Jewelry Making

As I am sitting in my jewelry studio thinking about how much work I need to do to be ready for the first show of the year on the 4th of July, a store that wants to sell my jewelry opening on the 5th of July and another store that wants me to have my jewelry there to sell during their busy season Sept-Oct, said to my husband that anyone that thinks making jewelry is a walk in the park should really spend some time doing it.

First you have to purchase the beads and all the other supplies you will need to make the jewelry. Sometimes that means shopping online other times you have to travel to find the beads and if you’re lucky you can shop your local bead stores. Then you have to put everything together.

For some of us that means hours spent looking online at photos for design ideas, purchasing tutorials to teach us how to make something or pouring through jewelry making magazines and books. I admit I do all these things but I am also lucky that I don’t have to see a photo or read a tutorial to be able to look at a strand of beads and know what to make with them.  Often when I’m bead shopping you will see me standing in front of the wall of beads rubbing a strand between my fingers.  When I do this I’m thinking of all the beads I have in my studio and what I will make with these beads in my hands.  I’ve always been that way.  When I sewed all the time I could see a pattern and know what I wanted to make it out of.

Now after you have all your supplies, and your design you get to do the fun thing and put it together.  Seems easy right, well what if you don’t have enough of a bead and you can’t get it anymore? That’s when you have to start thinking do I add chain, do I make a chain, what can I add to it to make it long enough?

Once you have your piece all done what are you going to do?  Are you simply making it for yourself?  If so then you are done without too much work, but if you do like I do and sell online, sell at craft and art shows, sell in art galleries, and sell in stores and craft malls then you have a bunch more work to do.

The first thing I do when I’ve made a piece is add the piece to my inventory using a spreadsheet.  On this spreadsheet I have the inventory number of every single piece of jewelry I have in my inventory, the name of the item such as Lapis Necklace, Earrings, and Pendant Set, the description of the piece, the number of pieces I have, and finally the price.

When it comes to doing the inventory tracking that part is easy but let me tell you trying to think of a descriptive way of saying pretty over and over again without always just saying pretty is a lot of work.  For this I have read tutorials on how to write a good description, the best descriptive words, and any number of things you can find online to help you.  I spend a lot of time researching the stone that is used and try to educate my customer with the history of the stone, such as, did you know that Lapis Lazuli was the stone that Cleopatra crushed and used as her blue eye shadow?  Little things like that make your customers remember you.  After you get all that work done, and it can take days to do this if you have a lot of inventory you just produced, then you have to photograph them.

Now to be honest I wish I had my photograph equipment set up all the time and all I had to do was snap the photos but I don’t.  Currently I am redoing my studio and it is a mess with one work bench in place, one or two more I need to get and a table that I have been using to make jewelry on that needs to leave the room.  So I take out my handy portable light box, set up my lights, set up my display items, set up my camera and then I’m almost ready to take photos.  But I still need to make sure my camera is set properly for lighting and exposure.  Whew, now I can take photos.

So I have to put the necklace on a bust, add the earrings, and shoot at least three photos of each set.  I take one of the entire set, one of just the earrings, and one of the pendant or a close up of the stone.  Sometimes I have to take more photos because I want to show the details in the stone.  Then after I have all the photos done I have to download them into my editing software.  I use lightroom and it is fantastic.  For how to use it I found a great series of videos on YouTube detailing how to do different things.  The same person does videos for other photo editing software. Now I will spend days at times taking photos and editing them especially when I am gearing up for shows, store sales, and switching out pieces for sale from one season to the next.

Once I have all the photos, all the inventory numbers assigned, all the descriptions written, all the prices done I have to put every set on a hang tag with my company name and location at the top of it and then add a price tag.  I like to use the round double tag so that on the front I put the price and on the back I put the inventory number.  I shorten the number from KLJDS1 to S1 indicating that this is set number 1 on my inventory listing.

As I said I have inventory that I take to shows to sell, list online at Etsy.com, have inventory for sale at craft malls, centers for fine art, and during the fall at craft barns on pumpkin farms.  One page in my workbook has all the items at the fine art center, one for the craft malls, one for the craft barns, and then one with all the inventory online.  Each location has their own page and inventory listing.  What I sell online I also sell at shows.

After I have all that other work done I’m finally ready to start listing items online.  This is pretty simple you upload the photos, answer all the questions about the item, add the name, put it in categories, and copy and paste the description you wrote into the listing you have to come up with all the tag lines so your item will appear when people search for something similar.  This is the step that is the most challenging because there are millions of other people doing the same thing and only so many words.  Be clever and think about what you would use to describe your piece if you were searching for something like it. I used to sell at about 10 different online stores but really I only had one that actually sold anything and I found that it was just so much work to make sure I had everything listed on every site and that I removed it from every site that I closed all the other stores and just went with Etsy.

Now after you’ve done all that work and you are selling at shows don’t forget to remove from your online store any items you sold at the show.  However you choose to sell your jewelry do keep a detailed inventory of all your item.  BMPro is an excellent database that you create by adding all your parts and then using that database to build your inventory as you make the pieces.  You can add photos of the parts, photos of the pieces, track where it is placed, i.e. craft mall, who it sells to, etc.  It will even help you with pricing your jewelry, adding your tax rate, and telling you your profit per piece.  I have this software but since I spent years using spreadsheets to track grant activities when I worked full-time I find spreadsheets to work for me.  Anyway don’t forget to make sure you keep track of your sales for your yearly taxes both personal and business.  In my inventory workbook I have one tab for active inventory, one for sales per year, one for each location I have inventory at, items that were removed from inventory and redesigned, and one for items that were donated.  I have a spreadsheet for each year that lists the inventory number, name, description, inventory amount, and price for every item that sold that year and is I sold it or if one of the places I have selling my jewelry sold it.

Remember to have fun and good luck.

Kris Penney
KL Jewelry Design
kljewelrydesigns@q.com
www.kljewelrydesign.etsy.com

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Silver Filled and Gold Filled Wire

Today I thought I would start the new year talking about silver filled wire and gold filled wire.  I want to let you know the difference between the types of wires and what to expect when you are looking at artisan jewelry.

It can be very confusing with all the different types of wires jewelry artists have available for use.  Let’s see there is gold plated, silver plated, copper plated, brass, bronze, red brass, gold, sterling, fine silver, gold filled, rolled gold, sterling silver filled, argentium silver, and a mired of different craft wires .  Whew, that’s a lot of  wire no wonder a few of my clients have glazed over eyes when I start talking about the wire I used to make the piece they are looking at.

Let’s start with plated and craft wires.  First and foremost plated wires have usually silver or gold kind of glued to the surface of another metal, usually copper.  This finish is not permanent and will wear off quickly.  You cannot clean plated wires like you would sterling or gold wires without rubbing the surface metal off and exposing the center wire.  This type of wire is rather inexpensive and should make the piece of jewelry you are looking at cheaper, but be aware that there are a great number of jewelry artists that use nothing but craft wire and plated wire and will charge you as though they used sterling or gold wire.  Always ask questions and if you can get a look at the end of one piece of wire check to see if you can see any other color, if you can you have craft wire or plated wire.  If in doubt and the artist isn’t seeming to answer your questions truthfully, pass it by.  Don’t get me wrong plated and craft wire definitely have their place in the jewelry world and if you are not going to wear the piece often or if it is a pendant that is not really in contact with your skin then it is the perfect type of wire to use and allows you as the customer the opportunity to get that artist’s talents at a reasonable price.

Moving on to sterling silver, argentium silver, fine silver, and gold.  Well what can be said about gold? Gold is gold, if it is white gold it have sterling added to it to make it white and in white gold wire you will notice that it is slightly yellow but not as golden as yellow gold.  Rose gold has copper added to the gold to make it pink.  You can also find green gold but I’m not sure what they added to the gold to make it green.  Fine silver is 99% silver and is used by silversmiths and fine jewelry artists for wire wrapping.  It is a very soft wire which makes it easy for the wire artist to manipulate the wire into amazing shapes.  Sterling silver is 92.5% silver with the balance being usually nickle or zinc.  If you allergic to sterling it probably isn’t the silver but the other metal that was added to make sterling silver.  This wire is widely used by jewelry makers and comes in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers from dead soft to hard.  Argentium silver is the new sterling silver.  This silver is 93% pure silver and has argentium added to the silver.  This metal like sterling and gold is available in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers. Argentium does not tarnish as quickly as sterling and gold, yes gold tarnishes, which allows the jewelry artist to have less cleaning and polishing when creating a piece.

Now the newest kid on the block for jewelry making is silver filled wire and sheets, but I want to tell you about gold filled first so you have the history and knowledge of how it is made.

Gold filled or rolled gold jewelry findings have been popular for years. Gold filled is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a base of less costly metal. This gold layer is many times thicker than a standard plating – anywhere from 50 to 100,000 times thicker. The law, gold filled items must be at least 1/20th gold by weight.  Gold filled wire is considered an heirloom wire, meaning you can pass it down from generation to generation without the gold layer wearing off. Of course you must use the proper care to help prevent the layer from wearing off by not using abrasives on your metal, which can also damage the stone in your piece of jewelry.

Silver filled jewelry findings are created the same way, but as of date, there are no industry standards for silver fill, which can make it hard to tell what you’re getting. Most silver filled wire or findings contain 1/10th sterling silver by weight. As with gold fill, the sterling silver layer is hundreds of times thicker than a silver plating.

Silver filled wire can be manipulated just like sterling silver wire. The silver is bonded to the core metal and does not flake off the way a plating might.  Silver filled items look identical to sterling silver, and can be antiqued just like sterling silver.  There are some people whose skin is so acidic that within a few days of wearing a silver plated piece of jewelry the plating will be gone and the base metal will be showing.  One company actually has some employees with this problem and when asked to “test” the silver filled earrings they had no problems and the finish was not flaked off.  The earrings wore exactly like sterling silver.  Below are two photos, the one on the right is a ring I made using argentium silver and the ring on the left is using silver filled.  I wore both of these rings for 3 months never removing them, not even when gardening!  Can you tell the difference?

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If you use sterling silver in your jewelry or you purchase sterling silver jewelry, you have felt the pain of rising silver prices. Although the market always fluctuates up and down unpredictably, it feels like it has only gone UP lately.

Many jewelry designers have switched materials or use less sterling silver in their designs to compensate for the increased costs. However, the quality and look of sterling are popular for good reason that has given the rise of affordable new silver filled wire and jewelry findings available to jewelry makers.

It is up to each individual artist to decide what materials to use in his or her jewelry. Some people will always want pure sterling, no matter the cost.  Since silver filled jewelry findings cost 40-60% less than sterling silver findings, while offering the same look, I think it won’t be long until SF jewelry is as common commonly used as gold filled wire and findings. I have made that switch from argentium silver or sterling silver to silver filled in my wire.  Because my customers want the look of sterling or argentium silver but just won’t pay the price for it.  In order to continue to market my jewelry designs I switched completely to using gold filled and silver filled wire and I have carefully explained to my customers why I made that switch and what they should expect from the silver filled wire I am using.

I hope you have found this little blog worth your time and you have learned something.  If you are an artist and you are thinking about whether to switch to silver filled, try a test like I did and make something you can wear everyday for weeks on end and see what you think.

Happy wiring! Kris

Hot Days of Summer

This summer I decided to take the plunge into learning how to do two things. First because I have so many seed beads I decided to start doing some bead weaving. I first learned how to make a Russian Spiral Rope. The lesson was to do a bracelet but since I just haven’t found that bracelets sell very well I made it into a necklace. It was challenging to get the spiral started but once I got it started it was a breeze and so simple to tote around a couple of tubes of seed beads, silk thread, wire cutters and a needle. I could do it while I was watching tv or sitting in bed in the evening. Super simple to work with and a big change from wire work that requires pliers, cutters, gemstones, and maybe a bunch of other stuff. So here is the picture of what I made. The earrings are the same seed beads on silk thread that I sewed onto a silver tone sieve and glued to sterling silver posts.

 

My next try at bead weaving was the right angle weave with two needles.  I made a ton of beaded beads and put them into a bunch of different necklace designs and a few pairs of earrings.  Check out KL Jewelry Design to see all of them.  Oh I made some stretchy rings that I sell in my booths at arts and crafts shows for only $1.  The stretchy rings are listed online because they are so inexpensive it would actually cost me to list them so check out my booths around the Omaha and Lincoln, NE, Council Bluffs, Atlantic, and Clarinda, IA, or Sioux Falls, SD to see all the rings, and I have a bunch.

Now the next bead weaving experiment was to learn how to do a spiral rope.  So again it was for a bracelet but I made it into a necklace.  That’s easy peasy to do because you just keep on going until you get the length you want.  So the spiral rope necklace has multi-color metallic seed beads, Peridot seed beads that are line in silver, and clear seed beads.  This was a lot easier to make.  Maybe that was because I already knew how to do the Russian spiral but I picked it up in no time.  I used three different sizes of seed beads so it has texture with the Peridot color being the focal of the necklace.

 

Well that’s all I’ve gotten done on learning bead weaving but I’ll be making a bunch more this winter when the shows are over for the season.

After working with the seed beads and silk thread I  decided to try my hand at making wire rings.  I know, I already do that but I have never made rings with faceted gemstones in prong settings.  I bought a parcel of mixed sizes of faceted gemstones; I looked over two different tutorials and while both of the teachers got the design from a ring that was created in the 40’s they each took a different way of teaching.  I made one ring following each teacher’s instructions and then tweaked it to work best for me.  By the end I found it really easy to make and get the stones to be secure and not wiggle around at all.  I have all these rings listed at KL Jewelry Design to see them all.

 

So now you know what I’ve been doing this summer to avoid being outside in the heat and humidity that is so famous in Nebraska.  Tell me what you think of my latest adventures in jewelry making.

Oh, in my spare time I’ve been being trained by our new German Shorthaired Pointer, Hank.  Unfortunately our male, Chance began limping on his front leg and after a number of trips to the vet, x-rays, a trip to a specialist and more x-rays, we found out it was bone cancer and had to have him put to sleep.  We knew we would get another dog for our female pointer, Pepper, so we contacted the Central Plains German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue and adopted Hank.  Chance and Pepper came from the Rocky Mountain German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue so it was an easy choice.  Anyway, Hank was born on February 13, 2011 to a litter of 14.  Yikes, the breeder ended up with 7 of them left and Hank spent the first 6 months of his life on the end of a chain.  He was adopted by a family that ended up having to move and couldn’t take him so he was returned.  Then he was adopted and the lady couldn’t deal with his anxiety so he was returned.  I guess the third time is a charm because he is in his forever home.  He is a handful and gets me up around 5am every single day but he’s so happy and so is Pepper that I put up with it and just deal with it every day.  He does have to be in the kennel when I leave the house because he does have anxiety when I leave but other than the battle to keep Pepper out of the kennel while I’m trying to get Hank in the kennel we don’t have any problems with him.  I’ll tell you more as the summer goes on.

Thanks for reading and following my blog and have a great summer.

Swirling Galaxy Ring

I was watching JTV this last Sunday and one of my favorite jewelry artists was on, Dale “Cougar” Armstrong.  She was showing off a new ring design she had created using square wire and some crystals.  I always love seeing what Dale comes up with and figuring out something a bit different to make it my own design.  So here goes another free tutorial for you as one of my blog readers or Facebook fan.

Swirling Galaxy Ring
Created by Kris Penney, Designer/Owner
KL Jewelry Design
Materials
6-6mm or smaller beads
3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire of your choice each piece 41/2″ long
1″ 20 gauge half round wire of your choice
 
Tools
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters
Emery file
Ring mandrel
Rawhide or nylon hammer
Polishing cloth
Masking Tape
Fine tip marker
 
Step 1
Cut 3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire to 41/2″ in length.  Using the polishing cloth clean and straighten each piece.
 
Step 2
Tape the ends of the bundle of wires together and mark the center of the wire. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 3
With the 20 gauge half round wire and your flat nose pliers make a hook on one end.  The end of your hook should be at a slight angle so you have something to hold onto while you are wrapping the bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 4
With your non-dominate thumb hold the wrap wire just to one side of the mark on the bundle wires and with your dominate hand wrap the wire around the side of the bundle wires.  With your flat nose pliers press the wrap wire into place. 
 
 
 
 
Step 5
Continue doing this until you have three complete wraps on the outside of the bundle wires.  Be sure to start and end your wraps on the same side of the bundle wires, this is the inside of your bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 6
Trim the wires so they don’t hang out over the edges of your bundle wires and using your flat nose pliers press them into place.  Run your finger over the top to be sure there are no rough spots.  If there are edges you snag your finger on use an emery board to file the edges and smooth them down.
 
 
 
 
Step 7
Place the center of your bundle wires on the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your final ring size.  with the ring mandrel pressing against your table edge (I do this by putting the largest end of my mandrel against my stomach and the tip against the table and pushing into the table this holds the mandrel in place leaving my hands free to form the ring. 
 
 
 
Step 8
Holding onto the wires push or pull them around the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your finished size so if you want a size 8 ring place your wires at 71/2 on the mandrel.  Continue shaping the wires around the mandrel until they meet at the center. 
 
 
 
 
Step 9
Start your swirl by moving both ends of your bundles tightly around each other. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 10
Continue with the swirl until you have gone all the way round and your wires are now all the way around the swirl.  Remove the tape.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 11
Fan the ends out as you see in the photo.  Try to get them as evenly spaced as you can going around the center swirl.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 12
Slip one of your beads onto any of the wires.  I am using 6 mm beads but in the photo with the red beads I used the largest size of seed beads (E bead) and got a much tighter swirl for those that don’t like “big” rings.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 13
At the very tip of your round nose pliers form a simple loop in the end of the wire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
This wire is just a little bit too long so trim the wire until you have 1/4″ sticking out past the bead.  Now form another loop.  Continue doing this until you get all your beads on and the wires looped.  Sometimes you will have a wire that is short but if you life the wire up from the center swirl you can slip your bead further down your wire and form the loop.  You want the beads as close to the center swirl as you can get them.
 
 
 
Step 14
Slip your ring back on your mandrel and if you need to use the rawhide of nylon hammer to gently tap the ring to shape it and get it to your finished size.  Your ring should have sprung out to the size you wanted after you did the first swirl.  I started at size 71/2 and ended at a size 8.
 
 
 
 
Now you can enjoy your finished ring.  When I have the ring done I put it on and gently press the swirls to smooth them out on my finger to get the ring to fit how I want.  When I am selling these I skip shaping the ring to my finger but be sure to let your customers know to do this.
 
Here are three samples of my Swirling Galaxy Ring

Back to Work!

It’s been awhile since I last posted any of my thoughts.  Sometimes I just get overwhelmed from the fatigue caused by MS and I end up just piddling all day in my studio not really doing anything.  Now I am feeling much better and ready to start blabbing again.

I was at a small Iowa city last weekend for the Atlanticfest and what a fantastic show it was.  I had no idea what to expect especially when I saw the size of the car show that was just a block away.  The good thing was that everyone had to walk past all of us to get to the car show.  Not a lot of people but they were spending money and really liked my items I had out.  I’ve even gotten customers calling the Chamber of Commerce to find out who the jewelry artist from Papillion, NE was.  Yep, that’s me.  How exciting.

Got a call yesterday canceling the fashion show.  They lost 6 models to another show so they had to cancel.  That’s okay the have Fashion Wars coming in October and I will be the only jewelry artist allowed to have a booth and again my pieces will be on the runway.  That’s 40 pieces of jewelry on the runway, in the fliers, in the print ads, and featured on their website.  All just fantastic.  Another piece of bad news is that The Shop Around the Corner will be closing on August 31st and I will have to go pick up my pieces from them.  That’s a shame because it’s a great little shop of all handmade items but they couldn’t keep it going.  I have only had my jewelry in their shop for a few weeks and have already sold two or three pieces.  Items in the Corning Center for Fine Arts continue to sell well but that should be coming to an end this fall.  Any ideas on how I can break into the local galleries that have the exact same artists in them and the artists never have to leave unless they want to.  I’ve been stopping in and visiting with the galleries but nothing seems to make a difference.

I just don’t understand why there isn’t a time frame for moving the arts in and out to refresh things and keep customers coming back to see new artists.  I also notice that the galleries have jewelry artists but for the most part they are silversmiths and I most definitely am a wire artist so all my items would not be the same as the artists already in the gallery.  Oh well I’ll keep pounding away at them and maybe I’ll finally get my foot in the door.

I have finally gotten all my inventory back in my shop on etsy, www.kljewelrydesigns.etsy.com and that took me a couple of months of taking photos and writing descriptions and pricing to get that into place.

I promise that next week I’ll have a free jewelry making tip and tutorial using my tip but for now remember that the best part of waking up is waking up!

Resin Jewelry

Resin cabochon with bronze and blue metallic paints mixed into the resin

I’ve been playing with some resin that I got and making some resin cabochons. Here’s the thing, when you go to buy resin be sure you read the box all the way so you don’t do what I did and pick up resin that turns white when it sets. Turns out it’s pretty cool to add paint to the resin and have that show through with the white but I was originally planning to make clear resin with scrapbook paper in it to see how it looked. Next time.

Do you have some old watches that don’t work? Why not try your hand at resin jewelry? You will need to take the watches completely apart so you have the gears and workings inside, purchase a base metal casting bracelet at your local craft store and clear resin. It’s as simple as that. Mix the resin according to the package directions, gently pour the resin down the craft stick into your bracelet casting until it is about 1/2 full; add your watch pieces, photos, or whatever you are adding and finish filling the casting level with the top of the metal frame.

Long rectangular cabochons of resin with blue metallic paint placed in the mold prior to adding the resin

All you resin to set until it is hard and your bracelet is done. A base metal casting bracelet is simply a common metal such as stainless steel or brass, it is formed into a simple shape such as a rectangle or square and linked together with a clasp. You can purchase these at about any craft store for very little.  If you got any resin over the top of the frames simply use an emery board to file away any extra resin.

I wouldn’t recommend you wear it all the time but a bracelet like this is usually not worn all the time anyway. This inexpensive bracelet should only cost you about $5 to make and is a super fun item to have.

These are a few of the cabochons I’ve made using resin cabochon molds that I purchased at my local craft stores and created using that darn resin that turns white as it cures. I’ll be getting the clear resin soon and trying my hand as other ideas I have rattling around in my brain.  I haven’t done any trimming but that is very simple by using a pair of scissors or a craft knife.  You can even use an emery board (my favorite file) to trim off any extra resin that got over the top of the mold. 

For now hope you have enjoyed this blog and learned that you can always try your hand at making something as easy as a resin and base metal bracelet. 

Kris

Musings from Kris

This weekend I picked up my Kobo eReader to look at an e-book on wire work.  Not anything unusual there.  I looked at the cover of my Kobo like I always do and it said it was powered off; I turned it on and let it do its thing while did something else.  I picked up my Kobo and guess what.  The screen had cracked and you could see ob ad and that was it.  Drat!!  I’m always careful with the Kobo to prevent it from having this exact same thing from happening.  I always kept it in the case even when I was uploading items to it or charging it.

All I could think about was now I only had my desktop computer to view my ebooks and tutorials.  Double drat! I picked up my droid phone and started researching another eReader.  Some of the items I was looking for were:

  1. a color screen
  2. touch screen
  3. reads pdf or epub
  4. larger screen
  5. color screen, did I say that before?  I can’t stress how important this was to me since I do chain maille and some well most of the lessons show different color rings
  6. internet would be nice
  7. easy to charge
  8. easy to figure out
  9. easy to use

Those were the list of what I was looking for.  Number one was the color.  Like I said a lot of ebooks on chainmaille show the pattern using different colors of rings to you can follow what they are doing.  Anyway in case you didn’t know it there are hundreds of ereaders and thousands of reviews for each one.

I narrowed my choices down by my list of wants and then by ease of use.  What I came up with was the new Kobo touch, the Pandigital Novel 7″, and the Cruz.  I compared them side by side and the Kobo touch was quickly eliminated because it is still black and white and it was a preorder so it hasn’t been released yet.  Then I dug into the PDN white and the Cruz and eliminated the Cruz leaving just the PDN white.

I got my PDN white at Radio Shack for just $119 that’s a great sale price since it’s usually $199.  What I like about my PDN white is:

  1. color screen
  2. touch screen
  3. external SD card slot
  4. charger included
  5. USB cable included
  6. plug and play not a lot of setup to start using
  7. easy to transfer files from my computer to my PDN
  8. android system like my phone
  9. android apps can be used on the PDN

Some of the little things that bother me are:

  1. it is heavy compared to other eReaders
  2. loads some files slowly
  3. I have so far found that three pdf files do not work. The photos are not loaded with the pdf.  This will take some research to fix this.
  4. it lost the internet connection last night and I had to reinstall it today
  5. no stores locally sell a hard case for the PDN white so I have to order it
  6. no stores locally sell the screen covers for the PDN white so I have to order them

That’s not much to be cons for this machine.  It is first and foremost an eReader but also works like a tablet with all the apps, office programs, internet and everything else it does that I haven’t even begun to use.  Oh yes you can also watch videos, listen to music, get your email, and upload photos and themes to personalize your Pandigital Novel 7″.  Love this and highly recommend getting it.

Musings from Kris

This week I went out shopping at my local bead stores because I wanted to do some wire work with Artistic wire.

A while ago I bought the Lazee Daizee viking knit tool kit and it came with copper wire. I haven’t played around much with it but I will be today.

What I wanted to talk about today was the Wyr Knittr. I read a ton of really bad reviews about this tool but when I came across it in one of the stores I picked it up to give it a try. I found the little instructions that came with the tool easy to read but the photos are not much help and I happen to be one of those people who rarely reads the instructions because I look at the pictures. If I can’t figure it out by the photos then I read.

Anyway I ended up going to their website and they have much better instructions for using the Wyr Knittr.

The first time I tried to use it the stitches just wrapped around the hooks. I searched the website and found this information and thought yep that’s what I’m doing wrong.

Q. My knitted wire gets bunched up around the top of the Knittr! What am I doing wrong? (This happens only if you have a Wyr Knittr with one clip.) Mine came with three but I was only using one.
A1. Pull down gently but firmly on the nose of the clip that’s holding the wire more often.
A2. The weighted clip may not be hanging freely. Be sure that it does not rest on the table and there is weight on the wire coming out of the machine.
A3. The stitches being knitted are not falling below the latches. Make sure you push EACH STITCH below the latch (see close-up of instructions) or the wire will not knit properly.
A4. It could be that your wire broke around the needles while you were knitting. Look down the tube to see if this has happened and, if so it would be best to just start again.
A5. If you are using 28-gauge wire, you will need to pull down a bit more often since this wire is thicker and less resilient.

Okay so thanks that makes a little more sense, but when I tried it I found that the stitch on the hook didn’t drop below the clasp so I had to find out about that and what to do.  Here’s what I found out, if it doesn’t go below you clasp on your hook you have to push it down.  No other solution for that problem and I had to push it down on every single stitch.

Push down stitch

I started using the Wyr Knittr but I quickly found that holding the wire in one hand and not putting tension on it, turning the handle with the other while holding onto the Wyr Knittr, pushing down each stitch and making sure I didn’t bump the weights and cause them to fall off was just too much to do.  I don’t know about you but I was only born with two hands and even though all moms learn how to multi-task and do things that used to take two hands with only one because the other is holding the child, I still couldn’t do all this.

So when my husband, Steve, got home from work I told him about what problems I was having and the looked around my studio work bench and said, “If you have a dowel that will fit the spool of wire you could put the dowel in your vise and drop the spool on that.  Then you wouldn’t have to hold the wire and your hands would be free.”  Genius, I knew there was a reason why I’ve kept him around for 32 years.

This morning when I got to my studio I got out one of my dowels and put it in the vise, dropped the spool of wire on it and just looked at it and the Wyr Knittr.  I was thinking okay I don’t have to hold the wire but I still have to turn the handle, push the stitch down, hold the Wyr Knittr, and not bump the weights causing them to fall off.  Still too many things with only two hands. 

I have figured out what to do with it and here is what I did.  I got out the clamp I use to hold my rotary cutter when I am making jump rings, placed my vise on one side of my bench and the Wyr Knittr on the other side; I angled the Wyr Knittr so that the handle was free to rotate and the wire could drop through the center without restriction.  Now all I had to do was guide the wire with one hand and turn the handle with the other.  As I said before with every stitch I had to push the stitch down but found I simply turned the handle, pushed the stitch down, and turned the handle.  While I would rather that I didn’t have to push the stitch down each time I found it was easy and quick to do.

I did have  a problem of the wire breaking.  I was using the wire that came with the Wyr Knittr and the only thing I found on their website was that it breaks when you are using too thin of a wire.  What I did was when it broke at the beginning I just kept going and cut it off when I finished, but when it broke in the middle I had to quit and I ended up with a shorter piece than I wanted.  Since I work a lot with wire I know that sometime I’ll need a smaller piece of this and I will get it out of my scraps and use it so it’s not a waste.

Now it was just like it should be and I was free to stuff beads into the mesh or coil it or do just about anything with it.  I decided to draw it down using my Lazee Daizee Viking Knit draw plate.  I pulled the mesh through the draw plate drawing it through a smaller and smaller hole.  I ended up with a slightly longer piece of mesh than I started with but what was the best is that is looks like a chain.  It’s very flexible and just beautiful.  I can’t wait to use this tool with all the colors of 30 gauge wire I have and see what it looks like.

For what it’s worth I would recommend this tool.  It’s so much easier than actually knitting wire in the round and what you end up with is so versatile you are sure to come up with thousands of ideas for your designs.

Here are some photos of my Wyr Knittr set up and the mesh I ended up with.

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