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Are you on Instagram?

follow me on IG @leilanihandmade

I’m having a huge work block lately – I’m totally unmotivated to do the heavy lifting as far as listing and promoting my handmade items. I’m currently writing an extensive blog post about it – The Anatomy of a (handmade) Listing – that is rather involved and detailed so my brain can only write it in small bits at a time (I’ll link to it here when it is finished). I’ve been really busy making things with no real desire to list them – which, defeats the purpose of selling my handmade goods online. I feel like I need to get the details out in words so that I can move past my block and get things listed. As far as the deadline I gave myself for new items for the holiday season, well, I am really behind…

Luckily, I still have orders for jewelry and paying requests for yarn to keep me busy until the motivation returns.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention that I have been taking Instagram out for a test drive and I really like it! I have been meaning to check it out for some time but feared I lacked the time for it. Finally giving in to a smart phone a couple of years ago certainly makes posting pics online easier. I love seeing life in pictures – so if you are on IG please follow me: I need people to follow, too! The content is much different from what you would find on my Facebook page or even TwitterΒ (although a bit of overlap is inevitable). It’s a behind the scenes glimpse of my creative life: and my cats with a few appearances of my kids (the cat thing, was supposed to be temporary while I tried out how the app worked – who knew people liked seeing pics of cats. So. The cats stay… πŸ˜‰ ).

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Etsy’s First Ever Site Wide Sale

I don’t do a lot of sales because there is very little markup on my work. However once in awhile I love to give a discount because let’s face it: there is very little money for the non-essentials these days. Etsy is having its first ever site wide sale & I’m participating! The sale is running from August 31st to September 4th, 2017. Save 30% on everything in my shop (excluding jewelry making supply destash). I will run a sale in tandem on my website – 30% off – simply use code LONGWEEKEND30 at checkout. I will highlight it in the checkout in case you forget. The sale price will be automatic on Etsy.

Come shop my Etsy shop from Aug 31- Sep 4, 2017 to save 30% on everything (excluding destash jewelry making supplies)

Hopefully this sale will help you tackle some of that holiday shopping – I know I know – it’s too early to think about. BUT we all know how busy fall gets, and having a few small gifts or stocking stuffers ticked off the list is always a good feeling.

Don’t forget to check out your favorite shops on Etsy August 31st – September 4th to see if they are participating in the sale.

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50% off Earrings all July – Handmade just for you

Turquoise gemstone chip bead sterling silver hoops now 50% off for the month of July

I’m celebrating handmade for the month of July with 50% off all my handmade earrings. I’ve been so busy this month in the studio with mostly fiber arts projects, the usual jewelry orders (and trying to have a bit of a summer vacation too!) that I am just getting around to announcing it on the blog now. But if you follow me on Facebook you may already know about the sale. In any event, you still have until the end of the month to take advantage.

Just use the voucher code EARRING50 at checkout on bb3.ca to take advantage. It is featured in the checkout too, in case you forget. Also don’t forget that orders of $39 or more from Canada or the US qualify for free shipping.

Faceted Ametrine earrings 50% off until the end of July

Speaking of the blog, do you like the new format? I have been spending a good chunk of my evenings updating its look and making it more user friendly. Now that I don’t have the newsletter, I have more time to devote to my other online entities. I love the blog and the ability to share more if which is limiting in a newsletter.

Since I have let the newsletter go, I am hoping to have more sales such as the 50% off earring sale this month. Go here to see all the pairs available. Choose the ones you like and I’ll make them for you! They make great gifts so stock up for co-workers, add-ons, even stocking stuffers. Don’t forget to treat yourself too! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

cute pearl earrings are only $13 – but receive half off that for the month of July with the code EARRING50
Choose your color Swarovski crystal earrings regularly $33 now half off for the month of July
Faceted amethyst gemstone earrings from $24 now half off for the month of July
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Cat Themed Note Cards

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I needed a quick gift to give a fellow cat lover and there was no time to order jewelry supplies & design something in such a short period of time. One thing I had immediate access to, was cat rubber stamps. So I made a set of note cards.

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These cards feature stamps from My Favorite Things & Hero Arts sets. They are colored with a water brush & distress inks – mostly the new Oxide inks which I love! They color much differently than the original distress inks – which looks like watercolor paint. The oxide is more vibrant – cartoonish I guess – which I love.

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For this next group of cat themed note cards I used a combination of distress inks and copic markers. I wanted a really simple note card but found the end result rather plain. So I added some Nuvo Crystal Jewel Drops and I loved the dimension they added. I adore the jewel drops the most as they have a nice translucency. The final card in this series (above) was to resemble a cat the recipient owns, but it was hard to get his unique black and white coloring.

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The next two cards were achieved by masking the stamped area in order to sponge on a background with Distress Oxide ink. I stamped the cats on first and colored them. Then I cut out the stamped image from a piece of full stick post-it notes. After covering the cats with the post-it note cut out (above), I applied the oxide ink with my Ranger ink blending tool, then spritzed & dripped water onto the ink. Here are the results:
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White embossing powder sets the sentiment on black paper die cut with a scalloped edge. Sequins made the best finishing touch.

Finally, as a thank you card for the recipient I made this card:

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I love the cat peeking out the window and the curtains, what I don’t love is that I made it in a rush since the other cards took most of my time and all I see is the things I could do better. But, it was cute nonetheless, and practice makes perfect.

I’m thinking of offering some inexpensive cards sets on my website since I love the majority of how these ones turned out. If it comes to fruition, I’ll include a link here when they are available to purchase. Either way, I hope this post inspires your paper crafting or card making.

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Final Newsletter bb3.ca May 2017

Thanks for your continued support - Leilani & my 3 Gems :)
Thanks for your continued support – Leilani & my 3 Gems πŸ™‚

May will be the final newsletter. It’s not for any bad reason, it just hit me while compiling it this month, that I should consider doing something new as far as promotion goes. That and, for several reasons covered in the newsletter, it’s becoming more & more difficult for me to offer a monthly giveaway. The cost of postage alone has risen significantly over the 4 years I have compiled the newsletter.

bb3 is not going away anytime soon and I certainly still have many ideas left to create out of this noggin of mine. I will still be offering giveaways and promotions on social media – I just can’t commit to it every month. I can use these funds for other ads & promotions to help me grow. Sometimes we just need a reason to give ourselves a kick in the butt. The newsletter has become my comfortable go to – and growth happens not out of comfort.

There are many ways to keep in touch and up to date with what I am working on, this blog being one of them. All the ways are listed in May’s newsletter.

Read the final newsletter here

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New Designs for May – Memorial Pet Jewelry

In memory of Hemingway gone too son at 10.5 months
In memory of Hemingway gone too son at 10.5 months

It’s been too painful until now but I finally designed a Memorial piece for our dear Hemingway cat who passed away suddenly from feline g.i. eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia back in February. I’m finally at a place where I want honor him and move forward, although not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and remember how he feels. I know it’s “just a cat” to so many people – but to me, he was so much more. We will have more cats join our family in the future but he will never be forgotten.

I tried several options before realizing that the simplest design is the best. I tried adding in a birthstone, & pearls, different chain – but just the sterling silver angel cat charm and a small 10.5mm charm that I engraved with his initial spoke to me the most.

I think that is one thing people don’t grasp when it comes to creating jewelry. Even though I am not manufacturing components, it takes time to come up with the right combination. I know it looks simple: but it took much careful consideration and trial and error to get the ideas from my head to paper and eventually to the final product. I have mad respect for jewelers who design every component from start to finish! I don’t have that kind of attention span – so I am happy to source out the right supplies (this takes time too!) to come up with the final product that is satisfying to me.

Dog Angel memorial pet jewelry choose a sterling silver necklace or clasp
Dog Angel Pet memorial jewelry choose a sterling silver necklace or clasp

Since I was making a Cat Angel Necklace I decided to expand on the memorial pet jewelry and make a dog version as well. I hope to have more options in the future as I find the perfect sterling silver charms. The dog angel charms read ” good boy” and price out cheaper than the cat angel charms, I assume due to the size and amount of sterling used. I also had the idea to offer the piece as a necklace or clip on charm set. These 13mm sterling silver lobster clasps are a large size making them appropriate to clip to a purse, bag, keychain, zipper pull or an existing bracelet. I like how this clip on option turned out so much, I will probably offer this option with some of my other personalized necklaces.

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Hackles – Another Funny Named Fiber Processing tool

What in the world is blending hackles? Read on to find out...
What in the world is blending hackles? Read on to find out…

In late January I ordered another cool fiber processing tool but it arrived around the time my baby cat passed away, so it took me awhile to get around to use it. I’ve always seen hackles as a tool for blending fleece & fiber, and since I own a drum carder, poo-poo’d investing in one.

Then it occured to me one day that hackles could make my life so much easier when it comes to combing fleece top. A drum carder is great for blending and making your fleece & fiber somewhat smooth, but it won’t remove all the noils or tiny gnarly bits nor is the fleece/fiber guaranteed to be lined completely straight like it would be if combed. This texture has merit for spinning, particularly chunky or woolen yarn. Of course I do like to spin a textured art yarn as well. For certain fleece that I hand process I prefer them to be smooth – like merino for instance. I love a nice, smooth, merino top. Plus I get the added bonus of felting with the leftovers. I love my St. Blaise combs, but there is only so much you can comb at once. With hackles, I can load a larger amount of fleece, then comb it out with my combs.

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I’m still working out my process with the hackles, but what I find is that I can load the uncombed merino onto the hackles, then comb with just one comb: added bonus is this is so much easier on my neck/shoulders/back. The hackles are clamped to the table, so instead of motion with two of my arms, I only need to used one arm.

This merino is pretty rough so I will comb as much will fit onto the comb, then finish it by hand combing with both combs, then pulling a small top. After the top is pulled the process repeats: back for more fleece from the hackles, combing out, and so on. This makes the process so much easier! I was amazed how fast I went through the fleece – it cuts the time in half, at least, not to mention it really saves my body from the wear and tear which is the biggest advantage. I love to work with my hands, whether it be jewelry making, paper crafting, fiber washing, dyeing, combing or spinning, but it does wreak havoc on my muscles and tendons so any tool which makes it go easier is worth it to invest in.

Hackles is mostly used for blending and I have yet to try that. You can pull a nice long roving off of it rather than the little top I pull from my combs and coil into a nest. I purchased my hackles from Gemini Fibers here in Canada, and I appreciate that they are handcrafted in Ontario.

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Mother-Daughter Half a Heart Charms & April’s New Items

Personalized mother-daughter necklaces. This charm has special meaning to me
Personalized mother-daughter necklaces. This charm has special meaning to me

April is my birthday month – Earth Day – which seems to fit me perfectly (green washing aside!) being someone who pulls all my inspiration from nature and personal experiences. Truthfully, I often feel not of this earth even though many of my friends and family see me as the “grounding” person in their lives – the voice of reason per se. If only I could apply that sensibility to my own life. I am constantly in a state of buzz, worry, self-doubt and what ifs when it comes to my own circumstance. It’s easier to see clearly what one must do when one is not experiencing it first hand.

All that analogy aside, when brainstorming for April’s new products I wanted to have items with some personal meaning to me. Everything I make has meaning in one way or another, but this month I wanted to go one step further for items that represent me or something that is special in my life.

I keep a sample of all the charms I own in a binder with plastic inserts you would use for baseball or hockey trading cards. A look book for charms so to speak. I often will flip through it for inspiration. This month one charm caught my eye: the mother-daughter charm. This sterling silver charm comes as one heart that I have to carefully separate into two. The significance of this charm goes farther than my own mother-daughter experience: my mother is buried with her half.

I bought one of these charms originally for bracelets I was working on for my wedding jewelry.

left my mother wearing her bracelet on my wedding day; right is my wedding charm bracelet. See the mother-daughter half hearts?
left: my mother wearing her bracelet on my wedding day; right: is my wedding charm bracelet. See the mother-daughter half hearts?

My mother passed quite unexpectedly just 2 years later. I remember my father asking if I wanted her engagement ring as a keepsake, and feeling pretty wrong about it. Then I had this strong sense: yes, I will take the ring, but I wanted her to be buried with the bracelet from my wedding. My dad said if I could find it, he would give it to the funeral home. It was in plain sight in her jewelry box. Today I cherish my decision – at peace knowing she was buried with something that ties us together but also being able to keep a keepsake to pass on to my girls one day.

Woodland fairy with a faceted crystal for your spiritual side
Woodland fairy with a faceted crystal for your spiritual side

The second item is a woodland fairy necklace – personalized with a monogram charm and paired with a faceted crystal. Clear quartz crystal is a birthstone for April – not all of us can afford diamonds. πŸ˜‰ I find crystal quartz to be a powerful mystical stone nonetheless – if you think of looking through a crystal ball or the mystery of the crystal skulls. It seemed highly appropriate to pair with a woodland fairy particularly for an Earth Day birthday.

inspiration for your knitting
inspiration for your knitting

Lastly, if you are a knitter here is some inspiration to keep your project going forward positively. Knitting and spinning for me is a meditative process so adding a few inspirational words into the mix should help keep things peaceful and positive. I also thought this set would be nice to gift one each to 8 of your knitting friends, and spread the positivity. The little things really do matter, particularly in the tumultuous world we live.

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P.S. don’t forget to check out April’s newsletter and my Facebook page in order to enter for a chance to win April’s giveaway. I’m giving away a personalized bunny necklace this month.Β 

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Making Balled Headpins

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newly made ball headpin

 

Since the New Year I started making balled headpins again. I really like the look of them versus the more common flat head (although they certainly have their place in design). For awhile I just couldn’t be bothered and would buy sterling silver headpins in bulk. Now that I got the (mini) torch out again I have to ask myself why I didn’t just stick with making my own. Yes it gets tedious cutting the wire to size. Yes I have to set up the workspace including protecting my desk with a fire resistant mat. But having the freedom of making the gauge and length of headpin that I need for projects is a luxury, and watching the silver ball form at the end of the wire in the orange flame is mesmerizing. Using fine silver – a more pure silver than sterling – means no fire scale to clean off so it’s incredibly quick.

Instead of walking through the steps of making balled headpins, I’m sharing a very thorough and straight forward video from Beaducation. Why reinvent the wheel? She is also using the same torch that I own, only here in Canada I bought mine from Lee Valley.

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Until I watched this video, it never occurred to me that the *kind* of butane matters and have since switched to a cleaner burning butane. I picked this one up at my local smoke shop so it should be widely available in Canada…

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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.