Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I didn't bring my camera with me to Portland, and apparently I also didn't download the picture I took before I left.
My new business cards, which I foolishly left in my carry-on in the overhead when I was trying to persuade my new friend on the plane to sign up for beading classes, which all worked out in the end, but I must say, I felt a little foolish and unprofessional.

In case you were wondering, I did do a bit of shopping.
Nothing serious, mind you, except the Kerri Fuhr bead in the middle which is a little hard to see amid the size 8 Czech raindrops in colours other than clear, and the few odd rivolis to the right and the donut-type beads and the very shiny deep dark blue faceted rondelles across the top and the teeny-tiny seed pearls which must have been the object of some price-fixing since every vendor sold them for $6.

Monday, September 28, 2009

As If It Never Happened

There's this weird thing about coming home.

Everything looks the same, the scattered patterns (that I didn't bring) are still on the floor, as if waiting to be packed. But I didn't, and they weren't, and they never left, so because I'm back, it's as though I never left either, but I did, because I can smell the airline air in my nostrils.

My suitcase was a few kits lighter, as I did manage to sell quite a few. Apparently the dictates of my cultural heritage regarding food (figure out how many people you're expecting, double it, add a hundred, and then maybe you'll have enough) apply equally to bringing kits to shows, since I sold only a fraction of what I brought (though I did anticipate that it might be overkill).

Either that, or I'm ridiculously over-optimistic.

Both possibilities are equally plausible.

My last day of Bead Fest was a gentle winding down with only (ironically) a single student in my class - you know, the one featured on the cover of the class catalogue or program or whatever it is - I opened it once to see if there are any other class project pictures in it (only one) but I didn't read a single line of its contents.
She was a hoot, and completely competent besides, as well as very inspirational in her attitude to life, so I had a grand time.

The day ended with an enjoyable and interesting dinner with a couple of other instructors during which indignation was expressed, plots were hatched, plans were made, but it remains to be see how they all play out.

Today? Travel. Eh.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day The Second

On Friday on the exhibition floor (that means The Place Where They Sell Shiny Things) I got delayed by rings, but held off, making noises about class enrolments and kit sales. I even believed those noises.

Then I got to thinking about missed opportunities, and specifically about a natural-dyed handspun wool rug that I did not buy in Santa Fe about thirteen years ago, and I decided I needed a ring far more than more comfortable living room chairs.
Sadly the camera in the iPhone doesn't have macro.

It's a marquise cut blue tourmaline (sort of a greenish blue but not teal) set in 18 carat gold and oxidised silver and truly, it was made for this finger on this hand and why fight All That Is Right, after all?

Kit sales during class on Saturday were brisk, besides.

This is what my class made yesterday.
Not this exact bracelet - that's mine! - and they didn't get through the whole thing, but they made a good deal of it, and I'm pretty sure that at least some of them (Cindy) left feeling more confident about their abilities than at 9 in the morning.

It was a really fun day, and a great bunch of people, though seriously? I'm amused when they apologise for asking me to help - that's why I'm there, after all! And they were not (despite apologies to the contrary) needy in any way.

After dinner with Karl and Shannon (mmm, razor clam which I did not have to butcher myself) I needed a little beading time to relax, and so finished this poorly-photographed necklace (see camera excuses above).
Mike at the front desk was right.

The view from my room really is very pretty.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

So Far, So Good

On Thursday from Kansas City to Portland, in spite of Southwest boarding number B 25, which is not good if you want to have any control over where you sit, and I did, being constrained by the twin deities of Not in the Middle and Room in the Overhead Bin, I found myself in an aisle seat next to a delightful woman from Austin (I'm sure her husband was delightful too, but I didn't interact enough with him to make that determination).

We chatted about knitting (she likes to make Noro scarves. Who can argue with that? Honestly? I could, but only because I can't bear to knit scarves, though I've occasionally been tempted when seeing the funky multi-directional and shape-shifting coolness that some people have done with colour-change yarns like Noro) and cross-stitch (which she enjoys the most. Perhaps it was counted cross-stitch. I'm that vague that I'm not certain of the difference, or if there is one) and the importance of lovely fibre (she had a friend who visited Ireland bring her some wonderful Irish wool which she promptly knitted into a scarf with beads and gave to her friend) and the joy of being able to (and wanting to) make things.

I asked what she was doing in Portland, to which she replied that she was accompanying her husband on a business trip, and would just chill, perhaps walk or shop, nothing much, just hang.

You know, I said, there's a bead show in town, and you could take a class. Might be fun. I know there are spaces open. And I hauled out my Bead Fest poster (thanks, Interweave!) with all the pictures of the projects for the classes.

Her eyes lit up.

Two daughters, a daughter-in-law, the holidays approaching, beautiful hand-made jewellery ... she was hooked. She swore up and down I'd see her Friday morning in class.

She was true to her word.
I've taught people of all skill levels, and the most relaxing classes are of course those in which people need minimal guidance, a little explanation when the instructions get weird (very often designs that delight me involve some odd or unusual way of achieving a neat, clean effect; in other words the instructions get weird), and chit-chat about beading or art or colour or gossip or whatever.

Immensely rewarding and exciting however, is that rare person who comes in with effectively zero experience and take to it as if they'd been boning up all their lives, just waiting to actually get their hands on beads, needle and thread.

This was Debra. She zipped on ahead of everyone, barely needing anything from me. She was a natural. It was awesome, and best of all, she was delighted, determined to do more, make more, and of course buy [more and more] beads.

Not that I didn't enjoy the others; I certainly did, though I do wish I'd been able to inspire more confidence in the other student with no prior seed-beading experience. She actually (in terms of square inches of completed beadwork) achieved as much as every other student in the class, but remained convinced that she didn't know what she was doing, and wasn't getting it, even though she completed most of it without my standing over her and directing every move.

As adults accustomed to dexterity and competence in what we do, I think we suffer a larger emotional setback when we don't immediately (and "immediately" probably spans different amounts of time for different people) succeed or understand new things. I suspect this this woman took to her previous media (she mentioned metal clay) much more readily, and anticipated equally instantaneous mastery of seed beading, and when her internal count-down for having "gotten seed-beading" reached zero and she wasn't where she had expected to be, nothing I said or did seemed to be able to rebuild her self-confidence.

My hope is that she tries again, without the anxiety, distraction and time constraints of being in a class, and discovers that she actually learned more than she thought she had.

In the afternoon I once again had a delightful mixed bag of students (in terms of beading experience): two from the Zip on Ahead School, and two who had somewhat less experience, but all of whom left (unless they were lying; I sincerely hope not) having mastered this odd little herringbone variation, confident that they would complete it later.

If George was really diligent, he'll let me know in class today how well he managed when he got home last night...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cover Girl

My project is on the cover of the Bead Fest class catalogue!

How cool is that? (Very, in case you were wondering).

And this is my hotel.

I think I like this place.

And I'm Off (But Not in a Bad Way)

Bead Fest calls. Bags are (mostly) packed. I even completed another kit sample.

Which I love, incidentally, though why I bought enough rivolis for only the sample and one kit, I can't quite fathom. Let's just say that I've been on the frazzled side lately.

Packing kits for these things is so hit-and-miss. On the one hand, my cultural inheritance demands that I avoid the slightest possibility of running out of anything, but the combination of logic, past experience and the enrolment numbers from a couple of weeks ago dictates a certain amount of restraint. On the other hand, I have four completely new kits, so I brought extras.

All I hope is that I don't have to pay overweight charges on my checked luggage, and I don't break my back hoisting my carry-on into the overhead bins, and that neither is issue for concern on the way back.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mood Colours

You know mood rings? I always thought that they were bogus, not because of the fact that a change in colour reflected a change in mood, but that a particular colour indicated the same mood for everyone.

Fair enough, red equals angry, blue equals calm - sort of, but my serene comfort colours are so absolutely not cool, icy greens and blues.

I'm not in general a big fan of blue, most especially primary blue - or for that matter any primary and most true secondaries, but that's a [excuse me] secondary issue; the point is that I don't care for blue. The thing is that I know I'm relatively alone in that, and in terms of Things That Sell, particularly to the demographic that appears to be my best customers, the aqua-turquoise section of the colour wheel is very well-loved. So when I'm considering colourways for a kit, I'll choose at least one that's outside my preference, and that often means With Blue, which results in my having a Large Blue Stash, which might be surprising for one with so little affection for blue.

I don't hate it, but it's not my favourite.

Check out the past couple of weeks - this is a representative sample.
It's pretty, and I actively like some of the beads in it, and even though it's not my first choice in terms of what pleases me and what I would choose to wear, I think it's a well-balanced and overall harmonious colour palette.

I think though, that these colours are so cold and sharp that they leave me a little wired (not in a good way), a little nervous and edgy.

Then I started on the Colour Me My Colours colourway.
All was right with the world. I felt peaceful, happy, less stressed. Warm and comfy.

My colours.

From the picture below, you might surmise that in the world of Getting Ready For Bead Fest, much is a shambles.
You'd be wrong.

See the red carry-on on the left? See the box inside it? It contains all the instructions for all the classes, and most of the beads, as well as a few of the new kits I'll have at Meet the Teachers on Thursday.

It's totally doable, though I may throw my back out hoisting a regulation sized carry-on full of glass and paper (it's heavy!)

As long as I have room for my knitting.

I also listed a new kit in my Etsy store, just the one colourway so far (the picture is a clickable link).

I'll make the other one available after I get back from Bead Fest. I'm not sure I can see that far into the future.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Counting Down

By this time next week, I will have taught two classes at Bead Fest.

The instructions are ready (but not printed) and the beads are in baggies (but not labelled and organized). I have until Thursday morning - realistically until Wednesday evening, because if there are things left undone by the time I ought to be asleep on Wednesday night, I'll be too wired to sleep.

I'm printing out instructions for this kit (everything is packed and organized and labelled):
And in between car-pooling (when I'm not driving) and red lights (when I am), and a whole hour of TV - I don't think I'd watched TV in a couple of months, though I did watch a movie a few weeks ago - I've made a little progress on the mitred sock.
I think it's pretty cool.

My dilemma (born of [over] optimism) is whether I should take a second knitting project to Portland too.

It feels awfully dangerous to travel with only a single project or a single book.


Yup, that's me, in a nutshell.

No, not even slightly. I lied.

I'm travelling with a backup project, oh yeah.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Veggies and Dessert

I ate my vegetables (packed kit-stuff)
and rewarded myself with a chocolate dessert (non-goal-oriented playing with beads).
This is fun, as I have no real plan. Even though it's not what is widely regarded as "freeform", it really is, as I'm switching stitches as the mood strikes me (which in this instance pretty much equates to being bored or having to join in a new thread).

FYI what is generally described as freeform, tends to be freeform peyote, which is free in that patches of the work will use different beads in adjacent patches - different in any or all of colour, size and shape. Additionally, even though the work tends to start off as a single strip, it may divide and twist, so that what is essentially an uneven two-dimensional ribbon becomes a three-dimensional structure.

I've done some, but I have to say that I don't love it. Apart from the zen of either long pieces or multiple almost-identical units, what really floats my boat is interesting structure, clever construction, and unusual techniques. In general I also very much enjoy the planning and refining part of design, though clearly I'm not even slightly on that page with my purple meanderings above.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More of the Same

I made another sample.
I'm waiting for the golden rivolis to arrive in the mail so that I can make the fall-toned one of these which I know will be much more to my taste, colour-wise. I'm getting a little tired of these sharp, icy colours: aqua, purple, clear. I'm ready for food colours: pumpkin, eggplant, mustard, raspberry, olive. Mmmm.

Speaking of which, yesterday's dessert was fabulous. And the "Serves 6" would have been better had it said "Serves 5 1/2, except for the sauce which serves about 9". I need to consider what to have underneath left-over basil custard sauce.

I also made another one of these before spinning.

They were like worry-beads in my pocket all day. I kinda liked it.

I didn't think about it until it was pointed out to me, but they are about the size of those troll beads that everyone seems to be all about.

I used Japanese seed beads for the second bead (the one on the left), and I had to adjust the bead count as these are quite a bit bigger than the Czech - and that of course altered the proportions, though not necessarily in a bad way. The purple bead is rounder, while the copper and green bead has a fat equator. I'd show you the sideways picture except that some fuzz ruined it. Actual fuzz, not sixties/seventies "the fuzz, man, be cool".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Break Time

I had thought that the three-week visit would preclude all preparations Bead Fest, but as it turns out, there was much understanding and no overt guilt-tripping which I used to full advantage for what I needed to do.

(Apart from escape).

I made samples, packed beads into baggies, worked on instructions, all good stuff.

Interestingly enough, when it's purely a matter of self-discipline, I fall to pieces and work on something else.
It started with a picture on someone's blog in which I realized that three-drop tubular netting looks fabulous in two highly contrasting colours, so I thought I'd see if it was in fact true when I did it too.

It is.

It's also a little boring, so I found a few matching fire-polished beads and made thingies. The beaded bead is a bit of a surprise, as it started off as simply a ring of beads that got more embellished until it curved into very sturdy beaded bead. I shall have to make more.

Here's something: I knit in the car.

At RED traffic lights, duh.

I like to have socks for this, because:

(a) I hate to waste time. There's so little of it
(b) You can never have too many socks
(c) They're small and don't take up space in the car when you give people rides
(d) One needle's-worth is easily enough for a shortish red light
(e) All those one-needles do eventually add up to whole socks

I actually finish pairs of socks.
Which means that I get to start more socks.
(Both sock pictures are clickable Ravelry links.)

Today: eating, uh, spinning. Yes, again so soon!

I'm bringing Lemon Snow Pudding with Basil Custard Sauce. The fingerfuls are pretty good - jury is out until it's eaten after a meal, in bowls, properly chilled and set (but I think I can anticipate the final judgement anyway).

I'm a pretty decent cook, and almost entirely fearless. I think that's true of knitting and beading and anything I actually seriously want to do (the fearlessness, that is).

Anyway, since the dessert requires some hours of cooling, and since I was hoping to sleep in this morning (said hopes sadly being dashed by the lethal combination of my being a light sleeper and someone heading bathroom-wards at six twenty-one ayem but of course I couldn't anticipate that), I decided to do the prep last night.

I have made many, many custards and have never ever curdled a custard until then. It wasn't getting as thick as I thought it ought to (my mistake was in thinking "custard" rather than "sauce"), so I decided that my thermometer simply had to be wrong and continued. I reached for a - something, I can't remember now - and when I turned back to the pot it had curdled.

Sadly custard is not, like emulsions, salvageable. You can't add another egg and re-whisk and re-emulsify (or whatever the term is for what custards do. Recustardify). I put it in the fridge anyway as it's delicious in taste if not texture, and this morning I dashed to the supermarket at everyone-is-still-asleep-o'clock for more milk and eggs (I don't keep whole milk) and did it again properly.

Sauce, not custard.

What can one DO with curdled custard anyway? Can you make it into something else? I hate to simply toss it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Colour Conundrum

Seriously, sometimes I'm just not that bright.

Even though there is a kit for which I used to have a sample which I sold and therefore ought to replace, and even though I don't have all the ingredients for a second kit, apparently it was more important to make a prototype for the second design, telling myself it was so that I could get the instructions done, even though half of the beads are FREAKIN' WHITE! Which as you may recall, I can't photograph in any informative way.
Still, I have a necklace which I suppose I can sell, and which was a learning experience: the little droplets along the bottom edge create so much curve that the necklace could not be sized up without an unpleasant ruffle (it's perfectly fine at 16"), so the actual instructions will have the picots that my original necklace had.

After completing this, I realized that even though the rivolis are in the mail, I do in fact have the beads for an actual colourway, and so I might as well make the necklace part for an actual useable sample.

Usually I'm pretty good with colours, and after picking out my set, I rarely change my mind, but somehow this time, I haven't quite been able to settle.

It's kinda fun changing colours every few repeats to see what I like.

I started at the left - and so sure I was that I have baggies packed with blue, purple and green beads in the correct quantities. I guess that's another thing I learned from prototype #2 above: quantities of each colour.

Only thing is, I hate it. The rivoli is what's called Crystal AB, and to me it has flashes of ultra-violet, aqua, and perhaps rose or perhaps green or perhaps even gold, but it's pale, and I'm having a hard time balancing the colour grouping within the necklace to coordinate both hue and value with the rivoli.

My natural inclination is to pick a set of colours with very similar [i.e. in my case dark] values, but the rivoli is light, and the beads I've chosen to bezel it are pale too, so I'm flailing in semi-foreign waters and keep on having to spit out the salt.

I think I've settled on the rightmost combo: original purple flowers, original metallic lime green centres, and instead of blue vines, silvery, and instead of green leaves, aqua.


I'm still not utterly delighted though.

I should have worked on the earth tones sample, just to soothe myself because I know I'll easily fall into those colours.

Shameless Self-Pomotion

I started a group on Yahoo which is really just a mailing list to notify interested parties (i.e. those who previously bought kits and patterns or taken my classes, and have accepted my invitation) when I have new kits, patterns or new kit colourways available.

There's a clickable link somewhere down there on the right.

If you didn't get an invitation and you want one, let me know.

If you read this regularly, I didn't send an invitation because I thought it might be overkill. If I am mistaken, feel free to disabuse me of this notion.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quite Plain Actually

My [great] Auntie Belle Miller (I love the way her name rolls off the tongue - Belle is pronounced "Bella") as I mentioned yesterday made me two sets of luncheon mats for my Bottom Drawer a.k.a. trousseau.

Not that I had one (a trousseau, that is).

Or know anyone (since my mother) who did.

I put them on the scanner in the hopes that the detail would better be captured, and even though they really are very plain compared to the humungous and elaborate tablecloth that she made for my mother, they are nonetheless very fine.

She made a round set which also has a single larger mat, I suppose for the fruit bowl, or the vase or other centrepiece with which one would adorn one's table.
She also made a rectangular set.
With close-up:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Not Even A Mouse



No one else around for the rest of the evening.

No one to chatter to me.

I can really, really relax.

Like I said, bliss.

And now for something completely different: I have new old family photos, both maternal and paternal.

This is the Chitrin family in Dvinsk, Latvia. My maternal grandmother wasn't born yet. Pretty serious lot. I think the old guy is their grandfather, my great-great-grandfather. This photo may have been what their father kept close to his heart as he negotiated their new life in that new world.
This is my grandmother on the far right with her siblings arranged oldest to youngest.
I remember all those great-aunts, but somehow not the great-uncles, only one of whom was still alive when I was old enough to form memories.

Auntie Tillie (far left) died when I was fairly young, and I remember visiting her on her death-bed, and being made to kiss her. It freaked me out a bit.

Auntie Becky (the short one - she was better looking as a grey-haired old lady - who is easily recognizable as the smallest girl child in the photo above this one) had four sons, and her husband died fairly young, and as she was a rather small creature, disciplining those boys (and of course in those days we're not talking time-outs, or asking how it makes you FEEL when you do that to your little brother) was difficult, so rumour has it that she would stand on their fingers with her high, pointy heels, as she couldn't smack them hard enough to have any effect.

I always wondered why on earth they'd consent to that, but I guess she had some authority.

Auntie Belle Miller (one away from my grandmother) did the most exquisitely fine crochet work you can imagine. She died when I was probably in high school, but not before having made me two sets of luncheon mats (which I have, and cherish) for my Bottom Drawer, even though my generation didn't really do that.

She also made a couple of tablecloths for my mother, one of which was made to fit our oversized dining-room table which could comfortably seat eighteen when fully-extended. For that, were there a heaven, she deserved a place of honour since I cannot conceive of so large an item using such tiny thread. I've never seen anything that fine since her work. We don't know what to do with the thing anymore, as the table is long gone, and the tablecloth is probably bigger than two California Kings.

I think the next picture must have been taken in South Africa, since it contains my paternal grandmother, who claims to not have been born in the Old Country (somewhere in Eastern Europe) like most of her siblings (she was the youngest. Or perhaps the second youngest. She had Issues with her age).

They went through (like so many immigrants) a bunch of name changes during the emigration/immigration process: my mother's notes say "Isaacs → Macht → Berkowitz" - my grandmother was a Berkowitz, and I guess the family started off as Isaacs.

The story about Macht was that there was no passport office out in the village where they lived, and so when the family started the emigration process, they went to the local machter (the guy who made things. Like passports, birth certificates, travel documents - pretty much any document that one might need. He could make anything) to get some passports made. He asked what name to put on the passport and they said "Macht" (yes, it sounds like hacking a loogie) - I have no idea why they thought it imprudent to use their real last name. Perhaps so that the Authorities couldn't find them and bring them back, although really, why would they have bothered?

At least, that's what I always heard.

I don't know where Berkowitz came from. Perhaps they liked the sound of it.
My grandmother is the rather sullen blonde child next to her somewhat stern mother.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


One of the classes I offered at the local bead store over the summer was something I ended up calling the Tudor Bracelet. I dunno, I'd been seeing ads for The Other Boleyn Girl and somehow it seemed to fit.
Summer is difficult for classes, I think because there are kids and family and vacations and the economy and distractions, and my minimum enrolment was not met, so even though I was super-prepared with instructions way ahead of time (and perhaps indeed because I was so fabulously prepared) I ended up cancelling the class. I should offer it again, because it's a fun project, very showy for the amount of work required.

Each rivoli in the bracelet is surrounded by an odd number of beads, which makes joining them in a straight line an exercise in alternatives, because you can't join each to the next by the "opposite" bead, because there is no opposite bead - there's a space opposite any bead.

What this means is that joining something with an odd circumference count lends itself very well to producing something with a gentle curve, which turns out to be perfect for a choker-length necklace, and I have lots of Sketches of Intent and Notes of Intent, but somehow, time passed, and there was always something more urgent.

Eventually I did get around to it, and have even already packed up [partial] kits to take to Bead Fest.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Right Sample, Wrong Colour

I sold the other sample for this design, so I had to make a new one - and realistically, I'm going to have to make the old one again too, but at least I have a sample.

The picture sucks.

I know I always say that when the colour is wrong, and it is really really wrong here. In Real Life, the blue is what the purveyors of beads call "sapphire", a very cool, clean blue, not this musty warm colour that my camera insists on. You should have seen it before I adjusted the colour sliders for the picture; it was badly wrong then, in an ugly way - now it's just wrong.

I'm at a loss. No matter the camera settings, the colour is wrong.

Perhaps one day I'll want to take a picture during daylight hours, and the colour will be true.

One can only hope.