Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It suddenly dawned on me today that it is the LAST day of 2008 and I haven't tatted in days! I was determined to tat something before the day was over. I'd been lusting after Jon's celtic snowflake, (she has a different name for it but I can never remember it or spell it without looking it up) and I had that thread from Melissa, my Secret Santa, that I wanted to try, so here's the center. It has a very short repeat on the thread, about every inch, and it created this "beaded" sort of look.

Originally I picked a lavender to contrast with it but once I got the center done, it didn't look right so I tried this off-blue. Once I got that done though, it didn't seem quite right either.

So I tried this purple which really looked bad when I put them together! I did find a dusty sort of lavender in my stash but I was bored with making the second part by then so I just went with the blue. I was very pleased with the result.

Yeah, I made a bookmark out of it. You may have noticed I tend to do that quite frequently these days. A few years ago, I noted a great abundance of motifs as I tatted one of a kind just to try a thread or a pattern. I had so many that I even offered a challenge - to make 100 motifs in a year - as it seemed I must surely be doing. Apparently, that was too big of a bite for most people as I only heard from one person, Wally Sosa, and since there was only one person interested, I didn't pursue it. However, Wally and Sharon Briggs worked the whole idea over and came up with something much more palatable to tatters, especially new tatters, and it became the hugely successful 25 Motif Challenge. I'm so glad they did - it has encouraged new and seasoned tatters to tat more and design more and learn more. It also was the catalyst for all the tatting blogs we have now and ultimately, patterns like the one I just tatted.

Thanks especially to Sharon for setting up the blog and system to follow everyone. It really was a huge undertaking that I certainly wasn't equipped to do or even think of!

But all those motifs is also why I have started turning them into bookmarks! At least this way they aren't just sitting around and piling up. They become card inserts and small gifts.

Yesterday I ended up at a small (I thought) store in Rennselaer, Indiana called The Needle's Point that a friend recommended to me. I was hoping to find thread and there was thread, but it was all embroidery floss and quilting thread, nothing different from what I have. But the quilting section with fabric and threads and books was only part of the store. There was a room each for scrapbooking, for painting, for specialty kitchen items, and 2 rooms that appear to be a gift shop, like Hallmark's. In the end, I got the snowman tea-for-one which was 50% off. I wasn't going to get it, but ...darn...couldn't pass up a good price like that! I'll add it to my Christmas themed tea-for-ones. Also in the photo is the Tea Calendar from Daughter-in-law #1 and the tea ball with the tea cup. The white tea cup with detached infuser inside is from Daughter-in-law #2. She and my son also got me some assorted teas and a very nice hardback book on tea.

And this cute little Christmas tree tea infuser came with a bag of Christmas tea that I bought on clearance at Walmart today. I have several different shapes of infusers but not this one. Some day I'll have a way to display all these pretties.

Tomorrow I'll post about my plans and goals for 2009. For now, I want to wish everyone a magnificent year full of love and laughter and inspiration!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I've been busy while waiting for the tree to be cut up and the debris moved out. They had to come back today to finish up and did a very good job of it. Another company came out and sealed up the house to prevent further damage in case of snow or rain. find out who will do the work and when. Lots of offers. I just want it done right.

One of the things I did was review my Anna Magazine collection. They've been out of publication for two years now and I realized how much I miss it. They had courses annually in tatting, knitting , crochet, embroidery of all kinds.....very inspiring. One thing that came to mind, and I wanted to scan a photo but don't want to dig through to find them now, was that tatting was used extensively to embellish linens as edgings and inserts. We (tatters in general) tend to make a lot of motifs rather than putting them into larger projects. A tablecloth does not have to be completely tatted. Small motifs strategically placed as insertions and an edging will still create a beautiful and possibly more serviceable tablecloth or even a table runner.

Anyway, I was specifically looking for crochet inspiration. I'm working on a beginning thread crochet class for my lace group as preparation for a crochet lace project, yet to be determined. I'll run the class in early spring at the library for 4 to 6 weeks, not sure how long yet, and that should end right before our regularly scheduled meeting/program. I've learned with tatting that if you have something going every week so that the student has to practice on a regular basis, that they will pick it up much faster. I also need several samples of different kinds of crochet and that's what this piece is. It's a simple bag in filet crochet. I don't lke the thread at all. I didn't want to use my good tatting thread so I used a ball of Southmaid Crochet Cotton that I have from my old crochet stash. It feels thick and rough compared to my beautiful tatting thread! The instructions are actually for size 30 thread and this is size 10 but I want my students to be able to see the stitches easily. Some of my samples will be in 3 sizes of thread to show different results from the same pattern.

I've also been knitting, trying to finish up my granddaughter's foldover mittens. This is why I seldom knit anymore. It seems to take forever and ever to complete something. My first mitten looks so bad ....ladders all over where my needles met. The second mitten isn't showing ladders at all but I changed my technique slightly which apparently made a huge difference. No, I won't be doing the first one over. I had already done a large part of it over and these will be mostly for horsing around outside. And as a learning lesson for me!

As I caught up on computer stuff today, I kept looking at this "Deluxe Wild Wire writing system" that I bought on clearance last year or the year before. Thought it was time I tried it out! So I opened it up, put the pegs in the jig to spell my name and went at it. I didn't like the "G" to begin with or the "i" but it really wasn't hard to do. I'm sure with practice I could turn out some pretty good wire-writing, but it seems to me that the wire bends too easily. It would be okay for a scrapbook, where it wouldn't be disturbed, but not for wearing. I remember as a child that my mother had a wire name pin - her and dad's names (Dot & Sonny) in gold, attached together by a fine gold chain. I have no idea where it went but it's one of those early romantic/nostalgic childhood memories that stays with me.

So...I want to finish up either the knitting or crochet so that I can TAT! I may just take a break from both and do that anyway.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I thought I had a photo of my favorite hickory tree posted but a search doesn't find it. I suspect it was on one of those old online photo albums that no longer exists and I haven't bothered to fix the pictures. is that favorite hickory now. It fell during strong winds last night at 1:00 a.m.

I was in the living room, taking a break from my knitting, when there was a big boom and I saw something fall in the hallway. When I got up to investigate, it was the piece of wood that covers the attic access. I looked out my front door and saw tree branches. It happened that I have a stepladder in the house and brought it over and climbed up to put the board back, with flashlight in hand. I could feel the cold draft and with the flashlight, I could see a hole in my roof.

This is where the tree landed. It punched a hole in the roof and tore off guttering and the southmost section. I immediately called my insurance company, was on hold for a good 15 minutes before I got through, and they advised me to try to find someone to cut the tree up and they would send someone to make some emergency repairs to prevent further damage.


I'm still waiting for someone to cut up the tree. I can only get out of the house through the basement door. The tree blocks the entrance to the garage so I can't drive anywhere either.

Good news? I'm not hurt. I still have power. The house is intact inside and comfortable. I have coverage. Someone should be here soon. It's not pouring rain or even raining. The sun is coming out.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

There's not a lot of demand for striping in tatting but for those who knit or crochet or sew items with stripes, and who design, visualizing the outcome can be tricky. While browsing CraftStylish this morning, I found a link to a stripe generator at Biscuits and Jam. You select the colors you want to work with and the number of rows for each color. It's limited to the same number of rows for each color, in other words, you can't mix it up with wide and narrow stripes. Then you click on the generator and it shows you a visual of the colors. If you don't like the order of the colors, refresh the page and it will generate a new one. It also lists the color sequence and number of rows for the pattern.

6 of burlywood O O O O O O
6 of lightsalmon O O O O O O
6 of indianred O O O O O O
6 of lightsalmon O O O O O O
6 of burlywood O O O O O O
6 of indianred O O O O O O
6 of lightsalmon O O O O O O
6 of indianred O O O O O O
6 of burlywood O O O O O O

I tried to save the picture but I would have to save the whole html and decided that would be too cumbersome for this and I couldn't copy the actual rectangle of stripes either. You get the idea. Those big "o"s at the end of each line actually show the color of the stripe too. There are instructions on how to save the color scheme. They just won't work for here without ...mmm...more knowledge than I have. LOL!

Ah...Erin finally opened her SS package from me! Here's the second bell I tatted from Wanda's Bell Pattern. Darn...I can't remember the details now! I think I added a gold thread with the tatting thread and it turned out larger than the other one. It still fit on the glass bell but it just didn't look right. I added the topaz bead and a ribbon so that it can be hung whereever Erin likes.

Anyone who knows Erin knows she is addicted to PINK. Many have tried to wean her away from PINK and to some extent they have been successful. Even so, I simply could not resist the urge to tat these Christmas tree earrings in pink. These are a bolder brighter pink than the test sample I did earlier. I wondered if she would guess it had something to do with her when it was in pink on the blog. I had been to an open house downtown where different designers had decorated each room of an historic building in their own style for a "contest". One of the rooms was largely pink including a huge PINK tree. I wanted to take a photo with my cell phone but the darned thing kept telling me it was full and wouldn't snap a photo. I was going to use that photo so explain my sample pink tree and my plans were foiled! Anyway, once I made the first part, I decided that pink was too pale and went for a bolder look.

As noted in my last post, our family Christmas was Friday. It was incredibly foggy when I got there but cleared up and warmed up to 60º by the time I left. A sense of humor prevails in our family...these sock monkey slippers

were given to me

by my sister, Linda. Coincidently, I had just sent her a link to someone else's blog who was wearing the very same slippers! She already had them for me...which explains why she didn't reply to that email. LOL!

And the youngest member of the party yesterday, my great-grandson Cameron, who thought everyone's gifts were also his.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

First of all, it's been a very different Christmas this year. We're not actually getting together as a family until Friday, a first for us. We've always gotten together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but the bigger we get, the more complicated it gets. It's also been such a profoundly busy year for all of us that we did not have as much time to prepare as we have in the past. I didn't get a tree up this year, the first time ever in my life. I found the little dog with the Santa hat in my box of wrapping paper and ribbon. That's pretty much it this year. It's not a bad Christmas - but it is a very different one. I went to my oldest son's house for a late lunch today and to exchange gifts. Then I went to my daughter's house for the same in the evening. I'll see my other two sons tomorrow when we ALL get together. This year we'll have a new family member, my new daughter-in-law, and my oldest grandson (now 21) will be with us for the first Christmas since he was 14. Long story there that I'm not going into but it truly will be a wonderful day that we are all together.

Guess who met up in my house? Cormac and Chris Sockmonkey found each other! They're hanging out in a box of green peanuts. Cormac let me know he needed a candy cane too so I found him one to go with the rainbow bright thread he arrived with. The monkey was a gift from Gail Owens a few years ago. I suspect these two might find a few other critters who have traveled far to come live with me. I hope they all get along. Nothing's worse than a bunch of squabbling fiber-filled blokes!

I was so busy this morning doing last minute gift wrapping for tomorrow that I completely forgot about my Secret Santa package! I happened to see someone's email referring to what they got and dashed right back into the living room to open mine! Melissa Jurisch is my Secret Santa and she was so good to me! Some of my photos didn't turn out clearly but I've got plenty to show here anyway. This is the bottom of the tatted glass ball cover. The other views were blurry but I might get a better pic later. This was adapted from one of JoAnn Stearns patterns. Even though this is a clear photo, you can't really see the multicolored metallic thread added to the white that she tatted with. You can see the color change but not that it sparkles!

I was delighted with this teacup! It has the strainer in it for brewing with tealeaves. I love the various oriental dragons on this design. I have two other cups that have the inner strainer like this - one had a decidedly oriental design but is missing the lid (which I just realized) and the other is a solid red one that I bought when I was in Montana a few years ago. Obviously Melissa knows I like my tea!

I noticed there was a lot of purple in this package - she really did her homework. LOL! This bell is an adaptation of a 3D bell pattern by Roger Freedman. It has beautiful sparkly crystals along the bottom and a bead clapper inside. The stem of the clapper is done in the node stitch and is held inside the bell with yet another tiny golden bell. Very well done.

She also tatted this snowflake, a pattern by Kim Millar. This had a flat crocheted braid in it, like the one Lenore used for her RPL snowflake. I've long wanted to tat this snowflake but hadn't gotten around to it yet, so I'm delighted to have it! I believe this one is Frosty Delight.

Melissa also sent me chocolate - 2 small boxes of assorted Guylian chocolate and 2 bars of Moonstruck chocolate bars, made there in Portland, Oregon! There is also a blue glass suncatcher with a lighthouse shape in the glass which is also made there - I love it - but the photo was blurry so might show that one later too. I also got blue square beads that look lavendar inside, some Flora size 50 variegated thread, and some Egyptian Signature variegated purple thread. I'm getting antsy to try it all out!

And look what my snoopy pals are into now!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to Tie an Easy Open Gift Bow

I've always wondered how they got that flat bottom look. Boo-hoo....I don't have any more gifts to wrap - oh, maybe one!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa Winner!

I put the numbers in a can and shook and shook and drew a slip of paper with my non-dominant left hand. The winning number is:

Elizabeth from Mobile, AL!!!!
(#1 comment)

Wishing you all a wonderful week full of the Christmas Spirit!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Give-away #1

I actually have 4 or 5 give-aways I could do but decided to only go with this one for now. It will be short and sweet. I'll draw a name on Monday and send it out Tuesday. Just mention it in the comments and make sure I have a way to contact you.

This is a panel of 6 different Santa ornaments. On their own, they are not too special, but if you embellish them, they'll be keepsakes to put on the tree every year!

This is a close up just to give you an idea of how big they end up. I think they're meant to be around 6" tall when finished.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jingles with new fabric stash!

Every so often I see myself mentioned somewhere and it's a nice little perk but the one I saw today really puffed me up! I'm one of the "T" links featured in Pin Tangle. Sharon's blog is not about tatting - she actually focuses on stitching for quilts and crazy quilts but her links are about textiles, fibers, beads, stitching, and creativity. Or, as she puts it, "I choose blogs that are on topic and written reasonably frequently, by textile practitioners and designers who do such things as quilt, stitch, dye, sew, embellish fabric, bead, use visual journals, or are interested in art and design."

Be sure to check out the links for earlier letters in the alphabet which she also links to in her post.

Wow...I sat down to knit on this mitten, a foldover mitten for my granddaughter, popped in a Harry Potter movie, knit 2 rounds and decided to lay down a bit on the sofa. Two hours later, I woke up, just as the movie was ending! I can't be that tired...I think it's all the starch I've been eating. Yesterday we had all the pizza we could eat for lunch and then today, the department gave us sandwiches and cake and cake and....for lunch. For someone who has eaten primarily low-carb for the past few years, the high carb stuff is not settling well. A friend sent me some kind of caramel swirl from Swiss Colony today. sigh........

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Speaking of Giveaways!

I already have one of Sherry's ceremic shuttles but this is YOUR opportunity to get one yourself. Lady Shuttle Maker is having a giveaway - drawing to be held on January 15th!

I got the lovely fabrics from the giveaway I won from CrazyKwilter this week. I took them out of the envelope but have not had time to look through them. I love the embroidery in her header. I am taking the 3 working days between Christmas and New Year's off and am so looking forward to playing with fabric and thread!

At the weekend, I sorted through some boxes and have some give-aways to offer myself. No tatting...well, I guess I could throw in a bookmark or something for additional enticement. Hopefully I can post them tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I was determined to get some tatting in last night and here's the result. Originally, I had all my HDT at hand but I'm still not sure what to do with them. As it turned out, I needed to empty some shuttles anyway so I made a bookmark from a pattern by Rozella Linden (Ruth Perry) in Easy Tatting. I was going for the square shape but ended up with 5 points. This pattern is originally for a small doily but she shows how to adapt it to other shapes. This is one pattern where I like the big big picots. Usually, I prefer a more medium picot. I don't remember the exact thread brands but they were size 20.

I got word this morning that Betsy opened her package. It wasn't a Christmas gift but she had been trying to hold out for Christmas. I'm glad she caved in - it gives me something to post! I've shown the candy cane cozy before but here it is with a bow and an angel bell at the bottom. These are such quick little gifts. They not only hold candy, but can be used as a tree ornament. I knitted it from a cotton yarn.

I tried to avoid a Christmas theme since this was an anniversary celebration but I couldn't help it (had the candy cane too) and tatted this heart with the holly on it after seeing someone else had done such a pretty adaptation of Rosemarie Peel's heart basket. Tatted from size 20 varigated red.

Not only did I knit for this package, I decided to crochet this corner bookmark that I found online. I started this over three times before I figured out that I was doing it right. It starts at the top and is crocheted all in one piece but I kept thinking it started at the center of the spider design and was done in two pieces. Once I figured it out, it went fast. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get my head around the processes when I switch needlecrafts. Crocheted with size 20 Aida thread.

I also made Betsy a little pouch. I love the fabric on this one. Half the fun is finding the button and bead trims for these. I've been using different sizes of bias binding on them too. I think I like the narrower binding better although it is also harder to get on right with all those layers. I found another product that I'm going to try instead of the batting but I've already got a few sewn up so that experiment will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, now this just isn't fair! TattingChic awarded me a second Kreativ Blogger award and I haven't even passed on the first one! I read somewhere that this particular award comes in five different colors! Are you ever curious about how and where these things start?

I am.

So I googled. I didn't really want to invest a lot of time and after 4 or 5 different search terms, I gave up. The only thing I found was Cheth Studios, (intensive graphic site so it's SLOW loading) which offers some animated badges that you can customize a little bit. I suppose you could photoshop any graphic and design your own badge. Anyway, since I don't have time to sort out 6 people to pass these awards to right now, I don't think I'll invest any more time into the history of blog badges just now either.

I haven't been tatting but I did paint up a few miniature Christmas trees for thread winders. Since I was largely experimenting, paintwise, I painted the front and back different. I put ornaments on the front but not the back. LOL!

Alrighty! I am SO needing to tat!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Moment to Catch Up!

I saw it. I copied and saved the badge. I think I even thanked TattingChic but maybe not (gasp!) and then I forgot! Thank you TattingChic for Kreative Blog award. I have to admit I haven't been very good at following up on these awards. It's more fun being creative, I guess. LOL! I'll find 6 to pass it on to at another time.

I also forgot to mention the poll. This is the first time I've used the poll feature and I didn't know it would automatically post the results. It seems the majority agree (78%) that there is a difference between handmade and homemade. Once someone mentioned that, to them, handmade meant something stitched, created, or formed with the hands and something homemade referred to baked goods or something cooked, it made sense to me. But even that is a different context from the araticle I was referring to initially. In that one, the implication was that homemade was inferior to handmade. At any rate, it was an interesting subject to pursue. Thanks to all who responded!

Today will determine whether I put a tree up or not. I've always had a tree and never thought I would NOT put one up. I do have a little tree that I can set out but I do love the big tree with all the ornaments. I'm trying to be more efficient with my time though and if I can't clear up enough space ..... OR have the energy to put up the tree after I do make room for it, I may resort to the little tree instead this year.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December Blog Anniversary Winner!

Cormac was all smiles once I told him his relatives were coming to visit. He even offered to pull the name out of the box for the December Blog Anniversary Winner!

Congratulations to Trina Hall of Ohio! Trina is also a thread supplier so I guess thread won't be in the package!

Here's what I got in our exchange today - a silk ribbon embroidered patchwork chickie pincushion made by Sally Carter! He(or she) is adorable. In 2005, I also ended up with Sally's package which was also a pincushion! I told her I was going to collect them now. LOL! Dagmar, our German member, ended up with mine which was the RPL motif, a candy cane with a knitted cozy, and a plastic Santa ornament with thread and beads in it.

The food was great and we all sat around and talked and stitched on our various projects as we nibbled. Later on, I went with a friend from work to see Four Christmases.

And this is the edging I ended up tatting for _________. (to be shown later)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I got it done last night and used an entirely different arrangement of filling stitches. I've done all of these stitches before but not in this arrangement. The cord is tatted in size 10 thread while the ones I've done before with this motif were done in size 20 thread. Size 10 is the traditional size and size 20 a close second. I would like to try a size 30 even. The size 10 seems bulky to me but maybe that's because I'm used to working with smaller threads. The filling stitches were done with size 60 thread and it didn't need to be that small but I felt like size 20 was too big and I didn't have that color in between 20 & 60. I wondered how the two shades would look when I was done too. With the yellow couching thread, it looked like a bad combination but once I got it done and off the template, washed and blocked, it looked much better. I got lots of practice with my stars and bars. LOL!

This is actually for my lace group exchange tomorrow. Hardly anyone in the group even checks their email on a daily basis, let alone go blog surfing, so I'm not too worried that anyone will see it. The one person who might mentioned the other day that the last time she read my blog was right before the wedding. I think she is really busy right now with other things and this isn't the only thing I'll have in the package. It's a good size for a coaster but I don't have an acrylic square handy to put it in so I decided to put a ribbon on it and make it into an ornament. It's just thick enough that it won't fold over easily unless it's pressed that way so I didn't stiffen it. The owner can always take the ribbon off and use it as a coaster or very small doily.

Once I got the RPL out of the way, I test tatted this edging from Tatting Patterns by Mary Konior. It is named "Embryo" edging and I was tatting in size 80 star thread but even in that tiny thread, it's too big for my purpose so I'll try a different pattern tonight. I need one very narrow and simple. I could just tat very small rings and chains but I was hoping for something a bit more involved. Rings and chains can be very elegant though so the next step is getting just the right color, which can be trickier than it sounds. I can always go with white or black.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm working on lace at the moment but it's not tatting - more Romanian Point Lace. I wanted to try Lenore's design, but didn't have time to trace it and attach it to fabric just now. I needed to get this piece done quickly. I expect to finish it tonight. I thought I would get it done last night but I chose to go to bed early for a change and I'm glad I did. A friend told me she thought I pushed myself too much and then crashed and burned (stayed home last Friday and slept til 10:00 a.m.) so I'm going to try to get a bit more sleep. I've always stayed up until 11:00 p.m. or later, but getting up before 6:00 a.m. means I'm really not getting enough sleep. I used to be able to sleep in later so don't tell me it's because I'm older. LOL! I actually sleep less now than ever before, even on weekends. THAT is because of getting older.

Anyway, this motif looks a bit funny because I couched it down with yellow thread and that makes it look sickly to me. I keep reminding myself that it will look very different once I get it off the template. I have Lenore's printed out and once I finish this one, I'll put hers on the fabric so I can do it when I have some cord crocheted. I may have some cord stashed somewhere. I've been trying to reorganize as I clean and that means it takes longer to find some things.

I got home last night and noticed Cormac was turned in a different direction and his celtic crown was missing....which I found, not too far from him, on the scanner. I suspect kitty 1 or kitty 2 got curious and sniffed him out. Needless to say, Cormac is not speaking to me at the moment, so I will have to do something special to soften him up. I know! I'll tell him his relatives are coming to visit!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cormac & Nails & a Fiber postcard contest

Oh, look who came all the way from County Cork in Ireland to live with me! His name be Cormac, I'm told. I perched him up on my webcam and we had a bit o' conversation, he catching me up on the doings in Cork and me tellin' him what it's like around here.
Next thing I know, he's found himself a pretty ball of green thread and ...what is that? He's snatched the celtic ring I found in the parking garage and crowned himself with it!

I'll have to keep an eye on that one, I will. However, he's forgiven as he also brought with 'im a rainbow brite snowflake and a skein of lovely rainbow brite thread created by his maker. He certainly knows how to get on my good side. (wink)

Thank you Pamela. I am delighted!

And I did find that silver celtic ring in the parking garage a few months ago. I turned it in but no one claimed it so it's mine now. A man's ring but I have a son who loved our visit to Ireland in 2002 and I think it may fit him. I had it on my computer desk since I emailed J to let him know I had it. I'll let Cormac hold it until J claims it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I've mentioned before how my fingertips tend to crack and split in the winter's dry arid atmosphere. My nails have never been great either. I had no idea nails could be "chapped". Interesting article here:

The question is: Does eating Jell-O strengthen your nails? Is this a question you might be able to answer?

Eating Jell-O (gelatin is the basic ingredient) or unflavored gelatin does not strengthens nails. Nails are composed of protein with a high sulfur content. All protein you eat is broken down and circulates in your body protein pool (as amino acids) that is used to build and repair muscles, organs and other protein structures like hair and nails. (By the way, excess protein is stored as body fat.)

Nail strength seems to be more affected by environmental damage (i.e. any work that hits the end of the nail like housework, dishwashing or gardening), trauma to the nail (slamming it in a door) or some prescription drugs drugs (steroids). People tend to use nails as tools which increases breakage and can lead to separation of the nail from the bed below which will show up as a white line under the tip of the nail. Nails are ten times more porous than skin and can become chapped (dry) which can increase breakage. Increased exposure to water (dishwashing, cooking and swimming) does increase chapping of nails. So, protect your hands and nails when washing dishes. While nail polish and artificial nails may tend to superficially protect nails, there doesn't seem to be a problem with nail products other than irritation or allergy to some chemicals in polish, polish remover and glue (formaldehyde, acetone and nathacrylate respectively).

Infants tend to have very thin nails that can be torn rather than cut. Finger nails tend to thin with age as nail growth slows in senior populations, but toe nails tend to get thicker in seniors.

Finger nails can reflect some nutrient levels though. If a person's nail bed (skin under exposed nail) is spoon shaped (depressed in the middle like a spoon) or pale rather than pink, it can reflect low iron in the blood (hemoglobin). Nails can develop side to side ridges (bows ridges) because of fever, inflammation in the body or a short term illness (acute). Fine longitudinal ridges from cuticle to nail tip tend to develop with age and are not significant. Protein malnutrition will affect nail growth and health since it is the building material that comprise nails. Biotin deficiency can be seen in nails (also as reddened skin) though it is extremely rare. There is no Recommended Dietary Allowances for biotin as it is present in many foods throughout the food chain. Other than that, once damaged, a nail takes approximately 9 months to grow from the cuticle (growing end) to the tip of a person's finger where it can be trimmed off. Other nail changes like white lines in the nail occur because of damage to the nail base when pushing back the cuticle or an abnormal hardening (keratinization) of the nail during formation.

Fiber Postcard Contest: What a perfect opportunity to use your tatted lace! Submit by January 15th, 2009.