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I craft! Spinning, sewing, knitting, quilting...it's all here, along with so much more. I just love making things and writing about them. I hope you'll join me.

Craftsy

Craftsy

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bunny updates and Spinning Info

The babies are getting bigger fast! I recently took one to the vet for a check up and flea preventative. She already weighs 3 pounds! They are 12 weeks old now. I picked up a new hutch for Peter, because we all know how rabbits are and this guy will be no exception. No accidental litters here. :O. Yesterday I brushed them all out and got them looking so cute. Even Easter allowed me to trim down her legs and get some mats out. She wouldn't allow me to take a picture, though. That was just too much for one day.

So here they are at their 12 week debut!

Wendy Darling

Peter Pan

Tinkerbell
I've also been working on some more alpaca and spinning some Tunis fleece for my contracts. I have come to love alpaca. I think I do it differently than most people, though. I love to card it and spin it woolen, which to me enhances the softness and spring of the fleece. But I don't spin woolen like most people. I strive for a uniformity that doesn't usually come with woolen spinning and to achieve that I use a draft and hold technique. I'm thinking a video may be in order to explain this. 

In other news, we're gearing up for a new school year. This is always an exciting time for me. I can't wait for school to start so that I can spring the new curriculum on my kids and see what they think about it! Of course, I'm dreaming if I think they'll ever be as excited about it as I am, but it's good to dream.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Working Through It All

Two weeks ago today, I lost a good bit of the magic in my life. My mom passed away. She was only 57. She woke up in the morning with a migraine headache. Nothing that she hadn't had or dealt with since she was a child. She got sick and called my stepdad in to help her. She told him she felt numb on one side of her body, then she passed out. He called 9-1-1 and she stopped breathing. That was the last time her breath ever came. My mom died of an aneurysm.

It has been very difficult for me these past 2 weeks. My mom was my biggest fan. She encouraged me to write and create and told me she marveled at what I could do. I don't believe I was or will ever be as good as she thought I was, but that is a mom's job. To believe in their children. And she did that very well.

About 3 weeks ago I told her I was getting some new baby bunnies. She was very excited for me and wanted very much to see them. I had been struggling with what to name them, wanting to maintain my fairy tale theme. But I was getting 1 boy and 2 girls, and there are very few trios in history like that.

So when my mom passed, I wanted to honor her in some way. I have named sewing machines and spinning wheels after the beautiful and creative women in my life. But I didn't have anything that was new and fitting for my mom. And while it may seem silly to some to name tools and animals after people, these tools and animals mean a lot to me. They are things with which I am involved on a daily basis and put much love and care into. Especially the animals.

Knowing how much my mom wanted to see these babies, I thought it only fitting that one get her name - Wendy. And that, of course, finally revealed to me what I should name the 3. Peter, Wendy, and Tinkerbell. As fate would have it, they all 3 live up to their names.




So while my heart aches, and I've picked up the phone to call her at least 20 times in the last 2 weeks, I pray that she is smiling down at me and loving the new babies. She left behind 3 children that loved her dearly, a devoted and loving husband, and 2 little dogs. One of them, dear little Teek, she rescued from an abusive situation and the little dog loved her beyond belief. My mom was a wonderful person. So full of love for others. Her presence in this world was a blessing to so many. I seem to miss her more as the days go on. But each time I miss her I snuggle these new babies and remember her love for animals and for me. And I will care for them and love them as they deserve. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"New" tech toy for pattern writing

My mom loaned me a new tech toy this week. It's one of those Dragon Naturally Speaking headsets with the software. I'm not sure if it saved me any time yet, because I'm still "training my Dragon." There are a lot of abbreviations in knitting that I have to train it to recognize. Seems to recognize my voice just fine, but some of the terms that I use seem to be a little confusing for it. However, it was a lot easier to speak what I needed to type instead of trying to type it all in and going back and forth between the page and the program.

I have wanted one of these for a very long time. Always thought it would be cool to be able to dictate my stories instead of typing them in. I think once we both get the hang of it will be a lot easier. I'm actually writing this post using it! so just put a little plug-in for the Dragon Naturally Speaking, with a little training and effort it can make things a lot easier.



No, I am not trying to sell Dragon. I just think the coincidence of my business name being Mystical Beast and to be speaking in a "Dragon voice" is really wild. I think it also gains extra points because many pattern is named Dragon Wings. If you would like to try it out yourself, I put the link to it above. I will get a little change from Amazon if you buy it.

I just finished up the test knit for, "Bells and Lyres." Hoping to make final adjustments to it and send it off to my Ravelry pattern group sometime tomorrow. I'm also hoping to finish photographing Kitty I get it uploaded to my Etsy store. Kitty has been ready for a while now, but with all of the alpaca spinning I haven't had a chance for pictures yet. So look for in the next couple of days!


Friday, June 5, 2015

They're so fluffy!

I've been looking to increase my little rabbitry - and therefore wool production - since I got Easter, my first angora. I drove 6 hours to Florida and 6 hours back to pay $20 for a rescue bunny. It's been a learning experience, to say the least.

The other day I was on one of my Facebook groups looking at all of the adorable baby angoras for sale, wishing that some were closer to me. Georgia is not a great state for angoras, especially in my mid-eastern position. Too hot, I think. I was headed to a show in Augusta this weekend, just to see if someone had babies for sale. Then what to my wondering eyes did appear? Three little bunnies that all live near here!

I knew for sure I was interested in at least one of them. I excitedly sent a text to the poster and when she called back I asked tons of questions. Told her I was definitely interested in one of them, and when I showed the pictures to my husband, he told me we should get all three! Talk about an excited woman! Couldn't quit smiling the rest of the afternoon! See all the (!!!!) lined up there?

So in 3 weeks I will be making another trip to pick up 3 of these little rascals. Now, time for the cuteness overload...

Red-eye white

Pearl

Blue
They don't have names yet, of course, but the captions are their color distinctions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do you have 8 seconds?

As I was trolling through Facebook the other day something caught my eye. Humans now have an attention span of 8 seconds. Which is a second less than a goldfish. It took me about 7 seconds to read those first 3 sentences. Which also means if I don't "catch your attention" in those first three sentences my chances of you hanging around for the rest of this post are fairly slim. You still here? Good. 

I like social media. I genuinely like connecting with people all around the world. Facebook is mostly friends and family, but I also have multiple groups where I connect and make friends with people I normally would never talk to on the street. Twitter is boring to me, but give me an hour or two of Pinterest any day! And why is this? For the reasons I listed above. We're distracted to the point where most of us are running around in a daze and checking our phones 150 times a day. I'm just as guilty of it as anyone else. Shoot, some days I have to force myself NOT to check Facebook instead of reading my Bible study or immersing myself in a good book. 

That's also why I think so many of us no longer engage in the arts. We want a quick fix - like those handy tips we find on Pinterst - and to start selling our products which may or may not be sub par to someone else's because we actually took the time just to make it, not perfect it. Maybe we don't want to sell, but instead we want to just make something quick for a dinner party or a little decor in the house.  However, very few people have enough concentration and determination to become very good at something. 

When was the last time you thought to yourself, "Hey, I would really love to learn how to ______" (fill in the blanks here) but then started thinking about all the stuff involved in learning that skill. Those things then pile up and you just throw your hands up in the air and walk away? Or maybe you have a craft room (desk, cupboard, area) full of supplies for projects you started, and never finished? Sound familiar? 

My friend and I were talking about this the other day. And it sent me on a journey of thinking long and hard about why I do these things myself. I get bored repeating the same thing over and over. If I hit a plateau where something is about as good as it gets or has very little left to learn, I leave it behind. So I learn something new. There really is nothing wrong with that, because I do continue to do something until I have exhausted its potential to awaken my mind. I work hard and plod away at things (self-taught knitter, crocheter, spinner, quilter here) until I learn them. I definitely have an attention span longer than 8 seconds when it comes to pursuing a new craft. 

Many of us do not, though. If it takes more than an hour or two to learn, I think many of us will just cast it aside until we have the time. And usually, we will NEVER find the time. I mean, there are a lot of 8 second occurrences throughout the day, right? Things are constantly vying for our time and attention, and the less we spend on each one, the more we can get done throughout the day. It's ok, I get it. 

Now I know that this has taken wayyyy more than 8 seconds to read, and for that I am truly sorry. If you have made it this far, I feel quite honored! My whole point of this blog post, though, is that crafting can help us get back to a more reasonable form of concentration and a longer attention span. When I took up spinning I did not realize the level of concentration it would take not only to learn it, but to continue practicing it. Every length of fiber needs to be checked for uniformity. Yes, I know there are art yarns. I don't like them. I don't make them. That's a post for another day. So I can listen to audio books (yay audio books!), but watching a movie or anything that takes my concentration away from the actual process is a challenge and my levels of accuracy fall drastically. 

I can knit and crochet while watching television. Yes, I can even talk and carry on a conversation as long as I am not counting something or following a chart. A vanilla project could even be worked on in church with my full attention on the pastor (if I was ever brave enough to do such a thing) and still hear every word he says. When my hands stay busy, my mind stays engaged. 

Engaging your mind and increasing your attention span will also help you in other areas of your life. You will miraculously remember your friend's favorite color or your spouse's birthday because you listened to them - and not just because Facebook reminded you. You will engage in conversation verbally. Your mind becomes sharper and you may even be able to drive without running a light, forgetting to use your blinker, and turning without the assistance of a GPS. 

My challenge to you is to try it. Pick something, anything, that you have wanted to learn how to do (woodworking, knitting, crochet, spinning, scrapbooking, quilting, gardening) and do it. Don't think about what it will take to do it. Do NOT think about the hours you do not have to learn it. Just do it. And this is encouragement for my friend, as well. Turn off your phone, your notifications, your computer, the television, or take a vacation day. Whatever it is that distracts you, remove it. Life will go on while you learn, and think of how much fun it will be to check all of those posts and likes when you do return to social media. You'll also find out how little there is to care about on social media. 

Or you could miss what Sally had for dinner that day...tragic, really. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ravelry's New Bundle Feature for Favorites

To me, Ravelry is possibly one of the best sites ever created for crafty-minded people. It is amazing. A group of 4 people that continually develop new and USEFUL features for us fiber people. Useful is the key word. After spending the last 6 years on Facebook with countless use-LESS changes and intrusive practices, it is a relief to go to a site that is safe, fun, and geared toward its audience. Not only can you buy and sell patterns and yarns, you can explore groups, make connections, and see what others are doing.

My bundles


They have a new feature, which I just love. It is their bundle feature. I have nearly 1000 likes that I will admittedly probably never complete. But I save them, because I don't want to search for them again. It used to be that to quickly search through my saved favorites I would have to tag each and every one, which takes a lot of time and effort. The tags didn't always bring back results because I would save it as a scarf, or scarves, and then have to look through both classifications. It was also not good for the things I forgot to tag or working on my phone.

So here come the bundles! With just a quick edit on the favorites, you can classify your favorites into bundles. I've labeled mine "Scarves, Shawls, and Neckwear," "Tops," and "Hats and Headwear" as an example. Now, once I get through all 25 pages of my favorites (yes, some are being deleted), I can easily just click on a bundle and see what is in it! Yay! Also convenient is that I can save my favorites to multiple bundles. If I have a pattern for a hat and glove combination, I can save it to both gloves and hats. Double Yay!

Thank you, Ravelry, for being useful. I adore you. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dragons Unicorns Fairies and Mystical Beasts

Back in March I decided to leave work because all of my children came home to homeschool. It has been quite a busy adventure! We will continue with it through next year as well. I started a blog based on our home education plans and projects called Little Lyons Homeschool. If you're into home education, why not stop by and take a look?

In other news...

I have also given up my quilting business, Freckle Dots. I still run an Etsy store in which I will post any sewing and/or quilting projects I have completed and that are up for sale. However, I am no longer doing custom tshirt quilts. It just became too much of a hassle, too big of quilts, and not enough time to invest in them.

Spinning also became a new passion in my life to add to the eclectic tendencies I already have. And I'm not talking about spinning as in a bicycle. Spinning as in making yarn from wool, cotton, and many other fibers. I bought a little bunny by the name of Easter. She is an English angora, pretty as can be, and mean as a snake. She's a rescue bunny, and I had no idea what I was getting into when I got her. I was told she was a good wool bunny, which she is, but her first year of handling was obviously traumatic and she's not the friendliest thing. But I still love her.

She also takes horrible pictures! Here she is between the barriers
I set up for her so she could play out on the porch. She loves to find
little hideaway places. Shh..you can't see her. 
I intend to use her fur to spin wonderful angora yarns. Of course, everything is harvested humanely and I have no intentions of maiming or otherwise mistreating her. Her fur will grow very long in just a few months and it is more of a necessity to prevent her from dying from wool block than it is an animal use things. Yet, admittedly, beneficial to me as well!

In view of my new passion and positive feedback I've received on my yarns, I also started a business called Mystical Beast. Mystical Beast is a little different because I not only sell the yarn, but every yarn also has a story (Get it? Yarn? Story?). I am inspired by the colors that I spin, the way things seem to come together as it is stretched into a fiber, and becomes an entirely new creature when plyed and set. I have always loved writing. I may not be the greatest author in the world, but I think I can pen a fair prose when prompted.

So far I have up only a couple of yarns. Each has a story that comes with it. The stories are just snippets of impressions, scenery, or the creatures they represent. All will have a mystical theme of some sort, involving fairies, dragons, unicorns, or the places in which they live.




So you can find me here, of course. I will not be changing the blog name because it is now a domain name. I think everyone pretty much understands that things on this blog are subject to change with or without notice, but one things remains the same - my passion for crafting.

You can find me on Facebook, Ravelry, Google+, and Big Cartel. I hope you will check me out on these sites, follow or like or whatever.

I also would like it if you could check out some of the folks that helped me get to opening a new store. Art of the Spin on Facebook and Etsy is my batt supplier for the two yarns above. Style Point Design designed all of the logos, headers, and avatars for my shops. I always want to give credit where credit is due! 

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