Friday, July 31, 2009

Total Hedonism. Probably Partial At Least

Or, In Which It Is Shown That I Am Utterly Weak And Only Able To Follow My Desires Instead Of My Duties
Not only did I make another one of these, I named it (Flangiflora, because it has a flange and it's sort of floral. Naming, if it's not obvious, is not my strong suit) and wrote instructions.

These are barely in inch across, a bit more than half an inch in height, and hollow. Not reversible. Really fun to make (clearly: I was unable to resist the lure).

If I were to use them in necklaces (and I will, just not this second), I would probably sew one of the flange beads to my necklace which would naturally be sewn out of beads and therefore amenable to having a pendant sewn to it. You could probably also run some wire (either one of those fabulous choker neck wires or the usual coated beading wire) under one of the petal-ish parts, the pointy bit with the three silver beads on each side of the little dark fringey bead.

Here's a picture of the one I finished last night (I know it's in the post from this morning, but that one doesn't have the tags that this one will, so I'm going with the More Is Better philosophy).
And this is what it looks like from the side, sort of:
And from the underneath:

Flangiflora Pattern: $6 for PDF emailed to you

6mm and 4mm fire-polished beads
Seed beads in sizes 11, 8 and 6 (very few)
Japanese fringe beads
Your favourite beading needle
Your favourite beading thread

This is, by the way, right angle weave with non-specific beading techniques for the embellishments. I assume someone with some beadweaving experience, though you don't need to know right angle weave - I do expect that you know how to secure the thread in the beadwork and needle through to exit at a desired bead and so on. It's not hard, but it may be confusing to a rank beginner.

Just One More, I Promise (For Now)

I know I really should be working on beading instructions or class samples but I had started one of my baubles on Wednesday night, and It Was Bad, and therefore had to be cut up but surely this was time to let good rise out of the bad, make lemonade from lemons, let the phoenix rise from the ashes, and so on?
Well, that argument certainly swayed me!

This one is a little different, as the underneath has a sort of flange which is visible when viewed head-on.
I kinda like it (I think I always say that).

And then, to assuage the burgeoning of indulgence over duty, I started on a class sample since my camera died and there really was no point in even considering working on instructions.
(Batteries were recharged this morning, so could dash this off before work).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beaded Beaded Beaded Beaded ... What?

I think I can speak for everyone who was there in saying that last night's class went well and we had fun.

On Monday night as I was finishing up my instructions, I had this great idea which I thought could make it in, but I chose my beads poorly, and the thread kept breaking, so I gave up (it was a bonus variation anyway).

As I talked the students through the basic beaded bead with overlay embellishment, I sat and beaded what I'd tried for the previous night (with more accommodating beads this time), so even though I didn't have written instructions, I was still able to teach them that variation.
It's a little addictive, because each beaded bead takes about half an hour or so.

As you can see, I made a bail on one of them, and started an attached necklace chain on another.
The two that I made last night (one as a proof of concept, the other as I taught) do not have the backs filled in (no need, really, as they are stable enough), but on the brown one, since the beads I chose for the overlay separated into light and dark, I chose to fill in the back to make it reversible.

I guess next (after I cut up the current version which really didn't quite work for its intended purpose but did teach me something nonetheless) I'll mess around with smaller beads to make earrings.

It's kind of delicious, especially when what I really ought to be doing are samples for upcoming classes, rather than past classes.

Oh well.

I had a bout of really not feeling too well today. These are the beady equivalent of chicken soup, I guess.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Grindstone

It's been a busy week.

For my own pleasure (and to cut down on UFOs) I finished this twist necklace, but have had an impossible time trying to get a decent picture.
On a white background it looks as insubstantial as a ghost, though less interesting. On a high-contrast background it looks cheesy, and on a greyish background not much better. If ever I want to make something this pale in beads again, I'd better figure out this photography stuff.

But what I've really been working on are instructions and class samples.
Two out of three colourways for a class at Bead Fest Portland.
The instructions are complete - I had thought that they were about halfway done, but I didn't like what I had, and didn't have everything, so it was more work than I'd anticipated.

A couple of samples for the class I teach on Tuesday.

Instead of finishing the instructions today, I have left them for tomorrow so I could watch a DVD. I guess my Monday evening is spoken for.

There's been knitting, but as there are no pictures, it might as well be a big fat lie (though it's not). Even though I'm less than a quarter of the way through the designated yarn, I fear I might be even less far through the requisite knitting which is really not a good thing since even though there is other yarn that could work in this project (it already has a solid and variegated of the same yarn type), if I dig into that then it'll domino out of control until I'll be in the middle of my last ever knitting project in the entire world (you know, the last of all my yarn, ALL of it) and I'll run out of yarn, whereas if I just let this project lie forever unfinished (should I run out of yarn), then it may well save me from a string of knitting projects with a cuff or a collar or half a sleeve in a yarn that clearly was not meant for that project.

Or perhaps I won't run out of yarn.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One-Twelfth Scale Disaster

My favourite beading tool is my thread burner.

It takes a double A battery and when you press the button, the filament heats up so that when you place its tip against the thread that must get gone, it melts it away.
Yeah, the tip.

I dropped it on its tip which is smooshed and crunched into that blob of blackness at the lower left of the picture above.
I should have taken a picture of something with black thread so you could see the mess. Here's a detailed view.
Not pretty, is it?

And the local bead store was out. I was not delighted, but I suppose there are lo-tech solutions like glue.

I suppose.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


As a rule, I enjoy little puzzles, little challenges.

Like menu challenges - but not the kind where you have two kids, each of which will eat three things only and there is no overlap. I've lived through that one, and it wasn't even slightly fun. This evening they requested an oil fondue (you deep fry stuff) followed by a chocolate fondue for dinner, and it was varied and balanced and delicious. To me too (unlike the three-foods-per-child days, when I'd settle for anything that wasn't actually disgusting to me. I was well brought up. I can eat just about anything placed in front of me. This may explain some things which I won't go into right now).

The menu challenge I most enjoyed was a dinner where one person was off wheat, one was violently allergic to all dairy (even butter), and another would eat neither mushrooms nor curry. I wanted a harmonious menu consisting of some sort of starter, probably a salad (but that's easy), an entree with side dishes and a dessert.

The biggest challenge was the no dairy and no wheat challenge - both appetizers and desserts seem most natural containing one or preferably both ingredients: think brie en croute, cheesecake, cheese souffle, chocolate cake and on and on.

I ended up making a very tasty French onion soup (using olive oil instead of butter), that was satisfying with or without toasted sourdough and with or without cheese.

The main dish (and I confess I don't remember the side dishes) was cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice, pine nuts and (except for one) mushrooms. No curry anywhere.

For dessert I made almond milk, and made that into a cream sauce (not thickening it with wheat flour - I probably used cornstarch or potato starch or somesuch), chocolate mousse (with dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate, no cream) and berry sauce. I can't believe it didn't occur to me to buy the almond milk, as it was an annoying and messy process, but I was somehow charmed by my ingeniousness - or more accurately my ability to scour recipe collections.

It was a good meal.

So a week or so ago I was compelled (because all beading, knitting and spinning that I do is compulsion, which explains why I get tetchy when I'm unable to do any of them due to things like not being around my stuff for extended periods) to dig out my earthquake box and start a peyote rope. I've worked on it intermittently since then between real projects, and it's getting long enough (twenty or so inches) that its complete lack of purpose started bothering me.

I never get that way about spinning, by the way. That I do Just Because I Want To, although occasionally I have plans which have about a fifty percent chance of actually being executed with minimal changes.

I always have a plan with knitting, some vaguer than others, I'll admit.

But this beading thing was completely open, rapidly approaching a decision point.

I considered swirling it around a cabochon as the start of a bezel, but that would have required choosing a stone, and more importantly, fixing on a single colour. Not in the mood somehow.

I continued with the peyote.

Since the earthquake box is about an inch and a quarter deep, and very full, it's a bit awkward to use the needle to dig the next bead out (it's too steep an angle so the bead slides right off again unless you grab it with a spare finger which slows the process considerably), so I'd grab a random pinch of beads into my current Stax lid (I used to use Pringles lids until they changed the plastic they used. The old kind were a soft, matte plastic, but current Pringles lids are hard and shiny and have an annoyingly convex surface when turned upside-down, which causes the beads to congregate around the edge; not useful. The Stax lids are the right consistency and configuration, but they are unfortunately rather yellow, so your colour choices, should this be an issue, must be made before the contamination of the yellow background. I really wish they still made those old Pringles lids. I haven't seen them in years. I still look) and use the size elevens in my rope, leaving a smattering of eights and sixes, lots of fifteens, and the odd bugle, cube or fire-polished bead.

Eventually my Stax lid had more not-eleven beads than elevens, and even the next pinch didn't change the proportions much, due to all the not-elevens from previous pinches.

This required sorting.
Understand that the earthquake box reached its current replete state due to my unwillingness to do sorting, but I justified this effort by noting that I was sorting by size and shape, not colour. That makes all the difference, you know.

I do believe that beaders and knitters and weavers and crocheters and spinners and tatters and lace-makers and all the people who involve themselves in activities which are essentially repetitions of a fairly narrow set of minutely varying steps have the slightest touch of OCD, not in a bad way, more like an "isn't that funny, ha ha, not that I'm mentally ill, mind you" kind of way, since I found the sorting soothing, addictive and satisfying.

Not to mention that it set me up for my next little challenge: the earthquake necklace will have no colour scheme; however it will have shape and texture and will use nothing that is not from the earthquake box and will nonetheless be at least interesting and wearable, and preferably attractive too.

I'm pretty sure I'm up to it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Do Actually Knit

I know I throw around references to knitting, but I rarely post proof (pictures, that is), so I thought I'd remedy that.
This swathe of tropical orange is a mitred affair which will be a tank if there isn't enough yarn and a tee-shirt if there is. I've been as usual somewhat lackadaisical about the planning and counting and measuring (and in fact thinking) side of this project, so it's due for a bit of ripping out since there's no way the neck and armholes are going to work in terms of fitting a human.

This started off life as two mitred pieces that were worked until they reached around my body, and then worked until they were tall enough, then split for the front neck, worked some more, split for the armholes, worked some more and split for the back neck.

I wasn't what you could call careful or even very thoughtful about this splitting up stuff, more impulsive actually, so I really need to rip back and start the shaping again.

Which is why I (in part) started this:
Some years ago I made a side-to-side tee-shirt using oddments and leftovers, one of which was a chenille yarn. For a couple of years it was a fabulous sweater, useful and flattering, but then the chenille started to shed, and at this point the chenille rows (thankfully few) are holey and mangy and what I really should do is find more leftovers (I think this is doable) and Swiss-darn over those rows.

It'll be slightly irksome since it's knitted in a chevron pattern, but it's easily within the realms of my skillset.

It's more fun starting a new one in variegated yarn though.

When I bead, I do finish stuff most of the time.
This necklace turned out quite well, the colours are cheerful and I didn't run out of patience so it's on the longer side (around 20"), and even though it's fairly attractive, for me it's still just on the wrong side of too clunky since I used size six seeds which are large, about 3-4mm or so.

Pretty but big.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's A Gift

It's truly a gift to be able to spend an evening with beads, needle, thread and Fresh Air on my computer, and to approach bedtime with a satisfaction so palpable there's a smile on my lips in spite of there being no one to see it.

Yes, I'm well aware that two of the causes of my happiness are unfinished necklaces, and three are funny little beaded beads for which I have no real plans, but their impact is real nonetheless.

I photographed every step of the construction of the beaded beads for my class two weeks from today (and I do hope it's not cancelled as I think it'll be fun), which is somehow for me the hurdle part of beading instructions. Once I have satisfactory pictures, actually writing step by step directions is cake.

The two not-quite necklaces are the same stitch, both experiments in scale. I'd previously made this chain using size elevens, but a couple of broken threads of a hank of alabaster size eights made the decision for me.

While I readily admire colour schemes which include contrasts, my desire is strongest for tone-on-tone. The picture doesn't show it well (when it's finished I'll try to put it on a grey background), but the white almost-necklace is (even if do say so myself, but really I'm referring to the colour not necessarily the construction) lovely, with matte glowing white beads recessed in the rope and clear iridescent beads popping out on the corners. I want to separate all my beads into matte-and-shiny pairs now. Actually, I always want to do that.

The green necklace with drops and leaves is even chunkier, based on size six beads. A few months ago I had one of my many moments of weakness at the bead store, unable to resist half a dozen tubes of size six seed beads, even though I have very limited uses for them.

They were pretty!

While their size makes the inclusion of the drops and little leaves feasible, since the height of the holes of all the beads is comparable, the scale of the sixes has overstepped the bounds of my aesthetic. I don't love this stitch in sixes, but it's a fun necklace and I'll complete it anyway.

Besides, the purpose of experimentation is knowledge acquisition, so in that I was successful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Well. So Much For That

I redid my instruction photos using high-contrast colours (and incidentally, coming up with a better way of doing part of the bezel). I even managed to complete them last night, so that I wouldn't have to be, as my mother would have said, sitting on shpilkes this evening, wondering when it would be polite to leave so that I could complete the instructions for tomorrow's class.

As it turns out, I needn't have bothered.

Class cancelled.

On the one hand, it means I get to relax this evening and enjoy good company and good food, so I'm not complaining.

On the other hand, I have very lovely instructions for a project that won't take as long as, say a tubular square stitch lariat using fifteens, but will take a bit longer than stringing two beads on a head-pin, making a loop and suspending it from an ear wire, but that does leave quite a range, doesn't it?
Bezel each rivoli using right angle weave with seed beads and fire-polished beads, join four of them to make the centrepiece of the bracelet and use a fifth as the button fastener, and then custom-fit to your wrist.
I think it's quite pretty and my female teenager approves too.

Tudor Bracelet Pattern: $8 for a PDF emailed to you

Five 14mm rivolis
4mm fire-polished rounds
3mm fire-polished rounds
Size 8 seed beads
Size 11 seed beads
Beading needle
Your favourite beading thread

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Not Quite Getting It Right

I've been doing beading instructions for years now, and I thought I'd actually learned that photographing a bunch of pale, ultra-reflective beads against a white surface really doesn't yield pictures ideally suited to instructive exposistion.
Apparently not.

I guess I now know what I'm doing tomorrow after spinning.

Some years ago a seed bead order arrived with a baggie labelled "Earthquake Mix" stuffed with a mixture of beads - my guess is that the California-based store had suffered a Spill 'n' Mix Event during an earthquake, and that it wasn't worthwhile to even begin to separate them out, and so she packaged and sent them out as freebies with orders. I really wasn't sure what good they were, but I figured it was useful to have a place to put beads that I didn't want, but didn't want to toss either.

At the end of a beading project, the beads that I've taken out of their tubes but not used in the project are carefully poured back into their tubes, but every now and again I experience a minor Spill 'n' Mix or I cut up a small test sample and couldn't be bothered to sort the beads, or I find odd beads after I've put their tubes away, and so I add to my Earthquake Mix.

It's long outgrown its 3x3 baggie, and is in danger of outgrowing its box.
Time to do something with it.
There's something interesting about picking out the size elevens without regard for colour or finish, and just adding them to the peyote rope. I don't have a single plan (the box has a LOT of size elevens so possibilities abound) but right now, three inches of rope could go pretty much anywhere.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Watch It

A couple of years ago, I decided to make a fashion statement and bought a quirky man-size watch with a huge face.

Let me rephrase that.

A couple of years ago, I acknowledged my age by buying a watch with a huge face and clear numerals because I was annoyed at having to concentrate too hard to figure out the time. It was an inexpensive watch and came with a crappy faux patent leather watch-band which was naturally to be replaced immediately (if not sooner) with an attractive beaded watch band like the previous watch (only, as I said, bigger and clearer. The watch face, that is).

Apparently it wasn't that important to me, because the junky strap finally gave way about a month ago.

At home and at work timepieces are always nearby (computer, microwave, alarm clock), but when I'm out and about or teaching I have to fish something (phone) out of my bag to do a timecheck.


So I made the watchstrap.
I'd better show you a close-up.
Well, as much of a close-up as Blogger will permit anyway.

I used the buckle from the defunct strap and filled in the bits between the watch face and the buckle with herringbone stitch in mostly size fifteen seed beads, decorated using size elevens, two millimetre faceted beads and equally small rice pearls.
I think it'll work quite well.

Actually, I'm quite taken with the simplicity of the design; might make some cuff bracelets for the Etsy shop and upcoming shows using the same technique, though the size fifteens are a tad tedious.

Last weekend I also made a hollow thingy.

It's about an inch and a quarter in diameter and I'm not too sure what I'll do with it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Three Days Full

It's a phenomenon I've noticed before.

Granted, three days is assuredly fifty percent more than only two, so it does stand to reason that in the region of fifty percent more is achieveable, but it's more than that.

There's a lack of urgency, a deep breath-taking of the psyche, like a relaxation yoga breath that grounds you and says "OK, there's time for whatever. Just get started and you'll finish whenever" and somehow that mental release of deadlines and rush seems to morph the time into endlessness, so that every night, I roll over and get comfortable in a satisfied calm and feel that I've met all sorts of goals and then some.

I didn't quite finish this necklace though.

It's missing a few inches of peyote ribbon to attach the other half of the clasp to the other end.

This is a bit of a departure for me. Ordinarily, I eschew the use of metal findings, preferring to use all seed beads, unless I'm wanting the contrast and starkness of metal against glass - or unless I couldn't be bothered to make a beaded closure when there's a perfectly serviceable clasp in my silver or copper drawer.

I couldn't find an alternative to using jump rings though, as I wanted only short sections of very slinky narrow chain between the beaded beads, and while I suppose I could have used right angle weave which would have been nice and fluid even in such a short section (or herringbone using size fifteens), I couldn't come up with a flexible way of attaching that wasn't kludgey and didn't show too much thread.

So jump rings.

For a lark, I used size fifteen seeds between the beaded beads (made with size sixes) for extra emphasis, and I'm quite satisfied. I like the contrast of the delicate ribbon with the chunky beaded beads, and I'm loving the colour, sadly unmarked and therefore anonymous and most importantly non-repeatable, that I bought on a whim yesterday (have to do something with that fifty percent off seed beads sale).

And oh yes, I'm starting to get organized for Bead Fest, which won't be quite so much of a stretch as the last one, since two of the classes I taught back in March in Santa Fe, and so I have supplies and instructions, one of the classes I've taught at my local bead store and have available as a kit (though I might make up another colourway or two), and the other one I've sort of taught (parts of it at least) and so the instructions are close to complete.

And of course I have all those kits that I didn't sell in Santa Fe. Not that I'm at all bitter about that.


It's still not colours I'm drawn to, but I don't hate it and I'm not embarrassed to put my name to it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


What do you call a rather small something which is vaguely cube-like? Cubical? Cubicle? (No, I know that's not it).

I'm having fun making them. I listed the one below in my Etsy shop, and I may list the white pair too.
And when you leave off the corners, you get something that's really not a cube - it's a cube with the corners cut off. I don't remember its official name. It's something of an octahedlet, I'd say.
It's very hard to be working on the ugliest thing ever.
I think the colours are vile (I need much more depth of shade for colours to please me) and I don't like the flatness either. I kinda like the button closure, and I'm hoping it will be improved when I add Stuff to the middle to give it some texture and interest.
One can hope.

I should have stuck with the classic white/silver/gold/cream instead of thinking I could make it fresher and brighter with just the tiniest hint of colour.


It has to be done by tomorrow though, so at least I'll be able to enjoy life again. (That was for dramatic effect entirely; it's not even slightly that bad).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Too Fast to Shoot

The fox that I saw at the Botanical Gardens today.
The iPhone (which is currently not talking to my SIM card and so is really at this point an iPod Touch) took too long to turn on, quit iPod, switch to Camera and get the software loaded - the fox sprung out of the bushes (manicured, naturally), dashed across a small patch of lawn and squeezed between the bars of the gate, but I did see it, I really did.
Heretofore the wildest thing I've seen there were the koi or the ducks, and they're not very wild at all.

Luckily the various Chihulys were less quick and more obliging in terms of posing for pictures, so they will have to do.

Did you ever see some yarn (that you did not own), lust mightily after it with ideas barrelling through your brain, and then when you finally acquired it, everything you tried was just feh?
A couple of years ago, against my better judgement, I knitted a counterpane-style sweater, trying not to look at the nipple in the middle, convinced, as the directions said, that it would block out.
You'd think I'd learn that unless you're working in garter stitch or moss stitch, that's just not going to happen unless you make said garment so much too small for you so as to render it so tight that it's more corset-like than comfy (inasmuch as very stretchy knitted stuff can be corset-like), and it's at least tight enough to magnify any minor (and especially the not-so-minor) body areas which are, shall we say, not completely smooth (in the fat-free sense) and most certainly not up to withstanding that kind of scrutiny.

Seriously, you 'd think I wouldn't be quite so trusting twice, but at least this time I won't be working the entire garment, weaving in all ends and everything, making it particularly difficult to recycle the yarn.
What I'm really more in the mood for doing is trying to right the wrongs of the nineties wherein I ignored reality and convinced myself that yes, cropped tops really were flattering on me. What on earth was I thinking? I now have this collection (of which you see two, both of which have since been deconstructed into raw materials, which is to say yarn, putting them in a better position for repentance and recompense) of handknits, some in yarns I really like, which are too short and too wide to be useful to me.
See, I finally finished that necklace I was working on last weekend. I originally thought I'd put it in my Etsy shop, but I'm really attached and am not willing to part with it. Not that I don't have more necklaces than any human female actually needs, but I want this one too.

As a compromise, I decided that I might just try to enter the monthly challenge for a group of which I'm a member, but I've been having false starts.

You'd think I'd be used to it already.

In case you can't tell, it's ever so slightly Not Completely Flat, which means that if it were to grow to adulthood, it would have a serious case of The Ugly Buckle.