Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year In Review

This has been quite a year. At 36, despite having my gall bladder removed, I'm thankful the husband and I have been pretty healthy, and ending the year at 37, I managed to whip up a handful of preemie hats from stash yarn frogged up from this scrappy blanket that never gets any love because I don't have many stash yarn and I'm still not digging that granny stitch and the different yarn weights all in one square blanket. I donated my supposed to be travel crochet hooks (these are the Boye aluminum set) because these hooks are not as smooth and comfortable to use as my Clover Soft Touch hooks, the Leisure Arts Knook Value set because I most likely will not be going back to knitting in the next 5 years, the 2 Yarnology Acrylic hooks in the size M & N because I didn't use them at all in the past 2 years, a bunch of plastic stitch markers and plastic yarn needle that I didn't really care for and I donated all of my wool and wool blend skeins that I can't work with because the unknown/unspecified wool triggered an allergic reaction and I also donated some non-wool left over yarns from the Christmas themed socks last month and a bunch of "mini skein" sized scrap yarns of various weights and fiber content. And I took down all of my social media accounts and only have GoodReads, Ravelry, YouTube and this blog. I definitely feel a lot happier and more productive.

This year, I only managed to read 57 books compared to 71 books in 2017 but it's ok. At least I successfully completed another Good Reads Reading Challenge and I'm setting another 35 books to read in 2019. How did you guys do with your reading goals? Did you read some really good books in 2018? What are you most excited to read in 2019? 

Though I didn't play a lot of piano or write a book this year, I feel like I more than made up for it with watercolor paintings to the point where I finally took the plunge and got a set of water brushes to see if I liked it or not because the ferrule on my No. 8 round brush has completely come unglued and the tip on my favorite No. 12 round brush is not quite as pointy as it used to and it's annoying me that the handle is slightly curved; and mainly because I'm always afraid of spilling paint water all over my desk and possibly ruining any and all electronics on my desk or if I'm sitting on the floor of the family room, I'm afraid I'd spill paint water all over the carpet or furniture or worse, my dog drinks from it (thankfully, he's very well trained and knows the leave it command but sometimes, you just never know). The last year I painted watercolors was 2014 and so for 3 years, my Pentel watercolor tubes sat unused. This year, for some reason, I decided to pick up watercolor painting again but I wasn't too excited to use the Pentel paints so I got the Master's Touch 12-color watercolor set, a pack of Master's Touch synthetic round brushes (size 4,6,8 & 12), a pack of Master's Touch synthetic flat brushes (size 7,10 & 16) and one Master's Touch synthetic small fan brush (size 7) and the 5.5"x8" 140lb (300gsm), Cold Press, Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal and 2 pads of 9"x12" 140lb (300gsm), Cold Press, Canson XL. I didn't use the Master's Touch watercolors that much because while the colors are well pigmented, I honestly did not like how the colors look when they dry on the page. Thankfully, it wasn't chalky like some cheap student/children grade watercolors but the tint is just a little off. So I went back to the first brand of cheap student grade watercolor that I first learned with, really liked and enjoy using: Prang. Funny, I can hear practically everyone saying I should use professional grade paints and natural bristles and 100% cotton watercolor paper to get the best results. But guess what, I don't care about all that because I'm not a professional watercolorist nor do I intend to be one and I want the freedom to have fun with watercolors and not worry about how much expensive paint and paper I'm wasting. After learning that hard lesson, I'm able to paint more this year than probably any other year from 2004 to 2014. So I'm really happy about that. 

Crochet is taking a bit of a break this month but with the Love Your Stash CAL hosted by Hannah of The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast on YouTube, which started on Christmas day, I am excited to use up the remaining Woolike Superfine 100% Acrylic skeins that I have left in my stash for more crochet socks and to use up that gorgeous Bamboo yarn that I got while visiting NZ this year in March. I still can't decide what to do with the Bamboo yarn (yes, the yarn hasn't spoken to me yet of what it desires to be turned into). Maybe it'll come to me by the time I'm done with the Woolike yarns. Fingers crossed.

Hopefully you all had a wonderful Christmas and may 2019 bring you much love, happiness, good health, creativity, wonderful books to read and prosperity. 


Mountain Night Sky


Little Drummer Boy and Shepherd

Hope Peace Joy and Love

Christmas Tree

2019 Visual Journal Cover

2018 Visual Journal Cover

The Reader


Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

Finished Objects

Charity Hats - yarn used was stash yarn frogged from the Scrappy Blanket project (more details on my Ravelry project page); 100% Acrylic, Sport Weight & Worsted Weight; total amount used was 411 yards; used a Clover Soft Touch hook US size G/4.0mm and H/5.0mm - sorry I forgot to take FO photos! 

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Friday, December 28, 2018

[Product Review] Water Brushes

image via fang fang store
image via fang fang store
image via fang fang store

L/M/S Plastic Water Storage Soft Brush Drawing Paint Watercolor Calligraphy Pen 
Ship & Sold by fang fang store on 

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Category: Art Supplies, Watercolor water brush

Disclaimer: All prices listed on this review are prices at the time this was written and subject to change 

Part 1: Product Description

100% Brand New and High Quality
Material:Plastic + Nylon Hair
Total Length12cm 
Approx Package include: 3pcs different size pen

Size     Brush Head Length   Brush Head Diameter
L         1.8cm                          6mm
M         1.5cm                          4mm
S         1.5cm                          3mm

Use method:
A.Injection method
Unscrew the pen, put some water into the pen

B.Moisture adjustment tip
Initially, when used, squeeze a pen nib will effluent
You can wipe with the paper, adjust the water

C.Coloring method
Maintaining adequate moisture pen directly stained with paint and began painting

D. How to change color
Need to change color when the pen wipe with a paper towel, you can clear out the color

E.How to preserve
When not in use, the tip clean water, close the lid on it

Part 2: Recommendation

With the growing popularity of water brushes among the watercolor & brush lettering/calligraphy communities, I decided to get a cheap one on (I only had to pay for shipping of USD $2.00) instead of springing for the more expensive Pentel Aquash Water Brush (in the same pack of 3 brushes for USD $15.27 on Amazon) or the Arteza Water Brush Pen (pack of 4 brushes for USD $9.57 on Amazon) or the Sakura Koi Water Brush (pack of 3 brushes for USD $14.99 on Amazon) just to test out whether I'd enjoy painting watercolors with a water brush or not. There are now many water brush brands to choose from and you now can buy a water brush that fits your budget.

Since I started my watercolor journey back in 2004 with a Prang Oval 8-color set, I have only used synthetic watercolor paint brushes because that's all I can afford to spend on a hobby (aka, I'm not a professional watercolorist). Watercolor brushes, whether synthetic or natural sable brushes, have a wide range of sizes and shapes. The more natural your bristles are made out of, the more it can absorb water and pigment but you have less control with your strokes/marks on the page — at least, that's what I've learned from Angela Fehr's YouTube videos. So it doesn't bother me that all water brushes, as of writing, have soft nylon bristles. 

Before water brushes came on the market, traveling and painting with watercolors can be a bit daunting and challenging in the sense that you have to make sure you have a clean supply of water: either you bring it with you or the place you're going to -- like a hiking trail, park, coffee shop, restaurant, or the top of the mountain in the middle of nowhere -- has a clean supply of water (think river, stream, ocean, lake, water fountain, bottled water, etc) and all of your watercolor supplies (paints, brushes, palettes, watercolor papers/notebook, masking tape, pens and pencils, erasers, paper towels/rags, paint water containers for dirty water and clean water, spray bottle) all fit in a travel friendly bag. Yes, you can buy pocket-sized watercolor papers and notebooks and short-handled paint brushes, and if your paints are in a tube, you can easily squeeze them out into empty half pans and fit them in a palette the size of an Altoids tin but you still have the problem of carting around a heavy water bottle with you and what do you do with the dirty paint water? I don't think anyone should be draining paint water into rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean because we don't know if living things and other organisms will react badly to whatever our paints are made of. Well, that problem has been solved by water brushes. 

I haven't traveled anywhere with watercolors yet (unless going from my home office desk to the family room floor can count as such) but like everyone who has tried water brushes whether indoors or outdoors, in the middle of nowhere, I'm really loving them. The set I'm reviewing has a capacity of about 4.4cc/mL (I use a plastic syringe, without the needle, to fill up the water brush with water from a 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle on my desk). It doesn't leak from the barrel like some cheap water brushes I've heard about on YouTube, and like all nylon-bristled water brushes, the bristles will get a permanent paint stain on them. 

Nylon bristles are now permanently stained

It doesn't affect your painting as long as you rinse the bristles by squeezing the barrel and wiping the bristles on a rag or paper towel to clean off the current color/pigment until clean water comes out before you change colors, and you'll be fine. Rinsing these water brushes prior to switching colors was actually not bad. If you already have 2 pots of water set up, you can by all means rinse your water brushes the usual way and use your water brushes like you would a non-water brush paint brush. 

Water flow is good. I found that I do need to squeeze the barrel with a bit more effort especially when doing washes for wet-on-wet techniques. For wet-on-dry techniques, these water brushes performed really well despite having water in the barrel, as long as you don't squeeze the barrel and that you maintain a very relaxed hold on the barrel. If you have a tendency to grip hard when doing detailed work, I suggest moving your fingers closer to the bristles and grip the part where the filter is or what would be the equivalent of the ferrule. What I did was I dried the bristles on an old face towel first then dipped the brush into the paint and painted on dry paper. Because the bristles are made of nylon, they snap back into shape and you can easily control the marks or strokes you put on the paper. Definitely no surprise, weird marks from these brushes unless it was your intent to make those weird marks on paper. 

The downside to these particular nylon bristles and probably because of their size, it takes a lot more time to soak up excess paint puddles for medium to large washes on your palette compared to other synthetic paint brushes (I have the Master's Touch synthetic watercolor brushes from Hobby Lobby to compare with). This set I got are round brushes sized small (approx. between brush sizes 5-6), medium (approx. a size 8 brush), and large (approx. a size 12 brush). The points are quite pointy so technically, you can get away with a large or a medium water brush even for very detailed work. The brushes picked up a decent amount of pigment (and here I used a Prang Oval 8-color set because they're cheap, has good pigment compared to other children/student grade watercolor sets, doesn't dry up chalky, and you can buy refill strips on Amazon or once you've used up the Prang colors and you want to upgrade to Daniel Smith or you just want to try paint tubes, you can clean out the empty oval pans and squeeze your paint tubes in it since the Prang Oval pans hold a lot more paint than the regular half pans) when I'm making my puddles for washes or when mixing paints to create blue green or mixing blue and orange to get gray.

For the amount of water in the barrel, I'm quite surprised and happy to share that, they lasted quite a while and they remained clean.  They lasted through 2 watercolor paintings on a 5.5"x8" 140lb.(300gsm), cold press, Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal. The large water brush, which I used the most and half of one page I did a wet-on-wet technique using the water in the barrel, had very little water left, like maybe 3-5% water whereas the medium water brush was barely used so it probably still had 85% water left and the small brush, which I used to color in the letters, had probably 75% water left. 

I have to say though that having this spill-proof, 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle filled with tap water did save me from using a lot of the water in the barrels especially when I was activating the paints and making puddles in my palette for washes. Since the travel bottle gives out a drop of water at a time, it was really easy to activate the paints with literally just one tiny drop and it was really easy and a lot more controllable to add drops of water for washes instead of using a syringe or your non-water brush paint brush. It is also equally convenient to just use the syringe to refill the water brush barrels from the travel water bottle when you don't have access to a sink. These water brushes in conjunction with a 3.5oz travel water bottle and an old 100% cotton face towel definitely removed my fear of spilling paint water all over my desk and possibly ruining any and all electronics on my desk or spilling paint water all over the carpet in the family room or worse, my dog drinking paint water and getting really sick and/or dying from it. Having these water brushes even if you're not one to paint outdoors or in the middle of nowhere, I think is a must have especially if you don't mind synthetic or nylon bristles or if you're afraid of spilling paint water everywhere or just for the sheer convenience of it.

Prang + Waterbrush Sample 1

Prang + Waterbrush Sample 2