Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three More

It's a tug of war between beading and knitting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So far.

Still a bunch to go.

It is not outside the realms of possibility that I may finish my sweater by the end of the week. It could happen. I'm hoping (and knitting at every opportunity).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Which I Convince Myself That I Am Organized

I did get enough of this colour-way stitched so that I could photograph it so that I could make a kit cover so that I would have kits available for yesterday's show.
That's the good news.

Bad? The show appeared to have barely been marketed, so that not only were there not enough vendors to bustle up the place, but the crowds were non-existant and barely trickled through, so although my percentage of lookers to buyers was pretty good, there just weren't enough lookers to make it incredibly successful.

On the plus side, I have a couple more kits in my Etsy shop.

My booth turned out pretty well, though my very clever kit display-and-purchase theme neglected to take wind into account when designing both the foam-core board ticket holders as well as the paper tickets, as I spent much of the time picking up the displays and running after blowing tickets. I do have some idea for the next show though.

The tent worked well, and was a great eBay bargain. The tables and sheets, um, tablecloths worked pretty well, except that one of them was accidentally a fitted sheet, so I removed the elastic and used it on a back table and while it wasn't ideal, it wasn't screamingly ghastly.

My poster (printed on multiple sheets, glued together, covered with self-stick laminating paper, glued to a foam-core board and suspended by handmade split rings) was pretty excellent.

The kit sample display cases (large sheets of clear acrylic placed on perpendicularly placed black-painted 1x2s) was also a good idea that proved itself successful.

The weather was generally pretty good, if a bit cold in the morning.

At least I now have the setup to do other shows, which is certainly a part of what's been holding me back (that and inertia).

There's nothing like a frenzy of planning resulting in an avalanche of mess to inspire an organizational spurt. I had already organized my kit boxes, so I cleared some shelf space (of seldom-inspected items whose accessibility would not suffer by being placed somewhere less accessible) and put them within easy reach, labelled so that I can see the contents at a glance.

I still had enough left-over foam-core board that I was uncomfortable simply tossing, and then it struck me.

I store the kit supplies in baggies (a large baggie for the design containing a smaller baggie for each colour-way containing baggies and tubes and flippies of beads and supplies) which in turn are stored in miniature milk-crates (about 8"x7") and Ican never tell what's where, even when I label them.
I have to lift each baggie out and sometimes open them up to determine which kit is represented where, which gets annoying. I hate that the baggies are just stacked one above the other, and even if they're labelled (some have stickers on them) the label may be face-down and therefore not terribly much use. Generally there are up to four kits per crate.
Foam-core board works so very well for dividing crates into quarters, and now I can see what's in which crate!

Except I had enough foam-core board for only four crates, and there are eighteen in total, though not all are eligible.

Guess I'm not quite ready to put away the utility knife and the cutting mat.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Less Dull

Nah, still in panic mode vis à vis Saturday's show, kinda.
More kits packed.

More administrivia done, more to go.

I must report that I have discovered the secret to dealing with too much to do in too little time, or at least the attendant panic. Actually, it's also the secret to not feeling the crushing weight of the years and the loss of the thoughtlessness of youth too: do something fun on a school night to forget it all, at least for a few hours.

I went to a concert, even though I was concerned that I could ill afford the time away from lists and kits and posters and price tags. I'm so glad I did; it was exactly the right thing.


Today I'm way behind on my to-do list.

On the way home I was so wired (and so deaf) that I think I blew the speakers in my car, because I needed extreme stereo volume to drown out the reality of my tuneless (and very loud) singing along.

Eh, who cares, I had fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dull Girl

Perhaps I exaggerate: it's not been all work and absolutely no play whatsoever, but my time allocation has been concentrated on the work. Honestly though, I have no right to complain (and I'm not, exactly) since this effort is entirely of my own choosing with no external coercion at all.

I've done this to myself.

I made nifty dividers that work pretty darn well using foam core board and packed kits in my organised crates.
I packed kits.
I packed kits.
I made samples in new colours, and packed kits.
I made a sample for a new kit (I'm teaching the class on Tuesday, so it's fair game for a kit for Saturday), and packed kits.
I made a poster for my booth and printed it on nine pages and stuck them together and am now wondering how I'll make an actual usable poster.

I suspect that more foam core board and self-stick clear laminating (I always thought that laminating had to involve heat-bonding, but Wikipedia allows a more general definition. I'm thinking it's new-fangled laxity, and true lamination really only allows heat-bonding, but since I don't have access to a heat-laminating machine big enough for a 20" x 30" poster - or even for something small, for that matter - I'll just buy the self-stick and call it laminating) paper is in my future.

I also verified that my brilliant idea for display cases for the kits is viable (but no pictures). It involves large pieces of perspex/acrylic/plastic/clear stuff that is not glass left over from when my mahogany dining room table needed to be protected from careless little hands, and strips of wood, yet to be painted. It'll work though.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ever the Optimist

So apart from kit samples and packing kits, I have a bit of construction work to do for the show.

I need to make what will be essentially huge shadow-boxes for all my kit samples, print up tickets, one per kit so that customers do not have to resort to pawing through boxes of slippery baggies of kits, and then rig some sort of filing system so that I can lay my hands instantly on any kit when presented with a ticket for same.

I'd kinds of like some sort of raised section to display finished pieces for sale, but that's near the bottom of the to-do list.

I've bought the tent/gazebo/thing, tables, some displays and two table-cloths, um, sheets, but there's so much more to do that I really need another couple of months. I have two weeks.

Meanwhile, I made samples.
Not as many as I'd have liked to have finished, but I guess I could have done none at all and then next weekend would really be panic stations.

I keep forgetting how much I love pearls. I really should go back to figuring out how to use them in seed bead designs, both because they're pretty, but also because they're such a nice contrast in texture.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Track

Multitasking invariably means that things take longer than you expect even as you have more to show at the end of the day, but I did at least get one new colour sample done.
The pearls are this fabulous oilslick colour: some have notes of green, some blue, some copper, some just grey. My favourite kind of sludge (that which requires multiple words to describe).
And I packed kits.

Much as I don't want to stop knitting cute summer tops in silks and cottons and rayons, the weather will inevitably get cold, and SOAR is less than a month away and I just remembered that I have exactly one new handspun item since last year and so it's time to dust off some stalled projects and get going again.

I've been all nose to the grindstone, but unfortunately long-sleeved sweaters on small needles (US size 2 or 3 perhaps) just aren't instant gratification projects, especially when they were less than a quarter done at the time of abandonment.

Even though I'll be tremendously pleased at myself upon completion, it's just not as pleasurable knitting on something that you've been studiously ignoring for six months. There's this whole momentum thing which is inexorably tied to the enjoyment, so when the thing that's driving you is not enthusiasm and the momentum of the first blush of love for a new project, but instead guilt, shame and embarrassment, it just doesn't hold quite the same joy.

I'm thinking of diverting myself with a quickie oversized cabled side-to-side vest on huge needles.

Even flirting with the idea of a new love can be add new excitement to an old relationship - at least, that's what I hear.

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Marbles

I'm not always the smartest when it comes to rationing my time.

The show I'm doing in a couple of weeks requires me to make kit samples and fill kits, and instead I spent my beading time this past week (which was somewhat limited) making the long skinny part of this lariat.

I made the ends last weekend, and it's taken four or five full Fresh Air podcasts, as well as odd half-hours here and there to stitch the length.

I've always enjoyed colour-fade necklaces, as it reduces quite a bit of the tedium. Instead of doing the same thing every stitch of every row, the colour pattern is a series of little milestones. Inchstones. This is my recipe when switching from colour 1 to colour 2:

I start with ten rounds of colour 1, then work one round alternating colour 1 and colour 2 (*), one more round of colour 1, then four rounds in which I first alternate colour 2 with colour 1, then alternate colour 1 with colour 2, then repeat these two rounds once, then one round with colour 2, and finish with a round in which I alternate colour 2 with colour 1 before working the next ten rounds with colour 2.

(*) When I say "alternate", I mean in herringbone stitch I pick up one bead of each colour for each stitch in the round, so this scheme works equally well when working more stitches around than just the two that I used.

If you (like me) find you have gobs and gobs of beads from a very narrow section of the colour wheel, some darker, some lighter, some matte, some shiny, some iridescent, it can be fun to order these similar colours, placing the most similar colours adjacent to each other, and then working a fast colour-change necklace, working perhaps three or four solid rounds between changes. You still have a necklace that's basically one colour, but it's just that bit more interesting than a solid colour.

At least, I think so.

In all fairness, I wasn't a total slacker.
I did complete one kit sample in a new colour, which I kinda love.

I also worked on instructions for the class I taught on Tuesday.
I didn't quite finish the sample, but it was instructive, I think.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Replete WIth Marbles

I tried my little covered marble with fringe beads in strategic places and also with a shorter shaft.
The fringe beads were I think a good addition, but I prefer the longer shaft. I think the recipient (friend visiting from Portland for the weekend) likes it anyway - at least I hope so!
Turns out I was using some of these marbles for their intended purpose: in a vase.

I don't need all of them in there, so I rescued a few. The one above is dark cobalt, and there's an aqua marble on my work-table in a state of partial deshabille using tiny magatamas instead of fringe beads (successfully), as well as a totally naked green marble.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Found My Marble

Sometimes I make actual paper lists, sometimes they're digital, sometimes mental. Either way, I generally have a list of things I want to or have to do, and sometimes I'm even quite serious about it.

Take this.
It's the start (and I'm more than halfway finished) of a sample of a new colour-way for an old kit, and my first beading priority for the weekend was to finish it. First thing on my list of Beading To-Dos for the weekend.


It's a little, um, repetitive and while there are times when repetition and rhythm are just the ticket, sometimes I need something more.

Not unlike others of my ilk (those who like to Make Things), from time to time I acquire odds and ends which seem as though they could be useful at some point in the future, like those mesh bags of glass globs or glass marbles that are supposedly good for keeping flower arrangements, well, arranged.

(And seashells. You'd think. Less of a good idea for me, as it turns out, but perhaps there'll be a story in that someday).

I've used less of them than I imagined I would when I bought them, but there's still time. I'm not dead yet.

Instead of the spiral sample, I thought it might be fun to cover a marble.
It only took two tries to get it right, not that there isn't room for improvement. Fringe beads seem like they might not be out of place, for example.
I wanted to finish it, so I made a loop for it to be a pendant, but my first thought was that it would add wonderful heft to a lariat.

Also, I'm clearly stuck riffing with tone-on-tone. The faceted beads are bronzey-golden, but the seed beads are all variants on pinky-beigey-burgundy, and nothing is hugely darker or paler than anything else. (I said "hugely". That didn't mean that there was no difference at all).

What you can't see in any of the photos I took (note to self: take more better) is the view from the top, as you'd see when wearing it. The place where the stem connects to the swell looks like petals when viewed from the wearer's perspective, attractively and appealingly so, which to me is an added bonus.

I like the things I make to look good (and by "good" I mean "good to me", because really that's all I've got) when worn. So a necklace should sit nicely on the chest or at the base of the throat or wherever, a bracelet should flatter the wrist, earrings should dangle appropriately, that sort of thing.

Where feasible, I want the wrong side to look good too, so if a pendant flips over (assuming it has a back and a front), it shouldn't look like a mistake. In the same way, when I used to make more of my own clothes, I wanted the inside to look good too; I always wanted to be sure I wouldn't be embarrassed by the seams. The lining of a jacket should be functional (so that the jacket's shape is maintained as you wear it) as well as pretty. Floral! Paisley! Silk madras!

For example.

Something pleasing to the eyes of the wearer while being worn fits nicely with that aesthetic in my opinion.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Contrast and Compare

My instinct with colour is to blend and tone and mix it up with textural and surface finishes, rather than to look for contrast in either value or hue.

It turns out that many of the beaded beads and pendants and components I've been fooling with for the past few months or year or whatever, contrast makes them much more interesting, so it's been somewhat of an exercise in fighting the path of least resistance to get the best effect I can.

And honestly, I'll teach a class from time to time and be blown away by the wild contrasts and unexpectedly fabulous colour combinations.

Although I haven't participated in years, I decided to hang my shingle at the "Bead Art" show that my local bead store holds twice a year, and see if kits (and possibly patterns) do better than finished pieces, which tend to not be good sellers, as the show draws in people from the neighbourhood (who are looking for bargains. Cheap handmade stuff) or else other beaders (who would rather look at wares very carefully and then go inside and buy the beads to make the jewellery themselves). To that end, I thought I might wake up some old kits with new colour-ways.

One of my favourite colours in seed beads, is the Czech colour often called something like "Silk Dark Bronze AB", a delicious mix something like the patina on silver from liver of sulphur, or like the colours I've seen on copper which I think is done with electrical currents. Or something to that effect, if I recall correctly.

It's a colour that can move around the colour wheel, and my first thought was (perhaps in part because of its name) to put it with brassy, bronzey colours.
Too much contrast, and not in a good way. It's too stark, too harsh. Turns out a more blended, more monochromatic approach was far more effective in this seed bead only design.
Nothing is especially darker or lighter than anything else, and except for the very tiniest beads, have a large overlap in terms of colour. Purpley browny somewhat colour-shifting with either matte or shiny iridescence. Just like that liver of sulphur patina that will stop at one colour but present flashes and hints of something not quite the same that doesn't actually read as a contrast.

My favourite type of colour requires a few paragraphs to adequately describe it.

Mission accomplished.

And then I finished Yet Another knitted project, a version of (Ravelry link alert:) Norah Gaughan's Shell tank. I've said it before and I'll say it again: her designs are not only genius, they're gorgeous as well. Intellectual aesthetics. What could be better?

I used a silk and dralon (yes, dralon) blend that I picked up back in the decade of my fiber obsession on eBay (in the nineties). It was pretty intense, and actually, if I hadn't bought another skein of yarn or fleece or piece of roving since then (I have though), I'd still have had enough to last me into a very, very long retirement (which at this point in the economy makes me wonder if I'll ever get there).

On the other hand, I scored some very excellent bargains and got burned once only, and the seller deactivated her account before I could file an official complaint. On the other hand, if I'd put all that into college funds for my kids, I could impulsively get a new floor in the room where the cat peed even with two kids in college at the same time.

Make no mistake, I have neither regrets nor plans to give up my fibre stash or anything. It's very, very useful. Come the apocalypse and my kids and I are clothed and warm, though global warming may render that slightly less necessary than say, the next ice age, but who knows? Climate science really isn't my area of expertise, not that I claim to have one.