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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/28/17 – w/e 02/25/17

Ugghhhhh.  Is February really almost over?  Is that a thing?

Sigh.  When there’s nearly 4 weeks of everyone in your household getting back-to-back gastro, time can really get away from you, y’know?

I’m obviously behind on these little compilation posts of mine, so rather than upload a bunch of weeks’ worth of recaps in quick succession here’s an overview of the non-own-post-worthy stuff that happened during these last few weeks:


Knitting

  • Comfy Socks

My travel knitting socks have become my sit-on-couch-watching-Supernatural socks because I’ve only been back to work part time as yet and there hasn’t been much need for a travel project.  No pics, but the first one is about mid-foot.

  • V-neck sweater progress

The sweater was moving along at a great pace, as stockinette projects tend to do, until I was nearly finished the front.  You split the front at the v-neck, working each side individually.  I’d finished one half and held it up against me to see how it was gonna look…and noted that the v-neck began roughly in the middle of my rib cage.  I’m not one to shy away from a low-cut top but that’s a bit much to wear without an under layer, even for me.

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I calculated the height I wanted it to start at and ripped back, making notes so I could add that many rows before the split.  I have ripped this yarn back so many times I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart by now!

Crochet

  • Kitchen soap cozies

As part of my massive cleaning kick (see ‘other stuff’ below) I threw together these liquid soap bottle cozies for my kitchen.

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The counter used to be a giant mess (pic censored to spare your eyes) and the cleaning supplies weren’t hideous but the kids (and I) had a hard time remembering which pump bottle I’d refilled with dish washing liquid and which one was hand soap.  The ‘dish’ one used to say ‘DISH’ in scrawled black Sharpie but it kept wearing off the bottle.

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I didn’t use a pattern.  It took longer to keep casting on, starting then ripping to get the correct number of stitches than it did to actually work the two pieces.  In the end they took 30 sts, and I worked 4 rows of single crochet for stability, followed by 3 of double crochet (so it wouldn’t take as long to make), then 3 more rows of sc to have a more closed-in area to embroider on, another 2 rows of dc and then finished with a row of sc to stabilize the top.  I embroidered the words and then sewed the cozies together in place on the bottles.  They do stretch enough to be removed and since they’re dishcloth cotton when they get dirty or covered in soap drips I can wring them out a few times and they’ll be good as new.

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Coloring

  • Creative Coloring Throughout the Year page-a-day calendar

I’m not going to keep showing the coloring for each day… I tend to do them in batches as the images can start getting repetitive and I’m not always in the mood to work on them.  I’ve got them mostly completed through til February 12th or so, but I haven’t taken pics of them all yet so here are the last few I did photograph:

 

  • The Princess Bride coloring book

I have been ADDICTED to the new coloring book my brother got me for Hanukkah.

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This book is gorgeous.  It’s the entire movie in coloring book format!  No matter what your favorite scene from the movie might be, there’s a page ready for you to get to color it!

I always use the pages in the back of the book to swatch the supplies I plan to use.  I knew the pages were thick enough to allow water applications for my Inktense, but the little swatch sample I keep with the pencils is on beige paper.  I want to try to go for screen-accurate colors when possible, so I decided to swatch out ALL the Inktense colors.

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I gridded it out with a ruler then scribbled a tiny bit of color on one side of each cell.  Once it was dry I added the color numbers next to each but didn’t photograph that.

I’ve since begun working on some of the pages.  I’m going in order and have 4 pages in various states of completion.  It’s become my reward each night after I get the kids settled and tidy up and do laundry or whatever.  Chores done = coloring time LOL

Other Stuff

  • Cleaning!

Oh.  So.  Much.  Cleaning.  (…she says, pretending it wasn’t her own craft supplies making the mess in the first place!)  The house is long overdue for a big, thorough clean, and the first thing I’d tackled was the hutch in our dining room.  As you can see in the ‘before’ pic below, it was a massive jumble of an ill-organized mess, so crammed full of unnecessary things that there was no room for the things we DID need to store there.  During the brief lull between the kids’ gastro sessions I revamped the storage to better handle the things we needed.  My cake decorating supplies are still there, with the closed containers now spanning the top sections, and the open boxes and packages hidden inside the center.  Now the unit has become more of a central home art hub, with my drawing and coloring supplies on the left, and all of the home’s coloring and instructional drawing books on the right.  I’d grown up leafing through drawing books from a very young age and I didn’t want the boys to miss out just because mine were hidden away in my office.  The center square thing has become a homework depot (rather than homework remaining piled on the table or chairs during the week) with space for their binders and duotangs, as well as now being pre-stocked with construction paper, looseleaf, bond paper and cardstock, and the horizontal storage unit is all set up for them with glue sticks, scissors, erasers, sharpeners, etc.  All of their colored pencils and markers and such are in the top drawer right under the coloring books, so whether they’re up to some crafting or sitting down to homework, everything they need is right there.

I also did a similar complete overhaul to the den (I think that was between mine and Yannick’s bouts… ughhhh…), and am currently on a break with the kitchen about 85% complete to work on my office.  No pics of the rest cus there’s only so much of my mess I want to make public LOL

  • My hair 🙂

In the middle of all the illnesses I returned to work for the first time since roughly August.  Finally getting to be around people again was reason enough to treat myself to a little salon time, and I redid my crazy colors once more.me 2017-02-09 2.png

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If interested in any of the items I mentioned in this post, you can check them out below:
Creative Coloring Throughout the Year 2017 desk calendar
The Princess Bride coloring book
Derwent Inktense pencils
  • these are affiliate links.
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Coloring Mowgli and Kaa in The Art of Coloring: Disney Villains with Derwent Inktense Pencils

For my birthday Yannick got me this excellent coloring book called The Art of Coloring: Disney Villains.  I’ve completed a few pages in it so far, as well as have some in progress.  This is one half of a two-page Kaa spread (from The Jungle Book) that I recently finished.

trust-in-me-wip-collageThis is the left-side page, that’s still in progress.  I’d begun coloring it in November with my Inktense in Sun Yellow, Lagoon, and Mallard Green to best match the coloration of Kaa’s hynotic eyes.

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I did all the writing and then got a little bored LOL and moved on to the facing (right-side) page.  While Googling to find the accurate colors for Kaa and Mowgli I found further proof that a lot of the images in the book are based off of stills from the movies themselves, as it is often quite easy to find reference images in nearly the identical scenarios.  Case in point: Kaa’s face above…photo-2016-11-19-12-04-03-am…combined with Mowgli all wrapped up… become the coloring page in the book.

I decided to try something a little different on this side, rather than do the lettering as I had on the other side.  First I colored in the background writing with a really sharp white colored pencil, then I did a light wash of Inktense pigment over those areas.  The wax from the pencil provides a resist, leaving the lettering white, while the background paper picked up the color.  It was a fun experiment to try, and I’m happy with the results… though I wish I’d used a darker color for the background – maybe a magenta or something – to make the white letters really pop, visually.
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After that the coloring was straightforwards.  I colored Mowgli first, and then for Kaa I went in stages, starting from the lightest colors, to the darkest.  I colored all the sections of his underbelly, followed by his back, and then the spots were last.

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The image above is the page after I was done.  Technically.  But I found that it looked rather flat on the page, so I went at it one more time using a darker color for shading everywhere the snake’s coils overlapped.
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It was a fun page to color, from an excellent coloring book.  The entire page was done with Inktense and painted with my waterbrushes and as you can see, it’s not buckled at all.  I do keep the book closed with a binder clip when I’m not coloring to help keep any wet-media pages flat, but even still, the paper is thick enough to support moderate water use.  In fact, from my trials on blank areas in the back of the book, the only spots where I saw bleed-through were with my alcohol markers (of course) and one area where I’d colored with a red Inktense pencil and applied too much water.  I haven’t used much colored pencil in the book, but I have used the Inktense on a number of pages, as well as gel pens and fineliners, and it took them all beautifully.

 

If interested in either the pencils or book that I’ve talked about in this post, you can check them out here:
Derwent Inktense colored pencils:
Derwent water brushes 3-pack (sizes 1, 2 and 3):
Art of Coloring: Disney Villains: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation by Disney Editions
  • these are affiliate links.
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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/07/17

2017.  Wow.  I can’t believe I started this blog roughly 13 years ago, nor that some of you have been around since the very beginning.  Whether you’re one of my original few hundred subscribers or one of the couple thousand who discovered my site when looking for my most popular Halloween DIY, hi there, happy holidays, and happy New Year!  I’ve got a lot planned for this little blog over the upcoming year, so if you’re an old friend- thanks for sticking around… and if you’re new- I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while.

Some of you may note that I’ve slowly made changes to the type of content that I post.  I’ve never been a mono-crafty person, and the blog will always adapt to whatever creative pursuits I’m into at the time, whether they’re knitting or crochet, cosplay or cakes.  Coloring books are going to have more of a showing on the blog, as will as a variety of crafts beyond the yarn-based ones.  For the last two years I’ve taken step-by-step photos of all the projects that I’ve made with the intent to focus more on sharing helpful DIYs, tutorials and tips going forwards, instead of merely showing off whatever I’ve made.  I’m going to have more reviews coming up, both sponsored and non, and while there might be affiliate links popping up at the end of some posts, I can promise you that my reviews will always be strictly my honest, unbiased thoughts.

Another feature I’m going to add is a weekly roundup, to both keep track of and hold accountable to the projects I’ve got ongoing.  Not everything needs to wait for a finished reveal, and sometimes quick projects or small pastimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day.  To that end – this is my first Crafty Compilation.  I plan to post these on Sundays and to cover the previous week’s goings-on, but this first one is being posted on Thursday because life LOL.  Amazing how, even when one is off work in post-op recovery, when it comes to crafting, there still isn’t enough time!  This first CC will cover some stuff worked on over the holidays, as well as last week.


Knitting

  • Gift knitting

Over the holidays I knit a special baby hat.  One of Yannick’s closest friends had a baby girl just before the holidays, and when he showed me the gifts he planned to bring for the friend and his other young daughter, I told him I knew just the thing to make for the new arrival.  The little girl’s dad has similar geeky tastes as we do, and I thought this pattern would be perfect.

I’ve knit it once before, back in 2013, as part of a Hallowe’en costume for a baby girl aptly named Leia. This was a pic of Jakob trying it on for me at the time:

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and this is a pic of the little sweetheart in her full costume.  Cutest Leia I’ve ever seen!leia-in-princess-leia-hat

The pattern is very well written and it’s a pretty quick knit, even with all the icord.  The hat and the ear puffs each took a night’s worth of knitting to work up, then the assembly took barely an episode of Elementary.

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Forgive the bad pics, it’s hard to take hat pics without an appropriately-sized head! 🙂 I’m really pleased with how the hat came out, even though I’d knit it before and expected it to look the same.  One thing I love about this pattern vs others out there is how it incorporates ‘bangs’ and the center part (not clearly visible in these photos but seen better in the one of Leia wearing it above).

  • Drops v-neck sweater

I also completely frogged a sweater I’d been working on.  Back in September I’d started a garter-stitch oversized sweater with a lovely gray yarn from my stash.  I’d thought it would be perfect ‘no-look’ movie or tv knitting but after measuring a sweater I own that had the fit I wanted, I realized that what I was making wouldn’t have the proper shape.  Plus I’d been having a nagging feeling that the garter stitch was eating up too much of my limited yarn.  So I frogged it one evening last week and began this pattern instead.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn, and if not I’ll work the neckband and/or cuffs in something contrasting.

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So far I’m at about 32cm of the 34cm I need to be at before splitting for the low v-neck.

Coloring

  • Doodle Fusion ‘Christmas Tree’

A few weeks ago I’d taken a page from Dede Willingham and done color washes across a bunch of my coloring book pages.  From what I’ve seen she primarily uses acrylic paints, but I mixed it up a bit, using not only paint, but also my Neocolors and my Inktense.  This particular page, from Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion, seems to deliberately invoke a Christmas tree, so that’s how I decided to approach it.  I colored over the whole image with the inktense in shades of green.  The first pic is immediately after wetting the pencils, and the second is the next day, after the page had dried.

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My plan is to color the characters in colored pencil over the Inktense, keeping them muted and dark, but to color all the eyes and anything round-ish in bright gel pens, so they’d (hopefully) look like bright ornaments on the tree.  If you squinted at it.  Maybe.

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This was after my first pass with the gel pens.  I think I got all the areas I’d wanted, but I’m sure as I work on the figures I’ll find more.  I’m looking forwards to coloring the characters now in dark tones to really make the gel pen pop.

PS- this book is crazy, and I love it.  I’ll be showing a lot more of it in future posts.

  • Art of Disney: Villains – Mowgli & Kaa

I finally finished a page I started coloring back in November in the Disney Villains coloring book Yannick had bought for me, but as this post is getting long I’ll save them for another.  That’s another excellent coloring book that I’ve been working in quite a bit.

Other Crafts

  • While the boys were off school for Christmas break I tried to keep them occupied with more than just Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or their new Skylanders Imaginators. Every few days we had ‘technology-free’ time during which we’d color, or do pencil puzzle books, and during one of those afternoons I taught them how to make their own stuffies.  However I took a TON of photos and so I’ll share the step-by-steps of their work in another post

Alright, that’s it for this round-up!

If interested in either the pencils or book that I’ve talked about in this post, you can check them out here:
Derwent Inktense colored pencils:
Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion with illustrations by Lei Melendres
  • these are affiliate links.
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Derwent Inktense ‘before-and-after’ in Kerby Rosanes’ imagimorphia

I haven’t talked about it much but I’m going to be having surgery in about a week.  I’ve actually been off work since mid-August, and this unexpected time at home has given me a lot of time to knit and color, and while I’ve been revisiting old supplies I’ve also been lucky enough to get some new ones.

My watercolor research back in August led me to discover Derwent Inktense and I went on a really long review and YouTube binge, learning everything I could about those amazing ink-pigmented colored pencils.  When my birthday rolled around in September I basically only asked for art supplies, and my parents were wonderful enough to oblige.

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Topping my list was the Inktense set.  I really enjoy the Metallic colored pencils and the Spectrum Noir Sparkle set is just yummy for anyone who likes glitter (um.  yes.  me!  I like glitter!), but in this post I’m focusing on the Inktense which I’ve been using primarily with the waterbrushes I got with them.  I really love this waterbrush set because of the sizes, the tiny #1 tip is perfect for the small areas in coloring books while the larger sizes make doing washes of color or wetting larger areas a breeze.  They’re super easy to fill and I haven’t had a single leak, and I’ve been using them on a regular basis since September.

Now then, on to the Inktense!  I got the full set of 72 colors but they do come in smaller tins, and the pencils are available open-stock so you can definitely get a smaller set and then add to it as you go.

So what are Inktense pencils?  According to their site, “Derwent Inktense pencils are our best watercolour pencil ever! You can use them dry but mix them with water and WOW! the colour turns into vibrant ink.  Once it’s dry the colour is fixed and you can work over the top of it, and, because it permanent it’s great for using on fabric such as silk and cotton!”  They refer to the m as ‘watercolors’ but they’re not, not really.  They’re ink pigments in colored pencil format.  You can use them as pencils and they’re nice, on the darker end of color ranges, but it’s when you add water that they transform completely.  And because they’re ink once they’re dry they’re permanent.

What does this mean for coloring and how does this compare to a watercolor pencil?  Let’s say you wanted to color a pink sphere, and you wanted to block in the rounded shading first, then go over it with a wash of pink, leaving a highlight area.  With watercolors the paint reactivates any time it gets wet.  So even if you let the gray shading dry, once you washed pink over top the gray would bleed out and muddy the pink and if you’re not careful you can make a real mess of your work.  Inktense are permanent when dry so you can block in your shadows, wet the pencil strokes and fill your darker areas, and then once that’s dry you can go over it with even the lightest shades and the gray won’t budge.  This is a horrible way of explaining that you can go overtop of previous layers without affecting them.

Of course the first thing I did when I got my set was to swatch out the colors so I could see what I’d be working with.

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Above are the pencils when dry.  The appear quite dark, and there are a lot of greens and browns for those who enjoy coloring books such as Secret Garden and other floral-heavy books.  The pencils apply well and it’s very easy to get a lot of color down.  Each pencils is marked with it’s color number and name, making it very easy to identify which one I’ve used…which is helpful because the colors on the ends of the barrels aren’t quite identical to the actual color of the pencil itself.

Okay, so they’re nice when dry.  The real magic, however, happens when they are activated.

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This image barely shows the bright vibrancy of these colors in real life.  The pigments activate instantly with water, and I could have used the lightest of strokes and still had the same color payout as I got here.  I was blown away by my swatches and as soon as I’d added them to my swatch book I had to get started on a coloring page.

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube coloring tutorials featuring Inktense pencils (PetaDede, Lindsay and Lisa are four of my favorites) and I know that the pencils are typically used in wet-as-you-go manner, coloring a section and then activating it, and so on.  However, making the swatches was so satisfying in a “wait til the end” surprise payoff, that I just had to try coloring an image that way: coloring the whole thing, and then activating the ink at the end to see the before and after.

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After testing the paper in the back of the book to make sure it would be safe to use (no bleed-through) I chose this image from Kerby Rosanes’ imagimorphia.

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I’ve been having a lot of tummy time (lol) and this is how I’d set myself up in bed.  A clipboard helped keep the book open as well as gave me a flat, hard surface to work on.  I had a sheet of card stock underneath this page to protect the ones beneath, and I had my swatch book open in front of me so I could accurately choose my colors.  My laptop was off to the right playing episode after episode of Welcome to Nightvale (soooooo weird and awesome) and the tin of colors was on my left within easy reach.  Finally, my flip-top Ott-Light was balanced on the bed casting accurate light over the picture for me, since lighting in my house is crappy at best.03_whale_imagimorphia_inktense_before_wet

This is my completed painting before activating the Inktense inks.  I colored pretty lightly, wanting to see how the pigments did on their own before adding any shading or depth.  (PS yes I know that’s supposed to be a whale and whales aren’t green LOL) Coloring with these pencils is like a dream.  They apply color beautifully even to paper that doesn’t have a lot of tooth.  It is really easy to apply just a hint of color without any pressure on the pencil, which is a good thing because it means you won’t have to waste a lot of the pencil just to get a good color payout.  In fact, these colors are so vibrant and juicy when activated that if anything, it’s almost too easy to add TOO MUCH color.

(For example, my son Jakob is addicted to these pencils too and is coloring an image in one of his books.  I was showing him how subtle applications of color give pastel-pale results and he tried it out for himself.  His three light strokes of Payne’s Gray, applying barely any pressure, provided enough color when activated to light wash a bunny butt around 3″ in diameter.)

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I took this image right when I’d started activating the inks.  I went slowly, enjoying watching the colors blossom into vibrant paint.  (Seriously, it’s addictive).  I activated each like section at a time, brushing off any excess pigment onto a paper towel to keep the tip of my water brush clean.  In this image you can begin to see the difference between the activated (water-applied) and pencil-only sections.  The orange and yellow fish on the right is still pencil, while there has been water applied to the one on the left.  The little fairy creatures have been wetted on both sides.  What really shows off some of the color payout, however, is the school of fish that crosses the tentacle.  You can see how little color I’d applied, versus how much blooms from the watered inks.

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And here is the completed painting.  I didn’t use very many colors, but even still the brightness and depth these inks have is amazing.  This picture is so much brighter and deeper in real life, showing subtle shading and contouring just from the way the ink moved like paint.  It dries faster than watercolor so you do have to go in sections and work quickly if you want to activate a larger area without dry lines showing, but there’s still a decent amount of time to move the paint around before it dries, allowing for things like the softer blues in the water froth being ink I’d swiped from the water sections.

I’ve very quickly developed an Inktense addiction, as have my kids, who have been getting to use Mommy’s special art supplies now that they’re a little older.  They don’t replace watercolors if that’s the type of medium you want, rather they’re a medium of their own, and are absolutely gorgeous to use.

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If interested in anything that I’ve talked about in this post, you can check them out here:
Ott-Light Task Lamp
Derwent Inktense colored pencils:
Kerby Rosanes’ imagimorphia:
  • these are affiliate links.