Painting myself a lovely world (with a Dottieshop Watercolour Kit)

Although I am fairly handy at crafty things, I don’t actually have much skill in drawing and painting. Especially painting with watercolours. My own experience of watercolour painting as a child has been less than stellar. I always associated it with muddy faint colours and stiff bristled brushes that splayed out into stars. In short, I’m not very good at it and I’ve always felt that it’s a messy activity.

That is, until I started university and came across this daytime television programme called ‘Watercolour Challenge‘.

In ‘Watercolour Challenge‘, three amateur painters were given four hours to render a particular landscape in watercolours. I was always amazed at how neat and tidy the painters looked during the whole affair. None of them wore smocks to protect their clothes or required sheets of newspaper to catch stray drips. At the end, they rendered vividly coloured paintings, some in very intricate detail.

A few years ago, I tried learning watercolours on my own, with very little success. I simply did not have any clue what tools or paints I needed, nor how to go about applying brush to paper.

This is why I count myself very lucky to be one of the testers of the ‘Hello Spring’ watercolour kit from Dottieshop! Thanks so much for letting me try out the kit, Dot!

The ‘Hello Spring’ watercolour kit comes with instructions for painting some gorgeous spring flowers (cherry blossoms, roses and anemones), a set of good quality watercolour paints prepared in a palette, special watercolour paper and a water brush. This all fits into a neat little pink folder, which makes the whole set very portable!

What I particularly liked about the kit were the precise and clear instructions on how to use the brush and the watercolours, as well as the step-by-step guides on painting different flower blossoms. I found the thoughtfully written painting guides especially helpful, and within my first attempt I was able to produce a rather decent looking cherry blossom!

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My first attempt at watercolours using the ‘Hello Spring’ kit

I was very pleased with how the flowers turned out, after following the Dottieshop instructions! The Barn Owl was pretty impressed too, and that means a lot coming from him – he took Art as an ‘A’ level subject.

Best of all, there was hardly any clean up or mess involved. In fact, I have since realised that the kit is so complete that I don’t need to use anything else other than a clean, dry rag for wiping off my paint brush in between changing colours.

I do have to be rather careful in keeping and transporting the paint palette, however, as the watercolour paints grow brittle as they dry and sometimes little flakes may chip off if the palette gets jostled about, so I try to keep the paint set lying flat when it is not in use.

It wasn’t too difficult to use the brush techniques from the Dottieshop kit and extend that to paint other types of flowers and foliage.

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My watercolour studies of flowers and leaves

Since trying out the kit, I have found myself stealing a few minutes here and there during the day to do a little watercolour sketch. It really does refresh a tired mind!

Apart from the Hello Spring Watercolour Kit (which I think is a true bargain at SGD46), Dottieshop also has a Floral Illustration Kit (SGD36) as well as a Brush Calligraphy Beginners Kit (SGD33). These are great starter kits for beginners and would also make lovely gifts! Dot also runs workshops at Artify Studio – which I really hope to be able to attend some day.

P.S. To order one of the Dottieshop kits, just email dottieshop@gmail.com or leave her a message on Facebook or Instagram

Neverending Balls of Yarn

When I started packing up to move into the new house, I realised that I had a lot of yarn.

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Yes sir, Yes sir, Three bags full (and only 1/3 of the total stash)

Generally, when I start a new knitting project, I tend to buy exactly the amount of yarn I need to complete the project and no more.  So, I don’t usually have much scrap wool.  But that being said, I’ve had more than a few abandoned projects.  Plus, I’ve also had a lot of wool donated to me by friends, usually with conversations that go something like this:

Friend:  Hey, I’ve got this load of wool that I saw going for cheap and I had to have it, but now I don’t have a use for it.  Do you want it?

A Becky Lee: Uhm, I have a lot of wool already…

Friend:  Oh don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for it.  I’ll give it to you~!

A Becky Lee:  *Ends up with bagfuls of wool* Oh… thanks~!

Since I don’t like to throw anything away, I’ve kept all this wool.  But, I haven’t really used any of it.  So now, I’ve got boxes of yarn.  The pictures in this post don’t even cover the entirety of my yarn collection.  Anyway, The Boobook has issued me an ultimatum – no new yarn until the old yarn is at least 75% used up.

To help me with this, I saved up my Christmas gift money and purchased a Box Of Joy from my favourite knitting shop, Morris and Sons!  Just look at it!

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Joooooyyyy~!

Since I specialise in seamless knitting, this little box of interchangeable needles is just perfect for me.  I’ve always been a big fan of Knit Pro’s knitting needles ever since I started knitting with their birchwood Symfonie needles.  I’ve been slowly making the move to change from cheap plastic needles to these gorgeous Karbonz needles, which (for me at least) are the best at balancing speed and grip.  Plus, they’re really lightweight, which makes me squee inside~!

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It’s got one of every possible needle from 3 mm all the way up to 8 mm AND it’s got four types of cables AND it’s got cable keys and a shawl pin!  I’m in knitting heaven~!

 

I’m absolutely adamant that I’m going to get this done.  I’m going to use up all my old wool.  Then, and only then, will I treat myself to fancy new wool from Etsy!

Get Pinned: Pin Trading at Disneyworld

Ever since I got my pin lanyard way back in 2006, when Disney was celebrating its “Year of a Million Dreams” campaign, I’ve been hooked on pin-trading.  It was a completely unexpected random giveaway that happened I was in the line for Mission: Space in Tomorrowland.  Since then, pin trading has become one of the biggest highlights of my Disney trips.

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My favourite pin

Every time I got to Disneyworld (or a subsidiary thereof), I take stock of the pins that I currently have in my collection, pick the ones that I want to keep and leave the rest for random trading.  There’s just something really exciting about spotting awesome pins and trading for them, or finding that very rare pin that you really love.  To me, the real value is in finding those unique pins that I can wear on my lapel for everyday.  For example, one of my favourite pins in my collection is a “Happy Villaintines Day” pin featuring Maleficent.  I’ve worn this pin on my lapel every Valentines Day since 2006.

This last trip to Disneyworld, I roped the Boobook into my pintrading hobby.  One of the first things we did at the park was purchase a pin lanyard and a Pirates of the Caribbean starter pin set. For that extra bit of challenge, we set ourselves pin-trading goals.  The Boobook’s was to collect all seven Winnie the Pooh Hidden Mickey pins and mine was to get a Princess Anna pin[1].  Then, it was off to the parks to trade for various pins!

Ready to go: Check out our lanyards!

The Sorcerers Hat is a great place to get your pins valued, but also a good place to start your pin trading fun.

Pin trading is pretty finicky in Disneyworld.  Most people tend to trade only with cast members, as the cast are pretty much obligated to trade pins with you up to three times.  Plus, trading with cast members also increases the likelihood of attaining “Hidden Mickey” pins – pins that cannot be bought, only traded for.  That being said, there are some places where other guests are more willing to trade with you.  The Sorceror’s Hat in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (pictured above) is one of them.  The hat doubles as a pin shop and a place for valuation of pins.  I had my rare Davy Crockett pin valued there[2].

The other place for pin trading amongst guests is near Scoop Sanderson, the cub reporter and super pin-trader who hangs around on Main Street in Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  Sadly, while I wasn’t able to trade with the great Scoop himself, as he was closing up shop, I did still manage to trade away a truly ugly Caribbean Cruise pin with another guest.  I didn’t come away from the encounter empty-handed either.  Scoop actually gave me a Cast Member’s only Christmas ornament as consolation for not getting to trade!

Feel the magic!

Feel the magic!

This year’s Cast Member pins weren’t really all that much to write home about – there weren’t very many for trade that had moving parts or other special effects.  However, I did get a tip that the best pins are only available at the start of the day, or just after lunch.Unfortunately, try as I might, I could not find a single Anna pin for trade.  Still, the Boobook did manage to get 4 out of 7 Winnie the Pooh pins.  Although we didn’t manage to get everything we came for, we still came away with some pretty nifty pins!

At the end of the day, pin trading is pretty fun and we’re planning to do more of it during our Honeymoon stop at Tokyo Disneyland.  The Boobook is already drafting up a sign inviting Japanese Disney guests to come trade with us!  Hopefully, we’ll be able to find something interesting!


[1] By trading for it, of course.  There’s no challenge in just buying it off the shelf.

[2] It wasn’t worth much, but it’s still an error pin and may appreciate in value later.