Saturday, December 30, 2017
I started off my four-day weekend with the beaded bead in last Friday's post.
On Saturday I made another one in different colours to prove it wasn't a fluke.
The maroon bag exterior is from leftovers, as is the lining of the frog bag but otherwise everything else was purchased for the express purpose of making knot bags.
My goal was to make pockets all the way around, inside and out, but various shortfalls prevented that; almost all of the bags have all the inside pockets but the outsides vary.
They also all have nice sturdy ultra suede bottoms with extra stiffening because one of my personal criteria for a useful bag is that it has a base upon which it can stand.
Sometime over the weekend in the course of cooking I was quite taken with my vegetables pre-roasting and fully intended to take a post-roasty picture but I forgot. Or started eating them before I could remember to do so. Something.
Friday, December 22, 2017
Oh. One of them can be seen in this second picture. Whoops.
It's pretty sturdy and I think it might even be firm enough for someone who doesn't stitch as tightly as I do.
It's relatively lightweight as it's hollow and doesn't have rivolis or fire-polished beads or any other large, bulky beads, just seed beads and two-hole triangles.
It's also quite big, almost two inches across and because it has sticky-out bits (the regions with two-hole triangles) and indented bits (the areas with round seed beads), it's a perfect fidget piece as your fingers fit so delightfully in the valleys as they glide over the hillocks in search of the next valley.
I'm also charmed by the fact that I've used triangular beads to make a beaded bead which is a cube even though it doesn't look like one. Much.
So now my challenge (which I actually don't care whether or not I meet so I suppose it's silly to call it "my challenge" as that implies I'm all fired up which I may be in terms of making things but the notion of a challenge when it comes to things I do for my own pleasure seems quite frankly slightly ridiculous) is for each day of this four-day long weekend to be as productive.
I actually have some ideas and they aren't even all beading-related.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Well, not literally, but it sorta felt like it, figuratively speaking.
I say that as though it was unpleasant to stitch it; it decidedly was not. Each repeat starts with a fresh new length of thread and then gets joined to the previous one. They go fairly quickly and because I made so many of them, by the time I got to the last ones I'd made so many improvements in the thread path that the only pain in the making was caused by the cursed Deadline.
It looks more intricate than it is which is always a plus: impress the hell out of the muggles with minimal effort but also I'm always charmed when the same skeleton can progress in a number of different ways so not only is there this crazy bangle but there are two versions of earrings you could make to match it. And the simpler earring motif could be joined rim-to-rim to make a bracelet or necklace too but I ran out of time. And also? I wanted to finish watching Season 3 of Broadchurch.
I'm not saying that you need no thread tension whatsoever, but my suspicion is that crazy tight may not be as vital as I like to say it is. ("These are hollow self-supporting beaded beads which rely in large part on thread tension to help them keep their shape so I suggest that you work at keeping your thread tension very firm"). I think that's pretty close to my usual beaded bead schpiel when I teach.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Like a young wine, or so I hear.
Design ideas are like that too although in my case no matter how long they've aged, when they're finally constructed I often realise that what I had envisioned was only the first iteration. Sometimes the imagination glosses over reality, doesn't always see a better way, a more interesting join, a more attractive use of beads and so on.
Still, I'm not entirely unhappy with my first pass of links chained one to the next.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Turns out I've been beading more than I thought; I just hadn't taken pictures and you know how it goes: if there's no picture then it didn't happen.
So it's a good thing when I figure out how to use them, though in truth I'll need to make necklaces rather than bracelets since they're used somewhat sparingly at the rate of one per inch.
Omitting the sticky-out beads from two opposing sides would enable it to be strung on a narrowish chain or cord; keeping all the sticky-out goodness requires that it be strung on beading wire or something fine along a diagonal axis.
This rush of newness is all leading up to the next batch of classes at my local bead store.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
I don't think the clasp goes well with the necklace, stylistically, even though it uses the same beads.
A rediscovered pleasure though is the actual necklace chain: the narrowest tubular peyote rope ever. It's fluid and has a pleasing structure which reminds me of a box chain, though rounded instead of squared, and even with my pretty tight tension it looks somewhat loose and is crazy stretchy.
What I don't love is that it feels incredibly slow to stitch but you know: seed beads.
Also: matte jet picasso seed beads which read black but have organic colour variations which make them so much more interesting.
What I've been doing a lot of is knitting on an endless project on 2.75mm needles and no, it's not socks (I use smaller endless for those and they are relatively quick actually).
This is a moss stitch sweater using up odds and ends of somewhat fine handspan luxury fiber yarns in natural colours. Randomish blocks of colour with the deeper colours towards the bottom and the lighter towards the top.
So far all I have is one and a half sleeves and an underarm panel and I'm not feeling especially impatient, probably because I know how futile that would be, and also because the particulars of the end product are not quite completely decided. Yes, I know I said it's a sweater but the neckline for example isn't completely fixed in my mind, nor the hem as it turns out.
I should probably show you but I'm always very dissatisfied with my inability to photograph knitting such that it looks amazing and this is just swathes of brown moss stitch so it's not as though my photos will dazzle with scintillating colour or extraordinary stitch construction or anything.
But it makes me happy.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
If I couldn't knit, I had to have something like it, something portable and soothing and rhythmic and the closest and least painful thing I could find was beaded kumihimo.
I started with size 8 seed beads and while the way it chewed through my stash of seed beads, it yielded a ridiculous quantity of necklaces, and so after a couple of months I switched to size 11s which was only slightly better in terms of the volume of production.
I played with different shapes and sizes of beads, colour combinations, counted stringing patterns and some of it was fun but ultimately it started to bore me. Quite a bit. And stitching the ends, finishing the necklaces became even more tedious so I began to let it slide.
And then I guess I killed enough nerves in my hand because I've been knitting again for a year or so and I do have to limit myself because even though I can often manage three or more hours in a single day, if I try to sustain it I pay the price in pain. Sometimes when I hurt I consider making a kumihimo necklace or two - it's not as though I've run out of ideas, it's just that the ideas no longer have any urgency.
it was always a stopgap for knitting.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Among other things this means that I'm not as constrained in terms of quantity what I display for sale so in theory all those half-finished pieces clogging my drawers and bins and baggies could be worked to completion, priced and put out there and I've honestly thought about doing it for a few weeks now but you know, what's it they say about paths being paved with intentions?
Actually I made pretty decent inroads (if you define "decent" as the percentage of unfinished versus finished being greater than zero; perhaps even approaching one) into some of those poor, partly-formed agglomerations of beads.
Not that it's entirely a bad thing because it's not as though all further efforts led to wasted time and piles of nothing but thread pieces: I was productive and I completed things.
It all started with a necklace which was going to be a class sample for Bead & Button 2017 but then I had plenty of colour-ways so I just didn't quite finish it. It's close though - just an hour or maybe two of stitching the necklace chain to join components. I gathered the materials and prepared to stitch and that's when I noticed that there were two more rivolis and so naturally my thoughts turned to earrings.
On Friday at work I had an interaction somewhere between a discussion and an argument; I tend towards "argument" when people who have no idea tell me about things that I'm closer to than they are: specifically that all necklaces are two-dimensional and that while women may make beaded jewellery, it's men only who make fine jewellery. If I cared more, it may well have turned into an argument but after not a whole lot more than "you're wrong" I began to find running another test case far more interesting and I'm not actually joking. I mean why waste time caring about the opinion of someone who's no more than a work acquaintance whom I generally try to avoid?
So the way the earring components are constructed draws my focus towards beaded beads with an insistence that cannot be resisted. Each component is built on a base with eight beads which means I'm looking at a solid with four-sided faces: a cube.
It's not hideous to stitch (sometimes they are), each motif didn't distort when I joined one to the other, the bead holes didn't fill with thread instantly due to convoluted thread paths and even though it's not perfect and I have Thoughts regarding Improvements, it's not bad for a first prototype.
And it's a pendant (which means necklace, doesn't it) and Hello! It's three-dimensional.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
I had a plan which involved cubes made using cubic right angle weave and at least that is what I ended up with.
The plan was a small open cube stitched with seed beads joined to a larger open cube also stitched with seed beads which caged a smallish cube using fire-polished beads. It was a decent plan until I started stitching and feeling less keen on more short sections of cubic right angle weave so I went in another direction.
Monday, September 4, 2017
There are tiny little motifs, design elements waiting to be incorporated into something bigger, little experiments that gave me an answer that wasn't interesting or useful - some are just ugly, but some are impossible to bead.
Sometimes they're impossible because the stitching is even weirder than usual or the number of passes through one particular bead approaches infinity where the size of the bead hole is definitely finite and sometimes they're impossible because a motif that needs to be repeated to make a three-dimensional shape and which works really well as a singleton just does not play well with others.
Sometimes the making was so unpleasant and unenjoyable that I couldn't even bring myself to finish it.
Sometimes there's something lacking, something which looks sloppy, something which is squishy where it should be firm; sometimes it's just ugly. If I can solve the problem, I tend to cut up the unsuccessful iterations so the bits and pieces of beadwork tucked away are those that just didn't quite make the cut one way or another (pun intended).
And even when I like something enough to finish it and enough to wear it, it's not always quite done because there's an improvement somewhere, whether in the design, the choice of beads, the thread path, something.
It's ok. Nice-ish.
I really hate the ends. The one you can see above is just a mass of fringe beads which basically hide the fact that I couldn't come to a satisfactory solution at the poles. The south pole is even worse; I did this thing with size 15ºs and it was supposed to be sort of picots but they didn't behave and are just a mess so I covered them with a large rondelle so really only I know what's underneath.
Well, and you of course.
It's also even and regular enough that the bead can be balanced on its end. I think it's as close to done as it will be for a while, perhaps forever.
Right now? It's hanging around my neck.
I might be ready to move onto something else.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
I was silent from March until a few days ago and now it's talk talk talk and maybe it's enough already and what's that about.
All I can say is that I'd think about the blog and the pictures I should post and it somehow seemed less important than sleep or relaxing and it felt like I didn't really have anything to say - and maybe I still don't but am fooling myself that I do - so I didn't. And then I wanted to say something.
I'm on Instagram and somehow that's easier and I guess I like that it's spontaneous and I suppose I should make a button so you can go there if you want to. There's almost no beading, occasionally some knitting, a cat picture from time to time, food, pretty cocktails and travel pictures. You know, just like the rest of Instagram.
There are two types of people: those who have to have earrings that match (as in exactly; part of a set) their necklaces and those that don't care one way or another. Actually three kinds, those that absolutely must, those that absolutely must not, and those that don't give a damn. When I make necklaces that I plan on selling, I often make matching earrings but I don't sell them as a set since all three types of people will buy a necklace or earrings but not everyone wants both and so generally the sort of person who must have matching earrings finds that someone else already bought them (because earrings aren't a big investment).
I have a friend who is a really good customer and who invariably has a list of earrings which she wants me to make every time she goes shopping, but to tell the truth I make stuff because I want to and am in the mood and the tides are right or whatever and I'm not focused on making a living off my beadwork (luckily: I'd be living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere) so I'm casual about fulfilling those sorts of desires of my customers.
There's always a class that needs instructions by Tuesday, or class proposals that are due or colour-ways for kits or, you know, the day job which really eats hours and hours of what I wish were free time.
Cindy's birthday celebration is tomorrow so I dug out my notes and made her earrings. The matching bracelets are highly unlikely to ever materialise quite frankly.
I'm also not done yet because More Ideas.
Both this beaded bead and the pendant which inspired it begin by constructing the band around the equator - you know, the fat part around the middle where my maternal grandfather insisted on putting the waist of his pants. He had a very large equator and instead of opting for the usual solution to increasing waist size - actually he was always large as far as I can recall - which is to say, pushing the waistband below the bulge of the belly, he instead required very long belts. Where was I? Oh yes, beaded beads.
Well, anyway, I found a good way to join the equatorial region of the original pendant made with rivolis to the smaller equatorial region of the beaded bead made with chatons in a reasonable way (attractive and sturdy) but I ran out of steam and only have two-thirds done so no pictures. I think I may not enjoy the doing, which happens sometimes, but I'm determined to finish it because I'd be happy to adorn myself with it.
Let me put it more strongly: I want to wear it. Soon. My goal is Cindy's birthday brunch tomorrow.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
So I wondered how it would be to use both the big and the small crystals and make something that wasn't three-dimensional and it turned out much better than my misguided previous attempts.
Monday, August 28, 2017
I cut up the first iteration.
Oh and in case you were wondering, they're a bit of an odd couple: while they share some elements, their proportions and other elements are different enough that they would be uncomfortable bedfellows.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
I have to say, I'm quite pleased and more than somewhat surprised at how easily it came together.
There was almost no thought or planning put into this. I was doing my usual Saturday bead surf and saw a beaded key which wasn't actually all that attractive so I typed "skeleton key" into my search engine, was pleasantly surprised at how pretty and ornate some of these are and how much some of the shapes reminded me of a sceptre, so I typed "sceptre" and decided to make a key with a crown on top and got going.
Usually when I make a new something this elaborate I end up with piles and piles of short bits of wiggly thread from all the cutting, but this time I cut after literally only about twenty beads - so really not much, no more than a few minutes of beading.
If you know cubic right angle weave it's very straightforward, much more so than some things I may have made that may have caused people to question my sanity, not that I know what their problem is.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Except for the first few hours of my trip here it was rainy in Edinburgh. Not the drenching skin-soaking rain of a summer downpour but the damp drizzle I grew up with: enough that you need an umbrella but not enough that you need to wring your clothes out if you forget it.
Enough to make the walk up Arthur's Seat muddy, scary and treacherous especially with crepe-soled shoes.
I mean they sort of warned me.
After climbing Scott Monument on my first morning here I spent a couple of hours at the National Galleries at which the Impressionist room was a lovely surprise.
Before my trip I spent some time researching places to eat because I know how it is if you don't: you just end up at some disappointingly mediocre tourist trap because you're hungry right now and don't have the wherewithal to make a better decision.
By and large I ate rather well.
After a very Scottish Eggs Benedict (black pudding instead of Canadian bacon) I visited Edinburgh Castle.
This might have been the first Close in the city which is full of Wynds (staircases connecting streets at different levels on the hillside but sometimes just a short length of road - often a dogleg connecting two parallel road. But not always. I'm not sure what exactly makes a wynd)
and Closes (usually covered walking passages between streets).
We have this idea - or at least I do - that a castle is just a building like a very large house but so often it's more like a walled compound especially when its at the top of a hill as this one is.
There are buildings and passageways
and a prison which turned out to be the most interesting part for me not least because of the fire alarm that caused us to be chased out.
After the castle I stopped at Tartan Weaving Mill which is at the start of the Royal Mile where I had fascinating conversations with the three kilt makers (after an apprenticeship it takes about ten years to work up to two kilts a day and they're seeing fewer and fewer apprentices) and a weaver who had fascinating information about the looms used by the mill, some of which may be well over a hundred years old.
He explained how the tartan patterns are programmed, how the rapier looms work without shuttles and have a stitcher which keeps the cloth under tension by stitching it to a selvage as it's being woven and then cutting it off as the warp advances. He showed me the machines that wind the warps, let me feel the selvage from looms that do not use continuous weft threads so that each end is woven back into the selvage creating a double weight edge. He seemed happy to answer any questions I had and talk about the history of the mill, different types of tartans, the rugs (more like blankets) that they weave at a looser sett using more softly spun yarn that they can brush to create a fuzzy surface - it was all so very intrtesting. The most modern looms they have date back to the nineteen seventies or earlier.
On the way to Holyrood Castle I stopped at St Giles Cathedral with its pretty vaulted ceilings.
Sadly I was too late and the castle was already closed so I started walking back in the twilight drizzle.
And then I found myself in the Calton New Cemetary where I saw headstones for people born in the seventeen hundreds.
The next morning I found the coolest coffee shop specializing in cold brew (but that's not what I had) and made my way to Holyrood Castle.
This is a working castle used by the royal family. There's an annual garden party and a massive hall where important people get to hobnob.
So the thing that struck me about the castle wasn't so much it's history or its massive walls in the oldest section or the wood paneling or priceless antiques; it was how worn and shabby all the textiles were. The red silk damask curtains in the bed chamber were badly streaked and faded. The needle-pointed chairs in the sitting room were threadbare - there were great holes on the sides of the seat cushions. The carpets were worn and faded.
I'd say nothing if this were a museum but as we were repeatedly told it's a working castle. The royal family sometimes stays there. Sits in those holey chairs, walks on those worn carpets. These people with wealth through the ages are surrounded by shabbiness among the grandeur here. It's weird to me.
What I really loved was the ruined Holyrood Abbey.
It's ruins. They speak to me.
And then since it's right there, I had to climb Arthur's Seat even though it was still damp from the morning rains.
I was warned after all but I didn't take my grippy-when-dry but lu Ed-when-wet crepe-soled shoes.
The lower path was paved but roughish so the walking was fine. As the incline got steeper so the path got muddier and slicker.
I was very careful.
The final (or so I thought) ascent was via a rough stone staircase, rough and uneven enough that I was reasonably confident that careful and measured placement of my feet would avoid death by mountain and I was doing pretty well until the steps were displaced by a very steep very muddy path perhaps twenty feet from the summit.
At that point life won over ascent and I turned around only to find the descent almost more unnerving.
But I didn't fall off the mountain and die which I celebrated later that evening by gorging on seafood.