Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beading Hiatus

This is it for beading for the next eight days, because I'm leaving for SOAR in fewer hours than how much sleep I need.

Each separate part of the pendant on this necklace took longer t0 make than the entire necklace, what with all the cutting up. I enjoy cutting up peyote (but not diagonal peyote), as you can just neatly slide the thread out of the beads, but in general, too much of a good thing isn't, and this just had to be something complete.
Fun little earrings. If I had time, I might make more.
Back in the golden days when I was unemployed (the first three and a half months of last year, good times) I spun a medium fleece which had been carded with grey kid mohair and a touch of blue silk into a worsted (light worsted, probably) weight three-ply yarn, intending it for a jacket.

After some months (about a year ago), I dyed it a lovely burnt-orangey-rust, carefully ensuring that one end of each hank was a little lighter than the other end. I wanted the striations of kettle-dyed yarn with consistency across skeins, and I think I achieved it.

I found a collection of cable panels worked over twenty-four stitches (and adjusted a few to fit the same count), and started knitting an a-line cabled jacket. First I made the sleeves, sorta kinda thinking they might be a little narrow, but ignored my misgivings, putting them aside so that I could work on the body.

I decided that the cable on each sleeve would extend into saddle shoulders, and fixed on an uneven collar (see Norah Gaughan's Ram's Horn Cardigan in her book, Knitting Nature for an approximation of the shape I want), and when the time came to join the saddles to the shoulders I had to admit that yes, truly, the sleeves were too narrow.

Then there was Bead Fest Santa Fe, and I needed a knitting project that (a) didn't weigh multiple pounds (this is a mid-thigh length a-line jacket with cables, using a fairly dense yarn) and (b) wasn't at a stuck point and (c) offered many hours of knitting pleasure without a looming stuck point, so I started on something else.

Then it was spring and so I had to start knitting in cotton. Summer followed (as it invariably does in my experience), and when it had run its course, fall was in the air (predictably, no?), but I still had one more cotton/rayon summery top to finish.

SOAR loomed on the horizon and all I could find for the gallery was the merino-tencel sweater I was knitting (and undoing and reknitting ad nauseum) last SOAR, the sweater started in Santa Fe (the sleeves of which might also be on the narrow side but I'm pretending I didn't say that) and a partially finished a-line jacket with too-narrow sleeves.

Something had to be done.

I ripped out the sleeves, and reknitted them, one at a time, trying them on to be sure.

I finished the second sleeve this afternoon.

Both sleeves have been sewn in.

There is no collar. I have live neck stitches on a circular needle, a crochet hook (the weight of the jacket demands that the neckline be stabilized), and quite a few travel hours ahead of me. This is not an impossible task, unless I have to sleep on the plane, which is not unlikely but which throws the proverbial wrench in my knitting plans.


There is the possibility (dare I say likelihood) that I will have an orangey-rust a-line cabled jacket ready for the SOAR gallery, WITHOUT BUTTONS.
That will not do.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Stuff

I think the truth is that no matter how much jewellery I make, I will never have enough for the two home sales after SOAR. It's analogous to the concern about the insufficiency of food when feeding others. I blame my mother for this version of worrying, because who else could I possibly have learned it from?

It's thus very gratifying when in a single evening, I can complete three whole Things To Sell.
I said "complete", not "make from start to finish".
I made these two pendants some months ago, and although stringing is not what I yearn to do, I'm not averse when it means completing something beadwoven.

And the cute little star earrings.
I started the first on Monday night preparing for my class, finished it in class (which involved a fair amount of "Now make another one exactly the same") and started the second. Finishing four-fifths of a little star and stringing two necklaces AND watching an hour of TV with my son was doable for an evening.

Of course it does men that bedtime is once again delayed somewhat.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend Roll Call

I didn't exactly make these start to finish since my previous post, but I did add the sticky-out decorative bits and attach them to ear wires.
I actually bezeled these years ago, and somehow thought I was stuck, so they sat in [one of] the Work In Progress drawer[s], possibly waiting for bezels on the rest of the matching labradorite coins. Perhaps I thought I'd be making a necklace. I'm really not sure.

On the other hand, this is definitely cheating.
All I did was buy a chain and pass it through the hole of the beaded bead. Also from a Needs To Mature First drawer.

This is almost laughable, I suppose, because it's hardly long and involved, but I needed to see some tangible progress this weekend.
This isn't actually finished; what does one do with it in this state after all?

By way of things which got cut up and stopped during the course of a not very productive week, each part of this stacked pendant originally had another destiny. (I'm sorry, but I can't help myself: is this product of two separate destinies then destinies' child? I already apologized, I'm not doing it again). The rivoli at the bottom just didn't look right as an earring, and the donut above looked too plain, but every time I tried to add More Stuff to it, it just looked worse.

A necklace chain of sorts might not be amiss, though I'm not quite set on the exact type. Something as simple as mirrored spiral ropes might do the trick, though for some reason I tend to find them somewhat tedious.

I don't have to decide now though, since I'm about to go to bed.

I'll just add that I'm also feeling better on the knitting front since:
  1. I sewed in a sleeve on my a-line jacket and think I might finish the other sleeve, and possibly the collar (though it's conceivable that I could make a small fake [not exactly fake, but something I'll rip out and replace with The Real Thing later when I have time] collar so that it's done in time for the SOAR gallery).
  2. I may have a travel knitting project: a pair of long possibly fingerless gloves for my daughter's new thrift store sixties style coat with three-quarter sleeves and mink (yes, real mink) cuffs and collar that she found for FIFTEEN DOLLARS.
I'm so proud.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Make Up

I haven't caught up for my lost time, but I'm compensating - or at least I was this morning.
Since then, we've seen a bit too much cutting up and putting aside and ripping out. Almost everything I've started hasn't been quite right: curved too much, looked too messy, presented a construction problem, and on and on.

And I'm not immersed in a comfortable just-pick-it-up-and-knit-without-thinking project: everything requires consideration, calculation or concentration, when all I want is relaxation. Makes me a bit edgy when it's not there.

Tomorrow is the monthly eating, um, spinning day here and a week until SOAR. I really need a good travel knitting project.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another of Those Weeks

You know how sometimes time seems to rush by, you're always over-busy and under-slept and yet nothing actually gets done?

I hate it when that happens.

Time-consuming chores are forced into a couple of hours less than you actually really need and more than you actually have, so sleep suffers, and then the next day is a blur because of the sleep deprivation thing, and that's half the week.

So I'll claim credit for something I actually completed last week but didn't photograph until recently.
It's the replacement for something exactly the same style, and while the first go-round turned out (due to the usual: shoddy measuring practises and misplaced overconfidence) rather too large, this one (due to the usual: careful measurements and continual re-checking) is exactly the same size as the original and therefore close to perfect. In terms of what I wanted, that is.

Serendipity conspired to produce a colour effect that I love: there were only two skeins of the variegated yarn, so I added odd rows of the charcoal (colour anthracite. I love that name. It's so appealling and evocative, like puce or sienna or azure) until I ran out of the variegated, and then continued in the already-introduced anthracite.

I think it's much more interesting than if I'd used one yarn only.

(Though I love that variegated colourway. Luckily I have it in sock yarn too).

Disgusted with my lack of beading progress this week (hours of effort were bracketed by bouts of cutting up), I started something I knew I could finish in an evening.
The colours are once again confounding to my camera, but are shades of very deep teals, accented by odd rows of turquoise and silver-blue-grey. Sort of greenish-pewter. A good colour anyway, since it's not describable in a single word, which tends to be a pretty good indicator of whether I'll like the colour or not. Moreso if one of the words is "dark", "deep", "dull", "muted" or "murky".

They don't call me The Sludge Queen for nothing!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I know there are two schools of thought (at least; possibly more) on the issue of jewellery sets.

There's the School of Amy which wants earrings that match the necklaces - not necessarily exactly, mind you, just enough that people don't gasp at what an impossibly awful combination those earrings with that necklace are. It also makes getting dressed less fraught with choices, something especially important on mornings after not enough sleep.

Then there's the Absolutely No Way No How Should There Seem To Be The Slightest Intent On The Part Of The Maker To Have Made A [shock-horror] Set.

Personally I like the ease of the Amy School, though there may be a small part of me desperately trying to eliminate any indication of twee which edges towards the Absolutely No Way School.

Amy School won out this weekend.

Behold, earrings to match my latest necklace:
And a pendant to match the earrings whose purple proved elusive to my camera.
The latter is something which will be for sale. I have not yet decided whether I'll make a chain or not; either way the bail is amenable to a variety of pendant-supports from beaded chain through metal chain through organza ribbon and a bunch in between.

Not so impressive in terms of weekend production, but in all fairness I've been a little consumed by the cook-a-thon for this evening's dinner for eight or so:
  • Fig-walnut tapenade with goat cheese
  • Fennel-potato soup with smoked salmon and multi-grain bread
  • Arugula salad with roasted red onions, roasted corn and tahini vinaigrette
  • Turkey roulade with mushrooms, spinach and truffle oil, served with brown rice with toasted pecans, and roasted root vegetables
  • Chocolate panna cotta with port-balsamic-braised cherries

Almost all of the prep-ahead is done.

Fortunately I have moved beyond my grad school days when I was wont to make elaborate Indian meals with multiple dishes for each course. Inevitably I'd panic early afternoon, convinced that there was not enough food, and scramble to whip up at least one extra dish per course.

Naturally I never ran out of food.

I never even came close.

It was in the preparation of one of these meals during which I discovered just how important extreme hand-washing (with soap! Lots!) can be when working with hot peppers; specifically when one's skin touches the inner membranes and seeds.

I had to take a break. I sat in the garden for a few hours with my hands wrapped in cold, wet dish-towels in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

Now I'm quite a bit more careful with the insides of hot peppers. Amazing how this learn by experience thing works.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not the Colour

I suppose I complain a fair bit about my lack of photography skills, and yet truthfully I'm not entirely ashamed of the pictures I share, since they are infinitely better than the awfulness that fills my teenage photo albums. Seems the viewfinder and I just couldn't communicate all that well, as I have scads of photos of fence or sky or hedge with a head in the bottom right corner.
I love digital cameras with little screens and the ability of software to crop.


At the same time, although I suppose I think fairly well of my ability to declare something (clothes, jewellery, a building, a garden) pretty or ugly, and although I think I have a sense of when a painting is well-composed, I can't always tell how best to compose a photo that displays a beaded item to advantage so that the whole is pleasing, and highlights the balance and composition of the piece as well as interesting or attractive details of workmanship.
So this necklace built around Kerri Fuhr's bead gets two.

If I get the ends sewn in and there's a non-rainy moment, tomorrow there might be a picture of a recently-finished summer top which due to unseasonable cold I probably won't get to wear until next year.

Garments are even harder for me to photograph somehow because they don't fit on my little table under the lights where I take pictures of beadwork. They're generally quite a bit bigger (unless they're socks).

It's (for me) on the long side, with the focal bead hanging below that sweet spot right in the cleavage (such as it is - though give me a few years with continued gravity and this may be less true than it is today). I think it's almost long enough to slip over my head, but it has a button and loop fastener anyway.

I tend to be dissatisfied with these hybrid necklaces: part bead-weaving, part stringing on beading wire, as the junctions are inevitably clumsy and contrived, but I think I did a reasonable job here.

One of the junctions occurs between the spiralling rope and the focal section, and it is largely hidden by the bail supporting the drop, just wide enough to accommodate the ugly crimp and a millimetre or so more, so it's quite neat and small and unobtrusive.

The other junction is at the button, to which I sewed a shank comprising a faceted bead with a big enough hole for beading wire on which it is possible to very carefully [shock horror: a split infinitive. No matter; I like it better this way] string size 15 seeds to cover the curve of the wire as it disappears into its crimp, disguised as a bead by a crimp cover. That might be a little clumsy, but during normal wear it'll be covered by the beaded button loop. I think.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Purple? Bah!

I just can't figure out how to photograph purple so that the colour is true in the picture.

I messed with the different white balance settings and exposure and then slid sliders back and forth to capture the deep royal purple beads surrounding the rivoli and the plummy-magenta pearls, but this is the best I can get. The faceted beads are fairly true though.

So a few months ago I had a moment or two of confusion as to whether I was using 12mm or 14mm rivolis, mistakenly settled on 12mm and ordered a dozen for some bright idea or another. Naturally I needed 14mm.

As it turns out, if I use mostly size 15 seed beads (with one round of 11s) to capture the rivoli, it works out pretty well. And since they're crystal aurora borealis (sort of rainbow iridescent), they'll look good with surrounds of other colours too.

I hope my camera is friendlier next time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love That Muse!

At Bead Fest I had the good fortune to meet (and buy a bead from) an artist whose work I've long admired: Kerri Fuhr. Her beads are meticulously detailed, and have a delicate aesthetic which to me is almost Victorian.

I bought one of her tapestry beads, and knew I wanted to do something that somehow mirrored both the organic botanical nature of the design (it is decorated with tendrils and vines and leaves), as well as the intricate detail.

After making two small leaves, I had a bit of an orgy of false starts, resulting in a serious bout of Cutting Up (which has its own satisfaction sometimes, but not when there's so much of it). Finally I seem to have hit my stride.
This necklace will be completely asymmetric, with beaded beads forming one half, while the other half will be some sort of dimensional spiralling rope. Probably. I'm loving the peacock pearls which are such a perfect addition to the reactive glass with which she has decorated the bead - the rainbow of soft blue-greys through green-greys are delightfully reflected in the rainbow iridescence of the pearls.

I'm having a grand time without the spectre of More Kits, More Samples hanging over my head, though in truth there is another ghostly presence: more Items For Sale, since I have two home sales, six days apart, in a little more than a month.

To that end, a pair of earrings in leopard-skin jasper and pearls.

It's a start.

In other news, it's taken me almost a full week to make a dent in the catching up on sleep thing, for which I have no excuse besides my inability to stay asleep until the alarm goes off. (You may have been thinking that for almost a full week of Not Preparing for Bead Fest I'd have managed a little more in terms of production, and you'd have been right, were I not so tired and therefore brain dead. Ish).

Instead I've been listing kits in my Etsy store, since (as has been previously mentioned), I had to insure against the possibility of running out of anything at all, kit-wise: I have some kits left over from Bead Fest. If you want to be among the first to know, join my group on Yahoo - I send out a notice every time I list a new kit or pattern.

Still a few to go. I plan on having everything up by the time I go to bed tomorrow night.