Archive for December, 2016

I really wish I could focus on one skill and develop it completely before going on to try something else, but that isn’t me. I have too many interests, and I want to indulge all of them at once. Not only that, but after being anchored to crochet for, what, four months I think, I am heartily sick of my crochet hooks for the time being.

That being said, I’ve been eyeballing my chain maille tools again, and looking up tutorials on YouTube. There are a few weaves that I’ve been very interested in learning, and until just tonight, it didn’t occur to me to look for chain maille tutorial videos. Now that it has, a whole new world has opened up there! The one I was most interested in, the dragonscale weave, was a very detailed Beadaholique tutorial, and I think I might actually be able to handle it! But I need to really look at the best way to create my own jump rings, for one thing, and I have a deep, deep desire to get my hands on some niobium rings. From what I’ve researched so far, it seems like The Ring Lord, as always, is my best bet there, as far as both quality and pricing. But Chain Weavers also has a mix that I’m interested in. Choices, choices…

And then, of course, there is my eternal downfall: tools. I have a decent set of jewelry making pliers that I think I bought from Fire Mountain Gems, but they’re a good eleven years old now, and not the highest quality, like Knipex or Tronex. The problem there is that the high quality pliers also carry a high price: each of the brands I just named run around $50 each. You need at least two sets of pliers to create chain maille, so you’re already at $100, and then for the dragonscale weave you need two sizes of jump rings. The niobium at the Ring Lord is about $25/ounce at its most expensive, I think, so another $50 if I use them, or about $70 if I go with Chain Weavers.

Choices, choices…

Most likely, I’m going to err on the side of caution this time. This is not like crochet or beadwork, both of which I’ve done for so many years that I feel warranted in buying higher quality tools. I haven’t done enough chain maille work to feel justified in upgrading my tools yet. I’m looking and daydreaming, but not buying! The few bits of chain maille I have done were bracelets for my kids, and they didn’t remain intact for very long. I don’t know if it was something I did wrong, or if it was just the inevitable result of giving children delicate jewelry. It could also be a little of both.

Either way, no upgrades yet. Jump rings, though, are kind of a necessity, if I’m going to do anything at all. Unlike all my other artistic obsessions, I haven’t indulged this one very much at all, which means my supplies are very low. I’ve invested in beads like nobody’s business over the years, and they’re relatively inexpensive. Yarn…well, we all know my yarn stash is ridiculous and continues to grow. Again, fairly inexpensive, but only because I balk at spending over a certain amount for one skein of yarn. While no one would ever accuse me of being thrifty, I won’t spend a lot of money on really high-end yarn unless I know I’ve got a project in mind, and I’m confident that it’s not only going to come out right, but also that I’m going to stick with it to the end.  The gods know, there are a ton of WIPs floating around that haven’t even come close to being finished. Neither of the Toothless amigurumi are completely done, and I started those how long ago??! So I don’t want to spend too much in that department either.

So: low supplies as far as rings go, and I will have to invest some money there in order to do even the smallest beginner projects. The reason my supplies have been so sadly neglected here is that unless you go really low quality–which, in my mind, is aluminum or copper–jump rings and wire both cost far more than a tube of glass seed beads, even if you’re talking about Delicas. A tube of Delicas, let’s just say for the sake of argument, at a cost of $5 per ounce, usually translates into, say, 1000 beads. An ounce of niobium jump rings is roughly, depending on gauge, up to 600 rings, for $25 at the lowest. In order to have a comparable number of rings in comparison to beads, you’re talking $50 in comparison to $5. That has an effect on the financial landscape. And so, my supply of jump rings has been sadly neglected. That will have to be remedied very slowly. I haven’t yet found a local supplier of jump rings other than Michaels or stores of that type, and I’ve never seen anything other than aluminum or copper there.

As far as making my own jump rings, I have a local store, Ackley’s, where I’ve bought semi-precious stones and various types of wire from sterling silver to copper, and their prices are good, but my setup for doing it myself is not. I have a jewelry saw for the cutting, and the little doohickey that you attach to a desk or something else stationary that you brace your mandrill in to do the actual cutting, but it doesn’t stay still, and the cutting takes for-gorram-ever to do. I need to figure out a better way to do it. I only tried it with the cheap craft wire I bought at JoAnn’s, because I didn’t want to risk messing up sterling silver wire. That would have pissed me off!!! So the silver wire waits until I can figure out the best way to cut it myself.

On the home front, last night, for the second time in about a week, our neighbor’s sewer line backed up into her basement. When I say “backed up”, I mean they were using buckets to bail out the basement, which is pretty disgusting on any level, and to have it happen twice, well, she has my sympathy. We live in an older, established neighborhood, where much of the piping running from the houses to the street are still clay, and invite the intrusion of tree roots. We’ve had it happen here, too, but not to the extent that our neighbor has. And while she has my sympathy, what bothers me is that instead of calling a plumber, she called the PIP for help in bailing the basement out last night. As you’ll recall from my previous post, he’s pretty sick right now, but felt obligated to go help, as her adult son, who lives with her, was not home. It bothers me because that same son owns a cell phone, and she could have called him home, but instead calls us at ten pm, because she didn’t want to call her son, and didn’t want to call Roto Rooter because she didn’t want to deal with people herself. As a result, the PIP did go over to help, and did not arrive home again until around five pm today, after he finally got the go-ahead to call out the plumber, and was made to stay again to deal with the plumber for her because she didn’t want to do it herself.

Now, maybe I’m just selfish, but bronchitis isn’t exactly an invisible illness. You know he’s sick. You can hear it in his voice, you can hear the constant coughing and wheezing…once you realize he’s ill, in my opinion, that’s when you take responsibility for your own home, call your adult child home to help, and send the PIP back to his. What you don’t do is insist that the sick individual stay and wade through sewage with you, without any kind of hazmat gear or mask or anything, and keep him there for nearly twenty-four hours to talk to the plumber for you because you don’t want to do it yourself. That, in my opinion, is truly inconsiderate. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I’d better go get my oldest off to bed. Buenas noches!

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The holiday aftermath: the bags were a hit. Bryony hasn’t put hers down since Christmas day, although she has removed the drawstring and the gods only know where it is now. If I’d known it was going to vanish that quickly, I probably wouldn’t have spent the time making a crocheted cord for the thing, just slipped a plain old piece of yarn through the holes…or not made any holes at all!! Ah, well…they loved them, and that’s all that matters to me.

Bryony turned seven this week as well, and, unfortunately, their dad was just starting on bronchitis (yes, for once, it wasn’t me!). Unfortunately for him, she refused to be patient and wait for us to celebrate her birthday in January, and dragged us all to Chuck E. Cheese that evening. The PIP was less than thrilled, as he felt like utter crap and was forced to endure the noise and the tons of people when all he really wanted was to crawl into bed and be left alone. I honestly couldn’t blame him: I had bronchitis earlier this year, and if he feels anything like I did, she’s very lucky he felt obligated to go out with her on her birthday! For both of us, it started with a headache that was unbelievable in its intensity for not being a migraine. I swear that was almost worse than the nearly incessant coughing! But he went, which didn’t help matters later on…he’s been awake for the better part of two days now, due to the coughing that gets worse at night. Because he’s got sleep apnea anytime he catches anything that settles in his chest, we’re back to sharing the bed so I can poke him, which has the result of starting him breathing again. That being the case, I’ve also been up since he’s been sick, and catching a few winks here and there during the day.

Her birthday is really difficult to deal with, falling as it does in the middle of the holiday season. There’s no point in throwing a party for her anytime between Christmas and New Year’s, because A. no one will come, and B. no one who has children has any money left to buy birthday gifts for someone else’s kid at that time! So every year, we plan for doing something in January, and every year, she naysays us, insisting on doing everything on that day. It doesn’t feel right, she says, to do it later. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but because he wasn’t feeling well, it was this time, and even though we explained to her that dad was sick–he was feverish, coughing, the whole nine yards–she threw a temper tantrum. My response would have been to put her in her room and do nothing at all, but the PIP felt that he would rather give in and do it her way despite the tantrum this time. He’s gonna regret that next year, I’m sure.

As to the mythical portion of the post title, that came out of something that has always amused me: legendary, so-called monsters that in ancient times always inspired fear, such as dragons and gryphons, have become symbols of other things now. Honor, loyalty, strength, you name it, usually good things. How did they make the metamorphosis? For instance, my high school mascot was the dragon, and all of us who graduated from that school still refer to ourselves as Dragons. I often wonder how one balances a belief that dragons are honorable creatures with the belief in St. George, the ultimate dragonslayer. It’s never been a problem for me; I’ve always been on the dragon’s side!!! But how did a creature who once upon a time was known as a man-eating monster and destroyer of whole villages become a symbol of anything good? Of course, me being myself, I’ve also always wondered how much of their existence is fact or fancy? I’ve seen ancient depictions of dragons from different countries that looked the same, or so close as to make no difference, yet at the time there was no reason to believe that the peoples from those countries had crossed each other’s paths. So what does that mean for their existence? Was it actually a dragon, or a leftover dinosaur, maybe a pterodactyl or something like it? But the pictures in question look nothing like what I’ve been taught to see as a pterodactyl at all. Then again, no one has ever found a skeleton of a dragon, either, at least not provably so. So what does all this mean?

Well, I’m a romantic, I’m Wiccan, and I love fantasy, so I prefer to believe that all those fantastic creatures did exist, and that maybe they still do, just on a different plane than we do. Or maybe no skeletons have been found because dragons are truly immortal, and they’re in hibernation somewhere near the core of the earth where we can’t get to them. Sounds like a great story, right?

And maybe I’m crazy, but I feel that making the choice not to believe is to deliberately remove the magic from life. And where’s the fun in that? Fantasizing about the actual existence of dragons, unicorns, and gryphons (oh, my) is a lot more fun than some fantasies, and lets me hold onto a bit of childhood, which will keep me younger at heart than those who don’t! Just my opinion.

Speaking of dragons, I’ll be taking my little guys into the tent in a little while. Progress is being made, a tiny bit at a time, at least as far as the cage goes. Mnementh will actively approach the cage sides and climb them to meet me eye-to-eye and beg for treats that he will take from my hand. Canth and Ruth are starting to approach, but a good deal more slowly, and will snatch their treats and run for it. Last night, Ruth took his treat to the hammock, and I slowly reached in to pet him. He leaned away from my hand and headed for the hills after one stroke, but he didn’t crab and didn’t try to bite, so I’m going to take that as a step in the right direction. Slow and steady, and all that.

Well, I’m off to see how the PIP is doing and then set up the tent. Wish me luck!

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The completed bag

The completed bag

At 4:00 am on Christmas Eve morning, I have finally, finally, finally completed Bryony’s bag. She will have it in time. Apparently I work well under pressure. Who knew?!

It isn’t perfect. There are a few things I would do differently on another bag. Thankfully I wanted it to be slouchy, because I chose the wrong yarn if I wanted the bag to stand up on its own. That is not happening. The yarn I used was Lane Borgosesia Oceano, and it’s a sport weight viscose/cotton blend. Lots of drape and very shiny, just all around gorgeous yarn. I think it’s been discontinued. I bought it…hmm, I’m going to say a couple of years ago, at the Yarn Outlet here, which means if it was discontinued, I might possibly have a shot at finding it there–and only there–but there’s an equal chance that it’s just gone forever.

Being pressed for time, unlike Aneira’s bag, the strap on Bryony’s was double crocheted. Aneira’s strap was single crocheted, and it took longer to do than I expected. Since I’d had to rip out so much of Bryony’s, I didn’t have that kind of time to single crochet the entire strap again. Double crochet looks more lacy, but the thing is finished. I hope she likes it.

Wave pattern

Wave pattern

Even though I had a time crunch going on, I took a break for a little while today and learned another crochet pattern from YouTube. It’s a 3D crocheted braid, which intrigued me, and it’s a very pretty pattern, but for some reason it wasn’t clicking in my brain for

awhile. Now that it has, I can do it from memory. I have no earthly idea what I’d use the pattern for, but the lady who made the tutorial, Sheruknitting–no idea of actual name–said in the video that it would later be used for a larger project. I’ll have to find said project.

I think learning the pattern was so complicated for me because I’m used to crocheting in 2D, rather than 3D. The braid has to be twisted a certain way in order to look right, and to figure out where your hook is going next. I frogged it several times before the light dawned in my brain.

Well, I’ve got a ton of things to do tomorrow…today…so I’d better get off this computer and get to sleep!!

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Bryony's bag...nearly there!!!

Bryony’s bag…nearly there!!!

YES!!!!! The worst part of Bryony’s bag–the body–is finally done!!! I’m working on the drawstring cord and the shoulder strap now, both of which are easy. And once I’m done, it may be a very long time before I attempt a bag of my own. Okay, probably not true, as I’m working on a design for a drawstring backpack with Roman Reigns’ symbol on it, but I may have to rethink the colors. Because his ring attire is black, I thought the backpack should be as well, but working with black yarn down in the manacle, as dim as the lighting is down there, would be an utter nightmare, even with my lighted crochet hooks! And an adult-sized backpack is going to take a good bit longer to make than the child-sized bags I’m just finishing off. Assuming, of course, that I don’t wind up having to restart that bag three times!!!! So a color change may be in order.

Since my original plan was the bag in black with the symbol in white, I did think about simply reversing the colors, but white gets dirty too quickly, and the dirt shows quite well, so that’s kind of out. Black symbol on a red background is a possibility, but not my favorite color scheme either. This will take some thought, and I’ve got plenty of time to worry about it!

I know this post is short, but blame the time of year! I’ve got to get back to this thing and finish it off, and I’m also trying to get the house presentable for Christmas Day. The children seem to have an aversion to keeping any room in this house clean for longer than three seconds. And I’m doing the huge feast for Christmas as well, so I need to start what can be started early so I have less to do on the day. Because, yeah, that’s gonna happen. Right.

So, to all, my holiday greetings: Happy Solstice, Blessed Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad…I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so please forgive me!

Edited: Five minutes after I published this post, the unthinkable happened–I went to test the drawstring length against the bag and put it through the holes I’d made for it to make sure everything was copacetic…lo and behold, I had somehow forgotten to put in the last hole!! As a result of that mistake, I’ve had to rip back the entire shoulder strap  and three rows of the body: in excess of roughly five hundred stitches. I’m currently trying to decide if I’m going to scream or cry. 


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11 days till Christmas, and seven till Yule on the winter solstice, which, being Wiccan, is really the day I should be celebrating on, but it’s easier just to stick with Christmas Day. The kids would undoubtedly be happier if we went for the solstice, since it’s sooner, but, hey, we’re not even certain yet that they’re getting gifts this year. They’ve misbehaved so often and so badly in recent days that I’m inclined to just return everything and be done with it.

And there’s so little time left. Is Bryony’s bag finished? Not. Even. Close. I will have to work until my hands can’t move to get this thing done in time. I don’t know if I can do it. I forgot to reckon with how much I have to do during the holidays. There’s all the cooking that has to be done, which, thankfully, doesn’t take place until the day in question, but there’s getting things wrapped, shopping, hiding things cleverly enough that the kids can’t find them, and a zillion other things that I have to do, both concerned with the holiday and not. Tomorrow, in fact, we have to get the kids out of school early to get them to the pediatrician by 3:15, because their behavior has been such that it’s time to consult a professional. Bryony got herself in-school-suspension for half a day for bullying another little girl so badly that the child’s grades have dropped and she’s depressed. I was shocked to find this out, because we have had numerous conversations about bullying and how to treat one’s friends. Apparently, nothing has sunk in.

And Aneira is a teenager in nearly everything. Her mouth is writing checks her derriere can’t cash. The disrespect level has gone through the roof recently. If I spoke to my mother the way she’s been backtalking me lately, I wouldn’t have needed braces. I wouldn’t have had teeth. As it stands, after the latest episode of backtalk, when I asked her to help with the dishes only to be refused, I informed my child that I will continue to feed and clothe her because the law requires that I do so until she’s eighteen, but not to ask me for any extras so long as she refuses to behave like a member of the family. Her reaction was to shrug and say “Fine”, and walk away. Meanwhile, I went from anger to tears and back to anger. So, to the pediatrician to consult about behavioral issues and modification. I’m nervous, because with both parents being bipolar, the likelihood of the girls having the same problem is astronomically high, and I’m not keen on putting my kids on meds. I’m hoping that if they are diagnosed as bipolar, or ADD, or something like that, there’s a way to avoid meds. I just don’t want to start them down that path this young.

The animals also need attention as well, particularly the gliders, because they won’t stay tame without human interaction, as evidenced by the Dragons. As I’ve said before, they’re one step up from feral. One very short step! I don’t want the others to regress that badly either. So I find time to spend at least an hour with each group. Normally, that means I spend time with one trio and Maverick one night, and the other trio gets me the next night. The girls make an effort to spend time with Stitch, the rabbit, and the dogs are woven throughout the pattern. They’re easy because they have free run of the house and backyard, other than the master bedroom, so they’re not missing anything at any time. Still, making quality time for everyone and keeping up with everything else drastically reduces the time I have for working on Bryony’s bag or for sleeping.

Which explains why I am still up at quarter to five on a Wednesday morning.

Tonight was the Kaos Krew’s night for tent time. We’ve made progress in some areas, not enough in others. We have reached a point where all three of them run to me for comfort and safety when something startles them, and their idea of fun in the tent is to use me as their personal jungle gym, which means they’re all over me, including up in my hair. What we have not learned is that it’s not nice to bite me. Zoe, in particular, has a penchant for biting my fingers and toes. I invariably forget to put socks on when going into the tent with them–every time. And of course, it doesn’t take long for Zoe to figure that out and make a beeline for my toes when she thinks I won’t notice. Yes, she did get me once tonight. You would think, as often as she does it, I would have learned to never forgo socks. Even Aneira has learned that, and she doesn’t spend as much time with them as I do. She puts shoes on to go in the tent, yet I can never remember to put on socks. Go figure. But at least we’re making progress on bonding, which is all to the good. That means that at some point, the biting will stop. I hope.

Please, please, wish me luck on getting this bag finished in time. After that, I think I’m done with crocheting for a little while!

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Maverick and I in the tent

Maverick and I in the tent

I made a tactical error tonight during tent time with the gliders: I took the three Dragons in first, then forgot to wipe down the floor of the tent before bringing Maverick in to play afterward. Apparently, he was much displeased. Any area of the tent or my person that had contact with the three intruders had to be re-marked and/or attacked…which included my person. Won’t make that mistake again! Normally, Maverick is the most laid back of the seven, and acts as an ambassador glider when I know he’ll be meeting people, because he isn’t a nippy glider. Or say, rather, that he isn’t a glider who nips to get blood. But he was very unhappy with the scent of the Dragons in the tent this evening!

Interactions with the Dragons are still very discouraging. Mnementh is the only one, still, who will approach me, or allow me to approach him. Canth and Ruth still respond with absolute terror and run and hide if possible. In the tent, hiding isn’t really possible, other than to cower in the pouch that comes in with them. It’s so sad, especially since I really love all seven of them. I hate to see an animal that scared of contact with its owner. They seem to have no idea that I would never hurt them. They’ll run all over me in the tent, but I can’t touch them, or even twitch in their direction unless I want to see them run for the pouch.

Mnementh and Canth in their pouch during tent time

Mnementh and Canth in their pouch during tent time

Tent time is recommended because a small tent forces the glider to have some kind of interaction with the owner, which goes toward the bonding process. This isn’t an issue with Mal, Inara, Zoe, or Maverick. They have no fear of me whatsoever. I haven’t been putting any of them in the bonding pouch for awhile. For one thing, it’s been too cold, in my opinion, to take them out. For another, the Dragons need the attention a lot more than the others, so they’ve been the only ones to ride around in the bonding pouch, but only at home, due to the aforementioned temperatures. Which means they spend far less time in the pouch than I would prefer, because I don’t want the dogs further terrifying already scared animals that realize that they will fit into a canine maw with room to spare. I also don’t push Bryony into interacting with them, because she can’t seem to remain still or move slowly around them, which contributes to their fears. And she’s as nervous around multiple gliders as they are around her.

I’ve gotten some pictures from Blue’s new family, and he’s doing wonderfully! He readily bonded with them, which makes me happy at the same time it makes me sad and a little bit jealous, because he didn’t bond with us in the least, and he was born in this house and handled from nearly day one. I’ve redoubled my efforts with Stitch now, who is currently running around my room as I write this. He seems much happier now that he is an only rabbit! So maybe that will make bonding with him easier, as he seems to be less stressed now.

Bryony's bag...restart number three!

Bryony’s bag…restart number three!

Bryony’s bag is still giving me fits. I’m on the third restart now, with less than a month to get it finished, and never did get around to the micro-macrame or kumihimo jewelry I wanted to make for the girls too. These bags have been the bane of my existence, and I love to crochet!!!! I should have just woven some bags instead. Well, live and learn: hindsight is 20/20! I might be able to add a piece or two more if I can manage to finish this bag with at least three days to spare. At the rate this is going, it may not happen, but I’m certainly going to try!

The rounds are somewhere around 200 stitches each, but the yarn is so much smaller than what I used for Aneira’s bag that the bag itself will be smaller. The yarn is a viscose blend–I want to say cotton, but I don’t have it in front of me at the moment, so don’t hold me to that. I’m using the smallest crochet hook I have without resorting to the truly tiny ones, and I think it might still be a bit too large!

Well, it’s three am at the moment, so I think it would probably be a good idea to get Mr. Stitch into his cage and head to bed myself. Good night, all!

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