Monday, April 28, 2008

Not a Lot

This work thing cuts SERIOUSLY into my beading, knitting and spinning time. Also sleeping time. Not so much loving that part of it.

Also I've been crazy busy making samples for class proposals for June through August at the local bead store. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was mad crazy busy getting samples for February through May, but apparently it was about four months ago...
Well yes I know it's just this partial thingy - I didn't say I actually finished everything, did I? I had to give them something for their web-site, and the class descriptions or price won't change with the completion of the sample, so it'll have to do. Actually I'm sorta kinda pleased with this one - I think it could be a really fun kit or class after a bit more development.

Truly? I don't adore this one so much, as it's a bit simple and I'm bored with the technique, effective though it may be. The good thing is that it's pretty easy and is quite snazzy for a fairly new beader. No exceptional skills needed.

I like this one. Not especially difficult or even terribly clever, but it's effective and you can try out all those really expensive seed beads without using up the whole tube. And once again (I just have the leaves resting on a short strand of beads. With the price tag on, but I can crop photos, as you see), I can think of something a little more interesting to do with these little leaves than what you see here.

Now this is the one of which I'm most proud, unfinished though it is. You think there's a clasp outside the picture on the upper right? Not so much, just unfinished ends, one shorter than the other.  Oh yes, the reason I'm pleased with this? I've never seen anyone do something with herringbone stitch quite like this, and its not often that I really feel that I've done something new, but I have, I think. Not that I've seen everything that everyone in the world has done since the invention of Nymo B (my thread of most use, though I actually like Fireline better for most things), but I haven't seen anything like this.

Yes, I'm preening.

In other news, I haven't spun in over two weeks, which is sad in a way, since I really like spinning, but on the other hand, I was having a really hard time even thinking about keeping up with the yarn production, and I wasn't anyway, so it's not as if I actually need More Yarn Now. Although, on the other other hand, spun yarn takes up less room than unspun, and I'm sure I could use the space.

The cream cardigan is coming along nicely, and even though I really wanted a more tailored shape with set-in sleeves, I've spoiled myself for sewing the things in, so if I can't do top-down knitted-on set-in sleeves (and I can't, not without ripping both of them out completely), it'll just have to be a raglan. I've never been as happy with bottom-up knitted-in set-in sleeves (I did them once on a sweater for my ex-husband, which I thought he'd give back to me when we got divorced - and I sweartagawd I haven't thought of this in almost fourteen years - because he criticized it so heavily when I gave it to him, but when I asked, he replied with the appearance of surprise that he really liked it. Whatever. I bet he gave it to Goodwill the next day out of spite), so I generally avoid them.

I suppose I could do another of those raglan-saddle hybrids that I did in the blue cabled sweater a couple of months ago - I've barely begun the raglan shaping so I don't have to make up my mind just yet.

Meanwhile I'm noodling over the next knitting project, which ordinarily would have been Yet Another Sweater For Me, but in this instance (and this happens around once a year or so) it's not. I had a friend, a very good friend, with whom circumstances (his move to Boston, my last ex who didn't like him much) have allowed me to lose touch, and whose wife has just had a baby. I guess I need to make baby clothes.

Being Boston, and not being a fan of either giving or receiving newborn-sized clothes, adorable as they are (if you're lucky, the baby gets to wear them once), I'm looking towards winter, and so nine-to-twelve month sizing, I think. I'm rather taken with this hat, which of course needs a sweater to go with it. Something without a hood, which is a shame, as baby sweaters with hoods are so cute, though perhaps a hat with built-in scarf is more baby-hands-proof (baby hands have been known to push hoods down and rip beanies off) than a hood on a sweater. I'm thinking this one gets the message to her parents that I'm sorry we lost touch, and anyway, it's really attractive and I'll enjoy knitting it.


Also, the lack of time and sleep conspire to also produce lack of exercise, which my back, still fragile, really needs. I went walking at lunchtime today, but as we're having a cold snap for which I wasn't suitably dressed, it was less fun than you might imagine, though I did see that there's a Y about three blocks away.


Oh, and before I forget, a movie recommendation: Eagle Vs Shark, which if you liked Napoleon Dynamite, you may well like too. Thanks once again to my kids, who made me go to Blockbuster to get it (well, when I say "made", I really mean "asked", but still), because I certainly would never have picked it out myself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Forty Hours a Week

I'm not dead, just resting. 

This working thing, I'd forgotten just how much time it sucks out of your life, leaving not a whole lot of time for the finer things, such as spinning, beading and knitting. Pretty sad, actually.

A couple of weeks ago I sold this necklace.  The stone is muscovite, and what you can't really see are the sparkles - it's like glitter suspended  in the rock. 
She wanted earrings to match, and even though I had no more of the fresh water pearls used in the rope, I thought I could make dangly spiral earrings all the same. Perhaps with some extra faceted glass beads.
Ugh, perhaps not.

Eventually I decided on fringy dangles instead, using beads the same colours as in the necklace. I hope she likes them.
I'm reserving judgement on the new job, though I feel right at home among the people in my group, even if almost the entire company are philistines when it comes to coffee. My commute is pretty painless although my gas consumption since being unemployed is way up by a factor of about three, probably. 

I definitely prefer the sloth and indolence.

This evening I made bouillabaisse for twenty apparently, although there were just four of us for dinner. I'd get up to take a photo of the remaining gloriousness, but I'm tired and in bed already (I love laptops), so you'll just have to take my word for it. I used a very large angry lobster, a huge dungeness crab, shrimp (with the heads still on, yum!), flounder and red snapper. If we'd included the baby octopus and manilla clams as we'd planned, I'd be able to feed the entire work team with the left-overs, but luckily all I need is a family of seven to ten to help me with my little problem. 

In general I'd just fake the recipe, but for grins I went to my favourite recipe site, and I'm really glad I did. The cherry on top was the rouille, a salty, garlicky, spicy and oily paste that rounded off the flavour perfectly. 

My friend Peter generally brings beer or cider, but Karl had already filled my fridge with pear cider, so instead Peter regifted me with chocolate that Matthias had brought him from Germany.




Lindt 70% with jalapeno and grenadilla. Passion fruit, if you must. This stuff is on a par with salmon roe sushi - yes, it's that good. It's so generously kind to your mouth that it can actually cure depression, make you fall in love, turn you into a better parent, and dissolve your crow's feet away completely. It's better than Amy's mint lemonade in summer (and that's saying something), better than my risotto with eggplant and anchovies that I can never stop eating, better than the d'affinois that Dale always brings to spinners - this is my new favourite food.

And apparently they also make it with mango and cayenne.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who Loves Me?

I'm very attached to the sweaters I've knitted, and the yarn I've spun, perhaps because it's such a huge investment of time. A sweater will see me through traffic jams, doctor appointments, dentist waiting rooms, DVDs and TV shows - it becomes part of my very life and therefore so precious.

Beading on the other hand, not that it doesn't thrill and excite me, not that I don't have that heart-swell of joy at an idea realised, but once it's out of my life, it's utterly GONE. Every so often I'll see earrings or a necklace on Amy, admire them, and as I'm about to compliment her on her incredibly good taste, realise that I made them. 

I feel like a goof.

So there's this Beading for a Cure thing which I mentioned before and which I really should start on, and to which I contributed last year, and which is in the process of auctioning off all the 2008 beadwork. I checked about a month ago, perhaps the first week of auctions, and mine wasn't among them, so I forgot.

Now it's up, and the bid seems rather low for the time I put into it, not quite twice what I paid for the beads, and there's a part of me off somewhere in the desert thinking "Gee, a bit of an insult, not even $40 for all that work" and I suppose I'm slightly embarrassed to have my work appraised for so little in such a public way, but I don't really care all that much.

Just a little.

I think my pictures are more appealing than the ones in the listing though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Even So

Even though I was almost convinced that because I changed the shaping of my Architectural Rib Sweater, making it leaner and more fitted, I probably wouldn't have needed the extra yarn I spun, luckily I was wrong.
The leftovers weigh in at around 200g, less than the extra lot I spun, just barely. They'd be really good in a mitred squares design with some solids though...
Yet another in an ever-longer line of poorly-photographed sweaters, but it's done, and it fits well, except the back neck, of which there's a bit much, but I'll deal with it another time when I figure out what to do. I was avoiding the turtleneck of the original design since I neither like the way they look nor the way they feel, and this yarn, while rather a nice sweater yarn, wouldn't pass the bra test, and so is unsuitable for neckwear. I ended up picking up stitches around the neck, working a purl round and then casting off. I might do better to pick up starting and ending at centre front and instead working back and forth for a collar, but I'm not in the mood just now.

Yes, I started the new job and they have sucky chairs and I'm seriously concerned about my back because if I sit in that chair another day I won't be able to stand up the day after that, so I guess it's clobberin' time. Or something.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


My camera batteries died before I managed to photograph the less interesting beads I acquired at Bead Fest, but I did snag pictures of the work of two glass artists I was able to bring home with me.

Not that I tried more than once, but this is difficult to photograph, as the gold sheen doesn't really show up - in Real Life, the whole bead surface is suffused with the gold shimmer hinted at on the bottom right of the picture above. This is the work of Shannon Hill, and I tell you, I had a hard time picking just one of his beads, and very nearly picked a second. This is a great honking hollow bead about 2.5" hole-to-hole and the overall colour reads a bit rosier and less mauve than in the picture. Simple but heavily sensual.

This second picture has The Nifty Appeal: on the left is just a matching cabochon, but on the right you see a borosilicate (which means it's pretty sturdy as far as glass goes) toggle with integral cab from Chris of C. N. Y. Glass. He tells me he's been making plain glass toggles for ages, but only recently hit on the idea of making them even more decorative. His vision is that they could be worn in any position in a necklace, not just at the back. I like that!

I was excited by this, as I'd love to develop a kit and give his work a slightly wider exposure.

For me, part of the challenge of seed beading is finding creative ways to use interesting findings and focal beads, and I already have a pretty good idea where I'd like to start on this. My first thought was to combine both a cab and clasp in a project, but unfortunately that would make it a hideously expensive kit, which in general I'd prefer to avoid. I'm not [yet, hah!] Cynthia Rutledge or Laura McCabe, and so don't have the cachet or fan base to command extreme prices, even if my costs are high, so I'm looking to using the clasp only, which might actually be a better thing in that it'll force me to stretch a bit to get the effect I'd have wanted from the cab.

The good part of being interrupted by The Needs Of One's Offspring is that the camera batteries have enough time to recharge, so even though at the top of this posting you're led to believe that you won't see more than those two pictures, in fact the truth is a little different.
Really, very conservative buying for a seed-beader. I rushed through at lunchtime the first day, found a couple of colours I'd been looking for and filled in to make it a worthwhile purchase, fully intending to do some serious shopping later, but I lost interest. Or something.
These pearls are BIG, close to a full centimeter in length, I think. Yummy. I'm weak for pearls anyway, but when I can persuade myself that I actually need them, and more than one strand of each because I'll make KITS, then you should know that this is pretty restrained.
Now I guess these are pretty interesting. I'm guessing that the huge things are dyed crazy lace agate (crummy crazy lace agate since the lace effect is kinda meh) though I suppose it's in the realms of the possible that they came out of the ground (after cutting and polishing) with those colours. I don't actually care as I like them anyway.

The stripey things are probably agates, probably dyed, then definitely etched. I actually saw quite a few stones etched, the most interesting of which were those agates that they shock so that they crackle. Polished, they have a slight translucency, giving them a hint of the ethereal, but etching does away with that, rendering them rather earthy and mysterious. 

The round beads are simply large faceted amethysts. I suppose they're dyed, as they were too inexpensive to be naturally so dark. Once again, the snob in me lies dormant. It asserts itself in the presence of unnaturally coloured topaz though, for some reason. What can I say, I'm a mass of contradictions, a fabulous amalgam of human frailty bound into an incredible - oh gag me with a spoon.

Tomorrow I start the new job. 

I doubt I'll keep up here quite as much. In any event there's unlikely to be quite as much progress on anything once all those idle hours are given over.

Seat Mates. Not Mates.

While I don’t travel for work every other week and so rack up endless air miles, I do travel from time to time so I have some experience of fellow travellers, and even though I don’t necessarily befriend my seat mates, I’m rarely as annoyed as I was this evening on the flight home from Miami.

As usual, I had booked a window seat - it’s a toss-up as to whether I think I’d like to use the rest room on the plane, or have people climb over me continually. I have internal fortitude, hence the window seat for a two and a half hour flight: no climbing over nor being climbed over. It works quite well.

Perhaps the fact that I was Group Six for boarding had something to do with the extraordinary slowness of the passengers in front of me to get themselves seated, but either way, there was an actual stationary queue in the thingie, the jetway, whatever they call the connection between the gate and the plane. It took a while to reach my row, and when I did, and after my “excuse me”s to the woman in the middle seat, and her bitter rant expressing her incredulity that a person travelling with a DOG would be given the middle seat, I offered her my window seat (ugh, I hate the middle seat) which she accepted as though it were her due.


I took out my book, switched on the light and started reading. 

She was very busy.

Talking to the dog, explaining to me, explaining to my other seat-mate (loudly, since he had to hear a voice from far away, two seats over) about how the dog would sleep, really it would, it would be fine, go to sleep, and then about how the dog wasn’t sleeping and no, you can’t get up, go to SLEEP, bending down to adjust the carrier bag, sitting up, elbowing me as she takes off her jacket, bending down some more to tell the dog to sleep, MORE explanations to both of us, tapping my other seat-mate, reaching over me, just in case he wasn’t paying quite enough attention to her dilemma.

Delightful, but hey, it’s only a couple of hours, I’ll survive.

Eventually the dog came out of the carrier and onto her lap, and was perfectly quiet and still, unlike the owner.

At which point, the flight attendant comes over to ask me and the non-dog-carrying-aboard seat-mate if we’re ok with the dog being out of its carrier. She doesn’t quite get to finish her question before dog woman launches into a long explanation and discussion of her dog’s state of wakefulness, nervousness and general disposition, while the flight attendant politely tries to explain that her concern is less with the dog than with the other passengers. Dog woman cannot comprehend, but is silent long enough for me and non-dog-man to be asked if we’re ok with the dog on the lap. She does however manage to insert another rant concerning her dog's shots and documentation thereof, and how it was never checked. The flight attendant was unable to offer any insight.

Realizing that it’s a full flight and that any expression of dissatisfaction on my part, if it doesn't actually lead to an immediate seat reassignment, will by default cause an even less pleasant flight experience as dog woman comes to the sad realization (which she will surely (a) take personally and (b) regard as an unforgiveable character flaw, punishable only by more fidgeting and loudness, or perhaps other irritations as yet unimagined by me) that not everyone loves her dog quite as much as she does, and that not everyone (i.e. me) is not as thrilled as she would expect, to have such a wonderful creature next to them.

I assure the flight attendant that it’s fine.

It’s not, but I am made of fairly stern stuff, much as I enjoy a whinge.

A few minutes later the First Class flight attendent stops by to ask if I’d like to change seats. I bravely insist that I'm fine. She mentions a First Class seat. I accept with alacrity, and as I vacate my seat, dog woman, who is sitting in what was to have been my seat but which she seems to have forgotten had been given up for her, says to me “It's a pleasure to see you leave”.


All I can do is shake my head and mutter loudly (quite loudly, to my new seat-mate, who does not have a dog, and to both the Economy and First Class flight attendants, who were both first class, I should point out) “Some people...” as I repeat her parting quip.

In better news, I'm home (and my house didn't flood from the rains in my absence) from Bead Fest Miami, and although I may not have broken even, my insistence that this was a marketing gig, rather than for financial enrichment, may actually be true, as there's talk of my coming back down to Miami in the winter to teach the local guild, which if they're all like Harriet and her friends, should make it a joy. Not to mention the fabulous conversations and the Fondling of Beads (pictures to follow; I need sleep!) and the swim in the outdoor pool this morning.

And then tomorrow I finish my taxes (and post pictures), and on Monday I start the new job.

Things could be a whole lot worse.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I mean, really, how bad could life be if you can have this in front of your eyes as you drink your morning coffee? Without glass between you and the outside air. (Not so dreadful, if you couldn't figure it out).

I had a last-minute enrollment for both of my classes today, I scored an incredible lampwork bead, not to mention ridiculously cheap pearls and semi-precious beads, and I might have one person in my class tomorrow, and there's talk of my coming and teaching workshops at local guilds. Not having a dreadful time at all.

And on the walk back to my room I was accosted by an incredibly beautiful Colombian woman who called me "Sweetie" and put boatloads of make-up on my face and didn't act too put out when I gulped at the prices as I backed away from her kiosk. I'm gorgeous now, I tell you, GORGEOUS. Sweetie.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I Have One Word


And then I have a short sentence: My eldest turned seventeen last year.

And an explanation: No more Exemption.

And a reaction: Dammit.

Monday, April 7, 2008

It Is A Far, Far Better Thing

Um, sleeve, than I did last time.  Really, I like this one much better, and I think I'll find a more jacket-like, structured cardigan ultimately more useful than a sloppy, lacy, large-gauge cardigan, at least, that's my belief right now. I'm pleased to be able to incorporate all the odds and ends I was planning on interspersing in the original and horribly dated (ack! Dated before it even hits the closet - that's awful) and oversized cardigan, and in such a practical way too: as cuffs and other edges to disguise the dinge that invariably strikes in these places.
Yesterday was our monthly eating, uh, spinning day, and I completed all the carded SOAR conglomerations.
Like the others I have previously shown here, they're all (except the corally-orangey-browny skein, which was spun fat and plied with a never-ending cone of variegated rayon flake yarn) sportweight three-ply yarns. I guess they'll go with something sometime, which is usually the case for my odds and sods. Plan? What plan? Surely you jest!

So now I can start on this, a small lot of polypay which I randomly dyed in three different reds and had carded, but not blended. I probably have about enough for a smallish sweater as long as I spin it dk weight or finer. Not a problem.

So for yesterday's eat-a-thon, which was actually rather restrained since a few participants were excused from food duty (though really food is rarely a duty, except in the case of children who are picky eaters but must still be fed every night), I made Lamb Stew With Lemon and Figs, except I used venison, and I have plenty left over. It was rather good, though the heat of the cayenne simmered out a bit more than I would have liked, and I think next time I'd go light on the crushed tomato and perhaps up the lemon a bit.

On Saturday I was quite focused, making the sample and packing kit beads for this new colourway:

I also completed the sample (started some months back and shelved after the class was taught) and packed beads into incomplete kits (I'm out of the not-seed beads, I hate that) for this necklace:

It's partially based on what I suspect was a standard Victorian design (but the colour is decidedly modern), though the dangles (which I think were traditionally bead-wrapped wooden beads or something equally bulky) are my own, as is the bit in the front where it looks as though it fastens, but doesn't, as it's permanently closed and slips over the head. How do you say that in five words or less? I haven't a clue.

Only four (after today) more days of sloth and indolence, and Friday almost doesn't count, as I'm teaching all day in Miami.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cut and Run

There's a reason I stopped working on this.

It's ugly! 

Yes, the idea of lace at a large gauge is somewhat appealing, but what was I thinking? It really doesn't look all that lovely, and while I love undulations and scallops, the single feather and fan repeat here distorts the sleeve in a rather dismaying way. The picture is taken of the side view because if I flatten it the other way, it's buckled and puckered and I'll tell you here and now, I'm so not interested in having to adjust the stupid thing every time I wear it so that it lays properly on my body.

I do still want a cream cardigan, but not that one. I also still think the idea of a not-cream cast-on was brilliant, since the edges always seem to attract dirt and dinge that never ever quite washes out.

I 'm having better success with the Architectural Rib sweater, though my modifications have changed its character somewhat.

The original design had you cast off (or, in my case, short-row) the side seams by two stitches each row, and do a double decrease at the bust dart every fourth row. The sleeves start happening when the short-rowing meets the decrease point.

When I tried it on, I found it altogether too baggy (and I embraced the Decade of the Eighties with its super-voluminous sweaters) with too much bulk under the arms; so much so that it caused the central hourglass-shaped section to bunch up along the shoulders instead of spreading out, which in turn caused the neck to crumple unattractively.

After much pinching and pulling, I decided to redo both side sections, short-rowing instead by three stitches every row, and adding a single decrease at the bust dart on alternate right side rows to shorten the armhole length more quickly. What this meant was that the meeting of the side seams and bust dart happened more quickly, as both stitch diminutions happened at a faster rate, so that the sweater is now a somewhat fitted affair with narrower sleeves, which of course have the advantage of getting done more quickly, since there aren't as many stitches to get through. 

I'm almost at the elbows on both sleeves, and am loving the fit (I tried it on less than half an hour ago). In truth, part of the problems in fit may have been mine, since I didn't use the recommended yarn, and didn't even check the gauge on my handspun, but I think not entirely, since the photos did show bulky underarm folds, though of course these weren't exactly highlighted.

My Bead Fest preparations are well-nigh done, except for attaching stickers to the little tubes of beads for one of the classes. I could also stand to assemble some kits for sale, but I could leave without them if I had to. 

Given that my Sunday class, at least according to the link I was given, has zero people signed up, and also given that I actually have not started on the new job, and therefore have not yet been blessed with The Regular Paycheck, I'm debating whether I should bring with a beading project or two to work on in my nice empty classroom, or whether I should just throw in the towel and shop all day. Actually, seriously, I probably have neither the interest nor the stamina (which is I think largely dependent on interest) to shop for more than a couple of hours, and the one thing I really want to buy most likely will not be available, since the vendor isn't on the list of exhibitors posted, though there could always be surprises, I suppose.

Guess in addition to packing enough knitting projects (the cream cardigan, version 2) I'll think about packing beading projects and paraphernalia. I'll probably tempt fate and not pack a task light, since I'm already loaded down with kits and instructions for the classes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Ears Have It

I'm so done with earring samples and instructions:

Still spinning, and here's the latest of the blended SOAR fibers. This one is very soft, I think the white is angora and/or optim, the brown is probably cashmere, and the rest I'm unable to identify; however I know that I blend primarily by Yum Factor, and secondarily by colour.

It's really quite yummy.

I've been plugging away at the Architectural Rib sweater, and while I was watching Donny Darko with my fifteen-year-old, I joined the sides and really should try it on to see if my supposed improvements did actually improve the fit. Or not. If not, then I'm pretty much stumped in terms of making this work. And by "stumped" I mean "can't work up the energy to do it a third time", so it had better fit. Tomorrow. I'm tired.

OK, seeing I've been doing movie recommendations, I have a book recommendation for those who like books on the literary science fiction side. The author is China Mielville (with an accent over the first "e", only I couldn't be bothered to look up how to do that, because I want to get into bed and read more) and the name of the book is "Un Lun Dun" which I wanted to pronounce as if they were French words, but they're not. Un Lun Dun is what he called the abcity for London - by which you should infer that it's somewhere between science fiction and fantasy, but not the elves and magicians on an quest type of fantasy, which I can't abide. His books have weird science, and are a richly-woven, highly-textured tapestry of the senses. He's a literary analogue to Tim Burton, managing to mix the arcane with the contemporary in a manner that is both strange and believable. 

This one is a little different than his previous books, a bit lighter, but I'm enjoying his silly humour. Some things in the abcity of UnLondon exist in "prolog form" in actual London, such as old European currencies, bus conductors and broken umbrellas, which in UnLondon, become unbrellas. The guy in charge of the unbrellas is Mr Brokkenbroll, the "head honcho of the Parraplooey Cassay tribe. The Unbrellissimo. The boss of the broken umbrellas".

And YAY! I made my first Etsy sale!