Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Timing

I finished the knitting on my mitred squares skirt, tried it on, and it doesn't need to be undone, which is encouraging.

Looks decent on (sort of. It needs a spot of elastic in the casing, so it's a little too keen on falling down), fabric is good, the colours work.

Would be better if the shaping were a bit more extreme - swinginess would have been nice, but it'll do.

I'd wear it tomorrow if not for the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the eighties.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Little Cubes. Cubeys?

I made more cubes.
They're so much fun!

Each one is around three quarters of an inch per side, big enough to be a pendant and small enough to be rather bold earrings. I might need a pair.
I'm not entirely sure about this pendant, but I think it has possibilities. It's two-sided with the fringe beads connecting the two sides. In this incarnation both sides are the same, but that in retrospect seems like a waste of time: next iteration should have different sides.

The bail was super-quick - and it shows. Next iteration really could stand an over-embellished bail. Since it needs one (it's hardly a pendant without a bail), it might as well be more than just functional.

The pendant is a far cry from my original intent which was more ambitious, and also more misguided (which is to say: ugly).

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I think it's probably fair to say that if I have any down time and the only thing available to me is pen and paper, I'll be either:
  1. making lists; or
  2. sketching beading ideas; or
  3. making tables of colour combinations for beadwork; or
  4. sketching knitting ideas
Pretty predictably.

Sometimes my ideas are completely half-baked and vague, and sometimes the sketches are accompanied by step-by-step instructions (which I fervently hope I can read later; my handwriting is awful) and step-by-step illustrations with thread paths and whatnot.

I really couldn't say with any sort of reliability what sort of correspondence (besides none) there is between the thoroughness of my sketches and the viability of the ideas.

Sometimes they work out exactly as planned, and sometimes they don't.

Take the picture that you do not see anywhere on this page. I had a great idea. I had tables of colour combinations. I had pictures and notes.

About a third of the way through I changed my mind about one thing (which involved cutting), and another third of the way though (yes, that would be two-thirds of the way through. This thing involved three sections) I was a little bored and folded it another way and added fringe beads and fire-polished beads and realised that I could make a whole chain of them if I wanted to, and perhaps this was the time to start afresh, taking photos every step of the way so that I could duplicate it later.

It was almost cool.

But first I just needed to do some noodling around on an idea which suddenly came to me as I did some surfing.
I saw a flat weave which I thought could be used to make a cube-shaped object, but the scale needed to change, and the types of beads needed to change and just when I thought it was barely a moderate success, my thread all secured and the thread burner about to make the final cut, I realised that another layer would give it both the structural integrity that it was lacking (it was a bit smooshy) as well as eliminating that slight blandness.

I completely love the cube, and need to make sure I remember how I made it (or perhaps do it another way) before I forget and have to write up instructions.
I also make a couple more pairs of earrings.

This is an excellent way of using up amounts of beads too small to throw away.

(They're both in my Etsy shop, by the way).

If I had a couple more hours, I could wear my mitred skirt out to dinner this evening, but I don't so I can't, but I will, one of these days.

I'm not a weaver, but I hang out with weavers, and so I have to bask in John's glory: he won Best of Show in Handwoven's Not Just For Socks competition for his gorgeous (I wish he had close-ups, because it's gorgeous. I just said that a few words ago, but I'll say it again for emphasis: Gorgeous) weave-it and crocheted shawl. The guy's a mad genius with weave-its, mad being the operative word. No, genius. No, mad. Never mind: Mad Genius.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green Beading

No more environmentally friendly or unfriendly than usual, just green.

Literally. As in the colour.

First is the completed sample for the class I taught on Tuesday. I think it might be destined for my Etsy shop.
I just love this design, I think mostly because it's fun to do, not necessarily because it's gorgeous - I'm actually not certain one way or the other.

The students in the class seemed to enjoy it too - it's a tiny, fiddly thing, and it's hard to see what you're doing (you have to follow the instructions on faith apparently), and then suddenly, as the last step is completed, you can't help but squeal "Ohhh, it's so cuuuute!"

Or so I'm told.

And then I made Peg's earrings to match the necklace she bought a couple of weeks ago.

She asked for earrings that would match the chain of the necklace, and while I might have made earrings like this at some point, I'm glad she spurred me to do it sooner, because I really like the way they turned out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One Down

I always get annoyed at the pretentiousness of sellers (for example on Etsy) who have a "FooBar Collection" or a "FooBar Series", but I probably shouldn't be quite so up in arms about the whole thing, as this is the third variation of this construct which has struck me as fresh.
Perhaps I need to get out of the basement to appreciate the concept of "fresh".

(The other two variants are my Donut Bail and a previous class I taught in which a herringbone rope morphed into these little shapes and then morphed back into a rope).

This is a bit different, as these are components which are linked together to form a nicely fluid chain. It takes me somewhere around forty minutes to make a single link, which is why the above is a picture of a bracelet, but I think it would make an excellent necklace, and have some fun with colour design on the surface, not to mention varying the size dramatically.

Still, third in the, ugh, collection.

One class sample down, seven (approximately) to do in the next six weeks or so. Should be a breeze, she said, anticipating the last week in which there's barely time for work or sleep, what with all the beading that'll have to be done.

Right now though, feeling pretty confident.

It occurred to me that this chain (which I taught in January), a slightly odd combination of two different techniques/stitches, is a good accompaniment for my Flat Russian bracelets (though it seems I have no kits right now in my shop, just instructions), which was I think the first or second kit I ever sold, and so it being time to kit up the necklaces, samples are called for.

The bracelets use the same fire-polished beads, but also use plain round beads, pearls and cube beads the same size, which means that in theory I could offer kits with any of the four accent beads as the sticky-outy spiral bead in the necklace, but that's a lot of kits (I make up multiples), and the pricing gets funky. Using pearls instead of fire-polished beads adds somewhere in the $10-$20 to the price of the kits, and the problem is that there's no dye lot, let alone colour number for pearls, which means that every time I buy more pearls, they're probably a little different than the last lot, and so probably don't match the bracelet exactly, though on the other hand, who's going to be walking around with their wrist up at their throat all day long? Who'd even notice?

I'm just weak for pearls, which is why I'm itching to make this with pearls.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Auntie Meme?

These are not new. I feel obliged to have at least one picture when I post.

1.Explain what ended your last relationship?

His secret girlfriend, secret new apartment and secret moving plans revealed to me just hours before they went into effect. And only because I suggested taking a romantic vacation. Bitter? Me?

2. When was the last time you shaved?


3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.


4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago?

Drinking coffee. Wondering why I could hear the wings of a bird in my studio basement when above me is only under-floor, and I couldn't hear them from the main floor. Wondering how to get the bird out of the ductwork (brilliant deduction as to its whereabouts). Wondering how the hell it got in there in the first place.

5. Some things you are excited about?

My mitred squares skirt is very close to being finished. All I need (now that spring is officially here) is a cold day or two within the next couple of weeks.

Puget Sound Bead Festival.

The dinner next Saturday night which is so far only in the planning stages (Swordfish ceviche. I wonder how hard it is to make tortilla chips? Some variant of vichyssoise. I think artichoke. Multi-grain bread. Lamb stuffed with pancetta, wild mushrooms and possibly spinach. Grilled asparagus. Or cauliflower. Or baby squash if I can find them. Arugula salad with olive-marinated grape tomatoes. Rolled pavlova or perhaps flourless chocolate cake - but I think that'll be too heavy - or panna cotta or pears poached in a wine reduction).

6. What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O?

No clue. Do adults eat the stuff?

7. Your prom night, what do you remember about it?

My emerald green dress, which my mother made from a gorgeous Vogue pattern, turned out to be not very well-balanced in terms of the amount of fabric in the front versus the back, so it had to be continually readjusted to keep the neckline in the right place. Looked great, but a nuisance to wear.

8. Do you have any famous ancestors?

Rumour has it that Molotov was my great-great uncle. His real last name (hint: not Molotov) is very similar to my paternal family's actual last name, he was from the same area as the family, he was said to be Jewish, an orphan, and he looked EXACTLY like my grandfather. Apparently back in the day the White Russian army used to scour villages and conscript young boys as soldiers, which is how my great-uncle disappeared.

9. Last thing received in the mail?


10. How many different beverages have you had today?


11. Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine?

Of course. Why is this a question?

12. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach?


13. Any plans for Friday night?


14. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair?

When all of my summer happened on the beach, and I had long hair and a perm, I loved it. People would ask me if I'd dyed my hair. With short hair and extremely rare visits and awareness of skin cancer it really doesn't get the opportunity to do all that much.

15. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns?

If I have, it wasn't deemed important enough to keep in long-term memory. I'd rather use the space to keep my first dog (an easily-irritated dachshund named Goldie), the first boy I ever kissed (Derek Matheson, where are you now?), the gorgeous sweater that I made from handspun silk bought in Toronto that was stolen out of my boyfriend's mother's guest cottage and which I was certain I'd see someone on the street wearing, how people would crowd around and coo over my daughter when she was a newborn with all that hair. Y'know, seminal stuff.

16. Do you re-use towels after you shower?

Yes. Of course.

17. Describe your keychain(s)?

Standard split ring with four keys (house, my car, my son's car, the steering wheel lock for my daughter's car), a bunch of cards (library, Office Something and Something Else, and another something else) and a very cool metal thingie that I bought at a gallery in Asheville the last time SOAR was at Lake Junaluska.

18. Where do you keep your change?

In my wallet.

19. When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people?

Does teaching a class of twenty count as "large"? A few years ago.

20. What kind of winter coat do you own?

Very heavy brown suede/faux shearling stops all wind three buttons pockets that lose gloves if not shoved all the way in.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Just Noticed

When bead shows design their web pages, class brochures, show schedule brochures and the like, they decorate them with pretty (and relevant) pictures. A certain large show always commissions a wonderful lampwork bead from a big name artist, and the image of the bead appears all over the place - makes sense, after all, you want your promotional materials to, well, promote your show offerings.

At Bead Fest in Portland last year, my Verdura necklace graced the cover of one of the brochures that you could pick up at the show (I really don't remember what was in it; it was pretty slim. Perhaps a list of the vendors, or when they opened and closed), which was quite a thrill though it didn't quite mitigate the extraordinarily low registration for that class, since I really want both fame and fortune!

Actually, either one would be fun, although if I got to choose, I'd like enough fortune to cover both kids' college education along with my very early retirement; I've said it before and I'll say it again: the day job really cuts into my beading-knitting-spinning time. And then I'd happily make up the balance in fame. Not sure exactly what world I think I'm living in.

I only just noticed that my next national gig features me (well, a class of mine) on the banner that appears on every page:
See? My Pearl Ruffle! Guess it explains why all my enrollments are for this class and no others (so far).

Let me tell you, I'm feeling quite full of myself right now, especially as the only other piece of beadwork appearing on every page in the left-hand margin is a bracelet by the supremely talented Cynthia Rutledge. Not that I would ever have placed myself on the same page as her (I'm in awe of her work), but I'm happy to bask in the glow now that someone else has done it!

[Edited to add:
  1. Blogger seems to be having a problem with comments. They reach my email, but I can't publish them here.
  2. The good people at Puget Sound Bead Festival naturally have more up-to-date enrollment information that I do (and it's looking good!) so it turns out that even though I'm spreading misinformation (all my classes have registrations - yay!) it's really not on purpose or with malicious intent. Currently all I know about for sure are class kits sold. It did made a good story on the power of pictures as a promotion tool though!]

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Call Of

Not that I'm the world's expert in these things, but for the bead shows at which I've taught, the show organisers like to be in charge of the mandatory class supplies kits. You tell them how much the kits will cost the students, and then they collect payment for the kits and pass that along to the instructors some weeks (or months) after the show.

What this means from the instructor's perspective is that the kits in their various colourways have to be decided upon and assembled some time before bags are packed for the show (but hypothetically as late as minutes before packing), and there's no broadcasting of what colours might or might not be available before the actual class, which is definitely easier for the procrastinators among us, whoever they may be.

The Puget Sound organisers send the students to the instructors' web sites to arrange kit purchase, which is advantageous for a number of reasons.

It gives us the opportunity to share images with the students in terms of what the class projects may look like in alternative colours, which is not always possible on the show site - but as it turns out, this also comes with its own little issue, namely that class project colourways and samples have to be in a photographable form well before the packing-the-bags stage in order to sell class supplies kits as class registration opens.

As I mentioned, procrastinators may not love this so much, even as they recognise that it really relieves quite a bit of the last-minute preparation pressure, because there is none, at least not in terms of the making and photographing of class samples, though of course the compiling of instructions may well be put off until the last minute but still, at least the samples will be done, easing pressure somewhat.

I imagine.

I started with the rivoli pendant class, since I had no samples for which all the beads are available in quantities suitable for supplies kits. All my samples turn out to be one-of-a-kind due to my use of well-aged beads from the stash which
  • are no longer available; or
  • I have no idea where on earth I may have found them; or
  • I suspect I grossly overpaid for which is possibly justifiable when it comes to personal use, but becomes problematic when assembling multiple kits.
Hence the need for Brand New Class Samples.
So I've been working on colourways, and before you say anything, I have a problem photographing this colour, so I guess the photo isn't quite as useful as I'd have hoped (the blues are deeper and cooler and richer), but is better than none. I think.
Reds and bronzes pose a whole lot less of a problem.

Greens lie somewhere in the middle in terms of colour reproducibility.

Turns out I don't have quite enough dagger beads for the last one (purple and lavender), so it is absent, fortunately not so conspicuously; in fact if I hadn't mentioned anything, one might conclude that this class has exactly three colourways available, which really makes me reconsider exactly how much I should share, but it's already rather too late in this instance, as I've already said I'd have another.

I'm in semi-bad shape for only one other class, as two are based on kits that I have had in my shop for ages (but which are at present available only to Puget Sound class registrants), though I'm looking to expand the colourways in my Pearl Ruffle. Actually, I'm always on the lookout for fabulous new pearls on which to build a new colour, but this would be an especially propitious time. I'm thinking that baroque or other similarly non-uniformly-round pearls might be fun.

Today's beading is somewhat tangential to that lovely smug-making, self-satisfaction-inducing finishing streak, but I'm still being all diligent.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Done

I'm so virtuous you'd think my virginity would self-regenerate.

I finished the second earring of the pair.
I completed the set that started off as a class sample (earrings too).
It was a really close call in terms of beads. This is how many seed beads in this colour I now own.
Not enough to actually do anything with. That's the amount of seed beads you vacuum off the carpet after a class.

I had made this little pendant weeks ago, but hadn't settled on a necklace. I suppose I could just have bought a silver chain for it, but I made a necklace to match. I had the beads, after all.
I'm glad I got to use those funky clear/grey twisted vintage beads which have been in the stash so long that they're senior members. And the necklace can be worn without the pendant too.

With all that self-congratulation out of the way, I'm ready for a day of eating spinning.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ridiculously Self-Satisfied

It's a given that if I'm teaching a class, at a bare minimum I'll have complete instructions available as well as a sample or two.
I'm short a sample that I wanted, but at least I did get to stitch up a few variations (top left and second from the top right are the vanilla version; the others vary slightly) of the class I taught last night.

I wish these photographed better, because I'm in love with the colours: the seed beads are a matte metallic green and purple mix, and the other shiny beads are green iris, which is a very dark iridescent finish with greenish undertones. It's very definitely in my sludgey playground.

What has me so smug is the fact that I also completed the March Earring of the Month kits which I generally start thinking about as the month changes, but at least for January and February didn't manage to send out until halfway through the month.
Perhaps I'll have the April kits done even earlier, and by June I'll be on magazine schedule: out a month before the issue date. Or not.

I'm thinking of making myself a pair too. All the non-seed beads are amethysts and I particularly like the large faceted beads, as the colour is wonderfully deep and rich. I might need to make a matching necklace as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And Another

End of a weekend.

Full of things that mostly don't photograph well, and don't inspire scads of catchy prose. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I finished another thing that was in progress and didn't start anything new. Unbelievably disciplined. I should do my taxes on this diligence roll.
I'd made the pendant a few weeks ago, but no bail, no necklace.

It's an interesting stone, and I happened across it in an online shop which is now unfindable, so I can't check the name of the stone that I believe I remember, and which Google won't confirm: rhyocite. Like rhyolite, but different. A darkish green background with inclusions of smoky blue, lighter green and a mauvey-pink.
Now it even has matching earrings.

I know I've mentioned knitting, but if you can't see anything, how can it be true?

Given that I'm living in the Show-Me state, I guess I have to.

Show you.

Even though it's not a great picture (there's only so much exposure/colour adjustment you can do when shooting in sub-optimal light conditions), you can see that there really has been progress.
Even though it should come as no surprise to me, it turns out that if you're working from the hem upwards, and the hem is the widest part, and you've completed a couple of the bottom rounds, progress becomes noticeably faster.

It's quite encouraging. I might even get to wear it before next winter.

I'm almost tempted to start another project before this one is over. Actually, I am tempted, I've been tempted for weeks if not months, but I've been steadfastly Not Giving In To Temptation, even as I've been eyeing patterns, fondling the stash, making sketches, writing terse knitting directions, and generally making "I'm about to start knitting something" noises (you may recall that I dyed some sock yarn a few weeks ago. It seemed urgent at the time). I haven't started anything new [yet], in part because I have another sweater in progress, or should I say at a Stuck Point.

Stuck Points are those moments in the lifetime of a knitting project which preclude simply picking it up and knitting because of some planning or calculation which has to occur first, so instead the project gets ignored, and this is when infidelity can rear its head. (I've been tempted, but I haven't acted upon it. According to Jimmy Carter it doesn't count if it's only a mental exercise).

The thing is, I'm not entirely out of love with the sweater, and because it's so lightweight (I'm knitting very puffy handspun merino on 3mm needles), it'll be very useful very soon, if not right now, but since the skirt Stuck Points were easily overcome and I'm making Real Progress there, not to mention almost being able to see the end, I'm loathe to invest the needed effort to get past the sweater Stuck Point.

The day job really cuts into my knitting time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

About Face

I haven't made a single beaded bead since my last post. Since last weekend. Not that I'm done forever or anything, I'm just saying.
I did finally finish this necklace that's been hanging around since forever, at least that's what it feels like.

I think I like this finishing thing. I just may do more of it. Makes me feel virtuous, smug, accomplished and purposeful.

And since Puget Sound Bead Festival class registration is going live quite soon now, I decided that it was time to get the class kits listed in my Etsy shop, since they want the instructors to handle supplies, which is fine by me!

They've already listed the classes and the times, mine being an interesting schedule.

I'm teaching all day Sunday, and Friday night and Saturday night (these are 7-10pm classes). I've never taught at a show where the classes run so late (8:30 is the latest with which I've had experience), but I understand why they've chosen that (I think): so that there is a two-hour break between classes - most show seem to provide a one-hour break. This makes the actual eating between classes a less rushed affair, which means that the show days are less hectic, but they're also longer.

I'm guessing that there are plenty of night owl beaders for whom this will be an ideal class time!

It's great for me, as it gives me the opportunity to play tourist during the day, which has not been the case at previous shows. I've already been checking Tacoma web sites, and I'm looking forward to exploring - and some fabulous weather!

I created a new section in my shop, and have listed everything, although I do not yet have all the colourways up that I intend to have available.

Each of these links to the listing in my shop:
The rivoli flower listing doesn't have a single picture in the exact colours that I intend to have available, so I'd better get cracking there.
I already have two colourways for this necklace, but I'm thinking of another, something more towards my own personal palette: somewhere in the sludge/murk/oilslick area of the colour wheel.
I've always used fresh water pearls for this bracelet, but I'm having a really hard time finding pearls in the right size of a decent quality and not out-of-this-world exorbitant in terms of price, and I'm having serious thoughts about using either shell pearls (with which I have no experience) or very baroque pearls or perhaps those they call "tadpole" pearls. Guess I'll have to try and see how they work out; I'm pretty sure I can find ones to my specifications (price, size, quality).
When I made this pendant, I got a really good deal on bulk buys of these donuts, and once again, I'm a little stuck for variety. I'm pretty sure I can find dyed mother of pearl donuts, which I think would work nicely, but suitable stone and glass donuts are proving somewhat elusive. I do still have some time though.

The work situation seems to be on the upswing, slightly.

It turns out that there's more work than they thought (resource management not appearing to be the strongest suit here) in the project on which we're just getting started, which is a Good Thing. It's an integration project (our company was bought by another company a year or so ago, and we all think it's important that the software originating in both companies can talk to each other), and they'll need people at both ends, so there's the opportunity to get some broader experience, always useful in the job security game.

Sometimes I think I may be a little adolescent in my reaction to new music, or perhaps it's the O.C.D. in me that I indulge: I play it incessantly (there's often a song on an album that I'll put on repeat, and let it play three or five or twelve times before going on to the the rest of the album) for weeks or months, almost to the exclusion of all else in my music library, until it loses its compulsive grip on me and I once again play variety.

My latest obsession is The Magnetic Fields; the best words I can find to describe them are droll and eclectic, although the music industry seems to put them in the Alternative Rock area - I'm not arguing the classification, but it's so broad that it's almost meaningless, except (for me) as a primary filter. I mean, it includes Regina Spektor and Green Day and Nerf Herder and Nellie McKay, all of which I listen to, but none of which is much like the other.

Anyway, the driving force of the band has the oddest voice for a lead singer of a rock band (he's not the lead singer), and their lyrics and instrumentation are just so unexpected that I'm completely delighted and captivated.

I started with their album Realism, which was reviewed on Fresh Air a few weeks ago, and have graduated to 69 Love Songs and i. So far, but I want more.