Thursday, December 31, 2009

Equine

Usually I make something and then, unless I'm pledged to teach it, I never make it again, but somehow, I got all enchanted-like. I feel like a one-trick pony.
Say what you will about Czech beads, seed, fire-polished, pressed, whatever, but they come up with some gorgeous finishes that make them hard to resist. Toho liked them so much that they collaborated on a bunch of seed beads with luscious Czech finishes.

My local bead store keeps getting more and more of these slightly large (about 5 x 8mm or 6 x 8.5mm or thereabouts. Consistency in size seems not to be of the highest priority) faceted rondelles in faux stone finishes.

Gorgeous.

On the expensive side for glass beads, but they're luscious, enticing, irresistible, and actually I've been relatively restrained.
Then I came across a picture of a very rudimentary beaded bead (it looked as though someone had had an idea and then - oh look! A bird!) on some blog or another, and I was inspired and off and running. I did mention that I had some of these beads, didn't I? And that I had no freaking idea what to do with them? (I don't string much. It's just not satisfying)
And then suddenly, I had A Something To Do With Them.

And as luck would have it, the bead store started their great big end of year sale, and now I don't feel so much as though I've been so good, so restrained, but on the other hand, I'm not depriving myself either.

Feels pretty good, actually.

I like that I found something to do with them (something with seed beads, if that's not too redundant), and I like the something that I did with them. And will no doubt do again since I have quite the stash now.

And then I made some more class samples.
Flower. Pretty flower. (As a young child I had a 45rpm record of the bit from Disney's Bambi where he meets the skunk. Stream of consciousness. I enjoy the ride).

I couldn't get the mitred squares skirt out of my mind. I mentally wandered through my stash a few times.

Sock yarn?

Do I have enough sport-weight yarn for a skirt? (I don't care if I have to dye it - do I have enough?)

Worsted weight really would be too heavy, wouldn't it? Too bad, because a skirt is probably about twice a sweater in terms of the knitting, and worsted weight would really make it go faster.

What about handspun? There's that yarn collection that was going to be a Scandinavian coat/cape/cocoon thing - how far did I get with the spinning on that one? I'm definitely not using any of the luxury fibers - you really don't want to subject cashmere or baby alpaca to the indignities of being sat upon, sandwiched between tights (or a slip, if I have to) and some nasty synthetic chair cushion, after all, so it'll have to be wool. Besides, wool will be less likely to give me Saggy Butt, what with its memory, natural stretch and all that.

In spite of the immensity of the task, in spite of the fact that I'm currently knitting (and ripping and reknitting, as is my wont) a sweater on 3.25mm needles - and I can get away with such a large size needle as I'm a somewhat tight knitter - which isn't exactly an instant gratification project, in spite of all that, I came to the conclusion, aided by the Wednesday knitters, some of whom are knitting AFGHANS for crying out loud in sock yarn, that sock yarn is indeed the answer.

I made a sample using my sweater needles which was too ghastly to be memorialised by the wonder that is digital photography, and went down a size or two.
Even unblocked, I think it might do.

I have a boatload of dyeing ahead of me, and I'm actually quite pleased at the prospect, and not only because it's quite a lovely feeling to be able to satisfy an urge, but also because it's going to use up a significant fraction of my sock yarn in all those colours which were probably way more useful when I was set on making most of the socks in Anna Zilboorg's first sock book, but a whole lot less so when I realise that I really don't care to all that much.

The latter is especially pleasing as I've been weak in the sock yarn department over the last year, and not all that assiduous in terms of maintaining equilibrium. I think the entire year has seen a pair of socks, possibly two. Not quite up to par.

The dye pile has magentas and teals and yellows and blues and too many clear solids to mention without a bit of a shudder (I'm not a fan of pure primaries and secondaries; give me murk and sludge any day), and soon they will all be variegated earthy and forest tones.

Who, after all, would not be cheerful at the prospect?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Spite Of

It seems I'm either agonising over an impending deadline, or basking in the bliss of a near future with no deadlines, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is more often the former.

And so it is right now.

I have what feels like a double deadline; which is to say two deadlines with almost identical requirements separated only by a week: proposals for a national beading show which require actual finished accompanying samples (as opposed to pictures only) and then the next set of classes for the local bead store, which also needs samples.

Then there was Nancy's necklace which suffered a minor setback after I thought I had finished.

I tried it on. It was chokingly short. As in, it felt almost as though I was choking.

I wasn't sure I'd have enough beads to make it long enough. I did, barely. I'm pretty sure that Nancy's neck is thinner than mine, which might have meant that the length - or lack of it - wasn't as dire as I believed, but that wasn't The Plan, and so it had to be lengthened.
Now it's up to the USPS.

I'm quite pleased with the concept over here: a large, long bead with a big hole that really doesn't want to be strung horizontally, but still has some play (read: you can fiddle with it) hanging horizontally.
I'd also like to try the same concept with a few large-hole sterling silver beads.

As I was looking for a donut (see the picture after this one) I found a two-inch section of something which at the time I deemed a horrible failure, but loved the colours together (a marbled lavender with what they call a gold-lustre bronze but which is a transparent lavender bead with so much bronzing that it's transparent only when you hold it to the light) so I didn't cut it up, saving it for future inspiration.

That future is upon me.
I'm glad, because it led to the above bracelet (which would work really well as a necklace too) which combines peyote and herringbone stitches without annoying thread joins and ends. The next sample will use contrasts instead of a monochromatic colour scheme.

This may be sad, because it's a reworking of something that's not new, but the happy part is that I only need the one sample, as I've already taught it locally, and I try not to repeat unless I have requests.

I would enjoy this extra-long (five whole days) weekend even more if I hadn't been so gung-ho with the new workout DVD. I do know that I have a bad back, and I do know that I'm no longer twenty-seven, but honestly, I felt fine until I got vertical this morning, and then not so much.

Guess my plan for working out vigourously every day while not at work isn't panning out so well - my exercise regimen is pretty much exclusively limited to non-work days only, and today I just blew one of them.

I have enough trouble dragging myself away from whatever I'm doing so as to approach the possibility of getting enough sleep for work the next day that I'm quite certain getting up an hour early would necessitate a post-prandial nap, and the new Employee Handbook specifically states sleeping on the job as grounds for if not dismissal, then certainly a severe reprimand.

I kid you not. It actually addresses the issue of sleep.

And then I'm too tired/hungry/disinterested when I get home in the evening. It's not as though I even slightly love exercise: I don't. I think it sucks that it's so good for you, keeps you healthy yadda yadda. I think it just makes it feel as though it helps you to live longer, because trust me, fifty-five minutes of sweating in front of the TV passes way more slowly than an hour of House with my knitting and some chocolate, even with commercials.

Still, a nasty back isn't my first choice for Things To Enjoy On My Time Off.

And the DVD player is suddenly all weird: the screen is shifted about forty percent to the right and wrapped, so what ought to be the outside edge of the picture now forms a vertical bar more or less down the centre of the screen, and the picture is cut in two pieces. I'm not very impressed with that either, especially since the part of the rest cure for my back rightly includes watching movies in a relaxed and reclining position while I do some gentle knitting, and now the movie part is proving challenging. Luckily I spied (and can work) a PS2.

Speaking of knitting, it's all I can do to not start Yet Another Knitting Project.

I'm burning to make another knitted skirt, which will be even cooler than the other one (allover hexagons in more colours than people expect to see me in) if not as bright. Also modular, partly because knitting on twenty thousand stitches per row would probably unhinge me at best, but also because I just LIKE modular knitting.

I really want to do it in five or more coordinating shades of sock yarn, but that just might send me over the edge, as well as necessitating a severe Stash Expansion. Let me say that it's not that I don't have any sock yarn (I do), or even enough sock yarn (I do), it's just that I don't have sufficient quantities of enough coordinating sock yarns to make an entire adult-sized non-crotch-revealing skirt. I do have some yarns that I could dye, I suppose. If I had to, but I'm not so keen.

[An hour or two later].

I just had to experiment a little. I gleaned useful information, both in terms of colour (I need to dye) and gauge (we're talking smaller needles unless steaming does more magic than I'm used to).

Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So Far So Boring

The new job, that is. As expected, there's a boatload of reading to be done, and they're hurtling towards a deadline (not to mention the holidays), so giving me stuff to do isn't the highest priority in the world.

I can handle it for now.

I finally made the last pair of button loops (at the pointy end of the mitten; somehow it slipped my mind when I was making them), its need illustrated by the configuration of the left hand mitten.
My daughter says they work perfectly.

Love this little square pendant, but I'm not sure whether or not it's class-worthy,
Perhaps I'll just keep it. Or use it in a class as one in a series Of. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

The next pendant, however, tickles me. My fancy that is. Whatever that is.
You can't really see, but it's a five-sided shape (perhaps technically ten-sided, since each side folds in the middle, sort of making two sides) with each face recessed, and little swags of beads connecting the laterally-outermost points. I'm pretty sure it would scale up to an arbitrary number of sides, though at some point the bulk of the beads might impose a limit. With seven or eight sides, the space around the vertical axis would probably be big enough for it to be a slider on a rope.

Only problem is that it takes a while to stitch, what with all the repetition, so it might not be ideal for a class. Perhaps a two-parter, with homework between parts I and II. I guess I'll make another one, timing myself. And multiplying by two or three.

And then I've been messing around with a peacock feather motif, but I don't think I'm there yet.
I know the effect I want, and I know how I want to use it, and the structure is more or less what I want, but not quite.

I've cut up a few already, these are the relative successes, which tells you how bad the others were.

Ugh, I should probably spend time on something on which I could make actual progress though.

In all fairness, a great chunk of the day was sucked up by my being a halfway decent mother.

My daughter left her phone at home, and she was at work. At a mall. Less than a week before the biggest shopping cluster-fuck of the year.

And I took it to her, in the middle of the afternoon.

Actually, it wasn't all that bad. I knew I wouldn't find parking right at any of the entrances, or undercover, so I headed straight for the roof of the garage (if you call stop-and-start with mall security in fluorescent vests attempting to direct the creeping molasses of traffic).

Something got sent to Oregon (but that was a day or two ago, Janel).
Another class sample got finished.
A couple, actually.

Next week though: almost a vacation. A five-day weekend. I think I'll be able to handle that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two Things

The best things about the new job I start today in a little under two hours?

  1. Two days off between the last one and this one.
  2. Two floating holidays per calendar year which I feel I am obliged to use within the next two weeks. Aren't I?
I've been puttering.

I'm knitting a sweater that started with the neckband in mitred squares, then the sleeves are worked outwards to the cuffs, and then the body will be knitted down from the yoke. I've done plenty of fake sleeve caps (you short-row where the sleeve caps should be, and it makes the fake join less bulky around the underarms), but even though this is practically at sock gauge and therefore snail's pace and you'd think it would be impossible to gallop ahead, I was past the place where fake sleeve cap shaping ought to occur, and so I convinced myself that it wouldn't really matter, and forged on ahead and finished a sleeve with its mitred square cuff.

The sleeve shaping was off (too wide, though my personal fashion maven said it wasn't) and as far as I could tell, it was all bunchy at the underarm and the shoulder pulled which caused the neckline to want to slide off my shoulders, though that effect may have been exaggerated by the lack of opposing force that should have been the body (as yet unknitted), but still, my blithe unconcern for fake sleeve cap shaping was very founded, and so I ripped that sleeve and the partial (a few inches) second sleeve and started again.

With sleeve cap shaping.

There is no photographic record of this fiasco.

Some of my putter has been photographed.
I'm making excellent progress on Nancy's Necklace.
Some of my putter has been, well, less successful.
I had this fabulous idea that involved airiness and silver and sparkle and it ended up ugly. This is the partially cut up disgust.

There's also been acquisition, in spite of the fact that I DON'T NEED MORE STUFF.
But seriously, who can resist?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A First

The first real job I had here in the US started in August 1989, and although there were baby gifts when I had my kids, and although there have been the odd all-employee giftlets of candy or dime store holiday mugs, I've never had a co-worker give me not just one of the cookie-cutter gifts being distributed (I suppose that happens somewhere I've not been), but a thoughtful gift, one he gave because he thought I'd like it.

And just when I was all down on how so few people seem to reach out ever.

I'm more touched than I can explain to him.

I don't think he has any sort of ulterior motive, as I'm technically old enough to be his parent, and while Harold and Maude among its many excellent qualities really took the notion of May-December relationships to their extreme, I don't even remotely consider that this was a case of life attempting to imitate art.

Just a gift, pure and simple. Not because he had to, but because he wanted to.

A rare gem, and just when humanity was looking a little less attractive, and the life of a hermit a little more attractive.

Thanks, Micah. I needed that. The thought, the intent, the action - not necessarily the contents of your prettily wrapped package.

So inspired, I made progress on Janel's necklace.

Monday, December 7, 2009

1000 Words

Pictures speak a.

Right?

There's a story behind this one though, and I think there's still more to come.

Back in the old country my best friend Ana, she of the efficient first name and over-compensating full name (just imagine the titters at our graduation when the dean stumbled over "Ana Paula de Andrade Balthzar Palma Figeura") was quite the knitter, in fact she won some knitting competition for an intarsia confection years after I left.

Due to business travel, she was able to visit (and it turns out that this was the last time I saw her) Thanksgiving weekend of 1993. The day before she got here, my learn-to-spin kit (spindle plus three ounces of fiber plus sketchy instructions) arrived, and delighted as I was to have the time with her, I also desperately wanted to have at the kit, but it had to wait until Monday evening after work, after the kids were in bed, after I'd fed my (now ex) husband and washed the dishes.

The spinning thing really took, and because Ana had been such a good friend and because she was a wonderful knitter and because there are few things better than the perfect gift, I decided to spin her some yarn.

I bought a pound or so of raw white targhee, and a pound or so of raw brown something else not quite as soft as targhee (I think it may have been dorset), washed it, blended some of each, carded it and spun it.

White, tweed and brown yarn.

I had heard that there was a way of dyeing with pokeweed such that it kept its fabulous deep burgundy-maroon and did not fade to rotten orange, and while I can't attest to the veracity of that, I will tell you that if you let the temperature get above a hundred and sixty degrees, after fifteen years or so your yarn will no longer be maroon.

Anyway, Ana never made it back.

I threatened and cajoled and issued ultimatums, but she never visited again (and I haven't gone back there since 1989), so I used the yarn for myself. It's a good workhorse sweater, but until yesterday morning, was foolishly long. As of yesterday afternoon, the length is far more useful, but the story pauses at ick orange.
There is a plan though; time may well be at a premium as usual.

Class proposals are due in a month, and I'm off to a running start with this necklace.
Could be a bracelet; would work as earrings, and it could also be a fancier necklace (with more shtuff).

Pendant.
Cross-woven with overlay and fringes.

Still more leaves for Nancy.

At last count, I had five more to go, and then I start the actual necklace.

Four more days to go at the current job; new one starting on the sixteenth. Best of all, I start with two floating holidays that oh dear I just have to use before the end of the calendar year; otherwise I'll lose them. I think I can live with that.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

But Where Did It Go?

Every other Thanksgiving weekend (the ones when I'm not cooking) I look forward to getting things done. One year I made a fitted cover for my sofa. That sort of thing.

The thing is, I'm always over-optimistic in terms of what I think I can accomplish in the time allotted when it comes to non-work stuff (then I'm exceedingly cautious).

So it didn't seem unreasonable that I would:
  • start and complete the instructions for Tuesday's class
  • make a maru dai
  • braid four or five things, some with beads, some without
  • make knotted buttons and frogs with some of the braids
  • make really good headway with a couple of special orders
  • paint both bathroom ceilings
  • re-caulk both bathtubs
  • recycle an old monitor I forgot I had in the basement
  • bake bread
  • make soup
I made the soup and opted to buy artisan bread instead.

The monitor is in my trunk and I just need to find the time to actually take it somewhere.

I got started on leaves for Nancy (and actually I've completed a few more since I took the photo).

I made Adriana's earrings (she admired some grey ones of mine in this style and I'm pretty sure I said I'd make her some).

I started on Janel's necklace.

I took a break and made a flourite and glass pendant. This is doubly good because (a) this is one way of using the rondelle's I'm repeatedly unable to resist buying which then sit in my rondelle-and-disk-drawer because I can never figure out what they're good for and (b) look! That weird stone look over clear something goes really well with fluorite.
The ceiling paint and caulk (and cool caulk tool) are still in my kitchen. I may have moved them against the wall when they got in the way.

I actually made the maru dai (and finding the semi-raw materials was probably the single biggest eater up of my precious weekend hours. I spent way too much of time in various hardware stores, and the best thing I can say about the whole experience is that those drill bits that make large diameter holes are incredibly cool, even if I'm not entirely proficient at drilling straight), though it's bit wobbly and keeps falling over (I think the legs ought to be exactly the same length, not just approximately). As I suspected, woodwork is not my forte, but the thing is useable.

If I hadn't decided that it needed to be portable (i.e. disassembleable) it would probably be sturdier, and perhaps if I decide to take another road trip to explore the hardware stores and hobby shops of the Greater St Louis Area (who knew it would be that hard to find a wooden circle about 10" in diameter) then perhaps I'll make a non-portable maru dai. Or else I'll find a thrift store wooden bar-stool and drill a hole in it (that was the most fun part of the whole experience anyway. The drilling).

I made a cool braid that would be excellent for shoelaces (on the maru dai).

I also made this beaded rope (not on the maru dai, but on the foam disk which is easier on my shoulders). It's meant to mimic the Turkish crochet I've been obsessing about for about a year or more (ask Amy; I keep sending her links to explanations and tutorials in Hungarian and German because she does bead crochet and I really don't, and now one of the latest beading magazines has an explanation IN ENGLISH) and except for a few odd spots (caused by the thread I used for the seed beads: it's too thin and slippery) I'm quite pleased.
I also spun some variegated silk, strung clear seed beads and did a braid with that but apparently neglected to photograph it.

I did make a braid that I thought I'd use for frogs or knotted buttons, but it turns out that my knotted buttons suck and the braid isn't pretty enough (understatement of the weekend; it's really ugly) or fine enough and possibly it's not even the right profile for frogs, so that didn't happen either.

I did make pretty good progress on my class directions though.
Even managed to illustrate some variations.
Looks like I made good progress on the knitting front, doesn't it?
Yup, until I tried it on and had to rip out all the stripey stocking stitch to the right of the picture. Not so awful, just a few hours worth.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indulgence

Not that there aren't things to be taken care of, but sometimes you just have to set everything aside and indulge yourself.

My indulgence was a long, very hot, fragranced bath with a book and a cold, crisp apple. Simple. Luxurious. Rare. Precious.

It felt like a lateral detour off the stream of time. Away and insulated, if only for an hour or so, and then of course, back to Real Life.

Remember the Groucho disguise? The Johnny-Five lookalike?

I think I fixed it.
Actually, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, and perhaps someday I'll make one for myself in colours that make me weak at the knees, but this one is up for grabs, so to speak, in my Etsy shop.

Speaking of which, I took the plunge (sort of) and realised the idea with which I've been toying since SOAR: an Earring Kit of the Month Club - actually four versions of the same for different periods.

One immediate response was "How about a bracelet of the month club?", which is of course a great idea, except that I don't have twelve bracelet designs which I have neither sold as a kit nor a pattern, so that starting in January could prove problematic, so I'm leaving that one for another time. (Yes, I do have patterns for twelve earrings which I have not sold).

Last week (or perhaps the week before; I don't take notes) I strung up some beads for kumihimo, mostly for measurement purposes (How many inches of beads result in how many inches of braid? How many inches of thread are required for how many inches of beads? and so on), and started braiding.
When it was long enough, I tied off and beaded end caps, which is still so far the best way I have found to end off beaded kumihimo.

The bead holes are parallel to the length of the rope, and so it's a simple step to ladder together the last four beads added, and then to add single beads between each pair to set up for peyote. Of course this means that the end caps are attached to the beadwork, rather than being accessories that are strung on the necklace - so far I have been less than satisfied with add-ons, but perhaps more experimentation is called for.

There were more beads after I tied off, so I braided some more.
Not quite enough for a full necklace and too much for a bracelet, so I added some vintage beads and some copper and brass, and now I have two necklaces.

Next experiment is to mimic Turkish crochet, which looks good so far (an inch) but is a little awkward.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

10 Things I Wish I Knew How to Do

(With apologies to EtherKnitter for the blatant cribbing).
  1. Ride a bicycle comfortably and without fear (I had a really bad fall a few years ago when attempting to acquire this skill which promptly fell on the "I Really Don't Care" pile).
  2. Eat only when my body actually needs the nourishment, not just when I'm bored or something is so very tasty but I don't actually need it for sustenance. It doesn't sound like fun though.
  3. Not procrastinate ever.
  4. Sleep through noise.
  5. Sleep until noon when I have the time. That six ayem habit only allows an hour or two extra on weekends, at most. It's very annoying.
  6. Take good pictures (of knitting especially, and of blue and purple beadwork too. It's always wrong somehow).
  7. Not care about my own mortality/live forever.
  8. Love opera.
  9. Enjoy exercise.
  10. Be independently wealthy so I could play all day instead of having to save it up for evenings and weekends. And I would enjoy it; my periods of bliss between jobs have proved it.
In other news, even though nothing was mentioned, things have occurred (which is another data point for the tree in the wood question perhaps).

I was supposed to be teaching this class on Tuesday, and while the instructions were complete, the illustrations were not as clear as I'd have liked, so I made another bracelet (that's how I do the instructions: I photograph each step of the construction) but then the class had to be cancelled.
Love the colour of the drop beads, sort of a blue-green-aqua with a dusting of gold-bronze on part of the bead. And incredibly, I had a button which was the perfect match.

I guess it'll go in the shop.

My daughter really liked the leafy necklace from this post, but it was bought out from under her nose, so I made another for her.
There's also been knitting.
I imagine it's not obvious that the yarn is the one about whose plying I complained so bitterly. I'm loving it. The yarn. I guess it's about a fingering weight or thereabouts. I'm using 2.75mm needles to get a nice squooshy (but not sleazy) fabric, and then when I switch to all stocking stitch, I'll go up a size or two.

I probably shouldn't say what the plan is because then it'll totally not work out and I'll have to undo it and post pictures of crinkly yarn and empty needles, but I live dangerously, so I'll carry on regardless (although if I were completely oblivious of the possible consequences I suppose thoughts of failure wouldn't cross my mind, let alone appear in writing, which makes me a little disingenuous, but who's counting?)

So, the plan.

The above squares will form part of the neckline. When that is complete, I will knit the yoke and sleeves, starting from the centre outwards (which in retrospect I didn't plan all that well since it would have been better to have started the back yoke already since the thin bit in the picture above should really have been knitted off the selvage of the back yoke. I see unpicking in my future or else I could make use of my skills at grafting, which sounds more appealing since did I mention that this yarn is thin? And therefore takes more knitting per square inch than a fat yarn?) and possibly using second yarn for one- or two-row stripes since I have not all that much of this yarn. On the other hand, my gauge is tiny (see above regarding needle sizes) so I could (once again) live dangerously (it's becoming a habit) and assume I'll have enough yarn. But if I don't, it'll blow, and then when I add the surprise extra yarn along the bottom of the sweater (after the yoke and sleeves are done, I plan to knit downwards) it'll be pretty obvious that I ran out.

Guess I talked myself into stripes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kumihimo Again

The beaded beads from my last post needed the right kind of rope, and circumstances have conspired to roll me around to kumihimo again.

I strung my beads and started, but neglected to hang a weight from the centre, figuring I could just hold it and pull on it for tension as I was braiding.

First I noticed that there were threads showing. Then it just didn't seem to twist nicely (the braid should have produced a spiral), so every now and again I'd stop and twist, and it seemed to stay.

There were enough strung beads after I'd finished the rope to try again, this time using a centre weight, and what a difference it made!
Both ropes have the same thread and the same beads and are braided in exactly the same way, except that the rope above was made without a centre weight and the other rope had as a weight the bead in the picture below.
Admittedly, it's a substantial bead: almost two inches long, and stone, but it really made a huge difference.

I finished the ends with a few rounds of peyote which attach to a copper toggle clasp on which my nice big red beaded bead is suspended. My daughter says the focal reminds her of the Disney movie "Anastasia", though she couldn't quite explain why.
Yesterday was full of stuff.

Sitting around for three hours waiting for a car to be serviced. That's a real joy, although to be fair, it wasn't as odious as it must be for people who are reduced to watching the TV (if it's on; I didn't notice one where I was sitting, thankfully) or paging through inane magazines, since I brought my laptop and was able to complete the instructions for next Tuesday's class, as well as do some kumihimo while listening to a podcast of This American Life.

Then Amy had her annual home sale at which my weakness for silk and tencel got the better of me. And oh yes, I sold a few things too - about three times the value of what I sold at the home sale last week, so my weakness isn't exactly leaving me destitute.

After that, at the Bead Society meeting we got the skinny on resin, about which I'd been doing some reading anyway. We made a little resin charm. What I really want to do is make cabochons out of resin. With Things in them.

And the lampworker who always brings her stash was able to seduce me with a few beads this time. I had a very, very weak day.

At least one of them has a kumihimo rope too. It will soon be a necklace.
Turns out the bead was the perfect weight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live and Learn

I'm not exactly sure why I've so assiduously avoided making beaded beads with a wooden core. Something about the machisma of such incredible thread tension and architecture that a beaded bead didn't need a core to support its shape, I suppose.

I'm so over it.

I found a beaded bead pattern on a Hungarian blog (and I just love the Hungarian word for beaded bead: "bogy├│" - I like the sound of it in my mouth, though I'm pretty sure I say it quite, quite wrongly) which had you cover a round bead in right angle weave using progressively smaller beads to achieve the curve, and then embellish with seed beads.

The embellishment didn't work at all, since they use clear monofilament, so you don't notice any thread, which is not the case for me. Just seed beaded embellishment became a little dull, so I included fringe beads, which add fabulous texture and make the whole thing tons more interesting.

The beaded beads I ended up with look nothing like the originals in which the bottom layer of right angle weave predominates, whereas in mine the embellishment takes centre court.

Now if only I have time (in the next day or so), I'd love to make heavily textured ropes on which to suspend them, so I'd better get started!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Busy As A

I eventually finished this.
More than a Groucho disguise, I think it looks like Johnny-Five from "Short Circuit" and if there's one thing that no one needs, it's their chest saying "More input!" in a cute, vaguely mechanized voice.

It had to be reduced to useful components:
I need to rethink my original plan, apparently. More input!

The necklace below got my Personal Fashion Maven's seal of approval.
And then I decided that I didn't actually have to stitch a necklace for this slider; I could just string one instead.
Which would be fabulous except that I have to redo it because one side is longer than the other, but who's counting?

On an entirely other tack:

I've been pondering why the Leonard Cohen concert last night was so poignant to me, since neither his career nor his personal life have been central to my life over the years, and there have certainly been other artists about whose work I've felt more ardent, and yet.
And yet.

I can remember being somewhere in the twelve-to-fourteen age range, sitting at my desk in my bright yellow acrylic swivel chair (altogether now: "Seventies") doing my homework listening to the radio. The station was Radio 5 and the deejay was Long John Burke, and the only songs I can remember are "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "You'll Never Find" by Lou Rawls and "So Long, Marianne" by Leonard Cohen, but I'm pretty sure there were more, even though none come to mind.

I was just starting my love affair (one-sided, to be sure) with David Bowie, and I did own "Ziggy Stardust", but I never owned a Leonard Cohen record.

Skip forward twenty-odd years, the end of a marriage in which the only music that was played in the house was music that he liked, because it was "more important" [his words, his justification] to him than it was to me. I lost close to a decade of music, and then I was free to rediscover what I liked in music, and baby, it was all new. Teenage boy music: Bush, Weezer, Smoking Popes, Green Day, as well as the odd Enya, Liz Phair, Jennifer Trynin - off the top of my head; there was much, much more.

After determining not to, I saw the movie "Natural Born Killers" on the recommendation of a friend whose taste I trusted, and I was smitten with both the movie and the soundtrack, so much so that I went and bought the soundtrack album - and I hadn't done that since Rocky Horror.

After my first blind listen-through (I didn't look at the album cover to see who the artists were) I detected a certain familiarity in a couple of songs that I was drawn to. Both, as it turned out, were by Leonard Cohen, both from his album The Future, which I then went out and bought.

Some time later I filled in with his "Best of" album.

Skip forward thirteen or fourteen years, beading while I listen to NPR online, Fresh Air with Terry Gross and an interview with Leonard Cohen, who was surprisingly calm about the fact that his manager had stolen all his money while he was in a monastery. The irony.

An interesting, low-key, slightly self-effacing man who has a way with words. Not uncomfortably smooth and smarmy, just careful and lyrical in his language. Someone who paid his dues as a young man, only to find himself in a less-than-desirable state long after he should have been reaping the benefits of his youthful success.

He was forced to go on tour to remedy his situation.

I wanted the dual opportunities to help and to see a legend. Call me overly romantic, foolishly naive. Whatever. We all need our little foibles.

I checked his tour schedule only to find that the closest he would be to St Louis was Chicago. On a weeknight. That wasn't going to work.

I don't always buy the Sunday paper, so it was serendipitous that I bought it the Sunday before the Tuesday that tickets for the newly-added St Louis concert (his tour was extended and expanded) were going on sale. I was ready at the keyboard at 10 ayem, and I got the seat I wanted, and then promptly forgot about it until this past Friday, when I checked my calendar.

I was clearly primed to enjoy the concert with my own heady mix of nostalgia, fondness and the desire to help.

He seemed so frail, thin wrists peeking from his cuffs. Stooped, his jacket hanging off his shoulders. White hair.

All his songs, poignant at the best of times, seemed oddly relevant in spite of their having been written decades before. His singing sounded sincere, emotion-laden and yet accepting. Brought tears to my eyes, a lump to my throat.

When he said "We're going to give you all we got" I hoped it wouldn't take too much out of him. I mean, he's older than my mother!

And then he skipped, yes skipped off-stage at intermission.

For a moment, I had a glimpse into the psyche of a groupie: I wanted to have his baby (not really - I'm so done with having babies, but still, kinda-sorta something analogous).

He was respectful of the audience, full of superlatives for his band, and became somewhat more playful as the evening progressed, giving us what we wanted, graciously, slightly self-deprecatingly, humbly.

I left the theatre aglow, and fell asleep happy.

That's a gift.

And then today I did a home show at which the sales per guest were pretty good, but there weren't all that many guests. Since it was a fund-raiser, twenty percent of my take is no longer mine, but that's ok, because I had a few interesting conversations, had the opportunity to show my stuff to people to whom I'd previously not had access, getting my name out a bit.

On the down side I didn't sell out all my inventory (not even close), but on the up side, there's plenty for Amy's show next week.

It's all good.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mmmm, I Love Me Some Dance

The program said "Fabulous Bodies Doing Fabulous Things" and they weren't wrong.

I love the start of the dance season!