What difference a Machine would make

I have a new toy. Steve got it for me for Mother's Day - it's a Brother Scan-N-Cut.  It's a luxury I wouldn't have purchased for myself, but he heard me saying how I would like to have one, so he bought it for me.  Yes, he's wonderful.

The great thing about a Scan-n-Cut is that it scans stamped images and then cuts them out. It can replace the need for matching dies for stamped images. I imagine, after a while, it will have paid for iteself. I don't purchase every die for the stamps I have - far from it - but I do purchase some. I buy them especially when I am planning on mass producing a particular card and to do that, I will need to cut out an image (or images). Instead, I buy the dies.

For Mother's Day, I used a set of stamps from My Favorite Things called Polynesian Paradise - it's a Birdie Brown design (I love Birdie Brown's work). Using that set, I made eight cards featuring the girl doing hula, a palm tree (from another set) and the parrot. I mounted the girl on an action wobbler, so she dances.  I made seven of these cards for friends for Mother's Day (and the other one became a birthday card). I don't own the dies, so I had to handcut all eight girls, eight palm trees and eight parrots. Imagine how much faster that would have been with the Scan-n-Cut.

Time to Destash

This is a box that contains yarn. It's stuffed full of yarn. This past weekend I decided that my yarn stash was too large and that it contained too much yarn that I would never use. I have a friend with connections to a ministry at a prison near where she lives. She (and others) collect yarn for the inmates to use to knit layettes, chemo caps and other items to give away. I facebook messaged her and asked if what I had would help. The answer was yes, so I packed it up and sent it off to her this morning.

I've had a lot of this yarn for a long time, keeping it, thinking I might use it. Almost everything I sent to her were complete, unused skeins of yarn. Waiting for a purpose that I was never going to provide.

Believe me, it's hard to destash. It's hard to let go of what we aren't going to use - to admit that we will never use it, and that what remains is enough. 

And it's hard to find the motivation to go through what we have to separate what we will use and what we won't. And yet, to me, as I took the box to the post office this morning, I realized that it was an example of stewardship. 

What am I holding on to that I should let go of? What material items? What grudges? What hurts? 

It's time to destash.

Variation on Inspriration: Watercolor block stamping

 Are you a card maker? Do you follow Jennifer McGuire's videos? If you are and if you don't, you should.

The latest one demonstrated a technique in which she use an acrylic block to stamp watercolor ink (distress ink) on paper, and then emboss images on it.

I liked the look of what she did, and was inspired by it. All of my acrylic blocks are curved at the edges, but I do have a mirror stamp from MFT. I used that, along with distress ink, to stamp on Tim Holtz watercolor paper.

The first image uses Aged Mahogany, Victorian Velvet and Shaded Lilac. The second one uses Mowed Lawn, Evergreen Bough, Broken China and Salty Ocean. I inked the mirror image stamp, sprayed it with water, and then stamped it on the watercolor paper. I didn't lift it, and placed a jar of water on it for 5 minutes.
After lifting the block, I then allowed it to dry, used an antistatic tool, and then stamped Penny Black Dreamy (a wonderful, wispy flower) with Versamark ink, and then embosssed it with Ranger Liquid Platinum powder.

These are both anniversary cards, and the Celebrate stamp is from the June Simon Says Stamp kit, Floral Bliss.

Movie Knitting

I'm making progress on my Snowshoe scarf. The picture to the right is the scarf. The color is ALL WRONG because the image was taken in a dark movie theater. The scarf, Steve and I were at Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2.

Do you knit in the movies? I love to do that. The pattern has to be simple (this one is 2x2 ribbing). Of course, it's dark in there, so I can't follow a pattern. Yarn that is at least worsted is better that smaller yarn. I've tried socks, but it's harder for me. Circular needles are good because I can't loose them. Knitting markers are OK - they are great if I need to track a pattern - but they do pop off, and get lost in the dark.

For me, the best movie knitting is a simple scarf. I've made scarves almost entirely in movies - so much so that I didn't see how they looked until I was almost finished with them.

Movie knitting is great.

Distress Oxide Surprise

I'm highlighting this card today because it was made with an ink I've never tried before - distress oxide ink.

When the distress oxide ink first came out, I thought, "Oh, no - I don't want another kind of ink. I have way TOO many ink pads, and I really don't want to start with another set. I'm sure I don't need it."

Then, this past month, a distress oxide ink pad was included in the Simon Says Stamp card kit for the month. (I'm sure they do this on purpose!). And, truth be told (is this confession time?), I was interested in trying it out. I'd been looking for the ink pads at my local craft stores, and missing them. And THEN, SSS had a Ranger sale - 20% off. So you know the rest. Many of the colors arrived at my house.

But - I like them! I played a little to make this background. I placed some of several colors of ink on my ranger craft mat, added water, and picked up the ink with a piece of ranger watercolor paper. The result was awful. The yellow took over and turned everything to mud.  

So, the next time, I just put green, blue and yellow on the mat. Wet that. Picked it up. Dried it with a heat gun.  Then, I put pink, purple and blue on the mat. Picked that up. Amazing. It layered instead of mixing, and I loved the result. 

So much so that I'm going to stop typing now and go make another card.

(The penguin in is from the SSS card kit from April - Wild Cuddly Critters.

Five Items

I was thinking yesterday that if I had to list what I consider to be the best cardmaking purchases I have made, what that list would be. I decided to eliminate the obvious and necessary purchases, such as paper, ink and coloring supplies. Beside those, what would be the 5 most useful or enjoyable cardmaking purchase I have made?

  1. My raskog cart. In fact, this is the item that started me compiling this list in my head. I love the convenience of this cart. It is used every time I make a card. Because items are organized well, and right at hand, it saves me time. And I love it.
  2. Two background stamps that I use all the time - The My Favorite Things Sheet Music Background stamp and the My Favorite Things Romantic Script Background stamp. I use both of these all the time - they just complete so many cards and make them look finished. Love them.
  3. My Misti and my Misti.  Yes, I have two of them. I have one of the original size and one mini. I hesitated to by the mini - after all, I had the original size, what did I need with a smaller one. My husband bought it for me (lovely man). I use them both, sometimes at the same time. 
  4. My paper trimmer. It's this one, the smaller one. I have two other larger ones, and I use them, too, but this one is small enough to fit on my desk (the others are too big for that). I love that I can see exactly where it is going to cut and that I can see the measurements to the right of the cutting blade. I use it on every card I make (I can't cut a straight line without it.).
  5. My scoring board. It is this mini one from Martha Stewart. I realize that I could use the "gutter" in the trimmer for scoring, but I don't like it. I like this. It sits on my raskog cart, right next to my Misti, and I use it on every card. I can't fold at all - not straight, anyway, and this does it for me.
There are others, but these are the first three that came to mind. I could also wax poetic about my Ranger craft mat, my Wagner heat gun, my Sizzix die cut machine, the mason jars I use for watercoloring, but five was my pre-set limit.

As a bonus, I love these pieces of pottery that are on my desk.  They catch trash when I need them to, hold the backers off of tape, and sequins (the flat one does that). I could have bought less expensive and less pretty dishes for those purposes, but these make me happy when I craft.


This month, I've been posting an image each day of birds on my Facebook and Instagram feed. I thought I would share some of them with you.  These were all taken with our Nikon 5100 and the Nikon DX 55-300mm lens.

Card for a Bishop

About a week ago, a friend, who is also the spouse of the Director of Connectional Ministries for the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, facebook messaged me. They needed a thank you card for the Bishop who was preaching for the annual conference - would I make one? I said yes, and asked her what it should look like. The answer was mountain scene or birds.

This is what I did:

The card is water colored on Arches Coldpress paper. I took inspiration from an image of the view from Snowshow Mountain that I found on the internet.

It was nerve wracking to do. A card I make for a friend or family member is one thing - but a card for a bishop? Done at someone's request? Quite another thing.

But in the end, what is done is done, and out it went.

West Virginia Mountains

We went to the northeastern mountains of West Virgiina over Memorial Day Weekend.  These images were taken using all three of my cameras (listed here).

Blackwater Falls from far away

Blackwater Falls from stairs


Hawks Nest View - High water

Hawks Nest View

Hawks Nest View

View from Snowshoe lift

Oodles of Doodles - May

I've mentioned before that The Petit Planner on Instagram publishes a monthly doodling challenge.   In  May, the challenge was a list of foods.  It's fun to do - and fun to think of creative ways to interpret the words.

Some of my favorites this month were cookie (I drew the Cookie Monster) and hamburger (Hamburgler).

Snowshoe Scarf

Often, when we travel, I'll buy yarn. I like my yarn souveniors - when I knit with the yarn and then use the knitted article (usually a scarf), I am reminded of our trip.

Last weekend we went to the mountains of West Virginia. I knew I wouldn't find a yarn store there, and I wanted to knit in the car while we traveled, so I ordered yarn to take with me.

I am drawn to blues and greens, so much so that many of my scarves are shades of those colors. I do buy a few other colors, but not beige. I like color.

I ordered this yarn because the name of the color is snowshoe - we went to Snowshoe mountain for the weekend. I couldn't reisist it! And it will match my coats (which are black with taupe trim).

I'm knitting a 2x2 rib with Knit Picks City Tweed, Aran weight. The yarn is soft - 55% merino wool, 25% superfine alpaca, and 20% donegal tweed. It's a heavy worsted weight yarn, so I'm using US size 9 needles.

On the trip, I knit one skein - 164 yards. I purchased three of them.

The top image is the scarf sittig on a rail of the deck at the hotel. The second one is the scarf sitting on the dashboard as we aproached Seneca Rocks.

Bicycle Card

Friends of ours are bicycling buddies of Steve's. For their anniversary, I made a card using Lawn Fawn's Bicycle Built for You.  If you look at that set, you'll see that it includes a bike for one - not for two, so I used a little creative masking and stamping to build a different bike.

Notice the left legs of the bikers. Those should be on the back.

Here, I fixed it. Stamped bike frame on white paper. Glued over.

Masked to add background - brushed on distress ink.

Finished anniversary card for friends

Mitred Crosses, Take Two

Many years ago, when the older son, Grant, started college, I made this blanket for him.  It is a Mitred Cross blanket, knit in his college school's colors (orange and black). It was a surprise for him, and for me, it was the largest object I had ever knit. That was in 2011.

Fast forward to 2014. Our younger son, Josh, graduated from high school and started college. I
decided to continue the tradition, so I knit him a Mitred Cross Blanket, using his school's main color, kelly green. Since son #2 is the same height as son #1, their blankets were the same size.

I wasn't blogging on this blog then, so I didn't write a post. It seems that I didn't take any pictures, either, which is very unlike me. To write the post, I had to text Josh and ask him to photograph his blanket for me.

Yarn: Superwash Wool of the Andies. This was a change from Grant's blanket. His was not superwash. Since I knit the blanket, I have machine washed and dried it, which was scary for all of us, but worked just fine. The colors were coal, cobblestone heather and dove heather (all three the same as Grant's) plus two green colors - a kelly green and a forest green, whose real names I have not recorded.

Needles: I don't remember, but I knit the first one with size 6, so I'm betting I used the same size with this one.

Pattern: Mitred Crosses Blanket by Mason Dixon Knitting. Here is the link on Ravelry, There used to be a post on Mason Dixon knitting, but it appears to be gone now.  In the corner of the blanket, I stitched musical notes (my deviation from the pattern). Those are symbolic of Josh, who is a musician.  I also made it longer than the pattern calls for - Josh's is a total of 15 squares. I added a black edging to the finished blanket.

Travel images

How about some images from our recent weekend trip? These were taken with our Nikon 5100 (details about our camera at this page).

Bird on post, near Summersville, WV

Blue flowers - what kind? Near Summersville Lake

Near Summersville Lake.

Female cardinal near Gnats Run, WV

Male cardinal near Gants Run, WV

Cathedral Falls near Glen Ferris, WV

White dogwood in Summersville

Process vs Project Card Making

I was thinking about card making today. I was kind of regretting that I hadn't had much time to just "play" with my stamps and supplies. For me, playing means to explore media, to pull a set of stamps and see what I can do with them, to experiment, to use up a card kit - playing is a great creative outlet.

In knitting, there are process knitters and project knitters. Process knitters mainly enjoy the knitting of the object. The goal for a process knitter is not really the finished product - it is the knitting, The ultimate story about process knitters that I've heard is women in a eastern European country (I think) who couldn't get yarn, so they would knit a pair of socks, frog the knitting, and then knit the socks over and over again, just for the pleasure of knitting.

Project knitters are in it for the end product. When I knit a gift for Christmas, with a fixed deadline, and a rush to finish, I am a project knitter. I just want to get to the end, where I have the scarf or the socks and can wrap them and call it all done. I don't enjoy the knitting as much.

Today, I realized that the same can be thought of in card making - sometimes I am a project card marker and sometimes I am the process card maker.

  1. When I make cards for the people on my list, I am a project card maker. This month, I needed to make 11 Mother's Day cards, 7 "event" cards (birthday and anniversary) and a few other, non-categorized and non-planned cards (Get Well, Thinking of You. I've been pushing to get this list done for a few weeks. Today I finished the Mother's Day cards, and I have two more event cards to make for the month. I enjoy doing it, don't get me wrong, but there isn't a lot of "play" in it.
  2. Sometimes, I just sit down and enjoy the process. I end up with cards, but they aren't for particular people. For example, the card in the image with this post is a Suzy Plantamura pre-made print. I took it with me when I had time to color during breakfast, and colored it in with Zig Clear Color watercolor markers. Later, I took the finished piece, mounted it, and made it in to an anniversary card for a couple on my list.
It seems to be a small difference, but the first way feels as if I am working toward a deadline. The second way feels less stressful and more like play. It in in the process that I learn new skills, usually, because I'm trying new techniques. It's in the play that I grow as an artist.

I need to remember to take tame to play - not just to make cards.

Lydia's scarf

This is Lydia's scarf. It is also a lesson in how, if I don't write things down, I won't be able to remember them.

I knit this in December for our son's finance.  The picture is bad and my memory of the detail of the knitting supplies is bad. But I'll do the best I can:

Pattern: Ripples from Knitpicks (this much I know).
Yarn: Wool of the Andes Superwash bulky (I think), 3 skeins (maybe)
Color: Aurora Heather
Needles: Size 9

My soon-to-be daughter in law is tall (almost 6 feet), so I knit the scarf to be six feet long. I worked hard to finish is by Christmas, and measured it wrong - it was probably at least 7 feet long when I finished.

I like the look of the pattern, and it didn't take too long to memorize. I'm unhappy with the edges and how they curled. It could be the way I knit it, though, and not a function of the pattern itself.

Also, I was in such a rush to finish it and wrap it that the images of it are bad. This one is heavily edited in Photoshop to try to get the color close to correct - it's ok, but not quite right.

Lessons learned - write details down, take better images, measure better, and work on the edges.

Oodles of Doodles

I am creative; I can stretch that to say I am artistic. What I am not is a person who is able to draw. That would be a great gift, and it is a gift my older son has. He didn't get it from me.

However, I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, and Stephanie Klauk posted an image of her bullet journal - the page where she was working through the Oodles of Doodles challenge for April. It's a list of prompts - 30 of them - and for each of them, you use the prompt to lead you in a doodle.  A few example prompts for April are tulip, bunny, ants, picnic - you get the idea.

It looked interesting  and as I said, I can't draw. But I CAN play. So I grabbed the list from The Petite Planner's Instagram feed, and created a spread in my bullet journal.

The drawings are doodles. They aren't great - as I said, I can't draw. But it is fun. And it reminded me about something important regarding creativity. You don't have to be good at something to do it. Do it anyway. Play. Create. Have fun expressing yourself.

My Raskog Cart

Top Shelf
 I have a cart that sits near my studio desk - it's a Raskog cart from IKEA.  When I was setting it up, I looked around the internet for ideas - and didn't find many. So, this is how I set it up.

Top Shelf:
  • Box with stamps I want to use soon. In particular seasons, this turns into seasonal stamps (like Christmas).
  • Box with precut papers I can use for the inside of the cards, bags I use to put finished cards and envelopes together and other small papers.
  • Basket with towels for cleaning (paper and cloth).
  • Scoreboard and Misti

Second Shelf
 Second Shelf:
  • Two baskets of embossing powders: metallic and colors
  • Coffee filters for embossing
  • Box of acrylic box which also contains basket for ink blending tools and ink swatch stamp.
  • Small basket of long strips of paper for sentiments
Third Shelf - one side
 Third shelf:
  • Basket of large cling rubber stamps (especially backgrounds and Penny Black)
  • Jar of finger blending tools
  • Jars of water for watercoloring
  • Pencil cases - Prismacolor (the large one), Derwent Inktense and Derwent watercolor

Third shelf - other side

I love my cart. It has made staying organized, and having everything handy for when I need it so much easier. One of my favorite purchases! I also enjoy using baskets to help keep everything organized on the cart. I enjoy how they look. The exception to this is the acrylic blocks, which are in an acrylic storage box.

Easter Cards

 I'm working on Easter cards this week, and I feel in love with Cottontail Cuties from Neal and Tangled.  I belong to an accountability group (called an Emmaus Reunion Group) - I've made cards for each of these women - 7 of them.

As I worked on the cards, I thought a post about these cards - step by step - might be fun to do.

I stamped the images in Hero Arts Black dye ink on Neenah Solar White 80 pound card stock - I like both of these for colored pencils.  I masked the little girl's hand and stamped the carrot, so that it looked like she was holding it. I wanted a soft look, so I used Prismacolor pencils (instead of copics). This design is very much inspired - if not stolen - from Laura Fadora - at this link.  Watching her video inspired me to purchase the stamp set.

I masked the images with post-it notes, and then used Inc. makeup brushes from Target to brush on Distress Ink (Twisted Citron and Broken China) for the grass and sky. I added a few pencil strokes in green to provide ground and blades of grass. I wish I could remember where I saw the idea of using the makeup brushes - they are a substitute for the more expensive Clarity Brushes. This is the first time I've tried them - I loved the light touch of ink they provide. I never could have gotten this soft of a background with the ink applicators I usually use with distress ink.

The panel is mounted on a frame and card base from My Favorite Things.  Seven of them ready for Easter!

Incowrimo - Encouragement Cards

Have you ever heard of incowrimo? It is an abbreviation for International Correspondence Writing month.

Since I started bullet journaling, I've been watching videos by Boho Berry. She participated in incowrimo - at the time I thought it required you to write a 28 letters in February. Cool idea - handwritten letters.

I didn't want to write letters, but decided to accept that challenge and send out 28 handmade encouragement cards in February. You can tell, if you know anything about incowrimo, that I didn't actually go check out their website - until today, as I write this post.  According to the website, "InCoWriMo challenges you to hand-write and mail/deliver one letter, card, note or postcard every day during the month of February." So, my card commitment was write in line with challenge - it doesn't have to be letters.

At first, I thought 28 encouragement cards was a stretch goal Keep in mind that I didn't count the ones I made for Valentine's Day. As the month went on ... Wow. Not just a stretch goal - it was a big commitment.

And yet, the whole process reminded me of why I send out handmade cards. The recipients were surprised - cards for no reason. A "happy" as my mother-in-law would have called it. People need that kind of encouragement, don't you think.

Will I do it next year? Maybe. It was worth it.

(By the way, the image was taken in a grocery store florist department with my iPhone - some day soon I'll write a post about my image a day for a month commitments.)

Bike Doodles

 In December, I started learning about bullet journaling. I decided to give it a try. That month, I pulled a blank book I had on my shelf and a couple of pens, and started giving it a try.

I liked it, so in January of this year, I started bullet journaling daily. I'll write a post about the process I use later - you can see my supplies at this link.

This morning, I was planning for the day. Steve had a bike ride on his schedule, and I wanted to include that in my day. I decided to work on a doodle of a bike that I could draw on my page. I started with a page in the back of my book, a google of bike doodles, and finally with the picture of Steve's bike that is to the right.

It's still a work in progress - I like the one on the bottom row, far right side the best, but fun to play with.

Doodle on.

Fountain Pens and Ink

I've become interested in foundation pens. Years ago, as a kid, I used a foundation pen, and I played around with calligraphy using a foundation pen with a calligraphy nib.  So this is a renewed interest.

My current pens are:

  1. Pilot Metropolitan, violet leopard with a fine nib.  This is a great pen. It was inexpensive, and yet it writes very smoothly - flows across the paper. It comes with a converter and a cartridge so that you can choose which method of adding ink you prefer. I started with a cartridge and then switched to a converter to use bottled ink.
  2. Platinum Plaisir, green with a fine nib. I like this pen, too. It doesn't write as smoothly as the Metropolitan, but it still does a good job.  When I purchased it, I also purchased a converter (which doesn't come with this pen.
  3. Parker Vector 88. This isn't my pen. It belonged to my husband's grandmother. He bought it for her as a gift, and when she died, it was returned to him. When he saw my interest in these pens, he dug it out for me to use. It still had the cartridge in it that she had used, although it was empty of ink (or dried up). I worried that the dried ink would have ruined the feed or the nib, but cleaning it was rather easy, and it was restored. No one has used it for about 20 years, and now it's working just great. I purchased a Parker converter for it.
Inks I've tried:
  1. Blue-Black Pilot cartridge - this worked as expected, but I wanted to try something a little bit brighter.
  2. Diamine emerald - It's a nice green ink, but it leans more toward yellow green than bluer green.
  3. Noodler's Green Marine - I like this one better than the Diamine Emerald because it is a bluer green. Personal preference.
  4. Diamine Blue Velvet - Great blue ink. I like it
  5. Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku - a deep teal blue-green ink - peacock. This is the ink I put in the Parker 88.
You'll see that for most of the inks above I've linked to samples from The Goulet Pen Company. They have a nice option that offers small samples of bottled ink to try. Great idea - and it has allowed me to try several before I buy a whole bottle.  The Iroshizuku link listed above was a "surprise" ink. It's another option they offer - you can purchase a randomly selected sample of ink.  Fun idea!

For those interested in finding more out above fountain pens, I recommend The Goulet Pen company Youtube page. It's what drew me into to exploring this world again.

FYI - the notebook above is a Leuchtturm 1917 journal that I use for Bullet Journaling.