Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still Rolling

My pace may have slowed slightly, but it really hasn't altered course much.
Here I fiddled with bead sizes for dangle earrings with two sizes of beaded beads. The pictures don't show very well (she said as though she had nothing to do with the actual taking of them), but the beads have more of an iridescence than is apparent, so the light off them is more fractured and interesting.

I also made Cindy's necklace to match the earrings she bought from me a few weeks ago.
I enjoy the juxtaposition of the organic movement of the dangles with their almost-sharp geometric shape. The contrast of the cold steel-coloured cube seed beads with the opalescent white also works quite well. I might make another one in a different colourway (opalescent lavender with golden-bronze, perhaps. Peach with deep copper. Turquoise and bronze. Possibilities), or perhaps offer it as a made-to-order in my Etsy shop. I was a little afraid the white and silver would look too bridal, and perhaps if it were more floral, it would, but I don't really think it does.

Somewhere in the middle of all this beading, my ballet subscription had me see River North Chicago Dance, who were fabulous. Very exciting, incredibly athletic, and I'd say "modern" or "avant-garde" if these weren't such dated terms. Bleeding edge, perhaps. Very enjoyable however you describe them.

And although it seems as though I've barely had a chance to draw breath, I have to start thinking about classes June through September.
A bezel based on a daisy chain with right angle weave and encrusted with drops. Clear drops with sparkling linings (gold in this instance) create so much dimension for so little effort - there's something about the way the clear glass refracts and reflects the light, and the lining is like a co-conspirator in the scheme to confuse the eyes. In a good way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Forwards and Backwards

Still using the beaded beads, but this one seemed to need something more.
A biggish rivoli with frosted glass teardrops and a lovely chalcedony drop, framed with the same beads as in the beaded beads. And a very pretty brass clasp. I wish solid brass in interesting designs was more widely available.

No pictures, but there's been a bit of undoing on the mitred square skirt which I haven't mentioned in ages, but on which I have been working pretty consistently (check the "Last Movie I Saw" in the sidebar because the more the movies change, the more knitting I've been doing).

Probably a good few hours, possibly a day or two of knitting (were I a Knitting Professional who worked eight hours a day), in part my own fault (as usual), but in part because the only way to reliably check the size is to knit it all the way from the hem to the hips, or waist, or wherever the top of the skirt is to reside.

My skirt starts at the hem, with a round of rotated-by-forty-five-degrees mitred squares (so they look like diamonds). The next round of mitred squares each has one less stitch per side, the round after that yet fewer stitches and so on. The thing about the size (not the gauge exactly) is that the neighbours (top and bottom) of each individual square influence how big it is - so a square is not a square because the top two sides are slightly shrunk by its smaller top neighbours, and the bottom two sides are slightly stretched by its bigger bottom neighbours.

Then too, the weight of the knitting, as well as the fact that it's all essentially on the bias, ensures further distortion, so really, you just can't tell how big it'll be until it's done.

A self-imposed constraint for both practical purposes as well as design considerations, is that there is absolutely no breaking (or cutting) of yarn, so that each colour swirls diagonally up from the hem to the waistband. This means that at the very least, each time the skirt gets longer by one round, it also has to get wider by one square.

This is the way I should have started it, rather than by working an entire round at at time, since the length is only somewhat but not entirely predictable as I mentioned before, and the length determines how small the top square is, and the size of the top square determines the size of the waistband, and if I don't want bulk in this area, I need to select only as many squares (i.e. diagonal swirls) as I need to make the waistband fit me.

What this seems to have turned out to mean is that I started with too many hem squares, and since I worked the first three or four rounds in their entirety, and since undoing one colour requires removal of the square above it and since each colour appears diagonally, this is substantially more undoing than if I had instead chosen to make each square unrotated and to have started from the top instead of the bottom, but that's a design for another day (realistically for another year).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Still Busy

There was a brief foray into Cuff:
It was a pleasant and satisfying little excursion, but it did nothing for the current addiction.
One necklace finished. I'm tempted to keep this one for myself, as I love the colours: shades of the murkiest browns accented with copper.

And then I started another.
But before it was even halfway done, I had a momentary tryst with yet another.
I had to see how the seed beads matched that great honking bead, and you know you really can't tell unless you actually make something, as the colour in the tube or on the hank often takes on quite another character when stitched up.

At least, that's my story.

I love giving in to temptation.

And I have a new love, also little seeds, but chocolate-covered:
I swear, they should put me on their payroll because I'm sure I mention at least one product of theirs a week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dye Saves the Day

I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I bought this yarn, and actually started knitting something with it, something that I assume I thought I'd put on my body, something that may well be visible to someone WITH EYES.
I'm not sure if I thought it a test of character, if I bought the yarn with the intention to dye it (and if so, WTF? There are so many yarns that START OFF gorgeous) or what I was smoking. (Nothing. I don't actually like to alter my consciousness with the application of chemicals).

Dyeing is a wonderful thing, truly wonderful.
Brown, a touch of blue, a touch of black, don't stir much and let the crock-pot do its thing.

And I really could do with some brown socks, whereas I honestly have no use for baby clown vomit socks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Duty Called And I Answered

I'm all smugly because my Earring of the Month kits for February are packed and ready to go.

I didn't do exactly what I thought I would (mainly because deconstructing what I did before would have involved the use of scissors, which would kind of undermine the notion of finishing a project which is on a good path), but it's close and if I recall my pain correctly, less awkward and pretty similar.
And I even made a pair for myself.
The back's pretty too (see the one on the right). I think it's the [ex] seamstress in me, the one that delights in luscious linings and nicely finished seams, that derives tremendous satisfaction from the private view of a necklace or earrings that's attractive too.

It was a circuitous route, because I made a bracelet first.

It was a kind of Sunday morning wake-up-and-get-in-the-beading-mode, not that I've ever seriously required beading foreplay before - I'm just as happy to get down and dirty right away, but that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

The bracelet was going to be much simpler, without the cab (which is actually a bead - see the listing in my Etsy shop for more pictures), but then I ran out of the matte [*] beads and the sale ended a week ago and I didn't buy any more of them so dammit, I'm working with what I currently have, and that happened to include half a string of faceted flat oval beads and so (to quote one or more deceased family members) Bob's your uncle (he was actually, though now also sadly deceased; luckily we have his son David to enjoy, and I do), I have a bracelet with a somewhat asymmetric (due to the clasp) focal.

I also have a decently long run-on sentence, though I think it would have been more impressive without the parentheses, but that's neither her nor there.

[*] I always type "matter" instead of "matte"; I wonder if my subconscious is trying to tell me something about the way I feel about matte-finished beads?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I've Fallen Down And I Can't Get Up

The truth is that there is a part of me that delights in my obsession even as I decry my apparent inability to escape.

What I like about these little beaded beads is that they work quite well in two colours, and because of the way they are constructed, there's a major and a minor colour, and that fact lends itself really well to (or should I say: "screams out for"?) colour gradations.

I suppose I could stop if I wanted to, but honestly, I don't.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Save Me From Myself

It seems that the minute I admit to one obsession, another just jumps in and takes over.

What I was really supposed to be doing was writing instructions either for my next class (in more than a week, no sweat) or the next Earring of the Month Kit (only partially done; I'll start thinking I'm late towards the end of next week), but instead, after getting all fired up after making the earrings from the last post, I got caught again.
I had made a couple of multi-coloured beaded beads for the earrings, and started messing around with two colours (white and silver), the results of which you see above.

And then I ran out of the white beads, which I'd used up in the necklace at the bottom of this post, for my Tuesday class - the white beads were an experiment to see if size 6 seeds could be used as a focal area, and I think I've managed to answer that in the affirmative. It's not as obvious as you might think, as some stitches (tattoo stitch, used on the chain of my Mariposa necklaces) just look nasty in larger beads, so I wasn't about to make any assumptions.

This is the advantage of a big stash: no more white beads to go with the silver ones? No problem - let's haul out all the size sixes and arrange them into shiny/matte or shiny/silver-lined pairs and start at the left.
And now I have no more of the matte green beads. Actually, I lie, there's one left but it's a cull anyway, as it has a very small hole.
I'm kinda liking the necklace: a green somewhere between mint and lime, paired with iridescent pale amethyst crystal beads, brass nugget spacers and deep copper-brown fire-polished beads.

The way I feel now (apart from tired; I need to be asleep) makes me believe I shouldn't put those matched pairs of sixes away, because I'm not done yet.

So this necklace was a repetition of a lesson I should have actually learned before: grey and white beaded things just don't look fabulous in photos. They look as though I turned off the colour, but I swear, in person it's far less dull and much more elegant.

For those paying attention to anything beyond the pictures here (and I'm not making any sort of judgement, as there are quite a few blogs I visit regularly only for the pictures. Admittedly, it's because they're in Hungarian, Italian or Spanish, none of which I actually read or understand, although I have learned the Hungarian words for pattern, necklace, bracelet, pendant, beaded bead, earring and beaded bead. I can't pronounce them correctly, but I recognise them in print. I still can't make sense of the text in the blogs though, and sometimes I really want to. Occasionally I read a little bit of the French blogs, but my French is limited to asking for and receiving directions, business hours, shopping, food, subway stops and other touristy-type conversations), I finally have something to do at work. It's not thrilling work, but it's a thrill nonetheless.

Monday, February 8, 2010

All Those Beads

It's a start.
Daggers for my Flower Rivoli class at Puget Sound. I'd like to have a decent choice of colours, and fortunately the samples won't take horrendously long to make. Next up: all the other beads for each colourway.

Turns out that the desire was for matching earrings. Apparently both earrings had to be exactly the same as each other in every way, of which I'm certainly capable, and often do without prompting, although I do tend to veer from identical to fraternal if given my druthers.
Making these beaded beads is like candy: they're a quick burst of sweet goodness, and it's not hard to go for another, quickly, before anyone notices. It's also an excellent use of size 6 seed beads, of which I seem to have an inordinate amount. I should try them with smaller beads too; they might work in a graduating-size necklace.

This, my friends, is the face of discipline.
These are the pinch beads in my stash that are not from the necklace I cut up last week. I looked at them and put them back, much as it pained me to do so, much as I desired to start yet another project with them.

I did make a necklace using the smokey-pale colours from the cut up necklace (the purple cut-up-necklace beads have also been put away. Discipline, self-control. Awesome).
It's accented with gunmetal Czech bicones and peacock pearls. I've never figured out why "peacock", which I'd expect to be an iridescent teal or turquoise or royal blue. These are deep grey-black, and although they do have an oilslick iridescence, I don't consider them colourful enough to be associated with the word "peacock". They clearly didn't consult me on this one.

The little beaded beads are a pale smoky beige, matte and shiny palest periwinkle (not purple, not blue, barely any colour at all) and clear vitrail, which is that finish that has greenish and slightly pinkish shimmers on a silvered base.

I also finished one of the other pinch bead necklaces that started me on this little trip.
I think one of my favourite seed bead finishes is matte silver-lined which has a very elegant and sophisticated glow. Make no mistake, I'm very much drawn to the fancy multi-hued iridescent and metallic finishes, but there's nothing subtle about them. The internal shine of the silver lining shows the directionality of the beads, which is really emphasised in herringbone. The metallic dark bronze fringe beads in the beaded beads are reflected in the scattering ofbronze seed beads in the rope, adding interest and texture (in a colour rather than tactile sense) to the rope.

Tomorrow's class should be fun:
I think I need another sample (um, before tomorrow, guess I know what I'm doing after work today) because I have this other idea.
Both of my samples are bracelets (because they're quicker to complete, and time is somehow always of the essence) but I really see this as a necklace, and I'm wondering how it would look with a focal section using beads a size larger.

Watch this space; if you see nothing more on the subject it means it was Very Bad. I'm hopeful.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pinch and Cut

I think I mentioned that I had lusted after a right angle weave necklace using pinch beads that turned out rather badly. Now it is no more. It has ceased to be.
I cut it up and started making more cute little beaded beads - and it turns out that the older pinch beads are quite a bit smaller than the caramel and mint ones I wrote about a few days ago, so the beaded beads are smaller too. My plan is to make enough beaded beads to string with spacers into a necklace. I suspect it's not an unreasonable goal. Did I tell you how many pinch beads I have?

The benefits of a fairly large stash as a direct consequence of barely restrained Bead Lust is that most of the time, you can find almost anything you need.
What I needed were beads to go with the caramel and mint pinch beads and guess what?
No problem!

And trust me, I have the seed beads too, though they are still raw materials (Stitching takes ever so much longer than stringing).

I made some earrings. A friend of a friend bought a necklace but not the matching earrings, and now she wants them, and I just love making beaded beads so much that I made four earrings so that she can choose the two that make the best pair for her.
I'm kinda itching to make more of these beaded beads again. Perhaps another necklace, this time in blues or greens or browns. Anything that I have a lot of. It's the most fun use for the size 6 beads that I keep convincing myself I need, and then they sit in their little drawers, sulking and multiplying.

I had this idea for a multipurpose necklace, one which can be worn long or short, with a dangle or without, and this fits the bill.

I think it might be fun to explore the notion of multi-configuration jewellery. I certainly have piles of sketches indicating that it's not merely a passing thought, but somehow, I just hadn't quite gotten to it until now.

Actually this particular necklace is for a challenge, and so is for sale in my Etsy shop - the picture links to the listing if you're interested in seeing what other people have done, which is pretty stupendous.

I'm really not much of a joiner in general, and I'm never especially inspired by these challenges, and yet somehow I feel compelled to enter them from time to time, and each time I'm frankly a little embarrassed because I tend not to be terribly impressed with my challenge pieces, and yet I enter the next time I possibly can.

Not quite as bright as I'd like to think I am: evidence assuring me that I am really not.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pinch Me

In general, it's probably fair to say that I buy beads because I like them. Silly if not, after all.

There are those beads that I buy with no specific purpose, but that I know will be useful, and are. Things like size 11 seed beads, 4mm fire-polished beads and fringe beads. I almost don't care how many different colours and finishes I buy, because I know that there will come a day with a project for which that bead is exactly what I need.

Then there are beads I buy out of sheer lust with absolutely no concept of what I could possibly do with them, and yet like my biological clock, am unable to resist. Sometimes it turns out well, as with the big fat faceted rondelles. It took a few years, but I did come up with something to use them for. Of course that encouraged me to stock up on more of them than I could possibly use in a zillion variants of the same design, but hey! I might have another Rondelle-Inspired Flash of Brilliance.

Sometimes I see a design requiring a specific bead that I think I might like to try, and so I set out to acquire a rich and balanced enough palette of said beads that if ever I had the burning impulse to make that design, any failure on my part to complete said design could not possibly be blamed on lack of raw materials.

Way back when, I saw a right angle weave necklace using pinch beads, and so set out to stock up a good selection (which I did) and then to make the necklace (which I did, and which sucked).

For some reason the emotional overtones of pinch beads (which really are very cute) associated with the suckage never really percolated through and never overpowered the desire for More Pinch Beads, so every now and again, I find myself with pinch beads in yet another colour, which I then place with the other unused and unloved (in terms of the attention I pay to them) pinch beads, and move on to lavender permanent finish gilt-lined seed beads, and what possessed me to buy that many tubes.

Some days ago in my endless surfing through beading blogs, I saw a rather ugly necklace of beads beaded from pinch beads strung on a knotted leather cord, and it reignited the pinch bead flame in my heart, and so, thinking it was the last day to get 40% off Czech beads at the local bead store (which an email today informed me was in fact so, but is no longer true as the sale has been extended by a week), yesterday I bought two more strands.

Even though I have kits to fill (it's amazing. When you procrastinate for as many months as I have, things mount up) and even though there are unfinished projects demanding my attention (but on which I did spend a few hours on Saturday. Not enough to finish anything, but enough for noticeable change) I needed the instant gratification of the low-hanging fruit that is a quickie beaded bead, and so I used up all but three of my new pinch beads (one broke).

I'm thinking that knotted leather cord isn't even slightly on my radar, but the question is whether I need more pinch beads in the same colours (I have none), or more in other coordinating colours (I have none. Mine all seem to coordinate with purple or lime), and if I acquire more, whether I should make beaded beads in other shapes, or more of the same. I guess that's two questions.

Really though, bicone beads in dark bronze would be just the ticket to string between them, and the sale is on for another week after all.