Every year I think about all the things I’m happy and thankful for, and try to keep in mind I should keep doing those things next year, since they worked. I also try to think of one or two things to do for the next year to make things easier or generally better for myself. Last year I wrote this on an index card and taped it above my calendar:

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That calendar in the middle of the kitchen is a happy thing. Everything is at a glance so I don't have to remember all of it. whew!

which turned out to be very good advice. I stopped worrying so much about finishing WIPs and had more fun actually making things, regardless of when I finished them. I also stopped worrying so much about how often I exercised, and instead worked on eating better all the time and getting exercise when I had the chance. It’s not what I want to do, I want to be able to go for a run anytime, or a ride, or have delicious healthy food all the time, but that’s not realistic. I’m much better about eating better, but I could do…better. (maybe find my thesaurus too)

UNO: So my first goal for 2015 is to cut down on fast food. Like when I’m working and need something quick, or I’m craving the dreaded delicious cheeseburger. Or when it’s been a long day and pizza is just easier than forgetting dinner again. I have a freezer full of ready to make crockpot meals (that can also be cooked in my super cool covered baker in the microwave), not to mention frozen veggies and fruit for quick sides and smoothies for breakfast. If I can eat the food we have at home, I’ll be able to experiment more with fun lunches (and use those bento boxes!) for myself, save money, and everyone eats healthier. I’m the one in charge of groceries and food consumption, so if I eat better, so do they. Win-win. Of course, consuming less gluten will also be high on this list. Luckily for me, fast food tends to go hand-in-hand with bread and I already cut it out at home.

DOS: My next goal is to really make an effort speaking Spanish. I tried it last week while doing some inspections, and guess what? Everyone was super helpful and we had fun being bilingual together. They seemed surprised I knew as much conversational Spanish as I do, and so was I, honestly. I started learning in 7th grade, all the way to college. I never had many people to speak it to though, but I can read it and understand it very well. It’s mostly a matter of confidence, so I’m throwing that out and giving it a go. A good friend from high school learned to speak fluently only because he was the only one in his office at the time that could speak more than 5 words in Spanish, so at his call center all of the Spanish speakers were sent to him. He was nervous but said absolute every one of his callers were helpful and that’s how he learned. Being truly bilingual has always been a dream of mine, so this is the time to get going on that. I love this state, it’s cultures, and especially the languages. If I can master Spanish, I may try for German someday.

TRÈS: And the third and final goal, perhaps the easiest and definitely the most fun, will be the Year of the Cross Stitch! It’s my favorite craft, so I’m going to dive into it again. Cross stitch is heavy on the prep work, but if I can knit as much as I do, I figure I can stitch one or two x-s here and there. I celebrated my decision by starting Clipper Ship Voyager (Dimensions #3886). I’ve loved this forever! I barely got it organized yesterday, so I have yet to start actually stitching. I hope to get to that today after we rake the leaves in the front yard, then decorate the yard. We haven’t done that before but my 3yo is insistent, and boy is he persistent too. ;-)

So how am I starting these lofty but achievable goals? I have only been out to fast food twice in the last two weeks. We like to run errands on Saturdays and get lunch (all four of us) and Freddy’s Steakburgers is a favorite. I tell you, that special family burger was really good, not just because Freddy’s is awesome, but because it was the only cheeseburger I’d had all week. Yesterday we met friends at a local diner joint (Ironwood Kitchen) and I had some seriously yummy tacos. Yay for homemade salsa!! I have a brick of frozen spanish rice with hamburger for the crockpot tonight.
I spoke quite a bit of Spanish at my sites on Friday and had a great time. I learned a couple new words too. My favorite phrase right now is “Perdi mi pluma” which is “I lost my pen”. I do that a lot, lol.
And I’m planning on getting the yard done after hitting “publish”, then watching movies with the little guys and stitching all afternoon. Sounds like the start of a very good year.

P.S. This post needs more pictures. Este post necesita màs fotos.

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New doily for funsies, step one of four.

(This is a free pattern from Nancy Tracy on her site www.be-stitched.com btw)

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A pretty bookmark I made last month with new thread. I love adding charms to bookmarks.

Shuttles are so easy to collect. They are exactly like knitting needles and pens in that respect; before you know it you have a box full! I have seen a lot of organizing ideas for tatting stuff, and one of them is those little drawstring bags with a bunch of pockets. We got those in our welcome boxes at NMT in the dorm…I knew I had at least one of them somewhere…I remember they were popular back then. It had little bottles of shampoo/soap/perfume samples/etc. (Side note-I’m still hooked on Cool Water. It smells like memories.)
Hey I found it!

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I wanted to find this because I scored a few more shuttles this week. My neighbor and his retired US Marine friend went antiquiing and offered to find some for me. They ended up finding a bunch, and got a good deal for the whole bag. That’s the second time I got a deal on a bag of shuttles…must not be a big demand for those. ;-)
He brought back three plastic ones marked “Gloria” (four actually, but one was broken right in half, I threw that one away.), a Bakelite shuttle (maybe? I think it’s the large black shuttle), and a big plastic one (that needs to be cleaned, I swear those are teeth marks on there…maybe someone had an adventurous puppy). I had everything kind of crammed in a basket in my thread box. Not the best organizing skillz.

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There were some shuttles in bags and in the silver tin. Bits of tatting mistakes are in the M&M tin for reference. Oh! See that cool spool of thread? That was an empty wooden spool that I wind leftovers on. The leftovers are great for sashiko embroidery and they look pretty on a wooden spool, lol.
Here are my shuttles (the ones not in use and the ones scored from antique stores).

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OK, so the big fat Starlight shuttle isn’t antique, but I grabbed it on sale at a hobby store last summer. It’s big so you can put beads on the thread. I’ll try that eventually…I have some super cool beaded dragon patterns to try once I mast the split ring/split chain technique. The shuttle beneath the red one is a Detach-A-Spool that I do use, it’s sturdy and I love the sharp pick. The one below that is a Just-Rite, and it’s very cool, but it felt awfully fragile when I used it, so it’s retired now. I would hate to break it! The three Gloria shuttle are in the middle top, with the toothy plastic one, and what was told is Bakelite. Bakelite is so cool! The rest on the right are my extra Boye shuttles. Classics, them. About 2-3 of them are in good shape but the others need to be cleaned and polished. Someone somewhere wrote on them with either a wax pencil or *gasp* a Sharpie so I need to get that off. ~Sigh~ The brown Gloria shuttle was scotch taped (like the old yellowed kind) to the broken shuttle, so now it has 20+ year old tape residue on it. Blech. Orange oil should get that off, plus the markings. We’ll see! Some weekend when I have time I’ll go through them and clean them all up, hopefully with before and after pictures. I love before and after pictures.
I put them in the cute bag:

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Big Red wouldn't let the bag close, so I put it back in the basket with the beads. They're friends so it made sense to keep them together.

I kept the rough ones in a small plastic bag and grouped the Glorias together. (now I have the GLOREE-AH! GLOREE-AH! song in my head)
And a shot of my thread box, better organized:

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Note toddler pj legs on the left.

Those bits in the basket are actually finished projects I need to block. There is some pretty blue edging from one of the usable shuttles in there too, that some long ago crafter made. And of course you might be asking, “If those are the shuttles you aren’t using, where are the shuttles you are using?” (I know Beth is wondering that)

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so many pretties so little time....

Going clockwise from the top center: The Twirls Autumn-something might become a neat square motif bookmark with a charm (on top of the ball), the grapey edging is for a pillowcase (the Starlit shuttle from Handy Hands is amazing!), the Twirlz purple stuff is the mask (I’m finally on the outer row. It’s another one where I’m writing out the pattern in US terms as I go) with the Dymondwood shuttle, two Clover shuttles for practicing split rings and chains, and another Detach-A-Spool with a Twirlz Patriotic sample. I’m using the same pattern as the edging, but making it into a bookmark.
It was a lot of fun to think about my neighbor and his friend asking about “lace tatting shuttles”. ;-)

Some thoughts on how old these shuttles are:
Boye:  Some of these are all marked “BOYE IMPROVED MORE THREAD-LESS KNOTS” with “PAT. APR. 17, ’23” around the center. I have four  of these, they were manufactured up to 1947, so these are pretty old! The others are marked “TATTING SHUTTLE MADE IN U.S.A. THE BOYE NEEDLE CO.CHICAGO”. That dates them to around the mid to late 20th century. The current Boye’s have a straight label, these are curved along the edge. They are very common in the stores I’ve visited and I own a few of them.
Celluloid: I’m pretty sure the unmarked toothy cream colored shuttle is a celluloid shuttle. I suppose it could be Bakelite, but it doesn’t feel like it. Bakelite is a little hefty, light but strong. This just feels like plain old plastic. It’s pretty beat up and almost looks handmade.
Detach-A-Spool: I have two of these, both marked “Detach-A-Spool PAT.APPL’DFOR”, which I think dates them to around he 1920s? But I have read that they were made by a different company into the ’40s as well. These are in great condition, so I’m leaning towards the ’40s.
Gloria: Produced by McCoy & Jones Co. I have a white, tortoiseshell imitation, and black. They are the smaller size without a pick. Marked “Trade Gloria Mark”. The tortoise shell imitation is bent open a bit, I wonder if a previous owner put too much thread on it. I can’t use it in this condition but I’m chuffed to have three Glorias in different colors! They came in ivory but I don’t;t think mine is real ivory, whew.
Just-Rite: Marked “Justrite PAT APPLIED FOR”. Dates to around 1940s. I have one of these.
Pumpkinseed: I have a feeling this is not Bakelite, but rather a “Pumpkinseed” shuttle produced around the 1920s (?). I can’t find a lot of information about them. It looks exactly like the pics I did find online, though, it’s even the right color. It’s a little larger than the others. It doesn’t look like the pictures of Bakelite shuttles I found. Oh well. The quest goes on!
All the rest are modern, either Clover brand or Handy Hands except for the Dymondwood and the bone shuttle from Hobby Lobby. All the older shuttles were purchased in bags, except for the Just Rite.

I’m still on the lookout for interesting shuttles wherever I can find them. ;-) I’m going to have to find a book about shuttle collecting for more info on these and any more I find. I love the history of an old crafty item-I just know someone used this before me and it feels like I’m adding my own history to it with every project.

I haven’t finished anything yet. But I found a little bag at Hancock Fabrics, it was on sale for under $5 so I grabbed it. It fits my tatting perfectly! I went ahead and sewed along the edge (on the crappy bias tape) to strengthen it a little. You can see I have stuffed all my WIPs except the Epic Doily in there! Sweet! I’m having so much fun.

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And a quick look at a cool keychain/chatelaine I made for tatting. I’m going for an Wonderland theme. I’d love to find a dragon charm, or something similar, for the Jabberwocky. It needs a cheshire cat too! Maybe a picot gauge?

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I dragged out Man’s Best Friend by Dimensions again. I read some neat sites and articles about different stitching methods to make it easier to transition between lots of color changes, as well as make it easier to count stitches as you go along. Normally, I will start in the dead center of the pattern and go from there, counting little sets of stitches as i go; it is fairly random and tedious. But one method I’m going to try is splitting up the pattern into columns that are 10 stitches across and use another method called “parking”. Parking is when someone is using lots of colors, but instead of stopping/securing an old color then rethreading a new color, the colors are all left on the piece and parked for later. Some people use multiple needles (one for each parked thread) and others use one needle. I have a wall of half stitches to do after finishing this section, so I think I’ll go for both of those methods. I won’t have to count so diligently and go cross eyed keeping all those greens in order. I hope it goes as quickly as those articles said it would! Here is my progress so far, I need to fill in that little white area with dark green, then I might backstitch the dog and grass. I have some french knot snowflakes to do too, but since those are delicate, I may wait until the end. It sounds fun to add the snow last and then see the scene really come to life! I want to backstitch each section (there are four) as I finish them. I think it will go by faster and encourage me to finish.

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I love labrador retreivers

I spent too much time on the forest background. I was stitching the half stitches (with the recommended 5 strands of floss! That’s twice as thick as the usual 2 strands! So that is tiring in itself) In a bad way, so I was wasting a lot of thread. No big deal because Dimensions will replace it if I need to order some. You can see on the back where I was using too much thread, then where I tried a different way. It’s slower going but much more effective. I also broke down and bought a hoop big enough for the whole thing and having that extra fabric tension is really helping. Whew! This project turned out harder than I expected, but now that I changed my game plan it is going well. Normally I don’t use hoops/frames at all.
More soon! I’ll post more pics of parking and columns when I get to it.

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P.S. For reference, this is what it will look like when I’m done:

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So I’m head over heels into this tatting gig. I’ve made a few bookmarks, played with different thicknesses of thread, and bought a ton of stuff to play with! Whee! I have five shuttles already (oh boy) and lots of thread (not counting the size 10 DMC Cebelia doily stuff I already have) and even a tiny hook for joining picots (the little loops). Hobby Lobby has some tatting stuff, like books, thread, etc, while most craft stores only had the Clover shuttles, if anything. Handy Hands and Be-Stitched are the nicest sites that I found so far. HH is by far my new favorite site and I need to stay away for awhile, lol.

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Shuttles are plastic Clover (used together), bone (what kind of bone?? This keeps me up at night…I like to pretend it’s dragon or chupacabra, but let’s be honest it’s probably pig or cow), plastic Moonlit (HH) with a tiny hook (fantastic idea), and my Dymondwood shuttle (also from HH). I splurged on that one…just look at those stripes! (heart) I even have a couple thread holders. They’re awesome. I can knock them off the table and they keep everything neat and clean and wound. You can really see the difference in thread weight here too. The size 20 threads are in the top left corner and the green edging. My favorite size 10 is the one on the right (that’s half of a heart right now), and the massive size 3 is on the bottom, soon to be a bookmark. I’m using the sample HH sent so I hope I have enough! I’ll improvise if not. ;-)

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I’m making more bookmarks and a couple edgings for hankerchiefs. My friend bought me the bone shuttle and the green holder, so she gets a green edged hanky. Everyone needs hankies, in my opinion. I’ve embroidered them before and now, by gum, I can put pretty edges on them!!

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Most of the thread is Lizbeth from HH, those variegations are so very cool. If I know you, and you read this blog, I will make you a bookmark! Whee! Just comment about it and I’ll get one for you (eventually). This is a neat hobby because it doesn’t pretend to be useful. It’s just relaxing and pretty. I did some more research and learned how to fix mistakes by just cutting them out, and how to add more thread withouthaving the ends show. It’s so much like crochet, but not. Easier, really. And the cutting the mistakes out? Not near as scary as I thought they would be, in fact, much easier than trying to pick the knots out.
These books have been really helpful to teach myself how to tat. I’m going to learn split rings eventually, but I’m having a lot of fun with the basics now and don’t want to do too much. *cough*notlikewhenilearnedtoknitandcrochet*cough* I haven’t seen anything harder than split rings yet. Whew!
I’m still knitting stuff while watching shows with B. The Hitchhiker scarf for Game of Thrones and a new one, Leila’s Shrug Driftwood Tee, for House of Cards (and everything else). I’ve been crocheting too but it’s for birthday presents, so I’ll post those after I finally send them in the mail. Better late and hand-made than never! ;-)
I totally considered how to attach a thread holder to my purse so that I can bring it with me everywhere. I decided against it.
I just put a rubber band around the holder to keep the shuttle in place, and put it directly in my purse instead. ;-)

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Ha, I get some weird looks with this guy. Kids love it! B says I look like a spider weaving webs. (cool!)