Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Little Obsession

I guess small things are the perfect obsession-traps, because turnaround time is so conducive to multiple iterations.

It's when you have to stitch the matching chain that your mind may wander to new ideas. "May wander" - I still have a couple more bead combinations to try, even after these that I've already made.
The pendant above uses round beads in the small four-bead clusters, while the one below uses top-drilled pearls.
No, it's not finished; it doesn't have a proper hangy-thing. Bail. The pearls are a bit irregular, but as long as the tension is firm enough, they seem to do fine. I have more pearls, both in smaller as well as larger sizes, which I guess means more beaded beads.

The set below is mine, mine, mine.

I used faceted drop beads for the largest base beads, and seed beads where I used fringe beads and drop beads (or smallish round beads) in the pendants above. I haven't seen beads like these before or since; I'm guessing that they're Czech, but I don't know for certain, and a cursory on-line search has not been helpful.
They're not like the classic teardrop beads in that the shape isn't really tapered, but grossly oval, or perhaps a rounded cylinder-shape. The business end (with the hole) is smooth, while the other end has facets forming a wide point.

Even though they look quite different, they're the same basic structure (barring overlay bead counts) as the two above.

I wish there was still more weekend ahead. No matter how much I get, I want still more. Greedy that way.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


First things first.

Kristen (thanks for all the feedback. I get this ridiculous sense that I'm famous when someone unexpected or unknown leaves a comment, especially nice comments!) tagged me with the Kreativ Blogger Award, and I have to wonder: did this originate with a non-native English speaker, somewhere where they spell it "shoppe" for effect, or someone for whom spelling is not a priority? And did it start with a beading blog, or has it migrated across media? (Yes I know I could probably follow it back to its source but I prefer to remain mystified. I'm not compelled to be In The Know).

So here are the rules:

1. Post the award on my blog.

Um, done.

2. Thank the person who gave it to me.

Ditto, see above.

3. Link to the person who gave this to me.

Ditto again.

4. Share a list of 7 things that you probably don't know about me.

Good grief. What have I not already shared that I don't mind sharing? Here goes:
  1. I've always been self-conscious about my legs, and so I don't wear shorts in public (only for working out at home) or skirts that are above the knee. Why show off your worst features?
  2. When I was a child and reading books by Noel Streatfield about child dancers and ice skaters and actresses, I seriously thought I would be a great ballerina. Now I just watch and admire.
  3. I used to draw and paint all the time, but stopped sometime in my twenties when my lack of talent started to frustrate me. That's probably when my knitting productivity went into orbit (I've been knitting since my age was in the single digits).
  4. I almost didn't get to the US, because I was naive in my answers when being interviewed (I thought we were chatting!) for my visa after being accepted into the PhD program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Fortunately a friend of a colleague of my father's was a drinking buddy of a high-ranking consular official.
  5. I love cheese, but almost never buy cheese that I like, because I'll just eat it all and I shouldn't because I have borderline cholesterol issues which are probably familial rather than diet-related because my diet has little effect on my cholesterol, but still, I try to avoid overindulgence in cheese. Which I love. Today I'm remembering fondly the cheese that John did not leave behind after spinners yesterday.
  6. The control freak in me hates general anaesthesia not for the nausea or possibility of a bad reaction, merely for the fact that other people are awake and alert while I'm unconscious and helpless in their midst.
  7. I have such big bones that my ex-husband and I used to wear the same size wedding bands.

5. Choose 7 great bloggers to give the award to.

6. Share a link to their blogs.

7. Leave a comment on their blog.

Done, done, done and done: Sara, Janel, Laurie, Marcy, Cassandra (so far, more to come).

Some time ago, Nancy had asked me to make a necklace to match a scarf with a leafy design that she'd made, and so I sent her this:
In exchange, she made me this:
The colours are way better than I could capture with my still-lousy photography skills, and it's lusciously soft and drapey and yummy.

For my birthday (last Sunday, thanks) she made me this:
Once more, food colours in (I believe) rayon and chenille. Once more, altogether: yum.

I made a couple of pairs of earrings to match necklaces. When will I ever learn? People want matching earrings, especially when I don't make them or run out of beads.
Yes, the earrings below are a pair. Matching? They match the necklace. Each other? They're the same style, aren't they?
I know I posted a picture of my miniature Panspora beaded beads last week, and I've been making more (large blue-grey bead for size comparison) but I still don't have a finished wearable. Actually, I'm at the point where I must either make a whole lot more of them, or start thinking focals, which either means digging through the stash to find a suitable stone or lampwork bead (I have a crackle agate barrel which is winning so far).
Not that I always (I was going to say "regularly", but that might not be entirely accurate) shy away from making time-consuming decisions via instant gratification, but I sorta did this time.
In truth, it wasn't all that quick, because there were two false starts resulting in many short pieces of thread, but I do have a pendant and matching little beaded bead (which may turn out to be unrelated as I don't have enough beads for a second, meaning it may not grow up to be in a matching pair of earrings), even if the silver-toned chain is a bit Hilda because of the bronze beads on the pendant.


Amy mentioned that celebrations for Mary Jo's birthday (a not inconsequential one) in November are starting now, a full six months ahead, and will continue for another six post-birthday months, and while the months preceding my birthday were more dread-filled than anything else, I'm thinking that a year of post-birthday celebration or indulgence might be suitable mitigation (see, I came to the title of this post, albeit via the scenic route).

At LEAST once a month, instead of telling myself that I don't really need that yarn/crystal/bead/pair of shoes/chocolate/chair/long massage, I will rather designate it a birthday treat. I don't know if it'll help, but unless I really go overboard (which is unlikely; search for the words "control freak" above), the only thing it'll hurt is my bank account, and I don't live that close to the edge (hello, control freak) that I could get into serious trouble.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Colour Play

The red mini panspora earrings were cute, but Not Quite Good Enough, but I knew what would fix them: transparency. Transparent fringe beads, to be precise.

Some time ago, guided by overly flattering descriptions and under accurate photos, I ordered colour-lined fringe beads in a variety of colour combinations (transparent glass with a contrasting colour in the bead hole that is magnified by the roundness of the glass) and received a scary neon-bright assortment. One of the colours wasn't too bad, but none spoke to me in anything resembling seductive tones.

Guided by the analogy of complementary colours, I chose seed beads in a muted, silk finish (I love Czech seed beads. They have colours not found in Japanese seed beads, and they're just so rounded and juicy. And they work much better in these beaded beads) to pair with pale lime fringe beads with neon orange linings.

I think I done good. Or is it "did good"? (No seriously, I do know. I was trying to be funny).

Minispora beads.

These two will probably be earrings, and if I feel inspired, and nothing shouts louder sooner (because it's volume that determines what my hands will do), I'll make a whole necklace of them because the colour combo is yummy and I have lots more beads.

This is the partial tank top from the birthday yarn I picked up the same day as I got my new car which still smells new, but has a scratch on the bumper which may well be a workplace injury, but I don't think OSHA has jurisdiction. This cotton yarn is silky and knits up really beautifully. I wish I was finished so that I could wear it today.
Yum yum yum. I just love the colours.

And speaking of yummy things, I have The Best Houseguests EVER.
Lookit how much chocolate they brought! And Peet's coffee! And I like them too. Actually that's a bit redundant, because except for my immediate family - whom I pretty much like anyway - I'd never allow anyone who asks to stay here if I didn't like them. I'm old enough and determined enough that I get to decide who comes through the front door. What I really meant was that I'd like them anyway, chocolates or not.

To celebrate, I added another something to my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Although any housekeeping can be onerous, the housekeeping to which I'm referring hasn't been that bad. I've been finishing and updating and trying to shorten to beading to-do list.

I added a colourway for one of my Puget Sound classes. (It's getting close!)
I finally figured out how to close this thing (it's a bracelet where honestly I'd have preferred a necklace, but time, essence, yadda, yadda).
I decided that a chunky add-on to a chunky chain just wasn't working, so I put this heart on a chain, and I really like it much better this way.
I made mini Panspora earrings!

The beaded beads themselves use smaller beads. Because the little fringe beads have different proportions to the Czech drop beads, the minis just look bumpy rather than having that alien organic look, but I bet if I used clear or colour-lined fringe beads, they'd be better.

I'll have to put that on my to-do list.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mora Spora

Just how obsessive is it to feel the need to constantly reiterate how obsessively I've been making beaded beads when really I should have been writing up instructions and filling kits and the like? I don't think it makes me a bad person, just a repetitive one. I guess can live with that.
The colours above are this fabulous understated subtlety; not my usual direction, but this time they resonate with me.

The beaded beads are actually a very pale lemony yellow that reads as cream at first blush. There are brass spacer beads, "new jade" beads (the creamy-looking ones) - I forget what they really are, some kind of jasper I suppose, but the listings on almost every web-site show the quotes. Not really jade, not especially new. And then very pale, dilute olive without the pimientos. So pale they could be golden, or beige, or perhaps almost a dark cream.
I was getting bored - not of the beaded beads, but of stringing them - and luckily managed to find a pendant that matched. And there are matching earrings too.

I did manage to make the final sample for my Rivoli Flower class at Puget Sound, and I have to say that this is my favourite, because the colours have it all: the colour of the main seed beads needs about seventeen words to describe it (my heuristic for being attracted to a colour is proportional to the number of words the colour needs in its description), the small ones contrast well, and then the accent beads are all different finishes: metallic iris, matte rainbow and vitrail, which as you can see is all green and pink iridescence.

And May Earrings of the Month Kits will be in the mail tomorrow.
Just a small tease, not really a spoiler.

I found a phantom(*) yarn last weekend at a very odd shop, and all I can say is that I wish I had more of it. The colours are subtle and murky with tiny flashes of odd contrast which work up beautifully: no pooling. The yarn itself is a cabled cotton yarn with somewhat low plying twist, which means that it's a bit splitty, but also very soft and silky. Very luxurious.

I'd go back and buy more, but all they had was one skein of nasty cotton candy pink and another of My Little Pony pink-and-aqua.

I might just have my next quest cut out for me.

(*) Way back in undergraduate days, there was this group of guys with whom I was friendly, and they used to refer to people they didn't know as phantoms, as in "Who was at that party last night?" "Dunno, a bunch of phantoms", and I've never quite fallen out of the habit of thinking of unnamed things as phantoms. Hence phantom yarn.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pearls Before

My daughter has wonderful taste in socks.

She bought a pair of moccasins, somewhat low-cut and sock-exposing, searched every store reachable via car or internet, and declared that they were all quite awful and entirely unsuitable, and the only socks that would do were a pair of hand-knitted socks.

I am, if nothing else, vain and susceptible to flattery.
Two weeks later she has her socks.

As an aside because it bears mentioning Yet Again: Socks are a very quick project when they're one's main work in progress, rather than a half-a-needle-at-red-lights project. Normally socks take months and leave my car only for waiting rooms and upon completion.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm weak for pearls? Well I am.

In fact, one of the nudges that started me beading (again, some years after I, um, invented peyote stitch in high school) was pearls that my parents had given me for either my high school or undergraduate graduation that broke. I took them to be reknotted, all four strands of very tiny pearls, and the jeweller informed me that the cost to knot them was more than they were worth.

I loved the pearls, so I found a book and the Fire Mountain Gems catalogue and taught myself to knot pearls. It cost a few dollars for the silk, French wire, and twisted wire needles, and rather more dollars for the other beads in the catalogue whose allure I was unable to resist.

So, pearls: weak.

And big pearls? Very weak.
On the latest slide into pearls I made a pair of lusciously large earrings, but didn't have quite enough for a third beaded bead to be a pendant.

Fortunately I managed to find slightly smaller pearls in the same colour, so I could make a necklace to match the earrings. A bit arse-about-face I suppose, as most people start with the necklace and make earrings to match.

Then there were a whole lot more of the smaller pearls left over, so I made another pair of matching earrings.
I had to do something with them, after all, and not everyone wants huge pearl earrings (though I can't imagine why not).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

End of An Era

My previous car was bought in 1996, and I didn't get the package with all the bells and whistles, so it had a tape deck and radio; no CD player.

Yes, they had been invented back then. No, I'm not that old. Yes, I do remember records. Yes, I owned a Donny Osmond record. Yes, many cars came with CD players in 1996, but mine didn't.

It also didn't have electric windows and locks, but I got 35 miles to the gallon on my last full tank.

So I taped a bunch of CDs to have music in the car for when NPR has their pledge drives or when I'm on the road and all they have is country. Or western. (Remember the bar in the Blues Brothers?)

Under the seats I had a couple of cases of tapes I've had since before I came to the US (yes, that's a while back). I have a handful of the albums on CD (The Clash, Brandenburg Concertos, Four Seasons, some Bowie), but I haven't listened to them in years.

What with the new car which most certainly does not have a cassette deck, I have no need of cassette tapes, so I threw away those which I'd taped from CDs I have. I don't think there's a working boom box in the house, so I can't listen to them even if I want to.

I put the old ones from the eighties in the back basement.

I'm not quite ready to throw them away just yet.

Perhaps I'll seek out the MP3s. I used to like those albums.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Intergalactic Alien Spores

That's what I think these beaded beads look like.
Something organic, some microbe perhaps. A spore. An alien spore. An intergalactic alien spore.

So I had to make a whole necklace of them

Fine Line

Perhaps one in twenty books that I read have an afterword in which the author (or authors, as in the last book I read) talk about the context for the novel. Sometimes it adds value, sometimes it seems irrelevant, but the book that I finished last night was just hateful.

I won't read either of these guys ever again, not because their novel was mediocre, but because their afterword, their argument was as irrational, ugly and bigoted as Rush.

The book had somewhat interesting truly hermaphroditic aliens with only a single gender, and a biological caste- or class-based system, and way too much religion. It had an amusing slightly self-mocking tone, though the characters were as one-dimensional and stereotypic as late Heinlein, with the same nasty misogynistic overtones.

It was essentially trite in much the same way as "Avatar". Some of the trimmings were interesting and/or pretty, but without them, the story and characters won't be enduring.

I've recently read about studies concerning dementia which assert that maintaining brain health (apart from omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular exercise) can be helped by creating conflicts in your brain, talking to people with whom you disagree, even though it can be uncomfortable.

When it became clear that the authors' views on religion differed from mine, I continued reading, and in fact I read the entire afterword, getting angrier with every word. I get that it can be difficult to understand how someone else comes to different conclusions that you do, given the same set of facts, but I respect their right to do so. What I emphatically do not respect is their assertion TO THEIR READERS, of whom they surely want more in order to sell more books and develop a loyal fan base, that they are stupid for reaching a different conclusion.

Stupid me if ever I read another word of theirs.

In happier news, I finished my chunky pearl necklace.
And made a pair of earrings in the same vein, with a pendant in the works.
I've gone through phases during which I've made these beads somewhat obsessively.
I like them better with the contrasting corners; I think they're more interesting and somehow less clunky than the solid-coloured ones.

And then I wondered how they'd look with 4x6mm drops in the corners instead of contrasting seed beads.
Pretty good, that's how, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what they remind me of.
Some kind of alien or microscopic life forms, I think.

I can see a whole lot more of these in my future.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In Spite Of Myself

I think it's fair to say that I'm generally inclined to encourage a fuss on my birthday, but somehow this time I'm not so much in the mood. It's a big one. Bigger than I think it ought to be, bigger than I'd like to acknowledge, mortality-wise.

I seriously want to live forever, and I read so much science fiction that there's a tiny part of me that doesn't really get that I can't. No rejuv treatment? No nanites in my bloodstream, protecting my cells? No smart symbiotic organisms keeping me young? Surely not!

For some reason, my mother is way more excited about this birthday than I am. She mentioned Hawaii when she visited last August, which ordinarily would have me saying "Just let me request PTO", but instead provoked a distinct nausea.

Really not happy with this age thing.

Eventually, when it became clear that I was not open to my own special Birthday Carnivale, she decided to buy me a car, with which I have no complaints.

(She asked me if $x,000 would be enough, for which there is of course no answer. Yes, it's enough if I'm buying a car under $x,000, but not enough if I want a more expensive car. Lucky for her I'm neither a car person nor into cars as status symbols, so it is enough. Realistically, any amount is enough, as I was planning on a new car one of these years anyway, and I can actually afford to buy one).

And today I have my Birthday Car, two weeks and a day short of my birthday.
I'm pretty happy with it, two hours later.

You may wonder why all the fuss for someone who's not a car person.
  • It smells new.
  • It's shiny.
  • The last car I bought myself was in 1996.
And then I stopped by some strange store, which I still can't figure out, but now I don't care because they had a few skeins of yarn on the bottom shelf under stickers and paintbrushes and note cards and photo albums, and since I'd already started with the birthday gifts, I thought a few more couldn't hurt, and might in fact get me in the mood.
Two skeins of a heavy fingering weight yarn which I think is probably not machine washable, though maybe it is; those laundry care symbols always stymie me as they didn't make it into long-term storage by the time I decided to do triage on what gets to take up space there. (My head is full. There's no room for stuff I can look up or won't need again).

Gloves it is then.

And by the way as usual, what appears blue above is actually violet. (Blah blah blah my photography skills).
Five skeins of a deliciously soft cabled cotton yarn in smokey greys with touches of slate blue, mustard and dull purple. And my azaleas, which would otherwise make an annoyingly trite picture; besides which I had a picture of them either last year or the year before around this time.

Next up on the birthday presents list: crystals!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


When you add a chain, an experiment/doodle/exploration becomes a something. A necklace.
And then I noodled around with beaded beads from humungo rice pearls.

In Real Life they're greener, less yellow, but still really bright, and each beaded bead is over an inch long.


I wonder if it's a two-year cycle?

Last time I felt the urge to paint was two years ago, and then it was living room, dining room and hallways (it started off as dining room only, and once I expanded to the living room (I had extra paint, shame to waste it), I just had to keep going because there were no corners at which to stop). I've just finished painting both bathrooms, and I really didn't do a fabulous job, but they're both better than they were: bleached-as-much-as-possible-but-still-visible-mildewed-ceiling and gross-marks-between-strips-of-wallpaper-now-mostly-removed.

A sad paint job trumps both of those any day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


So what I want to know is this: do obsessions have to be magnificent? Can't they just be small, immediate and satisfying?

Yesterday I made earrings. I thought I was ready to move on.

Apparently not.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Zoom Zoom

It feels as though I've been incredibly busy since I posted last Sunday, but for the life of me I can't quite figure out what specific activities I have engaged in to give me that impression.

I have been trying to buy a car, but apparently if you prefer a stick shift, they assume you also require $1400 worth of moon-roof and BMW-quality audio equipment, and seem rather nonplussed when it turns out that you in fact don't, and seem less interested in actually selling you a car.

It's quite a puzzle to me.

I seriously want a new car yesterday.

I did make a second earring and bracelet to match (I made the first earring for the last class I taught).
It wasn't a huge effort in all fairness. This is pretty much instant gratification as far as these things go. Perhaps I'll make a few more and clear out some bead space.

I also made an experimental medallion with an assortment of beads, as a proof-of-concept, but I actually rather like the colours, and so instead of cutting it up, I might just turn it into a necklace. Next I'd like to see if I can embed a rivoli in the middle.
Speaking of cutting, it's all coming back to me (where the busy time happened).

My local bead store suddenly had oval crystals, and so I had to make the perfect bezel. I believe I'm at version three or four right now, and yes, there was cutting involved. My trash can is awash in short, wiggly lengths of beading thread.
On the serendipity scale, I have to count these earrings which are not what I'd planned, but not bad anyway.

I saw some earrings which had only four of the triangular units, making a diamond-shape, but it turned out that because of the way I joined each unit to its mate, I needed six for them to lie properly.

Perhaps I should next work on putting them together in a bracelet or necklace. I imagine I'll end up with a basket or a bowl of very tasty soup or something.

I also want to combine them in other multiples (three, four, eight perhaps), but not tonight.

On the knitting front, I've been doing it.

I always keep a sock project in my car, for dentist appointments, very long traffic jams and other similar emergencies, and at home I knit sweaters. This means that socks take many, MANY months to complete.

My daughter requested a pair of socks, and realising that these socks could not be a car project (as I'm just about at the heel of sock number two of my current car project, and she'll be married with three kids by the time I finish the next pair of car socks after these), I decided to break with my routine and Knit Socks In The House As My Main Project. (Shock horror).

It's astonishing how quickly they go.

I always forget that.