Archive for the ‘chain maille’ Category

Current commission in progress

Ruining a large warp is on a par with falling off of a horse. Having done both, I can tell you that this is a truth.

Another truism is that when you fall off of a horse, you have got to get up and get back on as soon as possible, or you will never do it. I was a teenager when, during a horseback riding lesson, the belt of my sweater came loose and its flapping against the horse’s side drove her up a wall, and she took off with me. And though I usually, at that time, had to be told to loosen up the reins, this was the one day I’d had them not only loose, but too loose, so when she bolted, I had no control. I fell. And I distinctly remember watching her rear left hoof pass my face by inches.

I wasn’t hurt, not even bruised, particularly thanks to the fact that said hoof did not come down on my head, but the terror of watching it flash by the way it did made quite the impression on my psyche. As in, no one was easily getting me back in her saddle.

Her name was Penelope, a pretty little dark chestnut mare who was really as sweet as pie, but falling off her, though the fault was more mine than hers, changed my view of her into that of a slavering monster who wanted to kill me, and everyone wanted me to get back on??!!

I did, though, that same day. It was that, or give up horses forever. Given that I love horses, that was not an option. And though I shivered and cried, I got back up on Penelope and finished the lesson. But, obviously, I have never forgotten that view of the underside of her hoof while lying on the ground beneath it.

Ruining a warp as big as the one I’d made was very like that. Not terrifying in the I’m-about-to-die way, but traumatic nonetheless. The largest warp I’d ever done previously was probably no bigger than 125 ends, if that, and I didn’t ruin it. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to create a large warp, and it looked so pretty on the warping mill. I was so proud of myself, never dreaming that I’d done it wrong, and that made the following discovery that much more traumatic. Add the fact that I wasn’t using an inexpensive yarn, and you have more insecurity still. Ruining a cheaper warp hurts, but you can shrug it off a little bit easier. Ruining expensive yarn that you can’t readily replace is a different story. It makes me want to go back to just hoarding the yarn rather than using it.

I haven’t created a new warp yet. I’ve played with the idea for a few days, and then I received an excuse in the mail: stainless steel rings for a commissioned chain. Now that, I’ve already begun, as you can see. But the excuse won’t last for very long; the pattern I’m doing is one I can do in my sleep, and the only reasons it’s going to take me a little longer than usual is that it’s longer than I’ve done before, and it’s stainless steel which, barring grade 1 titanium, is the hardest material on my hands I’ve ever worked with. I can only add a few segments at a time, before needing to rest my hands. So that’s the current excuse for not getting back on the horse yet, so to speak. And if I don’t get the chain done fast enough, the next excuse will be getting ready for Yule. It is around the corner, after all, and I am the chief cook and present-wrapper. We haven’t even gotten the tree out of the garage yet.

I will try to finish the chain quickly, because I do intend to get back on the horse and take note of the lesson I learned. Like horses, I love weaving too much to give it up.


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Accidental earrings

There have been a couple of these this weekend. First, I was playing with helm weave, which is a chain maille weave that involves two parallel lines of rings connected by smaller rings and capturing a third row between them. The third row isn’t connected in any way to the other rows, other than capture by being surrounded. It’s one of the many I hadn’t tried before, so I wanted to give it a shot. I tried it the first time with aluminum rings that followed exact sizes in a pattern, and came out with a pretty little ring of rings. No particular use for it, just practice. So then I started playing with other rings that were supposed to meet the aspect ratio criteria, and by numbers, they did…but they didn’t work for helm. They were far too tight, no movement at all. So I posted to a chain maille group on Facebook, and someone suggested using what I had made as zipper pulls, which triggered my own brain to think of earrings, so that’s what they became! Thus: a happy failure.

The success portion of our program came from New England clam chowder. This is a meal that I have tried to make many times, and never got it right. Every attempt at this soup wound up in the garbage disposal. No exaggeration: Every. Single. One.

My last attempt was at least…let’s just say, a really long time ago. I had given up. I had access to Red Robin and Red Lobster, and they both had excellent bowls of clam chowder; I had no need to make it myself. And for what it’s worth, in my opinion, Red Robin serves a better version than the Lobster. Go fig.

The finished, delicious product

Anyway, I no longer have access to the rouge-chested little avian, so if I want good clam chowder, I will have to make it myself. In recalling past attempts, I have to admit I wasn’t best thrilled with this solution. But canned clam chowder is not that good, even after doctoring it, and after the tandoori chicken turned out so well, I was less hesitant than I might have been, and off I went to find a recipe.

It isn’t hard to find a good recipe on Google. In fact, there are so many it’s hard to choose. I finally settled on one from reluctantentertainer.com that wasn’t too complicated as far as ingredients or directions, and got to work. I only had to go out and buy one ingredient that isn’t a staple in my house: leeks. I don’t recall ever having eaten a leek in my life, and I didn’t know what to do with one. Again, Google was my friend. There was actually a video to show you what parts of a leek to use…which is a good thing, as it looks like a gigantic green onion, and I would otherwise have also used the green part.

I followed the recipe to the letter, and once I reached a point of testing the flavor of the chowder, I decided one ingredient was lacking, and that was white wine. I added a half cup, and after cooking off the alcohol, the soup was absolutely, totally, divine. I was honestly shocked. I was fully prepared to have to cook again after dumping a failed soup down the disposal, and now I didn’t have to. Even my kids loved it. And a new recipe was added to the list of things I could cook on a dull day.

I don’t normally tweak a recipe the first time out. I generally wait till I’ve made it a few times, then add or take away things as I feel are needed or not. The cayenne in the tandoori chicken doesn’t count: I have children, and extra spicy food doesn’t work for my youngest at all, so all I did was reduce the amount there. Nothing added, no ingredients fully removed. With the clam chowder, though, I felt as though it was missing something. It was just “okay”. But then I remembered a white clam sauce recipe that I’d gotten from Pinterest. That recipe included wine and stated it was optional. I’d always made it with the wine, except for one time, and that one time, the sauce was actually inedible to me. So I thought, maybe that’s the same problem here, and it was.

A gazillion years ago, maybe I was just impatient. Maybe I made too many substitutions because I didn’t have whatever was needed and thought they would work. Whatever my block was, I’m glad it’s gone now!

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Beadsmith Chroma. Chain and flat nose pliers.

Well, ten sets and counting. I’ve been assured by other maillers that I haven’t gone overboard on pliers yet, so it’s not really a plethora, but it’s working toward becoming one! Currently, I have short nose, chain nose, needle nose, armorer’s, and a couple of others, all by various companies. The ones pictured are the Beadsmith Chroma pliers, and I freely admit it: I bought them more because they were pretty than that they were practical.

Don’t get me wrong; in a pinch, I can actually use them for chain maille, and I have, because I had to try them out as soon as they arrived, right? So they do work, but the grip is very, very slippery. I spent as much time picking them up as I did using them, because they would shoot out of my hands. If I can find some slip-on grips for them, they’ll be a lot better. I suppose I could always wrap the handles in some kind of self adhesive tape, but then they wouldn’t be pretty anymore.

I’ve found that each set of pliers works for me for different things. For example, for smaller rings, I love my Xurons. They have angled heads, so you can get more plier on the ring without the two pliers really messing with each other. My chain nose are my second choice for smaller rings. For larger rings, I like my Tronex flat nose pliers. And I haven’t tried it yet, but my thought is to use my armorer’s pliers for the titanium stash I’ve got. I did a Byzantine chain in titanium, and I used my flat nose pliers for it, and titanium being as strong as it is, it was very hard on my hands. With softer metals, I can maille for hours, but with something like that, I’m taking breaks every fifteen minutes. I’m hopeful that it’ll be better using the armorer’s pliers. They have the widest short nose of all my pliers…thus far lol. I have no doubt that I’ll gradually add more pliers to the herd!

A herd of Dreamlit shuttles

Moving on to tatting shuttles here, I’ve finally given the new Dreamlit shuttle a good run. My overall impression is that I like it, but I don’t love it. For one, it doesn’t carry as much thread as many of my other shuttles, so if I want to do a larger piece with fewer joins (which is always my preference, as joining on new thread is a pain for me), I’m going to go with one of my higher capacity shuttles. And it could be just me, but I seem to catch the hook at the end a lot more often with the Dreamlit than I do my other shuttles with hooks. That may be my fault, though, and not an issue with the shuttle at all.

I like how the shuttle comes apart to place or remove the bobbin. The magnet is just right, not too strong or too weak. Everything about the shuttle is easy, which is nice. If it had more thread capacity, it’d be perfect. For smaller projects, it is perfect.

And I should clarify my comments on thread capacity: the thinnest thread I use is size 20. Anything smaller is going to require me to have new eyeballs. Meaning that those who use size 40 and 80 thread may have no problem with the load it can carry. So, overall, I like it.

So there’s today’s two cents. Hope you enjoyed! Happy crafting!

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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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While I try to organize the studio so that I can actually use it well, it’s good that some of the things I do are a lot easier to be done nearly anywhere. About the easiest thing to carry around with me is tatting. I keep a loaded shuttle, small crochet hook, and a picot gauge in a tiny Ziploc bag. I can chuck it into a purse and take it with me wherever I go, or just go into the living room and tat while we all watch tv.

Chain maille, crochet, and knitting are easy to move around as they don’t require a lot either, although crochet and knitting are quite a bit bulkier and require their own bags apart from a purse, in order to carry a skein of yarn. Chain maille is another I can do a small go kit for, since all I need for that is a two pairs of pliers and a supply of rings in whatever metal I’m working in at that moment. Pliers are still bulkier than a tatting shuttle, but not as bulky as a skein of yarn.

Having at least some portability is great, because I would lose my mind if I was completely unable to do anything until the studio is done to my satisfaction!

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While still unpacking, I’m also getting back to work here, and setting up the new studio, while it hasn’t been a breeze, well, it’s getting done. Sometimes it seems as though the majority of the boxes belonged to the studio! And though it’s roomier than the last, it is quickly reaching the cluttered stage.

There are new things in here that I can’t wait to use! The takadai/ayatakedai I ordered a year or so ago arrived, and I’m dying to try it. Along with that, there is a core stand for doing kumihimo braids that have, well…a core. Plus, I finally sold the Leclerc Nilus loom, and bought my dream loom, the Schacht Mighty Wolf. That was a “squeeeeeee” moment for me: 50th anniversary loom in cherry wood. Setting it up was…interesting. It’s heavy, and getting the Wolf stroller onto the legs was not fun. But she’s all set up, though still unnamed, and ready to go. And I bought her a gift of her own: a warping mill, which can carry a much bigger warp than the board can. So all four of those items have definitely contributed to the “bursting at the seams” scenario I’ve got going on here.

I’ve gotten back to chain maille as well, and I’m building up my ring stash. I’m also trying out metals and sizes that I’ve never used before, and learning new weaves. I’ve also covered the studio in dragons lol. I love them, so there are figurines and ornaments quite literally everywhere in here. Maybe they’ll bring good luck!

All of this is moving toward really getting the Etsy store underway. The girls wanted to sell their Rainbow Loom bracelets in order to earn their own money, so they’re already listed in my store. Now I’m working on building up my own inventory. I want to make this store productive, and I’d like to start hitting craft shows and such too.

I’ve had my first official customer, too!! She wanted a sterling silver bracelet in Byzantine weave, and that went out in the mail last week. When I spoke to her after she got it, she was very happy, which makes me happy. We’ve been friends since we were both little, so it was really important to me that I get the bracelet right for her, and the fact that I did, so my work is appreciated, well, wow…that feeling is awesome! Not many win-win situations nowadays, but this was one of them!!!

Space in here is entirely at a premium at the moment. The three new pieces of equipment are large, so that accounts for a lot of the space. My spinning wheel is still in its travel bag up in the bedroom, and there are a myriad of things still in boxes in the garage that need space in here too, but I’m not sure what box contains which items, and the movers just kind of piled everything in there in such a way that we can’t get to everything, so we have to empty out boxes in the order that we can reach them, which brings the entire house into play. Remember, this house is half the size of the last one, so space comes into play for everything, and we’ve had to get creative, particularly in the kitchen, which is much smaller than the last one!

I don’t have an actual pantry anymore…this house predates pantries becoming a common thing…so everything must go into cabinets. I honestly don’t know how I thought it would work, except to say that the kitchen looked a little bit bigger when there was nothing in it. I knew the countertops were going to be an issue right off the bat: the upper cabinets come down so low that you can’t store things like blenders or mixers on the counter. So first, we bought a metal wire shelving unit for the one bare area of the room, and that rapidly filled up with large items like the Instant Pot, the crockpot, the breadmaker, etcetera. And we were still opening kitchen boxes! So we went online to Mayfair and ordered a mobile island. Now, you have to understand the size of the kitchen, which also doubles as the laundry room (it has one of those folding door closets to contain your machines): to go across the room from the dishwasher to the fridge, you can take two normal steps for an adult, or one large one. Between the two appliances, I could lie on the floor and be touching both of them. There is not much room! But I brought in a small island anyway. I needed the storage and the extra counter space. It works…barely. It’ll work better when I can manage to get everyone to stop using it as a catch-all for stuff they put down and never pick up again, and when there are no laundry baskets in there. Sadly, I think that means it will never work better, because no one ever moves the hampers, either!

Unpacking a house kinda falls into the “Circle of Life” category. Really, don’t laugh!!! Every room is connected in some way during that time. You can’t unpack every box in the living room, because you haven’t found places to put the kitchen stuff you just unloaded onto the sofa. And you haven’t found those places because you’re waiting for the storage pieces you ordered. You can’t put the boxes of pet supplies in the glider room yet, because you haven’t quite got that room under control, because there’s a living room box in there (how did that wind up here???), because there was no more room in the living room, because there are kitchen boxes in there, because you have to actually use the kitchen so you didn’t load it with boxes. And there are bedroom boxes in the living room, studio boxes in the bedroom, clothing boxes in the garage, and so on.

I make moving sound like fun, don’t I?

It’s not. Anyone that has ever moved at least once already knows that, and those that haven’t yet experienced a move, well, you’re lucky and avoid it as long as you can!!! LOL.

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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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Creative Options box on top, Yarnology box on the bottom

Creative Options box on top, Yarnology box on the bottom

Because today was payday, and I had my allowance, I trotted over to the local Hobby Lobby this afternoon, looking, once again, for a way to organize my tatting shuttles. I had purchased a couple of small, Tupperware-type boxes at the dollar store, but my shuttle collection was not only outgrowing the box (because I have a ton of the cheap plastic shuttles now, thanks to an Amazon credit), but keeping the shuttles together in the box meant that the ones with projects on them were tangling together. There had to be a better way to do things!!!!

So off to Hobby Lobby it was. I was looking for a box with sections and dividers. Once upon a time, years ago, I’d bought a couple of tackle boxes at Walmart that were made that way. Each one had four smaller boxes inside it that slid in and locked in place. When you opened the boxes, there were set rows, but there were small, adjustable dividers. They were perfect for embroidery floss once it was wound around those little cards. I still have one of those tackle boxes, still filled to the brim with embroidery floss. Though I gave up on counted cross-stitch long ago, the floss is still great for inkle weaving. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll find an interest in counted cross-stitch again.

Anyway, that was what I was looking for, and I found it!!! Actually, I found several, and bought two of the larger boxes, and one of the smaller ones. The larger ones are by a company called Creative Options, and retail for $9.99. Those, I found in the paper craft section of the store. The smaller one was in the sewing section, and is made by Yarnology, retailing for $3.49. Probably should have grabbed another one of those, too. Hindsight. Well, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in Hobby Lobby again!

Both boxes have the adjustable dividers, and I set them up so there’s just enough room in each little section for 1-2 shuttles and whatever projects are attached to them, with another section just for holding bobbins for the Aerlit shuttles. Once you close the lid, no muss, no fuss. No tangling.

Another option for storage that just occurred to me as I was writing this is the Dot Box. I’ve never seen them anywhere but Amazon, which does not, however, mean that they can’t be found locally. It just means that I haven’t found them locally.

Dot Boxes are a touch more expensive, but they are really awesome storage for small things. I have two of them. Like the tackle box I mentioned, they are one large box containing a bunch of smaller ones, all of which can be bought separately so you can customize what you need. The ones I have, I use for my chain maille supplies, all of the little jump rings. I learned the hard way that the type of box I bought for the shuttles absolutely does not work for really tiny things such as size 11 seed beads. If the box is closed and gets jarred, beads manage to cross dividers and get mixed up. If you’re working with the beads and the lid is open when the box is jolted, the resulting mess is unholy. The first–and last!–time I used such a box for beadwork, I had a litter of puppies in the house, who had just turned two months old and loved nothing more than chasing each other throughout the house. At the time, I didn’t have a dedicated craft space, and I was working on the bed when an impromptu chase broke out. The box wasn’t just jolted: it went flying. It was a big box, and it was filled with seed beads. I cleaned up what I could, but found beads in that carpet for years afterwards. Lesson learned.

Dot Boxes are pretty innovative. They’re called Dot Boxes because once you remove all of the smaller boxes inside it, you’ll see raised “dots” at regular intervals in the bottom. And the bottoms of the smaller boxes all have the same dots, so when you put the smaller boxes back in, they sit comfortably on the dots of the larger box, and once you close the lid, there’s no movement. And each of the smaller boxes has its own hinged lid as well, so if you’re working with one small box, even if you leave it inside the parent box and that gets tossed, all of the other boxes stay closed and the mess you have to clean up is greatly reduced. Awesomeness. At some future point, I may have to give them a serious look for shuttle storage. For now, though, the ones I’ve bought will do just fine. The Creative Options boxes will be for storing shuttles at home. The Yarnology box will slide right into one of my larger purses so I can tat wherever I am.

Wow. Who knew I could create an entire post just talking about storage boxes??

On the home front, guess who is finally finished with school? This girl!!!!! I have finally graduated. I am now the proud possessor of an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) in Veterinary Technology. I even managed to graduate with a B average! I still have to take the VTNE–the national board for veterinary technicians–but I’ve got to save up money for that. It’s a $300 exam. I also have to be very, very ready for it once I have the fee, because it’s only given every so often, and if you fail, you not only have to wait a certain amount of time before you’re allowed to re-test, you also have to pay another full $300 fee! So I only want to have to take the test once! But I’m very proud of myself for finally completing my degree. Yeah, okay, it took me till I was in my forties to do it, but I did it, and, more importantly, my kids saw me do it. They saw me struggle and fight to do this and do it right, and succeed, and I’m hopeful that it made enough of an impression on them that they will do the same when it’s their turn!

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Banyek pair

Banyek pair

A pair of Banyek shuttles arrived today! Woot! So there are only two more left at large. Or three.

I’ve decided I need a case or something for the storage of my shuttles and tatting supplies. I’m a huge fan of organization in my fiber arts room, although you wouldn’t know it to look at it right now–it’s a mess in there, enough that I haven’t seriously worked in there in awhile. The room is just too small for all the stuff I’ve got packed in it!

I just don’t have any idea of how to go about it. But I know I’ve got to do something; they currently live all jumbled up in a small zipper bag, and that just doesn’t work for me, especially since the zipper goes around three of the four sides, and every time you open it, shuttles just fall out everywhere. And, too, they need to be organized because they’re so small and easy to lose. It’s not such a big deal for the plastic Clovers. They’re a dime-a-dozen, easily replaced, unless there’s work attached when they disappear. But the others that are more unique or handmade, it would seriously bother me to lose them. Not that they can’t be replaced, because they can, but there’s a world of difference between scrounging up three or four dollars for a Clover, and scaring up $18, $34, or $40 to replace something.

I’ve always been a big believer in taking care of my things for that reason. Things break or get lost, and that’s part of life. It is what it is. But if you take care with your things, that’s less money you wind up having to spend on buying the same thing repeatedly. This is a concept I haven’t been able to hammer into my kids’ heads yet. I’m hopeful they understand it better as they get older, but for now, Mama must be made of money and we can break it, she’ll replace it. Of course, no one thinks about the fact that they are growing like weeds and need new wardrobes every other month, but hey…

Anyway. I’m trying to come up with good storage ideas. There are tackle boxes that could work, I suppose, though I’ve never really seen a pretty tackle box. Or maybe a Dot Box. I’ve bought those for my chain mail supplies, and they work well for that. All of my jump rings are separated into boxes according to material and inner ring size, and then all of those boxes sit inside another larger box.

Whatever I do, it needs to be somewhat sturdy. I’ve seen blogs where people store their shuttles inside of folios with plastic envelopes inside them, but that seems unwise to me, a woman with young children and dogs who spill things, step on things, fall on things, chew on things, etc. It needs to be hale and hearty enough to survive my house.

I’d be happy to hear from anyone out there who’s ever organized their shuttles. What worked for you and why? What didn’t?

Oh!!!! I almost forgot!! I passed my Diagnostic Imaging final with an 89%, and the overall class with an 86%!!! Huzzah!! Next up, externship!!!

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A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

I’m curious how many others are out there who are as involved in various crafts as I am. I do tons of things, although not all of them well. To recap, my interests are loom beading, weaving, spinning on wheels and spindles, knitting, crochet, naalbinding, chain maille, stained glass, and Kumihimo. I guess I should include finger weaving as well, since I started trying that out yesterday (I was incredibly frustrated, too, I might add, but I still enjoyed it). So holler out in the comments if you play in the same arenas, or maybe others I haven’t tried yet! I love feedback; it makes me feel special. 🙂 What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Why did you start? Did you start playing with one craft only to have it lead to another?

For me, weaving was a childhood dream, but one I didn’t get to until a couple of years ago. Beadwork was my second love, and was largely self-taught. Beads were inexpensive, and so were looms for beginners, so that collection built up fast. There are beads everywhere in my little bedroom studio, mostly seed beads. My preference is 11 aught Delicas, and over the years I’ve learned not only loom beading, but freehand and other techniques. I’ve also upgraded from the cheap beginner’s looms to much nicer ones!

Weaving I came to a few years ago when we moved to Colorado, and it’s made me very happy to finally be able to do this! Of course, I have more yarn than I could possibly use, with more always on the way! I’ve learned that I have no willpower when it comes to yarn or tools!

Weaving is my “gateway drug”. It led me to Ravelry, which led me to all of the other fiber arts, and even stained glass. Yes, I know, there’s no connection. Well, it was suggested I take a weaving class. The local community college was offering one, so I signed up for that and jewelry making, since I needed two classes. Then they dropped the weaving class, and I still needed another class, so I took stained glass, not expecting to really like it. I expected to love jewelry making, and I hated it. The blow torch is not my friend. But stained glass? Wow. Just wow. Once I got past the terror of breaking glass – on purpose!!! – I absolutely loved it. Who knew?!

Sanity is at a premium around here. Truly. The children have reached the ages where they can’t get along for five minutes without someone whining or shrieking at the top of their lungs. Mix with bipolar parents, and the results are predictable if you don’t have a way to stay sane. The ability to lock myself in a room, turn up the music, and tune out the stresses of the day is a gift.

Take today, for instance: first thing this morning, as usual, I let the dogs out. No one has yet had coffee, I’m running a bit late, Aneira is still in bed despite needing to be in the truck in fifteen minutes, and Bandit falls down the outside stairs and lacerates her right eye. Being late is now a fact, as we now need to take care of the dog. Assess her situation, get her settled in the crate, it’s now eight am, Aneira is late, jump into the truck and get her to school. Come back home and realize that I really need to take Bandit to the vet. I don’t want that eye to be infected, and although the wound isn’t bad, it needs to be protected. By nine am, she is unhappily tucked into the cone of shame, and Bryony is up. Get coffee and breakfast going, then hobble out the door once again for a post-surgery doctor’s appointment. Naturally, there is nowhere to park, and for someone with handicapped plates, that’s saying something. Finally find a space, and get up to the office just in time, only to learn that the health insurance that just sent me an approval letter two weeks ago has suddenly decided I’m ineligible. So, while waiting to be seen by the doctor, I begin what will ultimately be a series of calls to correct the problem (note, as of right now, the problem has still not been corrected). As I sit on hold, the nurse takes my blood pressure: lo and behold, and what a shock (not) – it’s 158/102. Is anyone surprised? Nope, I’m not.

After the appointment, I returned home and decided that I was done for the day. It’s Monday, after all, notorious the world over for being the crappiest day of the week. I of course returned to the fighting of the two girls. Aneira, smug in her older sister role during fight number 3 in the last half hour, has informed five-year-old Bryony that her things are gross, which is the end of the world for Bry, whose glass-breaking shriek can probably be heard by her cousins in New York and vibrates down my spine to my tailbone, and back up to my ears. Wanna guess where I am right now?

You got it. Hiding in my little studio blogging and playing with string with the music blasting. Have a good night, folks.

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