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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Hi, folks. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten in here, and I’m sorry. Crazy abounds around here, particularly lately, and it makes keeping up the way I’d like difficult.

We’ve been very lucky (knock on wood) to have avoided contracting the virus, which is all to the good, but quarantine is definitely taking a toll. Because of underlying health conditions, even though restrictions have been lifted somewhat, we haven’t been taking advantage of that fact. The kids are still streaming their classes, despite school having reopened part time, and they probably won’t be going back this year at all. The lack of social contact seems to be very much affecting Bryony, and last month we had to admit her to inpatient care at the hospital. My ten year old child had several plans in her mind for committing suicide, and had been cutting herself as a coping mechanism.

Ten years old.

My heart broke. There is no other phrase for it.

As a family, we sat down and discussed it with her. We told her that the fact that she had made actual plans meant that we were officially over our heads. We could no longer deal with things on our own, and she would have to go to the hospital. She agreed; she wanted to go. She wanted to get well. And her mama just fell apart at that point.

Bryony told me to think of it as a really long sleepover at a friend’s house. And she told me that no matter how close or how far she was from me, she would always be with me. My youngest child, my baby, so brave. I was a wreck.

And so, I drove her to the emergency room, where she was admitted, and we were told that she would be there until such time as a facility opened up that could take her. Until then, they acted as a holding facility, keeping her physically safe, but not doing any actual treatment. I would be the only point of contact because of Covid rules.

There has been a distinct division in the family lately. On top of everything else, Aneira had come out as trans, feeling more comfortable identifying as male and pansexual, something that I am struggling to reconcile within myself. Understand: I love my children. There is nothing they could do to change that. And I am not phobic in regard to the LGBTQ community. I want to be supportive of my child, but where he says he has been thinking about this for years, this is an entirely new concept for the woman who gave birth to two daughters, and now has a son and a daughter. Loving him and supporting him does not mean that I don’t mourn the daughter I no longer have, and I hope that makes more sense to someone than it currently does to me. I have a son who is a stranger to me in many ways, who has the face and form of the daughter I bore, and it’s very hard for me to wrap my head around. And because she is now he, I am no longer the go-to parent. He and the hubby have become very close, where he and I have lost that closeness. He feels more in common with my husband, particularly in light of my husband’s own preferences. So there is a division right down the midline of the family, with Bryony and I on one side, and Aneira and the hubby on the other.

With Bryony in the hospital, and the buddy-buddy closeness of the other two, I felt very alone, and I pulled back. I spent all of my time either in the studio or the bedroom catching up on tv shows I hadn’t watched in awhile. And though both of them professed to be missing Bryony as well, I couldn’t feel that they did. They had each other, while the child that remained close to me wasn’t there. I was depressed and scared and sad, and it didn’t feel as though anyone else was, so I withdrew more and more.

Bryony stayed at the hospital for two long weeks, with me visiting as often as I could. She wasn’t the only child there, and in fact the doctor said that they are seeing a spike in the number of children in the pediatric behavioral health ward, believing that parents are seeing more behavior issues because of the quarantine. Because of that spike, beds were in short supply at treatment facilities, and Bryony was released to outpatient care after two weeks because a facility never opened up for her, and it was decided that it would be worse to continue her exposure to those who had worse mental health issues than she did, so home she came. In addition to ADHD/ODD, she has been diagnosed as borderline bipolar, something we feared happening because we had our own issues.

But the familial division has made itself felt. I haven’t quite come back all the way from my own withdrawal, and I still feel very much in the middle. Bryony is still acting out, though a bit less than before, and her brother and father have very little patience with her, so I am acting as a buffer between one child and the rest of the household, while struggling to maintain my own equilibrium and failing. It doesn’t help that I can see both sides of the problem, because I can’t seem to find a way to fix the problem.

I’ve continued working on different projects in weaving and crocheting, and even cooking, and I’ve posted on Instagram (@sibelabmom, if anyone is interested in following me there), and I’ve begun therapy myself, but this is the first time I’ve felt settled enough to blog in awhile. So, sorry for the long ramble!!

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Tiny loom from Hard Maple Looms. It’s 7″ long by 4″ high and cute as a button!

The weavebrain is back to running amok. I currently have four looms under warp. Two are weaving the same design in different colors and yarn thicknesses. One is under a practice warp. And the last, a teeny little loom, is under an inkle warp. My last loom and my wooden heddles haven’t yet arrived, and I have no idea when they will. The Ukelele is coming from Windhaven, and they had a major flash flood, so the shop was under water. No telling when they’ll be able to resume work. That’s a horrible thing to have happen, especially now when there’s already so much going on in the world.

The heddles are coming from Latvia. They shipped on May 7th, but there’s no tracking number for them, so I have no idea where they are. Given the state of the world, they might have gone to Outer Mongolia, for all I know!

Staying on point is hard because I am seriously wanting to try my hand at Baltic pickup weaving, but I don’t have a loom free. At least, not one for that. Two of my three rigid heddles are free, but they don’t fit in my lap. I need to swing by WalMart and get a tv table of some sort. Maybe I’ll do that today. 

In other news, both kids will be moving on to their next grades. Aneira did well with homeschooling, and we’re looking into keeping her there until graduation. Bryony, not so much. And I am no teacher. Her passing had absolutely nothing to do with any help on my part. We spent more time fighting over her actually doing her work than cooperating to get it done, primarily because it is her contention that “help” means that a parent does all the reading and tells her which item to read to get the answer she needs. Naturally, that’s not happening!

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As we were sitting in the living room the other day, Bryony asked me a question: if I could do anything, have anything, be anything, what would I do, have, or be?

We had each been doing our own respective things in the same room, which is pretty common. She was engrossed in Minecraft because she’s somehow managed to lose Animal Crossing — again — and I was wrapped up in weaving, vaguely listening to her chatter. It’s not that I don’t listen to her, it’s that she is a child whose tongue starts wagging the second she rolls out of bed, and it literally does not stop until she rolls back into it. I’m not the worst mother in the world, but neither am I the best, and I simply cannot listen actively all the time, or I’d never get anything done. So, vaguely listening, but she insistently repeated the question, and I picked up on it the second time.

My first inclination was to laugh — only a child could ask such a question and think it was simple to answer, but then I realized that it actually was. If money was no object, who and what would her mother be? What dreams would I fulfill if I could do so, just because I wanted to?

It didn’t even take much thought. I’d move the family north, probably to the New England area. I’d build a house. Not a mansion or something ridiculous, just a house. I’ve never felt that a family of four needs a house with thirty bedrooms and sixteen bathrooms, with a home theater built in, complete with reclining leather seats. I don’t want a place so large that maid service is pretty much a requirement. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen with plenty of storage, living room, dining room, and a weaving studio with lots of windows for natural light attached to the house. Maybe a barn, so we could have some horses. The house would be on a couple of wooded acres, but still have city water, sewer, and gas, because I don’t ever want to deal with a well, septic, or propane ever again. Central air, of course. A pool? No, darling, probably not. Maintaining animals is one thing, maintaining a pool is something else again.

Was that it? Was that all I wanted, just an awesome house to hang out in? She wanted me to take it further. Well, okay, I’d also like to travel to different places and learn different weaving techniques from different cultures.

She grinned at that, completely unsurprised by that answer, and I laughed. My kids know me pretty well. Mama is fairly predictable.

Then came the big question, the one I suspect she really wanted to know: would I still have her, her sister, and their dad? Absolutely!!! That didn’t even need to be asked; I would never give them up! They are my family, and I love them. They go where I go!

She went back to Minecraft after that, curiosity — and maybe insecurity? — satisfied. I, however, was daydreaming about the things I would do if I could.

Clearly, I need to hit the lottery.

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A soon to be done chain maille bracelet in rainbow niobium.

Nope, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. Before anyone who is flips out, I did read the books, years before the series, and didn’t like any of the characters. I’ve gotta be able to connect with a character, and pretty much none of them were really likable people. I re-read them again after the series began, and tried the series itself, and just couldn’t do it. The only characters I liked were the direwolves. Sorry, no converts here.

But the post is more about the fact that winter is coming, which means the holiday season, which starts with Halloween in this house. And which honestly didn’t occur to me until just this second. After I’ve started on the Yule-themed tatted bookmark. Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had more than one project going at once! Time to find my Halloween thread!

I started Yule shopping for the kids a few months ago, so I’m just about done with that, except for two items. Which I’m not going to mention, as Aneira is now more internet connected and may read this! I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m done a couple of months early, actually, and now I’m thinking in terms of handmade things I can add to the mix. Fall, winter, and holiday themed things maybe. Some amigurumi toys. Bracelets and necklaces. Bags, although I did that once already. Fortunately, they’re girls, and we can never have too many bags, bracelets, necklaces, or stuffed animals. And don’t think I don’t have my own stuffed animals, because you’d be dead wrong!! There’s a whole box up in my bedroom waiting to be unpacked as soon as I make enough room for them! And I’ve no shame in admitting it; I even sleep with a Stitch pillow, and no one better touch him!

L – R: beaded kumihimo, Byzantine in niobium, Byz in titanium, box weave in aluminum, JPL3 in aluminum, and three more JPL3 in niobium.

I’ve worked on a few things since we’ve been in the new house, all portable crafts, since I can’t justify tying myself to the looms just yet, until the house is fully unpacked, as much as I’d prefer not to wait that long. But I have to be a responsible adult for some things, so there you go.

I finally learned some beaded kumihimo, which is somehow both challenging and yet easier than I expected it to be. I learned a couple of new chain maille weaves, and expanded the tatting shuttle collection a bit. One day, I’ll have to photograph that as a group. And the plier collection has grown as well.

I honestly thought I was crazy with that one. I think I have about ten sets of pliers currently, and I thought I was going overboard with that many, but I’ve since discovered that many maillers have a lot more than ten!!

Dreamlit tatting shuttle

As much as I usually say something pro/con about my many tools, it occurs to me that I’ve never said a word about my pliers! Never even thought about it! I think it’s because the other tools I’ve talked about here have been tools specifically made for fiber arts, where pliers are a common household tool almost from birth. Yes, the ones I have serve a specific purpose, but still fall into the category of pliers, and I’ve never thought much about them. So that’s an idea for a future post.

There’ll be one about the Dreamlit tatting shuttle too…those are new, and I’m just trying them out for the first time.

Ooooo, and I learned to make tandoori chicken!!! What a hit that was with the kids! Not the hubby, so much, but the kids loved it. Aneira and I had gone to lunch at a little Indian restaurant while waiting for her eye exam, and it was the first time we’d had tandoori chicken. SOOOOOO good! And Aneira asked me a month later to try making it, so I did. I didn’t expect it to come out all that great, not the first time, but it tasted just like the restaurant! Needless to say, that’s been added to the repertoire!

Well, the dogs have just put in a howling appearance, so I’d better go see what’s going on with them. Happy crafting!

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Rings for a basic amamani puzzle ball

I’ve been searching for things to make to stock my Etsy store, small things that work up quickly while I’m still creating larger items, so that I have an inventory ready to go. And I decided to give a look-see at one of my affiliate ads, the one for amamani puzzle balls. These things are adorable!!! So I ordered the pattern book. Yup, snagged by my own ad, thus the title of this post. But I couldn’t help it.

I found a free pattern for the basic ball on the author’s blog, Look What I Made, and gave it a shot. The crochet part is fairly easy, especially if you’re familiar with making amigurumi figures. Assembling and stuffing it was a little bit more difficult, but not enough to put anyone really off the idea. It took me two days to create the ball, pretty much non-stop crocheting. And for my first effort, I think it came out pretty well. There were a couple of mistakes that I found after the whole project was done and assembled, but overall I like it and enjoyed making it, and the time frame is pretty much in line with what it takes me to make spa cloths, so not bad at all.

This particular ball is going to my friend’s son, who is two. I figure that’s a good age for this type of puzzle, so we’ll see if he likes it. I’ve already started another tester ball for another two-year-old boy. Yes, I enjoyed making it that much. Amigurumi patterns challenge me and keep my brain engaged, but not so much of a challenge that they make me want to give up, which is key for me. I occasionally run across things that intrigue me and I want to try them, then discover that the challenge level is beyond my abilities, try it anyway, and get irritated and never touch them again. I haven’t yet had that problem with amigurumi. They’re just challenging enough.

The completed amamani ball

The biggest issue I run into with amigurumi type patterns is matching the crochet hook to the yarn I’m using. With amigurumi, you use a hook one size smaller than the one recommended on the yarn label, so that the holes are tighter and the stuffing doesn’t show. I used the hook and yarn sizes recommended on the amamani pattern, but I’m trying a smaller hook on the second ball. I just want to see if that will work better for me.

I’ve pulled out all of my amigurumi books to start making things, and my kids are already after me to make little toys for them! I guess I can’t complain…it’s nice that they appreciate the things I make. Bryony dragged around the receiving blankets I made when I was pregnant with Aneira for years, until they fell apart. She wouldn’t be parted from them. She was like Linus in the Peanuts comics, except she had two security blankets. She wouldn’t sleep without them, and would have a fit anytime they had to be washed. Nine times out of ten, they went through a quick wash cycle and never made it into the dryer before they were back in her hands. They finally disintegrated from all the love last year. By then, they were twelve years old, so they held up pretty well! When we moved into the new house, we found two more blankets I’d crocheted at the same time, one of which was incomplete. Guess whose bed they’re in now.

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It seems that the dragon loom and I have finally come to an agreement. I have a system now that helps me keep better track of where I am in the pattern. It seems kind of obvious in hindsight, but it took me awhile to realize the way the pattern worked, because I wasn’t looking for it. I was simply following the directions by rote, not really paying attention to it. Once I did see it, though, it was easy to work with. The pattern sequence is 8 turns of the tablets, made a bit more complex by the fact that I’m actually working with five packs of tablets, and they go in two different directions for half the sequence, and in the same direction for the other half, but it’s two consecutive picks for each turn. So I started counting off each pick, one and two, change direction, one and two, change direction, etc. That wasn’t working, because while yes, the two picks were identical, the next two weren’t, and carried the same numbers, so I was still losing my place. I had to count them off as one through eight, and once I started doing that, everything flowed much better. If I’m in pick five, I know exactly which direction the cards are turning, and therefore which way I need to turn them next in order to continue the weave, or to unweave in case of a mistake. It has been much easier!

Aneira is doing well with therapy, and she and I talk each night at bedtime about how her day went, rating everything on a scale of one to ten. Lots of hugs and kisses are given, along with lots of “I love you”. There are those who would say that all the repetition of those words devalues them, but my personal belief is that your kids can never hear them too often. Kids too easily fall into the habit of believing that their parents hate them. Not only that, but there’s also the fact that anything can happen during the course of a day, and sometimes whatever happens can mean that you never have the opportunity to say those words to that person again. So I say them as often as I can, to make sure the girls know how much I love them. So far, I’ve been lucky, and both of them are still tightly bonded to me. I don’t know how much longer that will last; Aneira will be thirteen in a couple of months!

Valkyrie is rapidly becoming the queen terror of the house. It’s a good thing I’d bought a whole bunch of Clorox wipes at Costco, because they’re getting a lot of use as we work on potty training. She and Vanir are very close, but the old man, Thor, still wants nothing to do with this little upstart. And she’s way too smart for her own good: she has already figured out that doorknobs are what allow one to open the door and escape a room. I have watched her working on them, and she’s going to get it right sooner rather than later! She stands on her hind legs, takes the doorknob in her mouth and tries to twist it. If she had opposable thumbs, I’d be in deep trouble already!

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I don’t know what I want to do tonight. I’m sitting in my little studio, staring at Pinterest, and I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve got three bands in various stages of weaving on three different looms, and I’m looking at other patterns for another band. I’m also looking at tatting patterns, because it’s been awhile since I picked up a shuttle and my fingers are itching for one. I’ve also got two blankets on crochet hooks that could use some work, and I saw some interesting crochet stitches on Pinterest too.

And then there’s Valkyrie, with whom I’ve made some strides today and who is just cute as a button, and I want to play with her too. And Vanir has been very lovey-dovey since Valkyrie arrived, so cuddling him is a must, too. And I have to say, I don’t understand how it is that he is still as adorable as a puppy when he is an adult and nearly five years old now. Yeah, my dogs aren’t spoiled or anything!

There are also my adult coloring books, markers, and colored pencils…I could spend some time coloring with my kids. There’s so much I could be doing, so much I want to do, and can’t figure out which want is greater than the others! Sigh. So I think what I’m going to do is read more of Tablets at Work. I need to know more about how tablet weaving really works. I’ve made so many mistakes with the strap on the dragon loom that it’s not funny. If I lose my place, I generally end up cutting the weft thread and pulling it out back to the beginning of the pattern repeat, because I can’t figure out how to unweave it without compounding the problem. So studying is probably the best idea. It’s not like the book isn’t interesting, because it absolutely is, it’s just that I’d rather be doing than reading. Sometimes, though, you can’t jump ahead like that, and this is one of those times.

 

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Fourteen years old!!

Yes, I had a birthday a few days ago, and so did Thor, our now-fourteen-year-old Sibe. We share a birthday, which is pretty cool, I think. And while I’ll tell you how old he is, since I don’t think he cares, I think I’ll refrain from mentioning my age, in favor of my vanity. Most people express disbelief upon hearing my age, swearing I look younger than I am, but I’m never sure if the disbelief is genuine, or politeness lol.

So the day in question didn’t start out so well. A couple of days earlier, I had woken up to find my left knee painful and starting to swell. No idea what I’d done to it. I hadn’t fallen, wrenched it, or banged it into anything. Just, out of nowhere, blammo! And over the course of the next two days, it blew up to twice the size of the right one. I couldn’t bend it far, and couldn’t straighten it completely either. It hurt to touch it or move it. The PIP thought I should go to the ER the night before my birthday, but I refused. And by morning, I really had no choice. So off to the urgent care I went. Xrays were excruciating, but showed no breaks and no reason for all the swelling. Orders have since gone out for an MRI. Fun stuff. So I ended up with a compression bandage on the knee, naproxen for daytime, hydrocodone for bedtime, and instructions to wait for the MRI folks to call.

Then I had to head up to Denver International Airport, because my birthday present was arriving on Alaska Air. Naturally, the weather turned ugly, and since I was driving up alone, I opted to avoid the highway and take the back roads, which were themselves pretty nasty. I don’t ever do the highway in bad weather. Call me a wimp, but contending with idiots who are far exceeding the dry speed limit of 75 mph is not my idea of a relaxing drive. Thus, back roads. It takes longer–a lot longer–but I feel more confident of surviving the trip!

Without further ado, let me introduce my present:

Introducing Valkyrie, Tovik’s Warrior Goddess

She is an adorable bundle of trouble! I admit to being nervous about introducing her to Vanir, but the two of them are fast friends already. She follows him everywhere. Thor is less thrilled about the new arrival. It hasn’t been long since Bandit left us, but we agreed that the kids needed this, and I’ve known the owners of Tovik Siberians ever since I got Thor eleven years ago.

This is the first time I’ve ever had a pack that consisted only of Northern breed dogs. I figure Valkyrie’s mask will eventually fade, but right now she’s got striking markings. And when I finally get a picture of the three of them together, they’ll look beautiful together. And boy, am I glad the boys are neutered!!! She’ll be spayed after she’s a year old, to make sure she grows properly into adulthood. I have no desire to breed!

Of course, she latched right onto the PIP, Mr. I-Don’t-Want-A-New-Dog-Yet, who cuddles her every chance he gets, and she considers the girls of the household to be furniture, to be ignored as much as possible. Annoying, lol! Unless we’re giving out treats, of course. But what a cutie!

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My new bookshelves, built by the PIP!!!

It’s been a busy week. Bryony has a nasty cold and pink eye, Aneira has a stomach issue, and the PIP is complaining of the same. I’m afraid to get near any of them, because whatever they have, I don’t want it!

I also had the dubious honor of someone getting hold of my debit card number and emptying my account by placing an order on eBay in my name. Thank all the gods above and below that I check my email often enough that I saw the order confirmation before my address was flooded with emails from several different countries, in various languages that I don’t speak, or I never would have caught it. As it was, I had to jump through hoops with eBay, the merchant, PayPal, and my bank to get the whole issue resolved. I got my money back, shut down my old card, did the whole security thing, but it left me very pissed off. And, at first, I was also very confused. Why would someone place an order in my name and have it shipped to me? My bank answered that one: because whoever it was is nearby, with the ability to watch the house for a delivery truck, and snatch any package left on my porch. Nice, right? But I was able to contact the merchant, and they managed to get the package back before it got too far. So it won’t be coming here, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for anyone that doesn’t look like they belong in the area.

In better news, the PIP was remarkably unimpressed by my eight-milk-crate-bookshelf, and as you can see in the picture, he built me the shelves that are now snugged between two of the pillars that run along the right side of my little studio area. The picture doesn’t do them justice; they are gorgeous, and he plans to add more shelving to the room, which I can always use. And every one of my craft books fit on the shelves, leaving room on top for my big guardian dragon!

And I found some adorable weaving tablets at another Etsy store, hipstrings, that are made from resin and beautifully etched. And she did a wonderful thing: she etched the edges of the cards too, with one to four tally marks, so you can keep track of your tablets just by glancing down at the edge. How awesome is that? And why has no one thought of it before?!

Etched resin weaving tablets. Gorgeous.

I’ve been reading Claudia Wollny’s book, Tablets at Work, the last of her books to arrive, and I was right: this is a tablet weaving bible. She included hundreds of patterns to weave, which is fun. One of the problems of tablet weaving is that nothing is standardized. One person does things this way, another does things that way, and still another does things the other way, so unless you get very specific information with a pattern, you could wind up with a completely different look than what you are going for, and that’s mostly been my problem. You need the pattern, to know if you should read the pattern top to bottom or vice versa, left to right or vice versa, the threading pattern, what directions the tablets or threads lie (S or Z), how many cards, what colors…that’s most of the list. And all of it changes according to the pattern writer. The lack of standardization makes it very confusing. But it’s worth it to learn!! For obvious reasons, I can’t post pictures of Claudia’s work, but if you Google her name or search it on Pinterest, I’m pretty sure you’ll find some pictures and see why it’s worth it. Her work is gorgeous.

Well, I’d better get back to studying before I forget where I am. Happy crafting!

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The satin band is on its way

The DMC satin floss experiment has its ups and downs. The thread itself is an “up”: it’s holding up to weaving as well as its regular counterpart so far, which is what I’d hoped for. The slipperiness of it makes it only a little harder to work with than regular cotton floss. Tying on, I discovered, is where it is most difficult. Normally I use a single surgical knot, but with this material, I had to double it so that the knots couldn’t back out. It helps that one thread on each card is normal crochet cotton.

The “down” has been human error. Specifically, my error. Since the pattern is actually reverse engineered from a picture, I wrote it out myself, basing it on a previous band that was a single diamond running up the center of the band. It was a simple 4 forward, 4 backward band, and I thought, well, it’s just a few more diamonds, therefore if I write it and diagram it exactly the same, just wider, it ought to be fine, right? Well, not exactly. I’m learning exactly what I did wrong, because it is a simple FFFF/BBBB design.

The first mistake I made was in creating the warp to begin with, on the warping board. The pattern is written from left to right, the same way you read. So naturally, the first strands on the warp were the ones on the left side of the pattern, and I worked my way across. But the way the Wave is set up, once the warp was on the loom, I realized that the warp was flipped. The orange that should have been on the left is now on the right, as you can see. This wasn’t a complete disaster in itself, because the colors are still in order, just reversed. I could live with that, but I should have warped the board from the end of the pattern first. Next time I’ll know better.

I also had the tablet slants incorrect, and after flipping them, then I had the wrong starting position, and it took enlisting the Facebook group’s help again to get it right. So the top of the band is what I was going for, the bottom is my mess of human error.

Aneira continues to do well. She has refrained from cutting, which is an accomplishment, and we had a meeting today about her medication, to see if dosages needed to be adjusted. After talking to her, it was decided to leave things as they are for another two weeks, and we’ll check again at that time. The downside of the meeting is that there are no after-school appointments available. There are a grand total of eight after-school slots, serving 325 patients. Needless to say, those eight slots are gone pretty quickly, so we did what we could and set the next appointment up for as close to the end of the school day as possible. I’ll have to pick her up early, but she won’t miss a full day of school.

Tomorrow she starts her therapy, so we’ll see how it goes!

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