Sam’s Paint-a-long Part 2

A few months ago my good friend SamBeAwesome did a paint-a-long which led to me producing these two awesome birdies.

Well she’s doing another one.

The girl can work miracles with Crayola markers. I’ve been slowly doing a series of Crayola blog posts inspirired by here, but don’t expect anything as astonishing as what she can do. I mean, look at these:

Join us for the paint-a-long on March 14th on her Twitch channel, and see her perform magic live.

Knitters vs Arthritis

One of the things that terrifies me is getting a condition like arthritis, leaving me unable to do the million crafts and hobbies that keep my mind occupied.

So when I saw on Facebook that the charity Versus Arthritis were holding a knit-a-thon fundraiser I had to get involved.

The concept is very simple. Knitters all over the world – and crocheters – are partaking in various challenges to raise money. Some people are taking on a challenge like a making a blanket, some people are stash-busting, some people are knitting all day on March 6th (or other days).

I’ve chosen to add to my mini alien army.

I love these little dudes. I have several dozen in various places around my house, and if you’re a friend or family member you’ve probably got one or two as well.

I sell them too – you can get your very own on my Etsy store. I have some premade, and of course I’ll be making more soon. But I can make one in any colour or colours you’d like. I can add a keyring for no extra cost so you can take your little friend with you everywhere. I’m even experimenting with adding a magnet.

I make a lot of mini aliens. They take me about 25 minutes to knit and it’s something I tend to do when I’m watching a movie or I’m on a bus. I am incapable of sitting still.

On March 6th I’m going to knit as many of them as I possibly can. And since I’m doing it for a fundraiser I’m afraid I’ve reached that embarrasing point where I have to ask you for money.

Please donate whatever you can towards this excellent cause. My Facebook fundraiser page can be found here, but if you aren’t comfortable with using Facebook you can send your donation via my Ko-fi and I’ll donate it on your behalf.

If you want to wait until after the 6th, and donate per alien I’ve knitted, that’s fine too. The fundraising page is open until the end of March.

I’ll actually be doing two marathons for this project. I like to make up a whole bunch of aliens at a time. Since it’s something I knit while I’m not really looking – I’ve made so many now that the pattern is ingrained in my head – I end up winding the ends around them and collecting lots of them. Even before I start this knit-a-thon I’ve got 45 that need making up.

Making them up is very simple. You start off with this base shape that you’ve knitted.

Then you sew up a seam along the back, turn it inside out, add eyes, stuff, and then sew along the bottom. Simple. I just need to actually do it, instead of collecting mountains of the poor little things.

So on March 13th, I’ll be doing a make-up-a-whole-bunch-of-mini-aliens-a-thon. Doesn’t it just roll off the tongue?


In my quest to try every single monthly art challenge, in November last year I took on DiNovember.

I decided a long time ago that doing a piece every day was just not feasible for me. My plan for these challenges is just to do as much as I can/want to.

Having said that, I did plan on doing more dinosaurs. But you know, all the stuff going on in world combined with my mental health and did away with that plan.

The three that I did are insanely adorable though.

Jingle Jewellery

This post was – obviously – supposed to be a Christmas post. But things got a little weird before Christmas – Covid and lockdowns and tiers did a number on my mental health. I did the projects for a couple of posts, but never got around to writing the blogs. Instead of wasting them, I’m going to post them in February. Because why not.

I got these cute jingly bells when I did my last order from The Works back in… um, I can’t remember.

I had a vague idea of making some jingly earrings for Christmas, but no real purpose for them. They were just cheap and cute. I do that a lot. This is why I have a LOT of stuff in my house.

I’m not a hoarder, I’m a crafter.

Anyway, jewellery. Mid-November I had my jewellery making supplies out for something else, so I made these up.

I started with a single white bell on a chain, with a lobster clasp.

But I quickly decided that wasn’t enough jingle. One bell that jingles is kinda cute. But Christmas – for me at least – is about gawdy. So I added more.

Nice. I picked it up and shook it a little, to hear the jingle. It wasn’t quite right. Christmas is also about over the top.

So I added even more bells. I also made myself a matching set of earrings.

Jingle, jingle, jingle. Merry (belated) Christmas 🙂

January Scrawlr Box

The January 2021 Scrawlr Box was late, but I have no problem with that. There were delays due to Covid, and Brexit, and all the other chaos going on in the world right now. And Scrawlr were very good at giving updates and keeping the customers well informed. It wasn’t their fault.

And it was a good box. Well worth the wait.

Inside were three Tombow ABT markers, a Blackwing pencil in fancy Scrawlr labelling, a Zig Millennium pen, and a gorgeously smooth Clairefontaine sketchbook.

The featured artist this month was Chris Lambert, the founder of Scrawlr. And his specialty is doodling. Right in my wheel house.

The sticker for this month is missing – one of the reasons it was late was trouble with that. They’ll be putting it into February’s box, and I can’t wait. It’s usually similar to the featured art, or to the cover of the zine. And look how gorgeous that is.

This was certainly not one of those boxes that sits on my desk waiting to be used for months and months. This one got used right away!

First up, swatching. I made two mistakes. Can you spot them?

Mistake number one was testing the Zig pen under water-based markers, by using one of the Tombow pens. The ABT pens are alcohol-based.

Mistake number two is… well, you’ll see.

I got doodling before the ink on the first set of my layering swatch had dried. I was very eager. The Zig pen is very nice. So smooth. At first I thought it was the Clairefontaine paper, which is smooth and delicious on it’s own. But I tested the Zig on some other paper and it’s just as smooth. Very fun to use.

I got started with my main artwork piece. Big sweeping paisley shapes and lots of doodles.

And then I set to adding some colour. Which was a little upsetting.

It looks good at a distance (excuse the crappily cropped photo). But up close you can see a lot of bleeding.

Mistake number two on my swatch sheet was not doing a bleed test. The paper is very good, and bleedproof in the sense that there’s no ink showing on the back of the paper. Both sides of the paper are usable. But I should have tested whether or not the pens would bleed out of the lines I’d drawn.

I was a little unhappy with my piece, so I decided I’d go a step further. I did three things, each of them turning out very well.

First, I used a thicker lining pen to outline the paisley shapes on that first piece, to give it a slightly tidier look.

I did a second piece where I used bigger doodles, leaving slightly bigger spaces to colour so that I could colour a little away from the lines. This helps minimizing bleed.

And I used the markers to draw the paisley shapes, and then doodled on top of them.

I’m really happy with the last three pieces. And I don’t hate the bleeding one. I enjoyed this box quite a lot. I’ve used up most of the sketchbook already – they’re not full thickness books. Only 12 pages.

I love my subscription to Scrawlr. I know they’ve had some trouble with the past box or two, but they’re doing everything they can and I have no complaints. I’ll keep subscribing to this box for as long as they make them.

Bring on February’s box.

Novelty Pen 9 – 10 in 1

For this Novelty Pen series I was completely seduced by this 10 colour unicorn pen. I think pretty much everyone had a pen like this as a kid.

Kasey Golden did a video recently where she did some epic pieces with one. I’m super impressed with what she did, but please don’t expect my results to be anywhere near as good.

This type of pen can come with anything from 2 to 20 different colours. This one has 10, and when I swatched them out they looked fine. Like not-very-expensive biros. Which is what they are.

They work well enough for drawing, but I wasn’t sure how they’d fare with colouring. And I definitely didn’t have Kasey’s patience, so instead I got to doodling. Starting, naturally, with the traditional monster.

Followed up by a little line doodle…

…And then more monsters.

They aren’t the smoothest lines because the cheap pens kept clogging and needing scribbling to start again.

This is the last in my Novelty Pen series. In theory. I’m sure I’ll come across other pens in the future, but I’ll probably just post those sporadically, instead of saving them up for a series.

Are there any pens you’ve seen that you’d like me to try?

Novelty Pen 8 – Liquid Chrome

This Novelty Pen is another one from a past Scrawlr Box. This is the Molotow Liquid Chrome paint pen. And it is SHINY!! I love the effect this produces.

I enjoyed trying different things while swatching with this.

And my little tester monster was so cute…

…That I decided my main piece needed to be the same style. So I did another one, with different details.

Also with this pen I finally finished a WIP (work in progress) that’s been sat on my desk for an unknown amount of time. I painted these galaxies ages and ages and ages ago…

…And I’d seen some images on Pinterest where people had added metallic highlights to galaxy images. So I tried that.

I’m really pleased with how they came out. I love this pen so much. It’s sooooo shiny and juicy and consistent. I need to do more with it.

Novelty Pen 7 – Not a Pen

This Novelty Pen series pen isn’t technically a pen. It’s pencil leads.

These are 2mm coloured mechanical pencil leads. I have a 2mm mechanical pencil, and it’s easy enough to press the end and slide out the lead, then press the end and slide in another one.

2mm is a thick lead. It’s thick! Here’s the 2mm against a standard 0.5mm lead, for reference.

The leads in the little pack that I got from AliExpress weren’t in rainbow order, so I had to take them out and re-order them, obviously. A couple of them were broken, but that isn’t really a big deal with mechanical pencils.

Swatching was simple. The colours were nice, but they aren’t as pigmented as I’d like.

I drew a little monster, and then decided its eyes needed to be black so when I coloured him I changed that up.

And then for my final piece I knew I needed a rainbow monster.

I used my standard graphite 2mm lead to sketch out, and a normal inking pen to outline. Colouring was okay. It got a little frustrating to take each lead out and put a new one in everytime I wanted to change colours. I guess you could get a whole bunch of mechanical pencils and put one colour in each, but that seems a little pointless. You might as well buy a pack of coloured pencils.

But they coloured okay, and I ended up with a really cute little monster that may well end up being one of my Follow Up monsters one day.

Novelty Pen 6 – Twinkly Pen

Next up in my Novelty Pen series is this Atyou Spica twinkly pen I got in a Scrawlr Box ages ago.

Swatching was simple, smooth and easy.

As long as you colour in the same direction it doesn’t look too bad and it doesn’t tear up the paper. You can draw over it with inking pens. If you use it as an outline pen it doesn’t smear under alcohol-based or water-based markers. And it’s not opaque enough to cover pencil lines.

I did my monsters. A cute little stack of them this time. I really enjoyed doing these guys.

And this pen works great for doodling too.

The glittery effect isn’t as vivid as you might expect, but there is a definite glitter there. If you can taken decent photos of it, which I can’t.

Novelty Pen 5 – Stacker Crayons

This entry in the Novelty Pen series is something I’m sure we all had as kids. Stackable crayons!

You have lots of little sections of crayon that you stack together with whatever one you want to use at the top.

These ones are nice and creamy, with a decent amount of pigment too.

I tried blending them, and layering them. Both work okay.

Then I tested which of my inking pens would work over and under the crayon.

I drew out a small test monster, coloured it in rainbow stripes, and outlined it with Sharpie.

I really loved the rainbow look, and decided my bigger piece needed to be rainbow too. For inspiration I used a Shape Challenge shape.

I turned it into a robot of some description and coloured it in with the crayons.

I did a big chunk of the outlining…

…but wanted my thinner Sharpie for some pieces and that wasn’t to hand, so I finished the piece off a little later.

It’s a rainbow sprinkling robot 🙂