Friday, May 29, 2009

A New Look

We have changed a few things on our website. A new templet color, added a new page, and last we have added a few new items to our shop here on the site.

A Triple Moon Goddess Statue


Alchemist Skull

We have added a few pairs of Earrings in our ArtFire shop!

We have re listed Items in our etsy Shop

Don't Forget in June on the 3rd weekend (fathers day weekend) we will be in Nacagdoches Trade Days. To find out about them check out theire website:

We hope to see you there!

Keep your eyes peeled for more New Items!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pagan Rituals And Wiccan Rituals

The modern usage of the word Paganism is an umbrella term that can include everything from Asatru (worship of Norse gods) to Hellenic (worship of Greek gods) traditions. The word pagan usually refers to a person who has a polytheistic religion; that is, a religion that includes more than one god or goddess. In older times, the word pagan was used to mean a godless person who was only interested in sensual pursuits, which, frankly, doesn't sound like much of an insult to me! The word also had the connotation of unsophisticated, or country dweller, much like our modern words hick or redneck.

I think of modern pagans as being polytheistic, frequently nature based magical practitioners who are not bound by the Wiccan Rede and practice a religion that is not Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Each group of gods and goddesses has different rules, after all.

Wicca, by contrast, is a new religion, originating only fifty or sixty years ago. It is partly based on what earlier generations may have practiced, but many Wiccan traditions step away from history entirely.

Wiccans generally celebrate Sabbats and Esbats, holidays based on seasonal changes. These celebrations as a whole are commonly referred to as the Wheel of the Year. Other terms that differentiate Wicca from Paganism are the Rede and the Rule of Three. The most important part of the Rede is the oft-quoted an it harm none, do what thou wilt, while the Rule of Three is a karmic law that states that all actions of the witch will reflect on him or her with three fold consequences, whether positive or negative.

While Wicca can be included under the umbrella of paganism, there are often differences in the rituals each subset practices. One of the major differences between Wicca and pagans is that a certain group within Paganism devotes much time and energy to reconstruction. This is the study of how ancestral peoples practiced those religions that have survived in one form or another into the modern age, with the goal of keeping modern practice as true to original traditions as possible. Therefore, Hellenic, Celtic, Khemtic and other traditions based on location can have very different rituals from Wiccan, or indeed other pagans.

Just keep in mind that wherever you go to practice, the rituals will vary greatly (sometimes by enormous degrees). It's important to embrace only the practices that you feel comfortable with in any pagan ritual. Because there are so many different forms of practice, you really need to understand what you are getting into before embarking on a journey in any new group of practicing people. It's not surprising that the retention rates of most new people to a group or coven is extremely low. I know that it took me a long time to find people I was comfortable with.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Using Spell Books In The Craft

Keeping one's own spell book, more commonly known as a Book of Shadows, is a common practice in Wicca. It is not hard to see why, as it can be very helpful to keep a Book of Shadows. It is a way to keep all of your spells, rituals, and magical experiences together in one place, which makes for efficient and therefore effective spell casting.

Keeping a Book of Shadows is an opportunity to let your creative side come out, as well. Illustrate the pages, use different colored inks, and include pictures. Write the whole thing in calligraphy if you like, or use black paper with silver ink! Remember, your Book of Shadows is your personal, private habitat, so don't let anything stop you from transforming it in the way that feels best to you.

A Book of Shadows is all well and good, but where does the new witch begin learning spells and ritual? Well, there are plenty of spell books out there to purchase. I recommend reading everything you can get your grubby paws on, and then writing down the spells and rituals that work best for you in your own Book of Shadows. Also write down the spells and rituals you've modified, and the results of those modifications. This way you have everything you need close to hand and in one book, which makes it so you don't have to dig out a number of different books to gain access to the spells you need at any given time.

Some of the spell books I like are Aoumiel's Green Witchcraft, The Mysteries of Isis by DeTraci Regula, and The Druid Animal Oracle. These books are appropriate for the beginning witch as well as the witch who has been practicing for a while.

Aoumiel's Green Witchcraft focuses on nature and herb magic, and can give you some ideas for starting an herb garden. She also explains how she found her Craft Name, which is a very important part of anyone's initial "step" into the world of Magick. She is a witch that comes from a family tradition, and brings that experience to her discussions of nature magic. Her book is also written for the solitary practitioner, but a witch that practices as part of a group can still glean some useful wisdom from Amiouel's writings.

So, as you can see, there are so many different kinds of spell books that you can use to get new spells, and record the results of successful spells that you cast. There are many uses for spell books, and I'd recommend even writing one of your own based on your experiences in the craft.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Joy Of Flower Garden Designs

Choosing a garden style that is right for you is a matter of choice. If you design your entire garden according to a specific style, but sometimes just a few sensibly elements call to mind a style.

Whether you’re trying to select flower garden designs or trying out a new landscaping idea, the right garden plants and accessories will set the mood you’re trying to reach. Landscape design styles come and go, but certain century-old garden styles continue to preserve their attraction.

Any style be it Asian, cottage, formal, and others has its own characteristic details such as particular plants, water features, and materials. Various features are so strongly identified with a specific style that they immediately evoke the proper mood.

Look below at these three lasting and respected garden styles, then incorporate these style elements into your garden design for the look you want.

Cottage Gardens

The informality of cottage garden designs lends them an energy lacking in most garden schemes, none the less the gardens are neither haphazard when the overall design is caringly structured.

These gardens express cheerfulness and zeal for individual plants. Cottage gardens originated centuries ago as modest, fenced-in pieces of land kept by cottagers who cherished wild-collected plant life for its usefulness. Livestock and vegetables, berry bushes, fragrant flowers, and herbs for crafts, cooking, and medicine packed the enclosures.

Asian Gardens

In the Asian tradition, landscape contemplation - in the wild, in a garden, or in a scroll painting serves as a spiritual experience. The Chinese and Japanese usually held sacred the space within a garden and deemed the world outside profane. A number Japanese garden designs offer a rustic landscape and contain wet or dry streams and waterfalls, bordered by ferns, moss, and distorted pines.

Lake and island style gardens, developed in China, influenced Japanese garden designs. Islands symbolized the home of immortal spirits and consisted of carefully placed earthen mounds or jagged rocks set in an imitation pond.

Formal Gardens

While a love of plants or nature inspires cottage and Asian gardens, formal garden designs express the humanistic value of people as the center of the cosmos. A formal garden design looks it’s utmost near a traditional-style home so the garden exaggerates the home’s architecture. Formal garden designs are symmetrical though the main alignment often leads from a specific position near the house (a balcony, front door, a stone terrace) to a focal point further away such as a pavilion, bench or sculpture. By continuing the geometry of the house outdoors, a formal garden layout makes a transition to a wild or informal landscape at the edge of the property. property’s edge.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Your Guide To Organic Gardening

Manufactured solid-sided bins are usually constructed of sheet steel or recycled plastic. In cool climates there is an advantage to tightly constructed plastic walls that retain heat and facilitate decomposition of smaller thermal masses. Precise construction also prevents access by larger vermin and pets.

Mice, on the other hand, are capable of squeezing through amazingly small openings. Promotional materials make composting in pre-manufactured bins seem easy, self-righteously ecological, and effortless. However, there are drawbacks.

It is not possible to readily turn the materials once they've been placed into most composters of this type unless the entire front is removable. Instead, new materials are continuously placed on top while an opening at the bottom permits the gardener to scrape out finished compost in small quantities. Because no turning is involved, this method is called “passive” composting. But to work well, the ingredients must not be too coarse and must be well mixed before loading.

Continuous bin composters generally work fast enough when processing mixtures of readily decomposable materials like kitchen garbage, weeds, grass clippings and some leaves. But if the load contains too much fine grass or other gooey stuff and goes anaerobic, a special compost aerator must be used to loosen it up.

Manufactured passive composters are not very large. Compactness may be an advantage to people with very small yards or who may want to compost on their terrace or porch. But if the C/N of the materials is not favorable, decomposition can take a long, long time and several bins may have to be used in tandem. Unless they are first ground or chopped very finely, larger more resistant materials like corn, Brussels sprouts, sunflower stalks, cabbage stumps, shrub prunings, etc. will "constipate" a top-loading, bottom-discharging composter.

The compost tumbler is a clever method that accelerates decomposition by improving aeration and facilitating frequent turning. A rotating drum holding from eight to eighteen bushels (the larger sizes look like a squat, fat, oversized oil drum) is suspended above the ground, top-loaded with organic matter, and then tumbled every few days for a few weeks until the materials have decomposed. Then the door is opened and finished compost falls out the bottom.

Tumblers have real advantages. Frequent turning greatly increases air supply and accelerates the process. Most tumblers retard moisture loss too because they are made of solid material, either heavy plastic or steel with small air vents. Being suspended above ground makes them immune to vermin and frequent turning makes it impossible for flies to breed.

Tumblers have disadvantages that may not become apparent until a person has used one for awhile. First, although greatly accelerated, composting in them is not instantaneous. Passive bins are continuous processors while (with the exception of one unique design) tumblers are "batch" processors, meaning that they are first loaded and then the entire load is decomposed to finished compost.

What does a person do with newly acquired kitchen garbage and other waste during the two to six weeks that they are tumbling a batch? One handy solution is to buy two tumblers and be filling one while the other is working, but tumblers aren't cheap! The more substantial ones cost $250 to $400 plus freight.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Make A Sweater For Nothing With Free Knitting Patterns And Recycled Yarn

If you have been keeping up with the trend to use free knitting patterns for your knitting projects then you probably have been searching the internet for web sites offering them. It is not just by collecting free knitting patterns that you can save money. You need to look around your house for knitted items that you no longer use. Look at any old sweater and ask yourself if you still like the style, maybe you never really liked it in the first place. Maybe you still love the color or the texture of the yarn. This will probably be a good candidate for re-using the yarn and knitting a whole new sweater using one of those free knitting patterns you have been collecting. I have done this often because I hate to waste money. Once you have made the decision, and the size of the sweater is approximately equal to or larger than the one you will be making from your free knitting pattern, then the decision is's time to re-use the yarn.

The first thing I do is un stitch all around the seams. Take your time and be careful where you cut so you don't keep cutting the pieces of knitting. First you need to find the end where the knitting was cast off, not on, because the way the yarn is knitted, makes it very easy to just pull and unravel each row. It helps if you have a helper with their hands about a foot apart. I have many memories of sitting with my hands apart while my mother wound yarn around them. If you don't have a willing pair of hands then just use the back of a chair to wind the yarn around. If you find that some of the pieces of yarn are short you can just tie the next piece to it and continue on. I usually tie a couple of pieces of yarn loosely around the bundle to stop it tangling. This is the stage you look at it and wonder how you will knit with this crinkly yarn. If you used it this way it would give a bumpy texture to your knitting and could cause problems with your tension.

I have had some success with washing the yarn in bundles (washable yarn only of course). I wash yarn as usual leaving the yarn quite wet. I hang the yarn over the back of an old chair outside, or inside in the bath tub in the winter. You can use anything that will let you hang it. A stick across two boxes will work. Because the yarn is wet it will pull itself down while it dries. When it is dry I wind it with my yarn winder, but if you don't have one just hand wind into balls. I like to use my yarn winder because I can pull the yarn from the inside which stops it rolling and catching. Some people have success winding the yarn around a small object to make a hollow inside but make sure you can get it out. If not then hand winding it is!

Now take your yarn, which cost you nothing, and take your free knitting patterns, which cost you nothing, and start creating. The pride of wearing something you have made yourself will be so much more when you can say that you didn't spend any money to do it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Makes An Easy Crochet Pattern? Learning to Read Crochet Patterns

Crochet patterns can look confusing at first. However, once you understand how a pattern works, and become familiar with the more common crochet stitches, you'll find reading crochet patterns one of the easiest aspects of crochet. Learning to read a crochet pattern will help you feel more confident when learning the basics of crochet.

Patterns can be written in several different ways. Crochet instructions can be written out in abbreviations, presented as symbols, or can be a combination of both. While it may take a while to learn the symbols, they can save space, and after awhile, many experienced crocheters find them easier to read. Another good thing about crochet symbols is that they are international, so no matter where the pattern comes from, the symbols will usually be the same.

If you are trying to read and understand a crochet pattern, the best way is to have both the written instructions and the symbols handy. You can purchase a variety of crochet books that will have many different patterns in them, this is a good way to work your way up from simple, to more complex patterns.

If a series of stitches doesn't making sense by following the written instructions, often the symbols can clarify what is actually meant. Crochet charts and symbols can help clarify written instructions. Some crocheting, such as lace, is actually much easier to follow using a chart, than reading written instructions.

Here are some of the common abbreviations used in crocheting:

sc single crochet
ch st chain stitch
hdc half-double crochet
dc double crochet
sl st slip stitch
trc triple crochet
yo yarn over
tr treble crochet
sp space
sk skip
pat st pattern stitch

When reading crochet instructions, brackets and parentheses are used to convey related stitches. For example, if you came across this- "(sk 3 ch, 4 trc in next chain) across the row", it would first mean you leave three chains unworked, referring to the sk, which stands for skip. In the fourth chain, you would then do four treble crochet stitches. You would then repeat the whole process across the entire row.

When you purchase a crochet book, or patterns, you'll find the abbreviations and symbols will be explained at the beginning. Once you've worked with a few patterns, you'll find yourself much more familiar with the instructions, and you won't need to refer to the book any longer. The crochet symbols will become second nature. Similar, but easier than learning a foreign language, after a bit of study, crochet abbreviations and symbols will make perfect sense!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

22 Easy Crochet Tips and Tricks

Here are some helpful and handy tips and tricks that will make crocheting easier and keep you more organized.

1. When the afghan you're crocheting becomes too long and heavy, place quilting rings around the end you've already finished. It will make it easy to just flip it over when crocheting the next row.

2. When someone asks you to make something for them, write it in a notebook. Write their name, when they will need it by, and the item they want crocheted. Also write down where the pattern can be found. When you finish the crocheted item, take a picture of it and keep it in a photo album so when someone asks what you crochet, you can show them.

3. Threading a large-eyed needle with the loose strings after finishing a project and weaving the loose strings into the project are easier than using the hook. It just takes minutes to do a whole blanket with multiple thread changes.

4. If you are a beginner and frequently lose your place, write the patterns on lined paper, one instruction at a time.

5. When traveling, use an empty plastic coke bottle to keep the hooks from escaping.

6. To keeping blocks clean as you crochet them before putting them together, keep them in a locked plastic bag. Use a small pad of paper and pen to keep track of how many blocks are made.

7. Use a small safety pin to hold a stitch when you put a project away.

8. The fabric store sells yarn cutters to wear around your neck. Keeping cutters on a yarn around your neck will keep you from constantly having to search for them. The fabric store sells them.

9. Keep skeins and balls from getting tangled by cutting a hole in the top of an empty plastic coffee container, then melting the edges of the hole with a lighter or match to keep the wool from snagging. If you have several projects going at the same time, use labels or tape on the tops or sides of each container to write the project name and other important information. Tape a small bit of dryer sheet to the inside of each lid to keep the wool smelling good and prevent static.

10. Use a three-ring binder with clear sheet protectors to organize your patterns. Use a pencil pouch also with three holes for extra hooks, gauge check, and anything else you need to keep handy.

11. When you open a new crochet ball of thread, take the paper and put it inside the center of the ball. Then, when you need new thread, you'll have the color and all the information for your next ball of thread.

12. Use a tooth brush holder to hold your hooks.
It's easy to find and you can drop hooks in your purse and go.

13. To store scrap yarn, buy an inexpensive collapsible hamper, put the same color yarns in plastic grocery bags and store all the bags in the hamper.

14. Take a two-liter plastic bottle and cut the middle to make a door. Then place your large yarn inside and pull the string through the neck .It keeps the 8oz yarn organized.

15. Make your new hook smooth and slick by rubbing it into your hair.

16. To prevent woven-in ends from coming loose, weave on a diagonal line instead of straight up or across.

17. To keep your crochet yarn/cotton ball from rolling across the floor, put it in a small plastic store bag with handles, hang it on your arm and crochet in comfort.

18. Use a bobby pin as a marker for the end of rounds. It slips off and on easily and doesn't fray like scrap yarn markers. You can also use bobby pins to hold the last stitch if you need to take the work off the hook.

19. Store yarn in a zippered comforter bag.

20. Paperclips make great stitch counters. Just pop one on the stitch you want to mark. Safety pins work great too, and are a little easier to put on and take off.

21. Use a wooden wine rack for yarn storage. It works great, looks terrific, and is a nice conversation piece.

22. Empty prescription bottles can be very handy for keeping smaller crochet tools like row counters, beads, and yarn needles.

Now that you're organized, have fun crocheting!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crochet Thread: Choosing the Best Kind

Today, there are countless types of crochet thread. The permutations are endless, and each type brings a new and interesting variation. So wide is the choice that it has become quite difficult to decide which is likely to be the best fabric for a particular purpose as many people who are into crochet making probably have no idea what many of these threads are made from.

As a beginner, it's hard to tell from the appearance or the texture of the material. Here are some tips that will assist you in identifying the best kind of thread for your project:

1. Determine the most appropriate kind of material for the project - One of the most popular is cotton. The reason behind this is that cotton is very durable and easy to wash. On the other hand, synthetic crochet threads are nice to look at because of its luster, but they are very difficult to wash, so using this kind of thread would be limited.
2. Know the different types of crochet thread - In crocheting, there are five major types of thread. These are the worsted weight, baby or the fingering type, bulky, sport, and chunky. Each classification has its own unique "weight" or thickness. Among the five types, fingering has the finest weight. If ever you get to notice the word "ply" in the yarn label, this refers to the amount of the strands that were entwined together to materialize the yarn.
3. Always start with a "beginner's thread" when you are starting out - It is always better to start with a bigger thread size when you are just starting to crochet. Usually, the bigger the size of the thread, the better. As you advanced to the next level, try to use some of the finer types. This will enhance your skill.
4. Know the ideal thread - If you are already on that level where you have made some crochet patterns, it is now time for you to try the advanced level. Here, the ideal thread that you must use are those that have finer strands when it comes to thickness. Using this type of thread will give your work an impression of a refined finished product because of its feebleness.
5. Always have an extra ball of thread or yarn - When buying thread, it is always important to have an extra ball of thread as you would not want to come to an end before you can even your work. This is especially applicable to the colored yarns. The point here is that colored threads may differ if not bought at the same time. It must be acquired on the same "dye-lot." Slight difference in color can really ruin your work. When using the white-colored thread, it does not pose so many problems because you can always start with it anytime.
6. Never go for the cheap threads - In crochet, getting a cheaper quality thread may only ruin the total appearance of your crochet work. Hence, it would be better to choose the best quality of thread to ensure the quality of your work. It is as simple as that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Picking up and Learning Crochet Stitches

Crocheting is very relaxing, rewarding, and can be learned quite easily. Crochet is a technique favored by those who enjoy needlecrafts, mainly because crochet stitches allow you to make useful home decor such as doilies, bedspreads, blankets and tablecloths which add to your home environment.
Here are some things worth knowing about before starting a crochet project:

1. All crochet designs begin with a “foundation chain” that can be long (for afghan) or short for a project that starts as a "circle".

2. Understand that applying even pressure is important so as to make the correct size of your project.

3. With each project, you should try out a sample and then adjust the size of the hook either down or up to reach the gauge required.

4. Hold the hook and the yarn in such manner that it is comfortable to you and just let the yarn flow without restraint.

5. The loop that is on the hook is not always counted.

6. The correct number or counting of chains should be formed always at the start of every row in order for you to continue at the correct height or length for the succeeding row. This “turning chain” establishes the first or “initial stitch” of the subsequent row.

7. At all times, you need to pick two loops that is from the previous row of the stitch except when the pattern indicates back or front loop.

8. A “space” is described as the interval between stitches.

9. Do not make a “slip stitch” into your first stitch.

10. After your completed work, you need to pull through a “loop on hook” one last time and cut the yarn and pull the end through.

Here are some basic crochet stitches that you need to familiarize yourself with:

1. Chain stitch or “ch”. Create a “loop in thread” and insert your hook in the loop, and pull towards you the central length of the yarn through. Continue drawing the yarn through every new loop that you form until you reach the desired length.

2. Single crochet stitch or “sc”. You will need to insert the hook underneath two loops of a stitch then draw the yarn through the stitch, creating “2 loops on hook”, then thread over the hook and pull through towards your direction the two loops.

3. “Half double crochet” stitch or “half dc”. Create similar double crochet stitches until you form three “loops on hook” and thread over the pull the yarn through all of three loops.

4. Double crochet stitch “dc”. Thread over the hook, then insert the hook in the stitch and then pull the thread towards you through, making “3 loops on hook”, then you need to thread the hook over and pull through “two loops”, and once more thread over and pull through the remaining two loops.

5. Treble stitch or “tr”. You need to thread over the hook two times then insert the hook in the stitch and pull the thread through the stitch, creating “4 loops on hook” then thread over, pull through the 2 loops, and thread over, then pull through “2 loops”, then thread over, pull through the remaining 2 loops.

6. Slip stitch or “sl st”. Insert the hook through the stitch, then catch the yarn, and with a single motion, pull both stitches through and the “1 loop on hook”. This stitch is used generally for joining.

7. Popcorn stitch or “pc st”. Make one chain stitch, five double crochet stitches then drop stitches from hook and insert the “hook” back in that 1 chain stitch and pull the “loop” through the “one on hook”.

8. “Block (bl) and space (sp)” stitch. You need to create four double crochet stitches over four stitches of the preceding row, making 1 block, then create 2 chain stitches skip 2 stitches, creating 1 space stitch.

The saying “practice makes perfect” is so very true in crochet. With practice, patience and determination one can easily make simple crochet patterns. So have some fun while you’re doing it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Beginners Guide to Crochet

Beginner crochet books, guides and classes are becoming more popular as women and men begin to enjoy the ancient art of crocheting. Whether the interest in crocheting comes from a desire to create something, or comes from a desire to engage in a therapeutic activity, beginner crochet products and services are skyrocketing in popularity.

Crocheting, unlike knitting, is done with one "needle". With the right technique, it is possible to crochet everything from blankets and throws, to scarves and hats, to sweaters and wraps and more. Though someone in beginner crocheting will not be making elaborate designs, they will be learning the skills they need to create terrific items.

As with most things, when learning crochet you must first learn the basics. Once you learn the basics you will be able to expand your grasp of the craft and do more elaborate stitches and create more dynamic things.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are many boys, young men and men also learning crochet. Some people learn crochet after a family member or friend shows them what they can do. Also, they learn that crocheting can be relaxing.

If you are taking up crocheting, you should take your time and learn the craft. Try not to go beyond your abilities at first or you may find yourself frustrated. One good thing about crocheting, however, is that you are able to "rip out" the stitches and reuse the same yarn.

Yarn varies in style and texture. Experimenting with different needles and different yarns is a good ideas, especially for someone new to crocheting. Once you get the feel of the stitches and of the particular yarn you are using you will be surprised at how quickly you are able to crochet and master the craft.

When buying yarn, remember to pay careful attention to the dye lot so you can be assured that the yarn is all the same color and shade. If you are making something that requires more than one skein of yarn, you will be surprised to learn how obvious it is if you use skeins from different dye lots.

As you begin your quest to learn more about crocheting, have fun, enjoy and begin to create wonderful things. It all starts with the basics and that means mastering beginner crochet. Remember to take it step by step, and soon you will be a professional!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Learning to Crochet and It's Benefits

Learn to crochet and see why millions of women and men around the globe have enjoyed crocheting for generations. Crocheting is a great hobby and a great way to make wonderful creations and even some extra cash!

Everyone appreciates something handmade and a crocheted scarf, hat, gloves, sweater, poncho, afghan or other amazing creation can prove to be a terrific gift. Crocheting is something virtually anyone can learn to do if you follow the instructions and learn the basic steps. More advanced crocheting will take time and practice but before you know it you will be making wonderful items for yourself, your family, friends and possibly even your customers.

When you learn to crochet you will learn some basic stitches that can be combined with more advanced stitches to create elaborate, stunning items. You can even learn how to create crocheted flowers and other items that will impress your family and friends and it all starts with learning a few basic stitches.

As you learn to crochet you will experiment with different yarns and needles to find the ones you like to work with. Each yarn has its own texture and it may take some time to get used to them. Crochet needles vary in width which will impact the size of the stitch and the overall look of what you are creating.

There are beginner classes, videos and books dedicated to teaching you how to crochet. Whether you learn to crochet on your own or with an instructor it is a great way to pass some time and create amazing items.

In recent years there has been a resurgence in the interest in learning how to crochet. Many women and men are beginning to learn to crochet to release stress, pass the time, earn extra income or just to make great gifts for family and friends. As a result of the renewed interest in crocheting there are many opportunities for you to learn to crochet whether you live in a large city or a small town or virtually anywhere in between.

Crocheting is a great skill to master and it all starts when you learn a few basic stitches and how to begin to combine these stitches into a great pattern. Starting young is great, but you can learn to crotchet at any age and it is easily something you can enjoy with family and friends. Pick up some yarn, grab a needle and learn to crochet!

a good source to start is

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Spinning Wheel is The Oldest and Newest Way to Express Your Love of Arts and Crafts

The spinning wheel is a wonderful invention and no one person gets credited with inventing it. The art of creating yarn been transformed since the medieval times and many progresses and advancements have been made since then. And although there is more than one type of motorized thread available, you may choose to use the less advanced method of hand turning or using a foot pedal which may be a little slow but seems to hold a fascination or appeal. Often times at fairs or craft shows there are demonstrations that always draw large crowds to observe the marvel of spinning thread.

A first time buyer of a spinning wheel may want to take a more experienced buyer with you because inspecting the mechanisms of a spinning wheel can be very complicated and a beginner user may not know the best type to purchase so taking someone along who knows a lot about spinning wheels would be a good idea. Many parts of the wheel are made differently and what the parts are made of can be relevant to picking out thread manufacturing equipment. So contacting someone who is knowledgeable about arts and crafts and you feel that is qualified to give you advice on what to purchase is a great idea. You will want to get a good wheel to learn on, so that you can be accustomed to using the equipment without incident.

Using antique methods of crafting has an ethereal quality as if a person has gone back in time. It has a fairy tale existence that has managed to maintain its magic even in this day and age. It is captivating to watch someone work this old-fashioned type of equipment. Spinning wheels are enthralling and will lure people in and hold them captive while a thread is being spun. It is not only an appealing hobby but is very practical and learning to spin yarn can be a wonderful way for you to do something that will be very practical, skillful, and self sufficient. You can save money while doing a very relaxing pastime.

You will need to take great care to not hurt your spinning wheel, as some spinning wheels are very fragile and can be easily destroyed if you are not very careful with them. Remember that you are not supposed to polish the grooves where your brake bands are, however, you can polish the rest of the spinning wheel. Also, you should remember to never pick up your spinning wheel by the bench. Remember to also oil our wheel after you have used it for 2-3 hours and also when you change your bobbins. If you take excellent care of your spinning wheel it will provide hours of enchanting entertainment for you and anyone who watches.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tips On Cleaning Antique Lace

You just bought or inherited that beautiful piece of antique lace, but it's dusty and dirty and may have stains or even food or soil spots on it. How do you go about cleaning antique lace? Here are a few tips that may help.

Linen and cottons are easy to clean. Go to your local laundry shelves and find a presoak agent and presoak all lace articles according to package directions. If extremely dirty soak a second or third time. Most dirt will lift out; if some stains remain, soaking up to 3-5 hours won't damage your lace. After wards, a good washing with warm water and a pure soap will do well. If a few stubborn stains remain, take the lace from the soapy water, wring out and lay it in the sun to bleach. Keep wetting with water and sun bleaching until the stains are gone, turning over once or twice, and then give a good rinsing.

Lace collars, cuffs and apparels will need little ironing if wrung out in a towel and placed on a flat surface to dry. You can dab and stretch out most wrinkles with your hand. Treat like a fine wool sweater. If ironing is needed, use a cotton setting and steam press, moving the iron gently sideways, never using hard pressure. Avoid using the tip of the iron as it often snags weak spots. A handkerchief placed over lace and then ironed is helpful.

Lace can survive several garments and therefore a little extra care can add a long life span and pleasures for you.

Silk and black lace require special care. Always check your silk or rayon to determine how delicate they are. Some are very old and strong while some are so fragile a little water will cause them to come apart. This is true of black laces since a lot are also made of silk or rayon. Lace made of aloe fibers looks and feels like silk and can not be washed. Aloe fibers were used to imitate silk, mostly in Spain for knitted laces.

Dip a corner of any silk or black lace piece into water and feel, if it turns rather soft and jelly-like it's aloe and should be promptly dried.

Wash silks only in cool water and Woolite or gentle sweater soaps. Never bleach as it ruins and also turns silk yellow. If spots don't come out you can tint your lace. Handle them very little while wet, as wet laces are extremely delicate. A common method is to put it into an old nylon stocking or nylon laundry bag and lift gently up and down.

To give a soft yellowish brown or aged cream color to white lace soak it in tea. Depending on the strength of the tea, various tints can be achieved. One needs to remember that with age, lace with a tea tint has turned darker and some of these old yellowish brown shades will take patience to match. Make sure you don't use green or herb teas.

Black lace should be washed in tea only. Brew a strong pot of tea and use as wash water. If bad stains or dirt need to be removed or if the lace has a musty smell, wash with a mild soap and then tea wash and rinse out with tea.

As a whole lace is extremely durable and able to withstand constant use. A lot of fine delicate pieces have outlasted many garments. If you have a pretty collar try wearing it over a sweater or turtleneck, or under an open shirt; the contrast is beautiful.

Among the many interesting aspects of lace is identifying the age and type. This takes most experts years to acquire. Since we're talking here more about wearing instead of collecting, some simple tests will show you hopefully what you have. By looking at instruction books and comparing stitches it's possible to identify many of the laces, other will require further research.

A decent small pocket magnifier is helpful. It's a delight to discover what takes place in the microscopic details of fine lace.

Libraries frequently have books on lace history which are most captivating, regarding the history of trade, marketing, and fashion. Several books are also available on the methods of making various laces.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Should You Put Price Tags on Your Jewelry?

Do you sell more jewelry by placing a visible price tag on each piece, or by leaving the price a mystery until the customer inquires about it?

Some jewelry artists prefer to leave prices off their jewelry, so customers will have to ask about pieces that interest them - thereby giving the jeweler the opening to establish a relationship with the customer and sell the piece.

Others feel that customers will assume jewelry without price tags must be too expensive, and that they'll leave your booth without ever asking how much that beautiful bracelet costs.

When I'm shopping, I personally am one of the customers who are too shy to ask about the prices on items that don't have visible price tags. Artists of all kinds of handcrafts have lost sales to me because I didn't see any price tags and didn't feel comfortable asking about their prices.

I put visible price tags on all my jewelry. I usually work my booth alone, and the more information I make accessible to my customers, the greater my chance of making sales to them.

Sometimes I'm in a swarm of customers who are asking questions and making purchases - and someone on the fringes wondering whether they can afford a particular pair of earrings wouldn't bother to wait to find out while I'm closing other sales and packaging other customers' jewelry.

But with visible pricing, customers know immediately whether they can afford the piece, so I won't lose their business to another jewelry vendor if they'd like to purchase it.

Also, this way I don't have to try to remember my prices for each piece! I'm not a numbers-oriented person, and I do best if I make the numbers-work as simple as possible for myself.

If you're undecided on this issue, you may want to run a test at your next show by pricing half your items and leaving price tags off the other half. See which method seems to bring you the most sales!

What kind of price labels do you use?

For putting prices on all my jewelry, I buy the smallest-size removable stickers from local office supply stores. I write the prices on these stickers with a fine-point Sharpie marker, and stick them on a bottom corner of the front my jewelry hang tags and earring cards. Then when I sell a piece of jewelry, I can easily peel off the removable price sticker as I package the piece.

Or if I'm displaying a group of items that are all priced the same, I omit the individual stickers and put up a small sign in a picture frame stating something like "Gemstone Bead Earrings - $16".

It's best to use a form of price labeling that would be difficult for someone to remove and switch around when you're not looking. Some jewelers prefer to use "sharkskin" tags (barbell-shaped stickers that fold around a bracelet or necklace with the large ends adhered together), while others print the pricing directly on their jewelry cards and hang tags.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Making Polymer Clay Beads: A Fun New Craft Idea the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Polymer clay beads are getting a lot of attention in the crafting world. Suitable for both adults and children (ages 8 and up), working with polymer clay beads can give you a whole new way of having fun with your kids, too.

What are polymer clay beads?

Polymer clay beads are beads fashioned out of polymer clay (which is sometimes known simply as "Fimo," a brand name of the clay.)

This polymer clay can be molded into a variety of different creations. Then you bake the clay in your home oven to create a hard, durable material that you can drill, slice, sand, and paint to achieve various creative effects.

Because polymer clay is so easy to work with, it has become a popular way to make your own beads for jewelry making.

Making Polymer Clay Beads

The process of making the beads is fairly straightforward. Just pinch off a bit of the clay, knead it in your hands and shape it into the form you like.

You can make polymer clay beads in a variety of different shapes, using a variety of techniques and tools. And you can work with the clay over and over again (until it has been baked.)

Molding the clay requires firm pressure, but it keeps its shape well once fixed. It is easiest to work with when it's slightly warm, so if you are having trouble getting it to cooperate, you may want to move to a warmer work area or warm up your hands a bit.

Rounded beads are simplest for the beginner but you can soon learn how to make beads that are square, star shaped, heart shaped or designed to look like tiny animals. Flower shaped beads are also very popular.

To make the beads in different colors, start by choosing from the numerous colors of polymer clay that are commercially available. You can achieve a marbled effect by working with multiple colors at once. Once your creations have been baked, you can paint them with acrylics or fingernail polish to give them extra gloss and sparkle.

It's easy to make holes in Fimo beads, so you can thread them together into bracelets or necklaces or sew them onto clothes. You can drill holes in the hard beads, once they have been baked. Or you can make holes in the soft clay before you bake your beads.

A toothpick is perfect for piercing holes through Fimo clay once the beads have been shaped. Wiggle the toothpick around to make sure that the sides of the holes are smooth and bits won't fall down to clog them during baking.

You can also use a wooden skewer to make holes in your beads. Carefully push a skewer through the center of your finished bead, being careful not to change its shape. Fill the skewer with beads (being careful that they don't touch each other). Then support the skewer on a baking rack or other oven-proof container so the beads don't change shape during baking. Bake the beads directly on the skewer.

Baking Your Beads

You'll need to bake all your clay creations to make them hard and shiny and to ensure that they keep their shape. You can do this in an ordinary oven on a baking sheet, but follow the instructions on each packet of the product to make sure you get the temperature just right. (If the polymer clay is baked at too high of a temperature, it can emit dangerous gases.) Your beads will be hard and ready to string together into jewelry once the clay is baked and cooled.

The manufacturer recommends this type of polymer modeling compound for ages 8 and up, with adult supervision, because the use of an oven is required, and the product should not be ingested.

Once you have the basics down, experiment with different varieties and brands of polymer clay, each of which has a different level of malleability. You can also get polymer clay in a variety of effects, such as translucent, iridescent, and glow-in-the-dark, to create beads and jewelry that are truly one-of-a-kind.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Make The Beautiful Jewelry You Want

Jewelry making is interesting work for children who wish to make jewelry of silver and other metals. It is an ancient and honorable craft which has unlimited possibilities. It will introduce them to the skills and processes of an ancient and honorable craft which has unlimited possibilities.

An interesting feature of this type of craft work is that from the beginning, with a few essential tools, materials, and simple working drawings, one can learn to make really wearable jewelry. As in any craft, practice is necessary in order to acquire the workmanship which will give good results. The processes should be practiced many times.

The transition from simple to more advanced work can be accomplished by experimenting with units of metal which vary in size, shape and texture until a good workable design has been arranged. Then the sequence of the processes will be determined and the working plan made. In this way, the beginner will build up a knowledge of the craft which will inspire him to do more finished work.

Several inexpensive metals, both in sheet and wire form, can be used to make interesting jewelry. For the beginner, copper and brass are recommended because of their low cost, but even advanced jewelers who work almost exclusively in sterling silver frequently use copper and brass for variety and color.

As far as construction is concerned, all the metals named can be used interchangeably. When the beginning craftsman becomes more skillful he may want to work more often in sterling silver which, although it costs a little more, is a fine adaptable metal.

The different metals vary in hardness. Annealing is a heating process which is given to the metal to make it soft and pliable. Most of the metals may be purchased annealed. If the metal has to be annealed, lay it on a screen and hot plate until the heat turns it a glowing red, then set it aside to cool or plunge it into water for quick cooling.

COPPER is used in its pure metallic state. Its reddish-brown color gives it a warm outdoor quality. Cold rolled and annealed sheet is smooth and easy to work. It can be polished and lacquered for a permanent finish.

BRASS is an alloy of copper and zinc, harder than copper. It is gold in color. It takes a high polish and is lacquered to preserve the luster.

STERLING SILVER is an alloy of pure silver and a small percentage of another metal, usually copper, to harden it. It is a more precious metal than copper or brass, it is easy to work and can be finished in several different ways; polished for a soft luster, given a high polish, oxidized for depth of color and then polished for highlights.

IRON is taken from iron ore and, when treated, is both tough and flexible and can be pulled into wire. If lacquered, iron will not rust and its dark color and dull texture contrast well with the other metals used.

TIN has the whiteness of silver and is used in many important alloys, among them being solder. Tin is used for solder, in pure state or alloyed with lead.

Using any of the above metals, attractive and simple jewelry can be made by children with an interest in the field.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fun Times Making Beaded Jewelry

Not only can you look great by making your own beaded jewelry you can also have a blast while you create to your hearts content. The first creation you should consider making is a beaded necklace for its elegance and simplicity. The second creation you should consider making is some beaded earrings.

Before you begin go to a bead or craft store so you can buy some supplies. The only things you really need to start are some thread or wire and some inexpensive beads. Always start with the inexpensive beads to learn with then move onto your favorite gem stones once you have the basics down.

Let's make a beaded necklace first. In the bead or craft store buy some thread or wire, beads, two crimps and a clasp. Next use more thread than you will actually need so you will have enough to attach the clasp with. Layout your beads on the table in the desired pattern you wish to make on the necklace. Now you can string the beads onto the middle of the thread or wire in your desired pattern. Use a piece of tape at the end of each pattern to hold your place. You can also use a spacer bead instead of the tape.

At each end slide one of the crimps onto the thread or wire. Add one half of the clasp, then string the thread back through the crimp and use needle nose pliers and press firmly on the crimp. Now you can remove the tape.

Now you can wear your creation and start all over again to make more. Once you have the knack you will never run out of ideas. So pursue your new found hobby with all the energy you can muster. You'll find it not only fun but also a great way to learn different avenues of self expression.

Next let's make some beaded earrings. First here are the supplies you will need: 2 head pins ( or eye pins as they are sometimes called), 4 spacers, 4 beads, and 2 fishhook ear wires. Next you will begin by putting the beads on in a simple pattern: bead, spacer, bead, spacer, like that. Ok, now follow closely, make a loop right above the top bead: using needle nose pliers, bend the pin at a 90 degree angle. Then using round nose pliers, form a loop. Wrap the wire on the other side of the loop, back around the wire (in between the loop and the bead). Now cut with wire cutters. Next, take the fish hook ear wire, and open the loop. Attach your drop and close the loop. Repeat for the second earring.

Limitless adventures -- that is what you'll have now that you have mastered the first step in creativity. You'll amaze yourself the more you allow yourself to develop and play. Don't put restraints on your designs, instead just let them flow freely. Even if something seems like a long shot take a chance -- what have you got to lose? Never again will you be afraid to walk into a new adventure. Fun and excitement is what you carry inside of you now. Watch it explode and mature as you allow yourself to develop your own style and grace. Remember today is the first day of the rest of your creative life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beading Basics: What you Need to Know to Get Started Beading

Stringing beads is a fun way to reduce stress and explore your creative side. Put a colorful necklace together or create a beautiful matching set with a bracelet and a pair of earrings. Wear your creations, sell them, or wrap them in tissue paper and give them to your friends.

Basic beading is easy, fun, and relatively inexpensive. You will find beading supplies at most craft shops, art supply stores, and discount stores, in addition to the beading boutiques that often specialize in more expensive beads.

Here is a checklist of the basic tools and supplies you will need to begin working on your new hobby:

You will find an abundance of different sizes, shapes and styles to choose from. Start off with a few favorite colors using plastic beads so you can become familiar with color coordination and putting on the finishing touches. This way, mistakes will not be so costly. Work your way toward the finer glass, semiprecious, handpainted, wood and cloisonne beads.

There is a wide variety of clamps, closures and clasps, also called findings. Again, do not be seduced into purchasing the best and the brightest in the beginning. Most products will have the instructions included on the front or back of the package, but if you run into a problem, consult a beading magazine or catalog, which you can find either online or at craft shops.

Depending on your budget and preference, you can use either the standard, flat containers or go up a notch to the drawer compartments that many people use in their workshops for nuts, bolts and screws. Any containers will do, but, while working, you will want your beads to be easily accessible. Storing beads in dark, confined areas makes them more difficult to work with and to color coordinate.

Crimping Beads
These are an important element in bead making. They are simply beads constructed of a flexible metal, which help keep the clasp attached to the necklace. Crimping beads come in gold and silver and in several different sizes.

Round Tipped Pliers
Invest in a good pair of round tipped pliers. You will need to use them often not only for picking up beads but also to hold the components while working with them. Flat nosed pliers also come in handy. Remember to select a pair that will allow you to crimp.

Trays or Boards
Using a beading tray is not mandatory but it makes it easier to preselect and measure your beads. Most trays are made of plastic and incorporate a measuring device either in inches, millimeters, or both.

Wire, Line or String
Again, depending on budget and preference, there is a wide variety of wire, line and string to choose from. Before purchasing, be sure that it is the correct size to fit the beads you have selected, or vice versa. Some beads have large holes to accommodate thick string while others, such as seed beads, have tiny holes that only thread or wire will fit through. You could even use fishing line to practice on, but beading wire is better it does not have a tendency to curl, shrink and distort the way plastic lines do. You could also use string, rawhide or thread. When beading with string or thread, use a special big eye or curved needle.

Children can also take part in stringing beads. Look for childrens beading supplies at most craft stores, generally alongside the adult supplies. Beading is a great way to teach children coordination skills, and to keep them happy and occupied while you are working on your beading projects. Keep in mind that many of these items should be kept away from babies and small toddlers.

Bead supply warehouses will often send color catalogs by request, listing hundreds of different products, along with accompanying images. Or you may want to subscribe to a beading magazine where you will learn different techniques and methods used by professionals.

Check online or at your local craft store for lots of great, free beading patterns and beading ideas. Once you have mastered the art of beading, you will be making attractive jewelry, and you will naturally gravitate to other beading projects. You may even start to decorate your handbags, create charming wall art, and make lovely bookmarks, sun catchers, key chains or plant holders. There are so many amazing things you can do with beads, you will wonder what ever took you so long to discover them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How To Create Stunning Effects With Decoupage

Most professional crafters will already know and have enjoyed creating stunning cards, scrapbook pages and gifts with decoupage.

Decoupage comes from the French word 'cut' and originated in the 18th century.
In its early years decoupage may have been considered a child's craft as it involves cutting pieces paper and layering them on top of each other to create an image that is 3d.

Today decoupage is becoming more and more sophisticated and quite often I have seen larger decoupage images framed as pictures around peoples homes. The effects decoupage has may make it look complicated but it is actually really simple.

It is important to have the right tools when creating decoupage images for card or scrapbook projects I would strongly recommend you invest in a pair of high quality curved scissors and when cutting remember to have the curve away from your body.

Keep the hand holding the scissors still apart from opening and closing the blades to cut the paper, you will get a far better result if you move the paper and guide it to the scissors rather than the other way around.

You may need to use a scalpel or craft knife when cutting intricate parts of decoupage or parts from inside the image its self. If you do use a craft knife make sure you have a cutting mat underneath before you cut.

Once you have cut your images out the next step is to create layers to go on top of each other, those that have been creating decoupage images for sometime may use silicone gel to layer the images on top of each other but beginners to decoupage will find foam pads are a great way to start.

Remember you do not want to see the foam pads when the image has been stuck down so take care not to place them too near the edge of your cutting.

Then simply layer the images on top of each other to create a stunning 3d look.

Decoupage sheets can be easily purchased on the internet or in craft shops some of which will come with step by step instructions making it even easier for you to know exactly what and where to cut.

You could also try finding your own images on the internet and simply repeating the design at least 4 times then printing on high quality inkjet paper, you will need to be careful with copyright issues if you do decide to try this.

It is also possible to purchase decoupage disks or cd where the images are all ready there all you need to do is print, cut and stick them together.

Decoupage is becoming more and more popular to crafters, if you are new to card making it is something that is simple but extremely effective for card projects giving them a really professional look.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How To Make A Cheap And Easy Gourmet Gift Basket For Mom

Gift baskets are always popular and a great idea to give as a gift whether for Mother's Day or any other time of the year. Moms love to receive gift baskets. Making your own gourmet 'mom' gift basket is cheap and easy. You can fill your gift basket with a variety of inexpensive quality items; you have lots of choices.

I've put together a few great tips and ideas for making 'mom' gift baskets, complete with instructions on how to make them. You can make inexpensive gift baskets or expensive gift baskets depending on your budget. You can easily customize each basket to your recipient.

First make a list of the mom's hobbies and interests. List everything you can think of that might possibly pertain.

Suggestions: sports, books, television shows, in-house hobbies, outdoor recreation, camping, workshop, tools, golf, fishing, computer-related, environment friendly, golf, tennis, relaxation, food, chocolate, wine, spa, bath and body, fruit, cookie, etc. These are just a few ideas.

You can find many inexpensive items and products for use in making your gift baskets or filling your gift baskets, at 'dollar' stores, craft stores, party stores, discount outlets, flea markets, close-out stores and even at garage sales providing the items are new, etc.

For gift containers you can use: any type of basket, wicker basket, straw basket, bucket, laundry basket, plastic container, purse, tin, seasonal container, large tea pot, large upside-down hat, red hat or plastic storage container-put lid underneath.

Other items: extra-large coffee mug, boot, potted plant holder, wire basket, large pasta bowl, large popcorn bowl, cooking pot, clay pot, colander, skillet, antique trunk, champagne bucket, hamper, Asian-style trunk or picnic basket.

For gift basket liner you can use: tissue paper, shredded paper, shredded newspaper, tea towels, dish towels, hand towels, kitchen towels, colored towels, colored napkins, placemats, or fabric pieces.

For gift basket filler you can use: shredded colored paper, straw, Easter basket grass, crumpled newspaper comics, a bed of wrapped chocolates or other wrapped candy.

For items in the container it'll depend on the specialty or theme of the gift basket - in this case a mom. Here is a small random sampling to give you a few good ideas:

Gift certificate for massage or spa visit, scented oils, scented massage oils, gift certificate to favorite store, gift certificate for restaurant, loofah, fragrant candle, matches to light candles, CD of nature sounds, favorite artist CD, DVD of newer release movie, how-to video or CD, handwritten poem, perfume, cologne, watch, framed photo, inspirational book, spa pillows, bath pillows, spa supplies, bath and body products, facial and body scrubs, handmade soaps, fragrant soaps, shampoos, hand and foot lotion or fluffy towel.

Flavored teas, green tea, specialty tea, herbal tea, biscotti, tea infuser, healthy snacks, fancy chocolates, boxed chocolates, chocolate bars, hot chocolate mix, specialty coffee mix, homemade cookies, homemade brownies, homemade jams, popcorn, caramel corn, giant-size boxed candy, candy canes, suckers, lollipops, apple, pear, orange, persimmon, mango, papaya, chips, pretzels, nuts, gourmet pasta, gourmet olive oil, pre-packaged food items, pancake mixes, brownie mixes, cookie mixes, wooden spoons, your best chocolate chip cookie recipe, Italian recipes, Mexican food recipes or other ethnic recipes, coffee mug, or potholders.

Garden trowel or other garden tools, garden gloves, work gloves, cold weather gloves, leather gloves, garden picks, seeds, hand lotion, flower pot , small tools, gadgets, playing cards, travel-size games, small puzzles, t-shirt, tickets to events,
small plant, disposable camera, a small book,

Computer-related items, mouse pad, yarn, painting or artist supplies, golf balls, golf tees, golf knick knacks, tennis balls, tennis knick knacks, key chains, small calendars or desk calendars, barometer, outdoor thermometer, science gadgets, electronic gadgets, health-related items, auto-related items or cinnamon sticks.

For gift basket wrapping you can use tulle netting or better yet, cellophane wrap. If you're going to use a lot of cellophane you can purchase it in large rolls wholesale through the packaging specialty stores throughout the U.S. but should be easily found in craft stores.

Tie off the wrapped basket with ribbon. Wired fabric ribbon is best if you have it.

For bows: You can use pre-packaged bows but making your own bow is easy and a better presentation if you can do it. Use a huge beautiful bow.

Assemble all your gift basket items, the tools you need, etc. Now line your selected gift container. Then stuff the selected filler into the gift basket to give added height to your items. Place, layer and arrange your selected items on the filler in the gift container. Put the larger items in the back, the smaller items in front.

Fill in the holes or prop up with more filler (shredded paper, Easter basket grass, wrapped chocolates, napkins or holiday napkins etc.)

Also you can use 'picks' of artificial flowers to fill in small open spots.

Place your cellophane or other wrap under the gift basket. Center the gift basket on the wrap. Bring the cellophane or other wrap over the top of the gift basket and tie it with ribbon and/or a beautiful bow! Use ribbon and bows to match your theme colors.

Tuck a personalized card in the ribbon and that's it!

General tips: You can find fabric or wired ribbon cheaply at Costco -- especially in the fall prior to Christmas or around holidays but often throughout the year in most stores. You can shred colored paper in a paper shredder.

Try to use non-perishable items except, of course, when making fruit baskets. Use freshly packaged food items; packaged crackers and cookies can go stale in a couple of months.

You can find filler flower 'picks' at garage sales cheaply. If you buy 'picks' wholesale they are usually around a dollar each.

Try not to mix chocolate or other food fragrant items with non-food fragrant items in the same basket.

Also there's nothing like learning how to make gift baskets from a video or DVD for making cheap and easy gift baskets. You can view it over and over again and share it with your children, other family members and friends. You can even charge for classes with your new-found knowledge and/or start a home based business if you so desire. In any event, making a gourmet mom gift basket can be cheap and easy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How To Clean Your Cross Stitch Pictures

After you spend many hours creating a beautiful cross stitch picture, the last thing you want to do is damage it during cleaning. Many experts suggest you always clean your projects when you finish to remove the oils left behind when you touched the cloth. These oils can attract a surprisingly large amount of dirt over time.

The two methods of cleaning involve either washing your project or having it dry cleaned. You cannot dry clean a project if you've added beads, so consider this before adding embellishments.

To decide if your cross stitch picture can be washed, consider both the fabric and the floss. Many cross stitch fabrics can be washed by hand, and they say this on their labels. Some labels even specify a brand of detergent to use.

When if comes to floss, some are washable, other are not. Consult the information from the manufacturer. Even if the manufacturer says the floss is run-resistant, still test it.

To test your floss, choose a few strands of each color. Dip the strands in lukewarm water. Next, place them on a clean, white towel or cloth and pat dry. See if the dye on the floss runs. You may notice that darker colors tend to run more than lighter colors.

If your fabric can be washed, place the entire project into a clean container filled with lukewarm or tepid water and a very mild soap, such as Ivory. The soap or detergent you use must not contain bleach, fragrances, softeners, or "laundry brightners."

Some stitchers recommend you clean needlework with Orvus, a horse soap made by Proctor and Gamble. Orvus removes dirt without leaving behind the sort of residue soap leaves. Some craft stores sell variations of Orvus for use with needlework projects. If you do use Orvus, handle it with care. Orvus can irritate your skin, so wear gloves and follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

After you place your project in the soapy water, let it soak for a few minutes. Then, empty the container and fill with it clean, cold water. Submerge your cross stitch project and swirl it in the water to remove the soap residue. Remove the project, empty the water, refill the container, and then rinse your project again.

Regardless of the type of soap or detergent you use, you need to rinse your project several times. Continue rinsing your cross stitch until all the soap suds are gone and the water is clear.

Remove your project and place it flat on a clean, white cloth or towel. Cover your work with either part of the same towel or with another clean, white cloth or towel. Blot the project dry.

You also can roll the cross stitch project in the clean towel to squeeze out excess water. If you use this method, unroll your cross stitch and smooth it flat after you've removed the water.

Iron your project by placing it face down on a clean towel. Make certain your iron also is clean before you start. Set the temperature on the iron low. Most cross stitch fabrics don't require a great deal of heat to smooth the wrinkles. If this low temperature isn't enough, you can increase the temperature a little bit at a time until the wrinkles disappear.

Do not iron over beadwork, metallic floss, or blended floss. Instead, just iron the fabric and avoid the areas with embellishments.

Here are some additional tips to remember when cleaning cross stitch projects:

* Consult a professional if you have an heirloom cross stitch project you want to clean. Older fabrics and flosses need to be cleaned by a professional.

* Use tweezers to remove pet fur from your projects before washing.

* Store your projects in plastic bags to keep dirt away. Roll the canvas, don't fold it, and then place it inside the bag and seal.

* Wash your hands before you start to stitch to avoid soiling your project.

When it comes to cleaning your cross stitch projects, the best approach is to use caution. You've spent so much time creating a masterpiece that you need to make certain you don't hurt your creation. After all, you want your project to be around for years to come.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why the Colors of Yarn and Threads Are Such A Calming Therapy

The idea of basket weaving as a form of therapy, traditionally used for patients with mental illness is often laughed at. But in a way, there is wisdom in the use of crafts for having a calming effect.

In today's society, the meaning of "slow down", an easy and natural pace, and relaxation, has become pretty close to obsolete in meaning and in activity.

Chronic stress has taken on a whole new meaning to the point of being an epidemic, along with resistant depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.

See the correlation between them? The first one causes the second; if you cannot relax, then your body and mind will keep going until it develops a disorder, letting you know "things are really not okay, slow down!"

How many of us feel the need to relax, and sit down with thread and needle to do so? I had a friend, when asked if she sewed or did needlework for relaxation, laughed out loud and said, "Honey! I staple my hems on my pants. Does that SOUND like I like to sew or do needlework?"

Regardless, people of today and in the near future are beginning to take things into their own hands. They don't just blindly call their doctor when they don't feel well, take a med without knowing what it is or the side effects, or take the diagnosis unquestioningly anymore without second opinions.

They research conditions through the Internet; they get second opinions from anyone and everyone; and all the while, talking to other people with similar conditions through support groups or online.

And many, many people are beginning to use alternative methods for their solutions. One such method for stress and mental conditions is the use of color therapy, used with the colored yarns and threads for activities such as cross-stitching and embroidery, and combined with the direction of art therapy in its creativity.

This helps our mind relax, moving it to another sense of direction, and healing with color and creativity.

Color therapy has been around a long time; it is not a new kid on the block, only in the United States. It was not an alternative medicine, but used with light for health treatments clear back in recorded time.

It is speculated that color therapy in all areas originated in the roots of Ayurveda, an ancient India form of medicine practiced for thousands of years. The Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures also used it as a form of medical treatments. In the United States, color therapy, art therapy, and light therapy are beginning to be recognized as a complementary system to "other traditional treatments".

Recently, chromotherapy and Feng Shui combined their fields; bringing specific colors into homes and workplaces, and attempting to achieve optimum balances of energy. Dr. Peter Mandel, a German acupuncturist and creative naturopath, has natural healing methods" through a process called color-puncture, which is now being taught in many countries.

Color therapy, or colorology, is a process used by itself as an alternative medicine method. Therapists who are trained in chromotherapy use color and light to balance the physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental aspects of the human body.

Traditional medicine is now calling it "integrative therapy" where the body, mind, and soul are all treated simultaneously: different terminology, similar ideas, and identical results.

It is being scientifically proven by chromotherapists that color therapy does work. Many forms are used: art work, light films, colored material, colored water, yarns and threads, colored baskets, colored candles, gemstones, bath treatments, and colored glasses or lenses.

It really doesn't matter what the tool is as long as you are comfortable with it; what matters are the colors used. Different colors are associated with positive and negative effects, and can be used along with hydrotherapy (water therapy) and aromatherapy, to heighten the therapeutic effect.

Each color has a specific healing modality in color therapy. When you are using a red thread in your hands, and visually focusing on the red patterns, things change and develop in your mind and your emotions, affecting all the senses -- not just the five main ones.

Let's look at a few of the different colors, and what purpose they can be used for when designing your next cross-stitch pattern or purchasing yarns or threads:

1. White -- this color is used for regeneration, providing energy and balancing the body's rhythm; it stimulates the production of serotonin, which regulates both the sleep and nervous system. (Why do you think we count "white sheep" to fall asleep?). The color white rebalances the psychophysical and hormonal systems in people who suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorders).

2. Green -- green is a very healing color, which is why plant therapy works so well and herbal therapy is slowly replacing many traditional medicines. It regulates the pituitary gland, fights depression, bulimia, and many psychosomatic conditions affecting the gastric system. It also calms the nervous system, fights irritability, and insomnia. Many color therapists suggest it for individuals who are recovering from nervous breakdowns.

3. Blue -- this is a very soothing, calming color. It reduces blood pressure and stimulates the parasympathetic system -- the system that is referred to as the "rest and digest" system. Blue calms the breathing and the heart rate, has anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing effects (have you ever wondered why "Icy Hot" has a blue tinge when rubbed into your muscles, or the Vick's bottle has a blue color?). It fights tension physically and mentally, and is used in relaxation.

4. Yellow -- this increases neuromuscular tone along with purifying the blood, helping digestion, plus having a cleansing effect, which promotes a sense of security. The color yellow stimulates happiness and a sense of well-being, which is why a good walk outside on a sunny day does wonders to a bad frame of mind!

5. Red -- this powerful color is used to energize and stimulate. It affects the heart by increasing pulse rates and also body temperature. Muscles will increase their tension; excitement will develop along with sensuality and strong emotions. Many early civilizations used the color red in their decor, uniforms, and flags.

A balance of color needs to be worked out and designed, as too much of one color is used, enough white is added for balance.

When a "tight" feeling is felt inside you as you work, then not enough white has been added. Either add more white, or go for some complementary colors for direction.

This article was found on Article Street

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Belated Beltane!


Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others
being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane is the second principal Celtic
festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway
between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice).
Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.

Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the
morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades
rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed
stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his
shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it
looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars
(the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of
Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few
minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain,
divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and
summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its
counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is
fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer
and life once again.

Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of "no
time" when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No
time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic
abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter
respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight. On the
night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches
at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly
occurrences could transpire during this time of "no time".
Traditionally on the Isle of Man, the youngest member of the family
gathers primroses on the eve before Beltane and throws the flowers at
the door of the home for protection. In Ireland it is believed that
food left over from May Eve must not be eaten, but rather buried or
left as an offering to the faery instead. Much like the tradition of
leaving of whatever is not harvested from the fields on Samhain, food
on the time of no time is treated with great care.

When the
veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the
Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on
Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland. Legend
has it that if you sit beneath a tree on Beltane night, you may see the
Faery Queen or hear the sound of Her horse's bells as She rides through
the night. Legend says if you hide your face, She will pass you by but
if you look at Her, She may choose you. There is a Scottish ballad of
this called Thomas the Rhymer, in which Thomas chooses to go the
Faeryland with the Queen and has not been seen since.

has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the
Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha
de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to
Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the
Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg.

The beginning of summer
heralds an important time, for the winter is a difficult journey and
weariness and disheartenment set in, personally one is tired down to
the soul. In times past the food stocks were low; variety was a distant
memory. The drab non-color of winter's end perfectly represents the
dullness and fatigue that permeates on so many levels to this day. We
need Beltane, as the earth needs the sun, for our very Spirit cries out
for the renewal of summer jubilation.

Beltane marks that the
winter's journey has passed and summer has begun, it is a festival of
rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her
full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are
still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. As was
the way of ancient thought, the Wheel would not turn without human
intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the
growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without
the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were an
important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth
of the Sun's light would promote the fecundity of the earth.

marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the
earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of
the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the
bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers
bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren
landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far
away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.

translated means "fire of Bel" or "bright fire" - the "bale-fire".
(English - bale; Anglo-Saxon bael; Lithuanian baltas (white)) Bel (Bel,
Bile, Beli, Belinus, Belenos) is the known as the bright and shinning
one, a Celtic Sun God. Beli is the father, protector, and the husband
of the Mother Goddess.

Beltane is the time of the yearly battle
between Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythur ap Greidawl for Creudylad in Welsh
mythology. Gwyn ap Nudd the Wild Huntsman of Wales, he is a God of
death and the Annwn. Creudylad is the daughter of Lludd (Nudd) of the
Silver Hand (son of Beli). She is the most beautiful maiden of the
Island of Mighty. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the
magnificent blossoming earth.

In the myth of Rhiannion and
Pwyll, it is the evening of Beltane, that Rhiannon gives birth to their
son. The midwives all fell asleep at the same time, as they were
watching over Rhiannon and her new baby, during which he was taken. In
order to protect themselves, they smeared blood (from a pup) all over
Rhiannon, to which they claim she had eaten her son. The midwives were
believed, and Rhiannon was forced to pay penance for seven years. She
had to carrying people on her back from the outside of the gate to the
palace, although rarely would any allow her to do so. The baby's
whereabouts were a mystery. Oddly, every Beltane night, one of Pwyll's
vassals, Teirnyon Twryv Vliant, had a mare that gave birth but the colt
disappeared. One Beltane night Teirnyon Twryv Vliant awaited in the
barn for the mare to foaled, when she did, he heard a tremendous noise
and a clawed arm came through the window and grabbed the colt. Teirnyon
cut off the arm with his sword, and then heard a wailing. He opened the
door and found a baby, he brought it to his wife and they adopted Gwri
Wallt Euryn (Gwri of the Golden Hair). As he grew he looked like Pwyll
and they remembered they found him on the night Rhiannon's baby became
lost. Teirnyon brought Gwri of the Golden Hair to the castle, told the
story, and he was adopted back to his parents, Rhiannon and Pwyll, and
and named by the head druid, Pryderi (trouble) from the first word his
mother had said when he was restored to her. "Trouble is, indeed, at an
end for me, if this be true".

This myth illustrates the
precariousness of the Beltane season, at the threshold of Summer, the
earth awakening, winter can still reach its long arm in and snatch the
Sun away (Gwri of the Golden hair). "Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be
out" (clout: Old English for cloth/clothing). If indeed the return of
summer is true than the trouble (winter) is certainly over, however one
must be vigilant.

On Beltane eve the Celts would build two large
fires, Bel Fires, lit from the nine sacred woods. The Bel Fire is an
invocation to Bel (Sun God) to bring His blessings and protection to
the tribe. The herds were ritually driven between two needfires (fein
cigin), built on a knoll. The herds were driven through to purify,
bring luck and protect them as well as to insure their fertility before
they were taken to summer grazing lands. An old Gaelic adage: "Eadar da
theine Bhealltuinn" - "Between two Beltane fires".

The Bel fire
is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further
celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning
away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces
and scattered in the fields. Household fires would be extinguished and
re-lit with fresh fire from the Bel Fires.

Celebration includes
frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over
fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for
good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music,
drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children
gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying".
Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this
holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol
of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the
blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring.

birching or May boughing, began on Beltane Eve, it is said that young
men fastened garland and boughs on the windows and doors of the young
maidens upon which their sweet interest laid. Mountain ash leaves and
Hawthorne branches meant indicated love whereas thorn meant disdain.
This perhaps, is the forerunner of old May Day custom of hanging
bouquets hooked on one's doorknob?

Young men and women wandered
into the woods before daybreak of May Day morning with garlands of
flowers and/or branches of trees. They would arrive; most rumpled from
joyous encounters, in many areas with the maypole for the Beltane
celebrations. Pre-Christian society's thoughts on human sexuality and
fertility were not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather joyous in the
less restraint expression of human passions. Life was not an exercise
but rather a joyful dance, rich in all beauty it can afford.

ancient Ireland there was a Sacred Tree named Bile, which was the
center of the clan, or Tuatha. As the Irish Tree of Life, the Bile
Pole, represents the connection between the people and the three worlds
of Bith: The Skyworld (heavens), The Middleworld (our world), and The
Otherworld. Although no longer the center life, the Bile pole has
survived as the Beltane Maypole.

The Maypole is an important
element to Beltane festivities, it is a tall pole decorated with long
brightly colored ribbons, leaves, flowers and wreaths. Young maidens
and lads each hold the end of a ribbon, and dance revolving around the
base of the pole, interweaving the ribbons. The circle of dancers
should begin, as far out from the pole as the length of ribbon allows,
so the ribbons are taut. There should be an even number of boys &
girls. Boys should be facing clockwise and girls counterclockwise. They
each move in the direction that they are facing, weaving with the next,
around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those
passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside
raise their ribbons to slide over. As the dances revolve around the
pole the ribbons will weave creating a pattern, it is said that the
pattern will indicate the abundance of harvest year.

In some
areas there are permanent Maypoles, perhaps a recollection of ancient
clan Bile Pole memory. In other areas a new Maypole is brought down on
Beltane Eve out from the wood. Even the classical wood can vary
according to the area tradition is pulled from, most frequently it
seems to be birch as "the wood", but others are mentioned in various
historical documents.

Today in some towns and villages a mummer
called Jack in the Green (drawing from the Green man), wears a costume
made of green leaves as he dances around the May pole. Mumming is a
dramatic performance of exaggerated characters and at Beltane the
characters include Jack in the Green and the Fool. The Fool, and the
Fool's journey, symbolism can be understood in relation to Beltane as
it is the beginning of beginnings, the emergence from the void of
nothingness (winter), as one can also see the role of the green man as
the re-greening of the world.

Traditionally in many areas Morris
dancers can be found dancing around the Maypole. Morris dancing can be
found in church records in Thame England going back to 1555. Morris
dancing is thought to have originated many centuries ago as part of
ancient religious ceremonies, however it seems that Morris dancing
became associated with Mayday during the Tudor times, and its
originating history is not all that easily traced, as is the way with
many traditions.

The Maypole dance as an important aspect of
encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. The pole itself is
not only phallic in symbolism but also is the connector of the three
worlds. Dancing the Maypole during Beltane is magical experience as it
is a conduit of energy, connecting all three worlds at a time when
these gateways are more easily penetrable. As people gaily dance around
and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it
raises is sent down into the earth's womb, bringing about Her full
awakening and fruitfulness.

In Padstow, Cornwall, Beltane
morning a procession is led by the "obby oss" a costumed horse figure,
in a large circular banded frock and mask. The procession is full of
song, drums and accordions. Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol
University points out that the first account of the Padstow May Day
'Obby 'Oss revelries was written in 1803. He offers evidence however
that, like English Morris Dancing, its origins lie in English medieval
times. This does not discount the possibility that its roots lay in the
foundation of the fertility rites of Beltane, a more politically
correct transmutation of fertility acts.

There is also a Queen
of May. She is said in many areas to have worn a gold crown with a
single, gold leaf at its front, in other areas her crown was made of
fresh flowers. She was typically chosen at the start of the Beltane
festival, which in time past was after sundown on the eve before
Beltane day. Many accounts mention both a May Queen and King being
chosen, whom would reign from sundown the eve before the Beltane day to
sunset on Beltane. Among their duties would be to announce the Beltane
games and award the prizes to the victors. The rudimentary base of this
practice can be drawn back to the roots of Beltane festivities, the
union of the Goddess and Her Consort, the joining of earth and sun, the
endowment of summer. The Goddess has many guises: Danu - The Great
Mother, Blodeuwedd (the Flower Bride), Isolt (Iseult, Isolde) and many,
many others. The consort can also take many forms including the Green
Man, Cernunnos or Tristan.

As Beltane marks this handfasting
(wedding) of the Goddess and God, it too marks the reawakening of the
earth's fertility in its fullest. This is the union between the Great
Mother and her Young Consort, this coupling brings new life on earth.
It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and
the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the
physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the
fruitfulness of the growing season.

It is customary that trial unions, for a year and a day, occur at this time. More or less these
were statements of intent between couples, which were not legally
binding. The trial marriages (engagements) typically occurred between a
couple before deciding to take a further step into a legally binding
union. It seems ancient wisdom understood that one does not really know
another until they have lived with them, and when you live together
things change and we change, as well. With this understanding unions
were entered upon, first as a test period, and then if desired, a
further commitment could be taken. It through always knowing that it is
only through the choice of both to remain, that the relationship exists

May, however, according to old folklore is not a
favorable time for marriages in the legal and permanent sense. There is
reference after reference in the old books of this belief, and
according to my Irish grandmother, May is not the month to marry, woe
is to had by those who do. I can understand the premise of this
folklore, May is the Goddess and God's handfasting month, all honor
would be Hers and His.

Water is another important association of
Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to
life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on
Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who
are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There
are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on
Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune.

The central color of Beltane is green. Green is the color of growth, abundance,
plentiful harvest, abundant crops, fertility, and luck. White is
another color that is customary, white brings the energies of
cleansing, peace, spirituality, and the power to dispel negativity.
Another color is red who brings along the qualities of energy,
strength, sex, vibrancy, quickening, health, consummation and
retention. Sun energy, life force and happiness are brought to Beltane
by the color yellow. Blues and purples (Sagittarius energies:
expansion, Good Fortune, magic, spiritual power, Success), and pinks
(Venus energies). Beltane is rich in vibrant color, lighting the eyes
and cheering the Spirit as we leave the dreariness of winter behind.

It is customary to bake a colorful fruit and spiced filled bread for
festivals in the Celtic lands, traditionally this festival bread is
sweet dough made with sweetmeat and spices. In Scotland they are the
bannock - Bonnach Bealtain - for Beltane, in Wales - Bara Brith,
Ireland it is Barm Brack and in Brittany Morlaix Brioche. For Beltane
this bread was made the eve before Beltane day, is it said that the
bread should not allow it to come into contact with steel during
preparation (steel is harmful, deadly to the faery folk).

Bannocks are actually uncut scones originally cooked on a griddle. Wheat does
not grow well in the Highlands, originally bannocks were made with oat
or barley flour made into dough with little water and no leavening.
Traditionally, a portion of the cake was burned or marked with ashes.
The recipient of the burnt cake jumped over a small fire three times to
purify and cleanse him or herself of any ill fortune. Offerings of
bannocks and drink are traditionally left on doorsteps and roadways for
the Faeries as an offering, in hope of faery blessings.

May is the month of sensuality and sexuality revitalized, the reawakening of
the earth and Her Children. It is the time when we reawaken to the
vivid colors, vibrant scents, tingling summer breezes, and the rapture
of summer after a long dormant winter. It is a time of extraordinary
expression of earth, animal, and person a time of great enchantment and

The excitement and beauty of Beltane can not be
better expressed than through the gaiety and joy of our children. There
is not doubt "spring fever" hits at Beltane, and hits hard. Children
are full of unbridled energy charged up and ready to go! Children
always amplify the seasonal energies and the thrill of their change,
they bring richness and merriment wherever they go.

It is the child's unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what
Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields,
picking flowers, rapturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance
of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Our children guide
us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show
us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of

Blessed Beltane to you and yours!

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