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Loss…Grief…Love

I haven’t been in the best of places lately.

Last week, we lost one of our fur babies: suddenly & unexpectedly.

I am wracked with grief. He was only 11 months old. Cause is still unknown.

I can’t even post a picture of him because it hurts too much. Even worse I can’t get the look on his face while he was dying off my mind. Anyone who knows me well, knows my cats are like an extension of my personality. I feel like I failed him – I missed something – I didn’t do enough…

On top of it all I am beating myself up because it is “just a cat”. There is far worse loss I could experience, berating myself to get over it only makes it worse. I am an emotionally fragile person. I am not ashamed to admit that. I live large, I love hard.

I am jumpy. A loud noise, a kid’s cough, a sudden or unexpected movement…I am on edge just waiting for something bad to happen. To top it off one of my senior cats has been in poor health and I sense we will not have him much longer. So I’m on edge about that too.

If I analyze this I think the whole experience takes me back to my mother’s sudden and unexpected death 8.5 years ago. I am reliving some of that grief…and shock…and fear of loss…

Today is the first day I felt like doing….anything. That is, besides my mom duties, that I have been auto-piloting through. I wish I had my children’s acceptance, resilience. They were sad but soon got over it. Today I held on to the small urge to create, and made some new stitch markers inspired by the snow storm we just had. I hate being in the studio because out of all of my cats that was his territory. As I worked away he was always sitting on my desk, on the couch or on my drum carder. There is such an emptiness now that he is gone.

I’m now so very far behind on everything and not even sure where to start. My Etsy shop is back up – I feel ready to make orders again.

Despite how I feel, I was able to create some cards for my girls for Valentine’s day. I also helped my girls finish their cards.

Valentine Shaker Cards for my girls "Love You More"
Valentine Shaker Cards for my girls “Love You More” decorated with distress ink and my new fave product, Nuvo drops

Last month my girls did some watercoloring that I then cut into hearts for their Valentines. We even finished them with a shimmer spray for that extra something something…

watercoloring by my girls - a simple and affordable craft - $3 watercolor pallette on clearance from Staples and 40% off watercolor paper from Michaels
watercoloring by my girls – a simple and affordable craft – $3 watercolor pallette on clearance from Staples and 40% off watercolor paper from Michaels – one of their fave art projects to do
Valentines my girls created for their grandmother
Valentines my girls created for their grandmother

For the above cards, we adhered their watercolor hearts to embossed and distress inked card stock. I asked the girls what sentiment they wanted on the front, printed it on the laser printer and then gold foiled them via a laminator. As a finishing touch the girls added sequins and confetti to their taste.

I also made this little card for my father-in-law. I like to make miniature cards. Something about packing a lot of punch in a small space...
I also made this little watercolor card for my father-in-law. I like to make miniature cards. Something about packing a lot of punch in a small space…

I don’t feel up to explaining in detail the techniques in these cards – if you’d like to know more send me a message, or comment below. I love paper crafting. Glad to be able to share this craft with my girls…

Have you liked my Facebook page? I decided to stop paying to boost my posts there. It’s becoming costly esp. with the difference in the Canadian and US dollar. So if you have liked my page, be sure to like a few of the posts to ensure I show up in your newsfeed.

Anyway, I am pushing myself to be more present today. It is night now, which is by far the worst. I lay in bed and dwell on things. Hoping for some sleep tonight. There has been very little, this past week…

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ETA Mar 2: we heard from the vet today re: necropsy. He had feline g.i. eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia – if you google this, you will find very little info as it is both rare and a newer disease, even vet researchers are unsure of the cause. There was nothing anyone could have done. Today, I feel like I can be at peace, and remember him fondly.

My boy. RIP I will miss you <3
My boy. RIP I will miss you <3
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bb3’s February Newsletter & Giveaway: Sparkly jewels and Celtic Knots

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Click the image to read bb3.ca’s february newsletter – once a month, always a giveaway

 

I thought I would share my intro to this month’s newsletter here, as I have gotten some response from subscribers that they appreciated my words:

Greetings,

It’s hard to find balance when you are a sensitive soul. I spend a lot of my existence with varying extremes of either apathy – why bother,Β  to intense anxiety/emotion with a whole lot of self-doubt mixed in. The most smallest or seemingly mundane thing can set it off and it is the main reason why art/crafting/creating has become a very important element in my day to day life. This will sound dramatic to some, but it is as important as the air I breathe: it sustains me and keeps me alive. It puts me in a calm, meditative state. It aids me in working out my most intense of feelings – both negative and positive and clears my mind so that I can be clear and effective.

Although this is a constant state for me I mention it now as I think this is a relatable feeling for many here (especially) in North America as of late. As important as it is to stay informed & be proactive for our future we must also not lose track of what we enjoy, who we love and our purpose on this planet.

So if you are feeling drained, hopeless, uninspired, defeated or simply going through the motions, we will fight through those feelings together. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

***

This month’s giveaway is for your choice of a pair of lemon quartz sterling silver earrings or a sterling silver Celtic knot necklace. The necklace features a tiny emerald gemstone – yes, real emerald. It’s a sweet necklace – I’m finding my jewelry is becoming quainter and more dainty the older I get. Plus, this size precious gemstone keeps everything in the proper price point for those that admire my work.

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lemon quartz rondelle earrings
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Sterling Silver Celtic Knot Necklace with Emerald

 

Also of mention, I am starting to destash my massive stash of jewelry making and crafting supplies. It’s time to find homes for things I’ve been hanging on to for a rainy day. I just don’t have the time to design like I used to. So check them out in my Etsy shop and please give them a new home. Much more to come in the coming weeks…supplies are not my fave thing to list…zzzzzzz…..

Last but not least I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I have just been really lacking in inspiration as of late. I am going to force myself to get back into the game and not just go through the motions as I have been doing these past several weeks. Fingers crossed!

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January Newsletter Link and Amethyst Earrings Giveaway

handmade faceted sterling silver amethyst earrings are this month's newsletter giveaway
handmade faceted sterling silver amethyst earrings are this month’s newsletter giveaway

Check out bb3.ca’s January newsletter and even better – Amethyst Earrings Giveaway. They are some of my fave earrings as this lavender amethyst is so delicious. Although you can choose surgical steel or sterling silver ear hooks, the giveaway is for the sterling silver version.

Click here to check out the listing for this product
Click here to check out the listing for this product

Don’t forget to join me on Facebook for more chances to win. Giveaway is open for all newsletter subscribers and facebook followers. I’m taking entries until January 31st, 2017 (midnight EST).

Good luck and thanks for entering!

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Would you like to win these earrings? Here’s How…

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Would you like to win these earrings? Freshwater pearls with hand-domed metal in an antiqued finish.
Surgical steel earwires.

In this month’s newsletter, I am giving away a pair of these handmade freshwater pearl earrings. Really cute and would make a great gift. I have them in the clearance section now, only because I won’t be carrying the metal anymore.

You can read more about the giveaway in the November newsletter, & you qualify to enter if you are a newsletter subscriber or like the bb3 facebook page. I’m taking entries until November 30th. Good luck and thanks for entering!

Click here for the entry form

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Is Wool Yarn Ethical? A reason why I started spinning

There is a disturbing video making its rounds on Social Media, of workers brutally beating sheep as they are being sheared of their fleece for the wool industry. I won’t link to the video here because it is truly upsetting. Seeing this video auto-play time & time again reminded me of one of the main reasons why I started spinning yarn.

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One of the larger skeins of yarn I spun early on in my spinning journey. It’s a mixture of fiber from two alpacas: Rita von Teese and Bennie

When I was teaching myself to knit and finally became comfortable with it, I started asking knitting friends and acquaintances what yarn brands they recommended as far as quality goes. Often the brands that came up were 100% wool – often merino. So off to the (craft) big box store to investigate. I was surprised at the lack of information on the label about the wool itself. In fact, there simply is no information past the weight and fiber type – normally just 100% wool. Well, what kind of wool? From where? I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, “Is wool yarn ethical?” Looking up the websites for these brands provided no information as well. What I did uncover, is accusations of abuse and mistreatment of the animals bred for this industry. I was left concluding I simply could not continue on with a hobby knowing animals were potentially abused just so I could knit a hat. At the time, spinning seemed way out of my wheelhouse. But the more I wanted a greater understanding of how yarn is constructed so that I could understand knitting better, the more spinning became appealing.

My family frequently attended wool shows and fiber festivals, in the beginning because I

Making friends at a New England Wool Show
Making friends at a New England Wool Show

wanted to do more natural crafts with my children & this route was suggested to me. They proved to be a great family activity. I grew up in a rural area and sometimes it was nice to get away from urban life. It soon became apparent that I could buy fiber from small producers and hobby farmers. I have even at times met the animals the fleece came from, and bought their fleece fresh shorn – on the spot. This is how I know sheep do not have to be abused to be shorn. Sure, some are very stubborn, but a skilled and compassionate hand can get the job done quickly without punching and kicking and strangleholds with minimal discomfort to the sheep (shearing in and of itself is a craft and I’d even say an art form – it is very fascinating to learn about & watch).Β  In my observation they are also pretty darn happy to have all that heavy fleece off in the hot summer months. Much like buying local & direct to know where your food comes from, the same could be said about the fiber that is to be spun into yarn. I could connect with the producers and breeders, & I could feel confident in the product I was using. This connection lead me to learn how to process fiber by hand. At first, I couldn’t imagine handling a dirty fleece! Now I will skirt them if need be, hand pick then wash it – often soaking for hours on repeat – then card, dye and comb it (if creating top). My yarns really are from the ground up – and it is absolutely satisfying to me to see this product, a gift from the animal turned into something so lovely and appealing. This way I can really honor the animal that was so generous to share their fiber with me. Without these animals, I could never grow as an artist.

I know there will be people that will disagree with me that I cannot know know for absolute sure the animals are happy and well treated in captivity. And to some people’s horror, these same farmers also offer lamb meat (I personally do not eat lamb). I am a believer that every little bit of conscience effort is valid. We cannot do it all. I am also well aware of the large amount of greenwashing – and as I call it – “guilt-washing” out there. So I hope that is not how this reads. I am not here to convince you to buy my yarns. Honestly I am happy to keep them all to myself *evil laugh*. πŸ˜‰ I am here to give thought to alternatives so that we do not have to always live in such extremes.

photo included in one of my bags of raw wool from a small New England producer
photo included in one of my bags of raw wool from a small New England producer

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My Spinning Philosophy (and how it ties into jewelry making)

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The other day I was flipping through my copy of Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns, and Creative Spinning by Lexi Boeger and the intro to chapter 3 reminded me why I spin.

Free the Pattern

The Yarn made me do it.

“Working with handspun yarn provides a perfect opportunity to free yourself from the constraints of formal patterns by allowing the characteristics of the yarn itself to dictate the work’s form. There are many ways to do this, and a few examples will follow, but the idea to teach yourself to really look closely at the yarn, and let the details and eccentricities that you find there guide you in your creative process. Many people are hyper-focused on the act of knitting or crocheting, and oblivious to the yarn itself as they work through it.” 1

Faux Tailspun Yarn in pink flamingo
Faux Tailspun Yarn in pink flamingo

I’ve been in a bit of a spinning & knitting slump as of late which I find happens when my days are more consumed with jewelry making or fleece processing. This quote reminded me why I got into making yarn in the first place. It’s easy to get into concentrating on technique only, esp. when you are out of practice. But for me that takes away from the joy of spinning. I’m a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of spinner. I’ve come up with the best skeins this way. They are in no way reproducible, but isn’t that why we love handspun anyway, the uniqueness of each skein?

I really enjoy Lexi’s book as she is about pushing the envelope as to what we think of when

just a few of my fave yarns I spun
just a few of my fave yarns I’ve spun

we think of handspun yarn. I don’t tend to click with many spinners I meet since their goal many times is to get the thinnest and/or most even yarn usually for a particular pattern or project. I would much rather let the fiber take me on the journey and then decide after it is spun what it would like to become. It usually takes me several attempts to make something out of a skein of yarn because it doesn’t always want to do what I want it to. I find a pretty pattern in one of my books, and convince myself that this particular handspun will do the trick. Most of the time, I am wrong. Instead, I have had to train myself to look at the yarn and decide from its feel what it should become. I do look at patterns for inspiration, but most of the time, knitting (or crocheting) just spontaneously happens.

If you think that a jewelry maker making the jump to spinning yarn is odd, here is where the parallels are drawn. When I make jewelry, I like to sit down with a component – such as a gemstone bead – and let it develop into a piece. Sure I have a sketch book with designs and this is more useful for the engravable jewelry. Even then do the designs rarely look like what is in the book. I like to let it develop as I go. Much like mixing different colors of fiber for spinning, I like to take beads and metals to find a harmonious blend. It’s painting, only on a 3-dimensional level to produce a tangible product or textile. To me spinning is the perfect compliment to jewelry making – not to mention the ultimate mash-up: spinning beads into my yarn (I also got tired of boring plastic and rubber stitch markers too so I make my own – that I call knitting bling). πŸ™‚

coopsworth 2-ply with purple stacks
coopsworth 2-ply with purple stacks

When I started spinning I just went for it. The opportunity arose where I could buy a wheel and I seized it. It made absolutely no sense at the time, but I am so glad I left logic on the shelf, and delved into spinning yarn. It is an absolute bliss for me, even with every ache and pain that goes along with it.

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bb3.ca September Newsletter/Giveaway

bb3.ca September newsletter giveaway
bb3.ca September newsletter giveaway

The bb3.ca September Newsletter/Giveaway is available. This month I am giving away a sterling silver tiny heart necklace with your choice of 2 letter charms (pic below)

Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart
Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart

Click here to read the bb3.ca September Newsletter/Giveaway

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Artist Spotlight: On…Me!

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working chaos: I love creating alongside my daughters

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to self-promotion. I like to make things, and would rather spend my time making things, than promoting my work and getting it “out there” and known. Plus I just feel like what I make is not exactly critical to one’s survival: it is not a food staple or a cure for cancer. It’s just pretty, handmade stuff. Certainly money is not a motivating factor for me either: anyone who is in the handmade community knows what an uphill battle that is.

That said, I have no problem supporting and promoting others in the cottage/handmade industry. I totally see the merit in what they do, the quality in the goods they make. So when thinking of a topic to write about this month for the newsletter, I thought, why not get to know me a bit better? I offer to do artist spotlights on other people, so why not me?

So here are my answers to the questions posed for the artist spotlight.

Who I am & what I make

My name is Leilani, I am married and a mom from Nova Scotia. Currently my creative outlet of choice is jewelry making: particularly personalized keepsakes that I manually engrave an initial or monogram on, and producing fiber for spinning and felting. The name of my creative work is the bb3 project or studio bb3. I used to go by the name “heavenly flower” but now the name is an ode to my 3 gems: my 3 little girls, and based on the superstition that things (good or bad) come in 3’s. I call my work a project and not a business as it is impossible for me alone to really devote the time and money needed to make this what the mainstream world would consider a business.

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My girls love creating in the studio too. They are my main inspiration and motivation. I also have cats who act as work foremen & supervisors πŸ™‚

 

How long have you been creating?

I have been making jewelry for over 15 years: I started in the late 90’s but didn’t seriously get into it until a few years later. My first creative outlet was writing, and my family always saw that as a career path for me as I was growing up. These days I still enjoy writing, but prefer creativity in a more tangible form: things I can create and feel with my hands and allow colors to blend and compliment each other.

My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel
My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel

What made you start creating?

I always found solace in working out my feelings in story or verse. I was encouraged in my early 20’s to find an outlet for my time as I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Writing is always cathartic but I needed something – shall we say – happier to bide my time with. So jewelry making helped me express myself and gave me something joyful and tangible to enjoy. I also appreciated the challenge & tediousness that goes along with learning a new skill. I think that is one reason why I love to spin yarn now, as well.

Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel
Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel

What inspires your designs?

Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart
Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart

In the beginning I started making the things that I couldn’t find in the stores. When I was younger I was more into fashion & accessorizing. I always liked to have something different to wear than everyone else. These days life in general inspires my work. I like my jewelry to be more classic, everyday wearable – as well as be a keepsake or daily reminder of what is good in one’s life, a milestone, or a loved one we hold dear or are missing…(although I am overdue to play around with statement pieces once again!). My yarn is definitely inspired by color play – it’s like painting but by mixing fiber. But mostly I just love to spin: to hear the whorl of the wheel, to see the transformation from fluffy fiber to twisted rope. The wheel spins and all my thoughts and wishes and desires and negativity and positivity – all spin around with it, meld together and melt away…

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

Certainly “Wings” is the piece that means the most to me – I rarely leave the house without it on. It has my mother’s monogram, and she is my angel, my protector. Certainly the jewelry I made for my wedding is also very dear to me, especially the charm bracelet, that has evolved into a mother’s bracelet (coincidentally 2 of my girls’ birthstones is sapphire – which was my wedding color theme). Mostly I love to hear people’s stories regarding the personalized jewelry I make, and becoming a type of support mechanism for them. Everything from honoring the death of a loved one, to happier events & milestones from weddings to friendships honored, breastfeeding goals reached etc etc. I am humbled to be part of their lives in this capacity: It gives what I do purpose, and I spend a lot of time convincing the negative side of me that what I do *does* have purpose outside of my own emotional well being. Sometimes it feels rather futile & pointless.

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“Wings” a memorial piece developed as a way to honor my mother: with her monogram.

 

I have a few skeins of yarn that I am coveting because I cannot bring myself to turn them into something, I just love to stare at them in skein form. They are curly and fluffy and soft and a whole lot of fun. I probably broke every rule about spinning when I made them, which only makes me love them more…

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A few of my favorite skeins of yarn

Where do you sell your work?

Currently my products are available online only. My family tends to spontaneously roam so I have never been one to commit to doing a market regularly or even a show. We have moved into the direction of permanent residency in Nova Scotia (where we are originally from) by selling one of our properties. Whether or not I will open my North Mountain studio up for shopping or classes remains to be unseen.

You can browse my products via my website and on etsy.

my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006
my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006

Do you accept custom work?

Sure, so long as the request is within the scope of the style I am currently offering. Custom work is tricky because it takes me hours to develop a new product. There are many factors to consider including wearability, color, flow…if the request is not an esthetic I can put my name on, or if I know it will take several hours in research and development I will politely turn it down. Time is definitely not on my side these days. I encourage everyone to ask though – I will always consider your requests and are honored you asked.

Find out more via the about me on my blog

FAQ for the bb3 project

I am still interested in doing artist spotlights on my blog, even though I have not done one in awhile. If you would like to be featured, send me an email lcd@bb3.ca or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks for reading!

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bb3.ca August Newsletter and Giveaway

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august newsletter and giveaway featuring your chance to win one of 6 14kt gold-filled keepsake necklaces

 

The August Newsletter and Giveaway is available. This month I have several new gold-filled necklaces & yarn: I call this series my confetti yarns. The giveaway is for your choice of one of six personalized necklaces.

Read all about it

Enter the giveaway

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Washing Merino Fleece: Before & After

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washing merino fleece: before (right) and after (left)

 

I have talked at length about the fact that most of my yarn is made from the ground up. The only thing I do not own (yet anyway) is the sheep, rabbits, goats or alpaca the fiber comes from. That’s not to say that I can pass up a nice looking roving at the Fiber festival – but I do spend the majority of my time at the Fleece sale. My main motivation in the beginning was to save money. Now, it’s mainly because I enjoy it. I love taking dirty fleece, washing it (sometimes even skirting it before hand to get rid of the poo!), carding/combing it – then dyeing it into gorgeous colors to then be blended into batts to be spun into yarn. I also enjoy meeting small producers and getting to know them, their flock, and where my fiber is coming from: something you can’t do at the yarn or craft store.

This past month I have been washing some merino fleece – from Maine – from Rivercroft farm in Starks. If you are an Easterner & spin you may know Joe & Judy Miller: I love chatting with them at the New Hampshire show, which I sadly missed this year due to a relocation. This lot was from last year’s show. I am embarrassed to say it sat around that long and some of that time in storage in fact. But that is what happens when you embark on home renos and then a move. Last year was a dud for me, as far as fleece prep is concerned.

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Thankfully, these bags were already skirted – so no poo for me to remove. πŸ™‚ I am a fleece rescuer – I drift towards the more inexpensive bags of fleece that most hand processors pass up. I see the potential in every bag. Unless it is totally full of VM (vegetable matter) or has signs of lice or fleece rot, I’m in (and I have bought duds of fleece before – live and learn). It just takes a little more elbow grease, and a little more patience.

For fleece this dirty I just reach for my bottle of Dawn dish detergent. If we were talking good quality locks or award winning fleece, I would reach for the Unicorn Power Scour or Namaste Farms Wash & Dye Bastard. But for this quality, I find Dawn works just fine. I start to fill the sink up with hot water, and while it’s filling I will place pieces of fleece to float on top. Once the top is covered, I squeeze on a bit of Dawn in a zig-zag pattern, then add another layer of fleece. Squeeze on the Dawn, and so on – until I have enough in the sink that I feel is comfortable to clean – usually about half the size of the sink. It’s fleece & soap lasagna! At this point I gently start pressing the fleece down into the water, and let soak for approximately 3 hours. This soak happens 3 times, only on the third time, I do not add soap but about a quarter of a cup of vinegar to the hot water to remove the soap residue. I usually will flip the fleece between on the 2nd and 3rd soak. If it mildly felts I don’t worry about it too much as it will be carded and then combed.

washed merino vs. unwashed
washed merino vs. unwashed

The difference in color is quite dramatic. I didn’t even realize just how yellow the unwashed fleece was until I saw it washed. Gets pretty darn white, if I don’t say so myself!

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The washed fleece is run through a salad spinner to get out the excess water, then out to my deck to dry in the North Mountain air. It can get very windy here, and after chasing drying fleece all over the lawn, I have learned to put a cover on it. These racks are from a store that closed a few years ago (Zellers – for all the Canadians reading along). I would eventually like a set up so that the air can circulate both top and bottom, but for now I just flip the fleece after drying on one side for awhile – and this has worked well.

I’ve already started carding this into batts to then be dyed – and then combed into top. This is by no means a quick process but it certainly is satisfying, especially when a one of a kind skein of yarn is created.

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Culinary Grade Pewter Charms – More Info

Many of the charms I use in my theme name necklaces are culinary grade pewter (AKA Britannia pewter alloy – you can drink or eat off cutlery or cups made from this form of pewter). The charms have been FDA certified lead free. I love these charms: they are made in the USA and have an amazing, beautiful detail. Plus since they are an electroplated pewter they are a fraction of the cost of sterling silver cast charms. My pieces that contain sterling silver cast charms can be double the price simply because of supply price.

Even though these charms are pewter you can polish them much the same way as you would sterling silver or gold-filled items. This is because the charms are electroplated with pure silver (AKA .999 silver or fine silver) or 22kt gold plate. The silver charms can be polished with a polishing cloth or liquid cleaner but it is not recommended that you bench polish them, or use abrasive paste polishes as vigorous friction may “burn off” the electroplated layer. The gold charms will not tarnish. You can shine them up with a soft cloth to remove dirt and oils when needed.

Don’t let the fact that these charms are electroplated turn you off. Unlike ordinary plated items that we are all accustomed to, electroplating leaves a thicker and more durable surface area. Regular wear and tear will not harm these charms. You will also find the pure silver tarnish to be more subtle than sterling silver. From my experience it will start to cast a pinkish hue. It is easily removed with a jeweler’s cloth, which is my recommended product for cleaning this type of jewelry, although a mild liquid dip cleaner works as well.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

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Spinning Accessories: Ashford Niddy Noddy Jumbo

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Ashford Niddy Noddy Jumbo vs. standard Lendrum Niddy Noddy

I love that spinning accessories are relatively inexpensive – and are often times handcrafted. You can easily purchase a drop spindle and get started spinning without the investment in a spinning wheel (I know this will mortify spinning purists, but I hate the drop spindle. I broke the cardinal rule of spinning & bought a spinning wheel before ever mastering the spindle).

A niddy noddy is one of those inexpensive but must-have tools. It has a very amusing name. I picture someone a few hundred years ago, designed a skein wrapping tool and when asked what it was called, “niddy noddy” was what they came up with while put on the spot. Perhaps this nonsensical name has a clear meaning and if so, do tell! πŸ˜‰

If you are still wondering what a niddy noddy is, it is a wrapping tool used to make skeins of yarn after spinning. They are traditionally made of wood, but I have seen homemade varieties made out of PVC pipe, and even metal/wood hybrids. There is one central bar where you hold it, and crossbars at each end that are offset from each other by 90 degrees. Here in North America, niddy noddies are most known to come in 1 yard and 2 yard lengths. I prefer to use the 2 yard length on my Lendrum niddy noddy. Before removing the skein I count the wraps & multiply by 2 to give me the length in yards.

Making more and more funky art yarn on my Spinolution wheel these days, I was finding the Lendrum niddy noddy to be too small to fit some of my skeins. I would make them fit, but it was not easy. I was excited to find that Ashford had a jumbo Niddy Noddy. I purchased mine from Gemini Fibres for $39.

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a side by side comparison of a standard size niddy noddy (Lendrum) vs. Ashford niddy noddy jumbo

I’ve put in a lot of hours with my Lendrum and can pretty much wrap without thinking (it takes a bit to get the right rhythm the first few times). Due to the larger size of the niddy noddy jumbo it took a bit of getting used to all over again. The pro is that I don’t have to worry about running out of space when skeining my bulky art yarns. It holds over 1 kg (2.2lbs) of yarn. The cons are that it is heavier and more cumbersome to use compared to my standard Lendrum. I also like that my Lendrum has notches on the cross bars so that if I need to squeeze the wraps together more tightly they are not overlapping the wraps on the other side which can get confusing when you pull off the yarn or tie it off.

Another quirk is that, coming from New Zealand I have to remember that this niddy noddy measures in metres and not yards. So when counting wraps if I forget and calculate yardage rather than converting the meter length to yards (1 metre = approx. 1.09 yards) I will end up with more yarn per skein. This is not a bad problem to have of course, but I like to try to be exact so that I can keep track of my materials & how long it takes me to spin it.

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jumbo coil plied yarn vs. bouclΓ©

Despite its nuances I am really happy to add this tool to my studio and suspect I will use it very often in the coming months.

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bb3.ca June Newsletter 2016 & Teddy Bear Necklace Giveaway

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In this month’s newsletter I (finally!) have yarn listed again, and I will be listing more in the coming month – I have way too much of a backup now to hang onto it for my own use.

There is also a personalized Teddy bear Necklace Giveaway – I’ll engrave the initial for you – your choice of sterling silver or 14kt gold-filled. Info on how to enter in the newsletter: you must be a subscriber or liked the Facebook page to qualify.

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Current Yarn Stash – handspinning overflow

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This is the culmination of 4 years of hand spinning. All the experiments with both dyeing and spinning: locks, roving, all of it. All the hours put in to hone this skill. Some were hits, some were misses. I would say the majority are acceptable, if not pretty darn good for a gal who hated the drop spindle but decided to just to throw caution to the wind and buy her first wheel in 2012. I adore spinning. To hell with knitting. I will sit and spin all day any day. πŸ˜‰

Now with two wheels (first my Lendrum and then my Spinolution wheel) I can work much more efficiently and that means the yarn stash has the potential to grow even bigger, faster. I didn’t do a lot of processing (skirting, washing, or dyeing) fleece last year. We seemed to be in a perpetual state of renovation. But that didn’t seem to stop me from combing, carding and spinning.

I laid all this out on the table the other day, and I was a bit disturbed at how big the yarn stash has grown. With all that time sitting and spinning I haven’t had, well, any time to knit or crochet or weave. It feels a bit stagnant to me, in the sense that – as much as I feel you can never have too much yarn, having these around is stunting my creativity and zest to try something new. There is literally too much choice right now.

One reason why I find it hard to let go is because spinning is such a cathartic process for me. It really is therapy – if not a spiritual experience. So the finished yarn carries a lot of those emotional qualities for me.

The other reason is that I look too critically at my work, and assume it is not good enough for anyone else to enjoy.

Excuses aside, it’s time to get these ready for listing and hopefully into some new homes (my handspun is probably the only thing I sell that I am not unhappy about if it doesn’t sell ;)). I have a few skeins drying now – some of these have been in storage so have become compacted and needed to be fluffed up and looking their best again. πŸ™‚ I also have my pricing spreadsheets set up and shipping rates worked out. I just need to get photographing and listing. I’m not sure if that is all going to gel together by the end of this month – which is fast approaching. I was hoping to get a least a skein or two up this week but I guess you just can’t rush a good thing.

You will find the prices will be affordable if not downright rock bottom. These yarns have served their purpose as a teaching tool to hone my skills and I am happy to give away the time and possibly even partial cost of materials in order to make way for new skill building. The hardest ones to price will be my merino and alpaca yarns, since they were the most expensive of my fleeces to obtain. They are so soft and fluffy and – the hardest ones to part with. But I am all about intention and energy and my hope is that these yarns will make it into the hands of people who can appreciate all these qualities that come with them.

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Then when I am done with all that, you see these two containers in my closet? The label on the top bin says: wholesale overflow. And that is exactly what this is. 13+ years of wholesale, clearance and closeout jewelry supplies. In my lifetime, I will never use all of this. So these materials will have to find a new home as well. Now, to clone myself several times in order to get all this done… πŸ˜‰

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Free Alpaca Fleece – Pt. 1

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a trunk full of alpaca fleece – all for free

Last month (and on my birthday no less) I picked up over a dozen bags of alpaca fleece – and I didn’t pay a cent for them. Above you see my trunk – filled to the brim.

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the contents of just one bag

Mother’s Day is a holiday I don’t care much for, but for the majority of the afternoon the weather was nice to sit out on the deck off my studio and do some picking. I have been (im)patiently waiting for a day to go through some of this, not really knowing what condition the fleece would be in. It had been stored for sometime, in a shed – so somewhat exposed to the elements and critters.

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Wonderfully shorn with not many second cuts

I only got through one bag before the fog rolled in, but boy, did I ever pick a great bag to start with! The fleece came out in all one piece – and you could picture how this laid on the animal. It is a beautiful butterscotch/cream color -probably my fave alpaca color. It’s shorn nicely with very few second cuts – and a low to moderate amount of VM (vegetable matter). Pretty much not at all dusty. It is also quite long stapled as shown in the picture below.

staple of the alpaca fleece
staple of the alpaca fleece

I separated this into two bags: one with the fleece with very little VM, and then a bag of seconds that has a ton of VM and is stained/discolored. The seconds batch I will do first: comb and card out the Vm and then most likely dye sinceΒ  the color is uneven. I will store the bag of “firsts” for now. i like to experiment with the lower quality first before diving into the good stuff. πŸ™‚

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I’m ready to start my second bag and it’s not so great as it has a ton of VM – but, it will still be nice fleece to work with, it just needs more elbow grease to remove the unwanted bits. I will chronicle the processing of this fleece as I go. BTW – this is the view from my studio – isn’t it breath taking? When the fog doesn’t roll in, that is…

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bb3.ca May 2016 newsletter & ladybug necklace giveaway

click on the photo to read bb3.ca May 2016 newsletter
click on the photo to read bb3.ca May 2016 newsletter

In the bb3.ca May 2016 newsletter, I recap the month’s new products including 2 new gold-filled necklaces and of course the most popular part: the giveaway! Since my house seems to be full of ladybugs this time of year, it’s for your choice of a sterling silver or gold-filled personalized ladybug necklace. πŸ™‚

Read it here, and find out how to win the necklace

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April 2016 Newsletter & Giveaway bb3.ca

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The cover picture this month is what fingers look like after polishing metal. I bench polish all sterling silver disks so that they have a bright finish. It also removes surface scratches. I am just starting to make the gold-filled versions of the jewelry and was really excited to try polishing the gold disks last month. It really helped buff out the edge of the disk where it has been punched out of sheet.

I’m still (re)introducing sterling silver products this month with a sneak peek of the gold-filled. The piece I was most anxious to make this month is the revamped “Wings” that bears my mother’s initials. I am happy to say that I am really satisfied with the end result. Other than that, I am (desperately?) trying to wrap up the jewelry prototypes so that I can get back to playing with fleece in my “spare” time. πŸ˜‰ Read More…

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GIVEAWAY

This month the giveaway is for a 14kt gold-filled initial necklace with culinary grade pewter butterfly. If you have never tried gold-filled now is your chance. To enter fill out the form (link in newsletter below) before April 30th, 2016 11:59EDT. I’ll randomly draw for a winner after that. Open to all newsletter subscribers (subscribe at: bb3.ca/newsletter).

VISIT APRIL 2016’S NEWSLETTER TO ENTER

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Revamped Wings: A Sterling Silver Memorial Necklace

The original "Wings" - developed in 2010.
The original “Wings” – developed in 2010.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I have been revamping my work to sterling silver since mid-January. This month, I was honored to revamp the one piece that is most dear to me: a necklace that I developed bearing my mother’s monogram. I called it “Wings” and it is a memorial necklace.

I stumbled upon the original design quite by accident, playing around with charms and engraving blanks- and I really liked the 2 angel wings together. It was as if they were hugging the disk in protection. At the time most pieces I had seen with angel wings only had one wing – or were a completely different design altogether. I knew I stumbled upon something I was really feeling, but with the current fonts I had it simply did not seem “finished”. Wings was benched for awhile – until I purchased an interlocking monogram set.

New re-vamped "wings" - with sterling silver (cast) wings, chain and disk
New re-vamped “wings” – with sterling silver (cast) wings, chain and disk

The original design was made out of silver plated components and when I finally offered it up to sell the original price I listed them at was $17 – because I still felt weird selling a remembrance piece. It seemed really wrong as it was a memorial necklace for my mother. But over the years I have heard the stories that go along with the necklace: loss of children, mothers and fathers. Friends and relatives. I was beginning to feel part of one’s healing process, and that in turn was very healing for me.

I’ve been “test driving” the new design and really like it. It’s smaller in design compared to the original, and I am finding the older I get, the more I like to either have a very subtle piece – or the option to layer with other jewelry. And although the price is significantly higher than the silver plated “Wings” (double the $23 price the original had been currently selling for) you really can’t argue with quality. Most of the cost incurred is due to the fact that these are cast wings. Unlike the culinary grade pewter charms I tend to use, these wings are completely sterling silver, making the cost significantly higher. Unlike the silver plated option, there is no fingers crossed that the item will not tarnish to ruin: you can polish the sterling silver version again and again.

DPP_5973Switching this piece in particular to sterling silver means it will stand up to the elements and I know I will cherish my piece for years to come.

If you loved the original “Wings” piece don’t despair: it will be coming back as a keychain/bag charm & a metal bookmark. I had a purchase for a rear-view mirror charm once, and I love that idea. That is a possible development as well.Β  For those of you who love gold, I have not had any luck finding 14kt gold-filled wings yet that I like. But I do have the engraving blanks ready to go, for when the time comes.

 

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What is Gold-Filled?

Breastfeeding symbol necklace in 14kt gold-filled: all the benefits of gold without the hefty price tag
Breastfeeding symbol necklace in 14kt gold-filled: all the benefits of gold without the hefty price tag

I’ve been using gold-filled components for many years now, and I don’t find it to be as popular as sterling silver for my products. I think the reason is many people don’t know or understand what gold-filled is, and why it is priced higher than sterling silver.

Not to be mistaken for gold-plated

So just what is gold-filled? The easiest way to describe it, is layers of brass and gold sandwiched together. These layers are bonded (clad) together with extreme heat and pressure. There is two or three layers within this sandwich. The result is a very durable product that has all the benefits of karat gold without the hefty price tag. The top gold layer does not chip or flake like gold plated items which has a minuscule amount of gold covering. Gold-filled is very popular with jewelry makers like me because it is affordable and easy to obtain. You can expect gold-filled to not tarnish just like a gold wedding band.

Legally gold-filled must contain 5% – or 1/20 gold by weight. If you compare with a gold plated item – which has 0.05% or less gold in the plating – you clearly see the value: 5% vs. 0.05%. Gold-filled products can be purchased in 10 karat, 12 karat or 14 karat gold. I purchase 14kt gold-filled disks and chain for my engraving. You will often see it listed in the industry as 14/20 gold-filled. I put 14kt gold-filled in my listings as karats are more recognizable to the general public.

I have had requests for “pure” gold items, and this may still be an option in the future. I priced one of my necklaces out with 14kt gold components, and the supply price alone was approaching $100 CAD. That is a steep investment for little ol’me. πŸ™‚ It is not out of the question, just out of my reach currently.

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bb3.ca March 2016 Newsletter & Giveaway

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Click image to read bb3.ca March 2016 Newsletter

It’s March and I’m pretty excited, as it was a productive February & spring is just around the corner. I’m happy to present to you more revamped goodies. I’ve been watching spinning videos again just to get back in the game: I’ve been so focused on the sterling silver jewelry that I inadvertently took a spinning hiatus. This is surprising since I tend to spin every single day. The goal is to have skeins of yarn up for sale again over the next few months. I want to go through what I have, and rewash/set them just to get a good feel for what I think is worth selling (and what I can let go of… ;)).

New items means lots of choice for this month’s giveaway. Read More…

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