Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Said I Would, I Think

I'm pretty sure I said I'd make this pattern available once I'd taught the class, which I have (I had four newbies who all learned something new), so I am.
This is how I described the kits for this bracelet that I'm selling in my Etsy Store:

Don't you hate it when you sit down to bead a project, and look forward to spending time with it, enjoying every stitch, but then it's finished much too quickly? You just want to have fun, but not have to do rocket science? This project is perfect!

Use cube seed beads and fire-polished beads to make the bracelet base, and then add full fringes along both edges, adding a variety of accent beads at random, making the fringes random lengths, for a lush, swishy, bracelet extravaganza.

There are no advanced techniques, just simple flat even count peyote and fringing, but because of the variety and quantity of accent and seed beads used for the fringes, this will give you quite a few hours of pleasure - both in the making as well as the wearing!

Each step is photographed and described in detail in full colour, showing the progression of the actual project using the same beads as you will receive.

I've made three of them so far, and I do like the way they turn out. I'd love to see one in rich metallic golds and coppers and bronzes, or perhaps a lovely monochromatic greyed spread.

You can use pretty much any accent beads, as long as they're not too much bigger than 6mm or so - unless they're daggers which are larger but fairly lightweight. Pearls work well too, and I'd bet those lovely little silver Hill Tribe or Bali-style beads would look fabulous too.

Bling Fling Bracelet Pattern: $5 for PDF emailed to you

4mm Japanese cube beads
4mm Czech fire-polished faceted beads
Size 11 Czech or Japanese seed beads (true-cuts would be gorgeous too)
An assortment of accent beads in different sizes and shapes, approximately 4mm to 6mm
Button (with shank)
Beading needle
Favourite beading thread

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lesson #458

I buy Japanese seed beads for kits mainly from two online suppliers (and seed beads for I-Must-Have-It-Now from my local bead store where I teach), and I've noticed a trend.

There are three Japanese seed bead manufacturers that I know of: Miyuki, Toho and Matsuno. Miyuki and Toho beads are pretty much indistinguishable in terms of size and shape, but Matsuno are a little taller. For many stitches it doesn't really matter all that much with regard to the success of the project.

Sometimes it does.

So I've noticed that some online suppliers now include a disclaimer/information notice that says something to the effect that their seed beads may come from any of the three manufacturers depending on availability, but not all the suppliers actually note which manufacturer supplied a given bead (which I guess could change from shipment to shipment).

Unfortunately this can be make-or-break information.
I was working on the instructions for the above necklace, which I'm due to teach in two and a half weeks. (Amazingly, my preparation for this Tuesday's class is complete). I'd also planned on releasing a kit for this design, and had ordered beads for it last week.

The original necklace uses Toho beads in a matte metallic finish, and in general I think it's true to say that the metallic finish (but NOT the new permanent galvanized finish) on Japanese seed beads (particularly Toho and Miyuki) results in a shorter bead than silverlined, matte transparent and some other lined beads (transparent beads with some sort of inner colour that shows through). It really doesn't matter in a flat or tubular herringbone or peyote piece, but can be a problem in flat circular peyote, which is what I was working on.

To get a flat circle in peyote, you can either increase by a count of six every third round, or you can graduate to a bigger seed bead size, which is the technique that this project uses.

The tall Matsuno size 11 beads (I just checked my supplier) naturally result in a larger circle than the shorter Toho and Miyuki beads, and switching to size 8 beads for the last two rounds also represents a faster increase in circumference with Matsuno than with Toho and Miyuki.


Unintentional, unwanted ruffles.

The three joined circles above use Matsunos, and the dark circle in the foreground uses Tohos and Miyukis. I even made the inner "spokes" of the wheels of the Matsuno circles taller to accommodate the larger circumference (remember high school geometry? Circumference = 2 ∏ radius? It's true).

The problem is that in order to use Matsuno beads (and probably any silver-lined beads too, which are quite a bit taller - and as it turns out the same holds for Czech seed beads) I have to rework this pattern so much (the spokes have to be taller and there have to be more rounds of size 11s OR the step up to 8s has to be gradual) that it changes the look of each component in a way I do not find pleasing, and besides, it means I have to write a multi-sized pattern which realistically should be a flow chart which I suspect is less pleasing to those unused to same.

What this means is that if I make this pattern available alone, the resulting project will be ghastly if people try to use the wrong beads, and quite frankly, it's not always easy to determine if the beads you have are the right beads. You can't always really see just by looking at the beads, and even if you have full information about the seed beads in your hands, that particular colour may just be anomolously taller and then you're screwed.

Yes, I realise that this isn't serious and that it's not in any way contributing to the downfall of the global economy, but in my little world for this one little task, it's the cause of irk.

Naturally the beads I ordered for both colourways of the kit I was planning are wrong, dead wrong. Fortunately I didn't plan on seventy-leven kits, so I don't have piles and piles of wrong beads, and anyway, there really always is another good use for them, but still.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Things Done

A week and a half ago, when I taught a class to make this:
I started making this sample for next week's class:
But then last weekend I was side-tracked by the need to pack kits
and so I only managed to finish the sample about half an hour ago. I hate it when quick and easy projects stretch into days and then weeks, or three half-weeks, or at least longer than I anticipate.

Not that I don't enjoy a protracted period of beading on a single project, but then I expect it to be complex, containing multiple parts and techniques, not a simple peyote strip with fringe.

But yes, at least it's done and I can, oh, pack more kits.

I'm surprised that my credit card company didn't flood my answering machine with anxious messages about a cluster of charges, since last weekend was an orgy of online bead acquisition. Of beads I needed. For kits.

I think my Santa Fe trip is falling into place, since the instructions for both classes are complete, my hotel booking is sorted out (a long and boring story), I have a handle on the kits I plan to bring with me (both for the classes as well as for the Meet the Teachers reception), and I'm pretty sure of what I'll bring with me for travel knitting. Importance on a par with class instructions for my peace of mind, though I'll probably limit it to one. One knitting project. I think I can live with that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Mardi

My daughter won third place in a local Naughty Gras show for this picture of her friend Kay.

This is the third only time she's ever exhibited/been in a show/gone public and she's only eighteen and I gotta say, I'm very proud of her.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Unwashed but Not That Dazed

It's somehow been a bit of a slog of a week with plenty that's bead-related, but not much Fun Beading.

Fun: taught a class, started another sample (or perhaps that part is less than 100% fun)
Less Fun: packed kits of which most were partial which necessitated much purchasing of beads, which would be fun if it were indulgence but necessity is the killer of all fun.

I've knitted a lot, but a picture would just look like a slightly bigger picture like the last knitting picture I posted even though it's significantly bigger, so it's on the boring side.

There was lots of House on USA this evening, so I plied. There's nothing like a TV marathon to get me jazzed for plying. Not enough time to do washing and air-drying, so the pictures sadly aren't quite in the realm of yarn porn, even though this post is tagged as such.


I'm such a tease.
The above is a bit of a cheat, as it was already plied, if not wound off. I think it's cashgora, a relic from our dye day last summer.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: photography is not my forte, though I think I can just about hold my own when it comes to photographing beadwork under lights.  Barely.
Unfortunately yarn in natural light seems to be challenging.

When I was spinning the purple and the teal in my eating, um, spinning group, I think they were a little sceptical about the possibility of plying them with the Cottage Creations SOAR Blend.
I think I was right though.
The left-overs are on the ugly side - nothing that a bit of dye can't cure although there really is no such thing as ugly yarn when it comes to colour, only dyeing opportunities.

And yes, I do know what I want to do with my springy tweedy yarn: something with triangles. It's time for some more modular knitting.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I'm a serious optimist in that I invariably overestimate what I can get done in any given time period, though generally if I make a schedule, I can keep it.

One year, with less than two months to go before SOAR, I realized that I had not completed anything handspun for the gallery, so I decided that since there was so little time left, I should knit an intarsia tunic sweater using 3.25 mm needles. My datebook had milestones marked every week ("First sleeve finished", "Halfway up body" - I prefer to knit in the round, and so on). 

I actually made it.

So this weekend, I was due to finish the instructions for Tuesday's class (check), pack kits for my second Bead Fest class (not even slightly), order beads for all the kits I'll be bringing with me (yeah no I didn't do that either).
Pattern should be available after Tuesday.

I sorta kinda hoped I might get started on the instructions for my class two Tuesdays after this one, and perhaps kit it up, maybe.
That one I actually did, though only the colourway above. I surprised myself.

However, I did get in some good knitting time.
My jacket will be more of a gentle a-line as opposed to a hugely flared affair, since I suffer from The Spinners' Fear of not having enough yarn, even though I have a full three pounds and rarely use more than a pound for a sweater, but still.

Notice all the different cables? Fun, huh?

It's certainly keeping me entertained, and I'm only up to about the waist, which is good, because that gives me plenty of time to consider buttonholes.

My plan was to cleverly hide the buttonholes (just two or three probably, just in the yoke area) in the front cables, but each cable is less than an inch tall, which means that humungo beaded buttons won't fit through them, so I need an alternate plan: either compromise on button size or shape (I could bead toggle buttons) or elongate the cables that form the buttonholes, which puts paid to the whole idea of invisibility and/or unobtrusiveness.

I still have time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Are you a Math Geek?
Do you like playing around with geometric shapes, combining flat shapes to make three-dimensional objects?

Do you think Sierpinski tetrahedra are cool?
Think a Sierpinski tetrahedron pendant would be awesome?
Me too!

Next time I should try it with size 15s instead, or else make a bigger internal tetrahedron, as the size 11s look a bit clumsy.

Not to worry, I did finish my class sample over the weekend.