Wednesday, 17 June 2015

3 Things You Should Know as a Beginner Knitter

Hi, everyone! 

I hope you're having a good week! :) I've been doing more knitting recently so I want to share my own experience with knitting. Even if you're not a knitter, you're welcome to learn more about knitting! 

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So you've decided to take up knitting! Let me shake your hand on this! I'm happy that more people are knitting. Knitting is absolutely relaxing, plus you are rewarded with your own handmade item. I am a big fan of handcrafted items; I try to support them as much as my wallet will allow me. :) I like that it is more personal and the items are more unique than mass-manufactured items.

I just started my own knitting journey in December. It has been six months, and I have learned plenty compared to when I started. I want to share them with you so you can start the journey better informed than me. I won't be going on so much about the technical stuff, but rather, I'll be sharing three things I wish I hadn't done when I started knitting.

3 Things You Should Know as a Beginner Knitter:

1. Don't go crazy buying Knitting Needles

First, you don't need six pairs of knitting needles of the same size. I did that, because I thought I would cast on many projects at one go. But really, once I got my interchangeable needles, the cords just made it easy to secure the projects on hand while I use the needles for another project. 

I bought my Knit Pro Interchangeable Symphonie Needles and a Double Pointed Symphonie Needles and that is mostly what I use now. I also have a few pairs of extra cords and frequently-used needle tips on hand, just in case. The first dozen needles I bought? They're stashed away somewhere, and probably won't be used anymore. 

It is important to find out what type of material and kind of needles you'd like, so there is no need to go crazy buying needles when you haven't decide which one you like best! So, just buy a range of needles, decide which kind you like best, and then invest in a quality set of needles. 

 

2. Don't start your First Projects on Luxury Yarn

Yarn-buying is a tactile thing. I like to feel them when I am buying yarns. There are simply too many choices across materials, colors and prices. When I started out, I bought cheap yarn at $2 each, and made a rather ugly scarf that I'll never use but it was good and necessary practise. My second and third scarf ended up looking pretty good because I had practised first. 

So don't start out on luxury yarn like cashmere or silk, even though they feel good. Chances are good that your first scarf wouldn't look as good, and you might not want to use the scarf after that, which means your expensive yarn, and your money, might be wasted. 

I test all projects using a cheap to moderately-cheap yarn, before I make a second one that is wearable.


3. Avoid looking like this when you go into a Yarn Shop

Trust me, it might feel good at that time, but when you come home and look for a place to store these pretty balls of heaven, you might start to develop headaches. 

I am not going to lie. I am a hoarder. I have plenty of stuff from all my hobbies: stamps, yarns, coloring materials, papers, stationery. Plus I believe in buying extra to keep just-in-case. I ran out of glue once during a project so now I have six spare bottles on hand. Yes, I am that kind of person. 

I like my yarn hoard, but at the same time, I don't know what to use them for! I don't have projects on hand for the yarn when I buy them, and they are not compatible to the projects I have on currently, even though my blanket needs more yarn. I have ten sock yarns because I thought I could knit socks, but I don't really like using DPNs so I don't think socks will be one of the projects I am casting on anytime soon. And the ten sock yarns will probably sit in my stash until kingdom comes. 

I'd recommend having a project on hand when you go to the yarn store. Always buy extra for your project, but don't buy individual yarns just because they feel good/ look pretty/ is cheap. Buy yarn for your project, rather than search for a project for your yarn. I am reduced to making clothes for all my toys, which thanks to my hoarding tendencies, I have plenty too. >.< I am working on it! 

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These are the 3 things that stuck to me now. I wish I hadn't spend my money on things that will sit somewhere for a long time unused. I don't skimp on my hobbies, but I do want to be able to put the things I bought to good use. I am sure all of you want to spend your money wisely. 

I hope these will help you so that you won't end up with a pile of things in your house that you'll ultimately throw away. Better to spend those money on a good set of needles, or good yarn for your projects. 

If you're a knitter, beginner, experienced or in-betweeners, do share lessons you have learnt on your knitting journey. I'd love to hear them! :)

I'm so glad you stop by. Thanks for reading!

Love, 

Jennifer

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Shanghai- A Travel Post

Hi, everyone! :)

This is going to be a short post. I wanted to share some of the things I did in Shanghai. I was there for only three nights, and I didn't wander out of the hotel much, so in truth, I didn't really do much. I did manage to do some art and calligraphy and take a few photos there. 


A watercolor postcard I did of the sight outside my hotel room window. The skies have been cloudy and drizzling the four days I was there. Not much else to do, so I stayed in the hotel most of the time while my boyfriend was at work. 


One of the reasons why I don't feel the need to go out of the hotel: Starbucks. Starbucks is the place I go whenever I travel. If there is a safe haven I know, it is here. No matter where I go, Starbucks has been very dependable in its atmosphere and service. I swear, sometimes I feel like I am back home when I enter the cafe. It's a place where time and place stay the same. I brought along some lettering worksheets by ThePostmansKnock to do while I enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. You can find the worksheets here

View from my room.
Travelling
Quote by Dr Seuss.

And food of course! I can't possibly post a travelling post without food. This is the famous Xiao Long Bao. Can't go to Shanghai without eating these. I must have eaten like fifteen. I ate plenty of food there! Everything just tasted sooooooo nice! But not the hotel food. The hotel food is a little below par. 



I also got a Midori Traveller's Notebook. We walked into a stationery shop (there wasn't much to shop there either, since they tax all imports and the price are much higher than the same thing we would have gotten at home) and the first thing I saw was the Midori! Of course I have to get it! I also got some pens. It was pretty expensive ($7SGD for the pen), but... Well. Pretty happy about the notebook. I also got a 365 Days Notebook which feels very high quality as well. I haven't tried because I don't know what to use it for. Actually, I don't really know what to use my Midori for either. 

Well, that's what I have for the trip. Not a lot, really. I had a bad neck ache from all the travelling, so I rested a lot. But I did get a lot of time with my boyfriend, which was what the trip was about, so the trip was a success! :) 

Thanks for reading, 

Love,  Jennifer

Friday, 12 June 2015

Coloring Comparison: Copic, Watercolor, Intense, Distress Markers and Tombow ABT

Hi! I wanted to do up a post on the coloring comparison that I have been posting on instagram over the last few days! It was part of the Daily Marker Challenge that I have been doing, which is organised by Kathy over at TheDailyMarker. Basically, you have to color something everyday! It really is very fun! 

For my colouring comparison, I stuck with one stamp, and basically the same color scheme through. Other than the copics sample, which used a 80lb white textured cardstock by AC cardstock, I used Daler Rowney 140lb Aquafine Cold Pressed watercolour paper for the rest, since they basically all require water. 


I made up a composite of all the samples in the photo above. From the top left, clockwise: TombowABT, Derwent Inktense Pencils, Copics, Watercolor and Tim Holtz Distress Markers. 

I've tried to make the colors as accurate as possible, so that you can compare between the different mediums effectively. 


Watercolor

*In reality, the shading is better blended than in the photo. The contrast messed it up a little. The red blouse and the orange blouse doesn't have weird looking streaks.*

I love my watercolours ever since I learn how to control and make use of the water. It is a very travel-friendly method and watercolour paintings are easier to store, since they are just pieces of paper. I used an 18 tube set by Pentel that cost less than $15SGD, nothing fancy. A good thing about using watercolour is that you can get plenty of different colors and shades by mixing the colors you have! As opposed to getting 54 markers and only having 54 colors. Watercolour is bright and the shading easy to achieved simply by varying the amount of water in your brush. 

I used Fintec gold for the earrings. It is really a very nice palette and the color is opaque. Quite nice. 


Copic Markers

My family and my boyfriend all like this one the best of all samples and it is easy to see why. Unlike the other methods, copic blending is extremely smooth and the colors are vibrant. I am not an expert at copic coloring, but it is really easy to use these markers. Unfortunately, copic markers are also expensive. I only got the Copic Ciao, and not all the colors, so some color combination are still odd. The good thing is, they last forever (they can be refilled), and they make the purchase really really worth it. Trust me.

I took out my Uniball Signo gold pen for the jewellery. It doesn't look much different from the Fintec or the gouache (see Intense below), so I'd probably use the gold pen because it is much easier. :)


Derwent Inktense Pencils

So, I succumbed and got the huge 72 set of Inktense pencils because I love it so much! One important thing to note, there are no flesh color so I have to make do with a browner one and they all look a little too tanned. Lol. Unlike watercolour, Inktense Pencils are permanent once they dry, and they are more intense than watercolors. It doesn't look bad for coloring, but I've other better mediums, so I think I'll stick to drawing with these pencils. One good thing about these is that it works in a pinch. You don't need a palette to mix the paints, just a waterbrush would do. 

*I've decided that I don't like waterbrushes now that I have learn how to control the water in my brushes better. Waterbrushes make it learn to control it since the water seems to be a constant flow, without much varying allowed, even when I tried to dry it out with a towel. I now use the waterbrushes for putting water onto the palette to soften the paints.

I used Rich Gold Designers Gouache by Daler Rowney for the jewellery. I didn't add any water. It dries pretty good, but the application is a little watery for me. 


Tim Holtz Distress Markers

I don't often use my distress markers (I got the 49 color set) since I find it inconvenient. But that was back when I still hasn't dabble in watercolors yet. I have now brought out my distress markers so that I'll use it more. It has a very nice faded-washed look that is soft and delicate. I use these markers like how I use my Tombow ABT: color on blending palette, mix with different colors and use a brush with varying amounts of water for the shading. I really like the flesh color; I think I like this the best across all mediums. One thing to note: it is difficult to lift colors when I make a mistake and go out of the line. The 49 color set provides a very good range of colors at a reasonable price, but unlike the Copics, these are not refillable. 


Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pens

These are commonly used for lettering and writing, but I just wanted to see how it works as a coloring medium. I just got these two days ago before I did this sample, so I didn't get a lot of practise beforehand. These colors look brighter than the Distress Markers, but at the same time, these are also harder to blend. The ink are more watery than the distress markers and it is easier to get splotches, as seen on the blonde's clothes. There is also a bit of blending error on the cellphone lady's pants, the orange isn't blended in as well. I think I'll use these for writing, because they are really really good for writing. :)

Overall, if I were to choose, I'd probably go for the more traditional method (for the scrapbooking/cardmaking crowd) of copics and distress colors because they look better and well-blended. There is a learning curve for distress markers (at least for me), where I had to learn how the markers react to water and how to pull the colors out. I'll still break out my watercolor occasionally, since it it more convenient (it's right next to me on my desk), but I'll keep my Tombows and Inktense for other usage and not for coloring. 

I hope this coloring comparison helps if you're curious about the differences between all the different types of markers and coloring mediums. I know I like to do some research before I invest in anything. There are still a couple of things I'd like to try: Zig Clean Color Brush Markers (there is a lot of hype recently. I wonder how they compare to Tombows and Distress Markers), Prismacolor pencils and Derwent Watercolor pencils. I'll do another coloring comparison post when I get them! :)

Thanks for reading, 

Jennifer

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Reasons Why You Should Take Some Time to Craft Everyday

Hi! I am blogging again! And I hope I am here to stay! I certainly would like to try. :) I've got so much to share (I've learnt plenty from my crafting everyday) and I have thought of a way to deliver them without jumbling all the information up on my blog. I used to blog thrice a week, but now I have decided to keep the blogging to once or twice each week so that I can focus more on the blog content. Let's see how that hold, shall we? ;)



Since I began crafting daily, I realised several changes in my life. I am much happier and things around me go much smoothly too. I am content to sit in my bed with my knitting and the radio on, or spent hours just colouring or drawing in my sketchbook. Taking some time to craft everyday has made me more cheerful in general, and I want you to have that too! So I came up with a list of reasons why 'You Should Take Some Time to Craft Everyday'.



Crafting Makes You Feel Good
Whether you knit, paint, bake or draw, the fact that you created something from scratch should give you a kick! Not anyone could take a number to different materials, and come up with something, and not two people who possess the same materials will come up the same thing. I am not very good at mindless doodles and creating patterns, but there are people who are, even if we possess the same type of sketchbooks and markers. Feel proud of what you can do because creating something is beautiful and inspiring. And the more you practice, the better you become at it.

Crafting is relaxing
When you craft, for that precious few hours, you forget all the problems in your world and concentrate on what is before you and making it awesome. Time always flies when I open my sketchbook, but it is a mark of me truly enjoying my interests. Don't get too particular about the perfection of techniques when you are crafting, and simply enjoy your time doing it. I find that when we get bogged down by little things, our pleasure decreases. We decided we suck at it and simply give up on crafting. If you're happy doing what you're doing, it'll show in your craft.



It feels good to make Something for others than to Buy it
Yes it does! There are any number of crafts that can be given as gifts to your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, strangers... Cardmaking, baking, knitting and crocheting, sewing, drawing and painting, letter writing, and any number of DIYs that are readily available on the internet as the holidays get closer. DIYs are a very sincere way to celebrate any special occasions, and they are often cheaper too. On the other hand, certain gifts, like a hand-knitted blanket, cost quite a bit to make it, in terms of time and money, but I have heard those often become treasured family heirlooms. When something is made from your heart, the receiver will treasure it more.



Entertainment Value
Crafting is very good entertainment, financially, as compared to other means, like watching a movie or catching a show/concert. I actually read somewhere comparing between the cost of knitting and the cost of a movie ticket, and knitting actually won in terms of cost per hour being cheaper than that of watching a movie. (I'll link it as soon as I see the article again.) It does make sense. Craft materials do not need to be expensive, (think paints or markers or pencils) but they can last really long. Furthermore, there are plenty of interest groups where people gather to talk about what they love. You get to do something you like as well as meet new friends! What's there not to like about it? Grab your materials and go!



Crafting is your creativity speaking out and your individuality rearing its head
No two people will create something exactly the same, even when they are imitating each other. Just think about those forgeries of famous art, they can't hold up under close scrutiny to the original. There will be something about the materials, the brushstrokes or the style that was different. In some cases, some forgers created something different on purpose as a signature! Is there anyway we can avoid wanting to express ourselves when it comes to art? We have our own preferences and way we do things. So next time you think what you created is ugly, dismiss that thought! Because what you did is you, and it'll be appreciated by the same people who appreciate you.

Look up what appeals to you. You can bake something delicious, or cook beautiful meals. You can scrapbook memories or make cards to commemorate special occasions. You can participate in needle arts: knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, cross-stitching. You can draw, write, paint. Or go for something different like pottery-making, candle-making, or even wood and metal work. It's never too late to learn something new, nor will you be too old. Simply enjoy what you are doing and you will be happy, I promise.

Would you give crafting a go? Let me know if you decide to try, and share your experience with me! I am a huge proponent of hobbies. :) I hope you do become happier if you decide to take some time to craft everyday. Our lives are too hectic not to slow down and do little things we enjoy.

Love,
Jennifer