Intimidated by Chainmaille?

It has been suggested to me that people are intimidated by chainmaille, thinking it must be heavy and utilitarian, not a jewelry art. I would like to gently say ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Chainmaille (or chainmail, if you prefer) has grown far beyond the armor worn centuries ago. (Although some artisans make that kind of thing as well.) There are dozens of basic weave patterns, and hundreds of variations. Maille can be made with many materials, from gold and silver to copper and aluminum. Maille rings can be found in virtually any color you can imagine, and a skilled artist can combine colors and materials to produce unique items that will truly amaze.


An example of the dense full Persian chain, done in pure copper. A dense chain like this is rather more masculine, although a woman can easily wear it as well.

Some women fear that maille will be too bulky or masculine, but this is simply not true. There are many maille weaves that produce a beautiful, delicate, intricate product that is just right for feminine wearers. Conversely, there are some weaves that provide a strong masculine feel, perfect for men who want to elevate their style. And there are plenty of weaves that are unisex, that is that they will complement any wearer.


Parallel weave done with brass and green colored copper rings. Parallel weave is generally unisex.


This tiny jens pins spiral weave in pink, with a crown charm, is obviously quite feminine.


These half Persian bracelets are unisex as well, and their understated profile makes them perfect for the workplace.

Maille is, almost by definition, a very strong construct, and will stand up to anything you put it through. There are some delicate weaves that need special care, but even they are strong and unlikely to break.


This variation of jens pind weave is an experiment gone right. It is chunky and fun, a bold statement piece.

I like chainmaille because it is always different. Each weave has a personality, and I am always discovering new ways to use these weaves for different effects. I love to combine colors and examine the interlocking rings as they form shapes.


Another example of parallel weave, with a rainbow of connecting links. One of my favorite pieces ever; truly a joy to make.

Basically, whatever style or profile you are looking for, you can find it with chainmaille. Flat, round, thick, thin, delicate, or dense, your weave is out there. And available in any colors that you wish to use!

All items pictured above (along with many others) are available for purchase in my Etsy shop: Come browse and see what you have been missing.

(PS to all my loyal readers: I joined Instagram! My user name is merricontrari, of course. Come by and see what I’m up to!)

Social Media

I’ve finally joined the dark sides. I have been using (and enjoying!) Twitter the last few days. I tweet about all sorts of stuff, and tend to share lots of photos of my creative stuff there.
I also finally made a Facebook page! The final cause of it was an upcoming project that I haven’t announced yet, but I’d appreciate your likes! I don’t share much there yet.
Both of these are a great way to keep in touch with me, especially if you want the fast lane for coupons and sales!!

(Before you know it, you crafty people will drag me into Instagram…)

Twenty Twelve

I would like to take a moment to reflect on the past year. It’s been a particular wild one for me.

We experienced a lot of medical drama in the first half of the year.
The last half was a wild race from one event to the next. From Renaissance Faire to military events to Halloween to our (still here omg) Xmas houseguests.
It feels like it’s been a very long year but also, paradoxically, feels like it was just 2011.

I took on roles in our FRG, which I enjoy and find fulfilling, but also do add responsibilities and stress. I also started doing SEO writing, which has been enjoyable but also incredibly frustrating.

Because of all the stuff that’s been going on, we spent pretty much all of the year “behind” on chores. Mail opened but not filed. Suitcase from Faire has yet to be unpacked. We spent *literally* an entire week cleaning and organizing, before the holidays. It felt so good to dig out and be able to start the year fresh. (More trash and clutter has occurred due to guests, sadly.)

I fell woefully short of many personal goals this year. I feel rather dissatisfied with the year in general for that. I have written (for pleasure) rarely or not at all. My blogging has been neglected. My etsy shop… ugh. So discouraging.

My overwhelming feeling for the year is that time was wasted. Always wasted. Where does it go, how can I get it back. I don’t make resolutions but if I did, it would be to stop wasting time.

Among my feelings of disappointment, I have three specific bright points I want to mention.

One: I have been honored and privileged to be part of a close group of friends this year. We are a diverse bunch, but it is utterly beautiful to me to see us together. For the first time in my life, I feel honestly loved and accepted unconditionally by the people who I call “friend.” I’ve been betrayed in the past, but I know that, without fail, they will always have my back.

Two: this will sound so frivolous after that last one, but I am so happy to report that I kicked the habit of nail biting. I now have strong beautiful fingernails, and that’s another thing I never thought I would have. They are a source of confidence to me, as well as a reminder that I can be the master of my own anxieties and compulsions.

Three: quite out of the blue this summer, I received a phone call from a long-estranged cousin. She is close to my age (she is the older), and married a military man as well. But throughout our youth, we fought and disliked each other. Our last meeting, over 5 years ago, nearly resulted in a physical fight over a silly casual remark. We were both at fault for this. She has been making changes in her life, and found herself regretting our relationship and called me. That must have been incredibly difficult, but I am so glad she did. We have fully reconciled. I’ve never before had the experience of literally wiping the slate clean and starting fresh. It isn’t easy, and certainly could not be done until time has healed wounds. But, oh my gosh, I feel so immensely happy that she picked up the phone and that we both had it in our hearts to forgive and forget. We are still learning who each other are and what we have in common, and learning to trust each other, but its been so nice to take this path together. Few people in this life ever get the chance to rebuild a burned bridge, especially when both parties are still young. She and I may have wasted two decades of friendship, but we have many more ahead of us.

Overall, even with all the disappointment and discontentment I feel for this past year, I still feel that it has been a good one. I come into 2013 much richer in friendship and maybe even with a small store of self confidence, and those are worth more to me than all the treasure in Erebor.

And now, I leave you with this sentiment. Make it so, indeed.

Holiday Crafting

Happy holidays everyone!
We finally got seasonal weather up here in the North Country, and the weather today was positively delightful, so we went out and played in the snow. Missy and Charlie (the dog) had a ton of fun.


Missy and I built this baby snowman. “The snowman” asked us to build his dad, but the snow wasn’t packing well so we will try again soon.


We went on a quest for a sled, which were nearly sold out everywhere. We did find one though, and Missy played with it a little. Tomorrow if the weather is nice we will go to the hill.


We did inside stuff too! I made a big batch of gingerbread, and we went to town with icings and sprinkles.


We made a lot of them. πŸ˜‰


I also made a gingerbread house! We put tree and man cookies outside on the lawn, too. There’s also a couple pies lurking in my kitchen, and a fruitcake in the oven.


Last but not least, check out these stockings! I made them! I’m really proud of them.

I truly hope you are all safe and happy and warm tonight, and every night. Happy holidays if you are celebrating, and joy to all the world.

Just a glimpse


I’m about to cut into these lovely fabrics to make new stockings. We have been cleaning and organizing like craaaazy the last couple days. Its been one of those years where I have just constantly been behind schedule, so I am thankful for a chance to catch up on all the clutter and start 2013 fresh and clean.


Is there anything better than argyle knee socks (with hot pink toes, natch) and warm purple sweatpants?


Answer: no. No there is not.


My four-year-old daughter has been running a fever all day.

I consider myself infinitely blessed to have been able to hold her in my arms all day.

My heart is with all the mothers with empty arms tonight.


We caught a special Shalom Sesame about Hanukkah today, and Missy really got into it. (Gotta love Sesame Workshop.)
I believe in learning about other cultures and participatory learning, so I threw together a small celebration, and we talked about what she learned on the show.
I think I might also toss together a Kwanzaa day, learn more about the pagan solstice celebrations…. do it UP. Why not, while we do the Xmas stuff (and while my mom asks her about Jesus birthday cake).


I tossed together 9 candles.


I made some challah. God that bread is good. I always make half of the Challah I recipe on allrecipes.


I made sweet potato latkes. The oil foamed up weirdly, I guess because of the eggs. Seriously, though, omg those were goooooood. I followed a recipe on


Lastly, behold the holy sufganiot that I acquired from Dunkin just 10 minutes before closing.


I’ve been busy today!


These fruits are macerating, in preparation for fruitcaking later this week. I also made a big batch of Alton’s hot cocoa mix, yum.


Spent a big chunk of the day on this. Wanna guess what it is??

We also *finally* hung the lights and wreath out front, but I didn’t get a picture. 😦

We were excited this year to be able to do some Angel Tree gifts. Last year we were traveling and the year before we couldn’t find a tree! And the year before that we were hella broke. We selected 3 kids this year: an 11 year old girl who wanted an RC airplane, an 8 year old girl who wanted Hot Wheels cars, and an 11 year old boy who wanted art supplies. I am super happy to be able to give these kids a gift and encourage them to keep being themselves.
Note about the Angel Tree: what’s up with people judging the kids for what they ask for? Poor kids don’t get to wish for an iPod? I mean yeah it’s expensive, but you don’t get to judge them and be rude about them wanting it. Sheesh, classist much.

Rant over.

Anyway, happy holidays. I know we are now on the 2nd night of Hanukkah, even though Xmas and Kwanzaa and the solstice are still a bit away.

A Blog?

I have absolutely been soooo busy lately. I promise I’m trying to chill. I hope to be able to share some photos from Halloween here soon. πŸ™‚ It was really great and I am super happy with how it all turned out!

Another thing I’m working on is handmade gift baskets for my friends for the holidays. I finally got a list made, and I have 16 baskets to make – 8 each of two different sets. They’re including things like soap, bath bombs, tea, and the like. I’m not making all of it myself obviously. πŸ™‚ I’m also working on a secret gift for one of my besties, for her birthday. πŸ˜‰ I know she’ll read this, so I won’t be able to share any more details about that until I give it to her.

My mother in law is coming for Christmas, so there’s that. I don’t decorate much for that holiday – we get a live tree and decorate it, and I’m going to finally get (aka make) a tree skirt, but I don’t do much else so that’s good in terms of busy-ness.

I’ve been having a really hard time keeping the house clean lately. 😦 And I really need to clean the carpets, so that doesn’t help matters. I’m really unhappy with a lot of things about my home lately, but I’m hoping to change them soon.

I might be back later today with photos!


ETA: A few PSAs:
– Rock the vote.
– Remember, remember the fifth of November.

…there was something else I specifically wanted to say and I forgot it…

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