Posts Tagged ‘shuttle tatting’

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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It’s been awhile since I added new tatting shuttles to the herd! Four arrived within the last two days, and I had nearly forgotten about them entirely. One was another bone shuttle from SergKostyukovDesign. This one is an adorable bunny, and brings my collection of his shuttles to ten. I’ve done practice runs with all of them and found them to be very nice to tat with.

The other three come from The Knotted Vine, another shop from which I’ve bought plenty of shuttles. These came about because she had made a beautiful purple shuttle, my favorite color, and I ordered it back in January. For some reason, PayPal presented her with my old address rather than my new one, so it was shipped there. Naturally, when confronted, the people at my old address claimed not to have it and that they returned it. Needless to say, that shuttle has never been seen again. I never received it, and it was never returned to her. I’d like to say I was surprised, but I’m not.

All gorgeous, but I LOVE the butterfly!

So I received a new shuttle design she had been working on, in the shape of a butterfly that is gorgeous and tats very well, and two others of a type I’ve bought before. I can’t say I’m unhappy! But I’m hoping she makes another purple chandelier shuttle soon!

The practice run with the butterfly

I really need to sit down with my shuttle collection and organize them according to where I bought them so I can keep groups together. Maybe I’ll be able to do that while the kids are out for summer break. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll have two kids home arguing, day in and day out. I’ll be hard-pressed to maintain some level of sanity in this house lol!

Practice run with the bunny

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Flat, carved bone tatting shuttles from the Ukraine

It’s review time!!! I found these fabulous-looking shuttles…okay, they were found by someone in the tatting shuttle group on Facebook, not me, per-se, but that doesn’t make them less fabulous, and I’ve been collecting them since I saw the first one.

They come from an artist in the Ukraine, who has a store on Etsy: SergKostyukovDesign. They’re carved of bone, and they’re flat shuttles, as opposed to most of my others. They’re mostly carved into animal shapes, as you can see from the photo: one carries two different colors of thread at the same time (I haven’t figured out how to use it yet!), then there’s a mackerel, an owl, a crocodile, and a hedgehog. He’s made others, but I haven’t ordered any more yet, though I plan to.

I’ve discovered there’s a learning curve here. I’ve never used a flat shuttle for tatting before, and I also generally tat with size 3 or 10 thread, and this shuttle is made for much thinner thread. I have one ball of size 20 thread, and it was almost too thick for the shuttle. But once I got the hang of

Crocodile shuttle, locked, loaded, and ready to rock!

threading it, I got the job done. It was slower going than with my other shuttles, but it’s the first time I’ve used a flat shuttle, so that could have been it.

Once loaded, working with it was no different than any other shuttle, and it works beautifully. I only did a little practice piece, a couple of rings, so I can’t wait to work with it for real!

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First mochila well underway!

First mochila well underway!

Now that I’ve brought the impending holidays to my own attention, suddenly the impetus to do and to make things is much greater. I didn’t honestly realize myself that the holidays were just around the corner. Ninety days is not a lot of time if you plan on making most of the gifts yourself.

With that in mind, I went looking for tapestry crochet and mochila tutorials last night after posting. The picture is the result of that search.

If you already crochet, this is not really all that difficult, especially if you also have any skill in Fair Isle knitting, which I do not. This is all single crochet in the round, which I’ve done before, but what’s new for me is doing it in more than one color at the same time. Once you start working another color, you do not cut off the first color. You carry it inside your stitches and switch back and forth according to the needs of the pattern, without cutting any of the yarns you’re working with. Whichever yarn isn’t in use is along for the ride in the stitches, waiting to be needed again, and thus, no knots. This is actually really cool, but at first I thought, “That amounts to a lot of wasted yarn”, because it’s carried for the duration of the project. If you weren’t using it, it would be a lot of wasted yarn, but once I got into the pattern, I realized how much color switching I’m doing as I go, and if I cut the yarn and tied it off at every color change, it would probably cost me more in waste than just carrying it in the first place.

Charting the pattern wasn’t that hard either. After I figured out the number of stitches per row, I figured out how many pattern repeats I could fit into that window, then charted it based upon one repeat within that criteria. For example, each row has 126 stitches. If you divide that by 7, you get a whole number: 18. So my pattern had to fit within 18 squares horizontally across the graph paper, and there would be 7 equally spaced repeats around the mochila. I made my own version of graph paper with a piece of looseleaf paper–my printer still does not recognize its own ink cartridges–and plotted out a simple arrow design, and started the bag.

There are mistakes. Oh, are there ever! I must have been really tired last night, because I forgot about stitch markers and just relied on my own memory–never a good idea! So somehow I completely overshot my projected 126 stitches. I first noticed it a few rounds into the body of the bag, and when I counted them up–again, still without stitch markers–I came up with something like 140 stitches.

Clearly, I was foggy brained, because rather than ripping it all out, I went with decreasing instead, counting backwards in my head. Still didn’t remember to get the stitch markers.

Naturally, once the arrow pattern began, I wondered why there were a lot more stitches between the last arrow and the first one, when all of the others were evenly spaced. I shrugged it off and kept going. It wasn’t until I picked up the work half an hour ago that I remembered to get the stitch markers and count off every twenty stitches to place one. Guess what? 131 stitches. And guess what else? I am not ripping it all out. Nor am I going to decrease. I am going to brazen it out. Aneira is never going to notice anyway, and I’ll do better on the next one.

The current plan is to make a mochila for each girl, plus some micro-macrame jewelry, some kumihimo jewelry, tat some bookmarks in each of their favorite colors, and at least try to get their Night Fury stuffed dragons finished. I have my doubts about getting those done in time. I haven’t even begun on Aneira’s.

The mochilas being the largest projects, those are getting done first. Because the kids are so small yet, I can knock out all the jewelry pieces within a week, and I’ve gotten good enough with the two Mary Konior tatted braid patterns that I have that the same goes for those. A couple of gift boxes to wrap each of the smaller gifts, pile them all into each bag, and my contribution to the gift-giving process is covered. That’s the plan, and I get to practice my skills in a number of fiber arts while I’m at it. If I have any time left, maybe I’ll add some scarves to the lot, or some fingerless mitts. Ninety days? Pffft…I’m a mom, I can do anything…I hope!! And the only things I’ll have to buy are jewelry findings, which are fairly inexpensive. This will be a mom-win. Thank the gods I have a huge stash of everything I need to do this!!

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I couldn't get a better photo, but isn't it a pretty pattern?

I couldn’t get a better photo, but isn’t it a pretty pattern?

I finally got the pattern for the Corn and Chaff design by Mary Konior!! Apparently Corn and Chaff is considered a braid and is worked from side to side, so the “RW” in the pattern, which means “reverse work” and generally means to flip it upside down, in this case means flip from left to right! Good thing someone informed me of that, because I would never have gotten it right otherwise!

I had a very hard time getting this pattern going. According to the pattern, there are four rings labeled A through D. A and C are exactly the same, and B and D are exactly the same also, so really, it’s only two rings, and you’re repeating the pattern until you reach the length you want. I had to rewrite the pattern to grasp it in my head, because when it said to attach a ring to ring A, it threw me off. Which ring A? Because as you’re repeating the pattern, every other ring is ring A. I know it seems stupid that I didn’t automatically assume it was the ring A that I had just completed, but I really couldn’t grasp the idea until I re-labeled the rings A through H and rewrote the pattern using those designations. In hindsight, now that I have the pattern working right, it’s not a difficult pattern at all and it’s very pretty, but because it was worked differently from everything I’ve tried up until now, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

This is a single-shuttle pattern. Now, everything I’ve done up until now has technically been a single-shuttle pattern, but has included a ball thread. Because I have so much trouble with working thread right off the ball, I’ve adopted working from two shuttles instead, with the second replacing the ball. This pattern really is single-shuttle!! There is no ball thread, only the one shuttle and whatever thread you’ve loaded it with. That’s another reason I had so much trouble; it was so not the way I had gotten used to working!!

I’ve also found a few Celtic tatting projects I’d like to try, which essentially means lots of chains made and woven into the work, so it’s actually Celtic knotwork. It looks beautiful, and it looks complicated as all get out, so I’m dying to try it, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to be frustrated sooner rather than later!

My gripfids for ply-split braiding came in yesterday too, along with some cord, and I can now see that when I make my own cord, it has to be a good bit tighter than I’ve been making it. I was also advised that when I do make my own cord, I need to put the aglets on each end while the cord is still under tension, and the end that is anchored should have all four cords on cup hooks in the same configuration as my cordmaker. The configuration can be more spread apart than the cordmaker, but not closer, so once I find a way to create an anchoring end, I’ll be giving that a try. As skeins go, the cord I bought is expensive, so it’ll be much more cost effective to make my own. I’m looking forward to trying it. It’s not rocket science, but there’s still more to doing it than I expected. When I say expensive, I’m speaking relativity. The skein is only $3.25, but it’s not very much cord when you look at the length. On the other hand, what I’ve been using, the perle cotton I already had in my stash from my cross-stitching days, is a little over $1 per skein, and you need four of them to make a cord. Of course, after you’ve unwound the skein in order to make the cord, lengthwise you get more out of it. It’s really a case of 6 on one hand, half a dozen on the other. In other words, I’d probably break even no matter which way I go on this. The biggest plus to making my own cord, though, is color selection. The online store I ordered the cord from has a selection of eleven colors. I’ve got to have more choice than that: enter the perle cotton!

So, since I’m up so early today (okay, I haven’t gone to bed yet. Or rather, I did, but couldn’t sleep), I’m going to work some more on Corn and Chaff until I finally get sleepy! If I’m lucky, it won’t be long!

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Perle cotton flat braid

Perle cotton flat braid

It’s been very quiet around here since we euthanized Mac. Aneira finally knows what happened, primarily because the humane society called me the next afternoon to tell me they hadn’t euthanized him yet. They needed me to come down and fill out forms about rabies testing, and Aneira walked in during that conversation. So he was actually euthanized on the 14th, not the 13th, as we’d been told.

10 strand satin cord bracelet

10 strand satin cord bracelet

So, to spend time with Aneira that didn’t involve talking about Mac and making her cry, we pulled out the kumihimo supplies again, because it’s something she knows how to do and using the disks are pretty easy for a kid. It didn’t last long, as her attention span for things like this is very short, but I’ve kept going.

The first braid I did was an 8 strand flat braid, for which I used DMC perle cotton skeins and did on the marudai. I used the cotton the way silk is generally used, so each of the eight ropes contain 20 threads each. What I didn’t account for is the fact that perle cotton is considerably thicker than silk, so take-up was increased, which reduced the length of the braid significantly. Like, really significantly. As in, what started out to be a belt-length piece is now only a belt for an infant. It’s about 18″ long, and 1/4″ thick. So I now know to reduce the number of strands per rope by quite a bit. More than half, I’d say.

Four strand satin cord square braid

Four strand satin cord square braid

As I finished that braid, my order of satin cord, or rattail, came in. I’d found this store online, BB Crafts, that sells 100 yard spools of satin cord for $1.85 per spool. That’s a whole lot cheaper than I’ve found it anywhere else, so I bought eight spools in different colors, and did the next braid in satin cord.

For that one, I wanted a bracelet, and since the only thread I currently have for whipping the ends together is black, I went with black cord, and a ten strand flat braid pattern. That one has a couple of mistakes too. For one thing, it’s a bit larger than I had planned, and I haven’t even bought findings for it yet. For another, on one side the whipping is visible beneath the ribbon clamp. Oops. Better luck next time.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

Four strand braid. You can see how thin it is.

The third braid is a very simple one, and still on the marudai. Two strands of gold, two strands of ivory. I’m not sure I really like it much, as it’s very thin for a square braid, but I’ll keep going till it’s done and see how I feel about it then. It’s the first time I’m using the marudai for satin cord; I usually use the cord with the disks. It’s interesting to see how the marudai works with cord as opposed to thread, and how the cord itself works with the marudai as opposed to a kumihimo disk. Currently, the braid is much tighter on the marudai than it was on the disk. The tamas weigh more than the plastic bobbins I use with the disk, so the counterweight bag had to have more weight added to it than what I use for the disk. I actually prefer for this particular braid to be looser, so some experimentation with the counterweights will need to be done for the next time.

And while I haven’t been tatting over the last few days, I have been watching Karen Cabrera’s series of tatting tutorials on YouTube. I have a lot to learn!!! She has well over 130 video lessons on her channel, and I think I’ve only made it as far as 29 so far! I can’t wait to really get into the lessons further on!

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Nylon thread

Nylon thread

I tried something new last night. When I was at Hobby Lobby the other day, I found this very pretty nylon thread stocked by the tatting supplies. It’s a variegated #2 nylon thread. It was pretty inexpensive ($3.49 for a 300 yard spool), so I bought it, and last night used it to tat the by-now-infamous bookmark as an experiment.

It was interesting. It’s more like nylon cord than thread, and completely changes the texture of what you’re tatting. It’s not soft, for one thing, and definitely has a different texture, which makes it simultaneously awesome and a pain to work with.

Consider every type of nylon twine, cord, whatever, that you’ve ever worked with. Getting a knot to stay in nylon is an exercise in near futility. You generally have to tie several knots in one rope to make it stay, however long it will give you. That’s how it is to tat with it. On the one hand, mistakes come out pretty easily because of that very property of the material…unless you closed a ring. Then you can forget it. Nothing you do is going to make that ring open up again. Ask me how I know. I spent the better part of an hour this morning trying to open a ring the way a tatting website instructed (I can’t remember which one): pull apart the stitches at the picot, and the ring should open easily. This may work with normal thread. I can assure you that it does not work that way with nylon.

Nylon has kind of a bumpy texture from the two strands being twisted together. It’s a bit harder to close a ring because of the texture, and impossible to open a ring for the same reason. Once you tighten that sucker, it’s never opening again.

It’s not bad to work with, once you get used to it. For the first few rings, I was positive I was never touching the stuff again. It doesn’t act like thread, regardless of what the packaging calls it. It’s nowhere near as pliable, and yet it’s much easier to remove stitches. They slide right out. They’ll hold well enough when you make your double stitches, but you have to watch them. Sometimes when you release the tension on your shuttle thread, the working knot flips back over into it, and if you’re not watching and don’t realize it, you’ll go to close your ring and find out your thread won’t move and have to pull out stitches back to that point and do it over. The good thing is that when you insert a pin, needle, tiny crochet hook into a stitch to pull it out, it comes right on out, no grief given. That, alone, inclines me toward using it again! With the bookmark that I’ve made–repeatedly–I reach the halfway point with no issues. After that, there are two or three mistakes that I make consistently. On the first side of the bookmark, every third ring has two picots and does not attach to anything via picot until you’re doing the second side of the piece. When you start that second side, every third ring has one picot, and attaches directly across to the picots of every third ring on the first side. Am I making sense?

Well, I consistently forget to make that attachment, almost every time. Another mistake I make constantly is that between the first and second ring, and the second and third, there is a chain made. Between the third ring, and the first in the next set of three, there is no chain. You make the third ring, then immediately make another ring. I, however, get into this trance. Ring, chain, ring, chain, ring, chain, ring…oh, dammit, I did it again! As long as I haven’t closed the ring, the mistakes come out easy as pie. With cotton thread, that’s something I have trouble with, especially with the smaller sizes of thread. With size 10 thread, it’s not as bad, although I can manage to fray that pretty well too, but with size 12 and smaller, holy cow, I may as well just start over, as much fraying as I create in trying to remove an error! So from that standpoint, the nylon is fantastic!

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Finally, full pattern!

Finally, full pattern!

Yesterday, I finished a shortened bookmark and did it via needle tatting. Today, I finally, finally, finally finished the full Monty, the whole pattern, via shuttle tatting, with no mistakes, everything attached where it’s supposed to be, using the Lizbeth #10 thread that drove me crazy. I am so incredibly proud of it, and it’s beautiful. I learned to use the picot gauge, so the picots are pretty much uniform in size. I did everything right this time, and given how many times I’ve attempted this pattern, I have it memorized now.

The next thing I need to learn is how to figure out how much thread I’m going to need for each project. Both of the shuttles I used for this each still have plenty of thread on them. I’ll have to find another project so that the thread doesn’t go to waste.

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Completed bookmark, at last!

Completed bookmark, at last!

It’s not exactly what I planned on, but I did finally finish the bookmark! There were some changes made. One change was that I needle tatted it rather than shuttle, which means I managed to make the entire bookmark in under an hour, and that’s awesome. The second change was that the bookmark is 3/5 the size of the pattern. I did nine rings per side rather than fifteen. But I completed it with no mistakes, everything attached where it’s supposed to be, and since it’s pink, I gave it to Aneira, who, of course, is enamored of anything pink, and is thus thrilled.

Okay, so technically I cheated, I know, but I made many, many attempts at following the plan before I did, so I’m okay with cheating. Besides, I’ve already started another one on shuttle.

I’ve also finally figured out a work-around on the Lizbeth thread that has been driving me mad: two shuttles. The second shuttle takes the place of the ball, and when the thread starts to coil too much, I can let the shuttles hang and spin until the twist comes out. It’s been a partial, qualified success so far. It would have worked perfectly if not for one thing: I used the cheap shuttles I bought from the Wish application on my phone. Why is this a problem? Well, the shuttles came as a set of two plastic Clover-like shuttles, but none of the tips are closed, and they unravel. I didn’t notice when I was winding them because I was hanging out with my family and we were talking and watching tv at the same time, so I wasn’t really paying attention to the shuttles in my hands, other than to notice when they were full. And when I started working with them, one was in my lap and the other in my hand, so I finally noticed the problem once I needed to let the twist out. I picked up the shuttles to let them dangle, and both of them unraveled. By that point, I was a good way into the project. Naturally, I was annoyed with both myself and the shuttles. Lesson learned: don’t buy cheap from China, and if you do, check the stupid things before using them. I’m just glad I didn’t spend a lot of money on them, and the PIP says that once I’ve gotten the thread off them, he can use heat to close the tips, so it may not be a total loss.

I brought my iPod in from my truck to use while blogging and tatting–or whatever fiber art I’m doing–because a friend of mine introduced me to a new song yesterday that I fell in love with. It’s called “The Hanging Tree” from the Mockingjay movie, which I’ve never seen. But I love this song, and found several different versions of it that I downloaded yesterday. There’s a techno version, an orchestral version, and a very Celtic sounding version. I added all three to a playlist and sang my way through this post lol. It’s quite an eclectic playlist; I’ll listen to nearly any kind of music, with few exceptions. I think I’m going to start listening to Pandora again, so that I can find new music, or rediscover old music. My iPod is mostly filled with 80s music, as I’m an 80s kid…I needed my MTV!! Should I include my playlists with my posts from now on? Let me know!

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