Advent Wreath Stand Repairs

Five years ago Jay and I created an Advent wreath stand for our church.

wreath-stand-close-up

It was a labor of love and it turned out really beautiful. We used wood from the pews of the old church (our church was rebuilt in 2000-ish).

A few weeks ago Jay received a phone call from our priest. It seems that a group of boy scouts who use the church for their meeting had done some damage to the stand. He hoped we would be able to fix it.

From the sounds of it the stand was still assembled (the arms were on it) and it was standing out on a ‘stage’. The boys had been climbing on it or something. I didn’t get pictures of the damage before it was repaired, but a foot was completely broken off, the top of it was gouged and one of the arms had a gouge in it, too.

Why haven’t these kids been taught that you don’t touch things that aren’t yours? And that if you’re using somebody else’s space you don’t mess around with their stuff??? Also, why were the arms still on it? We used the same hardware that is used to assemble bed stands so that they could easily be removed. I even sewed padded sleeves for the arms to be stored in so they wouldn’t get dinged up. Where are they???

Luckily Jay was able to work some magic and put it back together.

Wreath Stand Repair - Arm

This is the bottom of the arm that was gouged. You can see where Jay filled in the area with another piece of oak and then sanded it smooth. I touched it up with a bit of stain and some poly.

Wreath Stand Repair - Finger

While we have the stand at our house he also upgraded the ring holders. Before they were just some screws that he had soldered metal holders onto so that they could be adjusted in and out. This time he put some threaded inserts in the arms and made some threaded rods that can easily be adjusted and shouldn’t break.

Wreath Stand Repair - Armpits

We didn’t repair this one, but you can see that it got dinged, too.

Wreath Stand Repair - Foot

The poor foot! The slice that took it off matched up so well that you can’t tell it was apart. To strengthen this, and the other three feet, Jay added some screws at angles to hold them a little better. Then he wallowed out the gouge on top and filled it with another piece of oak. He then sanded and contoured it after the glue was dry. It doesn’t look perfect, but it will be in the back where it won’t be easily seen.

Finally, as I was taking these pictures, I found a spot on the leg that was scratched up, too.

Wreath Stand Repair - Leg

Not too bad, but it’s there.

Jay will take it back to the church sometime this week so that it will be ready for Advent. Hopefully those children have learned to keep their hands to themselves! Stinkin’ kids…

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ACC: Operation Gratitude

When my October shipment of Annie’s Caring Crochet Club arrived I was happy to see that it was for a charity that supports our military.

ACC - Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude

This organization coordinates all different volunteer opportunities that help our service members. They have three ways that you can virtually volunteer: you can write letters to a service member, make a paracord bracelet, or handmake an item that will be included in a care package. This kit from Annie’s is for the handmade item that will be included in a care package. If you can’t crochet, don’t worry! They have options for knitting, sewing and even making greeting cards. If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing, please make sure to click on one of the links that I’ve provided.

They ask that you crochet (or knit) a scarf or a hat in the recommended colors that the military personnel are allowed to wear with their uniforms. Thus the dark green yarn that came with the kit. I’ve looked at this yarn for a while, but I have no idea who makes it. To be completely honest, my first thought was Red Heart because I don’t like how it feels in my hands. lol

My Operation Gratitude Scarf

The yarn is 100% acrylic and is supposed to be a #4 worsted weight. I’m not convinced.

ACC Operation Gratitude Yarn

You can see that I started the scarf. As I’ve spent time with this yarn I’ve discovered that I really don’t like it. It’s a 2 ply yarn that feels more like the twine that I use on my cucumber trellis in the summer. It likes to split and I just don’t like it. To be fair, when it’s crocheted in the stitch pattern provided it doesn’t feel as bad. It definitely shouldn’t be horrible to wear around your neck. It’s just that I don’t like it as compared to other softer acrylics. For instance, Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn!

I was taking this with me to work so that I could use it as a lunch project. I decided that once I’m done with this one I will pull one of my better acrylic yarns and use that instead. I’m not sure if I’ll use the same pattern, or try to find a different one.

Operation Gratitude Scarf

The pattern is very easy. It’s just the yarn that I don’t care for when using it. I think I’ll have at least one skein of this left when I’m done. I will probably save it for use on my cucumber trellis next year. 😉

In the meantime, I’ve received notification that my next kit is on its way. I will definitely finish this scarf before I start on the new kit. I do have plans to start my next Project Linus blanket that will use the yarn that I received in September. However, I’ll have to see what this month’s charity project is before I decide which one to start next.

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A Bullet Mold

I told Jay that I needed pictures from him so that I wouldn’t upset my followers. After all, if I posted another crochet project there might be a riot. Luckily, Jay had a project waiting in the wings. Apparently somebody where Jay works reloads his own ammunition, but was having a hard time finding bullets. Attempting to make a bullet mold was a challenge that Jay was willing to accept.

Jay has downloaded the pictures to my computer and left them for me to post here. I have not discussed any of these with him, so let’s see what he left sitting on the desktop.

Bullet Mold 1

Make sure that you have enough energy to get through the mold-making process; eat your aluminum popsicle first. It will give you strength and fortitude.

Bullet Mold 2

At first I didn’t know what I was supposed to be looking at in the picture. Then I saw them peeking up over the vise. It’s difficult to determine what’s what in the picture when everything is the same color.

Bullet Mold 3

Quick as a wink you have two metal blocks and some pins. Don’t drop the pins, though, because you’ll never find them.

Bullet Mold 4

Okay, I see a piece of round stock in the lathe…

Bullet Mold 5

The round stock is now wearing a turtleneck…

Bullet Mold 6

<Insert dirty joke referring to ‘just the tip’ here>

Bullet Mold 7

Today’s PSA: Don’t drink and lathe…

Bullet Mold 8

And just like that you have the perfect shade of lipstick for that special tin woman in your life.

Bullet Mold 9

All that work and you cut it in half? Why didn’t you only turn half of it if that’s all you wanted?

Bullet Mold 10

Add a couple drops of water and watch it grow before your eyes! Oh, nevermind, it was just turned around.

Bullet Mold 11

Two Sil-ver Rings….

Bullet Mold 12

That is a very tiny bayonet. It needs to be pointier if you want it to actually work.

Bullet Mold 13

Oh, I see! It’s actually a cutter to make the mold indent for the bullet. That makes a lot more sense.

Bullet Mold 14

“Open wide…”

Bullet Mold 15

Actually, the cutter is reminding me of the wooden paddles you would get with the cups of ice cream when you were in school. Man, I could really go for a vanilla ice cream cup right about now.

Bullet Mold 16

Once the bullet is poured you have to be able to get it out easily while keeping the re-alignment of the mold quick and easy. Mold Hinge.

Bullet Mold 17

I suggested that Jay use Elmer’s glue. He went with bolts instead. I thought he wanted a challenge…

Bullet Mold 18

And just like that you, too, can have your own personal bullet mold!

Bullet Mold 19

Unless you have a very small funnel, you’re going to need to add one more thing to this mold.

Bullet Mold 20

Not only is it a funnel, but it also slices and dices! The next time you need to cut up carrots for a salad reach for your trusty bullet mold!

Bullet Mold 21

Don’t forget to add insulated handles. Otherwise things are going to get a little hot. Let’s see if it works…

Bullet Mold 26

We’ll drizzle a little of this into the mold…

Bullet Mold 23

Voila! A bullet! Let’s see if we can do that again.

Bullet Mold 26

A little more of this…

Bullet Mold 25

Ta-Da!!

Bullet Mold 27

I could do this all day.

Bullet Mold 28

But I’ll stop here.

And that’s how you make a bullet mold!

Next week we’ll attempt a jello mold. Stay tuned.

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Lunch Bags – Half Done!

In August I shared that I had cut out all of the pieces for the lunch bags and was starting to put them together.

Side Fabric Piece - LunchBox

I did a lot of thinking about the best way to do this because I wanted to use my time efficiently. I wanted to rethread my sewing machine as few times as possible. Would it make sense to sew each lunch bag together completely before moving on? Or should I do all of them to a certain point?

Because I wanted to switch the thread on the sewing machine as little as possible I figured that once I started sewing the binding onto the seams I would want the thread to match the lining.

Lunch Box Linings

Since I only had two colors of lining I decided I would do all of the lunch bags with each color as one group. So all of the gray interior bags were done first (because that’s the lining that was on top of my pile). I sewed all the pieces together and got them to the point where you start binding the seams.

Partially Sewn Lunch Bags

Once all 12 gray lined bags were to this point it only took about an hour and a half to finish sewing them together. I should have had them done a lot faster, but my supervisor kept interrupting me.

Bob Supervising 10-12-19

Despite the constant whining (from me, not Bob), I finally finished the first twelve lunch bags!

Lunch Bag First Dozen

They are far from perfect, but I have to keep reminding myself that guys who don’t sew will be receiving them. They probably won’t notice the imperfections.

Lunch Bag with Gray Interior

I liked doing it this way because knowing that I only had a few more steps left for each bag helped it go a lot faster. Having the straps made so that they just had to be attached to the bags helped a lot, too. The only problem is that I have to make more. I only have three left.

Lunch Bag Straps 10-26-21

Which means I’ll be making nine straps AFTER I’ve finished the bags. Right now it’s more important to me that I get the bags assembled. This is the state of the last twelve bags:

Lunch Bag Last Dozen

The tops and sides are assembled. I just have to sew them together (which is one of the trickier parts), add the insulation, then finish sewing them together.

Lunch Bag with Khaki Pieces

I want these to be ready by the first Tuesday in December. That’s the night I’ve scheduled for my small faith group to stuff them with lots of good tasting snacks. I have a month… hopefully that will be enough time!

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Project Linus Blanket #39

Project Linus Blanket #39

Project Linus Blanket #39 - 09 2021 Lake Views

“Lake Views”

Yes, I realize that picture is slightly out of focus, but that’s the best you’re going to get tonight. I feel like I’m a little out of focus so the blanket really fits the mood.

I saw Creative Grandma’s video on YouTube where she showed the Two Way Shell Stitch. After seeing it I thought it would make a great Project Linus blanket.

Project Linus Blanket #39 Lake Views

It would be dense enough that little fingers can’t slip through and it should be a good stash-busting project. I still had some of the Red Heart ombre yarn left over from the Tulip Afghan. I bought two more skeins of the blue ombre and figured I was good to go. Except, I didn’t realize how much yarn this blanket was going to eat! I ended up having to buy MORE of the green ombre yarn, so yet again I’m left with a partial skein of it. If I had continued to crochet with it then the blanket would have turned into a really long and narrow rectangle. Not really the look I wanted.

Project Linus Blanket #39 Detail

This is a free stitch pattern so Glenda doesn’t tell you how many chains to make or how big it will be. I guessed based on my ripple afghans and chained 150. I used an H (5.00mm) hook with the #4 worsted yarn. I really enjoyed this stitch, but I think I’m going to modify it a bit. This is the stitch pattern I’m going to use for the yarn I received in my last Caring Crochet Kit. I have PLENTY of baby yarn so I’m going to see how far I can get with a thinner yarn and the same size hook.

This turned out to be a nice size for a baby’s crip, about 36″ x 38″. It will be very nice for the winter or else to put on the floor. Either way, it was an enjoyable blanket to crochet.

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A Photography Light Box

This blog is very picture-heavy and the problem with that is I’m not a photographer. I don’t have a creative bone in my body and I really am not good at taking pictures. Yet, I like to show you guys what we’re working on, and even though a word can really paint a picture, it just won’t do justice to actually seeing things with your own eyes.

That’s why you get pictures like this:

ACC Knots of Love Hats

I’m doing my best, but it’s just not good enough.

I was thinking about it on my way to work the other day when I realized that if I had a light box I could stage the smaller items in there and use my tripod to hold the camera. Half of my problem is that I can’t get my hands to hold still. Just when I think they are motionless I go to press the shutter button and the camera moves.

As I was grumping around this past Sunday Jay asked me where my box was that I wanted to use for this project. I pointed it out and went back to sewing. The next thing I knew I had a box.

Light Box 2

Light Box 1

I covered the side windows with parchment paper for the light diffusers.

Light Box 3

Then I used some fleece interfacing for the backdrop.

Light Box 4

I couldn’t wait to test it out. I got it set up, my tripod in place and the lights turned on.

Light Box 5

It was at this point I was informed that it had not been properly inspected for use. So I had to go through the inspection process before I was allowed to proceed.

Light Box Bob

“The ceiling is a little low and I don’t know how I’m going to nap in here with all of this light!”

Despite those flaws, the approval was given and I attempted to take good pictures.

First, let me show you what those hats look like using the light box.

Light Box Crocheted Hats

Not too bad. I’m still playing around with camera settings.

Luckily Jay has been making a lot of pens lately, so I had no shortage of items to try photographing.

Turned Icon Pens

Icon Pens

These use regular Bic pen inserts and I love them. The black acrylic one is mine, plus Jay made me a wooden one with my name lasered on it that I use at work.

Turned Bottle Openers 10-12-21

A maple and an oak bottle opener

Turned Bolt Action Pens

Two bolt action pens; one wooden and one acrylic (in a tactical rifle case)

Turned Acrylic Golf Pencil

A golf pencil with a built-in sharpener

Turned Acrylic Blue Comfort Pen

A comfort style pen made using an acrylic blank

And finally, I wanted to take at least one good picture of a cat pen.

Pen Turning - Cat Pen

I am more impressed with these pictures after seeing them on the computer screen versus the screen on the camera. I still need a bit more practice with the camera settings, but I’m already impressed with how well these turned out.

Oh, and does anybody want to buy a pen or bottle opener? 😉

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Project Linus Blanket #38

Project Linus Blanket #38:

Project Linus Blanket #38 9-19-21

“Grandma’s Good China”

This was one of the blankets that I kitted up in 2019. It’s always a surprise to me when I open up the totes, pull a bag out, and look at the colors and my little diagram. Most of this yarn was Red Heart Super Saver, but the wide stripes of variegated yarn were some of the Nicole Stitch Studio that I purchased when A.C. Moore went out of business.

As I was crocheting the blanket the colors reminded me of faded blue and white china that your grandma would have in her china cabinet. My grandma didn’t, but I’m sure somebody’s did.

Project Linus Blanket #38 Detail

In this post I also want to share the latest Annie’s Caring Crochet kit that I received.

ACC - 09 2021 Project Linus

This month’s charity is Project Linus. Gee… where have I read about that charity before? 😉

Since I’ve been contributing to this charity for a few years now, I’m not going to do a separate post for this kit. The one thing I would remind anybody who is going to crochet for these charities is to make sure that you check the group’s website before working on your project. I say that because when I saw the pattern that was included this month I knew it wouldn’t work for my local Project Linus.

ACC - 09 2021 Pattern

The woman who runs our local chapter specifically tells knitters and crocheters to be careful when choosing “holey” patterns because little fingers and medical equipment can get caught in them. I’m not sure she would like this pattern. That’s okay with me, though, because I can still use the yarn. I’m going to use a much denser stitch and make a slightly larger baby blanket. I’m going to try to gear it more towards a boy (since my chapter coordinator is always in need of boy blankets) so I dug through my stash of baby yarn to see what I had that would match. I think I came up with a couple skeins.

ACC - 09 2021 Yarn Plus

I have a few skeins of white and a light mint green that seems to go with the green in this striped yarn. I couldn’t figure out what yarn this is so it might be a discontinued yarn. Who knows. We’ll see how it crochets up when I get to that blanket. I tried to get a better picture so that you can see how well these colors go together.

ACC- 09 2021 Yarn Colors

I wish I had some of that blue to add, but the green will work.

This will end up being blanket #40 because I already have #39 ready to be photographed. My fingers have been busy!

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Let’s Table This…

If you can believe it, I’ve actually been working on projects other than crocheting or sewing. I know! Jay was shocked, too!

This past spring Karen, Jay’s mom, asked me if I could help her refinish her dining room table. It had seen better days. I forgot to take pictures before I started working on it, but luckily I found some older pictures in Jay’s files that kind of shows you what the table looked like before I started on it.

KTable Before 1

This isn’t the worst damage, but I wanted you to see the beating that this poor table has taken in its lifetime. It was originally purchased in 1979 and has been refinished once since that time. However, thousands of games of Hot Dice will really take its toll. There were some really rough spots that I worried I wouldn’t be able to smooth out.

KTable Lee's Spot

This spot in front of Jay’s grandma was the smallest of the two bad spots. You can see how the finish has literally been chipped away. There were ridges that had developed, too. The worst spot, though, was this next one.

KTable Dan's Spot

It’s not the best picture, but you can see under Dan’s hand that there’s a lot more chipping and ridges. Plus, you can see all of the dimpling in the reflection on the table.

I knew that this was an oil-based finish and I was a bit nervous because the only experience with oil-based poly I have is when I refinished my living room floor at my last house. I’ve never used it for furniture, though. I did some research and settled on the Arm-R-Seal from General Finishes. There is a woodworking store near my sister’s house, so when I was there this summer I picked up some of this finish plus an Antique Walnut gel stain. I went purely by memory on that one.

So first I had to strip the old finish.

KTable Stripping2

KTable Stripping1

KTable Stripping 3

I was using a furniture stripper that I’d had sitting around for a few years so I actually ended up slathering the table top twice with it in order to get most of the color and old lacquer off. Karen and I ended up using some old fashioned elbow grease to scuff down the more stubborn spots.

After two stripping sessions (and no cash!) the table looked like this:

KTable Before Sanding1

KTable Before Sanding 2

The next step was to sand the snot out of it. Not only did I want to remove some more of the color, but I also needed to beat down the ridges from those really worn spots. I pulled out the oscillating sander and worked my way from 80 grit up to 220 grit.

KTable After Sanding1

KTable After Sanding 2

I managed to sand the ridges out pretty well. I didn’t want to take all of the “memories” out of it, but I had to get it almost smooth. I think I did a pretty good job.

Then it was time for the stain. As I said, I bought a gel stain so this was a first for me, too. I can’t say that I’m a big fan. I’m used to the liquid stain so I’ll probably stick with that for future projects.

KTable Stained 1

KTable Stained 2

I was afraid it was too dark, but it turned out to match the legs exactly. Karen says that it looks exactly like it did when it was new.

After three layers of Arm-R-Seal, this is the end result:

KTable Finished1

KTable Finished 2

Karen is happy with it and that’s all that matters. I guess the big compliment to me will be if nobody notices that it’s been refinished. 😉

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I Need A White Sweater

I kept telling myself, “I need a new white sweater!” If you’ve ever worked in an office then you know that in the summer most offices could easily store gallons of ice cream as a side business. Although, they might get too cold and be hard to scoop when you actually need them. Needless to say, I always take a sweater to work with me so that I don’t freeze. Except, I had given the two white sweaters I had to Goodwill because they were annoying me. They didn’t fit very well and the one would constantly fall off my shoulders no matter what I tried.

Then one day it hit me, “Hey Dummy! You crochet. You have some cotton acrylic yarn waiting to be used, not to mention an entire stack of crochet magazines. Make your own sweater!”

After pouring over my magazines I settled on the Two-Lace Cardi designed by Margret Willson. I couldn’t find a link to just the pattern, but it was in the April 2020 issue of Crochet World magazine.

Two-Lace Cardi CW042020

I settled on this pattern because it was dressy enough for the office without looking like a nice bag lady, and it called for yarn that was very close to what I had in my stash.

I had purchased some Alara yarn from Ice Yarns last year.

Ice Yarns Alara

The pattern called for Premier Yarn’s Cotton Fair. When I did my comparison to see if they would be close enough, it looked good to me.

Cotton Fair (#2, 317yds per 3.5oz) – .0110 oz/yd

Alara (#3, 153yds per 1.76oz) – .0115 oz/yd

I did a gauge swatch and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get gauge. I could get it height-wise, but not width wise. I kept getting too many stitches in the gauge. I was tired of looking at it and trying to fix it, so I decided that since the height was fine I wouldn’t have to worry about that because the cardi would end up being long enough. My problem was making sure it would go around me. I decided that I would make the biggest size because then if it was a bit smaller, it would be okay. Also, keep in mind that you’re supposed to block this sweater when you’re done, but let’s be real… after I wear it and wash it I’m not going to block it each time. I want a sweater that I can toss in the washer and then hang to dry (at the most).

For the most part the pattern wasn’t difficult to follow. It was marked as ‘Intermediate’, so I figured I could easily handle it. The only problem I really had was when it came time to make the sleeves. Essentially she says to use the stitch pattern that you’ve been using in the body of the cardi, but increase so many stitches over x number of rows. This is lacey so there are lots of chains and spaces and such, and I didn’t know how that would end up working to increase a row on a space. I ended up spending a few hours literally writing the pattern out using symbols and figuring out where my increases would go and how I would do them. Then I figured out the repeat and followed that for the sleeves. I must not have done it right because I feel like my sleeves are huge as compared to how they look in the picture.

Anyway, here is my final result:

Two-Lace Cardi Front 2021

Yes, it’s way bigger than I needed, but on the plus side it fits around my chest perfectly!

Also, please note that I haven’t washed it yet so that might tighten it up a bit. Like I said, I’m not blocking this. I just needed a white sweater to keep me warm in the summer.

The pattern has you make a button band and they want you to put buttons on this. I said no and just did a solid border. If I want to clasp it closed I can sew on some hooks or snaps or something. I’m not too worried about it.

Two-Lace Cardi Back 2021

Cotton tends to grow as you wear it, too, and it doesn’t shrink back into place. Cotton yarn doesn’t keep it’s “memory” if you know what I mean. Think about a cotton washcloth and how stretched out it gets after you use it for dishes. After you wash and dry it it pulls itself back. In fact, I might dry this in the dryer the first time I wash it to see if it shrinks it up a bit. Then after that I will hang it to dry.

I don’t think it turned out too bad. With every sweater I’ll get better.

I kept all the ball bands so that I would know how much yarn I used. I used 13 full balls and one partial. Not too bad. This yarn was great to work with and I can only think of one knot I came across while crocheting. Not once did I want to put the project down because the yarn was annoying me. It was also nice to work with and didn’t tire my hands out at all. I love Premier yarn, but at almost half the price I would definitely use Alara again for a cotton top.

Two-Lace Cardi Side 2021

“Bob, Mama is busy! I’ll feed you in a minute!”

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I Wish I Had a Pen…

I know that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. It’s not for lack of projects. I am currently in the process of crocheting two different blankets, I have two different sewing projects underway, plus I am in the middle of a refinishing project. The problem is that I don’t have enough pictures of any of these to make a decent blog post.

Jay has been working odd schedules and taking classes for work, so he hasn’t had a lot of productive time in the shop. He did get two more 3D wooden puzzles put together, but I don’t have pictures of them. So, we’ll go with the old stand by… pens.

This time I want to show you two different pens he made at my request.

Up first is the Icon Pen that uses the ballpoint end and ink from a Bic pen.

Icon Pens

Aren’t they pretty? I have to admit that I’m pretty low maintenance, so I prefer these Bic pens. I also enjoy the cushioned grip. Plus, Jay loves me so he personalized one for me.

Personalized Icon Pen

Next up I saw some kits and asked Jay to purchase them so that I can give them away for gifts. Are you ready for some absolute adorableness???

Cat Lovers Pens

AWWWWWW!!! Kitties!!!!

Come on, you have to admit that the little kittens in the baskets are ADORABLE!

Cat Pens Tops

Everybody needs a cat pen.

Cat Lovers Names

With their names on them. The outside two pens were given to the director and assistant director of the cat shelter where I volunteer. They have to do a lot of stuff that is difficult and would hurt my heart, so I wanted to show them my appreciation. They really loved them.

And one more picture because you just can’t have enough adorableness.

Personalized Cat Lovers Pens

Finally, the last picture I have does not have a pen in it. Are you ready?

Turned Bottle Openers

Do you know what these are? Any guesses? No, they aren’t extra-classy whistles. They are bottle openers. Every time I look at the very light middle one I think it looks like bone. It’s actually maple. Isn’t that neat?

I hate to make you groan, but even though this is the last of the pen pictures today I can guarantee that they will be back. Jay has a BUNCH of kits still to make, so you’ll be hearing more from his lathe.

Until then, may your nib be sharp and your ink well full!

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