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Create This Book March Challenge

I haven’t posted since my February Create This Book Challenge post, and I spent a lot of time in the last few weeks debating posting this, or other planned projects. With so much going on in the world, it hardly seems important to share silly doodles.

Or so I thought, until I watched my kids spend an entire afternoon at the table, elbows-deep in my art supplies. Creating is important. It feels good. It can bring peace and calm amid chaos, and it gives a sense of accomplishment that can be difficult to find when schedules and routine are in upheaval.

So I asked Henri to pick the page for this month, and we both set to work.

For those who haven’t been following along, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” on page 163, for February it was the “food” page on page 208, and for March he decided to go with the “something different” challenge on page 207.

Henri has 2 current obsessions – LEGO and The Legend of Zelda – and since he draws/makes/sculpts Link and the Master Sword incessantly, he decided to draw a LEGO minifig on his page, as he’d never drawn one before.

I love how the minifig looks resolute. Like “meh”. LOL

It took me a little while to come up with an idea for my page. I’ve been drawing/etc since I was very young, so it’s hard to come up with an idea that was truly new and not break the spirit of the challenge. In the end I decided to follow a YouTube drawing tutorial. I’ve watched many craft tutorials on everything from bookbinding to watercolors, but I’ve never actually followed a drawing/sketching one.

A quick search brought me to Shayda Campbell’s “Twelve Easy Flower Doodles You Need To Know” video. Shayda has a TON of help for new artists and tips and tricks on her channel, which I highly recommend. I almost never draw flowers so this seemed like a great fit. (At least until I was finished and turned to see if my ink had bled and saw the page on the back is “draw a nature scene”… oops!).

I settled down with a mechanical pencil from the dollar store, an 05 Micron fineliner, and an eraser pencil from Faber-Castell (the Perfection 7056).

I followed along with the steps in the video while listening to Jonathan Kellerman’s The Museum of Desire (an Alex Delaware novel) on loan from my local library. I admit I really wasn’t feeling my sketches until I was dne and looked at the page as a whole. Seeing them all together makes me happy, they look better than I’d thought! While nose deep in the book they really didn’t look as good 😛

This morning I realized it was the last day of the month, thus my last day to post this on time. I’d planned to merely take pics in sunlight and post them, but last-minute I decided to add a bit of color to the pages, so I pulled out my Polychromos and quickly finished off each flower.

Here’s the final results! I don’t think I’ll remember how to draw any of these by heart, but I’m really happy with how they turned out.

In particular I’m fond of the lilac…

…the hibiscus and the rosehips.

You can see some shadowing on page 207… that’s the fineliner doodles of “food” that I did for Februrary’s page. I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t interfere with completing this page, and I’m glad to see that it didn’t get in the way at all. It’s more apparent in the pictures than it is in real life – I didn’t even notice it while sketching.

Keep creating, stay indoors, stay healthy, and stay safe. ❤

Complete list of 2020 Create This Book Challenge pages:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Create This Book February Challenge

Good thing it’s a leap year, because that means I can get mine and Henri’s February Create This Book pages posted on time!

As I mentioned in my intro post, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” on page 163, and for February Henri decided he wanted to do the “food” page seen here on page 208:

This is no surprise to anyone who knows Henri. It’s a running joke that my almost-13-year-old son Jakob’s favorite food is “bananas”, while Henri’s favorite food is “food”.*

Henri completed his page first, working on it over a few evenings while watching The Masked Singer.

He started with the little taco near the top and worked his way down the page, but I’m showing his close-ups in reverse order. For reasons.

Even though he’s just turned 11 Henri has been drawing for years, and I’m always impressed with the thought he puts into his art. The cheese, popsicle and donut are clearly meant to look 3D, and he even drew the complete bite with teeth marks in the popsicle instead of merely a chunk missing. The donut is especially well done, where he didn’t capture merely the glaze dripping down the top, but his rounded bite went through the donut to expose the hole in the middle- something I probably wouldn’t have thought of, tbh.

The top of the page is where he really went wild with the imagination. As I’d mentioned, he’d started with the taco, and before it got page-smudged it was really, really well done. Next came the hamburger, then the pineapple got a few minutes of detail work. Then- the apple. Oh boy that apple LOL

I’m not putting a more detailed close up because I’m already smh’ing that I’ve included it twice in this post…but what happened is this: Henri drew the apple. Then he decided that the bottom of the apple looked like a butt. So he made it pooping. Then, for dramatic effect, he added a pair of undies to the apple, with a torn flap of fabric hanging off the back because the apple’s poop was so explosive that it ripped right through the undies. His words. (Which is good, because I have none.)

When it came time for my own run at the page, I was stumped. I wasn’t in the mood to attempt something photo-realistic but nothing cutesy or cartoon-y was coming to mind. And then I looked at Henri’s page again and noticed his cheeky “FOOD” lettering at the bottom. He’d pointed that out to me joking “it says decorate with ‘food’, so I did!”. And so did I.

While Henri had used a regular pencil for his art, I switched over to Micron fineliners for mine. I swatched both a 01 and 05 tip on a blank page at the back of the book and while they both worked well on the paper, I think if I’d tried to color in any areas the 05 would have bled through to the page on the other side. So I stuck with the 01 and doodled my way randomly around the page, filling it in with the word “food” over and over.

It was really relaxing to tackle the page with no ideas in mind and allow myself to doodle the word however I wanted.

I listened to an audiobook (The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver **) and kept a sheet of cardstock under the page while I worked. As previously mentioned, I do this not only to prevent ink bleed-through but also to keep the pages beneath from getting pressure impressions.

I usually didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do until I started drawing the letter “f”, though every now and then I’d turn the page a different way and try to remember to keep some areas light for some white contrast.

The only exception to this was the empty FOOD at the top of the page, in the dotted area. I had to consciously work the dots around the letters without an outline (I didn’t use pencil at all) and then fill in enough background dots to keep the word legible.

It was fun filling the page with swirls and loops and lines!

Periodically I checked the back of the page for bleed-through and was happy there was none. There was clearly shading of the dark areas to the back side, but I don’t believe this will interfere with future coloring of that page, especially if I work that one in color.

And that’s February done! On to March!

Complete list of 2020 Create This Book Challenge pages:

*Jakob is almost 13. He’s in high school. This… does not compute.

**I’m a big Jeffrey Dever fan, and have been watching the new show Lincoln Rhyme: The Search for the Bone Collector. Fun show, but I can’t believe I’m about 6 episodes in to a LINCOLN RHYME project and haven’t heard the words “walk the grid” A SINGLE TIME.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Flipboku Molecularis Paper Test (& New Kickstarter Announcement!)

Almost 2 years ago I backed a Kickstarter with an interesting premise: part coloring book, part magic trick, it promised to provide 6 completely different coloring book-style flip books in one tidy little package.

They even had a 2nd book – Blanko – for people who wanted to draw their own. I backed at the level where I got just the one already-illustrated book – Molecularis – and when it arrived I can say with complete sincerity that I was absolutely delighted.

The flip book comes in a snug little box/case to keep it clean and protected, and there’s even a neat little secret hiding inside-

A handy little page separator to put between the pages as you color! It appears to be made of the same sturdy cardboard as the cover, which is great as it will help prevent depressions from going through to subsequent pages and causing ghost images to come through.

The book actually contains 6 individual flip book animation sequences, with a different one visible depending on how you hold/flip the pages. The secret is in how the pages are cut, similarly to those “Now it’s empty! Now it’s illustrated! Now it’s fully colored!” ‘magic’ books magicians use. The illustrations are so fun and playful and I couldn’t wait to pull out my coloring supplies and dive in.

But I hesitated. You see, the book is reversible, in the sense that there is a different illustration on the back of each page, which will be used in a completely different animation. What if I used the wrong media? What if my markers bled through? What if water-soluble products warped the paper? The page protector is a wonderful inclusion, but it will only stop staining from going through to the following pages. It cannot prevent bleed-through onto the back of the page being worked on.

So I did something that’s perhaps a little unorthodox. I contacted Flipboku through their Facebook page and asked if they had any extra paper, of the kind they’d used in Molecularis. A full sheet… scraps off the cutting room floor… anything, in any size, would work as long as it was the same paper quality, which I could then test with a range of coloring supplies.

Perhaps because they’re a little unorthodox themselves, they agreed (thanks Julie!), and a little while later I received a thin, flat package in the mail. I’d expected scraps, perhaps narrow little trimmings from when they cut the pages to size, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find two good-sized sheets of the Molecularis paper, as well as a couple of pages from the Blanko book as well.

The first thing I did was figure out how many products I was going to test, and then draw a grid on the sample papers to delineate each implement. For the Blanko paper I kept the grid small enough to only use one sheet, because it’s regular paper and I was pretty sure I knew how the different media would react.

On the Molecularis paper I went for a bigger grid, using most of one sheet so I could save the other for future testing if necessary. Since the coloring images in the flip book are mostly all small-ish, ovoid shapes, I drew a little squished circle in a similar size so I could see if coloring a contained shape would cause more bleed (from going over and over the same area to fill it in). I also kept a few sections wider for testing water-activated media like Inktense, watercolor pencils and Neocolor II water-soluble crayons so I could see if the paper would warp after getting wet.

I ended up testing 26 different coloring tools, focusing mainly on wet-based media. I didn’t test crayons because I knew they would be fine, though I did include colored pencils just so I could see if the pressure they required would indent the paper at all.

The supplies tested are:

  1. Sharpies – regular (fine) point
  2. Sharpies – neon [I was curious if the brighter pigment would be “juicier” in a way that would be more likely to cause bleed-through]
  3. Sharpies – chisel-tip [same rationale as for the neons, except due to the amount of ink transferred from the wider nib]
  4. Sharpies – metallic [I wondered if the metallic ink was a different formula from the regular one so would behave differently]
  5. Sargent Metallic Ink Markers
  6. Studio Metallic Ink Markers (from Dollarama)
  7. Micron fineliner – 0.5 size
  8. Copic multiliner – 0.8 size
  9. Bic Mark-It! fine tips
  10. Bic Mark-It! ultra-fine tips
  11. Stabilo 88 0.4mm fineliner markers
  12. Staedtler Triplus 0.3mm fineliner markers
  13. water-based dual-tip markers (Soucolor & Feela) – fine tip end
  14. water-based dual-tip markers (Soucolor & Feela) – brush tip end
  15. Crayola Supertips
  16. generic highlighter
  17. Faber-Castel Polychromos colored pencil
  18. Spectrum Noir alcohol markers
  19. Gel pens (assorted brands)
  20. Gelly Roll gel pens (assorted colors)
  21. Glitter paint markers
  22. Derwent Inktense water-soluble ink pencils
  23. Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarelle watercolor pencils
  24. Caran D’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayons
  25. Wink of Stella clear glitter brush
  26. Studio Roller Pen

Here’s my testing grid after doodling. I deliberately picked purples & blues as those dark colors tend to bleed through more frequently than yellows and greens, etc.

I have to say that coloring on the Molecularis paper was a WONDERFUL experience! Nearly every product I tested glided smoothly over the paper without effort and left rich, even color with minimal strokes or feathering. Only a few products bled over the shape outlines, but they were all Sharpies which are alcohol-based and often have a bit of overbleed. The paper handled the wet media column on the right like a champ, thick like a cardstock so there was no warping, but with just enough texture to get mileage out of the watercolor media. It’s also lovely with colored pencils, having just enough tooth to take color well, leaving me certain it would also be great with charcoal & graphite.

The Blanko paper handled just like regular paper, because that’s what it is. It is smoother than the Molecularis paper, much thinner, and much more of a bright white.

Ready for the results? I was! I deliberately didn’t peek at the back at all while swatching, and had left the paper overnight in case any seepage would occur as the inks dried. The next day I turned the papers around and-

The results 100% blew my expectations out of the water!

I’ll start with the Blanko paper. As it is regular paper, there were no surprises there. The alcohol-based products bled through as expected, the very wet gel pens bled through as well, as did the water-soluble ink of the Inktense pencils (though that was likely due to the water saturating the paper). As for the other markers, while they didn’t bleed as much as the first ones mentioned, most of them had significant ghosting and shadowing through the thin paper.

What really surprised me, however, was the Molecularis paper. There was almost NO bleed-through! I found myself double-checking to be sure, but really- this is it. I numbered the back to make the areas easier to check, and the only one that had anything close to bleed-through is #20 – “assorted Gelly Roll”. Specifically the ones that bled are their Gold Shadow line, which is a two-tone ink that leaves a colored outline with a gold fill.

The alcohol-based Sharpies and Bics didn’t bleed. The Spectrum Noirs didn’t bleed – which means Copics won’t. The water-soluble medias didn’t bleed nor warp, even with a significant amount of water used (I activated all the wet-media with my Derwent waterbrush).

It’s not completely perfect, of course. If I LOOK for issues while the paper is flat (above), I can see slight ghosting in cells 3 (chisel-tip Sharpie), 9 (Bic Mark-It fine tip) and 17 (black colored pencil, applied with firm pressure to fill in the shape). However I don’t believe these are issues that would affect the intended use of the coloring flip book.

I’m blown away, I really am. If I hold it up at an angle, allowing a bit of light to get underneath, there is the slightest ghosting where I colored in the other blobby shapes, with still only the cells referenced above having the most visibility (the Sharpie and Bic showing not only the coloring-in but also my doodling as well).

I’m really impressed. I’ve used many coloring books where I’ve had to make a conscious choice about what page I wanted to color, knowing the image on the reverse would be ruined. Obviously with a book meant to be reversible the company had to consider this, but it almost sounded too good to be true, which is why I had to test it for myself.

Since their original launch Flipboku has expanded their flip book range, with not only the Molecularis and Blanko books (or a bundle with both!) but also fully-illustrated flip books designed in collaboration with different artists. If you’re into history, sci-fi, or even romance, you’ll find an animated book that leaves you in awe of the magic in the tiny printed movies.

You can visit their website here to shop their really cool products, or click here to access their brand new 2-volume Kickstarter that officially launched yesterday.

The first volume of the new Kickstarter, Dots, is a flip book with 6 different animations (also called sequences) created by internationally renowned animators. Each side of the flip book contains 3 different sequences made up of 36 pages. Once you have connected all the dots in one sequence, all you have to do is flip it to discover what is hidden behind the dots.  After that, you can even grab your favorite coloring pens and color the animations, so in fact you have a dot-to-dot flip book and a coloring flip book, all in one!

For the second volume, Lines, they have selected some of the most puzzling optical illusions and turned them into animation. Most of these sequences are based on the dot-to-dot technique as well. They work in a similar way to the ones featured in Dots, but in addition, once all the dots are connected and the pages are flipped, the animations produce mind-boggling optical illusions. Ranging from astonishing to downright weird these sequences include impossible figures, geometrical illusions and visual paradoxes that will play awesome tricks on your eyes and mind.

Note- The above text and gifs are taken from their Kickstarter. While some of the product links above are affiliate links (Amazon) this post is not sponsored. I ordered and paid for Molecularis on my own and Flipboku hasn’t done anything for me beyond send me the paper samples at my request. I just thought it was a unique variation on a coloring book that my readers would enjoy. Happy coloring!


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Create This Book January Challenge

We did it! Coming in just under the wire, here are mine and Henri’s completed Create This Book pages for January.

As I mentioned in my intro post, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” page seen here:

Henri used colored pencils for his page, creating a beach scene. He made it a double-page spread, with a multi-colored sunset over the water.

I love the little details I can pick up of how he went about planning his page, like how he clearly sketched out his ideas in pencil before outlining in fineliner…

…or how he blended the sun’s reflection into the water.

For my page, I went with a bit of a more literally definition of a setting – an actual stage set LOL.

First I sketched it out in pencil. Whenever I’m working in a coloring book with regular paper I always use a sheet of cardstock underneath the page. This prevents any impressions from affecting the following pages and ghosting through when I try to color them. This time I used a remnant of bristol board that has seen many, many coloring pages… though most obviously the one where I colored an entire background with black Sharpie.

After that I put on a podcast (HDTGM FTW), pulled out my Polychromos and colored until I was happy(ish) with the image. I did a few base layers of brown and green into the black back wall to prep before going over it with a black pencil, and roughed in the colors for the wooden stage, then later did the same for the red curtains and seats.

I say “happy-ish” because I’m not 100% thrilled with how the lights came out. I’d planned to color the background solid black and then erase the light paths but when I tried it looked just… I don’t know. Meh. I wound up coloring over most of it and leaving only the spotlight on the stage floor.

And there’s my final image. I decided against making it a two-page spread like Henri because I didn’t feel like coloring nearly two solid pages of red. In the end I’m mostly happy with it, though I see a lot of flaws that make me cringe. That said- my goal with this monthly challenge was NOT to create perfect, ideal art. It was simply to CREATE.

Complete list of 2020 Create This Book Challenge pages:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Harry Potter: Knitting Magic (including a design by ME!)

I’ve been waiting so long to share this wonderful project with you, and I’m delighted that I finally can, because the book is officially out today!

Harry Potter: Knitting Magic – The Official Guide to Creating Original Knits Inspired by the Harry Potter Films

Featuring more than 25 projects, the 192-page book includes patterns for clothing, home projects, and keepsakes pulled straight from the movies – and even includes a few iconic costume pieces as seen on-screen.

There are projects designed with the movies’ actual costumes in mind, like the House Scarves:

…and the Beauxbatons students’ capelet:

…as well as projects inspired BY the movies like this gorgeous sweater based on Hermione’s time-turner:

…and this adorable hanger featuring the Sorting Hat and the animals that represent each House:

Even the staging and photography of the book is incredible- I mean COME ON-

This entire Umbrage scene is perfect!!

The book also includes fun facts, original costume sketches, film stills, and other behind-the-scenes treasures.

The book has already gotten really good press reviews (Martha Stewart, The Nerdist, Mental Floss, House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, among others) and I’m seriously honored that I got to be a part of it, and thrilled to finally present my pattern: The Order of the Phoenix Lace-Knit Throw Blanket.

It’s a circular blanket knit from the center out in alternating strands of a beautiful orange/red hand-dyed yarn that reminded me so much of Dumbledore’s cherished phoenix Fawkes.

The center of the blanket features flames to represent the phoenix’ fire, and is separated from the next section by a jagged dividing line that is actually Harry’s lightning bolt scar.

The middle section proudly proclaims the title of the fifth HP book (and blanket inspiration) in an eyelet font.

Anyone who’s knit my Lullaby blanket pattern can attest that while it might seem daunting, the text charts are really easy to follow and work up pretty fast.

Finally the border section features Fawkes’ feathers, elongating in rows until finally ending in individual feather tips.

I loved every aspect of designing, swatching and knitting this blanket, and I truly hope you enjoy it too.

You can click HERE to get your own copy.


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A New Year = A New Challenge!

Last January I set up a challenge on this blog- to celebrate 2019 I would convert 19 long-languishing WIPs (works in progress) into FOs (finished objects).

This year I’ve set a new challenge for myself, one with a bit of a lighter workload since I’ve got so many other things on my plate.

We’re big Moriah Elizabeth fans in this house (the sprinkle song is our jam!) and while I’ve managed to distract Henri from wanting his very own Pickle plushie, I did cave and buy him Create This Book for Hanukkah.  

I ordered volume 1, and when it arrived I realized I’d accidentally put 2 copies in my cart.  We took a quick household vote and instead of returning it, we decided to keep the second copy for me and Jakob to use.  Thus starts the first monthly segment of our Create This Book v1 adventures.

It’s the 2020 Create This Book Monthly Page Create-a-long!

There’s also a volume 2 but we’ll be starting with the first book and working our way forwards.

Henri picked this page to start with in his book, so to catch up I’ll be making that my January page as well. My goal is to do (at least) one page each month. 12 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve got a TON of stuff going on this year and don’t want to over-commit.

I have six days to come up with an idea, draw/color the page and then post it to the blog. The idea hasn’t come yet but the supplies have been decided- I’ll be coloring the page with my adored Faber-Castel Polychromos. I can’t help but hear Mike Myers in my head when I use them because they color so smoothly that it’s just like butter.

By the way – if you’re always in search of new, better pencil/pen cases like me, I can happily recommend the Thornton case pictured above. I own a lot of colored pencil sets with 100+ colors and quickly outgrew the 32, 48, 56 and 72-pc sets I’d invested in years ago. Last winter I did my research and bought a few larger cases in different styles then spent a cozy snowed-in winter weekend reorganizing all my pencils. (Yes, it’s the little things that make me happy LOL). Now I have enough room to store the full 120pc pencil set plus additional tools like a fineliner, stick eraser, my favorite blender pencil, and a white marker*.

Note- in Canada at least, the listing for the empty case itself seems to be sold out. The exact case full of 150 of their own-branded colored pencils, however, is available here.

*Money-saving tip: There are a LOT of white markers out there for adding highlights to your drawings and coloring. Sakura Gelly roll white pens are great, Sharpie paint markers can be fantastic, and many other brands have good ones too. But my favorite white “pen” is 100% the Liquid Paper or Wite-Out corrector pens. They give the most opaque, solid coverage because that’s literally what they’re designed for, and can very often be found in the stationary aisle of your local dollar store. (I get mine at Dollarama).

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Secret’s Out!

Harry Potter Knitting Magic cover

It’s official! And it’s also OFFICIAL! As in – it’s THE OFFICIAL HARRY POTTER KNITTING PATTERN BOOK, licensed and everything!

And now that it’s in pre-order status, I can finally tell you all (a little) about it!

I’m so excited to be a part of this gorgeous book, and beyond thrilled that my pattern was one of the ones chosen for the cover! There will be 28 patterns in total, 208 pages, and includes costume replicas, projects inspired by the films, film tidbits, behind-the-scenes info and more.

I can’t wait to share more info and pics as it becomes available, but in the meantime here’s the lovely cover.

It will be released on January 28 2020, and for those of you interested in pre-ordering, you can do so here.