Saturday, 17 November 2012

New - Hair Bands

Here is something that I've been thinking about trying for a while, now - chainmaille hairbands.

It took me some time to take the plunge and make one because I don't solder (I'd like to someday, but there are just too many little people underfoot in the house right now to try something that could be so potentially dangerous).  I finally made one for myself and have been wearing it almost daily for weeks to try it out.  I am happy to report that I haven't had a single hair get caught or pulled!

Each hair band has a section of elastic in the back for a good fit.  And, it makes them very comfortable to wear, too.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

"Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts." - Jim Morrison

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Donation Day 2012

Yesterday was Adam's 3rd birthday.

It was also the day that I donated all that had accumulated in the donation fund between October 1, 2011, and September 30, 2012, (from both last October's "Adam's Month" promotion and sales of the year-round donation pieces) to the IWK Foundation in his memory.

I would like to say a big "Thank you" to all the wonderful friends and customers that made this year's donation possible.

October isn't over yet - there is still time to order some holiday gifts or a little something for yourself, adding 20% of the price to next year's donation fund.

I think we'll follow Jerry Lewis' lead and aim to donate at least $1 more next year. What do you think?

"In charity there is no excess." - Francis Bacon

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sometimes You Need a Little Nudge...

Sometimes you have an idea but need a little push to go forward with it.
New Hair Clips!
That's the way it was with these scale flower and trillium hair clips - I had been toying with the idea of hair clips since the necklaces, pendants, and brooches were so well received last Fall.

The nudge necessary to get them made came from a lovely lady at a craft fair this Summer, and here they are!

Individual photos of the hair clips I have made so far are on Facebook , but these have not been listed on Etsy yet, so you're getting a bit of a sneak peek!

What do you think?

"The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." - Carl Jung

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Bitter and The Sweet

If things had gone differently in December 2011, I'd be announcing a little one's arrival this month.  But, that wasn't to be. The miscarriage was sad  and disappointing but not life-altering like Adam's loss was, so, as a couple, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and decided to try again.

For years, I heard women say that a woman 'knows' when the family is complete.  I had fully expected to have that feeling of 'done' when Clara was born.  But, I didn't.  And, that worried my - What if the family never felt complete because Adam would always be missing?  But, for those few weeks last Fall, I felt it.  One more baby would complete the family.  One more baby and I could part with my maternity clothes and with the baby gear as the little one outgrew it.  That was the positive I could pull from the experience - I could have that elusive 'complete' feeling after all.

Now, here we are.  The last little DeChamp is due in January 2013 (but a late December arrival is more likely).  So far, all is going well, but the anxiety and worry that is part of the territory in a rainbow pregnancy is there, too.  While we are both hoping and praying to bring this last little one home, we both also agree that, no matter what happens, this is our last pregnancy.  So, we're trying to push the memories and anxieties off to the side so we can enjoy this last time as much as we can.

One last baby.

"We have suffered, but we have survived;  we are hurting, but we are enduring."
- Ben Van Vechten

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Guest Post - ArianaJaquysh

Here's a post from another great humanitarian Etsy shop, ArianaJaquysh, which helps support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by selling knit market bags and photo cards.  Here is how it began, and how you can help, in Ariana's words:

"Hello all - My name is Ariana.  I'm a wife, mama, knitter, and sporadic runner... and, on occasion, I like to combine knitting and running.

I had a fairly normal childhood... well, if a normal childhood includes living in a teepee on 100 acres.  My sister and I ran around like wild-beast children on my grandparents' property - climbing trees, exploring the castle (yep... a castle but it was filled with black widow spiders), and taking baths in the claw-foot tub in the garden.

Knit Market Bags
The flip-side of my hippie childhood was visiting my other grandparents - where we wore velvet dresses with ruffled socks and were taught to be "little ladies."  One of the things my grandmother attempted to teach us (mostly me because I showed more interest) was how to sew, knit, and crochet.  The sewing didn't stick and to this day I can barely stitch a straight line.  The knitting and crocheting stuck a bit more but even those I eventually forgot/stopped.

Then many (many) years ago I was visiting with a friend who knit but wanted to learn how to crochet so we swapped lessons and I've been knitting ever since.

How does this connect with Team In Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, you ask?  Well, first you need another little piece of back-story...

Inn 2009 I became very sick... tests and more tests but no good solutions or answers.  Luckily it turned out to be nothing major but I did have to have surgery.  In the middle of all this, my sister call and says "Hey, you wanna run a half-marathon with me?"

Um... let's see... I've been sick for over a month, barely eating, and losing weight too fast to be healthy and you're asking if I want to run 13.1 miles?!

"It's with Team In Training to raise month for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society."

Photo Cards
Oh... okay

And less than 2 weeks after my surgery we went to Kick-Off and started training.

When you join Team In Training you commit to raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while getting phenomenal coaching and mentoring as you train for an endurance event.  Since I was a knitter and had, a couple of years previous, perfected my Market Bag pattern I thought "I'll sell my market bags and donate a portion to LLS as a fundraiser!"

And in my 4th (eeek!) consecutive year of joining TNT to run the Nike Women's Marathon, I continue to donate 80% of the purchase price of every market bag to LLS to help find a cure for blood cancers.  This year I've also added a few of my original photo cards - 100% of their purchase price will be donated to LLS.

This year, Nike will be on Sunday, October 14, 2012 and more than 20,000 women (and quite a few men) will take over the streets of San Francisco to help fight cancer.  Since the Nike Women's Marathon began in 2004, runners have raised more than $118 million dollars for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Here are a few ways you, dear blog readers, can help...
*Buy one of my market bags or photo cards through my Etsy shop:  ArianaJaquysh

*Buy a raffle "ticket" for one of my market bags - you about the raffle, right?  You don't?  Well, for every $5 donated through my fundraising page you'll get 1 raffle entry for my newest (not-yet-listed) market bag, Creamsicle!  You can see a picture of it on my Facebook page but you better hurry - the raffle ends July 31st!  Market Bag Raffle

*Or, if you'd like, you can simply make a donation - any amount, every amount, will help patients receive the care they need and help fund cancer research.

Whew!  I know... a lot of info!  But if you have any questions - about TNT, LLS, or just general questions for me - I'm more than happy to answer :)


Saturday, 23 June 2012

What's in a Label?

Every so often, in any forum frequented by artistic and/or crafty people, the question "How do you think of yourself - as an artist, an artisan, a crafter, or a craftsman?" comes up.

A look at a dictionary shows that these labels are very similar - in fact, these words often turn up in each other's definitions.

So, I guess it comes down to subjectivity - what do those words make you think of?  I think of an artist as someone skilled in the fine arts, such as painting or sculpting.  To me, a craftsman is more of a tradesman, making things like high-quality furniture or cabinets.  When I hear the term 'crafter,' I think of a hobbyist who dabbles in several crafts rather than specializing in one or two.

The label that resonates best with me is 'artisan,' which defines as "a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods."  That very succinctly expresses what I strive to be.

And, I guess that's the good thing about labels we can choose for ourselves - we can select the ones that feel right for who we are right now and inspire us in who we want to be.

"People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.  But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates."  - Thomas Szasz

Monday, 9 April 2012

WaterCan Fundraiser

If you are in the Toronto area, there's a great event this Saturday (April 14, 2012), starting at 7:00 pm.

Lauren of Her Pretty Bird on Etsy and Civello Rosedale, an Aveda Salon/Spa in Toronto, is part of the organizing team holding their 2nd annual fundraiser at The Spoke Club in downtown Toronto. All of the money raised will be donated to WaterCan, a Canadian charity focusing on providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education to the world's poor.

There will be a silent auction (items up for bid include 1 night at The Cosmopolitan Hotel with a couples spa package, a one-year membership to Florida Jack's Gym, a Civello makeover, and much more).

If you aren't the bidding type, they will be raffling off many more great prizes, including a month of unlimited yoga at 889 Yoga, a Tickle Your Tummy cookie basket, a Neil brothers gift basket, Her Pretty Bird jewelry, a Dark Cycle t-shirt - something for everyone.

Last year's inaugural event was a great success, raising both money and awareness.  Why not take in the entertainment, learn more about WaterCan and the great work that they do, and maybe pick up a great prize while you're at it?

For more information about this great event, you can check the website at or contact the organizers by email at

"Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."  - Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Guest Post - Safety Net

Here's a post from Sheila, one of the great people behind Safety Net, an Etsy shop raising money to open the Cottonwood Commons Transition Home so domestic violence survivors won't have to leave all their friends and family to seek refuge.

" Hi folks. This is Sheila from over at Cottonwood Commons Transition Home in Deer Lodge, MT. You probably haven’t heard of us. Or our little town. But I can tell that you’re the kind of person who cares about the lives of others, even those you don’t know. You just have that vibe. 

Put on your walking shoes and get ready because I’m about to take you on a tour of our little slice of heaven, in Deer Lodge Valley between the Flint Creek Mountains and the Continental Divide. Here, I’ll show you:

Not too shabby.

But amidst the beauty of nature and the quiet style of rural life lurks a big ugly scar: domestic violence. The abuse rates in our area are horrendous. Any violence is unacceptable, but especially that which is directed at those intended to be cherished above all others. Unfortunately, our small population of just over 3,000 people cannot attract the services available to domestic violence sufferers in larger cities. We have one victim advocate who works tirelessly to serve all crime victims in the county. It was she who first noticed the need for more services and led the initiative to establish a transition home. 

Put your walking shoes aside and put on your sympathetic glasses. Let’s pretend for a moment that you are here in Deer Lodge and have found yourself in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. You want to leave, but there is nowhere to go in town that can separate you from your abuser. They know your where best friend lives, your parents, even your pastor. Your children are school aged.  You will not leave without them. You’ve thoroughly researched your options and it seems like the only safe place you can go is 40 miles away. That means leaving that best friend. Leaving your parents. Leaving what support you might have in your religious community. That means relocating to a strange place you’re unfamiliar with and don’t know many people. What about your children? Are they better off being taken from their friends and enrolling in a new school? Deer Lodge is the only life you’ve ever known. You don’t want to leave, but you can’t stay. It seems like there is no way out. You begin to wonder if it’s even worth it… Slowly but surely, you convince yourself that it would be better for you to stay where you are than to take such a major risk. 

As you might imagine, the lack of services makes leaving a dangerous relationship all the more daunting. A transition home in Deer Lodge would mean a safe, secure place that allowed survivors the comfort of being “home.” We are currently doing anything we can think of to raise funds towards our non-profit status (which is an $800 application fee) and startup costs. We were donated a private home in town to use, which is a huge head start. Our Etsy shop, Safety Net,  sells handmade goods from community members who have donated their time, materials, and talents to help us make this dream a reality. Right now, most of our items are crocheted, like this laptop sleeve:
Purple Flower Laptop Sleeve - $18.00 USD

Or this arm-knitted scarf:

We are working on gaining awareness and support for our project at our blog.  The plan is not only to provide a safe, comfortable place to live for up to two years rent free while a survivor is moving on, but also to improve quality of life. We are seeking our volunteer teachers for classes like cooking, basic hygiene, sewing, financial management, and other life skills. We are building relationships with local businesses to provide on the job training. We are working to transform lives from hell to hope. We hope that someday we can help other little towns with similar problems, and perhaps more importantly similar hearts, to make a difference in their communities. If you are interested in helping us meet our goals, or keeping an eye on our progress, feel free to stop by any of our links. 

See, I knew you were a person who cares. That’s a good vibe to give. "
"This is not love.  It is a crime,...You can't look the other way just because you have not experienced domestic violence with your own flesh."  - Salma Hayek

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Everything Old...

Take an ancient technique like chainmaille and add a craft from the 1960s and here's what you might get...

...a cracked marble pendant caged in chain...

...or, a caged cracked marble keychain.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Guest Post - We Are Bound Together

Here's another new humanitarian shop - We Are Bound Together.  Read, in her own words, how Andrea has combined her bookbinding skills with her desire to help others.

" My journey into bookbinding started when my husband and I began thinking seriously about where our stuff came from .  We started making an effort to buy products where the workers were being treated the way we would want to be treated - ethically and fairly.

This was before I knew much about Etsy.  I had the hardest time finding photo albums.  So I decided to look into making one myself.  I had always been artsy, so I figured that there must be some way.  Hence my adventure of bookbinding began.

I found that I really enjoyed the craft of creating hand bound books.  I love working with the pretty fabric and the different styles available to bookbinding.  At this point all of my books were gifts to people I knew.  But I felt that this was something I could really get into.

Parallel to all this, the desire to help others was something my husband and I both possessed.  We didn't always do it right, but we learn through our experiences.  At one point I really wished I could do more, especially for persecuted Christians around the world.  They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and as a family we should support them.  We donated bits of money here and there, but the desire to help remained a passion of mine.

One day the idea came to me of the possibility of making hand bound books to sell and the proceeds going toward those who are suffering.  I had heard of Etsy by that time and that seemed like the perfect market.  I was unable to fulfill that idea at that time, but it remained a dream of mine.

A few months ago, the opportunity came where I could go through with my dream.  My husband greatly encouraged me, and now I have a store on Etsy, opened only just very recently.  Currently it features my "duct tape" books.  The covers are recycled book covers, covered with duct tape.  People like duct tape wallets so why not books too?  I will be producing my fabric covered books soon.

My store, "We Are Bound Together" combines my work of bookbinding with my desire to help persecuted Christians.  The name has a double meaning.  We are bound together as believers, and by binding books I hope to serve.  I do no donate to a single organization, but rather through a few.  Currently the three that I focus on are "Voice of the Martyrs", "Open Doors" and "International Christian Concern".

My store is still in its infancy, so I don't have any great advice for those considering something like what I'm doing.  Only take it one day at a time and try not to get too overwhelmed.  Getting started is more work than it looks, but I believe it's worth it in the end.

You can find me at:
my website,
my etsy store,
my facebook, http// "

"If we cannot now end our differences,
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."
- John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Fish Creek Finery

Lucy at work.
Sometimes craftiness and humanitarianism take root young.

Lucy is a 10-year-old with a big heart.  She decided that she wanted to help less fortunate children and started making woven potholders and braided & breaded bookmarks to raise money for Child Fund International.  Instead of sponsoring another child (the family already sponsors a Haitian teen through World Vision), Lucy donates to specific projects.  So far, she has helped buy blankets for babies in Mozambique, mosquito netting in Africa, and school supplies and a school uniform for an orphaned girl in India.  Another $100 donation (that has turned into $1694 through matching grants) is helping to build Hospital Huts in Senegal villages that don't have doctor clinics.

The potholders are available in many different designs.
The next project Lucy is planning to fund is a fruit orchard for a farming family in a developing country.  Once she makes that donation (the target is $79), a family will be able to grow fruit for their own use and sell any extra in a market - helping both the family's health and financial well-being.

You can find Lucy's potholders and bookmarks in the Etsy shop she shares with both her mother and her aunt - Fish Creek Finery.

While you're there, check out the necklaces, bracelets, beaded dog & cat collars, dog coats, and dog collars made from vintage belts made by the other two-thirds of this shop.  20% of the proceeds from all the pet items are donated to pet rescue organizations.  Put that with the 100% Lucy donates from her items, and you have a whole lot of giving from 3 talented ladies.  What a family!

"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child.  The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." - Emma Goldman

Thursday, 1 March 2012


One of my goals for 2012 is to de-clutter and organize our house.  Two month in, and the going is slow.

So far, the downstairs bathroom has been done, my chainmaille supplies & tools are organized, and there is a box nearly full of items to donate.  But, I could use a few more hours in the day.  Finding time to work on this house-overhaul is not easy.  Dealing with the little one's naps and a husband who works nights and sleeps in the day complicate things.

And, the toys.  Oh my, the toys.  Every couple of weeks, I've been going through the toys in the living-room, pulling those that are broken or missing pieces and the ones that no one has been playing with.  Either the toys are reproducing when the lights go out or they are migrating from the boys' bedroom.  sigh.

Oh well.  It's only March, right?

"Don't agonize. Organize."  - Florence Kennedy

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Angel Baby Pins

A selection of Angel Baby Pins.
Sometimes we find our calling through our tragedy.  Angel Baby Pins is the newest part of a great mission of outreach and support.

Kandis is a fellow angel-mom.  Her son, Isaiah, was stillborn on October 23, 2008.  Trying to pull something positive from a nightmare, Kandis turned to her sewing machine, creating hats, blankets, and burial gowns for Threads of Love, a non-profit sewing organization that provides handmade memory keepsakes for families facing the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  Isaiah's Chapter (which became official on Isaiah's first Heavenly birthday in 2009) also completes memory boxes, hosts a Day of Remembrance each October, and has a fundraising sale each Spring.  And, now, this amazing lady is also making pins.

New pin designs.
Kandis began making pins for pregnancy and infant loss awareness but has expanded her vision to include pins to raise awareness for other causes, as well.  A pin can be custom-made for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one and for anyone wanting to raise awareness for a specific disease or ailment.

My custom pin.
But, Angel Baby Pins has another mission, too.  Kandis and her husband dream of adding a living child to their family and are saving the money from the sale of the pins to fund either an adoption or IVF.  A worthy cause in its own right.  So, take a look at Angel Baby Pins.  I know I can't wait for mine to arrive.

"Who better to softly bind up the wounds of anther, than he who has suffered the wound himself?" - Thomas Jefferson