Sunday, April 26, 2009

So Close

I really had hoped to finish my sweater, even though I won't be able to wear it for four or five months, but I still have a couple of rounds of the bottom edging to knit, and the sleeves to sew in.

Soon though.

After all, I was focusing on classes for June through September.

The bracelet below was a sort of serendipitous accident as it wasn't part of my plan at all, but I think it likely to be an appealing class.
Years ago when I bought the White Russian beading book (so called because it has a white cover, not for any historical or political associations) I made a necklace based on an embellish-as-you-go tubular netting variation, and while I adore the finished piece, in no small part because of its tactile appeal (it's very sensuous, somehow), I hated making it and vowed that I'd never again repeat it. I'm not sure why I so emphatically declare this every time I wear it, as I rarely repeat anything (unless I'm making samples in different colours) - I guess it was that tedious.

And yet I've wanted to use the stitch in more interesting (to bead) ways, and the bracelet below has been in the works for ages.
I think it would have been better as a necklace (but I was rushed) and in this instance my monochromatic disposition really didn't serve me at all well. I think there should have been a lot more contrast in terms of colour; I could see a black core with a multicoloured fiesta forming the spiral, or even a wider range of purples in the spiral on a gold or olive or terracotta core.

Next time (and I think there will be a next time, because I do like this idea, and it wasn't so absolutely terrible this time) I'll consider colours considerably more carefully.

The pendants below (and oh yeah nice, my light source crept into the corner, that's gotta be redone) is just a reprise of my bead caps. I think I already showed them here a few days ago.

Creative cropping: I barely got halfway through this necklace.
I brought it to class last Tuesday; people seemed to like it. 

For instant gratification you can't beat beaded beads.
This is one basic design, pretty simple, easily scaled up and down, mixing bead sizes in the layers, but just so satisfying and fun.

The picture below isn't the best, because the pale colour isn't beige or plain cream, but a yummy gilt-lined pale butter yellow.
Although this is what I'll submit, I'm still toying with the notion of something in the middle of the open triangle, perhaps an open lattice of beads, or a single dangle; or perhaps three.

The pendant below got the rivoli in the triangle frame, once again the photo absolutely not capturing the colour of the seed beads.

I really enjoyed seeing this one take shape in my hands, in no small part because of the beads. The main colour is a matte silver-lined dark brownish with a rainbow finish, which lends the beads a sort of sometimes purple, sometimes blue aspect. The pale beads are bright lime green and the shiny ones really look gold-bronze in real life, but occasionally the underlying medium lavender shows through. No deep blue as in the photo.

All that's left is to figure out the dates I'll teach these, and send them off before getting ready for yay another work week.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

By Special Request

I had this brilliant idea which turned out to be not so brilliant, until I did a ninety-degree rotation, and then it turned out to be, if not brilliant, quite workable after all.

I found a way that I really like to use seed beads to make a bail for a round or oval donut or go-go bead (donut with the hole off-centre).
I taught the class a few weeks ago, and then during last Tuesday's class, when I taught something completely different, two of the women brought completed (or almost completed necklaces) with their bails. 

I was pretty chuffed and if I had a camera phone, would have enthusiastically taken grainy photos to post here, but I don't, so I didn't, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

But I do have a pattern!

Donut Bail Pattern: $6 for a PDF emailed to you

   Size 11 seed beads in two or more colours
   Size 8 seed beads
   4mm fire-polished beads
   Size 8 Czech raindrops (optional)

I used the same technique in this kit, available in my Etsy store.

I have to finish all my class samples by the time I go to bed tomorrow night, and I'm not doing too badly.

What I usually do is make sketches and write notes and decide definitively what I will teach the next few months, and then every time I'm tempted to bead something just for fun (heaven forbid), I consult my list and notes and make something from the list.

This works about seventy-five percent of the time.

That missing twenty-five percent is generally a combination of "What was I thinking - no ways this could work!" and "Hey, this fresh out of the box brand new idea isn't bad - I should teach it!" and this go-round is no different.

I had a really cool idea for beaded beads which was incidentally also a great solution to the problem of what do I do with those very few, very pretty, very small, rather expensive sapphire rondelles, but they (the beaded beads, not the sapphires) just sucked. Uuuuugly and lame.

On the other hand, a bracelet just happened this morning, and I'm totally not complaining, except that now I need more rivolis, but that's a small matter.

I really should be all nose to the grindstone right now, especially considering those two beadingly unproductive hours in which I reaffirmed to myself that I'm an excellent parent as I watched my son's lacrosse game and incidentally garnered a really impressive sunburn. Who knew the games were so long? On the other hand, I did accomplish knitting, so there was production (part of a heel).

But not enough beading.

I'll post pictures tomorrow, unless I have a Class Samples Crisis.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Misogyny. Not My Favourite Thing.

So I work in a male-dominated field, and at the current job where the median age is particularly low, my peers are largely twenty-something or barely thirty-something guys.

No problem.

I don't have a problem with swearing (either them or me, hah) and except for this toy monkey thing which made a godawful noise (but which they fortunately exercised only once a day, and eventually were ordered by someone else to disappear) I don't believe we have in any way clashed at all.

I would characterize interactions as comfortable and cordial.

The physical area in which I work contains two teams: mine (with a higher median age, not entirely my doing thank you) and another younger team (the one which had the monkey). Perhaps ten people all told. All male, save me.

Again, not a problem.

The side of our fridge has one of those magnetic poetry sets: a collection of magnets each containing a word, which those inclined may arrange into poems or prose or whatever. Since John, one of our Systems guys got laid off last Thanksgiving, no one does much with the words. I glance at it daily as I make coffee, but it's at best uninspiring and more usually unchanged.

A few weeks ago there was something about woman...taste...mouth - a bit risque I suppose, but not (to me) offensive.

Last week it changed to "the wildest woman will give you crabs" which pretty quickly changed to "the crabbiest woman will make you wild" or something like that.

Today it was changed back again to "the wildest woman will soon give you the crabs" which crossed the line for me.

I wasn't bothered when a former colleague would make comments indicating that my body had crossed his mind (a remark about me in a cheerleader costume, that sort of thing) because I was perfectly comfortable reprimanding him, and even though it was slightly creepy, it didn't make me uncomfortable or create any sort of hostile environment.

I may be mouthy at times, but I generally avoid making waves. I've observed that squeaky wheels, far from getting oiled, are often exchanged for those which play better with others, but one of my buttons was pressed.

I attached a yellow stickie saying "Inappropriate. Enjoy sexual harassment lawsuits much?" and complained to HR. I had to do something, no matter how ineffectual. I'm not sure what else I can do, or want to do, in this frightening job market.

It leaves a bad taste though.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's That Time Again

Class samples time.

I'm teaching on Tuesday,  so a couple of samples in different colours are good.
Not that I went overboard or anything, but it turns out that I have a bunch of charoite, the kind that has green as well as purple, that was a perfect match for the rivoli which also reads both green and purple.
I was helpless in the lure of colour. 

I've said it before: I'm weak.

I can't decide whether to keep this one (I really kinda like it) and make a chain for it, or to sell it in my Etsy shop. Or, I suppose, make another one to sell. I believe I have another suitable cab.

Much to my surprise (which is what happens when you only check your calendar a week into the future; two at most), class proposals for the summer semester are due in about a week.
I didn't get all that far with those.

Apparently Pendants R Us.
Of course, if I had checked the calendar, I might not have spent time finally making the chain for this cab, which I worked on about seventeen thousand years ago (or perhaps sometime within the last twelve months).
Even though I'm really pleased with the chain and I think it's a perfectly nice and useful necklace (who doesn't wear black? And grey?) and even though the stone is lovely and I don't have another like it, I don't feel compelled to keep this for my own. Perhaps I'm growing up.

My daughter doesn't approve of such thinking.

I also wasted ^H^H^H^H^H^H spent time knitting, resulting in a complete sleeve partially attached to a sweater body (missing neck and bottom edging) and a few inches of sleeve Numero Deux, and best of all, both completed parts fit satisfactorily. No pictures. So sue me.

(The notion of knitting time potentially being wasted time lies in the fact that even though today was on the damp, drizzly and chilly side, it's close enough to summer that wool sweaters aren't so much called for, and won't be entirely necessary for quite a few more months. On the other hand, if I stop now, I may never finish. Besides, I don't have anything else at the "just sit down and knit" phase, and I have to do something when I'm not the carpool driver, don't I?)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Lose Sleep Willingly

I pay and pay, but I'd rather fight tiredness to complete something like this than sleep.
I love Shannon Hill's bead. It's a hollow gold-fumed pink-hued twist of deliciousness.
You need gold to make glass this shade of pink (rosier than my pictures).

I would wax lyrical for longer, but I'm so sleep-deprived that my neck is stiff.

I don't often make cabled yarns since it requires extra spinning - though not all that much extra since my default yarn is three-ply. 

This I chose to cable as I didn't have all that much, and even though it has a fair amount of merino, I wasn't sure there was enough to hide the loops of chain or Navajo plying (and yes, I know, some people say that the Navajo do not ply this way; at this point it's still easier to refer to chain-plying this way) so I went with a cabled yarn.

The non-merino part? Soy silk. Interesting. 

It doesn't have the sheen that bombyx or even tussah lends to a merino-blend yarn, but it does counteract the bounce and smooshiness factor somewhat. Still stretchy, but not as spongey as even a yarn with silk would be.

Interesting, as I said.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Taxes intervene, but they are done. 

This was all I managed, beading-wise, with that millstone my weekend necklace.
The druzy is pinker and yellower than the picture indicates, and the strap, while hardly an exemplar of innovative beadwork, is also more iridescent in real life.

I started with a very thin tubular peyote rope, fully intending to work some sort of magic with miles and miles of it, something inspired by filigree work, or paper quilling, but (a) it somehow doesn't look as good with a peyote rope as with fine twisted wire or cleanly-cut paper strips, and ultimately I bored myself, so I simply added a clasp. 

While in Santa Fe, I found out that Shannon Hill, the guy who made the bead below (that I bought in Miami about a year ago) is very ill; so his bead has been pressing on my consciousness somewhat.

This fat little rope represents the last two Fresh Airs via the magic of the internet. 

Love listening to NPR while I do mindless beading (other favourite shows: Wait, Wait and This American Life. I think I've been downloading podcasts of Radio Lab, but I haven't quite dug into them yet).. I know people bead in front of the TV, but that just doesn't work for me, in part because then where would I knit, but more importantly, because I look at my beading (I only glance at my knitting occasionally) and so what would be the point of what it largely a visual medium if I'm unable to, y'know, engage visually?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

There Was Knitting

And beading.
But then, there often is.

Without the spectre of Bead Fest, I'm awash with beading sketches and notes - I love the frenzy of it all. Completely internal and outwardly invisible, I think; if you held a microscope to my Mental Beading Centre, you'd see this hyped-up Brownian motion thing, perhaps like the inside of an ant-hill.

I think I've got it on the knitting front.

The major problem last go-round was how I dealt with the quantity issue: not enough of the main colour yarn, so I needed coordinating colours, but how they were included just wasn't pleasing to me. Or useful enough in terms of stretching the yarn.

I think I have it right now.

What you see above is part of the body. I'm working in modular triangles in the round, though the first (in my mind) complete round was one of resulting hexagons. I used my coordinating [semi-because-they're-kettle-dyed] solid yarns to pick up stitches along the top edge and work a few rounds of garter ridges, and then started working in triangles around again.

My plan had been another round of hexagons, but what with having to break the yarn way too often (once tends to be too often; it distresses me to cut yarn) for hexagons and less often for a round of triangles which simply formed another zigzag band, zigzag it is.

Very Soon Now I'll start again with the other colours, probably working a wider striped zigzag band, probably mixing garter and stocking stitch before starting on the next round of triangle zigzags.

What this somewhat haphazard use of my main yarn with its helpers buys me is lack of expectations: except for the zigzag motif, I'm pretty free in terms of my use of colour in the sleeves. If I use up all my main yarn in the body, no problem as I've used all those other colours too, and the sleeves will be fine without the main yarn. If I have enough for a couple of rounds in the sleeves, that'll be very nice, and if I have enough for a cuff or small zigzag triangles, even better - but it'll be Just Fine if I don't, as long as I mirror the zigzags on the sleeves, which is not a problem.

[Disclaimer: As far as I can tell, at this time.]