Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cactus Procrastination

Firstly, thank you so much for all the lovely comments recently - I really do appreciate reading them and cherish the smiles they bring.

I'm still plugging away at the socks, but allowing myself to get easily distracted!  I'm justifying it by making other Christmas projects on the list - there's lots to do and not much time to do it in!  If I haven't posted on here with soggy sock blocking pictures, start nagging me to finish them...

So back to the distraction - a money card for my nephew.  He's at the age where money is the ultimate present, which makes it a little impersonal so I've created a card to pop it in.

He loves cacti, and has nagged me in the past to grow some from seed for him.  I didn't oblige, but I did knit him one - that counts, right?  When I saw Doodle Pantry were generously offering a free Christmas Cactus digikit for entering their November challenge, I couldn't resist - it's perfect, isn't it?

I've coloured the image with promarkers, and added glitter and glaze to the baubles.  The backing papers and sentiment are from the same kit.  I used distress inks in frayed burlap, faded denim and peeled paint on just about everything(!)

The parcel tag has a little pouch for the money and is embellished with more backing papers, card candi, ribbon and garden string.  

I just need to replace those tatty notes with nice crisp ones and its good to go!

Entering into the following challenges:

Distressing - Passion for Promarkers
Sparkle, Sparkle, Sparkle - Cupcake Crafting
Anything Goes - I love Promarkers
Ribbon or Trim - Crafts & Me
Numbers (um...on the money - is that allowed?) - Nutcrafters
Flowers - Sweet Stampin'

Time for a few more rounds of sock knitting; two at a time, top down...halfway across sole - not much further now!

Monday, 26 November 2012

More Handmade Christmas

This isn't the first time I've knitted a strawberry clock, but this is the most flamboyant yet!  (See the other two here)

It's for my mother.  Since she retired, she's taken up watercolours and has the most gorgeous garden studio to play in.  It's painted the prettiest shade of duck egg blue, full of natural light with a glass desk and a wonderfully soft rocker in the corner to curl up in.  Surrounded by the garden with its flowers and feathery visitors, it's a heavenly place to be.

To be honest, it's not a place where time matters, but she's loved my previous knitted clocks so it's time for one of her own.

I've knitted it in sumptuous yarns - angora, alpaca and crocheted flowers in pure wool.  The white strawberry flowers are cotton just for a little ping.  Ribbons and diamante butterflies fill the gaps and add a little more interest.

So easy to make this with love.  The whole process is a joy.  The socks I'm currently knitting for my father take more willpower to weave happy thoughts into - thin yarn, tiny needles and endless repetitive rows!

Entering into the Faux or Real Stitching challenge - Anything Challenge Blog

I've also made started out destined to be a tag, but I actually rather like it on its little easel as just a Christmas decoration.  My starting point was the Kraft challenge - I've not tried using promarkers on this medium before.  I've used the most basic of Kraft products, the humble brown paper packaging.  The beauty of using this meant I could cut a sheet of it to go through my printer.  As I have an Epsom, it naturally objected to this and I had to stick it to a sheet of copier paper to get it to run through.

The Angel caroller digi stamp is from Dearie Dolls, coloured with promarkers and a white pencil.  I added papers printed from various Serif digikits, a wooden snowflake, ticket sentiment and a string and ribbon bow.  There's distress inked edges on more or less everything - I love the stuff!  Marvel at my restrain of not adding feathers this time - it was hard, I do have some pale brown ones....

Entering into the following challenges:

Colouring on Kraft - Passion for Promarkers
Don't be a square - Totally Gorjuss
Singing/and or Dancing - I love Promarkers
Use 2 or more Patterned Papers - Divas By Design
Snowflakes-Stars-Sentiment - Crafty Catz

Now...back to those socks!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Geeky Gift Making

I do like to make presents, which is a good thing as everyone now expects them from me!  Sometimes the inspiration comes from snippets of remembered conversations with the recipients and others are a direct request - like "More Socks!!" from Dad :)

Whilst being gifted 'that giraffe', Kay was hunting for a slimline diary for next year.  Her requirements were geeky...batman...or Doctor Who and "not cute".  She failed in her hunt, so I promised to take care of it for Christmas.  I picked up a bland slimline diary and got to work...

I used printable fabric from Card Creations, and set about designing my own backing fabric.  I was inspired by this tardis fabric and used Serif to create my own.  The printable fabric wasn't cheap and does print beautifully but the quality of the cotton itself is quite shameful.  It's full of slubs, some of which are quite dark and is a perfect example of the cheapest cotton fabric available - meh.  The strength of the glue used to adhere the fabric to the carrier sheet also makes the fabric quite crunchy and not particularly pleasant to sew with.

I added printable seam binding with her name on, ribbons and bells(!) and made and appliqued a felt batman logo.  Doctor Who meets Batman...why not?

You can just see the lining peeking out in this picture - I chose a dotty fabric to tie in with her character!

And of course, a handmade gift needs a handmade box:

I used Snowy Day from Birdie Brown (Torico, if you're reading this, the offer of sending you the box I made last time I was playing with your digi stamps still stands!), coloured it with Promarkers and layered it up on the box top.  No need to glue things onto a badly blended hat on this one!  Woo!  I stuck to a purple/lavender colour palette to match the diary.  The box itself is made from the reverse side of Centura Pearl card stock, that I ran through the printer.

There are glitter and glossy accents on the digi stamp and tag, along with a ribbon "belt" using a diamante buckle that was in with some craft supplies a colleague gave to me in exchange for altering a top for her.

I still have a lot of presents to make, but boy does it feel good to get one under my belt!  I have a strange urge to wrap this up in wrapping paper as well...anyone else get that?

Entering into the following challenges:

November Challenge - Birdie Brown 
A Christmas Present - Nutcrafters
Plain & Simple - Totally Gorjuss
November Colour Challenge - Ribbon Girls
Christmas Trees - I Love Promarkers
Moon & Stars - Passion for Promarkers
Snow People - Sweet Stampin'

Friday, 16 November 2012


I found the most wonderful digi stamp at Doodle Pantry - it would be great for lots of different occasions throughout the year, but as the need for Christmas cards is at its greatest right now, that's what I went with.  I coloured the image with Promarkers and made the little birds into robins. Following on from the "include *everything*" mentality that the giraffe card caused, this is also an over-the-top card too :)

(I love how this picture looks like the finished card will be somehow elegant and tasteful...fooled you!)

Paper flowers, glitter, feathers, gems, stitching, beads, quilling, lace, ribbons, pearlescent printed card stock....

There is a complete childish glee in making this card.  The little voice at my shoulder whispering, then screaming "LESS IS MORE!!" and the responsive blowing of a big fat raspberry as something else gets glued or stitched on!  

Entering into the following challenges:

Use a Doodle Pantry Image DPDC29 - Doodle Pantry Blog
Untraditional Christmas Colours - Crafts and Me Challenge Blog
Shaped Cards - Sweet 'n Sassy 
Anything Goes - Divas By Design
Lets Have Sparkle - Crafty Catz
Christmas Anything Goes - Crafty Bloggers Network
Stitching Real or Faux - Anything Goes Challenge Blog

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Unintentional Mouse Theme!

The last two papercraft projects of the weekend before the sewing machine comes out!

First is a snowy mice digistamp from Dearie Dolls.  It's a really cute image - I love the hanging hearts and the oversized button :)  Coloured with Promarkers on Centura Pearl cardstock and mounted onto Kanban and ancient Sizzix Sizzles card/paperstock.  The red star gems I bought recently - I clearly didn't look at them because the quality is awful; they're incredibly plastic-y, but I think you can get away with it on cards for distant relatives you haven't seen in decades...

Entering it into the Reds Challenge at Crafts and Me blog.

Secondly, a Thanksgiving inspired recipe - Pumpkin Pie.  We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England, but we do like pie ;)  Honestly, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year I don't know how you do so many holiday preps so close together! I can't find the link for the image used - apologies if its yours.  I don't have a pie coloured promarker...or a pumpkin coloured one either for that matter, so I've used blends to approximate them - love how you can layer them up!

Entering this into the Thanksgiving challenge at Sweet 'n Sassy

Warning...Ultimate Christmas Ornament Below...

Earlier this week, I met up with a wonderful friend for a breakfast date, full of milky coffee, bacon and egg butties and a good old gossip.  And she bought me an early Christmas present.  I feel I need to give a little history to our gift giving before proceeding, just to set the tone...

For my birthday this year, she got me a resin life size guinea pig for my garden.  It's very realistic and I lovingly refer to it as the dead guinea pig - it freaked me out when I opened it (much to her delight) and it still freaks me out when I catch sight of it outside (much to her continued delight).  For her birthday, and following a conversation where she declared that the best job in the world had to be a Penguin Feeder, I made her this:

And when I borrowed her spade to bury my beloved Catalpa earlier this year and plant a tree over him, I made this for the spade to say "thank you".

Then there was the eye-wateringly coloured tourist dish she bought me back from holiday and the torn off cardboard box end and biro Christmas card she made me...

So back to breakfast, and she is suspiciously gleeful at announcing she's got me a present, and hands over a gift bag, declaring that I will love it.  I nervously ask if it's another dead animal and she looks a bit shifty.  She tells me that it's the ultimate Christmas decoration; that it is everything associated with Christmas all in one marvellous little package.

I'm thinking holly...santa...presents...a tree...baubles...Christmas Pud...oh God, a Turkey...

I. was. wrong.

Ready?  You might want to sit down...


Yes!  Yes, this is a Giraffe!  With pink fluff!  And pearls!  And a glittered bow!  And a beaded tutu!  And ballet shoes..en pointe!  And....white ankle socks!

It's hideous and gorgeous at the same time.  I hate it and love it with equal measure.  Most of all, it makes me grin like a loon.

It has, of course, been inspiration, for my Christmas card for Kay this year.  But in blue, because I've faced pink enough in the last week!

And yes, this is a deliberately over the top card - it had to be.  The digi stamp is a freebie from Starry Nights Studio, printed onto Centura Pearl card stock (Yes!  I've found a way to make the Epsom take it!), coloured with Promarkers and backing card from Kanban. It took far too long to hand stitch beads and tiny buttons onto a ribbon tutu, but I love the effect.  Then there is lace, more hand stitching, glitter, feathers, more buttons, felt snowflakes, gems, pearls, glossy accents, distress inks and a sparkly pom pom tail.  She'll love it.

Entering it into the Pastel Christmas challenge at Totally Gorjuss, the Lets Get Cute challenge at Divas By Design, the Anything Goes challenge at Crafty Catz, Add Sparkle challenge at Ribbon Girls and the Christmas Anything Goes at Crafty Bloggers Network :)

I have a couple more cards on the craft table that I need to finish off, then I really need to make a start on presents.  If you have any great projects for handmade gift giving, please shout out - any craft...if I don't dabble in it already, it might inspire me to give it a go!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

In the Pink

As I mentioned last time, pink is not a colour I am drawn towards.  My Promarker collection reflects this - I have a grand total of four pinks - pastel pink, magenta, pink mittens and wild cranberry.  Blending is a challenge - the tones aren't that close to each other!  I've used a digi stamp from Dearie Dolls printed onto Centura Pearl card stock (and the only time I've successfully got my Epsom to accept it!)

I used winter berry and a couple of greys to overlay to give me a broader range, but she's still ended up looking a little like she got dressed in the dark (my son's reaction was "Argh!  Why has she ripped the snowman's head off?!", so perhaps she deserves a wardrobe malfunction...!)

I've added glaze to the snowflakes, the carrot, their eyes and her shoes.  The backing papers are all from Nitwits and came free with a magazine.  I've cut into the argyle-y one to frame the bottom of the digistamp.  The pink crystals come from a candle making set from the early 90s - I can't bear to throw anything out, even if I can't see how I'll ever use it!  The snowflake is a wooden lazercut, painted with white acrylic and decorated with glitter and a little button.  And there you have it - one, out of character, pink card!

Entering into the following challenges:  Paper Cupcake Pretty In Pink and I Love Promarkers Pretty In Pink.

Despite my protests, this was an enjoyable card to make and it's good to do something a little different to the norm.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

More Birdie Brown!

I am totally in love with the digi stamps designed by Torico of Birdie Brown - they're easy for a beginner like me to colour and are charming without being overly cutesy.  There's a good selection of free stamps available  and more to buy from her etsy shop (the robots!).

First up is another of November's digistamps Just For You, made into a small hendacagon box (11 sides).  I made the box template in Serif by butting up a small rectangle to a hendacagon shape made using the Shapes feature.  By copying, pasting and shrinking it slightly, it's given me a perfect fit between the lid and the base.

I used Promarkers to colour the image and I *will* master a blended black hat eventually!  But not today...  To mask the overblended area that refused to be fixed, I've added glazed holly leaf punch outs and clear crystals coloured red with a promarker.  There's also clear glaze and glitter accents. 

The sides of the box are decorated with ribbons and ric rac with a snowflake glued to the bow.  I plan on filling the box with handmade chocolate rum truffles for Christmas.  I'm entering the box into the Anything but a Card challenge over at Sweet 'n Sassy and the Anything Goes challenge at the Anything Challenges blog, plus, of course, the November Challenge at Birdie Brown.  

To add some variety into my Christmas crafting, the next image I played with the Dreaming Birds images and made two cards.

This card has soft pastel colours, a delicate paper doily, a little flower and pearl heart embellishment...

And buttons!

For the second card, I used promarkers to give the larger bird a rainbow wing, and then teamed it with lots of rainbow ribbon.  The floral border stopper I made in serif - the flowers are just circles and hearts.  By copying and pasting them in different sizes, it was easy to make a little floral strip.

I'm entering the rainbow card into the In the Garden challenge over at the Passion for Promarker blog.

Next up will be something pink for a couple of pink challenges - this will be interesting as it's not a colour I'm particularly fond of and certainly not one that I'd gravitate towards if left to my own devices!  Plus, it'll keep me occupied whilst I'm waiting for these to arrive....

Put a button on it!

Christmas card inspired by the Totally Gorjuss Anything Goes...with a Button challenge and the Texture challenge over at CraftyCatz.

The Gingerbread couple are from the Nitwit stamp collection, and I've used coordinating papers from the same range.  There's also ricrac, lace, string, ribbons and of course...buttons!  The stamped images are coloured with Promarkers - I think I'm improving!  

I recently bought some Bookbinding Glue from Pinflair.  This stuff is brilliant!  The string on the card is attached to the edge of a card oval using the glue.  It dried first, and that string is going nowhere - no more will embellishments like this be falling off!  I tried some on string and scrap card, let it dry and then tried pulling the string off - the card tore, but the string remained attached to its card base.  It has multiple uses and I'm looking forward to experimenting more with it.  

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Birdie Brown Free Digistamps

There's new free digistamps available from Birdie Brown :)  I'm really enjoying seeing her blog and I like the monthly challenges - seeing what other people do with the same thing is inspiring and fascinating in much the same way as the Ravelry project pages for the same knitting pattern.  It underlines just how unique each creation that leaves a crafter's hands really is.

This month there are two snowmen images to play with.  I instantly fell in love with the Just for You stamp, whilst Snowy Day didn't really grab my attention.  Having played with both, however, the former remains a favourite but the latter has grown on me considerably.

I made a card with the first digistamp, and while the characters are hand coloured, I created the snowy background to them in Serif.

See the little star buttons and ribbons on the bag?  I confess they're covering up a bit of bleed through from the promarkers!  His glasses and coat buttons have a little clear glaze over them, and I've added tiny seed beads to each dot on the doily.  

Snowy Day has been turned into a small hanging gift box for the Christmas Tree.  He's decoupaged onto the front, complete with a rainbow scarf and shiny nose!  As this background was so much smaller, I coloured it by hand.  

Both have glittery accents, and to give a sense of scale for the box, here it is with the card:

There's enough room in it for four of the little Christmas chocolates from M&S (the ones that come in the nets - yum!)

Silicone Disaster!

A weekend of card making here, and thanks to a recent reorganisation of my craft cupboard, old treasures have found new light.  Including silicone gel.

I wanted to create a card using just brown tones and the Gorjuss On Top of the World stamp.  All went well until I decoupaged the layers and this happened...

Look at the way the silicone has bled through to the front - the blotchiness on her face and pinafore!   Argh!!

Luckily, I'd also coloured and cut out another image, which didn't have a home, so I layered it over the top.  It's no longer just brown tones, but I'm pleased with the results.  Vintage buttons added the perfect finishing touch:

Much better :)

Thursday, 1 November 2012


It's the morning after Halloween - such good fun last night!  In England, Halloween is slowly catching on, and I love the growing community spirit surrounding the night.  I love the effort the parents and children put in to their costumes and their eager faces when you open the door.  We're very lucky here that the children dress like devils but behave like angels for the night - they only go to houses with signs of Halloween decorations and are enthusiastically polite over treats given out.

Last year, the treats were bookworms:

Book page pouches, with printed labels stapled on and filled with jelly worms.  I can't remember how many of these I made, and it was my very first halloween living within reach of neighbours who might trick or treat. We ran out :/  Those last few children were given Christmas candy canes out of desperation!

This year, I started off by making broomsticks.  I found sweets packaged to look like pencils for the base, printed out sheets of "wood" to wrap around them and finished with twigs and twine to complete the broomstick.  The sweets were 20 for £1 - it's a great way to make cheap sweeties look special.  You could probably use pixie sticks instead.

Here they are ready to give out:

See the cute Death figure?  He's a free printable from Stitch Punk :)

I also made little pouches out of fabric with printed card labels (if anyone's interested in the labels, I can publish them as a pdf).  Jelly snakes for decomposing eels and skidaddles for bat poo!  Note to self:  these were much faster to craft in bulk than the labour intensive broomsticks...and you need to do at least 60 of them next year...'k?

And using the same fabric, a little bag stuffed with Halloween treats for a friend's daughter 

The skulls are hair clips made out of  printable shrink plastic (skulls taken from a free digikit - Spooktakular  available from Daisytrail) and hot glued onto clips.  I also played some more with my alcohol markers and a Gorjuss On Top of the World stamp. (Edited to add I've entered this in the weekly challenge over on

I also made a card for my son, again taken from the same free digikit.  He had posh Halloween chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (honestly, I didn't choose them because I knew he'd share....ahem)

Even the knife block got mummified!  Free printable from What I Made - check out the rest of the site, it's visually stunning and there's some great projects on there.

Finally, we made two pumpkins - one real for outside, and other out of papier mache for indoors.  The papier mache one was a pain to be honest - I'd forgotten just how time consuming it is to build up the layers with the drying time in between.  I used a punch ball balloon which happily started to deflate after the first layer was put on.  I cursed it at the time, but it's actually made a more realistic mishapen pumpkin that Mother Nature might have come up with.  It blocked up my crafting table for over a week.  I used orange, brown and yellow acrylic paints to colour it and then drilled holes in a swirl design with an electric drill (tip - use a face mask next gunk when you blow your nose...not attractive!)  It's a little lame in the daylight, but looks really pretty when its lit at night, honest.

The real pumpkin got drilled too - this was so much fun to do apparently (my son insisted on doing the grrrr...manly thing with a power tool)  We punched out one larger hole to shove artistically arrange a plastic rat in, hot glued smaller mice to the outside and used a battery operated 20 green led light set in the smaller holes, while the rest had white light shining out from a powerful led push light.  I pinned a triple bow to the top.  This was easily the fastest and simplest pumpkin we've ever done, but it looked really effective.  

I stood it on an upturned waste paper bin which is an opaque plastic and hot glued glow sticks inside it.  

 Very blurry picture without the flash....

As it's blustery, but gloriously sunny this morning, I'm off to wrap up and sit in the garden with a cosy mug of hot chocolate - Autumn is my favourite season, and I want to make the most of it while it lasts!