Jewelry--turned-fiber artist with a passion for keepsake gifts & spinning. Fiber work is my way of coping with daily stress and anxiety; whereas jewelry making is my way of releasing it. I enjoy honing my crafts while raising 3 little girls, and vow to use my talents to inspire the creativity within. A native Nova Scotian (valley chick); pinay (mestiza). I have been selling my wares on & off-line for over a decade, and donate my products for grass-roots charitable causes. I love barter!
In 2016 I’m kicking off monthly promos for blog readers rather than one static discount for the year. This month receive 15% off your entire order at bb3.ca – even on sale items. That means on an item that is 30% off you will receive an additional 15 – for a total of 45% off. many items in the clearance section are at or below cost.
Simply use the January coupon code: BLOGJAN15 at checkout. Discount good until end of day January 31st, 2016.
One of the most popular requests I had in 2015 is to offer my engraved charms on a bracelet. I found these cord bracelets in several different colors and they make a nice affordable option. I am currently carrying the cord bracelets in 5 different colors. I may add more colors in the future depending on popularity of this option. Browse the new designs below:
More bracelet designs coming this year in different styles, including chain. If you see a necklace on the website that you would prefer on a cord bracelet I’d be happy to do that for you. All cord bracelets come with a piece of extender chain to help aid in the perfect fit. Back engraving on these items available at an additional charge.
I’ve taken over our diningroom here in our little vacation home in Nova Scotia. It serves as a makeshift studio space for me when I’m in town. When we want to do sit down lessons, the girls will also do “schoolwork” here. It is a high traffic area in this home and prone to clutter. Creating tends to lead one into the direction of a…creative mess, but I cannot work in an area prone to chaos. The energy simply doesn’t flow. If the energy gets stuck my ideas feel stuck too.
Which brings me to my early New Year’s organizing today. I had originally set up binders with business card/baseball card inserts to hold my supplies (as shown above). Tiny ziplock bags organize all the components necessary to make one item from the website. I usually have on hand at least 3 of these pre-pulled supplies per item. I try to aim for 6, if not 12 for very popular items. Efficiency is very important. It is the main reason why I can keep my prices so affordable. If you can imagine, it takes less time to pull the supplies needed for 6 necklaces at once than to pull them one at a time after each order. Having the supplies pre-pulled means they are ready for assembly and engraving at time of order. It is also the secret as to why I usually can turn around an order in 24 hours, and is handy for travelling when you are working out of more than one location.
I am finding though, as my product base grows I am becoming more and more frustrated with the binder setup. It is easy for things to become misplaced, particularly since the binders are becoming so full. Most of the time the item I am looking for is staring me right in the face in a sea of supplies that all look the same. The fuller the binders are also means spillage, and more misplacing of products that are located…somewhere in there. Not being able to find what I need will send me into a feeling of panic, and I usually enjoy what I do. But not when I am stressed out unable to find something, or taking more time than usual and my family is waiting on me to get done.
After scouring the internet, including jewelry suppliers and wholesalers with somewhat pricey solutions, I found the most affordable option today at Canadian Tire:
It’s a small parts cabinet with 60 drawers. I got two for $39 each! They are lightweight, stackable and can even be mounted to the wall, which is great when space is at a premium. With my handy Dymo label maker everything is clearly and neatly labeled. This is going to make me really efficient; so much so that it’s time to reassess and adjust the pricing on some of my items…lower. 🙂
The December 2015 Newsletter is available, albeit late! That’s December/year end for you. Find out who won the sterling silver earrings last month. This month I’m giving away one of 2 engraved sterling silver necklaces: lotus or butterfly.
Since teaching myself to knit I have been a thrower – formally known as English style knitting. This is the way that made the most sense to me when learning and I have been content to do so – until now. I really like to knit (or crochet) in bed. It is definitely not the most ergonomic way to knit, but I am too fidgety to sit and knit. Let’s face it, if I’m sitting in a chair I am pulling one of my spinning wheels up. Yup. I’d literally rather sit and spin. 😉
All this obsess – er- excessive spinning really puts tension on my right arm, around the elbow area. I’m finding my preferred way of knitting puts more strain on the right arm. Strain means I slow down, slowing down means the projects don’t work up as fast as I would like and then I lose interest. It was time to look at an alternate way to knit so that I could give the right arm a rest.
I’ve never really tried continental knitting (aka picking). I’ve seen videos of the technique but since I was comfortable with the English style I never saw a reason to really give it a go. But I am left handed (left dominant mostly with ambidextrous tendencies) and it seems that the speed knitters out there use this style. I also hear that pickers find their knitting works up looser. I do tend to have tight stitches as a thrower. Since I knit a lot with handspun bulky art yarns a looser stitch is definitely appealing.
Earlier this month I found myself laid up in bed feeling under the weather so since I wasn’t feeling well enough to sit up and spin, a little personal knitting workshop was in order. Off to YouTube I went to see different styles of Continental knitting. After trying different people’s styles below is what has worked well for me thus far. I was amazed that not long after I was continental knitting in my jammies. 🙂
In the videos I watched, many people liked to simply let their yarn hang between their fingers. I definitely prefer to have the yarn tensioned. The best technique was wrapping the working yarn around my pinkie twice then laying it across my fingers towards the index finger.
So once I found a comfortable way to hold the yarn in my left hand – which by the way – felt so awkward at first since I am so used to using my right hand – I found that my knitting for the first few rounds resembled crocheting with my index finger held up in the air. The problem being that my index finger would get tired really quickly, and I definitely could not get the rhythm for purling with my finger so far away. In another video, I found my answer: rest my index finger against the needle. It was all starting to make sense now.
The outcome is I really like Continental knitting. I started by knitting in the round with a bulky reclaimed yarn that already had stitches done in the English style. There was a definite difference in the tensioning of my stitches. I found with continental my stitches were looser and thus looked/felt much better with the bulky yarn. I also found my knitting worked up much faster with the picking method, although I’m not sure if it is because I am quick at it yet or simply because I don’t get fatigued as quickly and can sit for more rounds before stopping. I’ve also practiced ribbing since then and I do like the closer change up between the knit and purl stitch. I’m finding my ribbing maybe a little too loose for my liking, but I think that will change with practice. All and all, I am so stoked to have another way to knit, so when I get tired (or injured!) on one side I can switch it up and keep knitting. 🙂
Are you a picker or a thrower? Have any tips for me? Drop me a line, I’d love to heard from you!
P.S. I didn’t keep a list of the videos I watched on YouTube, but if you search for “continental knitting”, “continental vs. english knitting” and even “speed knitting” you should get a good amount of examples to help you.
I have read a few articles with great fascination about buying wool sweaters from thrift stores with the sole purpose of unravelling them to reuse the yarn. It seemed like a lot of work to me, but I loved the idea nonetheless. I am surrounded by fleece and my own handspun, but what a great idea to a) reuse and b) obtain wool yarn without breaking the budget. If you have the time you can get a nice stash of yarn for just a few dollars.
Although the idea of unravelling sweaters sounded daunting to me, I am a picker and puller – I love to undo things. I find great satisfaction peeling paint and glue, dismantling jewelry that was not quite right (or to reuse components), or unravelling my own knit/crochet to make something bigger/better (in my mind, anyway). I have even been known to unravel my own handspun yarn – which is no easy feat but very satisfying when I can use the plies again.
I haven’t had any luck finding suitable sweaters, but I did find these 2 scarves, one with the tags still on. Although this is synthetic yarn they were super long, soft and bulky. Lots of yarn to be had here not to mention easy to unravel (in theory). I figured it was a great place to start – for practice anyway.
I vegged in front of the tv one night and gave it a go. The tags and tassels came off easily, and the end was petty obvious – just a loose knot so they unraveled like magic! Of course the unworn one unravelled the easiest. What to make? Definitely not more scarves. I have many of those with my handspun already. Slippers? I am thinking maybe chunky mittens/arm warmers or even some quick hats for my kids. They are always losing their hats/mitts so it would not be a shame if they lost ones made out of old scarves from the Thrift store. 🙂
The October 2015 Newsletter & Giveaway is available. This month is a giveaway for an item from the spiders or skulls section of the website. Giveaway open until October 31st, 2015. Also read about new products, and new shipping policy. Thanks for your continued support!
This up-coming weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. So the studio will be closed for the long weekend. I will be unavailable to make orders from October 9th to October 13th, 2015. Orders should commence no later than October 14th. You may still order via the website but expect a delay in the shipping of your order. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Je ne suis pas disponible pour rendre des commandes d’octobre 9 – 13. Les articles seront expédiées par le 14 octobre. Contactez-moi si vous avez des questions.
I get asked often to engrave full words or even 2 lines of text & sentences on my items. It’s been happening so often lately that I thought I should write a blog post about it. I try to be very clear on each piece just how much space I have to work with. In the age of computerized engraving I think most potential customers don’t realize that this is done manually and I am limited with size and space. I can really only comfortably fit 7 characters (letters like this: ABCDEFG) – and in some cases 8 characters (letters like this: ABCDEFGH). This is with the plain font (#3 option above). My script fonts definitely cannot do more than 4 letters on the typical 15mm blank that most of my pieces are made with. Remember that the more letters you add the smaller I have to go, and I will not sell anything that does not look good. The smaller the letters the less detail you can see, and thus it does not look clean or in some cases legible. So if you are going to need a magnifying glass to see it, I won’t be offering it. 😉
With the popular curlz & curlz vintage fonts, they are larger templates and are only intended as a focal initial. That means even at my smallest setting I can only get 2 letters, max on the blank.
I’d love to be able to fulfill all your requests and maybe in the future I will have bigger blanks that will accommodate more text. More text = more work which = more work for me, and potentially higher costs to you. Manual engraving is a skill that I have been honing for 5 years now. It’s not as simple as choosing the right letters and go. I have to position the blank accordingly, gauge what size to go with; often times deciding which of the fonts will look the best (it really does depend on initials vs. a word), and this is all done more by feel and intuition than by measurement. Mistakes do happen, so then I have to scrap that blank and start again. Sometimes I scrap a blank not because I made a mistake per se but because I think I can do better. Many times before I even start on the actual blank I will engrave on a piece of scrap metal first to make sure I have the size and spacing just so. By the time I offer an item to the world I have spent a lot of time perfecting its execution. It’s important to really stick with what the piece is intended to be: an affordable gift with an initial or two, or a simple word with meaning for the intended recipient.
I don’t want to discourage you from contacting me, I love to hear from you all, and if you have a request out of the norm feel free to send me an email. But hopefully this answers some questions in regards to size. 🙂
I’ve been quiet as far as my online presence goes, while I desperately finish this website facelift: upgrade and design. I finally came to the conclusion that I need to just put it up and change things on the fly, otherwise my complicated creative mind gets wrapped up in making everything just perfect.
Everything has been tested as far as ordering an item goes, and you should have no problems there. There may be some wonky things, such as asking if you’d like to receive updates and offers from our partners – obviously, my little creative project has no partners, and we do not give your personal info to any 3rd party. These options are hardcoded into the website software and I will have to get hubby to remove them from the code.
If for any reason you have difficulty with ordering, because I have been unable to test every single item, please drop me a line so I can complete your order. If you let me know specifically how your order failed I will be happy to give you a 25% discount. 🙂
The August 2015 newsletter was sent to inboxes last night, if you missed it you can read it here. This month I am giving away an International Breastfeeding Symbol necklace in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, or an item of your choice from the advocacy/awareness section. Check it out before the end of the month so you don’t miss the opportunity to win.
Back in June it became very clear that the website needed more than just a simple update. So instead of making the old theme work with the new software version, I decided to go ahead with a new, clean design.
I naively thought it would take me a month to do, but there have been delays along the way – not to mention it is summer vacation here! So I’m aiming to be done in September. I hope to get this completed soon as I have many new projects I would like to get listed and shared with you all.
We all know that cats love to play with yarn. Anything that moves, it seems. But how about cuddle up to a ball of yarn? Here’s my photographic proof that cats love yarn, they really, really do. These are my 11 and 13 year old cats, cuddled up to some of my handspun on two different occasions:
I was browsing Michael’s the other day and I was happy to see these jumbo knitting needles size 50(!). Since I had a coupon I decided to add them to my needles collection (along with the crochet hook to match).
I haven’t made anything with them yet, just playing around with some of my jumbo handspun. Other than a scarf I wonder what I could make with these. I’d happily take suggestions and advice! I love jumbo yarns and large needles, but I am definitely out of my element with these.
As far as the largest needles I have seen, here is one of my all-time fave extreme knitting videos:
I was really dissatisfied with the original yarn. So I decided to go for broke, and see what would happen if I boucléd it around some commercial cotton. This crazy handmade yarn is the result.
The outcome is certainly interesting to say the least! So what to do with it? I now have a bulky, buckled spiral yarn made of wool, banana fibers and beads (now, cotton yarn added to that mix). What in the world to make with this hot mess & a half?
When in doubt with a funky bulky handspun, I always turn to the elongated knit stitch. There are many different variations but one that I love to do is really simple. Cast on the number of stitches you want, insert needle to knit one, but bring yarn around both needles before looping around the inserted needle like a regular knit stitch. This extra bit of wrapping will elongate that stitch nicely.
Here is a video by Ashley Martineau of Neauveau Fiber Arts demonstrating the stitch. I love Ashley’s videos and her spinning style! I probably learned this stitch from her originally, a video tute on a pillow cover comes to mind. 🙂
So back to this funky creation I made with this yarn-I-was-so-fed-up-with and a simple knit stitch. I was shocked by the result. I didn’t expect much from this so I didn’t keep any notes. But I cast on approx. 80 stitches on large circular needles (17 comes to mind, possibly bigger). Then it was elongated knit stitch until I had just enough to bind off. That was it. Total TV watching knitting.
My intention was to make a cowl or infinity scarf, but I guess you could call this what – like a shurg or a shawl too? And once I started to tug it out/form it it was screaming for this chain detail.
These are the things I love to make. Happy accidents. Throw all the rules out the window and just go! I get so caught up in perfecting technique sometimes it’s nice to forget it all; not have a plan and see what comes. This may still be a total hot mess, but I know one thing. I throw this on with a nice jacket, and I have a conversation piece. And that is true artistry to me.
The moral of this story is: don’t be shy to go there and totally own the result. 🙂
What necklace length is appropriate for a gift? If you google necklace lengths there are many good diagrams to give you a visual idea of the different lengths available. Here’s my advice for some of the common chain lengths that I offer with my personalized engraved and artisan jewelry.
First and foremost, who are you buying for? What body type do they have? What length of necklaces have you seen them wear before? As with most things, all necks are not created equally. When I first started making jewelry, I was barely out of my teen years & far more petite than I am now. I really liked chokers, thus I made a lot of choker style necklaces. So I naively made all my necklaces in the 14- adjustable-to-the-16 inch range, believing this would fit my target clientele just fine. Until a 6 foot plus co-worker tried a necklace and she could barely get it around her neck. My bracelets, in that 7.5 – 8 inch size would not fit her either, and let’s not even go there with anklets. It made me re-examine the “average” size stereotype, and why it’s more important to know who you are buying for rather than relying on the S, M, L, XL size categories.
Here is my general guideline for picking necklace lengths, but again think of who you are buying for:
14 inch – this is my general child size, or choker size for a petite person.
16 inch – Another length on the smaller size, great for children, teens or petite/slender build people
18 inch – I consider this the “when in doubt” size. It is a decent average length without being too long or short.
24 inch – for those who prefer longer chain or are more bigger boned or curvy/full figured.
30+ inch – this is a nice long chain that I find great for layering with shorter necklaces.
I will emphasize that this has simply been my experience & observation selling jewelry for 15 years. It is definitely not true of all people. I hope it helps with your decision making if you are unsure which length to go with.