Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut BrightPad

Well, it happened sooner than I was expecting. I got a Cricut Explore Air 2, and it came with a free Cricut BrightPad from Michaels.

I mentioned in my last blog post that a friend had given me a Cricut Personal, which is basically one of the first electronic Cricuts ever made and that I wanted to buy a Cricut Explore Air 2 eventually, either by my birthday, or by Christmas.

I got an email from Michaels telling me about their new sale, and it said all of the Cricut stuff was on sale, so I clicked their link and discovered the 6″x12″ cutting mats for the Cricut Personal was $5.99 for 2 mats. I told my life partner the next morning that I wanted to go buy a pack of cutting mats and a new blade and on the way he asked how much a new Cricut was and I told him it was on sale and you get a BrightPad, but I don’t want him to buy it for me, and he said “Well, you might as well just get the latest one, I know you want it because you keep telling me what you can do that you can’t do now.”

So, now I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 and a Cricut BrightPad. I’ve been pretty busy making boxes and cards and their matching envelopes. I also bought some vinyl and iron on vinyl from Amazon so I can make more than just things with paper.

One thing to note about the cartridges that I bought from eBay is that if you buy something that has been used, there is a good chance that person has already linked the cartridge to their account, so you will be wasting your money on the cartridge if you are using it with a new Cricut. It will still work on the old Cricut, but if someone has already linked it, you are wasting money. I bought 2 cartridges from eBay, Creative Everyday Cards and Sweet Tooth Boxes. I was able to link Creative Everyday Cards because that one was brand new, but Sweet Tooth Boxes was already linked to someone else’s account, so it’s literally useless to me. Those patterns are available for Cricut Access, which I am using their trial right now and will probably continue to pay for every month, but if I quit using that, I won’t have access to those cut files.

I love my new Cricut Explore Air 2 and Brightpad. I’ve already made a thank you card for the person who gave me the original Cricut, plus I’ve made 2 Easter cards and 2 boxes for chocolate, one of which matches the thank you card.

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Copper Hands

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Carpal tunnel syndrome sucks, I know, I’ve had it for a decade. I got it from crocheting for more than 20 years and doing other crafts. When I found out that I had carpal tunnel syndrome, I was told by the doctor to just stop doing crafts, which was actually harder than you think. Crafting for some people is an addiction, and as far as I know, there are no rehab centers or crafters anonymous meetings in my town. I did manage to stay away from crafting for about 7 or 8 years. I got the bug back a couple of years ago with keychains and opened a Etsy store so I could sell a keychain or a pair of earrings here and there, but it was never meant to be anything big.

Recently there have been people asking for bulk orders. One company asked me to make tassels for their Ensenada bags, and that was an interesting experience. When their bags sold out, they came back for another order, then another, and that was fine because they didn’t order a lot, but it was still painful after so many tassels.

Someone asked me last month if I would be willing to make 100 mini DNA keychains, and I said I could do it, and I don’t mind making 100, but then he raised it to 150, then when he placed his order it was for 200. My hands are in agony, and I’ve only made 80.

Today I called Michael’s craft store and asked them if they had compression gloves for people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and they told me they have the “As Seen On TV” gloves called “Copper Hands.” I saw those at Walgreens, but I didn’t buy them because it says on the back that they are NOT for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Another guy was at Michael’s buying the same exact thing this morning. He told me that he has Carpal Tunnel from crocheting.

When I came home and tried the first glove on, it was so tight that I thought for sure I got the wrong size. I bought L/XL which was the highest size they had. I checked the size chart on the side of the box and my hand was the perfect fit for L/XL, so I knew I had the correct size. I finally got the glove on and put the other glove on. They were very tight, but that’s what compression implies, right?

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They are so tight that the seams are splitting, literally. I’ve only had them one day and I’m already seeing wear and tear. I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to happen.

I am so disappointed in these gloves. Not just because they are splitting at the seams, but because they don’t help me at all. I know, they’re not for carpal tunnel syndrome, but aren’t they supposed to help stop pain? They are so tight that they actually cause pain and my hands go numb. And what the hell is the copper for? Or is that just a gimmick?

I’m just in so much agony and I almost feel defeated. I have 80 out of 200 keychains made. How am I ever going to make 120 more keychains with this much pain? Why the hell did I agree to this?

My Circle of Creativity

I have a My Friendship Bracelet Maker Clipboard and a My Lanyard Maker and the S hook on the My Lanyard Maker broke, so they sent me a new one with a coupon for 30% off anything else, so I bought a My Circle of Creativity. It was $29.99 and with the discount it was $21 with $4 shipping. I wanted to buy it before, but this 30% off coupon was an incentive to go ahead with the purchase.

One reason why I bought the My Circle of Creativity instead of buying the round discs or boards at the craft store was because I wanted to buy a kit that had drawers in it like this does for storing supplies. Also because it spins and you could put the strings around these bobbins.

From what I saw in the videos, you could probably make these bracelets really fast with 2 hands. You grab the top right bobbin with your right hand, the bottom left bobbin with your left hand, and move the right down, the left up and spin the disc and go to the next strands. At least I’m sure I will work up to being that fast eventually.

I’m hoping to make several different things with this. It’s main purpose is to make the Kumihimo friendship bracelets, and I would like to make those, but I also want to take it a step further by making lanyards or shoe laces, or even perhaps making long ropes that I can use to make a belt with the flat friendship bracelet pattern. Wouldn’t that be interesting? I’m sure I could just buy some paracord, but I want to make specific patterns for each color. I think that will definitely make the belt a bit more interesting than any other belt you have in your closet. I may even decide to use the lanyard pattern and weave these ropes into dog leashes, hey I hadn’t thought of that, it just popped into my mind. Someone has asked for that, and now I think I will do that.

See, there is inspiration everywhere. I will definitely have a lot of fun with this thing since I know I will be able to make many different things with it. And I really hope that it is fast, easy and fun and not boring at all. I do get bored easily.

breast cancer awarenessI’ve already been asked to make 3 bracelets for Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this is the perfect thing to make it with. I normally would use My Friendship Bracelet Maker Clipboard and make a flat bracelet, but I want to try making it with this pattern. I think it will look a lot nicer. I am even considering using beads with this pattern instead of just embroidery floss. I don’t have the beads, so perhaps next time, but I do want to make it with beads eventually. I can use this pattern for any of the awareness ribbon patterns, like using red for the ribbon for AIDS awareness.

Anyway, I will be getting this new gadget soon and I cannot wait to make the first Kumihimo bracelet with it. As with any craft item I make, it will probably take a few or more bracelets before I am good at it. Everything takes practice, and practice makes perfect, so wish me some luck.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in 2007 after 20 years of crocheting started to take its toll on my hands. I didn’t just have it in one hand, I have it in both hands. I was given wrist splints to wear at night when I went to bed. I was told I didn’t have to wear them during the day, that they should help me when I sleep. Okay, no problem. I’ve worn them every night since then up until last year when I stopped using my bipap machine for my sleep apnea because I didn’t need it anymore because I had lost 70lbs. Wearing the bipap mask became uncomfortable because suddenly the pressure was too high.

I wore these wrist splints faithfully for 6 years from 2007 to 2013. They did help and last year I started making keychains and opened an Etsy shop. Since then I have added dangle, hoop and stud earrings and hemp and friendship bracelets. I received an order for 8 tassels for a company who makes purses, then they placed another order for 34 tassels and that took a huge toll on my hands. Someone else ordered 60 rainbow keychains. I made 36 of those and had to stop because it was hurting too much. She wanted them for her June wedding which apparently has been pushed back to November. That gives me more time to finish the rest of them, but I’m not quite sure they will follow through with buying them from me. I’ve had several people place a custom order and then not pay for it.

I’ve been working day and night making friendship bracelets over the last week. I really love making things. I don’t know if it is a gift or a curse. A gift that I can make something wonderful out of raw material with just my hands, but a curse that something I love to do can cause so much pain.

The pain is just too much on my hands. I wake up every morning with painfully numb hands and this morning my right hand was still numb for an hour after I woke up, and it was extremely painful. I put my wrist splint on and the pain and numbness eventually went away, but I am going to continue wearing the wrist splint for the rest of the day and perhaps wear it every day and night while I take a rest. I hope that helps.

Here are just a few things that I’ve been making. I am very proud of the hard work that have been doing that is ruining my hands lol.

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I had all these plans for the camouflage bracelets. I bought the different colors to make a red version and a blue version. I also had planned on buying the different shades of brown to make a brown one. People have suggested I go with a complete rainbow and make orange, yellow and purple camouflage bracelets. I can’t see that happening now.

The rainbow braid bracelet on the bottom is actually a bracelet I wanted to make for a very long time for a specific person. I actually wanted to make 2 of them, and I made this yesterday and last night I started a second one. I listed it just because it was very easy to make and if someone ordered it, well I could make another one. But now I’m not so sure about that. I do still plan on giving this one and the other one away to the specific people just because I like to give people gifts.

Well, that’s all for now I guess. Today is the first day of my new vacation from crafting. I love what I do, so I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to stay away from it. It’s addicting for sure lol. I will try though, because my hands are more important to me than making something that no one will appreciate or even buy even though they asked for it.

New Toys/Tools

rainbow friendship bracelet

I have been making keychains for my Etsy shop for nearly a year now.  I have many different types of jewelry for sale, like stud earrings, hoop earrings, heart-shaped hoop earrings, hemp bracelets, hemp chokers, beaded necklaces and then the many different styles of lanyard keychains.

The one thing that I have wanted to make is something that I learned when I was 17 years old when I was homeless believe it or not.  I was actually staying with a friend and her family and my friend’s sister taught me how to make these.  I bought a few skeins of the embroidery floss, which by the way I still have.  Unfortunately, this style you see in the picture was the only thing that I learned to make oh so many years ago.

This style isn’t what I will be making for my Etsy shop, perhaps it will be many months before I even list anything because I want to learn to make the bracelets so they look a bit more professional than something I threw together.  If I’m going to ask people to pay me money for them, I want them to get their moneys worth.

I bought the “My Friendship Bracelet Maker” and the “My Lanyard Maker” from MyFBM.com.

Okay so these are just a few of the patterns that I want to make and sell on Etsy.  “Just a few.”

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I have already started making bracelets.  It is a huge learning process and takes lots of patience and practice, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Here are just a few of the things I have made so far.

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The pink one on the left is the zipper pattern which I made with the My Lanyard Maker.  That is the main reason I bought that one.  I know how to make the keychains without the toy, and perhaps I may make keychains with it in the future, but I personally feel it’s a lot faster to make them by hand.  I mainly wanted to use that one for making the lanyards that are like necklaces as well as bracelets.  It is difficult to do those by hand because if you let go of it once, it will unravel.  You have to keep making it until it’s finished if you do it by hand which I can’t do with my carpal tunnel syndrome.  I have to constantly put the project down and shake my hands out because they get numb.  I do love the zipper pattern and I used the gimp that is more like spaghetti noodles rather than the flat, but I was asked to make that pattern using the flat kind, so I will find out if that even works.

The one in the middle which is still on the “My Friendship Bracelet Maker” is a work in progress, but nearly finished.  I made the one next to it that is missing the purple first because this thing only has 10 slots and if I used all 6 colors, I would need 12 slots.  Well, it looks okay, but I’d rather have all 6 colors.  I am still going to give the one that is missing the purple away as a gift though.  But you can see how loose that is compared to the one with the purple in it, and the reason for that is that I wasn’t making them tight enough.  I was doing the knots, but I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I was just trying to make it.  That one took me 2 hours to make, the one I am currently working on has taken twice as long and it’s not even halfway done.  I think perfection takes longer lol.  I do like it to be as tight as it can be.

The one on the far right is the BFF Mini Heart pattern.  I chose that pattern because it was in the beginners patterns and I loved how it looked.  I failed miserably in the beginning stages, you can’t see it but the first 3 hearts are a mangled mess because I didn’t quite understand the directions, but once I figured it out, it got better.  It was as loose as the rainbow one that was missing the purple up until the middle when I started paying more attention to how tight I was making it.  I would love to make another one to see if I can make a better one, but I’m thinking one with pink and black instead.  I think that would look cool.

Anyway, like I said, it may take months before I list anything because I want to learn as much as I can.  I have a bucket filled with beads which I can use to with these bracelets.  I also have a LOT, and I mean a lot of embroidery floss that I can use to make these bracelets with.  I’ve held onto all that floss just in case the day ever came that I might want to use them, and that day has finally come.

I’m not a one trick pony after all

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I have been playing around with my lanyard (or gimp) material a lot over the last week.  I thought there were only 2 styles, the square and the round.  Well, a friend told me on Facebook to try the triangle pattern which uses 3 colors.  I never even knew it was possible to use not just 3 colors, but only 3 strands.  She sent me to “Laneyards” on YouTube and I’ve been watching a lot of his videos and have discovered so many different patterns that I never even knew existed until now.

So I put all of the images on my crafts page in the Lanyard Keychains section.  I made some keychains with the Mega Lace, I made a pretzel, I made a long wall stitch with the Mega Lace, there are some imperfections in it because I had to add more of the clear gimp because I didn’t have enough, but it doesn’t matter because it was just for practice.  Then today I just added the ones you see in this post.  The one on the bottom is the brick stitch in a circular pattern and the one above that is the wall stitch in a circular pattern.  Of course they were just practice.  They are small because I used scrap gimp to make them.  I’m out of all of my gimp now so if I want to make more, I’ll have to take a trip to Michael’s, which I will do tomorrow.

I never knew I had it in me.  I really think these are so cool.  Of course, I don’t know what I’m going to do with any of them lol.  My next trick will be a rainbow wall in a circular pattern.  I honestly don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I’m going to try it anyway.

I am also going to make many awareness ribbons for many causes that I support.  There are too many to list, and most likely I will have a keychain of only cause ribbons that I won’t be able to keep on my keychain, because if I did, they’d never fit in my pocket lol.  Of course I can put one on my keychain at a time during that awareness month.  Either way, I’m going to be very busy making lots of ribbons with the simple circular stitch, bending it to make a circle, then attaching it to the other side to make it into a ribbon, then continuing with a few more stitches to finish it off.

My hands seem to be doing fine with the stretching and pulling of the gimp.  I had to stop crocheting after 20+ years because of my carpal tunnel syndrome, so perhaps if I can make these keychains, I might be able to crochet again.  Maybe… we’ll see.

Glass and Clay Beads by madebyhippies on Etsy

via View Glass and Clay Beads by madebyhippies on Etsy.

I’ve been chatting with Erik Granström from the Made by Hippies website who told me about these Rastaman beads for making the hemp bracelets and necklaces with. You know I never even thought about using these kind of beads. I had just assumed that the best beads to use were those wood beads.

This gives me a good idea on what kind of jewelry I could make as Christmas presents this year. He also told me about mixing in color hemp but it occurred to me that I have tons of embroidery floss from when I was 17 years old when I learned how to make friendship bracelets. I’ve been buying so many of them that I had to buy an organizer to store them in and I don’t even use them.

So, when I start making bracelets again I’m going to make them a bit more interesting.

They sell those beads by the way in that link at the top so if you are interested in buying cool rastaman beads for your projects go and click. They also have some cool salt and pepper shakers too. All of those things are one of a kind, you can’t find them anywhere else.