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!

 

Last Day for InCoWriMo2017!

Today is the last day of February, and therefore, the last day of InCoWriMo2017.  I can’t claim a full victory, but I think I can do half a lap.  I managed to get out 22 pieces of correspondence, 19 of which went in the mail, and three of which were hand delivered.  I wrote to complete strangers through the InCoWriMo website, the Bullet Journal Pen Pal Group on Facebook, and Instagram.  I sent a few letters to friends, and family members received birthday cards.  Joe was not only the recipient of a Valentine’s Day card, I also made him a card with one of my new dies.

Ok, so before I show you this new die, let me say this.  This die lead me to a internet ordering freeze.  I have no idea what I was thinking buying this die, other than it was on the HSN 60% off partial craft day show, and I just got sucked in my the sale.  But, in truth, while it is super cute, I have very little use for it, and it was only $10 off, not 60%.  I just get so entranced when I’m watching the HSN crafters, and I get lured in by the sales pitch person who ooo’s and aaahh’s.  Anyway, after this purchase, I called Halt! And, I haven’t ordered anything other than a replacement nib for my dip pen in two weeks.  Yippee for me!  Can I just tell you how much money I have saved?  You don’t know how much you’re spending until you’re not spending I guess.

Anyway, here is said die:

These dies, one an owl, one a fox, are part of the Sissix Fold-Along Card series.  You place the die on the fold, there’s no cutting edge on the fold, though, and what happens is you get the gatefold card, shaped like the owl or the fox, with a tab to slip the sentiment cut out in.  So cute, right?  But, all of the stamp sentiments are really lovey dovey, and I would only make cards with that mush for my husband, and how many owl and fox cards can I make him?  So, I made him the fox card, and he was like, yeah, thanks, because he’s just not into those kinds of things.

As you can see, the owl went out as part of InCoWriMo.  That insert card is a separate die, so that’s nice, but if you want to mat the owl in anyway, you have to freehand cut, or cut another base, and cut that out to mat whatever part of the card you want, like those inside panels.  The bottom line is, these dies are cutie patootie, but the odds of me using them again . . . slim.  There are a few really usable stamps in the owl set though – with feathers and such, so I think I will get some use out of those.  The fox is really Valentine’s Day-ish, but whatever.

Before these dies, I also bought more Art Impressions Watercolor Stamps – as part of the crazy online ordering phase.  I would say to myself, it’s just a rubber stamp, but then there’s two stamps, then three.  It all just adds up.

These are the cards I made with my new stamp set, the covered bridge.  The reason I bought this stamp set was because it’s a mini set, so it’s cheaper than the large set, and it came with 2 different trees, and a kind of flower/leaf stamp – foliage is always good, and helpful for different scenes.  I think I’ve talked about these water color stamps before, but if I haven’t, just briefly what you do is color the main image with a water soluble marker.  Once the image is stamped, you pull the color out of the stamped image with a slightly damp brush.  Then, you do the same with the rest of the images – so for the trees, I used a brown marker for the trunk, and a green marker for the top – and that was it.  Anyway, they definitely have a handmade feel to them, because I haven’t quite mastered how to do a textured/weathered look with watercolor.  Anyway, I do love these stamps, and when the buying freeze is over . . . no, not unless I need them, yup.

In any event, I’m glad that my ordering freeze came at the same time as my fountain pen frenzy.  I have my two pens, the two Metropolitans, one in a fine nib, and one in medium, and I love them both.  And, if I were still in ordering anything mode, I’d probably have ordered up a half dozen other pens and ink upon ink, but instead, I’m learning what I like about the pen, I’m thinking more cautiously about my next pen, and I’m not at all in a hurry to do anything.  Although, I really really do want this ink.  The buying freeze comes to an end on 3/8, because that’s the next HSN marathon craft day, and it’s just unreasonable think I won’t order something.  So, the ban will come off, and I will dust off my paypal account, and I will try to take everything I’ve learned in the last two long weeks of purchasing diet, and only buy ONE THING.  Yes, yes.

So, in other news, I totally changed up my shawl for the MKAL, and I hate it.  More on that tomorrow.

And, I’m all settled into my Foxy Fix and I hate that too.  More on that later, too.  But, just so I don’t cause any kind of controversy about Foxy Fix, I love the notebook – I just don’t love the size.  The size was a mistake.  But, that’ll probably be the Thursday or Fridays topic.

Laters!

 

 

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!

I Am Foxy Fixed!

Sometime towards the end of last year, I decided that I had outgrown my fauxdori, a Travelers Notebook from dokipaper on etsy.  This notebook served me well, no question, but I lost the money clip that I had on the cover, and it left a really dark mark.  I also wanted a pen loop, and I was tired of my notebooks overhanging the leather.  Since I had definitely decided to move on, the question became, to size up or stay the course?

Staying the course meant, obviously, that I would continue to use the traditional traveler’s notebook sized inserts, which are an odd size, 4.33 x 8.25″, and that would be just fine, since I have the Midori Monthly Calendar insert, and the grid insert for my attempts at a bullet journal.  While I love the Midori paper, I think it’s Tomoe River, I hate that the weeks start on Monday.  Of course, there are inserts to buy on etsy, both printed and printable, but the May Designs notebooks caught my eye, and they’re 5 x 8.  So, I decided to size up to Cahier size, which would give me room for Moleskine notebooks as well, at 5 x 8.25.

Then, what notebook?  Chic Sparrow? Foxy Fix, Keelindori? I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, and lurked.  Watched videos of flip throughs, and decided that Foxy Fix was the place for me.  I made this decision probably in the first week of December.  And, wouldn’t you know, the Foxy Fix store shut down for a month, to expand and update their business model.  Great.  Do I wait, or do I switch my plan? So, in the meantime, I bought a used Chic Sparrow, a Mr. Darcy that houses my hobonichi.  Huh, I just scrolled back and realized that I had never taken a photo of it.  Drat.  Oh well – the Mr. Darcy leather is really stiff, and feels like butter.  I immediately loved it, but I also scratched it, pretty significantly within five minutes.  While it is really beautiful leather, I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to carry one with me everyday.  There’s a difference between leather becoming used and loved, and another with unsightly gouges in it.  So, I started looking at other Chic Sparrow leathers, and investigating Chic Sparrow – and I guess, if you look deep enough into the rather obsessive planner community on Facebook, you’ll find scandal.  Apparently the Chic Sparrow woman misappropriated someone else’s art.  I read through all of the backlash, and I think it was probably an honest mistake.   I probably would buy a Chic Sparrow from one of her orphan sales, because I love a good sale,  but, I was put off by it enough that I switched back to wanting a scandal free Foxy.  Foxy’s only “scandal” it seems is slow production and turn around time, and a store that’s only open for minutes a day.

What?  The store is only open for a few minutes a day?  The big difference between Foxy Fix and Chic Sparrow is that Foxy Fix allows for customization – stitching, different pockets, embossing, spine reinforcement, etc.  Chic Sparrow does embossing, but stitching, pockets, the rest of it, are standard.  So, Foxy Fix naturally takes longer to ship than a Chic Sparrow.  Now that I have both, I really don’t see any difference in quality – its just a matter of how much control you want over your finished product.  Foxy Fix also has an option for a “wide” version of each size.  A compact version will hold about four notebooks, a wide, six or more.  But, because of the customization, and the desire to keep turn around time to between 5-10 (although, I think they may have upped it to 10-20 days), Foxy Fix limits the number of customized orders, and when they hit their limit, they shut down.  They do sometimes have notebook sets that are in stock – but you can’t customize them at all.

So, I twiddled my thumbs and waited for Foxy to get back online, I think it was the first week of January.  Of course, as soon as they did, the site crashed, and they sold out within minutes.  As an apology gesture I guess, they put up a sale of mystery misfits Foxy’s – notebooks that had small flaws, or they couldn’t sell for whatever reason.  I managed to get in on the sale, and picked a cahier sized wide – and I figured, I’ll probably be happy with whatever I get as long as it’s not purple.

And then, I got a purple one.  I really dislike purple.  I’m good with a pinky violet, or magenta (although not in leather ), but straight up grape ape purple is not for me.

This was the first one:

I also didn’t want to go with the one strap on a wide, and as you can see this is just a single strap.  And this is Foxy’s Moccasin leather – it’s sooo soooo soft, but it’s very very floppy, with almost no structure.  A lot of people got Moccasin in the mystery sale, and I think it’s because they don’t sell them like this anymore – if you get a Moccasin notebook, it automatically comes with a reinforced spine – an extra piece of leather sewn up the back for more structure.  Anyway, I sold this on Facebook in about five seconds for the price I bought it for, which was about 1/2 of what it normally costs since it was a mystery.

So, then I had to decide if I was going to deal with the store being only open at 11 a.m., until they sold out.  I decided I had waited this long, I might as well continue to wait, and about a week after it initially opened, on 1/16, I managed to get into the store, and place my order for a wide Rowena, with side stitching and pockets, no embossing.  I figured as long as it wasn’t personalized, if I hated it, I could always sell it.

Then, the next round of waiting took over.  The turn around time was 5-10 business days.  1/16 was a holiday, so I decided to just chill, and when it came, it came.  But, then I got a shipping notice on the 25th, and I was ecstatic – it’s coming, it’s coming!  But, it wasn’t – not according to USPS – even though I had paid for two day shipping, it sat in preshipment for days.  I kept refreshing my USPS shipping notice, checking my email for updates, etc., and I was making myself crazy.  I felt torn about contact Foxy, because based on the FB page, I knew that everyone, everyday is like, where’s my Foxy, until I finally contacted Foxy Fix’s customer service.  My experience with Foxy Fix was  . . . internet age I guess.  I emailed them on a Saturday, and by Monday afternoon, I still hadn’t gotten an answer.  So, I posted on the FB page.  Within seconds, I got a response that the customer service woman was checking on my order, and waiting for a text back from their shipping department.  I figured, she’s waiting for a text, I’ll hear something in an hour or so, or whatever, and then nothing.  So, I posted on FB again, and nothing.  And then I emailed, and got a response back the same day.  My order had been lost, they were remaking it and shipping it the same day, and as soon as she had a shipping confirmation number, she’d send it to me.  She also gave me a 10 percent discount code for my next purchase.  And, because I obviously hadn’t gotten my 2 day shipping, she refunding the entire shipping amount.  Then, I got nothing, and I waited.   Then, the next day, I got an email from shipping that my dashboard order had been cancelled because they were out of them, and again, I got another 10 percent discount code.   But, I didn’t get any shipping notice, or status on the actual order.  So, I emailed again, a bit huffy this time I think, and I got an email saying that the notebook had shipped out yesterday, and here’s your tracking number.  By that time, the notebook had already arrived in Philadelphia, and it would be on my doorstep the next day.  Yeah! So, it was a bummer that I missed out on the dashboard, but eh.  And, here she is – Rowena, Foxy Fix’s No. 7 in wide:

I have to say, I took my good old time opening it – I was really worried I’d have that seem feeling of meh that I did when I opened the grape ape one. But, no, this one was totally perfect – meet Rowena:

Here she is next to my old, faithful faux dori. Rowena is a sturdy, thick leather, that has a wax coating, and a slight sheen to it.  Every piece is different, and some are more shiny than others.  I’d say mine is mildly shiny.  Here’s the inside:

As you can see, it’s about 3x as thick as my original, it has secretarial pockets on both sides, and it is significantly wider than my original.  You can’t see it too clearly, but the inside of the notebook does not quite feel like traditional leather, and there was some chatter on the Facebook group that maybe this wasn’t real leather.  Believe me, it’s real leather – it smells like leather, it feels like leather – it feels like they just skinned it off the cow, frankly.  And, apparently, the explanation is that the hide is actually much thicker, and it’s cut against the grain, in half, to make it thinner, and appropriate for making stuff like notebooks and other leather goods.  This cutting against the grain is what causes that fabric like feel to the inside.  I love it.  And, I love the stitching on the reinforced spine.

Here are my May Design Books, that I’ve been waiting and waiting to use since the failed purple notebook:

Of course, after I bought them, and was excited to use them, I read on some forum somewhere that they’re not fountain pen friendly.  So, I did a little experiment:

This is the backside of a written on calendar page.  The fountain pen definitely has the most ghosting, but it doesn’t smear, and it doesn’t absorb right into the page making ink blobs or anything like that.  I’m ok with a bit of ghosting – it’s just a calendar.  And, I do love my fountain pen.

Since, I didn’t get my Foxy Fix dashboard, I made a few of my own.  Instead of laminating, I used a 12 x 12 scrapbook page, and with my Fuse Tool, I traced around a May book, leaving about an 3/4′ between the pockets.  So, my pockets are toploading, and I can switch out the paper.

Of course, one always has to be my sentencing guidelines.  Very exciting, I know.

And the other is just decorative, and it houses the notebooks I printed from AnniePlansPrintables on Etsy – there’s a Happy Mail Tracker, an Address Book, and an Online Purchase Tracker:

The only problem is – now that I have all of these little notebooks, what do I need my bullet journal for – each collection in my bullet journal now has it’s own notebook, and my to do lists are now in my May Designs Daily Planner book, that polka dot book above.  I guess I’ll figure it out as I go, because I’m not taking it out – the notebook will totally deflate without the bullet journal.

Which brings me back around to the beginning -should I have resized?  This notebook is really a doorstop.  I love love love it, but it takes up most of my purse, and I really had all of the information I needed in less notebooks before.

I’ll continue to ponder this dilemma as I see how things work out.  Back to the traditional size?  Or sized up, but in a compact not a wide?

Why can’t I just enjoy what I have before I start thinking about what’s next?

Sigh.

Anyway, should you buy a Fox Fix?  The product is awesome, really – but you’ll have to wait.  And wait.  First, there’s the struggle of hitting the website at exactly the right time.  I’ve seen people on Facebook fail day after day after day.  And, if you succeed, the turn around time is 10-20 days.  So, between attempting to purchase and receiving your notebook, expect about a month.  If you can wait, it’s worth it.

If you just can’t wait, and if you can get past the idea that Chic Sparrow copied someone’s drawing, and put it on a notebook, then buy a Chic Sparrow; she f’d up. I do really respect artist’s work, and copyrights, but I’m just kind of willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she f-d up, and wouldn’t do it again.  Maybe I’m just rationalizing, because I think I probably would buy from her, since I really do love my Mr. Darcy, and would love to try a different leather from her.  I don’t know.  Her product is lovely, her business might just not be what you want it to be.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to answer them!  I love talking about my notebook!

 

And So It Begins – Bring On InCoWriMo 2017, and . . . a New Obsession, the Fountain Pen

Look who’s ready for InCoWriMo 2017, or to translate that mouthful of an acronym, International Correspondence Writing Month.  I have six handmade cards and envelopes ready to go, and I have my Flow magazine on hand to decorate the rest.  After a trip to the post office this morning, and a very helpful Postal Person, I ended up putting Letters 1 and 2 in the mail so I don’t have to go back tomorrow.   Yep, I’m cheating already I guess, but I’m looking at the month as a whole, because I doubt I’m going to actually post letters on the weekend – the mailperson doesn’t always come on Saturday, and if it’s snowing, I’m not walking the half mile to the mailbox. And, there are Sundays when lets face it, getting dressed means I change from the pj’s I slept into clean pj’s or sweats.  And, I wonder why I’ve gained weight?  Sheesh.  Anyway, my point is, I’m playing by Wendy’s rules, since it’s all informal anyway, I’m going to do the best I can to mail out 28 letters in what would be nearly a daily fashion.  But, there’s no way I’m standing at the post office 2 days in row to have a letter weighed when I’m already there, and it’s ready to go.  I also showed the Postal Person my unfinished letters, and had her give me some educated guesses about the postage.  The bottom line is, the rest of the handmades are going to be U.S. bound, because sending them overseas will be ridiculously eexpensive, and I’m going to rethink my notecards.

I bought these notecards because a. they were on sale, of course, and b. I used them to accompany swaps.  These notecards are so stinkin’ cute, but did you know that because of their small size, they’re actually nearly twice the postage?!  They require special care, hand cancelling I suppose.  I’m thinking I may just stick the cards in regular envelopes.  We’ll see.

But, what’s that other item in the photo?  Not the Flow Magazine, not the carefully crafted handmade cards, no, no – that other thing.

That would be a fountain pen.

A Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop.  It is totally impossible to follow InCoWriMo on Instagram, and not be sucked in by pen, ink and stationary posts as well.  Based on my misconceptions, I had never really considered a fountain pen.  First, I originally thought that fountain pens were just for calligraphy, that the fancy nib was chiseled for classical, traditional calligraphy.  Wrong, totally wrong in fact.  There are fountain pens that are somewhat designed for calligraphy, they have an stub italic nib (lingo, lingo – see how much I’ve learned!) or a flex nibs.  I thought about going that route, but the bottom line is, calligraphy is best with a dip pen (or if you’re into brush lettering, a brush), and I’m already in the wheelhouse, and all of the reviews I read of the affordable caliigraphy pens were meh.

Then, I thought they were too expensive.  Well, that depends – my pen was $13, and there are fountain pens that are even cheaper.  So, $13 compared to a disposable Bic is comparatively expensive, but it’s so inexpensive when you compare it to this – a $65,000.00 pen – crazy right?

The bottomline is, a fountain pen can be for everyone and anyone, and it can be used as your every day pen.  The benefits are basically that you only have to apply very little pressure to the page to get your ink to flow, if you have a good pen, you’ll have a perfectly smooth line, and if you take care of it, you can use it forever, by refilling your ink with cartridge refills or an ink converter (a doohickey that sucks ink out of a bottle).  A good pen goes a long way.

Anyway, placing my first foot into the fountain pen rabbit hole, I did some research.  I started with Goulet Pen Company, because they were doing a giveaway in conjunction with Boho Berry, a bullet journaler who I follow, and I watched their series Fountain Pens 101.  This pen was one of their recommendations for starter pens.  Then, I went on youtube, and watched a few reviews, and for the most part, all of the reviewers were surprised at how good a pen this is for the price.  So, I bought the pen along with a box of refills.  With Amazon prime, it was less than $20.  I did feel guilty, though, that I didn’t give my business to Goulet Pens after I sucked up all of their free knowledge, but it totally came down to the free two day shipping.  But, I suspect that it won’t be long before I buy something from them, be it a converter, or ink, or  . . . another pen perhaps?

Because I do love this pen.  It’s a fine nib, and because Pilot is a Japanese brand, and the Japanese nibs are generally thinner than American nibs, it writes like an extra fine:

As you can see, it’s a small enough nib to get in the little grid boxes, but you can go bigger and still get a lovely smooth line.  And, even though it is a fine nib, it’s not so fine that you even come close to feeling like you’re scratching the paper, or that you’re digging a hole in your journal or planner or whatever.  However, I think I’d like a medium nib . . . so that could happen.

Also, now that I’ve used black ink, I may have gone into Dick Blick’s today and bought blue ink.  And while I was there, I really really wanted to buy the violet ink, but couldn’t justify it at this point because that would mean I couldn’t use my pen at work, as I have been, because what lawyer writes in pink ink?  Legally Blonde is a mythological movie my friends.  Blue or black.  So, that means I really need another pen for my violet ink, right?

Anyway, this is how it begins.  Now, I’m trying to convince Joe that he needs a fountain pen – so that we can be in it together.  I don’t think it’s going to work, but he is mildly intrigued.

So, I usually write about knitting on Wednesday’s, and I link up with the Yarn Along.  This week, though, I’m pretty much where I was last week, although now I’m working on a sleeve.  The mystery knitalong doesn’t start until tomorrow, so I’ll have something yarny to report on Friday.  Will it be a good mystery, or bad mystery?

Stay tuned!

 

Tempest Tossed

On one hand, I feel like I should be running down to the airport, with my signs and my fist in the air;  not only is it the right thing to do, but I know that I would feel energized, and hopeful, and frankly, American.  But, the bottomline is, this President just doesn’t give two shits.  He doesn’t even give one.  Instead of saying, I hear you, he points fingers, and signs more executive orders, and with every day, gets closer to crowning himself king.

But, I go to my crafting to escape, and if you’re actually here, this place is an escape too – because you can find politics anywhere you look on the web, doesn’t have to be here.  So, if you’re curious, and you want to know the process, not the product, here it is.

I downloaded an image of the statue of liberty.  I cut it out, and stuck it to my paper with repositionable tape.  The first time, I watercolored, and inked around the statue.  Then, I pulled the mask up, and voila! An outline of the Statue of Liberty.

After I botched the first try, I used this as a draft to figure out where the writing was going to be.  If I had to do it again, and I guess I could do it again, since I splotched up the f in “lift” by sticking my wrist in the wet ink when I went back to cross my t’s – uch!  Muffed up right at the last second, when I was just about to call it done.  But, if I were going to do it again, I’d probably go back to the watercolor, and skip that purple ink – it just didn’t blend well, even with my Tim Holz blending pads.  And, then, after I hung my statement on the wall, where at least I care about it, I moved on to my new watercolor stamps.

I don’t know about you, but in between being horrified by the nightly news and my social media feed, I mindlessly watched CHA video after CHA video, or Creativation as they’re calling it now.  It’s a trade show, it wants to suck me into buying things, and I’m good with that.  New paper! New dies! New stamps! oh my!  The biggest time suck was the Blitsy swag giveaway.  Blitsy filmed 3 days worth of mini segments at a dozen or so booths.  At the end of every segment, they gave you a secret word, which was access to a giant swag giveaway.  I think it was during one of those videos that I discovered Art Impressions Stamps, well at least the watercolor stamps, because their line of strange heavy set lady stamps are a little bizarre to me, but there’s something for everyone I guess.

The watercolor stamps are watercolor painting cheaters.  You stamp the image with watercolor marker, or whatever water soluble product you have, and then you add some color, pull out more color with a wet brush, and you too can look like a watercolor master.  Well, close.  Well, closer than I would have without the stamp.

Because I was just experimenting, I bought the cheapest set on Blitsy, the mini- barn set, which I think was just about $9.  The bigger sets run between $17-and $20, at full price.

As you can see the set comes with three unmounted cling stamps that are just basic outlines of the images – the barn, the tree, and the fence.  Huh, I guess I should have taken a before photo, but no matter.  Trust me, you can do this! The image looks like the outline on the top of the packaging.  Because I have one package of Tombow Markers that’s missing the brown marker, I stamped in black, and then used my set of Koi watercolors to color in the barn, and the trees.  If you have a good assortment of watercolor markers, you can just add more color to the stamp.  You really don’t need to get out your watercolors at all if you really want to keep it simple.  Anyway,  I stamped the barn first, and then I masked it, so I wouldn’t stamp over the barn with the trees.  There’s a good video of how to do this on the  Art Impressions youtube channel.  Art Impressions uses a masking paper, which has a sticky substance on the back.  I just used repositionable tape, just like I did the Statue of Liberty.  So, you stamp the barn on scrap paper, and cut out around the barn any place you don’t want the stamp to show – so that the trees are in the background.  Then you position the scrap barn over the good barn, and peel it away when you’re done stamping the trees.  Or if you want to start with a tree, you can stamp the tree, create a mask for the tree, stamp the barn, and then create a mask for the barn, and then stamp the background trees.  The idea is, start with the image that’s closest in the foreground, and work your way back.  If anyone wants to see photos of how I did this, just leave me a message in the

And, of course, since I’m getting read for InCoWriMo2017, I turned them into easel cards:

Basically, these cards stick up like an easel – there’s a foam stopper covered with patterned paper that you wedge the card behind, but the card can also be folded flat to go in an envelope.  Of all of the Crafter’s Companion card tutorials, this is by far the easiest one.  You just take a sheet of 5 1/2 x 11 paper, fold it in half, and then fold a gatefold on one end, then you tape a 5 1/2/ x 5 1/2 square on that gatefold flap.  Apply foam, done.

Of course, I forgot that my ink was going to explode on the watercolor paper – should have just just lettered in the card stock.  Oh well.

Now that I know I really love these stamps, I ordered another set that has a flower stamp, it’s a mailbox with a bird and some foliage.  I definitely have ideas about combining the two sets.  I originally thought the flowers came with the barn based on the packaging, but they don’t.  You have to be careful when you buy these stamps to make sure of what’s actually included – sometimes you get more than you thought you were getting (there’s one set that has a barn on a cliff, and the set also comes with a lighthouse), or less (mostly foliage and flowers – there’s a separate foliage set, flower set, and tree set, but some of the projects do come with flowers).  And, of course, there are new sets coming out that debuted at CHA, although to me, they pretty much look like the old sets, although I think some of them have critters now, like a bunny or a squirrel or something like that.  They also have this pretty cool die that’s coming out- it’s a 3d frame, with an easel, so you can stand up your watercolor masterpieces.

So, that’s all for now.  Next, I’ll share my latest nonpolitical obsession, to fountain or not to fountain, that’s the question.

 

InCoWriMo 2017 – I’m In!

Big commitment, that International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo)!  28 days, 28 letters.   Am I in?

I’ve mulled it over.  I considered my failed participation in the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals, how I began writing to a group of people – probably 10 or so – and every, single one of them fell by the wayside.  My fault or theirs?  It doesn’t really matter – I didn’t do anything to follow up with the people who had stopped writing to me.  And, on my end, well, it was a confluence of things – I lost my original traveler’s notebook, my Wendori, which was a sweet burgundy leather that I made myself, and loved dearly.  My letter log, my letters, my stamps, my addresses, were all in there.  But, that’s just an excuse really – I could have gone back to the club’s database and found the addresses again.  Who I owed, who was behind with me, that was a different question.  Then, my father died.  I decided that was a good time to sort through who I needed to write to, and I proceeded to write at least 7 “I’m sorry I haven’t written, this is what happened”  letters and by the time I had related the story of my father dying in Mexico, getting his body back, and his truly ugly fiesta coffin, that looked like it would play cruiseship music if you opened the lid, seven or so times, I never wanted to write another letter again.  So, I didn’t.  And, in the end, only one person sent me a FB message, and was like, what’s up? and honestly, I just couldn’t explain.  It was like by writing that letter, I had written the last chapter with everyone.

And, that was two years ago, and I really would like to exchange mail with pen friends again – I’m getting really good at addressing envelopes, and I have none to write, nor send.  So, I’ve decided, I can do this – I’m in.  Here’s my plan.  Right now, I’m making cards and envelopes.  There’s no way I can sustain that – that’s old Wendy crazy pants who is setting herself up for failure.  Those cards and envelopes will go to the people who I either already know (hey Mindy – you’re getting a letter!!), or who I’ve actually committed to exchanging letters with (a handful of people I met on instagram).  When that is exhausted (probably the first 10), I’m going to switch to the box of notecards I already have sitting on my desk, because I liked the box, and because they were on sale at Papersource awhile back.  And, you know – I don’t need much of an excuse to buy another box of cool cards.  And, I’m going to write them when I get in, first thing in the morning by randomly selecting people from the InCoWriMo website.  Joe works 7-3, and since my job is flexible, I work 7-3 as well – but no one is actually in until 9.  So, over coffee and the hum of my space heater (since the thermostat for my office is at the end of the hall and if it’s turned up too high, those at that end are roasted – so I rely on a space heater), I’ll write short, happy mail letters.

Good plan, right?  At least it’s not March, it’s a short month, right?

So, to make my cards, I pulled out my Crafter’s Companion Ultimate Tool:

I got sucked into this big, plastic pink thing on HSN craft day – watching Sarah Davies and her British accent score and fold with this thing was mesmerizing, and I had to have one.  Did I really have to have one?  Let’s see, the pink thing opens up into these table top surfaces.  On one side, top right, you have fold lines for 12 x 12 paper, and 8 1/2 x 11.  If you turn the board one way, scrapbook paper, the other U.S. Letter.  There are scorelines for gatefold cards, half fold cards, and tri fold cards.  However, if you were to attempt to just look at the board, and make a card without reading the instructions first, that would be impossible.  The instructions are like a rosetta stone, and this board is totally worthless without out it.  Don’t lose the instructions!  The instructions give you the basic folds/score lines for those basic cards, however, if you want to get any more complicated, and “take it to the next level” as Sarah says, then you have to watch the accompanying DVD, and then the supplemental DVD you can get on HSN.  Sarah moves really fast, and for each card, I really had to watch the videos a couple of times.  For a more experienced card maker, maybe that wouldn’t be the case, but . . . in any event, I ended up making myself plain white cardstock templates, with detailed instructions about what size paper to start with, where to rest the paper – on the handle, or the other side, which line to use, etc.

But, I had a day off, as our heater was broken and I had to wait for the oil guy to come, so I had time to watch the videos, and they were certainly better than watching the evening news these days.  The problem with this machine is that it can’t really be used as a traditional score board.  For instance, if you see a card or project on line, and it has instructions that say, score at the 1/2 inch, 5/8’s and 2 inch – you can’t do that, because the board doesn’t have any measurements; that’s supposed to be the point — she’s done the measuring for you.  But, that means you have to do her projects, or take her basic card “to the next level” on your own.

The other work surface areas are an envelope maker, an envelope box, an embossing board, and box maker.  And, the board that has the arches and butterflies – you emboss the shapes, and then you cut bits of them out for either popouts or windows.The envelope side is supplemented by another product she sells, the enveloboxer, which is another pink piece of plastic that fits on top of the board, specific for envelopes with a gusset and boxes, and then she has a few other pink boards for other embossing tricks.  Again, to use her envelope maker, you need to use her measurements – and the measurements in the instructions do not necessarily match the measurements on her website.  So, I like to use my WRMK envelope maker – the only problem with this is that anything that starts with paper over 10 x 10 isn’t going to fit on the board, so you can’t complete the scoreline.  WRMK has solved this problem with their new envelope maker, that’s also a box maker and a bow maker, by adding a pull out section.

So, did I really need need need this pink plastic thing?  I like it.  It’s helpful, and I can imagine if I were still doing some book binding, and folding signatures, this board is perfect for that – you’ll always find the center, and the with the edges against the handle, you’ll always get a perfect fold.

And, here’s what I made:

This is called a step card.  Sarah has four different ways to change this up on the DVD, but I figured knowing one way for now is enough.  And, these are my WRMK CKMY stamps, with my handlettering.  I really like how the stamps turned out.  I’m not the biggest fan of the flower that I showed you before, but I love the typewriter, and I love this one.  And, with the Misti Stamp Tool, it’s really easy to position the stamps, and to put some kind of greeting on the paper that’s in the typewriter.  This cards stand up, but they can also open up, and I’ll write my letter inside.

Then, I made an explosion card –

This one flips up, and an origami folded letter pops open.  I figure I’ll fold the letter after I write it – its probably a little cumbersome to write it after.  Sarah says these cards are perfect for announcements and invitations.

I have a few more types of cards to make, but they’re easel cards, and I have a watercolor stamp coming that I want to try out, that’s being delivered today, so I’ll work on them this weekend.  So, I switched to envelopes –

This is the WRMK envelope maker:

On the bottom is a chart – you find the size envelope you want to make, and the board gives you the measurements.  Fiskars has an envelope board coming out that is a twist dial like thing – you dial up your paper size, and it spits out what size envelope you get, and vice versa.  Lot’s of bells and whistles and moving parts – this one is pretty simple.  The board also tells you where to line your paper up against the stop edge – in this case, I was making a 6 x 6 1/2 inch envie, so I needed a 10 x 10 piece of paper, which I placed the corner at I think 4 3/4.  Then, it’s easy peasy.  You position your bone folder against the edge of the nob, and score the groove that’s in the board.  Then, you turn the paper 90 degrees, lining the scoreline up with the blue thingy that’s sticking out, and you make another score.  You also punch the top, giving you the notch you need to make your envies without having to cut out what would be darts I guess if you tried to smoosh it together without cutting.  The Martha Stewart Board is similar, but she has a triangular piece of plastic that sits in the corner of her score board, and you score against the diagonal.  The thing I don’t like is that it doesn’t have the notcher.

So, here are my envelopes:

and:

Voila!  Ready to be addressed.  I haven’t figured out the size envelope I need for the exploding card, I was done for the night.  but, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

By the way, the craft paper is Tim Holtz, and it’s really great for cards and envelopes – really sturdy!  I’m sorry that I’m at the end of my stash.

And, that’s the plan!  Have a great weekend!

 

 

Yarn Along – First Finish of the Year

Hello everyone!  Hope you started your year off on a knitting high note – it’s always good to wrap up the old, start something new, and plan the next thing, and so on . . .

My holdover from last year became my first finish of the year – behold, Braid Hills from Kate Davies:

After finishing the knitting, I was really kicking myself for not having read the pattern all the way through before I started.  In the photos, Kate is wearing the sweater with buttons, but on closer inspections, the buttons are decorative, and this thing is closed with snaps.  Apparently, the original pattern was written with buttonholes, but people found that the buttons caused gaps, I think because of the weight and pull of the cable.  So, she rewrote the pattern for a ribbon lining and snaps.  Uch.

So, here’s my ribbon, which I handsewed to the button (er snap) band. I made the mistake of sewing one on the other side as well, so when I close it, you can see the ribbon just a little bit.  I debated ripping it out, and resewing the snaps straight to the sweater, but, eh, it’s fine.

Then, I had to decide if I was going to bother with the decorative buttons, and opted to forego the buttons.  I have a lot of button down cardigans, so this is a little different look, and I think the buttons, at least the one’s I experimented with, detracted from the pretty cable.  So far, I’d say 2017, knitwise, is off to a good start.

Next!  Another Kate Davies, this time from the Inspired By Islay Club.  This is Ooa –

Ooa is knit in Kate Davies’ yarn, Buachaille, which is a little bit too expensive to make something this large. With the club, you do get a 10% discount on all things Kate, and hopefully, the perfect sized project will be revealed to try it out.  So, I’m using Cascade 220 Sport:

Before yesterday, I would have been totally singing Cascade 220’s praises.  When I worked at Rosie’s, I always recommended Cascade 220 worsted for first time knitters, as it didn’t split, and was always dependable.  This yarn . . . there’s no nice way to put it, ok, there is a nice way to put it, but I choose not to – the cream skeins are so f-d up they are nearly impossible to wind on a swift with a ballwinder.  The first two skeins were manageable – I kind of hand wound them to start off, and they eventually untangled.  Not the third skein.  The third skein broke my ballwinder.  Yes, it broke my ballwinder.  I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to hand wind it it’s so tangled.  Sigh.

But, here’s the beginning:

The bright photo shows my first cast on – yes, there was a first, and then a second, and then a third . . . the first was gauge challenged – way too small.  That’s what you get when you say, yep, I’ve got gauge after knitting five rows.  The second turned into a moebius – oopsy.  And the other photo is the third cast on – with size 6 needles.  I think US 5’s would make the perfect fabric, and if I had been willing to go for cast on 4, I would have switched to a five and knit a bigger size.  But, I stuck with the 6’s, and I’m pretty much at the armpit –

Now, I just have to wait for my new ball winder to arrive tomorrow, and I’ll be back in business.

Now onto future business – near future, next week actually.  Next week starts the Ambah MKAL, Hale – Bopp.  I’ve never knit an Ambah pattern, but I do admire them – especially knit up in the Miss Babs booth every year at Sheep and Wool.  This MKAL is a shawl that calls for three skeins of sock yarn – a dark, a light, and a speckle.  The speckle is optional, but Ambah used a speckle, and you’ve gotta love a good speckle, so I’m all about the speckle.  The MKAL is a partnership with Sunshine Yarns, which kitted up combos of yummo colorways.  I was infatuated with one of them, a plum, grey, speckle combo, but even though I hit the shop web page as the yarns were loading up on the screen, and even though I managed to get the one I wanted in my shopping cart, but the time I filled out my shipping address, it had vanished – I’ve never had an online shopping experience where something can actually disappear from your cart, and frankly, that sucks.  But, thems the breaks.  So, I did a stash dive, and came up with an iron blue skein of yarn that I bought while we were in London – so I played around with a few combinations with Hedgehog sock as the speckle:

I bought the top combo, but then had anxiety – I didn’t think the cream was quite right, not enough blue. So, I trolled Ravelry, looked at a few finished projects that used that colorway, and realized that I was correct in my anxiety, and I returned the first skein, for the second combo. I’m feeling much more confident.  So, that MKAL starts next Thursday night.  I probably won’t be done Ooa, but it’ll probably be a good time to take a break – hopefully, I’ll be in between sleeves.  I hate sleeves.

On the reading front, I finished The Nix (the beginning was much better than the ending), and now I’m reading Michael Chabon’s, Moonglow.

I’m not very far in, but so far I’m enjoying it.  More to report next time!

Anyone, knit on everyone, and take care!

Happy Handwriting Day!

Had you asked me in 6th Grade if I would ever find myself wishing anyone a happy handwriting day, I would have not doubled over in laughter, I would have stared with incredulity.  Handwriting and happy in the same sentence, in an exclamation of joy and good wishes?  Not possible.  Not possible, at all.  The only thing more torturous than handwriting practice, to me, was the monthly reaping for the kickball team.  Yes, I was always last – or perhaps second to last, and therein a debate ensued between the competing captains about who was a worse kickballer, me or my friend.  True, handwriting was less painful than that, but not by much.

But now, handwriting finds me in my happy place, in my craftroom, with my inks, and my pens, and my stamps, and my watercolors, and when I get a letter right, I’m tickled, and when I get one wrong, I’m ok with it – practice practice.  So, I’ve taken this childhood near malady, rife with slop, angst, twisted wrists, and visual word vomit, and kicked it’s ass.  Take that, Mrs. Singer and you’re dreaded red pen, that would circle every malformed r, or s or q.

Right now, I’m just following along with the #showmeyourdrills challenge on Instagram, practicing full quotes with the #literaryletteringchallenge, and watching some classes on #Skillshare.  Here are a few of my literary quotes:

One thing I’ve learned is that for any particular job, you need the right tools, and I do not have the right tools.  I’ve been using crappy paper, and it shows.   The splotches and puddles are not because I’m not using my pen right (although, since I don’t have a teacher hovering over my shoulder with a red pain, I can’t be exactly sure I’m using my pen right), but because regular old computer paper, and low quality cardstock may as well be a paper towel in how it absorbs the ink.  And, while watercolor is fine with absorbtion, since I have the bumpy kind (hot press? cold press?  I always get them confused), my nib gets caught in the bumps, and that causes a leak, or an extra lump of ink.  So, right now, I’m looking at my ink messes as design elements, but I do intend to get myself a nice pad of Rhodia paper, the paper most sites recommend.

This last quote I wrote over scrap paper that I used to test out my new WRMK CMYK stamps.  They’re pretty neat.  There are four layers of each stamp, and each one is stamped with a corresponding color to get the old timey printer quality of CMYK printing.  They actually look better photographed than they do in person, but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.  The tool underneath is a Misti Stamp Tool.  The tool is like the WRMK Precision Stamp Press – you place your paper on the bottom grid, and place your stamp where you want it to go.  When you put the lid down, the stamp sticks to it, and when you pull the lid back, you apply your ink, press it down, and stamp – voila! your stamp will always be in the same place.  So you can do some mass production stamping – for those holiday cards.  Or, you can stamp the same stamp twice for those times you don’t get a good impression.  And, you can use these layering stamps.  If you youtube the tool, a lot of useful tutorials will come up.  The only thing I don’t like about this nifty tool is that it comes with a New Testament Bible quote across the top, and I don’t know why that’s necessary.  But, since I use mostly clear stamps, there’s a foam insert you put in anyway, and it covers the quote.  Had I noticed the Bible quote before I put it on my Hanukkah list, I probably wouldn’t have put it on my list.  But, it’s a really useful tool, and it came in handy this weekend when I was stamping 3 x 4 project life cards.

So, what do I intend to do with my newfound handwriting love?  Continue to practice, surely.  But, I’m thinking of doing InCoWrMo , International Correspondence Writing Month, which is February, and involves sending correspondence every single day during the month of February.  I don’t think I can actually do that.  But, I think I probably could do it during the week, if I prepare.  I’m still mulling it around.  To commit, or not commit, so say ye word of the year?

Stay tuned!