Tree Branch Earrings - For Sale!!!

I'm very proud to finally offer for sale my Tree Branch earrings! It's taken me much longer to get my act together and build a little inventory than I'd hoped; but I'm happy to finally be ready!

Tree Branch Earrings - Rose SwarovskiTree Branch earrings are offered in two sizes, small and large (less than 2" long, and longer.) They can be customized with any color beads and wire desired, although I'm still trying to find copper colored ear wires that won't discolor skin. Want multiple bead colors? I can do that, too - as well as multiple bead sizes or styles.

Right now I'm using hypoallergenic and sterling silver ear wires, but other metal findings are available upon request. If you have a question I haven't answered here, feel free to contact me via Etsy, or email (Crafty |NOSPACE| Ginger |AT| Gmail |DOT| com.) Custom orders are always welcome, and I really like working on them!

Eventually I'll also get around to using the tree branch wire concept to include more products, but I don't want to give too much away now and spoil the surprise! LOL I have a bunch of ideas, and even a few prototypes in the works already; so keep an eye out for new products!

Lastly, an apology - I've probably mentioned a little bit too much by now, that I was feeling a bit burned out about my store lately. My tsumami kanzashi snaps weren't selling like I wanted, and no matter what I tried, I couldn't seem to pump up sales. So, I took a little break. A few weeks off
(okaaay... maybe a few more than a few!) to clear my head of all that negative thinking. I think I made the right choice, because I'm feeling much better about my store, and where I want to go with it.

What do you do to clear your head when you're feeling stressed? I like bath bombs, but I've been too busy to make any lately! I finally had to hop on the Lush bandwagon, and order some bath bombs. They're certainly more colorful than mine, but I hate having to scrub the tub afterwards!


"Faux" Rhinebeck Loot

I really liked Karrie's sentiment about those of us who didn't get to go to Rhinebeck this year, she's made a contest just for us, and I've offered to donate a prize! So what should I send her, a pair of Tree Branch earrings, tsumami kanzashi flower set w/cashmere ribbon wristlet - or something else entirely? I was thinking it should be fiber-related, and I do have some very nice yarn that I can't ever see myself using… maybe I'll do that. (I should decide & send it out soon, as I was almost late for this without even realizing it! Uh oh!)

Malabrigo Laceweight - Lavanda

Anyhoo, here's my "faux Rhinebeck haul" -
  • 2 skeins of Knit Picks Shimmer in Turquoise Splendor
  • 2 skeins of Malabrigo Laceweight in Lavanda
  • 1 skein of Handmaiden Big Seacell in Glacier
  • 1 skein of Handmaiden 4-Ply Cashmere in Glacier

Knit Picks Shimmer - Turquoise Splendor

I really like the thought of going through one's stash to find "new" gems to get excited about, rather than buying new every time. I know, I know NOT buy new yarn for each project…. Gasp! LOL It's fun to buy the newest yarns on the market, I've totally fallen in love with both bamboo and Seacell this year; but I think there's something really satisfying about using materials that haven't had a purpose previously. The yarn I'm using on My So Called Scarf was bought more than 5 years ago, and it's just been in a bin, moved around from time to time since then.

Ack! I'll try and get the third photo up tomorrow, I lost the light already!


My Hawaii Cruise - Part II

Volcano Caldera - Wide
The volcano caldera was incredibly beautiful (and remember, it's toxic gas!)

The second half of my Hawaii vacation was just as great as the first! Our third port was Hilo - and we took a helicopter tour out to the lava fields. Not less than 3 people working for the tour company told us how much they'd rather be surfing, swimming or just out that day the weather was so nice. Normally that side of the island gets a lot of rain, but we were lucky enough to get sunny most days, and only partially cloudy the rest - no rain (except for the last couple days at sea, on the way back.)

Volcano Caldera over Macadamia Nut FieldsSo, here's the caldera, the opening that the sulfuric gas seeps out of. Boy, it was hard to photograph because it was such a bright white. I wish I knew more about my camera settings, so that I could've compensated for that more. I got more good shots of the smoke than I thought, though. This one (to the left) is my favorite; we were pretty far out yet, and I got the macadamia nut fields in the foreground with the caldera in the back. They line the nut fields with those taller trees to help break the wind, so they get better crops. I thought they were cool, all square & perfect compared to the rest of nature's organic shapes.

Lake of Lava
Lake of lava, shaded by a very convienent cloud.

River of LavaHere's the lava, and boy was it flowing that day! (We took the tour Sat. Oct 13th.) We got to see lots of red lava, and I even got some good pictures of it! The movement of the helicopter made it difficult, and a few came out blurry - but overall I'm happy with the pictures. We also bought the dvd of our tour, and when we were re-watching it I caught some vulcanologists walking along the active fronts! Talk about scary! (The quality wasn't super great, but I can try and get a screencap if anybody's interested!)

Later that day, we also went to a tropical botanical garden. It had this horrible ramp down into the park, and then back up out (at the beginning and end,) that really did a number on my knees; but I enjoyed the walk around anyway. Thank goodness our tour guide recommended the insect repellent - only my husband got bitten, and it was only once. Mosquitoes love the taste of me, so I was pleasantly surprised to come out unscathed. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous... they came in all sorts of tropical variations, and all colors. The orchids were by far my favorites, although I didn't see any cymbidiums that I recognized.

Botanical Garden - Orchid
Aren't they amazing? I love the confetti spots!

The next day we went to Honolulu, and my wonderful husband found me a fabric store! I just couldn't leave Hawaii without Hawaiian fabric, (and a pattern for my own Hawaiian quilt!) and even though I got a lot, it was so cheap! After that we walked along Waikiki Beach, and it was so nice to walk along the water. The sun was very bright and the tide felt so nice. I'm glad I picked up a new pair of aquatic sandals before we left, I wouldn't have been able to walk so far barefoot - it was fairly rocky with only broken shells and coral.

Waikiki Beach - Diamond Head
Diamond Head over Waikiki Beach.

After that we went to June's Gelato, which tickled me pink since I thought gelato was a mostly European treat. Vanilla bean might sound plain, but it hit the spot after a fairly long walk along the beach. We were in Honolulu until 1AM, but we didn't bother trying to do anything else, I was pretty tired after 5 port days in a row. Normally I like a couple days at sea to recharge a little.

Honolulu Pier
The gelato place was towards the left, and the ship is on the right.

About a day out the sea from Honolulu, we found out there was a medical emergency on the ship, and that we'd have to turn around and go back. Fortunately, the passenger made it to the hospital in Honolulu, and was doing well; but it put us a whole day behind schedule. We charged back over the Pacific, at over 24kts (which is really fast for a giant cruise ship!)

If you're interested, check out my flickr collection for more of my vacation photos! Thanks for looking!


My Hawaii Cruise - Part I

The vacation started out a bit rocky, as we found out at the airport that there was technical problems with the plane we had tickets on, and were put on standby (along with 50 other people.) Then the lady at United's customer service found us flights through Los Angeles to San Diego, so I was relatively relieved. But later, when we got into LAX, we found out that American Eagle's terminal was not connected to the rest, and we'd have to take a shuttle… oy. So we did that, but then my husband realized he'd left his phone at security; so he had to take the shuttle back to the main terminal, pick up his phone, and catch the next shuttle back to me. By then, I was seriously worried that we'd miss the 2:05 flight; but we ended up making it, and got on the ship about 4pm. (Just fyi, if we'd missed that flight there was a good chance we'd miss the ship and have to take the 6+ hour flight to Hawaii to catch up with it.)

San Diego - Sail Away
Sailing out of San Diego.

After all that, it was a pretty great vacation. The seas outside California were particularly rough, but overall I think the Pacific ocean was much calmer than the Atlantic, (I did a transatlantic cruise a couple years back, and it was really rough.) It took 5 days at sea to get to Hawaii, but I'd much rather do it that way than on a plane. Can you tell how I feel about commercial air traffic yet? Heh. I got a new haircut, and my first hot stones massage on the first couple at sea days; and they were awesome. I can't tell you how amazing it was to stare out at the sea while I was stressing about my hair, another story for another day, but sufficed to say my new 'do rocks! (Think Dr. Reed from Scrubs, lots of long layers and long swoopy bangs to the right. I'm a strawberry blonde, though.)

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
My fingers were so-so "coral," this seahorse left me after a minute or so.

We visited Kailua Kona, Hawaii first and went on a tour of a seahorse farm. It was super hot, and I got super sweaty, but it was a really fun experience. The little suckers are so amazing. They sort of fly through the water, like little submarines surfacing and diving with little fins on their back for forward propulsion, they move them really fast, though. I must admit, I've never wanted an aquarium before… but having a seahorse wrapped around my finger made me want one of my own. Both soft and strong, it felt a little strange but cool too! I've heard saltwater tanks are hard to keep up, though. I'll just have to buy Hansi's pattern, I guess!!! (Aren't her patterns incredible!?!?!?!)

Serenade of the Seas, at Sunset
Isn't this a great picture? My husband shot this one of our ship, the Serenade of the Seas.

Later that day we went on an evening cocktail cruise, which was really beautiful. We went up & down the Kona coast at sunset; although my husband and I kept joking about how we'd never get back to the ship in time for departure, it seemed like we were going so slowly on the way back. We were about 20 minutes late getting back, but didn't miss the ship - thank goodness! I should've known better, though - they don't serve very good liquors on those boats, and I really like the top shelf stuff (Chambord, vanilla Absolut, Grey Goose or Ketel One vodkas.)

Lahaina, Maui - Morning
The scenery of Maui was breath-taking!

Next up was Lahaina, Maui and I must admit that I was most taken with the scenery of Maui. Spectacular valleys, slicing through the tallest island I think I've seen… it was simply amazing. We did another tour there, and went to the Iao Needle park, a tropical plantation and the Maui Ocean Center. I have to sadly report that my camera battery died before the Ocean Center, so I don't have any pictures of it; but it was amazing. So many salt water species, we saw tons of different fish, enormous manta rays and a tiger shark, jellyfish, sea turtles, eels and so much more.

Iao Needle Cinder Cone
Iao Needle (on the left,) is a 1,200ft cinder cone, and really stunning if I do say so myself.

Tropical Plantation, MauiI did get a few pictures from the tropical plantation, we took a tram tour there and I got the most amazing plumeria lei. It was so fresh, it really cooled the back of my neck off from the heat of the sun. I'm so glad I got it because I'm really not into the plastic ones. Too cheesy for my taste! Here's a scenic view from the plantation. At the state park we saw kids jumping off from a bridge into a pool below, about 20 feet or so. (I'll try and get that pic in my Flickr set.) The water was so cool & refreshing though, I stuck my feet in at a shallow spot. The path loops around the park, and it's a great mixture of scenic heights and shady paths. It all smelled so incredible, hibiscus and plumeria (and more, I'm sure!)

Lahaina, Maui - Afternoon
Maui in the afternoon, and our killer balcony!

Next up, I'll share the second two ports, Hilo and Honolulu, and the last few San Diego pics. Stay tuned, because we took a helicopter tour over the lava fields, went to a botanical garden and walked along Waikiki beach. (Oh yes, and then there's all that fabric I teased you about, I'll share that, too! :D )

Thanks so much everyone who's been reading & commenting lately, I know I haven't been very crafty (except for knitting,) and I feel rather bad for it. I was so blown away with the amount of quality content in the 2 weeks I was gone; and I must also apologize for not being able to comment on as many as I'd like. After going through almost 500 posts, I just didn't have the energy to hit "post comment" a hundred times. I'm really trying to work on that, and I look forward to stopping by all of your pages to leave you sweet thoughts and kind words. Thanks again!


WIPwed - Nightshade MSCS

I had really high hopes of posting about my vacation today, but I haven't gotten all of the pictures organized yet; and I think it's going to be so long it'll need to be broken up into two posts. Sorry to go all Tarantino after the first Kill Bill on you!

Nightshade My So Called Scarf WIP

So I thought I'd snap a few quickie pics of the progress I've made on My So Called Scarf. I didn't work on it a lot on vacation, but I managed to get it to over a foot. And the colors, oh my… they're working up beautifully. I keep wondering how I let this yarn languish in my stash so long, and the only thing I can come up with it that it was meant for this pattern. Hehehe.

Nightshade My So Called Scarf WIP - DetailJudging from the look of it, I originally thought it would be a fairly complex stitch pattern; but as it turns out - it's actually pretty easy! I just have to be careful not to knit too tightly. The different colors are just interesting enough to keep me going on this one, it's funny how the Knitting Daily emails have started covering "Why UFO's stay UFO's?" It's a very interesting concept, to examine why something I was so excited to start lays languishing on the needles for such a long time. Maybe I should save those thoughts for another day! (This one isn't languishing, but I have several other that are.)


I'm Back!

Whew! After a ridiculously long travel day yesterday, I'm back home from Hawaii. Actually, both travel days were pretty bad, as there was problems both getting to San Diego from Chicago, and back home. I thought getting there was worse, but on the way back we had a medical emergency on the cruise ship, and had to turn back for Honolulu a day after we'd left; and it made appx. 2250 passengers 6 hours late debarking the ship. Truth be told - it was ok, normally they kick us off at some ungodly hour of the morning, but this time we got to stay in our balcony cabin until it was almost time to leave the ship.

Now, I just have to do something about those 465 posts in my rss reader, and about 130 emails. Heh. Oh, and over 800 pictures. I think they definitely call for a larger Flickr account, right now mine will only display the most recent 200. I can't wait to share all of the fun I had on vacation!

ETA: Oops! I almost forgot... I also picked up 15 yds of hawaiian print fabric! And, it was dirt cheap at 2.99$ p/yd. My poor husband carried it all along Waikiki beach for me, isn't that so sweet?!?! I can't wait to start making skirts! LOL


FO - Lilac Everlasting Bagstopper

When I decided that Stargazer wasn't the project to bring with on my vacation, I thought that finishing something that had lain languishing might make me feel good. Boy, I had no idea how good! Even though I'd only let it sit about a month, it was great to get back to work on a reusable shopping bag, especially since I'm sure to do some shopping in Hawaii! (This is the Everlasting Bagstopper from this summer's Knitty.)

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper - Handle Detail

I worked the lace pattern to 12" unstretched instead of 10", and only did 7 rows of garter in the round at the top before binding off. I decided to use an I-cord handle, but wanted it to hold the bag a bit more balanced - in case I want to carry anything larger - so I split it for the 3" closest to the bag. The total strap length is 20" - long enough to put over my shoulder, but short enough so it won't drag on the ground if I carry it in hand.

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper

FO - Everlasting Bagstopper - FoldedIt folds up neatly, and the handle is the perfect length to keep it that way. I'm pretty happy with the finished look, but I hope I don't have any problems with yarn tails poking out. Splicing the second ball of hemp in was the toughest join ever; normally I like to use a Russian join, but it didn't come out looking nearly as neat & clean here as it normally does. Oh, well… I'm off to Hawaii tomorrow! :D


WIPwed - Nightshade My So Called Scarf

After I saw Alice's My So Called Scarf, I knew I had to make one for myself. I had originally thought I'd use a bit of leftover Malabrigo worsted merino; but I had less than one skein and it just didn't feel right for this project.

WIP Nightshade - My So Called Scarf

Then, earlier this week I realized I had the perfect yarn for it in my stash already - Colinette Mezzotint in this awesome nightshade colorway. It's not as soft as the Malabrigo would have been, but I doubt I could ever find a pattern better suited to showing off this yarn's spectacular colors.

Colinette MezzotintSimply put, they're gorgeous! Teals, blues and purples swirl with bits of green and a fair bit of grey mixed in - the finished object will look stunning with my new grey wool peacoat. (I'll try and get a pic of that soon, too - but no promises, I'm gone on Friday!)

Now, I'm flaking on my needle size choice, and wondering if I should frog it and restart with larger needles. I started with 10.5's and now I'm thinking I need to go up to 13's. Hhmmmph.


Yakuza Moon - Review

Between the title and the cover photo, I knew I wanted to read Yakuza Moon when I first read about it on Reuters. The article was brief, but the author's tattoo instantly intrigued me - I had to know more. I picked it up for my upcoming Hawaii vacation, but alas, I couldn't resist it; and ended up finishing it in two days. It's about 190 pages, but it was so compelling I just could not put it down. It was written in Japanese and translated, which makes me wonder if there was contextual or cultural references that might not be apparent; but it didn't make it any less enjoyable. In fact, if anything I'm more intrigued about the author after having read it, in that I want to know more about her present life (as the book is more about her past.)

I'll give one caveat though, it's a fairly graphic representation of her life as the daughter of a yakuza boss. She spares little details about her abusive boyfriends and teenage drug usage, and if that bothers you - this might not be the book for you. For me though, it was a window to a world I had no previous knowledge of. I've never experienced the violence Tendo went through, but I've certainly felt isolated and alone; I've certainly been bullied, and manipulated (though again, not to the same extent.)

No matter who you are, it can be so tough to find who you are and where your happiness is. This book is about Shoko Tendo's search for herself, within the midst of the circumstances she was born into. I'm so glad I read it, and I highly recommend it. I think everybody struggles with their identity, the real tricky part is never letting go of who you are, no matter what that is - and especially no matter what people might say about you.


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