Tuesday, July 29, 2008


If you buy a one-litre bottle of club soda for mojitos, then the thing is, unless you're making for a larger crowd than I was, you're going to have left-overs. And if you're like me, juice-free (I prefer to chew my calories mostly, but I do like juice diluted with club soda, but I never have juice in the fridge), there's not a whole lot you can do with left-over club soda within a day or so, except make more mojitos.

The club soda will go FLAT otherwise, people!

I've been productive too though, working on class samples for the next quarter (I have just over two weeks to get them done), instructions and samples and kits for Bead Fest Philadelphia (I'm teaching a few classes) and new kits.

The colours look much prettier in the photo than in real life - not what people usually say, but it's true! I've been bored at work, I mean more than usual, and apparently I get really creative when I want to be somewhere else. 

Analogously to knitting, where often my goal (after design, style, colour, etc) is to not have to sew any seams, in beading my goal is often to embellish-as-you-go (if I need to embellish). Usually I don't have the interest to make multiple passes on a rope to add things to it, so if I can figure it out as I go along, so much the better. The above is essentially a spiral rope with right angle weave connecting and forming the spiral arms. Simpler conceptually than in practice, where it's a bit fiddly. I started on the far side of the button using all brass-lined seeds for the RAW part, but it didn't show up quite so well until I used opaque beads as well.

These little beaded beads are fun on their own, quick and easy and variable, and I'm going to try something new at the local bead store this time: the beaded bead class will be a prerequisite for the class to make the necklace below.

People seem to sign up more readily for two-hour classes than four-hour classes, which have the added advantage (for me) of being able to be held in the evening after work. Sometimes I resent having to get going on the weekend as I'm invariably involved in something or another and Not Quite Ready. 

As far as students go, while certainly there are those who (much like me) like a relatively large-scale project that they can really zone out on, there are also plenty of busy beaders who want something that they can make in a single sitting, like a pair of earrings (these are perfect for that) or a pendant or a brooch or a link in a chain. Plus the beaded beads are sparkly!

I'm not sure when I'll have the time to make beaded thingies for myself though...

Sunday, July 27, 2008


About four or five weeks ago, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I heard a buzzing noise, not the sort of buzz which would indicate hunny, which in some worlds would be a Good Thing, though generally not inside a house, but the sort of buzzing noise that indicates an electrically-related malfunction somewhere, the sort of buzzing noise likely to prevent sleep.

Turned out it was the doorbell, the part that sits on the wall and notifies me of visitors, not the part that's outside waiting to be pressed.

Keen to get some sleep, my philips screwdriver and I set about making the buzzing stop. Together we undid three wires and two fasteners, and when I examined the doorbell I decided that it was broken, and needed to be replaced.

The wall in the hallway had three old wires poking out of a square of nasty pink floral wallpaper just smaller than the old doorbell. I had high hopes.

Then I went to bed, happy, with a plan.

The next day I went and bought a replacement doorbell and eagerly opened the instructions to find out how my three wires would be attached, only to find, to my horror, the following:

"When removing your old doorbell, carefully note which wire is which..."

Not helpful at all, after the fact.

Time passed.

I bought a brass knocker, and after a few false starts, had it securely mounted on my door. At least the blue sticky note on the front door could be removed, and no one need bruise their knuckles.

I bought stuff to fill holes made in doors.

I looked at the three wires and the nasty pink wallpaper and decided to paint the hall.

I looked at paint chips.
I bought paint and spent a weekend painting my dining room (it's really only two walls) and part of my living room. It was hard work, the taping, the painting, the standing on ridged rungs of the step-ladder. Sore feet, sore back, sore arms. Tiring work, but the wires and pink floral wallpaper still sneered at me and so, chastened, I painted the following weekend too.

The hallway looks lovely, though I haven't yet put away the three old wires. I may have some electrical work done one of these days.

This is why I have no beadwork to show, no knitting, and the only reason I had yarn pron the other day was that I had a spinning day, finishing off the last of the polypay and was thus able to ply.

This painting thing is much more time-consuming than I'd have imagined, but I rather like the results.

I may take a break from it for a while though.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Still Here

Just too busy or hot or something.

I painted (walls) but that's another story for more time.

I always forget to do this: take "Before" pictures so as to illustrate Why I Finish My Yarn And Why You Should Too, but this time I remembered. 

This is a polypay fleece, washed, dyed and spun by me, carded by someone else with better toys. The dyeing was fun: I wet the whole fleece, and stuffed as much into a crockpot as I could, mixed up something red, and let it do its thing until the dye was used up. Rinse, lather, repeat with a different red. Or I guess: lather, rinse, repeat - apparently there's always something to rinse before you can do anything.
Apart from the colour editing of the photos (my camera pouts until I adjust the exposure so much that the pictures turn out orange, and then I have to twiddle sliders until it mimics real life. Apparently my perception of real life varies from photo edit to edit) I'm not sure that the pictures really show the difference, but trust me, it's a far, far better yarn finished than it was before.

The differences in reds are fairly subtle, but close-up the yarn is pleasingly non-uniform in colour due to variations in each ply. Colour more than twist and thickness I hope. As usual, it's a three-ply because that's what I like unless there's a good reason to use more or fewer plies, and there isn't a good reason all that often. Once I made a twelve-ply yarn, but that's also another story for when I don't have to shower and get ready to go and make mojitos and trust me, mojitos come before stories, no matter how lame.
The realio trulio colour is less grey-purple, more burgundy-rust, though not terribly dark. I'm not a fan of the primary colours, nor even the true secondaries to tell the truth, and being that my definition of a colour I might like is one that cannot be described in a single word, I'd say this dye job was pretty successful.

There's enough for a sweater, one with panels of varying widths and stitches: cables, lace, texture, whatever. It might need a scoop neck, but I'm not sure yet.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Insight Needed

What was I thinking? I mean, really?
How could anyone in their right minds actually believe that something that started like this could actually turn out well?

Without the benefit of a dyepot? Which fortunately I know how to use.


What was I thinking?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Petits Choux-Choux

I don't think I'm excessively obsessed with either the notion of aging (except insofar as it inevitably leads to death, about which I'm less than thrilled) nor with the fact that no, I will never again look good in a bikini, and although much of my free time is given over to the creation of self-adornment (I bead jewellery FOR ME and I knit garments FOR ME), I don't actually spend more than a couple of minutes while brushing my teeth in the morning, agonizing over what I will wear that day. In general I prefer my clothes and jewellery to be clean and to match, more or less, and to be flattering rather than the converse, but other than "I'm in the mood for a dress", or "I'm going to the ballet", it doesn't matter too much.

I'm at the age where the phrase "mutton dressed up as lamb" has the potential to be somewhat relevant, which is to say that I'm old enough to know better, but young enough not to want to. This means that age-wise I'm in the ballpark of Desperate Housewives (I think), which in Hollywood means smokin', but in the real world means that cute boys will never fall hopelessly in love with me as I walk by. (It tickles me to think it might have happened in the past though).

Still, even though I'm not about to swap out my current wardrobe for elastic-waist stretch pants, twinsets, sensible shoes and just-so strings of pearls (although I do have a few fine strings; I'm weak for pearls), I do sometimes wonder whether my clothes are age-appropriate.

Take camisoles.

I take a half-hour walk every day at lunchtime, and given that we're currently experiencing summer in all its, um, heat, and that I'm not a big fan of the farmers' tan or variants thereof, I wear a camisole when I walk at lunchtime to minimize the tan lines, (such as they are; my skin tone is not given over to remarkable tans. When I was a teenager and spent every waking moment worshipping the sun, I'd end the summer ever so slightly golden to everyone else's deep olive). 

Here's the thing.

I'm lucky in that gravity doesn't have a whole lot to work with (clearly the Implants, All Implants, All The Time crew would dispute my choice of the word "lucky", but then, they're hardly doctoral students of vocabulary, so I don't spare them more than the passing thought), so the fact that the camisoles have what is strangely called a "shelf bra" isn't as insignificant as it might be were I blessed with a whole lot more redundancy in the chest department, but still, I am not, as I mentioned, quite as young (and therefore perky) as I once was, and I'm not altogether sure that I should be inflicting myself in a camisole on an unsuspecting public, even one with a shelf bra, which does, if you have not yet inferred this, virtually nothing in the Support Department.

Today though, I felt rather better about the whole thing, or at least about my participation in the exercise as I passed by someone who was not only wearing a camisole much like mine, but also floral short-shorts and high heels. Oh yes, she had about twenty-five years on me and I could tell that she was DEFINITELY too old to be wearing a camisole, even one with a shelf bra.

Of course that still doesn't help with the immediate question of whether I'm too old now, though I do know that twenty-five years from now I will be.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

All Over Bar the, Uh, Weaving In

This has to be an all-time record for longest time over a stupid pair of socks I should have been able to knit in my sleep without ever having to undo. Not that I'm ever sorry to have completed any project ever, as I'm pretty project-oriented (actually, that's a bit misleading, as I really like the entire process from vague idea through reworked designs to seeing it take shape to saying "Thanks, I made it") , but I'm really not sorry these are done and I don't have to mess with them anymore. They do feel pretty good though - lucky my basement is on the cool side, otherwise I'd be ripping them off in a sweaty frenzy (and not the good kind of sweaty frenzy; I don't write about that kind) instead of gaily swinging my besocked foot as I write. Um type.
Needless, or perhaps needles (I'm sorry, I'm sorry - but not enough to remove the offending silly pun. Well, they're all pretty much silly, so I guess this one is simply horribly weak), to say, the next sock has been started. There Must Be Socks on the Needles, so there you are.

Friday, July 4, 2008

And Then There Were Five

There's been beading, quite a bit. Knitting too, but I don't have photos.
First two pictures, my Beading for a Cure bangles. You might recall a started bangle from a couple of weeks ago; when I awoke this morning I decided that there was too much tedium involved in finishing it, and it was a little snug, so I cut it up. I love cutting up peyote stitch because you can just slide the beads off the thread. Small things etc. Anyway, the frontmost bangle, which is a little clearer in the picture below, is its replacement.
I'm quite pleased with it, as I usually have a hard time incorporating large, shaped beads into my seed-beading mindset, and I think this worked. Instead of beginning with a seed beaded foundation as I'd originally planned, and then using the larger beads as accents somehow or another, I began with the large beads and added embellishment as structure via seed beads around it.  It's surprisingly rigid, and so works as a bangle - just as well, since having to add a clasp would have ruined the aesthetic for me.

I also worked on a brand new kit:
I've taught this as a class before, so I have the instructions, so really all that needed to be done was to gather up (and by "gather up" I mean "buy") enough beads to stitch  a sample and pack up some kits.

I also reworked two prior kits in a different colourway:

These were quite popular when I first released them, probably a combination of the fact that they're both fairly easy, relatively fast (no seed-beading is fast compared to, say, putting a large bead onto a chain and calling it a necklace) and on the inexpensive side, so I hope these will prove so too. This colourway is more to my taste than the other two, which is probably Reason Number One why it happened at all.

On the knitting front, I'm within an inch of finishing The Socks That Would Not End. I tweaked the stitch pattern (the decorative lozenges down the front) to very good effect, and now I don't love sock number one quite as much as sock number two, but I would sooner count grains of superfine sugar than reknit the sock one more time, so it will have to do. Besides, ninety percent of the time it will be inside shoes or boots and under jeans so really, it's rather fussy of me even to consider it.

I'm also done with the very bright mitred squares, having joined front to back, and am now negotiating stitch counts with myself. I'm a great fan of the Pythagorean formula, finding it very useful, but unfortunately its solution dictates more stitches being picked up along the hypotenuses (four of them) than will be pleasant to perform, so I'm considering Creative Shaping whereby I increase the uncomfortable extra stitches later.

I love being at the tail end of knitting projects (it feels like I'm there with both of them, though in reality it's only the socks that are nearing completion) because then I get to wander through old and new ideas, peruse the stash, dig out old knitting magazines and books, contemplating the next project. I'm pretty sure I know what I'll do.

A few SOARs ago I cast on for a sweater at the airport before the flight out (this would have been on a Sunday, as always, since SOAR runs Sunday through Sunday) and wore the finished sweater to dinner the following Saturday night. To be sure, it was a fitted cap-sleeved tee-shirt with a sweeping vee neck and no finishing besides weaving in threads, and it was on fairly large needles (4.5 mm if I recall correctly), so it was no great feat, but the point (I'm getting there) is that it was a very successful and flattering (on me, and on Julia, as it turns out, though I have only her word for this) design which I repeated once more, this time using a lovely cream cotton-rayon yarn, a yarn that highlights both cotton's matte cloudiness as well as rayon's gleam. Sadly, it was badly behaved going through the dryer (an accident on my part, as I only ever machine dry my handspun cotton, since that too is part of its finishing so as to preclude future accidents of shrinkage such as this), and as Julia tends to like her tops (and by that I mean clothing, don't go there!) shorter than I do, she is now the happy owner of my cream tee-shirt sweater.

And I want another one.