Tag Archives | Amanda Talbert

Clover Takumi Bamboo 9" Circular Knitting Needles

Reported by Amanda Talbert

I have covered many different crafts for Craft Critique, but at heart I am a knitter. Last summer at CHA I was given the opportunity to meet the lovely people at the Clover booth. They showed me, and even let me take home, something very exciting. It’s their Takumi Bamboo Circular Knitting Needle in a 9″ length.

For the readers who don’t know, circular knitting needles are used to knit in-the-round, for things like socks, sleeves, collars, anything that needs to be knit in a seamless cylinder. There are several methods for knitting in-the-round for small diameter knits like socks and sleeves; double pointed needles (also called DPNs), the Magic Loop, two circular needles worked together. Until I tried Clover’s 9″ circular I thought those were the only options.

I was very excited to try this circular needle because I have never been very good at knitting with DPNs (double pointed needles). I always experience laddering at my needle transition points, and when I tighten up to fix it, I get spots that are too tight and hard to deal with. I’ve tried knitting socks in the other methods as well but never taken to it. This extremely short circular needle solves all of my problems.

I knit a pair of yoga socks for my dancing daughter and was amazed at how quickly I could work in-the-round with this circular needle. I used the US2-sized needle with sock weight merino wool yarn and it took me 3 days of light work to get this sock made for my 10 year old’s foot. Her ankles aren’t very big around so I wasn’t sure if the circular needle would work. When working in-the-round on one circular needle I had to worry that I would have to stretch the knit out too much to get it to go all the way around the needle. Even when working in a tightly pulled in 1×1 ribbing the 9″ circular needle was small enough to give me a great knit fabric.

The next worry, after deciding that the circular needle was indeed small enough to give me what I wanted, was the fear that it would be too hard to use at such a small size. I shouldn’t have worried. The needle was very easy to hold in my hand and use. I didn’t have any problems with my hands or fingers cramping. The small needle and the flow of working in the round made for a very fast knit that was easy and carefree.

Clover’s Takumi Bamboo needles are known for their smooth wood finish, and these small needles were no different. The bamboo was smooth and warm in my hands and didn’t give me a single snag. The smoothness of the bamboo did not ruin the slight grip of using wood needles rather than metal. I like that grip, it helps me keep my stitches on the needle and not in my lap.

The join, or the area where the plastic cable is connected to the wooden needle tips, is a worry for many knitters. I dislike having to fight with a circular needle that snags my yarn as it moves over the join. Even worse than a needle that snags is a needle that falls apart halfway through a project. This needle didn’t do that.

These 9″ circular needles come in 9 sizes, from US0 to US8.


  • Smooth needles with a sturdy join
  • Small circumference for use in knitting socks and sleeves
  • Easily transportable projects


  • Can be hard to find in stores
  • At $14.50 MSRP it would take a lot of money to buy as many of these needles as I want
  • Don’t come in US00 or US000 sizes (most likely because they are wooden and wouldn’t hold up to use)

I loved knitting with these needles and can hardly wait to cast on another project. Do you have any suggestions for what I should knit next?

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Vendor Sporlight: Sakura

Reported by Amanda Talbert

I got different products from Sakura than the other reporters did. You’ve seen here, and probably even used at home, the fabulous Gelly Roll pens. We’ve reported about the Souffle pens and the glue pen. Now it’s time for some micron pens and travel paint.

I’ll start with the Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. These pens are designed for drawing Manga, and I have seen them used this way by some amazing Manga illustrators. Here is what comes with this set:

  • 0.3 mm ultra-fine tip
  • 0.4 mm durable plastic tip
  • 0.6 mm bullet fiber tip
  • 1.0 bold fiber tip
  • 0.7mm fixed sleeve, cushion point mechanical pencil
  • Sakura pencil on paper eraser

The pens are all Sakura’s trusted rich black ink. I found it gave me a very consistent line and fill that was a deep true black. When I am drawing or writing with black ink, I don’t want it to look gray or brown.

I really enjoyed the crisp and clean lines put down by these pens. I also found the drawing experience to be smooth and jump free. No spaces in my lines that I didn’t want. My only complaint is that these pens do cause a light amount of pilling on the paper. This drawing was done on smooth bristol paper which I find to be the most resistant to pilling but my pens were still picking up fuzz and pills from the paper. Also, I’d love to get a brush pen with this set for pen pressure line control.

Next I’d like to talk about the Koi Watercolor Picket Field Sketch Box. This is a travel-sized kit of watercolors meant to be used in a field kit for art on the go.

It comes with 12 half-pans of paint, a water brush, a sponge for cleaning the tip of your brush when changing colors, and a sectioned lid for color mixing.

The water brush also comes with a cap for the lower section so you can load water in advance and still carry it in two parts for fitting into the kit. A tip for using the kit from someone who always carries a water color kit with her: Carry a paper towel along for thorough cleaning of your brush and for drying off your pans at the end of use (you don’t want mold to grow on them between uses). I also leave excess mixed colors to dry in the lid, they can be used again later by wetting, just like the pans.

I used both the Pigma Sensei and the Koi Watercolors on this little ATC. The most important thing to point out is that the Pigma Sensei pens didn’t feather or smear on my watercolor paper, and they didn’t have any problem at all standing up to the water when painted over. This is one of the reasons I love Sakura pens. The paint in the half-pans is rich and the colors are true. The fine point on the water brush is very good for fine detail, but if you want any full area washes you will want to do that with a different brush.

The other two pen sets I received were used together on one project. The Sakura Sepia set comes with 4 pens in varying point types. I love the brush tip for sketching. All the things people love about Sakura micron pens can also be found in their Sepia set. Rich solid color that goes onto the paper smooth and waterproof. I also received the new Sakura Micron fine line pens in the 8 color set.

My sketching for this image was done with the Sepia set and then pen pressure control with the brush tip was perfect. I could sketch with this pen all day. I love sepia for drawing people. I used the colored Micron pens for all of the fill in on this image and the first image in this post. I love the micron pens. The only changes I would make, I’d love them to come in brush tip as well, and I wish this set had a yellow.

All in all, I already loved Sakura, and now I love them more. I can think of endless uses for drawing, labeling, and journaling with these pens. The watercolor kit will go in my travel bag and stay there. Have you tried any of the Sakura products we have used? Let us know what you think.

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Vendor Spotlight: Copic Markers

Reported by Amanda Talbert

Is there any doubt that the crafters of Craft Critique like Copic markers? Well I’m no different. I love Copic markers. The thing is, when I am trying to decide if I should buy a set of markers that cost more than any markers I’ve ever owned, and are also alcohol-based (which sounds a little scary), I need to know more than if a person just likes them or not.

We told you that they blend and that we like that. We told you that they come in a huge host of colors and that we LOVE that. We even told you that they are refillable, which really makes me feel better about the price. Now I’d like to tell you about some of the tricks and tips I have learned or figured out on my own that make these markers a must have.

I started my Copic research by actually meeting and talking to Marianne Walker of I Like Markers fame and Pat Huntoon of Technique Junkie at CHA. What a wealth of knowledge these ladies are. I learned that the letter in the designation on the end of the markers (or on the side in the case of Copic Ciao) tells me what color family the marker belongs to. So my E00 marker belongs to the Earth family of colors and my YR 09 belongs to the Yellow Red family of colors. The first number on the end of my Copics is the color group the company has placed each color into. The second number lets you know where your marker falls in the range of colors from light to dark so my E00 would be the lightest color in the Earth range and my YR09 is the darkest color in the YR0 range. I find knowing this about my markers very helpful. I find this chart even more helpful.

I found this chart at and downloaded it. It started out blank and I filled it in with the colors I have after I printed it on the Smooth Bristol paper I use. The chart is helpful for picking colors to use as well as knowing what colors I still need to buy.

I like knowing about the markers, I like knowing how to use them even more. I’ve learned so much from YouTube tutorials like this and this and this and from demonstrations at CHA. The very most important thing I have learned is that the very best way to create subtle shading is to shadow with the color you are already using.

I did all of the coloring and shading on this girl with just one marker of each color. Her hair is completely done with just one brown marker, her skin with just one flesh tone, the yellow with just one shade of yellow. By laying down multiple layers of the same shade the color darkens and intensifies and I can get a vast array of subtle color shifts.

I also learned a technique that lets me apply color from my Copic markers onto an acrylic block and then pick them up with the colorless blender or a lighter color marker to give me a more watercolor like effect.

See the dark brown that I picked up with my flesh colored marker? It came right off as I colored with it.

Another great thing to do with the blending marker? I can fix my mistakes.

It’s a bit hard to make out in this picture but I colored out of the lines in this picture. Sometimes I do that. It gave me a great opportunity to try out the quick fix. I pushed back at the color, towards the area it was supposed to be, with my colorless blender and this is how it turned out.

Who doesn’t like to fix a little boo boo now and then? The alcohol blending solution inside the blending pen can also be purchased as a refill and there are endless things to be done with that solution. I, unfortunately didn’t have any Copic Alcohol Blending Solution, so I tried the technique I learned with a different solution.

I colored the upholstery and did the shading I wanted for the final fabric and then I pressed a paper towel that had been made damp with alcohol blending solution onto the markered area. When I lifted the paper towel it looked like this.

I love the textured fabric look.

The finished product came out exactly the way I wanted it to. I can’t ask much more than that.

The final verdict, for me, on Copic markers? As I told you right from the start, I love them. Now that I know how to use them, and where to learn more, I don’t mind the $3 and up pricetag at all. Now I just need MORE. Do you have something new for us to learn? We’d love to hear your ideas and see what you have found on the internet about Copic Markers.

Leave a comment on any of our Vendor Spotlight: Copic Marker articles, and you’ll be entered to win a set of 12 Copic Atyou Spica glitter pens. I’ve used these pens myself, and they’re awesome!
We’ll pick a winner on Saturday, September 19th.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!