Challenges to inspire you

I thought I would collect links for some of the challenges I like to check out for inspiration here. I tend to only go for the challenges which let you use whatever supplies you want. The challenge design teams as well as other crafter's contributions are such great sources of inspiration, and I have found plenty of interesting blogs to follow as a result of these challenges. I only list challenges I actively participate in, and where I think the design teams are really inspirational.

I am not connected with any of these challenges in any way, I just wanted to collect them here as a resource of inspiration for other crafters (apart from the STAMPlorations CAS Challenge, where I'm a member of the Design Team!). Click on the image to go to the challenge page, the pages have more specific information about rules for the challenges. There is also a very comprehensive list of crafting challenges over at Paper Playful

If you've never participated in an online challenge, don't be shy! It's a great way to get inspired, to see what others are up to as well as get some traffic for your website. Participating is really easy, most sites use inlinkz where you simply copy the URL for your blog post or online gallery (make sure you link to the specific post, not your blog in general). Also, to make sure the DT can leave comments (who wouldn't love to get comments!!) make sure your word verification is turned off. Many of the challenge blogs have instructions how to turn it off, or just google to find some help if needed.

General challenges
The general challenges often have a theme like "time" or "vintage" or "distress" so they offer plenty of opportunity to use your imagination and interpret the challenge as you wish. In that way, I find them the most difficult to get going with, but at the same time the most rewarding when you finish a project for them.

The Simon Says Stamp Monday challenge has a new craft related challenge every Monday. The amazing design team provide inspiration in what they describe as a "vintage artistic style". You are free to use any crafting supplies, techniques and styles you want, and can combine challenges. The DT chooses a few amazing projects to spotlight every week, and a lucky winner is randomly drawn to receive a $50 Simon Says Stamp gift voucher. Challenges run from Monday to Sunday every week.

The Simon Says Stamp Wednesday challenge has a new craft related challenge every Wednesday with wonderful inspiration from the immensely talented design team in what they describe as a "fun, modern and eclectic" style. You are free to use any crafting supplies, techniques and styles you want, and can combine challenges. The DT chooses a few amazing projects to spotlight every week, and a lucky winner is randomly drawn to receive a $50 Simon Says Stamp gift voucher. Challenges run from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

STAMPlorations has a wonderful range of challenges. There is a monthly theme and sketch challenge as well as a CAS challenge with an optional colour twist. There are also several CASE challenges and some mixed media challenges. For most of the challenges you can use any crafting supplies you want (although I personally love the STAMPlorations stamps and stencils and am building my collection), but there is also a never ending, anything goes, challenge for creations using STAMPlorations stamps and stencils. When you go to their main page, you can find a convenient summary of all the current challenges at the top of the page.

Curtain call is a challenge with a great inspiration image to get your creative mojo flowing. New challenges are published on the 1st and 15th of each month. You can create any crafting project, such as a card, scrapbook page, tag etc.

Sketch challenges
For me, sketch challenges are the ones which really get me going if I want to craft but can't quite get there on my own. They don't require as much imagination as the other types of challenges, although you are free to interpret the sketches, turn them around etc. Especially if combined with a colour challenge, there is no excuse not to get crafting.

As the name suggests, CAS(E) this sketch is a sketch challenge. The style of the cards should be CAS, and you can submit several cards to each challenge. There is plenty of inspiration from the DT for each challenge. Challenges run from Thursday to Thursday and winners are announced on Saturday. 

Freshly Made Sketches posts sketches for clean cards. They want the participating cards to be more or less CAS. There is plenty of inspiration from the extensive and very talented DT. New challenges are posted every Wednesday and you have until Monday to participate. The winners are announced on Tuesday.

Mojo Monday is one of the really big and established sketch challenges, and it has been running since 2007. As the name implies, there is a new sketch every Monday. Anyone can participate, and you are free to use any supplies you want. Most of the challenges are just for fun, but once a month there is a prize for the winner. Unlike the other blogs, the DT creations are the first links in the linkup, they are not included in the challenge posts. There is an archive with sketches going back all the way to 2010, so if you don't like the current challenge, just pick out something from the archive instead.

Retro sketches posts a new (old, hence the name) sketch every Saturday, and challenges end on Fridays. They want you to use the main elements of the sketch in your card, but there is room for interpretation as well. As with the other blogs, the DT provide amazing projects every week. 

Colour challenges
I love the colour challenges as they get you out of your comfort zone, encouraging you to use all those colours you have stocked up on instead of always going for your favourites. 

The Colour Throwdown is (surprise, surprise) a colour challenge. Each week there is a picture and three or four colours indicated for the challenge. The colours used are Stampin' Up colours, but you don't have to use the specific colours, you are free to use the closest colour you have. Again, there is plenty of inspiration from the talented DT. The winner of the challenge is invited to feature as a guest stamper on next weeks challenge. Challenges run from Wednesday to Monday, and the winner is announced on Tuesday.

The Colour Q challenge provides a combo of four colours to play with each Tuesday, and challenges run until Monday. The colours are given as Stampin' Up colours, but you can use any products as long as the colours are similar to the challenge colours. 

Combined challenges
These are challenges that offer you a combination of inspiration, often a colour palette or inspiration photo and a sketch. For most challenges, you can use one of the elements, or combine both in your creations. 

The Fusion challenge provides either a colour palette or inspiration photo and a sketch. You can use either of the inspiration elements or fuse them together (hence Fusion, you see...). You can use any crafting techniques and stamps and other crafting stuff from any company you want. The challenge is bi-weekly, with new posts on every second Thursday, and the challenge running until Wednesday two weeks later.

CAS challenges
CAS stands for Clean And Simple. It refers to the design of cards, and CAS cards should have minimum embellishments, lots of white space and usually one main image or sentiment. If you enjoy making CAS cards, or would like to learn more about them, these challenge blogs provide great inspiration and ideas. 

CAS on Sunday is a bi-weekly CAS challenge for "real" cards only, i.e. no digital creations. Only CAS style cards are eligible for the prize, which is chosen by the DT (i.e. not randomly drawn). New challenges are announced every second Sunday and the deadline is Friday two weeks later. You can only submit one entry per challenge. 

CASology is a weekly blog where the theme is given in the form of a cue word and you are encouraged to use your creativity to interpret the cue word. Examples of cue words are "three", There is a new challenge every Tuesday and deadline is Monday. Weekly winners are invited to be guest designers on the blog.

AAA Cards is a bi-weekly CAS card challenge with fun themes such as Distressing, Tags or Googly Eyes. A new challenge is published every second Sunday and you are encouraged to comment on the entries from at least three other participants to spread the bloggy love.

CAS Mixup is a relatively new, super fun monthly challenge for you to combined mixed media with CAS. The challenges are always in the shape of stamping+a techinque (eg. die cutting, stencil etc)+your choice where your choice can be a lot of things such as different techniques or mediums. There is an inspiring list on of things in the side bar of the website. Challenges are open from the 1st to the 24th of each month.

Christmas Card Challenges:
The best way to avoid a crazy rush to create Christmas Challenges is to make one or two every week through the year. There are plenty of amazing challenges out there in the blogosphere to help with inspiration.

The Holly Jolly Christmas Challenge is a bi-weekly challenge with different themes running throughout the year to help you build a steady stash of Christmas cards. Challenges vary from themes like "Ribbon and buttons", to technique challenges such as "Embossing" and colour challenges.  The site also has a very comprehensive list of other Christmas card challenges.

And I don't want to miss a thing

One last thing.  My favourite way of keeping on top of the hundreds of blogs that I follow is feedly. Again, not connected with them in any way or getting compensated for saying anything, it's just the only way I can make sure I see all blog posts I want to see and make sure I don't miss a new challenge when it is posted. You can organise content into categories (I have challenges, crafting, food, lifestyle etc.) and you can catch up using your computer, iPad, iPhone (and they have apps for other platforms as well, it's just these are the ones I use).  I love it that I can catch up with my blogs in bed, on the bus, in the checkout line at the grocery store (well, I can't because the supermarket we go to is beyond reach of any modern technology such as 4G, but when I didn't live out in the sticks, I was able to).

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