it on the first day, possibly the second).  I stalked ebay – way too expensive and destash groups on Facebook.  Someone destashed it for $10, and I couldn’t believe I missed it!  And then, on the last day of the month, Hero Arts actually restocked it -they must have found a few lying around in the warehouse. I snatched it up, and rewatched all of the videos.  And then it came, and I was in the middle of something, work something, and I just didn’t get the chance to spend time with it.

Another really good deal is Simon Says Stamps, which is $25/month plus shipping. This month’s kit came with a floral stamps set, an ink pad, a distress oxide ink pad, and a small sample of Daniel Smith watercolors, as well as 6 x 6 double sided paper.  Eh, another floral stamp.  This kit sold out fast, and again, if you want a guarantee, you need to subscribe.  Looking back at the past kits, they’re just not my vibe, I guess.  Last month’s was this strange kinetic stamp, they appear to shimmy when you pull a tab, the month before were baby zoo critters.  Great deal, not for me.

And when I thought about Hero Arts v. Simon Says Stamps, it didn’t come down to money or value, it came down to taste.  If I didn’t like the theme, I probably wouldn’t get much use out of the kit.  I looked at past months of both companies, and it was really hit or miss.  This month’s Hero Arts has a mermaid theme,  I’m just not into the fantasy mermaid thing, I probably would make one card and that would be it.  And the truth is, I like the stamping and the coloring more than I like the embellishments, and the blingy stuff, so I changed my focus to stamps, and stamps that work well with watercolor, in particular.  To me, these cards are little canvases that I’m sending off into the world, and I wanted something to help me make my little presents.

Anyway, if you go on youtube, and search for monthly card kit, other companies will come up.  Hero Arts and Simon Says Stamps are just two of the more commercial, popular ones, and I really didn’t work too hard in researching the other brands, because they didn’t really stand out to me.

So, I ended up subscribing to Unity Stamp Co.’s Kit of the Month.  This kit doesn’t come with any paper, or dies, or bling, only stamps – an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of etched, unmounted, rubber stamps.  With shipping, it comes to $42 a month.  So, why the big investment, when I could spend less, and get more stuff?  Because it would be more stuff that I didn’t use.  I like these stamps – I can see sending them to friends, unlike a mermaid, or a fairy or a baby elephant.

As you can see, there are 6 large image stamps, and eight sentiments.  To give you an idea of size, the cards are 5 x7, and the vase and flower image is stamped on a 4 x 6 card.  One 4 x6 unmounted stamp alone will run you between $6-$10.00.  So, for the image stamps alone, it’s worth it.  Unity is known, I guess, for their Angie Girls, designed by Angie Blom.  The headband girl is an Angie girl.  One Angie Girl stamp set, which is usually a girl, and two sentiments, is $26.00.  So, again, while there is no paper, no bling, no dies, this 8 1/2 x 11 massive stamp set is a really good price for what you get.

I stumbled onto Unity years ago when I was taking Suzi Blu’s art journaling workshops, and she was selling her stamps there.  At some point, their emails started hitting my spam folder, and I really didn’t give them another thought.  Then, I started seeing cards on Facebook, as I was perusing different stamping groups.  I really liked the sentiments – they’re adult, they’re things I would say to a friend.  Even their critter cards are in a way sophisticated.  Unity also has a faith based side to it, which, when I first got their emails, was a bit of a turn off.  But, the faith based aspect is really separate – they have a separate kit club, Layers of Life, which is for more faith based, journaling.  So, I like that they are a family company, and that they not only want to put out a good product, they really want to be home to a community, and to that end, they are constantly doing Facebook live crafting sessions, and there’s almost always a sale.  I guess I found their Facebook group in January maybe February, and ever since then, there’s been a decent sale nearly every week, and during that period, I bought a few things that I loved working with, like this poppy girl:

The sentiment is from their Donna Downey collection – another nice plus to the site.  And, unlike Hero Arts and Simon Says Stamps there are additional benefits to membership than just a guaranteed kit.  Once you subscribe, you get an additional $6.50 off future orders of a certain amount, and all previous Kits of the Months are available at basically half price.  So, you can pick up an old set for $26 (Kits of the Month are $52 for nonmembers), which is basically the cost of the Angie girl in the set.  The commitment is three months, which I’m good with – because I’m finally at the end of my 12 month commitment with Studio Calico.  That, my friends, was way too long of a commitment to my project life ish kit of the month from them.  Especially when I’m really over the weekly project scrapping, and have turned to another product – more on that some other day but Wednesday.

So, with the cancelling of my World of Warcraft membership (uch, that time in between expansions – the dead zone) and my Studio Calico subscription, I’m still on budget for my one subscription a month.  I know this is probably rationalizing, but I really feel like I’m going to save money in the long run, because I won’t buy any additional stamps (and so far I haven’t, and it’s been a few weeks, and I’m still good), and while I have been collecting Spectrum Noir markers (alcohol markers that are nearly have the price of Copics) at the A.C. Moore about once a month for half the price (6 markers for $7.50,), I’m really good with the distress inks of I’ve had forever, and my watercolors.  I know, I know, everyone’s all about the distress oxide inks, and they are appealing, I’m ok without them.  I’m sure I’ll end up at Michael’s with a coupon sometime, but I’m not plotting for that day.

 

 

So, I’m sure I’ll be playing with this stamp set some more this week – watercoloring is so relaxing.  And, I have my June set to look forward to in a matter of a week or so, so we’ll see how this membership works out.  The other one’s are going anywhere.

So, tomorrow’s Wednesday – we’ll see if it stays firmly embedded on my calendar, or if it just goes poof! where did it go??

Til then!

 

Flowers, and Leaves and Wreaths, Oh My!

When you get sucked into the handlettering community, you naturally get pulled towards what’s cool and popular in graphic design.  Watercolor, wreaths, banners – it’s all big, and it’s all on Skillshare.  As I mentioned before, at 99 cents for three months, you can’t go wrong, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the following group of classes from The Pigeon Letters.

First, I tried my hand at Botanical Line Drawing, in which she goes over 29 or so (I can’t remember how many) Flowers Anyone Can Draw.  And, believe me, if I can draw them, you can draw them:

and leaves:

and wreaths:

All of these doodles are so easy. I just sat with my sketchbook while she drew, and I doodled along with her. Easy peasy. And stuff like this is great for decorating envelopes, embellishing hand lettered quotes, and of course, dressing up a bullet journal.  And, it turned out to be really nifty that I photographed my pages, because now I always have them on the phone for reference, so if I’m decorating an envelope at my desk at work, I don’t need to go back to the class to remember this flower or that flower.

After botanical line drawing, I moved on to 25 Banners Anyone Can Draw:

Again, I just followed along with Peggy (the Pigeon Letters), and everything came together in very banner like ways – my banners aren’t perfect, but everything takes a bit of practice.  My scrolls are a little wonky, and my lines aren’t so neat, but I can do it – and of course, you can too!

Persist, my friends, persist.

And, after I finished up with the banners, I moved on to 10 Easy Watercolor Projects Anyone Can Paint:

I like watercolors. They’re not messy, and they’re easy to clean up. However, they are kind of hard to manage – it is just colored water after all, that you want to manipulate into a certain shape.  And of course, it’s easier to do the work with the proper tool, and I don’t have any round watercolor brushes.  It’s on my list of things to get though, once I’m unbanned from online ordering.  My husband may have noticed all of those watercolor stamps and fountain pen supplies, and notebook covers, and stuff coming in the mail, and he finally said, what the heck?  So, I’m on time out until 3/8 when HSN has it’s next all day craft day, and I can’t miss that!

But, if you’re looking for a good way to spend 99 cents – I highly recommend Skillshare!

Yarning Along – the Mystery Way

And the Ambah Mystery is underway!

Mystery knits are always a crapshoot, but I enjoy them nonetheless.  This time around I’m joining in on Ambah‘s Hale-Bopp Mystery Knit-a-Long, some kind of a shawl, I guess with a comet theme.  As you may recall, I bought yarn, fell in dislike with the yarn, returned the yarn, and settled on this yarn:

The iron blue yarn is from Loop in London, and the rest of the yarn is from Loop in Philadelphia – fun, right?  Anyway, I hope my London souvenir ends up being a part of something lovely.

The first clue was released last Thursday, Friday for those down under, like Ambah.  The waiting, the waiting, the email that the clue is out, and then . . . drat! It’s  Turkish cast on!  Why can’t anything be easy?  Every day I just find myself exhausted because nothing can just be easy.  For instance, why did the Republicans have to shut down Elizabeth Warren?  ELIZABETH WARREN. SHE WHO WILL NOT BE SHUT DOWN.  Now, nothing is something, and anger just continues to seethe.  KnittyD. who is also knitting along, asked me if I thought I would have a snow day tomorrow – we shut down when the city shuts down, and I was like, dang, this city needs it – it needs to shut down for a day, and shake itself off.   I need some rest from this unrest.  And I’m onboard with the unrested – but one down day would be nice.

Anyway, where was I – Turkish cast on.  I had to watch a video, I had to cast on three times – once, because I ended up knitting in the round, once because I screwed up my markers and they were sliding up and down the long cord on my circular, and the third time was a charm:

As you can see, the Turkish cast on begins much like Magic Loop – the stitches are divided over two needles, created by forming wraps over the needles held together.  Unlike Magic Loop, though, you turn the work instead of knitting around – so with Magic Loop, the working yarn is going to finish off on the bottom needle, you switch needles, knit from the bottom needle to the top, and keep going around.  With the Turkish cast on, you turn the work around, so the working yarn is coming off the top needle, and you’re knitting in kind of like a “u”.  That’s my U above.  That probably didn’t make any sense, but I’m really proud of myself that I can actually talk my way through it.

And, yep, that’s a knit on icord edging – which I personally love – it makes everything look finished.

After the initial garter stitch beginning, it moves on to a slip stitch with the speckle, and then to a lace section:

I’m a little meh about it, because the speckle is just not made up of my colors.  I love the grey, I love the blue, and then . . . the speckle.   It says baby to me, but I don’t know, we’ll see. Onward!  The next clue comes out tomorrow.  The next clue is a 2 week clue, so it should be pretty significant.  Hopefully, I’ll love it . . . fingers crossed.

On the reading front, I’m still reading Michael Chabon’s Moonglow.  I just haven’t been reading that much.  I think I was at 10 percent the last time I posted, and now I’m maybe at 25%.  Again, onward!

Happy knitting!

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