Making a Macrame Masterclass

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that there’s a big craft show nearby that me and my friend Cayden like to go to called Make It.  It’s actually two combined shows called Make It, and Knit & Stitch It, but it’s a whole lot easier to refer to it as Make It.

We didn’t go last year because the event was changing to a new venue that wasn’t quite built on time, and so it was cancelled.  Naturally we were very excited to go this year.  We booked our tickets, booked an Encaustic Art workshop with Kazie’s Magical Designs, and we booked a Macrame Bracelet workshop with Riverside Beads.   We saved lots of pennies to spend.  We were all set.

Then a week before, Cayden had a minor traffic accident and has a badly bruised ankle.  He’s fine, but that much walking wouldn’t have been good.  We waited a few days to see how quickly he’d heal, but it didn’t look like an option.  So we took advantage of Amazon Prime overnight delivery, ordered ourselves some supplies, and we had our own little workshop.

We ended up buying paracord, because it’s something we’ve both wanted to use, but paracord bracelets are made using knotting and braiding, which is essentially what macrame is, so it all counts.

We used a whole bunch of sources online but we mostly used YouTube tutorials from the fantastic Bored Paracord, The Weavers of Eternity, and Everyday Knife Guy.  Everyday Knife Guy actually has a three part Intro to Paracord series that we followed.





Lots of really good information.  The second video shows some basic knots: snake knot, barrel/noose/sliding knot and a celtic button knot.  The third video shows how to make some little fobs.  We watched, pausing and restarting, pausing and restarting, whilst watching Project Runway.   We have no fashion sense whatsoever, but we love Heidi and Tim.

The first thing we did, which you can probably guess from the horrendous tension, was the Snake Knot.

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The second one was a square knot, which was relatively easy for me because I use the same kind of layering in my origami bows.

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The third was a version of that knot, but with the direction of knotting changed, which makes it a rounded spiral.  Very pretty.

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We looked for tutorials for a paracord bracelet and found this one by Bored Paracord.




It was fun to do – and used the button knot which we’d learned with the second video by Everyday Knife Guy.  The actual bracelet part is super simple – it’s just a wrap.  I didn’t completely cut off the excess of mine (that’s the bit I’m attempting hide with my hand), because I wanted to test it’s quick deploy-ability.  It really does just pull apart.  And then I got to remake it.  Bonus fun!

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After that we searched for some actual macrame bracelet tutorials, since that’s what the originally planned workshop was, and we found this one.



It uses a square stitch, not to be confused with a square knot.  A simple stitch I’d tried in the past.  And the clasp is just a couple of square stitches over both ends.

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I made a second one of these using one of the buckles that came in the kit we bought from Amazon…

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We looked for more macrame videos and found this one by Sarah G.


She demonstrates in terms of wall hangings, which we didn’t get into but probably will soon, but the knots were interesting to learn.  Especially the Right Twisting Half Square Knot – which is what it sounds like.  Just half of the square stitch, repeated.  Which makes this really awesome spiral.

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It was a really good session.  We learned lots, and did lots.  And I’ve been doing more knotting since.  Mostly just repeating stuff, and muttering to myself to remember which steps to take.  It’s kinda soothing.  I will definitely be doing more of these.  I want to try a wall hanging at some point, and I want to try with thinner cord.  I’m also working on a long hanging piece that demonstrates all the knots/stitches I’ve learned.

Here’s some of what Cayden made:

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Learning Bead Weaving


Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty. I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there. This one was from March 2015.


I’ve decided I’m going back to basics with beading.  I still have to learn the various stitches to make proper beadwork pictures and things.  Starting with Peyote stitch.

According to this website I’ve been learning from, the term comes from Native American cultures.  There are three types to learn on that page.  Flat Even Count, Flat Odd Count and Circular Flat.  So I started at the beginning.

Made a stop bead.  Easy.

And the instructions for figuring out Flat Even Count were pretty simple.  I got that quite quickly.  As you can see with my yarn and pony beads version:

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What I couldn’t figure out from the instructions on that site was the finishing off. So I went to YouTube. (I love YouTube.) At which point I realised that it was essentially a case of weaving in the thread until it was secure.

So, Flat Even mastered. To move on to Flat Odd, or to make something in Flat Even?

I went for making something in Flat Even – I decided a nice cuff in purples would be good. So off I went. I realised with a bit of a “duh” moment that it’s called Flat EVEN because the number of beads in your initial row is an even number.

I also realised whilst working that it’s better to pull your thread taut after every bead, or every few beads, rather than at the end of a row. Especially if you’re doing a long row. The thread won’t pull through otherwise.

And once I’d finished my few rows, I realised that when weaving your thread through to secure it, you shouldn’t pull too tight because it’ll warp the shape of your piece.

I DID have a nice straight line to make a cuff. Now I have a wave.

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Oh well, that’s what learning is all about 🙂

Next question – do I work on improving my Flat Even skills, including learning to follow a pattern, or do I move on?

Well, I think that question is fairly obvious.  I needed to follow a pattern.  A quick google search lead me to this website, which had a nice diagonally striped pattern to do.


I figured out the pattern reading quite quickly, but I wasn’t entirely happy with my results.

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I decided it must be the pony beads, and that I was ready to work with the seed beads you generally use for what I have learned is called “bead weaving”. I dug out my seed beads, and some thread stuff that goes through them. And I just kinda got in a mess. The beads wouldn’t line up right.

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So I figured maybe I’d gone too small. Maybe it’d word a bit better with a 4mm bead?

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So I went back to pony beads for a bit. I’d found this picture online a while ago…


…and I decided I was going to have a go at the one on the bottom left. The local bead store runs a contest that doesn’t seem to get a lot of entrants and the theme for the next one is “easter egg”.

I pinpointed the base rows and threaded them up…

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…and then realised that I didn’t actually know how to shape. Right, so I’ll square it off. Give it a background. Simple. I just needed some pattern paper. Fairly sure I wouldn’t be able to draw one out, I did a google image search and came up with this.

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Which I uploaded to the doodle app on my iPad and drew a crude pattern on.

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And off I went. Complete with a tip I found for keeping the base steady, I managed to get half of it done before I got tired and went to bed.

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It looks pretty good for a beginner piece 🙂

Before my next session I did a bit more research into it, looking for tips and advice and things. I discovered a few things. For my first attempt at doing it properly, I picked up some wide eyed beading needles. They’re very odd.

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(I have no idea what happened to my camera between these sessions)

I planned to experiment once I’d finished my egg. Which I did in the next session.

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It looked a wee bit wonky, but I hoped that once I took it off the bottom needle it would even out a bit.

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Still a little bit wonky, but for my first piece I’m still chuffed. But I am determined that I will not always be doing bead weaving with pony beads. So… on to the big odd needles.

I got out my seed beeds, thread some wirey stuff through one of the big needles, and had at it. I failed.

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There were a couple of problems. The wirey stuff kept sliding out of the needle, and I couldn’t control it much. I decided to resort to my old favourite. Embroidery floss. Not recommended for beading projects usually I don’t think, but it’s something I can manipulate. So I threaded a big odd needle, and got started.

I had real trouble with the second row. The beads wouldn’t stay in the right configuration. I wished the knitting needle I’d used for the egg piece would fit in my seed beads, before I recalled that the big odd needles would fit. So I threaded one of those through the bottom layer of beads to help stabilise, and I got started again.

Next problem, things weren’t staying still! So I got out the cellotape.

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It’s hard to see the cellotape there, but I’ve taped the needle down. At first I just did each end of the needle, but I was still finding the piece sliding around. So I added more tape, right on the sides of the piece, to keep it still.

I worked a few more rows, and found that I was finding it easier. I have the technique down. I KNOW what I’m doing. I’m just struggling to do it with such small beads – although the needle really does help. Especially since it’s so bendy.

I know though, that the way to get better at something is to practice. You can see at the top of the piece in that last picture that it looks a bit better. Practice practice practice.

My tension needs work. The stitch is very loose. But I assume that will come with more practice, just like it did with knitting and crochet. Practice practice practice.

As is typical for me, I found this difficult and put it aside to work on something else for a while… and then completely forgot about it.  I don’t know where it is now. I’ll have to dig it out, or restart it, and have another go.  If I haven’t posted about it in a month or two, chase me up.

The First Mini Alien

Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty. I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there. This one was from July 2010.


I wanted to do a mystery knit, but when I did a search everything was Mystery Shawl or Mystery Scarf. That wasn’t enough mystery for me. I didn’t want to have a clue what I was making. So I got my friend Cayden to find and feed me a proper mystery knit. I ended up with this cute little guy…

The pen is to show how small he is. It was only 16 rows. I had Cayden feed it to me in a few rows a day, so it took a few days, but you could easily make dozens in an evening. The original pattern can be found here.

So what do you think? Isn’t he just the cutest little beastie ever?

Since then I’ve made a total of 270 of these guys.  So far.

Hama Hogwarts

Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty. I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there. This one was from May 2015.


In my last Hama post I showed you a Hogwarts crest that I wanted to make.

It took a lot of time!

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And a lot of masking tape… I didn’t want to risk having too many boards at once, so I did a maximum of two at a time.

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But it was a fun project to do. Maybe because Hogwarts means so much to me.

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And it was so exciting seeing it come together.

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Once all the beads were in place, it stayed like that for a few days because I was too scared to iron it.

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Ironing it could ruin it. And I’d never ironed anything so big before. It was bloody terrifying. But eventually the fact that it was back to front convinced me to do it.

Ironing took absolutely ages! I wanted the back to be very very ironed, so that it was secure. And when I flipped it over to peel the tape off, Ravenclaw gave me a bit of trouble. But here it is in all it’s finished glory.

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And I am so so so happy with it!

Platonic Doodle Date #2

Last week I wrote about me and my friend Cayden using three different challenges from the Arty Games app by YouTuber Draw With Jazza.  We were too over-confident and decided that 10 minutes was plenty because we had very simplistic styles.  We were wrong.


Cayden had a better time with the colouring (on the left) than I did because he used a sensible sized sketchbook, unlike me.  He used an A5 pad, and I used an A4 one.  I did not learn my lesson.

We decided to have another go, but with 20 minutes instead.  We generated our colour palette (using my handy Copic Conversions)…


…we generated our scribble…

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… we laid out our pencils, erasers, inking pens and markers.  We set the 20 minute timer and off we went.

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20 minutes was definitely a lot easier.  But it was still stressful – in a fun kinda way.  Again, Cayden managed a better colouring job than me because of his proper sized sketchbook.  I also had issues with the purple running out.  Guess which one is mine…


This is another piece we’re going to redo with no time limit.  Although I think Cayden’s looks pretty damn good as it is. He even managed to add a shadow!

I’m not sure why I keep drawing birds for these. Next time I will make an effort to draw something else.  And I will use a sensible size sketchbook.


Platonic Doodle Dates

One of my favourite YouTube channels is Doodle Date, with adorable couple Adam and Steph who do many arty challenges and activities together.  More than a few of the challenges have appealed to me and been added to my list of things to do.  When my friend Cayden was scheduled to come stay with me for my birthday weekend I decided that we should take on a Doodle Date challenge, but since we’re not a couple it would be a Platonic Doodle Date.

When we sat down to decide what to do, another favourite YouTube channel Draw With Jazza had just posted a video that we loved the idea of, so we ended up having a Platonic Doodle Date that wasn’t actually on Doodle Date.

In the video Jazza uses his Arty Games app to pick a bunch of challenges at once.  I happen to have the Arty Games app, and it’s really useful when you don’t know what to draw.  Not to mention a bundle of fun.  Jazza chooses a time challenge, a colour challenge, an environment prompt, a character prompt and a scribble.  Cayden and I are both relative new to drawing so we decided to skip the environment and character prompts for our first attempt.

So, for the timed portion.  We decided that since we both have quite simplistic styles at the moment, ten minutes would be plenty.

Next up, the colour selection.  We wanted as many colours as possible so we set the app to pick five.

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And finally, the scribble…

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However….  isn’t there always a “however” with me?  I got out my box of markers and went to pick out the right colours.  I don’t have a full set of very expensive Copic markers.  I have a small amount of Copics, a small amount of Promarkers, some Ohuhu, some DoCrafts and some TouchFive markers.  So I tried swatching a lot to get the same colours and it just wasn’t happening.

Which lead to the Platonic Doodle Date being delayed for a few hours.

Jazza’s app lets you add the type of pen set you have, except that it doesn’t have any of my other markers.  So I decided it would be a good idea to swatch all my markers and attempt to colour match them to Copic numbers. I did look for a conversion chart online first, but couldn’t find anything.

It took several hours, and lots of scrolling through websites selling Copic markers.  It was fun, but difficult.  There may be 358 Copic colours, but that isn’t enough!  So many of my markers didn’t fit any Copics, and there were more than a couple of times where two differently coloured markers ended up with the same Copic number.  But I finally had a set of “Copic” colours.

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And so we re-generated the colours…

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Then we decided that black shouldn’t really count, since we’d be inking in black anyway.  So we picked an additional colour…

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The eagle-eyed among you might notice that B16 appeared already.  Luckily B16 was one of those Copic colours that had a couple of my markers attached to it.  So we ended up with the following colour palette…

So we swatched, we drew out our scribble into our sketchbooks…

…we set out our pencils, erasers, inking pens and markers, we set up the timer and off we went!

Ten minutes is not enough.

We sketched okay, and we inked okay…

…and then lost all sense of sanity during the colouring.

Cayden (the green haired character) did a better job at the colouring than me (the bird) because he was sensible and used an A5 sketchbook instead of a huge A4 one like I did.

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It was hectic, and adrenaline-filled, and a LOT of fun. We both agreed that we should have done 20 minutes. And we both plan to redo our pieces without the time limit, just to show how good we really are.




A Cute Skirt For a Cute Niece

Disclaimer: This post is a repost from my old blog, which was more personal and less crafty.  I don’t use that blog anymore, but thought I’d share some of the craft-related posts from there.  This one was from January 2016.


With the success of the Great British Bake Off, the BBC decided to add to the “Great British” series with the Great British Sewing Bee.   I liked this show as much as the Bake Off, because I am a fledgling seamstress.

One of the challenges they do every episode is to give the contestants a plain item of clothing which they must completely and utterly alter. For instance, in one episode they were all given a plain blue shapeless t-shirt to transform.


My favourite was this beautiful technique.


In another episode they all got to pick an 80’s power suit to transform.



I decided that it was something I wanted to try. If nothing else, it’s a good exercise for practicing my skills. However, I am quite large. So I knew it would be difficult to find something big enough to make something for me, so I settled on making something for my little niece.

With that in mind, I picked up this stripy shirt…

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And I knew what I wanted to do with it. The first step however was unpicking this rouching (not the technical term) on the back so I could use as much of the fabric as possible.

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Luckily that was just a case of cutting the elastic on the inside in a few places.

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Next step, trim the shirt to reveal the fabric I had to work with. I needed two pieces. Fold each piece into quarters and cut out a circle waist. The internet told me the average waist size of an 18 month old, and I found something that was approximately the right size.

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Cut out the circles from both pieces of fabric…

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…and overlay the two pieces, with the points at angles with each other.

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You could tack around the circle here, just to keep them in place.

The next step is the waistband. I cut a piece of elastic to just a bit smaller than my niece’s waist, pinned it together and marked the ends with pins.  I marked the halfway points as well, and then the quarter marks of the circle on the fabric. I aligned the elastic with the skirt, pinning in place.

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Next up, sew the elastic to the skirt. I knew that when sewing elastic you’re meant to use a zig zag stitch, but I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to stretch the fabric as you sew or not. I erred on the side of not, and still managed to get some give in there.

My cutting skills need a bit of work. My sewing skills still leave a lot to be desired too, but it works.

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I somehow managed to mess up joining the ends of the elastic, and had an ugly little bump.

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But I am a creative genius! And I figured out how to solve the problem.

Isn’t it cute?

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Draw This In My Style

Months and months ago there was an art challenge making the rounds on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.  Artists would post a piece of art, and challenge people to #drawthisinyourstyle.

Since I’ve been doing pretty much nothing but drawing for almost a year now, I decided to have a go.  I picked one of my favourite YouTube artists, Kasey Golden, and her gorgeous cactus lady image.

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I did my sketch in July, actually.  I just got distracted with my many many projects.  Apparently I suffer from startitis (a crafter’s affliction in which one starts projects before finishing others) with art as much as I do with everything else.

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And then last week I finally got around to finishing her off.  I’m quite pleased.

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I enjoyed doing this.  I’m going to be on the hunt for more pieces to try, but since it’s a months old challenge, it might be a bit hard.  Let me know if you know of a piece I could have a go at.

Making Washiween a Thing

October means Inktober to a lot of people.  It also means many other challenges, as do all the months of the year.  You’d be surprised how many different monthly challenges there are out there: FairieFeb, March of Robots, MerMay, Junicorn.  It goes on and on.  I have a list in my bullet journal and I intend to attempt as many of them as possible.

There’s at least one on my list that I’m not entirely sure is “officially” a thing.  Arty Advent.  One of my favourite YouTubers, Baylee Jae, did Arty Advent last year in which she posted a new video every day of December until Christmas.  I don’t think it’s an official thing, but it’s something I’d like to do.  I did do a 25 Crafts of Christmas in 2016.

Another monthly challenge put out by a Youtuber is Washiween by SamBeAwesome

I have lots of washi tape, and “colouring” a piece in with tape is something I’ve wanted to try for a while.  So after seeing Sam’s video last week I got out my tape, and I had a go.

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I had lots of fun.  And I learned that I don’t actually have enough washi tape.  For instance, I only have thin flesh coloured tape and it doesn’t look quite right.  After I did that piece, I had another go…

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Even though I enjoyed this piece too – especially figuring out that if you hole punch tape you can get neat little tiny circles – there is a lot about it that I’m not too happy with.  My cutting skills are horrible, for example.  And drawing with the sharpie over the top is difficult with all the edges.  But, as with anything, I know that I’ll improve with practice.

And so today, while testing some supplies from Wish for an upcoming blog, I decided to make another #Washiween piece.

Wanting to use all 10 colours of the washi tape I bought from Wish, I added a background to it too.  This is where I discovered that cutting the edge can leave a bit of a mess, whereas wrapping the excess to the back is a lot neater.

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I’ve also learned that cutting eyes sucks… I need to get more sizes of hole punch.

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I’ve learned that I press too hard with the knife to do this on sketchbook paper.  The first piece was on mixed media paper, and the second was on 250gsm card.

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It’s difficult – nearly impossible – to see the lines you want to cut round.  I do think it might be easier using my lightbox, but I don’t want to use that until I trust my knife skills better.

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Here’s where I realised that putting the inner ears and nose in first was probably silly.

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And here’s where I realised that this tape in particular really does not like being stuck to itself, which is why he ended up with no spots.

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Lots to learn still, and lots of improvement to make.  But here’s my finished piece.

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I might not do 31 days of Washiween this year, but it’s going on my list of monthly challenges to attempt.

Budding Artist

In October last year my best friend gave me a set of watercolour pencils for my birthday, and since then I’ve been drawing.  Drawing and drawing and drawing.  I’ve spoken about it before briefly, here and here.  It’s become my favourite hobby.  I do more drawing than anything else at the moment, and I’m really pleased with my improvement. 9 out of 10 pieces that I produce make me really, really happy.  And the best bit of all is that I’ve moved on from copying things I find on Pinterest to creating my own original content.

I am doing Inktober, and I’ll be sharing my pieces later in the month, or maybe in November.  If you want to see them as I do them, please pop along to my Twitter feed.  For now I just wanted to share some of my recent pieces that I’m proud of.

I’ve developed a penchant for adorable monsters.  They’re what I draw most of right now.

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But I’m also trying to draw “proper” people too.

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You might not be able to tell, but he’s actually a piece of fan art.  I humanised a Pokemon.  Spinarak…


I’ve even jumped on the Bowsette bandwagon.

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I have a lot of art I’m really proud of, and I hope I continue to improve 🙂