A quick tip….

Somebody on Twitter recently asked me how I transfer my sketches from tracing paper to the proper-paper-for-drawing-on without them coming out back-to-front, and I had one of those little “Ohhhh, I thought everyone knew that!” moments – and I was also transported back to primary school, when I was having the same problem with a squirrel whose tail came out on the left side when I wanted it on the right, like the drawing in the book I was trying to copy. My teacher at the time showed me this little trick and I reckon it’s quite possibly one of the most useful things I ever learnt at school!

Step one: Trace your image. Or draw it on tracing paper – with my cats, I do a sketch in my sketchbook, then trace it onto tracing paper that’s marked up with the borders of the finished piece:

At this point I’ll work on tidying up the drawing, and making any final tweKs and changes until I’m happy with it. Note that her eyes are looking slightly to the right!

Step two: Turn the tracing paper over, and go over all the lines with your pencil on the back of the paper.

See how her eyes are now looking slightly to the left? That’s because we’re looking at the back of the trace. Make sure you don’t miss drawing any lines!

Step three: Turn the tracing paper over so that you’re looking at the front again. Now position your tracing paper on the paper you want to use for your finished drawing, and start going over all the lines again with your pencil. It’s very important at this stage that you don’t move the paper – you might want to tack the paper and the tracing paper down, just in case!

See the thicker black lines, where I’m going over lines I’ve already drawn?

Step four: When you’re sure you’ve gone over every line, lift off the tracing paper.

If you’ve done it right, you should be left with a copy of your drawing on your paper, in the correct orientation. Ta daaaah!

Of course, you could scan your image, flip it on the computer, trace it and transfer it that way, but I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way!

So now you know – if you didn’t know this trick, I hope it comes in useful. And thank you Alice (aka @sequinnedsheep) for reminding me of the squirrel and prompting this post!

I like wrapping, me!

I’m a bit of a wrapaholic. It’s true. And I know why…

I remember sitting at the green formica-topped kitchen table with Mum when I was small, watching her wrap presents.

It was a very precise operation. First, the roll of paper was spread out, weighted down at the corners, and the scissors put in front of the roll to stop it rolling up again.

The item to be wrapped (the wrapee?!) was then laid on the paper, a couple of centimetres from one edge, and careful consideration was given to the depth of the wrapee – it’s position was carefully adjusted so that there was just enough paper to cover just over half it’s depth. A small pencil mark was made the same distance from its other edge.

Then the wrapee was turned over end on end three times, and a small pencil mark made a couple of centimetres from where the wrapee ended up.

The wrapee was then carefully set aside.

The weights and scissors were removed, and the paper was folded along the length of the roll, at the first pencil mark. A gentle fold was made, and if it was satisfactory, thumbnail pressure was applied to get a nice, sharp crease.

Now then – you’re expecting the scissors to make another appearance here, aren’t you?

Well, no.

What did appear was the carving knife. It was inserted into the folded paper and with a lovely, whispery noise the paper was cut perfectly. The same operation was then performed at the other pencil mark.

Next came the tape – 3 short pieces, not so long that they’d hang off the edges of the wrapee, were cut and stuck lightly by one end to the edge of the table. (Here the scissors made their comeback!).

The wrapee was positioned on the paper, and a light ‘test-wrap’ was performed. Small adjustments were then made so that you’d end up with the edge to be taped about a centimetre off-centre. That edge was then folded back on itself sharply. The ‘proper’ wrap then took place, and the first bit of tape applied the nice, neat join.

Each end was then folded down, the corners folded in, and the bottom bit folded up – and there was always just enough paper to fold the bottom edge back in under itself to get a clean, sharp, folded edge, rather than a cut edge. The final two pieces of tape were then applied, and hey-presto! One perfectly wrapped present!

I don’t remember the addition of ribbons, bows or tags – it was the precise, careful measuring, cutting and folding that stuck in my mind, and Mum’s deft, nimble fingers. Not a scrap of paper was wasted – just enough was used, and leftover bits were carefully rolled or folded for later use. Really small bits were put in the big, flat box that once upon a time had contained chocolates, and that lived in The End Cupboard where at some point later when my sister or I were looking for a small bit of paper with a bell, or a robin or something on it, it would be there waiting for us.

That’s one of the reasons why I love wrapping presents – it reminds me of Mum showing me how, and of watching her do it.

This year I went for a robin theme…


…and made the tags by sticking offcuts of paper onto stiff card and punching a metal rivet through the corner…


For ribbons I used a mixture of rafia (from my own End Cupboard stash!) and some beautiful threads and dyed wool from SpinningStreak.

And – of course – it’s lovely to see the appreciation on peoples faces when they’re presented with a gift that has had a bit of time and thought put into the wrapping. And they look great under the tree!

Merry Christmas dear readers! I hope you all have a wonderful time!