Thursday, April 29, 2010


Well, other than my omitting the little picot on the bottom of the top strand, I've managed to learn to do this.  I'm using fairly large crochet thread so its rather "clunky" as lace goes.  Also, I have not perfected making uniform size picots (the little round circles that pop out)  BUT, on the whole I'm truly enoying myself and am looking forward to the next steps! 

Tatting Helper

This is Stinson - a brand new baby wiener dog puppy who's about a foot long and six inches high and a little bundle of energy.  He was at my friend's house - she's teaching me to tat.  Stinson, I am sure, will eat a lot of thread in his life I'm betting!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ah... Another Project?


A while ago I mentioned I was working on another project (right, as if I need ANOTHER project!)  which involved audio. I have waited to now to tell you about it because two of the projects I was working on are now complete and you will be able to listen to them. 

Now, I will elaborate - in my roundabout way that drives my Mr. crazy.  {being a GUY his eyes roll around in their sockets and his toe goes tap, tap, tap as he waits for me to GET TO THE POINT, lol! - another whole blog topic, no?}  

It starts with my iphone and an app.  For anyone who has been living on a secluded tropical island with no means of communication, an "app" is an application, a program button on your iphone which DOES something.  I found a free app called "audiobooks"  - there are two versions, well three now the ipad is out {in the USA only which is NOT fair!} 


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You can find these apps by searching the itunes store in the apps section. 


At first, I used the free one which will allow you to listen live to FREE audiobooks, the paid version allows you to DOWNLOAD and listen to the audiobooks on demand.  I have spend many enjoyable hours listening to books.  Its wonderful if you are working outdoors or going for a walk, working out or just like to re-invent the days when your Mommy used to read a story to you before you fell asleep. 

I used to read books to my Mr. as we travelled in the summer and this is what inspired me to take up this project.  The books all come from the public domain, meaning they are mostly older books (50 years +) and so they are available to anyone to read and record.  We truly enjoy OLD books so this is perfect for us.  There are all sorts of recordings, everything from poetry to history to the bible and of course, good old stories. 


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When listening to the audiobooks, each chapter is prefaced with an introduction about which is a place where people come together to create FREE audiobooks together, all by volunteering.  Some people do the actual reading of the books while others take care of the projects by listening to the sections when they are complete to make sure there are no deviations from the original text and no mistakes.  Some people oversee the projects coming together and some even create artwork for when someone burns the books to cd! 

But, you do not have to have an app to listen to these books - you can do this right online!  All you have to do is visit the librivox site (click on the graphic above)  and you will see where you can listen - or even learn how to volunteer to read books yourself.  All you need is a nice quiet place (not as easy as it sounds, trust me!) a computer and a good quality microphone.  You can volunteer for chapters of a book, or, later on an entire book solo.  You can also help with other things too. 

So far I've worked on 4 or 5 projects, chapters of projects this is and I think I may try a solo project next.  I've enjoyed doing this - the people there are SO wonderful and helpful (thank you Nadine in particular who "babied" me through two projects now) and they all made it very easy to get set up and freely gave their expertise and critique along the way. 

The reason I'm writing today is because two of the books I was recording were just released and you will be able to listen to, download, whatever!   Here are direct links to the projects I helped in with a brief description:


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I did three chapters on this book. 

After his father’s death Gerard Roylake returns from Germany to take up his inheritance at Trimley Deen. On one evening he meets his childhood friend, Cristel Toller. They fall in love, but there is a crux. A deaf man, called The Lodger is obsessed with Cristel. He invites Gerard to tea with evil intentions… and Gerard accepts the invitation.

The book is written in the first person and tells the story from Gerard's point of view. (Summary by Diana Majlinger)

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And this was my pride and joy project - I think I have about 10 chapters in this one.  By the way for any of you who may not know my name its Barbara Derksen so you will be able to identify me. *grin*  Here's what the story is about.

Sailing adventure with storms, icebergs, shipwrecks, treasure, and the reawakening of a pirate frozen in suspended animation for nearly fifty years (Summary by P. Cunningham)

I hope you will enjoy listening to these stories as much as I had fun recording them!

I understand you can also subscribe to these books via itunes as a podcast but have not figured out exactly how that works.  The iphone app is the very easiest for me as you can simply hit a button an it starts.  The app also has a clever feature which allows you to "sleep" after 15, 30 mins or one hour.

But if you want to listen online you simply click the chapter and listen.  I generally choose the mp3 files.  You will see you can even take an entire book and download it in a zipped file. 

Can you see how wonderful this might be for a shut in  person?  I also know how much I liked hearing those GOOD OLD CLASSICS as a kid - now you can sit and listen to them with your children or grandchildren.  All of the great stories are there - for example I see some by Louisa May Allcott and many other beloved authors of old. 

I have to say the one thing I discovered when I was recording is how hard, how VERY hard it is to find quiet time.  The furnace in our house is fairly loud and even the fridge cycling made more noise than when I wanted so I would have to time my recording in small snippets.  And yes, every single time I thought I had quiet the phone would ring or something would come up. 

Librivox provides information on where you can download FREE audio software from which you can work, I am using the audacity and its pretty straightforward, in fact its given me confidence enough to try new things such as adding a preface to our Pastor's sermon on our church blog!  You can check this out too by clicking the following graphic:


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I would truly appreciate your feedback as all this is new to me!

I have two more projects at on the go and I will post when they come complete.  Please feel free to ask me any questions which come to mind if you decide you might like to volunteer!

Oh, and some favourites we have listened to at librivox ourselves?  (click on the graphics to check them out)

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And any of the books also recorded and narrated by Mark Nelson (you can search by narrator, title, author)

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See - this one has Album Art!

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This was the very first book that my Mr. and I listened too and it was simply grand!  I love the way it was written and it even had my Mr. laughing at times.  I will never forget a part in there about when the main character talks about the snowflakes catching on the eyelashes of the girl he comes to love.  Soooooo romantic. 

And this is why, if you have been missing me lately, that I have not been around much.  Between this project, school, learning to tat, to weave, yardwork and church well, there's not much time in between?   

I hope you all have a wonderful day - and I would love your feedback about the audiobooks - they have been a true blessing to me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's An Inkle?

It's a small loom!

My friend Marie and I set aside a day last week (an amazing thing in these busy times) and she taught me yet another new hobby.

This is a small loom called an Inkle Loom - her husband built two, one for her and she chose to give the other to me. Roger is very gifted in working with wood and always has some practical project on the go. He does very fine work,

Marie was extremely patient with me as we got the loom set up. I kept getting the anchor threads looped the wrong way but she eventually sorted me out.

Once I got going it proved to be quite easy. This loom will allow me to make things like belts and straps which could also be joined for larger projects. I look forward to playing around with it more... once I get my tatting nailed down.

Speaking of tatting, I have added a link in my sidebar to Krystle's tatting blog - she's posted more photos of the shuttlebird's tatting days if you would like to see!

Back to my day with Marie. Marie has been working with a local Spinning and Weaving group for at least a year now. She began this because she has alpaca and wanted to learn to spin the wool. Here are some of the projects she's made - not all are with alpaca wool.

I love this 'felted' tea cozy, this is made with alpaca.

This is a hat - alpaca.

This photo does not do this tangerine coloured scarf justice!

This is a very clever 'mobius' scarf, knitted with a twist in the pattern - it can be looped and worn in many different ways.

I was especially take with this collar type item. It was knitted with alpaca wool. It's so soft and supple - the wool is very insulating. Impressive knits, no?

And after a yummy lunch we went outside and visited the 'critters'

Having a chat!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Weekend Photos and "Firsts" of Spring 2010

Yes, I've been tatting away since my last post and learning loads but I do have some burning questions.  Lucky for me, I've been put in touch with a local "tatter".  I'll keep you posted!

I promised to post some photos of our trip down to Spokane and without further ado:


We camped at Riverside State Park in Spokane - this was a funky peace sign alongside the trail.  There was an osprey in a nest nearby - that bird squawked the entire time, and we could hear it from morning till night even over the roar of the river.  There is a very extensive trail system along the river, a great place to visit.  It was nice being sort of "in" the city, yet still have that wilderness feeling. 

I did not really start to take pictures until we were on the the trip back home.

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A quaint roadside scene near Hunters, Washington. 

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A free ferry near Gifford, Washington - takes you across Lake Roosevelt where you are able to drive up that side of the lake if you wish.  Both sides would be just as scenic.

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I LOVE when the balsam root flowers are in bloom - they were out in full!

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First butterfly of the year.  Almost the same pretty blue as the water and sky.

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Just one of many roadside picnic areas along Lake Roosevelt.  We found a few absolutely wonderful campsites which we plan on returning to in the future.  We hand it to you Americans - you definitely have beautiful camping facilities - we have always had such positive camping experiences in the States.

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My handsome chef.  See, this is another thing we enjoy in the USA which we do NOT see here in Canada.  The grill - we do not have these in Canada... at all in BC at any rate, that we have seen.  Sad to say but if you vacationed here you would not find any of these in which to cook a bbq lunch.  The nearest you would come is if you rented a campsite (they are going up $5 this year - which will make our local Hayne's Point Provincial Park a hefty $35 a night!!!  With our dollar at par to the USA that's too steep for some people)  The campsites which we checked out along our Washington weekend were an unbelievable $10 a night!  What can I say.

And now, here are a few photos which I've taken to mark the signs of our early spring 2010.

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Morel mushroom.


Mystery mushroom - do YOU know what this might be?

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Pink Lady Apple Blossoms

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Crabapple Blossoms

Now, for some information to save you $$$ (fellow Canadians) I signed up at this site  coupons - they can really save you money.  I absolutely love the Pledge Multisurface cleaner and I got a two-for-one coupon.  Click on the website picture to be taken to the coupons!

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I will blog again in the next few days as I find myself in the rare position of having more to blog about than I can fit (or you should have to read) in one post!  I visited a dear friend the other day and she introduced me to yet ANOTHER hobby - as if I don't have enough to do already haha!  It was a fabulous day together and I can't wait to share it with you. I also will be coming to visit YOU at your blog too, hopefully in the next few days. *wink*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Smitten With - TATTING!

Some time ago a friend who attends the Learning Centre showed me a tatting shuttle she had "inherited" from an Aunt - and upon that shuttle were a string of sweet little daisies on a chain and I was instantly smitten.  They were so cute and perfectly symmetrical and I had visions of what a beautiful element they would be to add onto greeting cards.  So, I went in search of shuttles and information.

My search for information was very simple - there are many great resources on youtube and instructional sites, but my search for shuttles, for the first three weeks was entirely fruitless!  Though tatting is enjoying a resurgence its still not mainstream and unless one had a granny/aunt or looked in vintage shops it was difficult to find one.  I'd about given up, having put feelers out to many different people for me as well when all of a sudden shuttles started turning up.  It was generally via a "friend of an aunt" or something like that - and the thrift stores would "mine" some of their elderly lady contacts and they would go looking in a closet or storage and lo and behold shuttles began to come out of the dark.  I now have something like 9.  I have two metal vintage ones, several plastic long ones and even a few inexpensive ones it turns out that WalMart sells for very inexpensive.

Well, now (this is something like three months ago) that I had gathered the supplies, as crochet thread is suitable and plentiful and cheap, I now began to 'tat' using the resources I had available.

I only ever managed to get a few rings and picots done and then I would not be able to proceed.  I suspected there was always the elusive little bit of vital information and I never got past a few rings.  I had piles and piles and PILES of thread all over the house.  I agonized and spent countless hours hunched over my work, but there was always "something missing"

I asked all round our local area but could not find anyone who tats.  I even had some wonderful people offer to try to help me via email but I knew I had to SEE it, to GET it.

Then my friend Melanie found me a chit from a bulletin board just across the border and it had not only a website, but information on an entire Tatting Workshop!  My sweet husband, who speaks my love language signed me up for one day of beginner classes  and that's where you would have found me this past weekend.
The workshop was themed - "Sand and Sea" and took place in Spokane, Washington.  I'd estimate there were about 70-80 people and many vendors.  It was hosted by the Shuttlebirds, a Tatting group and they did an EXCELLENT job of it.  Very professional while at the same time fun and friendly.  Here are some photos and details from this weekend.  I will begin with some of the gorgeous work on display so you get a sense of what tatting is.  The Tatting Days and Workshop was put on by the Shuttlebirds Tatting Guild.

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Most of you will recognise tatting for the fabulous doilies and tablecloths which tatting creates.  Looking at work like this sets my head to spinning trying to imagine the hours it took to create it! 

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Beautiful, colourful, intricate.

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A beautiful cross bookmark.

And along with the Sea and Sand theme there were displays which tatters had challenged themselves to come up with items reflecting that thought (which we got to vote on our favorite!)

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I thought these to be stunning - tatted versions of shells!

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Saucy little seahorses.

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And a whole fishing net full of treasures.  Amazing!

And tatting is not confined to 2-D, here are some wonderful examples of 3-D items:

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A tatted rose.

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A whole tatted pot of flowers (very tiny, this is probably 3 inches high)

And beads can be worked into tatting to make jewellery:


Some people even tat using wire.  One can make earrings, bracelets etc.

Now, about the convention - as I mentioned there were about 70 people there (will confirm this in the future) and the ages, though most were older women, there was one man and a few young ladies.

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This is Krystal - the photo does her no justice, and I did have a video which I somehow managed to corrupt *sigh*  She's already been tatting for about 5 years.  You can visit Krystle's blog site HERE.


Here she has tatted around rhinestones for her necklace and bracelet.

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And also decorated her flip flops - how clever!

Some people are so passionate about their tatting ...

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(Those are shuttles on the socks)

My Mr. had booked me in for breakfast and lunch (he even hung in at breakfast with me to get me over being shy) and here are a few shots of this:

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As you can see, there are little 'boxes' on the tables and flip-flops decorated with shells going along with the Sand and Sea theme.

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The 'box' is a fold up, made of wallpaper which when folded out is made to hold your ball of thread from rolling away on you.  Good idea!  There were an assortment of goodies inside from all the vendors, really lovely items.  This was the lunch time ones.


This was what we were given on the breakfast table.  I was so impressed - the vendors really did give away a lot of stuff to us!  The breakfast and lunch were very tasty indeed!

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This is Lois - instructor for my beginner's class.  An icon of patience, she had five of us and though there were some tense moments (really, who could know mere threads could reduce one to frazzledness!)  she saw us all through to not only knowing the basics of double stitches, chains, working with two shuttles, but also to begin our own first project and also dispensing a whole lot of wonderful advice as well.

Here are some random photos from the class.

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Shuttle and threads ready to go.

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Getting the shuttles set up to do a "chain"

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Its SO helpful to have a real person show you how the threads should be etc!

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Debbie helped me choose out some good supplies for my first projects - you might like to check out her website to find out more about tatting and if you are smitten today, order the basics.  Tatting really is inexpensive, portable and beautiful!

It was so rewarding, I learned exactly what I had been doing wrong. I have a looooong way to go but have a good start.  I even won a few door prizes which had those next to me ooohing and ahhhhing! 


This lovely wooden shuttle crafted by David Reed Smith

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And these embroidery scissors as well.

And so it was a successful workshop indeed and I look forward to returning next year.  I have been tatting ever since, between other things and here are some samples of what I've been practicing at.

My First Project - A Simple Bookmark

As my instructor Lois told me, and I totally agree with her, one day I will look back and laugh at this poor effort!   But the point is - I DID it! 


This is my latest effort - this is SO teensy, these rings measure probably 1.5 inches across at the widest point.  Very delicate and ambitious but I am up to the challenge - I'll keep you "posted" (pun intended)

The trip to and from the convention is a whole other story - I will post on that next.

In case you might decide to try it yourself, here's a simple basic instruction video to give you a sense of what tatting is:

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