Monday, November 29, 2010

I Wasn't Done (Again)

It's amazing just how compressible kittens are.
That's a small box.

And I know I said I was done with orange/copper, but it turns out I was wrong.

I had two pendants which used faceted agate rings as bails, so it seemed logical to make a necklace that could stand on its own as well as serving as a suitable pendant vehicle.
I had to adjust my Cellini Netting technique to accommodate the pearls I used in the front of the rope.
I think I can safely declare "Mission accomplished!"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful ...

... that Thanksgiving is over.

... that everything turned out really well (I'm a fairly decent cook. I can't remember the last time something I made was actually awful) and that my daughter bemoaned the lack of leftover peanut soup.

... that even though it snowed (unusually so; the last time I remember snow on Thanksgiving was 1993, when my friend Ana was in town) the roads were still warm enough that it didn't cause any no-shows.
... that this pair of beads only needed head pins and ear wires to become a pair of earrings.
... that this beaded bead which I made years ago, intending to make into a chain via these faceted agate rings which I did not insert symmetrically...
... was easy enough to cut up and re-make with only one ring so that it can be a removable pendant.

These are rather enjoyable to make. You make the basic shape which turns out somewhat floppy and then add the seed bead overlay (the dark bronze and cream clusters at the intersections) and it stiffens up fabulously.

... that this very ugly beaded bead (I was never happy with the seed beads I used) ...
... could be cut up and made again using better seed beads into something I find more appealing. It's still not a Something, but this way it stands a much better chance of getting there, wherever "there" may be.
... that while I was digging in the little baggie of carnelian agate pieces I completed (start to finish) a necklace using a couple of the components. I imagine its not what I'd originally planned, but I'm a bit tired of (not to mention alarmed by) the growing collection of baggies with partially finished thingies and their matching accent beads, waiting for self-actualization. It's really quite a responsibility.
At least I made some headway, but I think I may be tired of orange for now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More of the Same. And Not

I can make these in my sleep now, just about.
I haven't made too many changes these last few - I guess it's pretty much solidified at this point.
I've found something to do with the few odd rondelles left over.
Getting to this point took quite a bit of cutting. There were quite a few that didn't make it this far, and even though these are ok, construction is still a bit fluid. What I'd really like is an architecture and building method that works for three, four, and up to seven around (like the lavender one above), but I don't think that's quite possible. The wildly varying angles between rondelles with four around versus seven probably precludes a one-size-fits-all method, but I'm definitely still open to the possibility.
And then I made some bookmarks.

Friday, November 19, 2010


So sue me.

I made matching earrings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

By Jove

This time I've got it.

I wasn't entirely satisfied with last night's attempt because it was too flat, and didn't have the domed quality that the earrings and smaller rivoli-less pendants had, because of the size of the large outer beads. The length of the bead holes of the large outer beads to be precise.
So if you use a bead that is fatter than it is tall, you can move the shape of the pendant towards the convex and away from the flat, while still at the same time have plenty of bead peeking through the seed bead overlay.

Not to mention that somehow it seems that Jablonex uses its very best, most gorgeously funky colours for the rondelles. The round beads are all pretty meh by comparison.

And while I was at it, I fixed the edging which was fine before, but relied too heavily on thread tension. A small change produces a more dramatic shape with less effort, so now my work is done.


I wonder if the rondelles would work for the earrings...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Instead of Sleeping

Had a great time teaching my Boxes Chain this evening, and even though I really shouldn't have missed an opportunity for un-kitten-interrupted sleep (she's overnighting at the vet; recovering from her much-needed spaying), I was sure I could adjust the pendant for a rivoli.

Yes indeedy, and I barely had a false start.

Using a 14mm rivoli, the frame lies pretty flat, whereas without a rivoli, and only five units around, it's quite domed. This could definitely be scaled up for somewhat bigger rivolis (there ought to be a better plural; rivoli already sounds like a multiple), but that would require smaller beads (the biggest beads are 8mm in all the pendants I've made in this style). Smaller than 8mm and there may be too much air in the frame, too much space and not enough busy beading filling it up.

I'll have to try that another time when sleep isn't in quite such short supply. Like when I'm ten years younger again and twenty pounds lighter, in that dream.

I Just Can't Stop

So if button flowers (or flower buttons, whatever they're called) work in my newest little pendant, surely the right size teardrop beads (with the right length hole) should work too?

I used leopardskin jasper beads which turned out to have slightly different proportions to the fire-polished beads I used in previous versions, so I had to adjust some of the seed bead counts, adding in some size 15s, which I think improves it. I'd love to replace all the 11s with 15s, but there are so many thread passes that it may not be possible.

I just love the achievable texture in this petite medallion (it's less than 2" across, more like 1.5").

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Said I Wasn't

So I wondered if these little button flowers could be used instead of the 3mm beads.
Turns out they can.

Might be a little twee though.

Not Done Yet

The new earring and pendant design?
I had to make some more.
And the pendant works quite well as seven-around instead of five-around. Good to know.

Then I realized that they're all cool, even the originals which did have brown large beads (though you can barely see them), which means that there are more of these in my future in warm tones, or at the very least with nothing remotely blue.

I also managed to wipe one item off my to-do list, a necklace to match Cindy's earrings, which I'd originally made as a square stitch sample for the intensive beading class in San Francisco in August. There's something very satisfying to me about these imperfect geometric shapes: they're ostensibly cubes in that they're made from so-called cube beads in a cubic arrangement, but the beads are really only vaguely cube-shaped, and thus so are the resulting beaded beads.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Sleep didn't entirely elude me (thanks, Isis) although there wasn't as much of it as I'd like (thanks, Isis), but it could have been worse (thanks Isis).

Much as I resent the time-suck of sleep, I appreciate its restorative powers, and even though I didn't have a Eureka moment for the medallion I was working on last night, my head did get in the right space for something else I've been sketching and noodling with over the past week or so.
The first (which was sort of the second in that worked on the next thing first but cut it up and had a finished one second) is an earring, sans ear wire and sans mate (though it does now have one).
It's a simpler and smaller form of the pendant (which yes I know is not on a matching necklace) which was going to be an earring but is much too heavy, though I think it's a less bold pendant than I prefer.

I like it when that happens.

Friday, November 12, 2010


So I had this idea, and I made sketches with notes, and then I came home and beaded it.
It sort of worked, but not quite, as it ruffles a little (not to mention I ran out of fringe beads on the lower left), so I had to rethink, but I liked the concept. I needed to stretch it out a bit so that the edge beads would have enough space.
That didn't work either, because what you can't really see in the picture above is that the centre section is raised, and not in a good way, and even though it's not quite as much as the version that I cut up before it, still too much.

The one after this that I cut up too had an extra round of seed beads in the centre and was just horrible.

The next one used small fire-polished beads to move the edge outwards, which still didn't work but it was moving the right way, so I tried again.

This one lies flat but doesn't lend itself to the trios of fringe beads (or in fact much in the way of fringe beads at all) that I liked in the original, and even with small fire-polished beads nestled in the dips around the edges (like on the right edge), it has an unfinished look, and the seed bead holes are so full that adding anything for extra depth is problematic.

I'm out of ideas and short on sleep, and while I'd love to think I'll get a good night's sleep and wake up with a brilliant solution, the likelihood of that is slim, as my much-too-young kitten is suddenly unexpectedly in heat and loudly yowls for guys in the wee hours, and failing to satisfy that urge (a certainty as there are no other cats in the house; definitely no male cats), cries outside any closed door (and all the bedroom doors are within a couple of feet of each other), neither call being even slightly conducive to sleep.

When she first started making little whiny grunty noises and spasming her hindquarters a couple of days ago, I thought she might have a tummy-ache. When her belly felt perfectly nice and soft and she didn't seem too unhappy and it didn't go away, it occurred to me that she's been particularly affectionate, and then I used The Goggle (hi Denny!) and confirmed that yes, she's a victim of her own biology and is suddenly boy-crazy.

We are so very badly in need of an opening at the vet.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goodie Bag Goodness

Yarn The Left was spun from one of my carded Goodie Bag samples and is insanely soft (I'm thinking that cashmere, baby alpaca and the like may have had something to do with that), while Yarn The Right was an actual Goodie Bag sample from SOAR 2010; I believe from Ashford (credit where credit is due and all that).
Very generous sample, I might add: a little bag with three coils of coordinating rovings, two solids and a stripe. I attenuated them all together as one, resulting in a pretty tweedy yarn. Due to the combined bounty of other people with less interest in small amounts than I, and the table of stuff marked "FREE" upstairs from the registration desk, I also have a few purple sets and I believe a pink/red set.

Even though I'm not about to leave for SOAR Any Day Now and therefore do not need a stash of party favours, it turns out that if you don't have time to really settle in and get some serious beading done, you can scratch the itch by making earrings.
Turns out that I have quite a few odd pairs of beads lying about, whether due to direct purchase, such as the vaguely cheetah-like beads in the earrings below, or free gifts or leftovers.
There are quite a few fringey earrings in my future, as it turns out.

Also some more of these because I just like them and also because as I alluded to last post, I have quite the collection of appropriate stone rondelles. These are some sort of jasper, I believe, probably some made-up name which is why I can't remember what they're called, but are interesting nonetheless, being mostly streaky black on a pinkish-terracotta background. Still to come: olive quote jade unquote, Russian serpentine, new jade (which is probably not jade), and pink aventurine.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

And Again

The few weeks before SOAR I was assiduously making earrings to take along, to give to my friends at SOAR. I'm not sure how many pairs I gave out, as I already had earrings in my Etsy shop and earrings which I'd made months or years before and left in a drawer which were taken with me, but there were only two pairs left over.

Most of the earrings were one of a kind only in their colour (the styles were often repeated), but one of the leftover pairs was a singleton, made in the moment with no planning or notes, and I was not sorry to bring them back, as I really like them and wanted to work that motif again.
The large beads in each earring are spice jasper rondelles, and while they're close in size and proportion to some of the faceted Czech rondelles, they are by no means always interchangeable (when I tried to use the stone beads in a design which originally had used the Czech beads, it just looked messy and ill-fitting, but not in the good way that some girls look in boys' jeans, more like that creepy way that boys look when they wear girls' jeans, especially those high-waisted jeans from the eighties). While I have a respectable stash of the stone beads in a variety of different stones, they're not widely available, and I wanted a design for which the materials were not impossible to find.
Fortunately the Czech beads worked.

It's a very pretty bracelet with fabulous height (not so fabulous at a keyboard mind you), but it's decidedly straight and thus not suitable for neckwear, which ideally should curve. I do have some ideas about that.

Every time I return from SOAR I want to memorialise my joy while there, and I wonder which story I should tell (the door prize that Denny didn't win? It's just not as hilarious here in the Real World somehow), but discard them all when I realise that there's magic in that Shangri-la that just can't be captured and somehow doesn't quite make sense in any other place.

Instead, I'll show you a sleeve, one of almost two (I have three stripes to go on the second).

It's been a while since I've wanted to work with natural colours, and these are so lovely that I'm really enjoying it. I'm sinning with multiple fibres, but they all seem to be cooperating nicely, so I'm hopeful.

They're all handspun.

The darkest brown is a lovely bouncy wool that could be a coarse merino or a superfine corriedale. The garter stitch cuff is lama and silk, the white has a ply of merino/silk/angora and two more plies of other things I can't remember. The medium brown is brown blue-faced leicester and the taupe is polwarth. I think one of the honey-coloured yarns is either polwarth or merino, but the other one? No clue.

The design of this sweater thrills and delights me in the way that only non-standard sweater construction can do, although I have previously done something similar.

Starting at the cuff, I'm working the sleeve up to the underarm, shaping a set-in sleeve cap but instead of casting off the underarm stitches, I short-rowed them, and came back to short-row some more for the side body panel, which was worked down to the hem of the sweater.

When both sleeve/side panels are complete, using a somewhat heavier yarn, I'll pick up and knit stitches along both sides of each piece, starting at the hem, working up the side body panel, over the shoulder via the sleeve cap and down again, and then I'll knit back and leave the live stitches.

Once both sleeve/side panels have live stitches along their selvages, I'll cast on stitches for the front (or back) and work back and forth in a solid colour, joining the front (or back) to the side panels as I go. I'll be able to work waist shaping in the front and back pieces, resulting in a (I hope) flattering hourglass silhouette.

At least that's the plan.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back in the Swing

Always weak for the Chinese crystal, especially when the round beads have Even More Facets, I had to make yet another Fauxbergé pendant, especially after teaching it on Tuesday evening.
I'm not sure whether or not I love the cranberry splashes, but perhaps the necklace for this bead can highlight the colour. Either way, I'm not that enamoured, especially as the awfully pricey gold seed beads I've been saving for a special occasion really suck. They cost about four times of what I'd normally regard as higher-end seeds, and yet they're horribly uneven (some are very donutty, while others are decidedly cylindrical) with impossibly small holes, and the whole experience has rather soured me.

To cheer myself up, and also because I found these mother of pearl beads while looking for something else, I decided to try a chain based on a double tetradedral shape. It works, but it's a bit plain.
Much better with the addition of gorgeous crystal and metallic seed beads, but now I'm out of the mother of pearl (I cut up version one) with no idea where I bought them, and my chain is too long for a bracelet and not long enough for a necklace and I don't have enough silver chain just lying around so all I have is a useless length of something interesting and I wonder what other beads would work well here.
A productive week (not): two incompletes.