New Cats

The local cat lady, this lovely woman Julie who rescues all the abandoned cats around here and finds homes for them, asked me to foster two of her cats, each a year old.  They were kittens she was sure she would find adopted homes for but that didn’t happen.  Not for any fault of hers or theirs.  She needed them out of her house so her husband could paint their room (the guest room) to be used for soon to arrive guests.  She wanted me to take the cats for a couple of weeks.  Sure, why not?

I had been eyeing these guys already. Their picture was posted on the bulletin board at the post office.  They were in a ball together.  I never called her.  I was resisting.  But I knew.  Yeah I knew.

And then I hooked Julie up with my friend Pam.  Pam was looking to adopt two male kittens.  She was hoping for part Maine Coon.  I showed her some kittens Julie had that were coming up for adoption.  We ended up visiting the kittens.  Tomorrow these two adorable boy kittens are going home with her.  And yes I think these little guys are part Maine Coon.

They define adorable and Pam will be the best Mom.
Okay, but what about the cats that I will be fostering.  Sorry, no picture.  I did meet them today but I forgot to bring my camera.  They were a little shy around me since they haven’t known many people other than Julie who has spent a ton of time with them.  Bear is grey.  He’s gorgeous.  He has double paws and he’s a big guy.  Noodle, who actually is his cousin although they’ve been together since they were tiny, is butterscotch color like Butter, also fairly large with enormous paws.  They are sweet and they are beautiful.
I promise to take photos once they arrive and when they let me.
Oh, and this “foster thing.”  Yeah right.  Do you really think I am going to be able to give them back.? And that’s the rub.  Foster means adopt.  So yes tomorrow I am adopting two beautiful year old male cats.  They need homes.  I have a home.  Life is good.

Loom on its way to Mexico

What a journey.

I headed off for FedEx yesterday finally (it’s an hour from here) to send the loom to the

Isla Mujeres Women’s Beading Collective.  I was told that I needed to send it via FedEx because if I sent it through the Post Office it would not be received.  I was so excited to be able to see this loom off to  its wonderful and final destination until they handed me the bill.  Close to $200 to send a loom that is worth not much more than that.  I just couldn’t do it.  Something inside me screamed:  NOOOOOOOO!

So I high tailed it home and scurried off to my local Post Office.  Cost to send from there:  $55.  Chances of it arriving at destination:  close to zero.  They begged me not to.  Packages heading for Mexico cannot even be insured because it is so unlikely they will survive the journey without falling into unintended hands.
I came home and left the loom in my car totally discouraged.  I emailed Layna who remembered that her original emails with the Collective stated that if the cost to ship was outrageous they might be able to find a visitor to hand deliver it.  Layna emailed them with the new story.  Fewer than twelve hours later we were given the address of a woman who lives in Connecticut who will be hand delivering the loom in early May.  Our very own personal guardian angel.  It figures.  I should not be surprised.  This whole thing has been blessed from the get go so how could it possibly not work out beautifully.
I headed back to my Post Office with a new address label.  They got a good laugh out of my latest story (I am their own personal comedy of errors).  Thirteen dollars later the loom was on its way to a certain arrival into the right hands.  Thank goodness!
So thank you to all those who made this happen.  It’s happening!!!

Jewelry for sale on Mirrix website soon!

With the new website will come a new section in our store where I will be selling my beaded jewelry.  To that end I’ve been taking pictures of some recent work I thought I would share with you.  If you can’t wait until my jewelry hits the website, you can pay through check or paypal.  Email me for details.  Shipping in the continental U.S. is free.
Detail of below necklace

Circular herringbone weave and a triangle peyote and herringbone clasp: $169

Circular herringbone: $69

Circular Herringbone: $69

Circular herringbone with triangle herringbone and peyote triangle clasp: $165

Detail of above

Mis-matched triangle herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Whidbey Island Workshop Reminder!

Whidbey Island, Washington 2-day Tapestry Workshop:
Dates: May 28th and 29th, 2011 10 am – 4 pm
Instructors: Claudia Chase: President of Mirrix Looms
Windwalker Taibi: Tapestry weaver, spinner, co-owner of Raven Rocks Studio and Gallery
Elena Zuyok: Marketing Director of Mirrix Looms
Location: Whidbey Island, WA (near Seattle) at Raven Rocks Gallery (http://www.ravenrocksgallery.com/Home.html)

Class Description: This two day workshop will take students through the entire process of weaving a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet. From warping the loom to finishing techniques, students will walk away with the skills needed to use a Mirrix Loom. On the second day, as students begin to finish their bracelets (note: these can be turned into wall hangings and not bracelets if you’d prefer) they will be able to try their hand at weaving with handspun yarn and learn some more tapestry techniques on a larger scale as well as see the process of making handspun demonstrated. Each day will begin at 10 am. There will be a break for lunch (there is a beautiful cafe right nearby, or students can bring their own lunch and spend some time enjoying the beautiful Whidbey Island scenary. At the end of the day there will be a break for wine and cheese.
Cost: $320 + $55 material fee (which includes the fantastic cuff bracelet kit)
Please email elena@mirrixlooms.com or ravenrocks@whidbey.com for more information or to reserve your spot.

After April 15th there will be no refunds.

cuff bracelet

One side done!

Finished the beading on one side of the headband and it’s almost ready to wear! Hopefully I will finish it tonight and get pictures up tomorrow. Meeting my godmother for brunch on Easter Sunday… I think I might just have the perfect hair accessory! 

Finishing With Beads

It’s been a busy few days and my almost-finished headband has been patiently waiting to be finished. I’m home sick today which gave me a chance to cuddle up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a fuzzy cat and do a bit of beading. I didn’t get very far because, well, I’m sick and not exactly motivated… but it’s looking good so far!

Basically all you need to do to finish the headband is to take beads (whatever size, really, you’ll just need more the smaller the beads that you choose) and finish the sides of the headband. I strung three beads, looped around, strung three more, etc. etc.. Very easy and it looks clean and covers up any sewing mistakes that were made before. 
Time for a nap? I think so… 

Made In America!

Mirrix Looms are made in America.  They always have been and they always will be.  Even if we could multiply our profits a thousand fold by having them produced overseas, we would not for one second consider doing so.This whole being in business thing, besides paying those pesky bills, is about fun and joy and a feeling of accomplishment.  For us, in particular, because we are manufacturing an item that is a tool for creativity the joy lies just near the surface.  We aren’t faking our excitement for this product.  We really feel it.

There was a six year period when I was heavily involved in politics (as a three term State Rep. . . . I retired fall of 2010).  My time was split up in so many pieces, among Mirrix, the State house, my family.  I didn’t feel like I did anything really well anymore.

The  double-edged joy of being able to devote all my time to Mirrix (and artwork) and my family as well as being able to work with my daughter, Elena, our Marketing Director, has given me back that joy times a google, (as we say in our family long before anyone else knew this word because my Dad was a scientist and he brought this word, which is a number, home to us when I was a tiny child. . . . and google-plex, which is a google times a google) .  Wow, that was a digression.

What I intended to write about is Made In America.  And so I shall continue standing on that soap box for a bit because it is a passion of mine.  First a cute little symbol to get me inspired:

 

It is inspiring isn’t it!  Our flag.  It tells so many stories.  My hope is that someday, once again, it will tell the stories of American manufacturing.  The question we have to ask ourselves is:  why are so many American products made overseas?  Could it be greed?  The profits of shareholders and CEO’s? Yeah, I think so.  But when you distill the problem you come up with the disturbing truth:  if we send our products over to China to be made by workers who make $1.50 an hour (which has risen from $.50 a hour) what do we really gain?  As a country, we gain nothing.  It’s only a loss.  A huge loss.  Those products aren’t so cheap when you factor in the loss of American jobs, the crippling of our economy, the huge disparity between the very rich and all the rest of us and the loss of hope and joy among those who cannot work a decent job in the good old U.S.A.

If I were asked to find one solution to all our current problems it would be:  bring those jobs home.  Close your plants in China and bring them back to our great country.  Sure, we get paid more than $1.50 an hour and those CEOs and shareholders will have to suffer with a little less.  But wouldn’t the renewed strength of our great country make up for all of that?  Let’s innovate renewable energy here (not in China).  Let’s assemble our American cars here.  Let’s continue to make our looms here (which, by the way, is still frequently the case . . . not just with Mirrix!)

Imagine a world where those of us who wanted jobs could have them?  Imagine a world where we didn’t have to replace our appliances every few years because they were made well in America.  Sure, they might cost a little more.  But since quality control is so much easier when the manufacturing facility is underneath your nose and since Americans are known for their high production standards and because a person who is getting paid a decent wage and can take care of his or her family or his- or herself is a person motivated to perform well . . . well, then the costs of Made in America are trivial.

Recently, Mirrix has been listed on a bunch of Made in America websites.  Two sites that sell only products manufactured in America now sell the Mirrix Loom.  We are so proud of this and proud to be part of a handful of companies devoted to keeping the jobs here.

A final note.  This is not to say that we should not buy products made in other companies.  But buy products made in other countries because those products are the best ones.  For example, of course I buy all my silk from China.  And of course I buy most of my beads from Japan because they are fabulous.  I do not buy my beads from Japan because they are cheap (they are not).  And clearly no one in America is able to compete with that quality (because they never have).  I am not opposed to buying from other countries when clearly the product is either superior or different from anything made here.  But  I am opposed to American manufacturers sending their jobs abroad.  I want to see an Apple computer plant in Detroit!

Now off to look at some American-made kittens that Mirrix might have to adopt.

Off my soap box.


Don’t forget to see these American made looms!:  www.mirrixlooms.com

Split-Loom Bracelet

Not quite done with my woven headband… but I had a fantastic idea for a new project and my loom is already warped and ready.

We’ve all heard about split loom necklaces… but what about a split loom bracelet?

I will begin weaving (beads, putting my yarn away for now) straight across and then split my piece into four different sections. More to come! Check back.

Almost done!

After I cut my woven piece off the loom I was pretty much excited to get that baby on a headband. I used glue to make sure all my ends were tidy and facing inwards (a smart person would have made sure their ends ended in the middle of the piece instead of the sides, but for some reason that gives me a sense of unevenness and I instead choose to deal with obnoxious ends) and sewed (and glued) in the bottom and top of the piece, making it the exact length of the headband (I wove to about 16 inches which was perfect for the headband I had (taking into account the parts I folded in). I decided to use the 1.5 inch headband instead of the 1 inch so the piece was almost too thin (in the middle where the headband gets thicker) but I made it work, somehow. (Thank goddesses for beadwork edges to make mistakes go bye-bye!) if I were to re-do this, I would make this piece two warps thicker (17 warps across using a 10 dpi spring… or about 1.75 inches across.)
After making the piece all nice and pretty (and while it was pretty much covered in glue) I placed it on the top of the headband, gluing it there. I then cut out my ultra suede 1.5 inches thick and 15.5 inches long and lightly glued it the underside of the headband (note… my ultra sude wasn’t long enough so I had to do this in two pieces. I just made sure it was even where it met so it wouldn’t be uncomfortable on my head. Didn’t even bother sewing it because I thought that might feel bumpy. Should be fine.) Then, I sewed. A lot. I was so excited to see the thing almost-finished, I couldn’t stop.
The next step is to cover up my sewing and edges with beads. Then, ready to wear! 
Sewing… the light was bad. 

This afternoon, with the Seattle rain in the background. 

A little color does a lot to brighten up what might be the coldest April on record here in Seattle.