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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of the first pair of socks I have knitted.

My First hand made socks

My First hand made socks

The pattern was from ‘The Art of Knitting’ this is one of those installment magazines, but I bought a set of these on Ebay :) I modified the pattern a little as in the original there was a chart for a pattern. I loved the pattern but my skill level isn’t up to that yet. My wonderful neighbour showed me how to continue the project without the patterned effect.

The heel is a bit narrow for me, and with the RSI they took forever to make as I can only do a couple of rows and then have to leave it for some time to let my hands recover. I get really cold feet and these will make superb bed socks.

If you want to have a go at knitting socks but can’t get on with circular needles or double-pointed needles (count me out of the DPs) then do have a rummage online. There are lots of sites with patterns free or other wise and can make socks on two straight needles if you want to and get the right pattern. Etsy is a good place to find unique patterns and the good thing about getting patterns on there, is that you are dealing with the person who wrote the pattern. If you get stuck you can message the seller and they can often walk you through the part you are struggling with.

There are still wool shops around for you to check out yarns and patterns in person. If you are lucky enough to have one near you, do shop there if you can. Knowledgeable staff are worth their weight in gold, especially for newbies who might need help choosing yarns, needles etc. If you find a yarn you love in there, you might be able to ask if there is a pattern to knit a particular project and they will save you a lot of time foraging. Same thing in reverse if you find a pattern they will be able to point you at suitable yarns for it.

Patterns and ball bands are bewildering at first, after a while they start to make sense but having someone to ask in the early days is very helpful. Last month I reviewed Bamboo knitting needles and next month I’ll be talking about how I got on with Birch needles. Check out the Yarns tab at the top of the blog for some online links to stores/tutorials and blogs. The internet is a fantastic place to learn a new skill from the comfort of your own home and with sites like You Tube with video demonstrations its like taking a class.

DO check out Knitting Tips by Judy on You Tube she has lots of fantastic tutorials that get you started knitting and also help you resolve you knitting problems. Judy is fantastic and if you don’t have a friend or relative on hand to get you knitting, make Judy your knitting buddy!

Have fun!

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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The practice sheets that come with Sheena’s Paint Fusion stamps are great, but sometimes you want a few more images to practice on. Repeats of shapes you struggle with or just more of an image that’s new to you. Had a think and came up with a quick and simple way to create your own practice sheet, to your own choice of image.

Make your own Paint Fusion Practice sheets

Make your own Paint Fusion Practice sheets

You Will Need

Make your own Paint Fusion Practice sheets

Make your own Paint Fusion Practice sheets

  • Mat board or other stiff cardboard
  • Piece of acetate
  • Piece of card to stamp onto
  • Clips
  • Paint Fusion stamps of your choice
  • Versafine Onyx black ink or other pigment or permanent ink pad

Method

  1.  Cut your piece of paper to the size you wish to stamp onto.
  2. Stamp your Paint Fusion or other stamp images on to the sheet
  3. Cut your piece of acetate to the same size as your stamped piece of card or a little larger
  4. Cut your mat board or strong card to slightly larger than the acetate

Assembly

  1. Place your acetate over your stamped sheet
  2. Place your stamped sheet onto the mat board
  3. Place your clips at the top of the page to hold the pages in place

To Use

Simply paint over your designs. Acrylic paint will not permanently attach to plastic, so even after it has dried (don’t leave it for weeks though). It will still be possible to wipe or scrub the paint from the acetate to reuse your practice sheets time and again.

You can now choose the images you want to practice and have pages of them to work with, it’s also a great way to practice painting layouts. Stamp your design onto a sheet of card/paper, place it under the acetate and you can now work out what to paint in what order :)

Options/Added Extras

If you have a lamination machine at home, stamp your designs onto a sheet of thin card (220 gsm) and then run that through a laminator. Trim your card before laminating to ensure you have a generous clear border, this will give the plastic more room to adhere to itself and make it more robust. If you want to store your laminated sheets in a ring-binder, look out for the sheets that have pre-punched holes in the edges. This will stop any paint leaking into the card, that may happen if you just hole punch plain laminated sheets.

If you don’t have your own laminator, often the photo shops have a laminating service, where for a small charge they will laminate card you take in.

Once you have your laminated sheet, simply paint over as you did with the original design.

Links

Paint Fusion stamps are available from Sheena Douglass.

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of the Pom pom scarf I made for my friend for Christmas. Lucky, I knitted it early in the year before I dislocated my hand!

Scarf using Grundl Pom Pom Yarn

Scarf using Grundl Pom Pom Yarn

The yarn is by Grundle and is their Pom Pom yarn in Black. It’s a great project if you like to knit but your hands aren’t that dextrous. You use lovely big fat needles and I held on to the pom poms, so no fiddling with narrow yarn. It knits  up quite quickly.

As I know my friend drives everywhere, I figured she wouldn’t want anything too long or bulky, just something for inside a jacket to keep her neck warm. I cast on 9 stitches and kept it short. This scarf took two balls of yarn, hope she likes it.

There’s a lot of fun n funky yarns on the market these days, some come with thier knitting patterns printed on the back of the ball bands, handy! If you hate trailing round the shops near Christmas, get some of this yarn and make your best friend a gift from the heart. Snuggled up in the warm, perhaps with your favorite film on the box :) much nicer than freezing and getting ratting in the queues in the shops :)

Try handmade Christmas presents, sure they take a bit of time but if you start REAL early, you can enjoy the process and spend December just writing the cards n wrapping, much less stress, much more fun! I blame Kirsty’s Handmade Home for getting me into this, but I wouldn’t look back now. Christmas ‘shopping’ is now a year round process, pick up a nice yarn here and there as you see it, (put a post it on the label so you know who or what you had in mind at the time ;)) and gather your gifts gradually in a box or bag in the bottom of the wardrobe. It’s also nice to get gifts for people while you are on holiday, as there are often unique shops in out-of-the-way places with lovely things in them. So much nicer than the inevitable smellies or chocolates dilemma ;)

Links

Reclaim the fun in the holiday season, make a list, make a plan, get others involved and delegate where you can. You need fun too!!!

Best wishes

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post  I want to share a close up of the handmade sketch book I made a while ago.

My handbound Travelling sketchbook

My handbound Travelling sketchbook

The binding style is longstich, as it opens flat. The cover is leather, which came from Ebay ;) You’ll remember the story, where I discovered just how BIG whole hides are!!! I’m such a townie, didn’t think it would be THAT big hehe. I’ve named her (the hide) Daisy and she lives in the studio. {Is that weird?…Little bit!}

My handbound Travelling sketchbook; longstitch binding style

Longstitch binding style

For the signatures, I’ve used half cartridge paper and the other half is watercolour paper, this way whatever style of sketch I want to do is possible. The book is A6, which is a nice size to put in your bag and not too heavy. For extra stability, I’ve got a piece of matboard loose in there, between the signatures.

Contents of handbound sketchbook

Contents of hand bound sketchbook, the advantage of binding yourself is you can choose the paper, and even have multiple kinds in one book.

When you bind your own sketchbook, you can select the kinds of paper you want to use. It would be difficult to find a commercially made book which had different kinds of paper half way through wouldn’t it. This way I only need to carry one book not two ;)

Best wishes

Billie :)

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This month I’ve been showing you around my favorite painting items and why I love them. Have you been wanting to try painting and sketching away from home, in the big outdoors? Here are a few tips for making your field trip more fun and less of a chore.

You Will Need

  • Travelling sketching kit
  • Something to sit on.
  • Clothing suitable to the weather conditions
  • Food & water
  • Planning your location
  • Staying safe

    Travelling Sketching kit

    Travelling Sketching kit

Method

During my limited experience of sketching outdoors I found a few things that made a big difference to making the experience more comfortable.

Sketching kit; I covered this in an earlier post, both what I use and things to consider. Modify yours to suit your creative style. Keep it simple to avoid having something too heavy and bulky to carry

Something to sit on. A folding chair is great and doesn’t have to be heavy. If you have a good back, you can get away with just a folding mat.

Clothing suitable to weather conditions; Bear in mind you are likely to be sitting/standing outdoors all day. Choose clothing suitable to the weather conditions. Wrap up warm on cool, windy days. On hot/sunny days go for something with long sleeves and a collar, don’t want to get sun-cream on your art work ;) A hat is a good idea too, which ever way the weather goes ;)

Food & Water: Will you be sketching all day? If you aren’t sketching near somewhere you can easily get food and drink do take some with you. It’s easy to loose all track of time and get dehydrated, especially in hot weather. A flask of your favorite beverage and a sandwich or two won’t take up much room, but you’ll be glad of them later on :)

Location; Choose carefully, try not to set up in the middle of a walkway/path. Its better to take a photograph of a superb scene than set up somewhere very precarious! Choose somewhere you will be comfortable, and safe for a pleasant day. Under a shady tree on hot sunny days can be great!

Staying safe; Take a phone with you, they take up so little space, just think of it as insurance. You can keep it turned off, but it might be useful if you run into unexpected difficulties.

If you are painting near tidal water, make sure you know the tide times and keep an eye on the clock!

If you are painting somewhere remote, make sure someone knows when you expect to be back.

Options/Added Extras

Do you hate people standing behind you when you paint, or too much attention? Here’s how to minimise the possible audience participation ;)

Pick your location; If you can sit with a wall/hedge or building behind you, people can’t stand behind you. Try to sit somewhere out of the way-rather than in the middle of a path and most people will either ignore you or pause only briefly.

Minimise your Equipment; I found if you don’t have too much kit out, you are less obvious ;) I use a small bag with painting kit on and a little sketchbook on my lap, at this point you look more like you are having a picnic ;) so attract less attention. It also depends on weather the area is known for artists. If you are somewhere picturesque, where there are lots of people painting regularly, then as long as you aren’t in the way, no one will take much notice :)

Most people will show little more than a passing interest and walk on. If you don’t want to chat, just focus on your sketching. If you hate drawing when someone is watching and they stand right by you (Which is rare) just measure things for a while, without putting down any marks. If nothing is happening they soon get board and wander on.

 

Thanks to Dymphie for telling me about the following video:

 

This video was not made by me but has some great tips in there. Have fun

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Winsor & Newton Cotman Travel Bag

Winsor & Newton Cotman Travel Bag

 
 
 

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Winsor & Newton/ Cotman
  • Item number
  • RRP at time of writing: £45

Reason For Buying

For a long time I have been after some way of keeping all essential sketching equipment to hand and ready, just in case inspiration/motivation and opportunity collide and I get to go sketching. This gave me essential items in a convenient case that stops me carrying everything in my studio with me, on a sketching trip!

Content of Winsor & Newton Cotman Travel Bag

Content of Winsor & Newton Cotman Travel Bag

Pros/Cons

Contains

  • Cotman Compact set; 14 half pans of student quality paint. This has lots of room for colour mixing and you can replace the pan paints as required.
  • Small water bottle
  • Watercolour pad of paper 8 x 5″
  • Folding water pot
  • Technique booklet
  • Two Cotman synthetic brushes, round size 2 and size 6
  • Putty eraser

Pros

  • First of all, it comes with the content listed above so if you are just starting out with watercolour its perfect!
  • The bag is sturdy, light and comes with handle on the top and the option of a wrap round your waist strap, for hands free.
  • Room to add more brushes/pencils/pens from your own collections
  • Separate pockets for things, to stop content rattling around
  • Compact and ideal for travel

Cons

  • Haven’t got any!

Build Quality

Excellent. Its made of wipe clean nylon, there is a brush/pen holder that attaches withVelcro inside, which you can remove, should you want to. All pockets have worn well. I’ve had mine years and it’s still in excellent condition.

Value for Money

Excellent. Has lasted well and a great place to start if you are new to watercolour.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. If mine were to fall apart, I would definitely buy another one.

Summing up

Would make a great present, ideal for travel, ideal as introduction to watercolours and as a first set. Lots of pockets for adding your own favorite items. If you don’t have a dedicated space to paint, this keeps essential items to hand.

Highly recommend for all abilities. Paints are removable, so you can replace colours as required or update the paint to the artists quality versions as you progress.

A great buy, for all artists, or budding of all ages and abilities.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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If all my talk of painting has inspired you to want to try painting, not just at home but on day trips and more, here are some essentials for how to put your own travelling sketching and painting kit together;

Travelling Sketching kit

Travelling Sketching kit

You Will Need

  • Surface to create onto
  • Pencil, sharpener, eraser
  • Pens
  • Watercolours
  • Brushes
  • Something to sit on
  • Something to carry it in
  • Compact camera

Method

precisely what you put in your kit will depend upon your style of work. My kit below works for sketching, wather colour and pen and wash. Feel free to modify the contents to your own artistic style. This is a core kit to get you started.

  • Surface to work on; I use a ring bound sketch book. This means I can fold back the pages I’m not using and the hard covers mean I don’t need a board.
  • Pencil; I use a couple of Staedtler Mars 780 lead holders. One with B and the other a 2B grade of lead. The advantage of these is that there is a sharpener incorporated within the barrel, so one less piece of kit to carry.
  • Eraser; I have a small tin with a putty eraser in it. This creates no mess and does less damage to the paper surface than other kinds of erasers. Mine is a Faber Castel one.
  • Pens; Fine liners in 0.1, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7. I use a set in black and also a set in sepia depending on the style of subject/time of year. This range of nib sizes allows for fine detail up to quite dark shading. I do love the Faber Castel ones, but other brands are available ;)
  • Watercolours: The colour pallet you use will depend upon your choice of subject and time of year, If you can keep to a minimal pallet of 12-14 colours I highly recommend the Winsor and Newton Field Box. It has fold out pallets, the end cap turns into a water holder and there is a mini water bottle in there too. It also has its own (very small) brush. Perfect size to pop in your pocket and not too heavy. I love to use mine with water brushes for quick sketches, but the water pot on the end means you don’t have to carry excess kit.
  • Brushes; Depends on your style, but for minimal fuss and quick sketches I’ve found the water brushes by Pentel to be superb, they hold water within the barrel, so no need to carry extra water pot. These come in small, medium and large brush points. Kuretake also make a similar product and include a flat within their range.  Have just invested in a set of retractable sable brushes, that I will review at a later point. These are handy if you like a traditional brush but don’t want it to get damaged. I work small, A5 ish and found the most useful sizes of brush to be No; 2,4,6 and a flat. This gives me everything from fine detail to a wash brush ;)

    Pentel Water Brush set; Fine, medium and large brushes

    Pentel Water Brush set; Fine, medium and large brushes

  • Something to sit on; If you are going out especially to paint, let’s get comfy and take a chair. Those folding directors chairs are great, as they have pockets on one side to put stuff in and on the other a fold up table, ideal for putting your paints on :) If you are going out for a day trip and want the option of painting, folding foam mats available from camping shops are ideal. The mats fold up small and weigh almost nothing but are great for keeping you off the damp grass or cold concrete of a stone wall etc.
  • Camera; It’s really useful to take a small compact camera with you on sketching trips. If the light or weather change its handy to have taken a photo to refer back to if you have to cut your trip short.

Options/Added Extras

You will now need something to put all this kit into. First gather your supplies, so you know how much you want to take with you then select what you will store it in.

  • DIY stores are a great place to find empty tool boxes, these are divided and can be really useful kit holders, being plastic they are also less likely to damage if stood on damp grass for longer trips.
  • Sturdy Bag; something reasonably weather proof is a good idea, it will keep the contents more protected if the weather turn on you.

Top tips are to keep it simple, and comfortable. If something is too bulky, heavy or uncomfortable to use or carry you won’t want to use it. At a pinch..if pushed.. I could get away with a pencil, eraser,  a 0.1 pen (either colour) W&N Field box, sketch book and the three water brushes. They are all in there, so if I want the option of sketching I can just pick those and drop them in my pocket.

Links

A few ready-made options

  • Winsor and Newton Field Box
  • Winsor and Newton Travelling Sketching kit. (To be reviewed next week, I’ll add a link here after that).
  • Here’s my earlier post which details the items I’ve put into my kit 

The biggest advantage of putting together a travel kit, even if you don’t intend to travel with it! Is that it makes it so much quicker and easier to locate your favorite and essential items when you want to sketch. Don’t loose precious sketching time rummaging round the house for your sketching pens or brushes. Gather your favorite items together in a small box, you notice I say small box! If its going to leave the house with it, it doesn’t want to be the size of a car!!! Remember you’ll be carrying it to your chosen painting spot!

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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