Friday, 26 October 2012

Promarkers v Spectrum Noir

As you'll see from my previous blog entry, I won a set of Spectrum Noir pens. I'm usually a Promarker user but being fairly new to crafting I only have two sets of Promarkers (stamp colouring sets) and before receiving these Spectrum Noir pens I had out two sets of Promarkers on my Amazon wish list for Christmas...I'll let you know if that changed at the end of this post.

The reason I brought Promarkers originally was because they were always on TV and in craft magazines, I thought they were the only pens around for crafting having not heard of Spectrum Noir pens. When I started crafting I brought pens, stamps and an in pad....a Stazon ink pad, little dd I know you should use a water based one if your colouring in using Promarkers as if not the two permanent inks fight with each other.

My colouring style is mostly block colouring, I've not really tried shading but when I have I've just gone over with the same Promarker again and darkened the colour.

Things I like about the Promarkers:
Ease of getting the right nib without looking (thin nib lid is a bullet shape and the chisel nib lid is flat at the end)
Easy of finding the colour when in a case of box as the colour is down the side.
The lids having a bit jutting out so your pens don't roll off the table.

I saw the Spectrum Noir pens on one of the Crafters Companion shows as though they look expensive and complicated. It was only after winning as try out the cool greys I've figured them out and demos now make more sense. I also love colouring and want to get the accreditation from Spectrum Noir when I get more pens and better at shading and graduation.

Spectrum Noir pens are numbered in their groups and the higher the number the darker the shade. Mine are IG1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. IG standing for Icey Grey I believe. This makes it easier or shading and graduation. Using the rule of thirds you colour the whole area in a light colour, two thirds in a darker shade and one third in an even darker shade then you blend the really dark shade into the medium shade with the medium colour you used, then use the light colour to shade the medium colour into the light colour. Sara Davies explained it much better on TV but hopefully you get my point.

One thing I didn't like about the Spectrum Noir pens, which has now been resolved, was that I kept opening the wrong end since both the fine and broad end have the same lids and I have having to look on the pen each time for the images showing each end.... However I just realised that the casing on the fine nib is grey and the broad nib casing is black so you can see a fine grey line round pen where it meets the cap on the fine end! This makes it far easier now I've realised!

Another great thing about Spectrum Noir (which I don't know if you can with Promarkers) is that you can but ink to refill your spectrum noirs with and each bottle of refill will last for 10 refills which is handy if there is a colour you always use!

Having now used both pens a few times, although I only have grey tones in the Spectrum Noirs, I think I prefer the Spectrum Noirs and quickly popped onto Amazon and changed my Christmas list, removing the Promarkers and adding Spectrum Noirs! I will still use my Promarkers but as a system Spectrum Noir seem much better in my opinion.

What do you think? What's your favourite?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ninja Gnome!

My Dad gave me this kit to try out for a review and it sounded brilliant! A kit comprising of a book on how to make a number of felt gnomes and materials to make a Ninja Gnome.

There were a few bits wrong with this kit though as it promised you could make a ninja gnome with the items contained in the box however there wasn't enough felt, not enough thread, no needle, no glue and no stuffing! Luckily I had all the added bits needed in my stash.

The gnome took 2 hours to make from start to finish. He is pretty cool and now hides around our flat! My husband and I started playing a game where we hide Jeffrey (the gnome) but it has to be in plain sight. I first put him in our bathroom ontop of a canvas print and it took Lee until the next time to notice him. It's a bit childish but a funny game!

I think I'll make some of the other gnomes at some point as they are pretty cool
The front of the box (the packaging was upside down)
The back of the book
The Ninja tempate
The kit

The pieces cut out (the back of his head should have been red but they didnt give you enough red felt!)
Finished Jeffrey!
Jeffrey hiding in my mug
Jeffrey hiding in the bathroom

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A different Christmas Card

Good Morning!

I'm writing this while blasting my hair dry and suffering with a sore throat!

Last week I retweeted a tweet I saw Sara Davis (of Crafters Companion) retweet as part of national papercrafting day (I think, if I remember rightly). It was tweeted by Spectrum Noir, so I followed them. I've never used their pens before as I've always used Promarkers, but was interested about Spectrum Noir pens)

While at work the next day, after finding out our jobs are going (but there are others we can apply for, phew!) I got a message saying I'd won the prize from Spectrum Noir! The prize consisted on a Mulberry Woods stamp (a lovely Christmas panda scene) a ack of cool grey pens and some card. I thought the card was only a small pack but turned out to be A4 sheets!

I love the stamp as it is a bit different and my friend Annie loves pandas so I'm sure she will love her Christmas card I make. The only thing I didn't like about the stamp was the horrible rubber smell and also u had to find out how to attach it to my acrylic block to use it (I used some see-ds cling stickers which worked for a short while but need some crafters companion spray mount apparently)

Last night I had an evening in the craft room what my husband was out at a stag do (only until 10.30 though..he came back earlier than he thought).

I made this card below using the prize, some Promarkers (for the other colours that weren't grey) and the coordinations card from craft inspirations magazine.

I love this card!

I will post soon about my thoughts on Promarkers versus Spectrum Noir pens

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Saturday Crafting!

Today I used the pack of random cardstock and toppers I got from eBay (100 sheets for £9.99!) There were some amazing backing papers which used on my Mother-in-Laws birthday card (with a London Line stamp as a topper) and I also used the paper on a wedding card for my husbands aunt (using Kanban word toppers).

Sunday, 7 October 2012

My favourite type of card designs and ones I'm not to keen on

Recently I've been looking for more card toppers from Kanban as I really like the Create and Craft members gift they did (Christmas designs) and the So Macho toppers set. I saw that Create and Craft were launching an offer from Kanban and got all excited, but then saw what it was but it wasn't really my cup of tea. It got me thinking about what styles I like and dislike, I won't say hate but there are some styles which are just not my thing.

I've watched a Kanban show before and saw a set and thought...hmmm don't like those, then found myself thirty minutes later wondering if I should by the set as some items were nice. I think it was on their mega deal weekend where you brought a set of Kanban toppers and got two free.....the ones I wanted were the free ones! I didn't buy them in the end as I thought it was pointless if I was only buying something for a third of the items in the set. 

I'm not really into steampunk designs or overly floral images. I like pictures, cute cartoons drawings (such as the Snow White style stamp image I have) and modern designs. I'm not really into dark images and I'm not very keen on the Victorian ladies etc (you probably know the ones I mean). I may change my tastes at some time, but think it could just be that I don't like overly complicated pictures or designs. I think the type of card you pick up in Clintons or Marks and Spencer. I think that's probably where my taste in cards comes from as I've always brought my cards from places like that so that's the style I'm use to.

My craft stash is mostly made up of cute bear/hedgehog/dog stamps (some of which I've brought and some, mostly Christmas ones, that have come from magazines), word stamps, outlined stamps of flowers and butterflies, cartoon animal toppers, SWALK toppers and now my So Macho Kanban kit. 

I've got magazines before and some of the free gifts I've ended up giving away or chucking as they're not my style and I've thought of making them into cards to sell but if I'm not 'feeling' the design on the card and don't like it myself I don't think others will like it and feel I'd have to price it really low even though other people may love it.

I've never given a card I've not been happy with. This morning I made my Dad a card as he had fractured his arm and thought it would be nice to cheer him up. I made a simple card with 'get well soon' stamped all over in various fonts, however 5 minutes after stamping it with 'fast drying ink' it hadn't dried and got smudged as I folded the card so I made another card. This time I just put a simple gardening topper on top of a blank white card and it was simple but looked amazing and just like a card you would get in a shop/garden center. 

I've recently ordered a sheet of wedding Kanban toppers for my husbands aunts wedding later this month as I've become addicted to Kanban and the high quality cards I can produce with their toppers and think it will look far better than going through my stamp collection and making a mediocre card.

I guess our tastes in things change as I would have never through I would have got Kanban toppers before but after getting the free members gift from Create and Craft, liking the results and then getting the mens toppers (as mens cards are so hard to make), I have fallen head over heels for Kanban.

*****I'm not getting paid or given anything for saying this by the way*****

Anyway I'm off now to clean out my hedgehogs wheels.....*yucky* but then I'm going to relax on the sofa with my husband, a glass of wine, popcorn and American Pie the Reunion.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Finally some male friendly cards

These were all made with Kanban's So Macho pack from Create & Craft.

I'm so happy with how these turned out!

I must also say how great Kanban's customer service was as one item was damaged and they kindly sent another sheet of toppers to replace the damaged ones.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Make and Craft Book Club Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the Make and Craft Book Club Blog Tour!

In conjunction with Make and Craft and Search Press I am giving away this lovely sewing book, Love to Sew: Hanging Hearts.

Love to Sew: Hanging Hearts by Rachael Rowe, published by Search Press
ISBN: 9781844487875
RRP Price: £7.99

Book Description

Make perfect hearts for your home, whether they are traditional, shabby chic, unusual or country style. Hang them from doors and dressers, in fact anywhere. They brighten up rooms and can also make perfect gifts for friends and relatives. This book shows how to make a gorgeous selection of hearts, with fun projects, clear instructions and easy to use templates. If you love to sew, you will love the designs and ideas presented here. 

This book represents the first in a new series of titles aimed at anyone who loves to sew. Making the most of the growing trend in home sewing, it offers all those who sew and stitch fresh, innovative ideas for on-trend projects and gifts. The subject of this book is 'hanging hearts' - highly popular, contemporary items that make perfect gifts for weddings, christenings and Valentine's day, as well as lovely little decorative items that can be hung from doors, dressers, wardrobes and doors around the home. Including both simple hand and machine stitching, this book offers the reader advice on the basic techniques and materials needed, plus twenty gorgeous projects in a range of styles that includes shabby chic, vintage, French country style, traditional and simply fun! There's a beautiful rustic wreath decorated in little fabric hearts, a delightful string of hearts, and numerous individual hearts made from various fabrics and felt and decorated with ric rac, ribbons, buttons and bows. All the instructions are accompanied by clear, step-by-step photographs, and full-size templates of all the hearts are provided. Ideal for beginners as well as more experienced stitchers, all the hearts are quick and easy to make and are ideal for using up scraps of fabric, odd buttons, left-over ribbon and all sorts of oddments found around the home.

  • 20 beautiful projects in a range of style, colours and fabrics
  • Includes basic techniques and materials, and the hearts themselves are very easy to make, making this book suitable for stitchers of all abilities
  • Hanging hearts are very popular and ‘on-trend’, as well as being a traditional symbol of love

This book is really clear to use with lovely pictures and great ideas. I have made similar hearts and attached them to the top of our headboard on our bed which we spritz with Molton Brown relaxing mist. You could stuff these with dried lavender along with wadding and place these in drawers to give a lovely scent.

Search Press and Make and Craft have secured free P&P when purchasing this book, just call Search Press on 01892 510850 quoting "Make and Craft Blog Tour".

To win this book just leave a comment on this post below and/or post a link on twitter linking to this post and include me @saraleighuk in the post so I can include you in the draw.

The winner will be drawn on Wednesday 10th October 2012 and the winner will be announced on this blog and contacted within 48 hours of the draw taking place.

Make & Craft Magazine

Make and Craft Magazine is a new craft magazine which is published monthly both in print and digitally. There are some great subscription offers available including 3 digital copies for £1 or 3 printed copies for £3. There's also a fab free gift for 12 or 24 UK subscriptions.

The digital subscription means that international crafters can read the magazine for no extra cost as it doesn't need to be shipped!

For further information on subscriptions and to join the Make and Craft forum go to

About Me

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Sara and I took up crafting properly at the end of last year (2011) when I realised I could make our wedding invitations for a fraction of the cost of stationers. I brought a craft magazine in December 2011 and have been hooked on crafting ever since, although I've always like making things. I live in Essex with my husband Lee and pygmy hedgehog Spike.

My favorite crafts are paper-crafts and card making, and sewing. My favorite sewing books have to be Cath Kidston's Make and Tilda's Sew Pretty Homestyle. I've not brought any crafting books about paper-crafting myself as yet but have plenty on my Christmas list! 

Last Christmas I got a sewing machine, my very own first adult sewing machine! It's purple and really nice and light weight so I can get it out easily and just put it on the dining table. 

I've made lots of random pieces including cafetiere cosies (the original one for my parents and then my friend at work asked me to make her one out of some Bambi material she had), washing up liquid bottle apron, door stops and a cover to go round the bottom of our hedgehogs cage to disguise all of the bits we keep under there for him.

My lovely purple sewing machine

My first make on my sewing machine - a cafetiere cosy for my parents

My second make - a Cath Kidston washing up liquid bottle apron
 One craft I would really like to try is knitting. My Nan use to knit all the time but I never picked it up, she did try and show me once and I did get those childrens kits but never got the hang of it. Watching knitting shows on Create and Craft has really made me want to try it, although I'm not sure my husband would be to happy with even more things round the house.

I also love baking and cooking and some of my recent cakes are shown below.
Cookie Monster Cupcakes - made for my sisters 21st Birthday
Superhero Cakes - made for my Dads Birthday - my first attempt at decorating cupcakes with fondant icing

Our wedding cake! Made by my Mum and I. We made the cakes together (bottom fruit, middle vanilla sponge, top tier chocolate) and Mum decorated it. I have a very clever Mum!

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. Why not check out the next stop on the Make and Craft Blog Tour by stopping off at Cooking Cakes and Children.

Update: The draw took place on Wednesday and the winner was Sue (Eviesgran)! Thanks all those for entering