Wishlist Wednesday: And a Crafty New Year

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Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running.
So, Christmas has been and gone for another year. I hope you got lucky and found everything under your tree that you asked for! Maybe you got a little money for Christmas but you’re not sure what to spend it on? Don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas for the crafters out there to lighten your purse – whether you’re looking for a big budget item or just a little treat! Just read on below.

1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine (Affiliate)

I’ve talked about my desire for a Cricut before, and that desire hasn’t waned. If anything, when I spotted the new colours it’s available in, my need for it has grown. I have a huge thing for mint green, so I really had to restrain myself when this beauty popped up in my Black Friday deals.
Beyond appearance, this equipment is a workhorse. Gone are the days when your cutting is restricted to how well you can hand cut or which die-cuts you own. With a Cricut Explore Air 2, your imagination is very much your limit. It’s not just for cutting either – attachments mean you can also get it to draw or write for you. Just think about it – calligraphy style writing without the hand cramp? That’s the dream! The only thing that’s holding me back is that price tag – I feel like I’d need to be doing a lot more papercraft than I currently do, but fingers crossed for the future!

2. Big Shot Plus Starter Kit (Affiliate)

A Big Shot Plus was my first die-cutter, and honestly, I would still be using if it wasn’t so big! When I moved into my tiny studio, the Big Shot went to my sister and I took my Cut’n’Boss. But the Big Shot, in my view, was a much more reliable piece of kit. At most, I would put things through twice to get a clean cut. The system is simple, with pictures on the plates to help if you forget the order. The larger size (compared to the original) means you can cut bigger dies (duh!), but it also copes well with smaller more intricate dies.
The only drawback is that it is hand operated (an electronic version is available), so this needs to be considered for those with bad wrists like me! However, I only found it to be a big problem with high GSM Card. All in all, it’s perfect for a die cutting starter, especially if you go for the starter kit. When I first bought it, I used the starter kit contents to make a series of Easter boxes for my family, which out having to use anything else from my stash.

3.KnitPro Symdonie Rose Interchangeable Needle Set (Affiliate)

This set of circular needles was top of my Christmas list a couple of years ago, and since receiving it I haven’t used anything else (even for non-circular projects!) The needles themselves are a gorgeous mahogany colour, with rose gold-coloured metal for the attachments.  The kit comes with a needle gauge (for when the numbers inevitably rub off) and a range of needles and connecting cables. They are the perfect size to sit in your hands, and I’ve found using circular needles like these for all my knitting helps support the weight on my wrists better, leading to less pain. Like other wooden needles, I’ve found them easy to knit with, not too slippy and not too sticky for most yarns. The ends are sharp and stay sharp.
 There are a couple of things to be aware of before purchasing. The connections may gradually unscrew as you are knitting, but as long as you keep an eye on them and screw them back up as you go, you shouldn’t have many problems. I have also had one needle break at the part where the wood connects to the metal. However, I had no problem purchasing needles to replace it, and it was one that I had used a lot! Overall, I would absolutely recommend these to any knitters out there!
When I first saw gold plated needles recommended for cross stitch, I brushed it off as just silly. How much difference could a bit of gold plating really make?
The answer is a lot. I picked some up on a whim a year ago and haven’t looked back since. It glides through the material, making even the little movement of making a stitch feel seamless. They also feel a lot easier to thread than the standard needles you get.
They also look really fancy.
pony-gold-plated-knitting-tapestry-needles-sewing-size-18-26
Experience it for yourself and pick up a pack today. You honestly won’t regret it.
And that’s it for the last Wishlist Wednesday of 2017! Be sure to check back in 2018 for more recommendations and to find out what else is on my wishlist – this is just the start! And in the meantime, comment below with what’s on your list!
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Bank Holiday Project Monday: ‘Reyna’ Knitted Shawl

What did you do this Bank Holiday?

This time last year, a Bank Holiday meant another day at work for a little bit more pay. Now I’m  working and studying, they are a welcome reprise in an otherwise busy life. I have been looking forward to this for several weeks, literally counting down the days until it came along – since I spent my Easter bank holidays travelling to and from my parents!

Taking full advantage of this rest day, I spent my morning deep cleaning my flat – something that has needed to be done for quite some time! I then took Roxy for a little walk and got some work done, before diving back into one of my craft projects that has been pushed to the side for a while.

I’ve been working on this shawl since before Christmas, hoping that it would be done for the cold winter – and obviously failed! The pattern is by Noora Laivola and I found it over on Ravelry. (If you’re not familiar with Ravelry but love knitting and/or crochet, you need to check it out!) I’m using some gorgeous yarn from Sirdar (Sylvan, Broadleaf Colourway) that I fell in love with when I saw it. However, I failed to take into account the texture of this yarn’s impact on the outcome. As the yarn varies in width, some holes have come out bigger than others, and it’s looking a bit weird. I really love the colours though, so I’m willing to overlook the problems with it. It’s definitely taught me a lesson to remember in the future though.

How about you? How did you spend your bank holiday? Or for those across the seas, what would you do if you had a day off work right now? Join the conversation below!

Project Monday: The Secret Project

AKA. Finally, A Wedding Present

When you’re invited to the wedding of two special people, you need a special wedding present. Traditionally, this is given, you know, at the wedding, But when you decide it needs to be handmade, even though you have zero time, sometimes the timeline…slips a little. Still, that makes it more of a surprise! After many months of work, I finally sent off a wedding present to my dear friends Emma and Jonny last week, and that means I can finally share it with you all!

Project Details

When I started on this project, I wasn’t sure who or what it was going to be for. As I flicked through CrossStitcher I came across the pattern and immediately fell in love. Then, just after I started working on it I found out that Jonny was planning to propose to Emma. Emma is one of the best bakers I’ve ever met, so the sentiment seemed perfect.

Who knows? If they’re really lucky, I might manage the matching cake band one day! Think I might need to tackle a few other works in progress first though.

2017 Achievements and Goals Revisited

 

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We’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2017, so now seems as good a time as any to review the goals I set myself for this year. This is also a chance to share my 2017 Achievements so far with you all, and for you to let me know how you’re getting on with you own in the comments  below.

1. Finish My Master’s Degree

Back in January, I submitted my first essays for my Master’s degree. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying. I barely scrapped through my Undergraduate degree, so have been going through some serious imposter syndrome since I got accepted onto the course.

All of this taken into consideration, imagine my surprise when I more than passed my first two modules. My university doesn’t do merit grades for Master’s degrees, but if they did I would be well on my way to getting one. I honestly couldn’t be happier! I’m holding onto my achievements so far as I head into the Easter break – the time to get my next two assessments done and dusted. A distinction isn’t completely out of the question if I score well on these, so I’m going to be throwing myself into the work to make it the best that it can be!

2. Fit in More Crafting

I’ve been a little up and down with this goal. Some weeks I’ve been doing loads (generally when I have something to procrastinate from),and others I haven’t gone near anything craft related. I’m slowly improving though, remembering to make time for myself. I’ve also been reminded that I always feel better when my downtime still seems productive. With this in mind, I’ve taken to adding craft projects to my to do list, so that I feel like I’m getting stuff done whilst still making time for myself to relax. I currently have a couple of projects on the go, which I hope to share with you all soon. I’ve also just finished a huge cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for over a year. I’m hoping to post about it soon – it just needs to get to it’s recipient first!

3. Develop My Career

I started the year by returning to a career I thought I had left behind me long ago. In hindsight, adding a full time job on top of full time studies probably wasn’t the wisest of choices. Regardless of this, it went really well, and I began to question why I had ever left it in the first place.

So, since then I have been seeking out stage management work again. It’s been a little difficult, as I’m restricted by my contact hours at university, but I’ve been making a couple of applications a month. I even have a job interview this week for a perfect sounding job that would combine my stage management experience with my growing applied theatre knowledge. So, fingers crossed for that.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing with my work placements for university. On top of my pre-existing one from last term, I have a new placement each Wednesday. This one focuses on Marketing and Administration; Two areas I have very little experience in but which will be essential in my future involving an amount of freelance work. On top of my work placement, I’ve started doing some paid reception work with them, which should help make ends meet!

I’m still not sure where all this is leading me. I suspect though that I might be heading towards a series of odd jobs to make ends meet, interspersed with the work I want to do. When I work out what that is, exactly.

4. Make New Friends

I kind of hate myself for putting this on my list of goals for the year. It’s not that I don’t want friends – it wouldn’t be on my list if that was the case. It’s just so difficult! I hate having to put myself out there. Years of social anxiety and trust issues have built a massive wall I have to climb over whenever anything remotely friendship like comes my way.

That being said, I have been making baby steps in the right direction (mainly with help from my lovely ‘Mental Health Specialist Mentor,’ courtesy of the university.) I met up with an old work colleague. I’ve been pushing myself to join more conversations between classes at university. Most scarily of all (for me, at least) I went along to a London Craft Club meetup earlier in the month. The bonus of this is that there was very little pressure to socialise, as everyone was engaged in their own crafts. Plus, it helped me towards my second goal of making more time for my crafts. I haven’t managed to go back since then, but I’m hoping I will some time soon.

So basically, no huge leaps of progress towards any of my goals as of yet, but a couple of little achievements worth mentioning. I’ve listed them below, mainly for personal bragging reasons. It also helps boost my mood when I’m feeling rubbish to remember everything I’ve achieved. Don’t forget to add your own achievements and goals in the comments!

 

2017 Achievements

  1. I have received good marks for my Master’s degree assessments so far.
  2. I worked on a show as a Stage Manager for the first time in three years. The show got great reviews, and I received high praise for my part on the show.
  3. Pushing myself to the edges of my comfort zone, I went to a craft group meetup.
  4. I completed a super secret craft project that I’ve been working on for over a year. Hopefully you’ll hear more about this really soon!

Top 3 Cat Washi Tapes

I am so jealous of anyone who can produce gorgeous planner spreads. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, possibly because of the massive roadblock in my head whenever it comes to creativity. (I’m working on it.) I’m starting to come to terms with it, giving myself permission to be a little bit wild and free with my planning, but I still want to make it pretty, and one very popular way is through adding washi tape. So, since my Passion Planner arrived last week I’ve been trawling the internet for nice washi tape that can add the perfect embellishments to my weekly plans. And, of course, I had to find some cat themed tape.

After not much searching, I found these gorgeous examples. Payday can’t come soon enough!

Cat Washi Tape by Cynthia Renard

White washi tape with gold cats in various positions

Cat Washi Tape Exclusive to Cynthia Renard on Etsy

I love simple designs and gold foil, so fell in love with this tape as soon as I saw it. And Cynthia doesn’t just sell tape – she also sells a range of planner stencils which might just encourage me to stretch my creative planning!

Meow Washi Tape by Doodle Bug Design Inc

White washi tape with 'Meow' written in black, handwriting font

Meow Washi Tape by Doodle Bug Design Inc.

I found this simple tape for sale by LouTinenEvents on Etsy. My handwriting is shocking, so I can’t decide if this beautiful written meow would make my planner look better or just make my handwriting look worse in comparison. Either way, I want it.

Cute Happy Cat Washi Tape by Amifa

Pink washi tape with black and white cats in various positions

Pink Cat Washi Tape from Amifa

This tape is a little more pricy than the previous offerings (especially once shipping is taken into consideration) but it’s so pretty I’m not sure I would mind. I love the little bowties that add a little extra colour, plus the tuxedo cat looks just like my mum’s cat Hector!

What about you guys? Do you have a planner accessory you’ve been lusting after? Or do you just have one in your collection that you covet? Let me know below!

Project Monday: Weasley Jumpers

I have just returned from the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for a third time, and it remains a truly magical experience (pardon the pun.) I would go and look at the paper props everyday if I could. Sneaking in just after the end of 2016, it was the perfect end to my most Harry Potter filled year since the release of the last film. There was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which excited me mostly because of the new details revealed about the Wizarding World, and there’s nothing I love more than world building. However, the biggest Harry Potter event of my year took place a month prior, and it was one we’d been waiting for for 366 days.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

Yup, last October was finally our time to see Harry Potter’s first (official) outing on stage. (No spoilers here, I promise.) Working in theatre means it’s obviously a huge passion of mine. I’ve seen quite a few plays, good and bad, over the years. Cursed Child definitely landed on the  good side, despite the plot being lacking. It was redeemed by some outstanding staging and technical effects. The whole performance was perfectly choreographed to an amazing soundtrack (when will we be able to listen to this at home?) Most of all, it wasn’t just a play, it was an experience that took over the entire theatre.

Of course, a huge part of the Harry Potter experience has always been the fans, and they did not disappoint this time around either. I have never been in an audience which collectively, audibly gasped before. Best of all, a majority of the audience was dressed up, including my family.

The Mission: 6 Weasley Jumpers in 366 Days

“366 days to make six Weasley Jumpers, that’s totally doable, right?”

Needless to say, it wasn’t completely doable. The Weasley Jumpers took a who family effort, right up to the beginning of the show. It was a little crazy, but we were glad to have achieved something together. It isn’t perfect as it’s my first handmade jumper, but I love it more than anything, and the feeling of accomplishment cannot be replaced. We’re talking telling everyone around me that I knitted it myself level here. You’ve got to make your pride known!

If you want to have a go at making your own, I used this pattern from Canadian Living; super simple, including different sizes. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran Yarn in Green Heather, and some standard felt for the letter.

Now I have achieved this, I can’t wait to branch out and try a more difficult jumper!

Christmas Card Challenge Day Nine: Sparkly Christmas Tree

Nothing says Christmas like a sparkly Christmas Tree. I’ve seen many cards going around on Pinterest using Washi Tape, and this seemed like the perfect chance to try it out! I love just how easy this was to put together, and think I might make a couple more to send out to friends!

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Christmas Card Challenge Day Eight: Folding Card

It’s been a very stressful week, and whilst I love crafting and cardmaking, I just wasn’t feeling it today. Still, I pushed on through and tried out a style of folding card I’ve wanted to try for a while. Then my mental demons raised their head and stole my creative energy, but luckily I found a couple of toppers from Papercraft Inspirations that finished it off nicely.

As I continue through this challenge, I’ve realised just how difficult I find it to put what I want in front of everything else. Plus, even if I want something, that doesn’t always give the motivation to actually do it. I want to do this challenge, I want to make time for my crafts. Now it’s something I’ve told myself I have to do, it’s twice as hard!

Now I’m into the final stretch, here’s hoping some inspiration will hit me!

Check out the other cards in this challenge here!

Christmas Card Challenge Day Seven: Stamps Only

I kind of like this? Every time I look at it, I change my mind. In hindsight, I think it might have worked better with a combination of ink and embossing powder, but there we go.

Just to add; life is crazy busy at the moment, with three days of assessments at university, a new job starting next week and two essays on top of that! As a result, we’ll be having a little break from my 12 Days of Christmas Cards until Saturday. See you then!

Christmas Card Challenge Day Six: Black Card

As my university work starts to pile up, I’m getting less time for crafting, which means simpler cards. I’m still super happy with this one though! It needs a little bit of refinement before I’m completely happy with it (I’m considering changing the moon to mirror card, for a start, and maybe having it on a layer above rather than behind the sky) but it’s a good start. It doesn’t feel very Christmasy, but I think that could happen with a change of skyline, and it’s good to have