Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some Tablet-Weaving Tips

I've been working on a little weaving project for a friend's wedding, and as I worked I realized that there are a few things I do that aren't really mentioned in the books and tutorials that I've seen. So I figured I'd take a bit of time to pass them on to you.

1. Mark the crap outta your cards.

I made my cards out of a heavy tagboard (not posterboard - this stuff is about twice as thick) and then marked them ALLLLL up. The card on top is the side that faces left, and you'll see that's numbered in black. If I'm threading in the S or \ direction, the threads go through from that side of the card.
The bottom card is numbered in orange, and for some reason I wrote CC on it. I can't for the life of me figure out what CC was supposed to stand for. Anyway, this is the side of the card that faces right, and if you are threading in the Z or / direction, your threads go through that side.
Notice that the holes are lettered clockwise on the S side, and counterclockwise on the Z side, so each hole has the same letter on both sides.
Also, you can't see it, but the edge of the cards on the A-D side have been colored red. This marks my "home" position. It's where I start from, and once all the cards are sitting with the red side up, I know I've gone through a complete pattern sequence. It is handy - trust me. Having that particular marker makes it a lot easier to un-weave or find your place in the sequence. You could get even fancier and mark each edge a different color - just be sure you remember which color is "home".

Oh, speaking of making cards - definitely DO make use of scrapbooking supplies to make yours. Using a round corner punch on all your cards is way faster than rounding off by hand, and you do not want to leave square corners, especially if you will be working with fine threads. Corners catch threads.

2. If you're working on an inkle loom, warp in a loop directly on the loom.
(I apologize for not having snapped a picture at this point.)
When you're doing card weaving on an inkle loom, you're basically working in a loop. You weave a section, loosen the tension, then slide your work out of the way which exposes more unworked warp in your work space. Tighten everything back up, and you're good to go.
When I warp up my inkle loom, I try to work it out so I have a good 8-12 inches of extra warp length, which will get taken up by knots and end-cutting. I warp in sorta-kinda continuous loops, switching colors according to my thread-up pattern as I go. This means that I sometimes have knots at the peg where I start and stop my warp circuit.
So once I'm done looping on the warp, I use cloth athletic tape or masking tape to tape the warp to my uppermost pegs so the whole lot doesn't fall off. Then I CUT THE WARP. One cut in front of my start peg, and one cut behind it to even everything up.
Once it's cut, I thread up my cards on the bit dangling right in front of me, and redistribute the remaining warp around the rest of the pegs to give me the slack I need to tie the ends together.
But don't tie them ALL together.

3. If working on an inkle loom, tie your edge card warps together separately from the rest of the warp.

This is because...

4. Always turn your edge cards on one direction only, and turn them every pick (pass of the shuttle / weft.)

This is probably the single thing that will improve the look of your weaving the most.
You'll notice, when you are weaving patterns that switch the direction you turn the cards, that you get lumpy weirdness in your selvedges whenever the cards reverse direction. And if you work with split-deck patterns, where the edge cards might only get turned every other pick, you end up with loose selvedges that don't pull up to an even width.
Turning the first and last card in the same direction every single pick will solve all of that. You'll get a nice, tight, even selvedge that looks professional and smooth.
The reason tying up your edge cards separately is so important is because turning in one direction every time builds up way more twist than most patterns do, and those cards of threads will tighten up considerably more than the rest. You'll want to be able to untie them periodically to release the built-up twist, and it's much easier to do two cards' worth than the whole bundle.

5. Follow these steps to get an even width and tight selvedge.

Weave a few picks to get started. Now, when you pass your shuttle through, don't pull your weft thread all the way through. Leave a little loop sticking off the side.

Now turn your cards as indicated by your pattern for the next pick. Use your beater or edged shuttle to pack in your weft...

...then pull the weft thread to close the loop on the side. Pull it tight enough to draw the band edge together smoothly, without making a divot in the edge.

Then pass the shuttle the rest of the way through, being sure to leave that loop on the edge again.

If you do this every time, you'll get a feel for what tension you need to apply to get a consistent width on your band.

6. Try not to slide your cards too much.

I was going to recommend sliding your cards back and forth on the weft after turning, to open the shed (the space between the top threads and bottom threads that you pass the shuttle through) but....well, that's only a good plan for tough, tightly woven yarns. As I was working with the 3-ply linen thread in these pictures, I discovered that sliding the cards was wearing right through ply threads in my linen yarn and causing breakages.
So, to avoid that, just stick two fingers into the shed right up against the cards. Open up your fingers like scissors, and the threads will separate to define your shed.

Hope these tips can help someone step their game up to the next level. Happy weaving!

- Stell

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Playin' Around

Been messing about a bit lately!

My big experiment has been trying to reproduce the Ukrainian method of milk-firing pottery. I started with a fired pot, mainly red in color, and I gave it a few baths with whole milk. Then I stuck it in my oven, turned it up all the way (550°F in my case,) and let it bake for about an hour.

The baking period caused the milk to turn dark brown and permanently fuse to the pot!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Paleo? Autoimmune Protocol? There's a New Forum!

Just an FYI for any of my friends who are on a paleo diet or trying to navigate their way through healing an autoimmune condition - there is now a non-Facebook based forum with sections for both standard paleo AND STRICT AIP!!!! Yayyyyyyy!!

The Paleomom Community

You'll also find there a LOT of promotion for the host's new book that details the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol in exhaustive detail. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition (or previously thought to be autoimmune condition, like fibromyalgia) you should absolutely check it out. It's not easy, most definitely, but feeling healthy is really really worth it.

Hope to see you there!

- Stell

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Thank You" Turkey Cakes (AIP Compliant)

I didn't even bother taking a picture of these. They're brown and green and lumpy and bumpy....but tasty enough that my son David declared them "amazing!!"

So, if you're jonesing for the reminiscent comfort of a hearty turkey dinner, these might help you out some.

On to the recipe!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Smoked Fish 'n Kale Cakes (AIP-Compliant)

Yeah. Still not pretty. But they taste good, are easy to make, and you don't have to cook anything else to get a complete meal! Can't beat that, for sure.

On to the recipe!

Cinnamon Garlic Lamb Cakes (AIP-Compliant)

Yes, yes, I know. They don't look great. None of these meat/veggie/root patty-type foods look very pretty. But ya know what?? They are fast, easy, AIP-compliant, and taste good. So there. And if you like shish kofta (spiced lamb kebabs) you'll probably like these, even though the cumin is missing (because seeds. Dammit.)

Ok, the recipe:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Even Bigger

It grows!

I'd estimate it to be about 4' wide from flat side to flat side, so there's definitely palpable progress!

I got bored with the fabrics I had in my stash, so I was naughty and went fabric shopping. I'm glad I did, though, because the new fabric choices got me through making that last round of flowers. I think I'll be running out of that particular yellow that I've been bordering with soon, though. So I'll have to transition to a different print. A different color would be an option, as well, but I don't know how I feel about that yet. Opinions?

Tom came over today to work on getting the little kiln in my basement vented properly. He says it's not a big job, but it sure seems complicated to me. Lots of wiring and riveting and drilling and cutting. Once it's done, I will no longer have any excuses to put off test firing it. I'm still scared, though!
In other pottery news, I have to go back to the Arts Center for the Thursday night class (which I am not in) because when we unloaded the kiln at class last night, my stuff took up most of a table. I got everything washed, got tomato stamps painted, and then got all the wax resist put on where it was needed, and by then it was nearly an hour past when class ended. So NOTHING actually got glazed. But Jim said that's ok, because his Thursday class hasn't glazed anything yet, so it will be good to have a couple people there who know what they're doing.

I also went to my doctor today to have an osteopathic manipulation done, because I've been having a lot of back pain, especially sciatica-type pain shooting through my hips. I forgot that when you get stuff like that done, you usually do NOT feel great right afterwards. Maaaaan, if I thought I hurt before.... I don't know what happened, but all the body pain that has somehow been keeping itself in check just decided to club me into submission. My everything hurts. Every joint. Most muscles. My head. My teeth. Just....owwwww. Probably a good sign that I need to stop making excuses and get back on my diet.

Speaking of diet, after making those smoked whitefish cakes, I started toying with the idea of making up various AIP-compliant meat-and-veggie "meal cakes" as ready meals while on my diet. My first experiment was a Cinnamon Lamb cake made with sweet potatoes, zucchini, lamb, cinnamon, onion, and garlic. I liked it a lot, however the children did not. More for me! I'll post the recipe once I play with it more - I thought it needed more zucchini, and I think I need to play with baking times and temps some, because they turned out a bit floppy and spongy. But I have a lot of different ideas, using different meat-root-green veg combos. It'll be neat to see what works and what doesn't.

- Stell

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh Hickory-Stripe Overalls, How I Love Thee

Overalls, you don't give a crap what is or isn't in fashion. You just ARE, in your big baggy wide-legged comfiness. People can point at us and say "Oh my gawd, would you look at that!" and together we can say HAH. Don't care!

Overalls, you don't mind if I've fluctuated three pants sizes in three days time. You still fit anyway. And stay up. And don't squeeze like those other meanie-pants.

Overalls, you are super-fun. You make me feel five years old, which is pretty awesome when I'm absolutely sick of being a responsible adult. With you, I can be a responsible adult disguised as a little girl in pigtails. So nyaaaaaah and PTHBBBBBBT to you, adult life!

Overalls, you don't care if I get stuff on you. You actually LIKE it when I get all clay-splattered and gross. You're HELPING. You've got a job and by golly you do it well! I can't wait to get out in the garden and get dirty together.

Overalls, you have the BEST POCKETS. EVER. A place for everything, and everything stays there, because you aren't girly sissy pants with stupid tiny pockets that don't hold shit. Thanks for holding my shit, dude.

Dear sweet stripey overalls, thanks for being such a pal. You're the best.

- Stell

New Tools! New Ideas!

So, I said I was going to post more pottery, and then I didn't because I was too worn out from work and other runnings-around this last week/weekend. So I will do that now, while I am resisting getting out of bed. Because I can.

It's not a very clear picture, but the pieces that I had ready for Tom's dishes set came out of the kiln right before spring break. I've been doing his stuff with my Tahquamenon glaze pattern, because he likes blue, and I totally dig all the drips and the Waterfall Brown glaze. They turned out quite pretty. He's just waiting on plates now (that little plate in the picture doesn't count. At all. It's crap.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garden Progress

Well, the snow and ice have been steadily melting, as temps are staying above freezing fairly often.

Bulbs are just starting to come up, and those weeds that look like violet leaves are all going full-force already.

Looks like I should be able to go out and dig the beds sometime very soon. Better go buy a garden fork. That was my big mistake last year - I didn't loosen everything up really well, and we got really crappy root crops.

I'm still waiting for this pile to go away, because I'm thinking that a couple "lasagna garden" no-dig beds might be acceptable there. And less mowing. I checked city ordinances, and the only thing they prohibit growing on the easement area is nuisance trees. I'm responsible for keeping it mowed, which rarely happens, so more food and flowers growing would be a huge improvement.
I'm also waiting for the pile of snow to melt down from the upper driveway so I can move the big van. I can get it *in* the driveway, but I'd have to move it again later to let anyone else get in, and I'd rather just do it all at once. Monday might work for that.

The growing spaces up at the back of the house are all uncovered. Again, just a bit of ice to go and I can start cleaning up that area and get stuff planted.
I still need to make seed mats and build the structure for the bean house.
I *think* I have a plan for my keyhole garden beds....but it's going to require me learning to use a circular saw and locating a power drill to do. So that'll be coming up. If all goes according to plan, they'll be walled with strawberries! Lots of 2x4s and chicken wire and hinges! (I want to be able to disassemble and move them if necessary.)

I got the last of my seeds ordered last night, and Emily and I bought some rubber stamps to use in making our plant marker stakes. Out of clay, of course. Holy cats, I'll be hand-building something instead of throwing on the wheel!!

So that's that for this week! Hopefully I'll have it all pretty by next week!
- Stell

Monday, April 7, 2014

Smoked Whitefish Cakes

This week at work, Matthew made whitefish cakes for the hot bar menu. They were REALLY GOOD, but I only got a bite to taste test, and then kept forgetting to buy some...and then they were gone. So tonight we made some for dinner!

I haven't got a clue how Matthew made the ones at The a Grain Train, 'cause I was furiously baking at the time, so I just made these up. Here's how.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Making Friends is Hard

So.....since I left Dagorhir and stopped talking to my best friend, I've been trying to figure out how the heck I'm supposed to branch out and make new friends.


It's hard for me, anyway. I've discovered that I've kind of retreated back to that feeling that I'm intruding, in the way, and don't have anything to say that doesn't sound know-it-all-ish. It's a feeling that has followed me all the way from childhood, and for a while I seemed to bust free of it, but now it appears to have sat on me again.

It's hard to be open, even though I'm generally willing to talk to just about anyone about just about anything. I find that I deliberately close myself off when I'm in public places. Eye contact with anyone at all has always been difficult for me (feels intrusive) so I think I give off a "leave me alone" vibe to begin with. Even when I'm out with Dawn - she's got lots of friends that come by to say hi, and I'm always introduced....but I rarely say anything, or even attempt to include myself or engage in their conversation because, well, THEY are the friends talking to one another. It's that feeling of intrusion again.

I joined a couple forums recently, too - a pottery one, and an Iron Age historians one - in hopes that maybe I'd be able to make some new online friends that way. It worked brilliantly back when I was sewing baby things and had a forum for that, and when I was active in the Dagorhir forums....but again, this time around, I just feel intrusive and irrelevant. Nothing of any real import to say. No good ideas for opening conversation to get to know anyone.

I suppose it probably doesn't help that I don't take very good care of the friends I already have. I'm off of Facebook, I don't call anybody, half the time I don't have the energy for interaction anyway. But what it boils down to, I think, is that I just plain don't miss people, except for one. (I don't even miss my kids when I'm away from them, so please don't take it personally.) And I think that's what is missing. I feel like I need to find new friends because I'm still looking for someone that can fill that "I actually want to talk to you every single day, and see you whenever possible" spot. It might never happen. It took me 34 years to find the first one. It's a frustrating and saddening thought.

But....I'll keep trying. I'll keep taking classes, working, going out with Dawn. Maybe I'll try harder to get over my intrusive feelings and actually allow myself to participate in conversations happening next to me.

Do people get better at talking to relative strangers with practice? Do you have interesting conversation starters that you could share? What's your favorite way to meet new people? Any insight from my fellow introverts? I can use all the help I can get!

- Stell

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Going to the Zoo

Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow. Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow and we can stay all day.
- Peter, Paul, and Mommy

As it is spring break this week, the kids and I decided that a trip to the zoo was in order. So early yesterday morning, we loaded up our van and headed off to Detroit!

In true my-kid form, we were all equally as enthralled by animals not meant to be on exhibit as we were with the exhibited ones. Happy minutes were spent watching a teeny tiny snail slime its way over a turtle's chin, or a spider make its way over a sign, or observing the just molted, white, twice-as-big-as-his-shell cockroach.

After lunch, a friendly and handsome peacock took us for a stroll, showing us much of the outdoor primate exhibit before guiding us to the primate house, where he left so he could go help other patrons.

The primate house (and every other building in the zoo, really) was quite fascinating. The Detroit zoo has a very healthy volunteer force, and most of the volunteers that we talked to had spent enough time in their respective areas that they had LOADS to tell us about the personalities, preferences, and habits of the animals. So it was a lot of fun just chatting and watching, and learning things.

It was just warm enough for the giraffes to be in and out of their house, and the male seemed to be enjoying the outdoors. But the female mostly stayed inside, so we spent a bit of quiet time warming up and resting with her.

The lions, tiger, rhinos, and anteaters were all active and exciting to watch, as were the zebras. A pair of them were....rather frisky. "And thus begins the circle of life," I said in my best nature documentary narrator voice, to be answered with cries of "MOOOOMMMMMMMM!" from my slightly shocked children. The lemurs also decided to come out and play, and there seemed to be enough to have a dance party. So I started doing my best lemur-dance, and sure enough, they joined in! A hopping good time, let me tell you! The kids were thrilled.

The seal pictured up at the top was a real showman, despite being blind. He spent the whole time we were in the underwater tunnel swimming upside-down toward the tunnel, then swooping around in a flip to swim the other way. There was another one nearly twice his size that swam right over our heads a couple of times!

We did make sure to visit everything, but didn't take too many pictures. Penguins were delightful, as usual, and we learned that they will be building the biggest penguinarium in the country for them soon. We sat carefully and watched quietly in the butterfly house (and showed random small children how to do the same,) looked carefully for birds in the aviary (and pointed them out to random small children,) and had a fantastic time in the amphibian house....again pointing out creatures to random small children. I think my whole family likes telling random small children about animals. It's a thing.

We finished up at the reptile house, where Amber had to take photos of every visible snake, and we all had a grand time asking random small children if they could see the display animals. I got a good lesson on how to identify a viper from a particularly enthusiastic pair of young snake fanciers.

By three, we'd all had enough of walking around, so we bought our obligatory souvenir t-shirts and headed off to my grandparents' house for a quick visit before driving home.

We stayed all day and I'm getting sleepy. Sitting in the car getting sleep sleep sleepy. Home already and I'm sleep sleep sleepy 'cause we have stayed all day.

- Stell

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Aaaaand Breathe!

Finally, a day to just sit and chill!

My week has been full of work training and utter exhaustion, plus sick children and appointments.

Then spring break started yesterday, with me up at 7 AM to get the baking and cooking going for Emily's lunchtime birthday party. I got it all done JUST in dash off to take Davey & Bub to my boss's son's birthday party! By the time boys were retrieved and teenagers went home, I was exhausted again.

I did manage to fit in a quick run to the Arts Center to see how my last batch of glazed ware turned out. I had a couple failures - that darn Stone White glaze!! - and plenty of success. Jim likes us to leave our stuff there until everyone in our class has seen it, but I couldn't help myself and brought this mug home with me.

It's very big and I LOVE IT.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another quick update

Let's see. The weather here sucks. Temps in the teens to zero in the mornings, and not even breaking above freezing most days. I'm really tired of it.

I applied for a job, and got it - I'm the new weekend baker for The Grain Train deli. I started training yesterday, and have been enjoying it so far, even though I have to be there at 5 AM. The only downside to the early start has been the aforementioned cold, as the kids have to walk to school no matter what, and the fact that my younger boys have been sick this week. Bub has been pukey since Friday night, and David has been having panic attacks since last week, plus not feeling good on top of that. So my assurances to my boss that there would be no problem having my training this week were HIGHLY over optimistic, which is disappointing. He was very understanding, though, as was the girl that is training me.

I got another round of flowers sewn onto my quilt, and have been getting the next round prepared, while keeping myself entertained with a constant stream of South Park. I'll probably do a bit of that this afternoon, since I had to head home early to be home with the boys while Ian went to school.

Pottery club is started back up again. It was nice only having about a week's break from the last session. We glazed enough last night to get a kiln load going, so I should have some more completed pieces to show soon. Next bisque load won't be fired until after spring break, though, so no more 'till mid-April. I'll just keep throwing until then.

Gotta get the house cleaned up this week, as Emily is having friends over for her 15th birthday. So I'll work tomorrow, baking all day, and then Friday morning I'll get up and....bake all day!

Body pain is coming back hardcore. I'm hoping that my new job will help me stay on track with my food, since I'll be at a natural foods grocery every weekend, and get a discount on what I buy as well. What I DO know for sure is that eating egg/pepper/potato breakfast burritos for breakfast is a moronic idea that I should be kicked for, and that I deserve an extra kick for the chocolate chunk scone eaten later.

Emily goes in for a job interview at Julienne Tomatoes today after school, so wish her luck and keep her in your thoughts this afternoon! I'm excited for her - this will be her first job, if she gets it!

I think that's it! Off to sew for a little bit!

- Stell

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poor Decisions

I really really really hate it when I wake up feeling like shit about myself, and then make shitty decisions on top of that.

I had my kids walk to school today. I had no idea that it rained last night and then froze into sheer sheets of ice on the whole route to school. So I just stayed holed up in bed, blithely telling my anxiety- and depression-riddled children "it's warm enough to walk! Get going!"

Both my girls fell on their walk. They're both pissed at me and the depressed one is saying she doesn't have enough energy to deal with the walk AND school. I'd write it off as her being melodramatic, except that I know EXACTLY what that feels like. And then David probably had the same problems, only his school counselor won't let him call me when he's just upset (and not physically ill), so I don't know. But I'll get to hear about it, plus how it ruined his whole day, while he dissolves into fresh sobs and misery once he's home from school.

Boy, today is just great.
Sincerely, one lonely-as-hell broken shitty parent
- Stell

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Faerie Fever

This week, Dawn and I bought our passes for FaerieCon East, to be held in Baltimore MD in early November. Fun thing about this is, though we've known each other for about as long as we've had kids, we never really hung out together much until she asked me if I'd like to go to FaerieCon in 2008. It was the first time the FaerieWorlds crew tried hosting a Con, and they had one of Dawn's favorite bands, Omnia, playing at their Bad Faerie Ball. So we decided to go.

It was quite the adventure - we spent months putting together clothes and wings and hairstyles and makeup techniques, making test runs for garb and makeup at Ren Faires and Dagorhir events, and then finally our first major road trip together to Philadelphia for the Con.

Turns out, Omnia never made it there. It was to be their first gig in the US, but they got paranoid at the last minute and chickened out. Which REALLY bummed us out. And to top it off, Brian Froud wasn't there because his retina detached a couple days before, and Alan Lee didn't come due to a death in the family. ALL the people we were excited to see weren't there.

Despite all that, we still had a total blast. First of all, it was Toby Froud and his goblin Ignatz who broke the no-Omnia news to us. That DEFINITELY helped to dull the sting a bit....mostly because they're both so damn cute. And we still got to meet all sorts of artists and craftspeople, and some of the event organizers, which then led to us making it to other FaerieWorlds and FaerieCon events.

So now, we're finally going back. Much has changed for us in the last five years.....and I definitely need a serious overhaul in the faerie department, as my last trip to the Ren Faire pointed out so painfully! I honestly need new everything - shoes have holes, corset doesn't fit anymore, tops and skirts no longer cover what needs covering, makeup essentials are missing....and my wings are absolutely MANGLED.

My last trip to the Faire *did* find me a new friend, though. His name is Cedric. He's a cicada. He is also dead....but don't sat that too loud around him, because he doesn't know it yet, and we don't want him to feel awkward. Cedric and his beautiful shiny wings was my constant companion at the Faire, and by the time I got home, I had pretty much decided that I needed a serious Cicada overhaul.

So that was my project this weekend, after buying FaerieCon passes, ball tickets, and making hotel reservations. I got to work on my cicada wings.

I started with this picture that Tom found for me. It was perfect! Using my light box, I traced the wing outlines, and the approximate relative distance between the right and left sides.

I knew I wasn't going to have the patience to do all the veining in the wings, especially since I was planning to construct the frame primarily out of 14g and 16g steel wire, held together with 24g wire wrapping. So I just made up a pretty vein pattern, keeping in mind that the pieces would need to be wire-wrapped together.
Once I got the design drawn out, I needed to enlarge it. I used my omnigrid ruler to figure out how big of a wingspan I wanted, then drew a grid over my drawing, 13 squares across so my final wing pattern would be 13" wide. Then I drew a 1" grid on pattern paper and transferred the design by following the grid.

I used an old sheet of plywood and some nails I had in the basement to build a bending jig, and some of my grandma's old pattern transfer paper to transfer the design to the plywood.
The tricky part was remembering that the wire always has to be bent around the outside of the curve. So if you're bending even a slightly sinuous curve, the nails you place will switch from being placed inside the line to outside the line at some point.

I did learn a few things in the process.
1. Only place nails for bending the main frame outlines on the main area for your jig. Trying to bend accessory pieces (and place the nails for bending them around) inside the main outline is a HUGE pain, and there's really no need.
2. Make a separate bending jig for each accessory piece on a different spot on your plywood.
3. Once your pieces are bent around the jig, you have to take them off, true up the wire by hand, and then finish the bending-to-shape by hand as well, using your drawn pattern as a template. The jig won't do the job - all it does is put the main corners and curves where you need them.
4. Use little strips of duct tape to hold joints in place while you do the wire wrap joins. And then epoxy glue the joints into place, because those stupid wire wrappings like to slide around!! I still have to do that part.

They turned out pretty well, I think! I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with them from this point, though. Leave them as just a wire frame? Prime and enamel them? Try covering them with cellophane or tissue paper and glue? I don't know! What do you think?

- Stell

Friday, March 14, 2014


OK, all you bloggy people. I figured out how to get subscribe buttons thingies to show up. I figured out how to get blogs I follow to show up. What I can't figure out how to do is categorize my blog posts. Like, I'd like to have my archive divided up by subject, so if someone is looking for all sewing posts, they'd be in one list, etc.
Can someone walk me through? And do you have any other suggestions to improve the look and usability of this place? I would like it to function well.....but I'm not in a space where it feels like effort well spent to try to figure it out on my own right now. Pretty please? It would be most appreciated.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This Might Take A While

Ian got the game. I got the guide. So long, guys; momma's RPGing.

- Stell

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Julienne Tomatoes Mug Day

HOORAY!!! The day is here!! Two months of planning and throwing and testing and painting and WAITING are finally over, and I was able to gift my friends Julie Adams and Tom Sheffler with a set of mugs for their café Julienne Tomatoes.

From the time Julienne Tomatoes opened, when Bobby was just a baby being toted everywhere on my back, Julie and Tom have been absolutely amazing neighbors to our family. Their giving, generous spirit is widely known here in Petoskey, and they are well appreciated by many.

So, when I saw a sign posted on the pastry case one day saying "Bring us your extra mugs!" I hatched a plan. I decided that rather than rifle through my cupboards for extra mugs, I was going to MAKE some. And make them SPECIAL.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mess Up the Pottery Day

Oh boy! Today is Mess Up the Pottery Day!! Woo hoo!
SO MANY problems with not being able to get the clay *quite* centered, and then LOTS of problems caused by letting things get too dry. Because, you know, I forgot about them. I blame this.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Etsy Shop is Open

Well, I said I would do it eventually, and today I did. I opened an etsy shop to sell my pottery....and whatever the heck else I decide to make and sell as the whim strikes.

You can find my shop here.

I've got tumblers listed,

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm Not Sure About This

I've always been resistant to journaling, and, by extension, blogging. I really have no idea why. I have no problem reporting on the day's happenings in letters and on online forums and on Facebook.....why is blogging so much different? Maybe it's kind of like my aversion to making phone calls and emailing, but having no problem texting people. So weird.

Anyway, I've been working on bunches of stuff. Nothing particularly amazing - just little baby steps here and there.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Days Fly By

Last week of February, and GOOD RIDDANCE. Thank goodness the month has pretty much just flown by. That's been handy.

I've pretty much spent the month doing the same few things - not following my diet, pottery, sewing on the yo-yo quilt, and watching TV. I like to think that the lack of variety is helping to speed the time along.

The quilt grows. I've watched my way through Mr. Selfridge, Cranford, The Last Enemy, a bit of Miss Marple, Penelope, Wayne's World, Bill and Ted, and The Hobbit. All things Monty Python is slated for this week, as trivia at City Park Grill will be along that theme on Sunday. (I lost tonight, so I got to pick the topic. How was I to know that Maria Von Trapp outlived all of her children? I don't watch the news!)

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Pottery Run-down

I signed up for a "Clay Club" at our local Arts Center in September. I had done some ceramics in high school, and really enjoyed working with clay a lot, but I shied away from anything that was seriously challenging and ended up dropping the class once I was pregnant with Ian, because the clay dust made me feel sick. I never picked it up again until I joined the club this fall.

Turns out....I enjoy working with clay even more now. And apparently I've gained a modicum of maturity over the last twenty-so years, because I went in with the intention of becoming proficient on the potter's wheel, and I've stuck to that goal even though it's probably the most difficult and time-consuming goal I have ever set for myself. THROWING POTTERY IS HARD.

Seriously. So incredibly hard. I mean yeah, even a kid can learn to make functional wheel-thrown pottery...but there's functional and then there's beautiful-light-symmetrical-functional, you know? Turns out, making pretty pottery is something you have to PRACTICE at. It's something you will waste clay on, trying to achieve. I'm not used to having to do either to get to decently proficient, so starting this whole endeavor got VERY frustrating very fast.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pottery Stamps

So, last fall, about when I started taking pottery classes, my friend Tom decided to upgrade his cable-drive rotary tool arsenal. He very very very generously gave me his old set. And stand. And table. And accessory box. Seriously, this was a HUGE gift. Blew me away!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lifetime Achievement Quilt

Ok, so it hasn't been achieved yet. BUT!! I've finally started and made (very very small) headway on that yo-yo quilt that I have wanted for my entire life, from the time my Grandma Marge told me what the heck yo-yos were and how they were made and what you could do with them. Besides make creepy clown dolls.

I had started making yo-yos ages ago, like when Davey or Bobby were babies? Anyway, I found a whole bag of them all gathered up nicely....but not nicely enough. They were pretty lumpy looking and not very perfectly round. I compared them with the couple test ones that I had made using my impulse-purchase Clover Yo-yo Maker (size Large 45mm) and they were a touch too big to be compatible. So I strung them all in a rope on a sturdy thread and gave David a yo-yo lei. It looks pretty stupid. Then I decided to give that yo-yo maker a workout!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Short Update

So....I've been depressed most of the last year. It happens.

I started following the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol diet in July to try to get my unexplainable body pain under control. It works. So far I know that eggs, tomatoes, and potatoes cause me pain, and I have problems with wheat and milk to some degree as well. My weight dropped to 123 lbs when I was following the diet and feeling well, then jumped right up to 145 once I succumbed to the depression and desire for holiday / comfort / sugary foods. The awful pain came back, too. Live and learn. The pain is gone and I'm back down to 130. It's a start.

I started learning how to make pottery in the fall. It makes me happy when it works. I gave a piece of pottery to most of my friends and family for Christmas. I'm in the process of making a set of mugs as a gift for a local restaurant. It's slow going because I chose crappy clay and have to test out how the glazes interact with it. I also have my own potter's wheel at home. It's a good thing.