Tuesday, June 29, 2010


After teaching Calathid last night, I came home and finished the sample for this kit.

Even though I thought I was avoiding monochromaticity (look: spell-check isn't complaining, but I'm sure that's not a real word since I made it up), it turns out that the amethyst nuggets are just the right colour in the necklace. Only problem is I have enough for only four kits, so when they're gone, the next iteration (I still have plenty, and can obtain more, of beads for the beaded beads, but the amethyst nuggets are Old Stash) will be something else.

I have some old gold (not very yellow-gold, more of a grey-green-gold) pearls which are also a good accent, but the sizing is different, and so the look will be a bit different too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Navel-Gazing

I don't want to give the impression that all I do is marvel over the interior of the human body (mine), so let me present evidence to the contrary.

Item the first, since my class prep for the trip is pretty well taken care of: another colour-way (the first was gunmetal, red and white) for a new Sputnik kit that I'll take with me to Puget Sound.
It's not a great photo, because in real life, the green is brighter and more springy, the cream is really quite amber, and the brown is warmer and glowier, not nearly so yellow.

(b) Another new kit and instructions for the class that I'll be teaching some time after I get back.
None of the beads is actually yellow in real life. It's always something.

Third, still in progress, another version of the above with possible add-ons.
I bought the seeds and drops online from a vendor whose photos I regard more as guidelines than as gospel truth (in reality this is so for most online vendors. They aren't necessarily professional photographers any more than I am), and when they arrived and I held the two bags together, I had something of an "uh-oh" moment when I realised that it may not have been a match made in heaven after all, and put it out of my mind as I did other things.

Turns out that the beads IN A PROJECT are so very much better than either on a string or in a bag (again: why am I surprised? This is not new. It happens all the time, with every medium. I'm very glad that human evolution doesn't depend on me, as I'm not feeling all that superior here), and I adore the beaded beads.

Such joy can only be balanced by confusion, which means that I can't decide what beads to include to string with these. My instinctual motion is towards More Purple Beads, for a moment only, because really I do know that something of a contrast would be far better, but time limits me to the stash, and while it turns out that I have vast quantities of suitably-sized green beads, I'm rather light on everything else (except amethyst nuggets, which I'm trying to avoid, being that they're purple and therefore not all that contrasty).

And (iv), since I'm teaching this tomorrow:
it behove me to finish the instructions for the piece that transforms a chain of flowery thingies to a useable necklace or bracelet:

I bet most people want to make a pendant instead, but still.

I've also spent a significant amount of time knitting and ripping the same item. Four times now. It's a bit annoying.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Inside Me

It never occurred to me that I might like to regard myself from the inside this way.

I'm not sure there's really any more that I can say about that one.

Even though I found homes for all but one of the pairs of earrings I was obsessing about last week, I managed to find really pretty aquamarine beads that made me wonder if they'd work for that style.
It turns out they do.

It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I've been running a marathon to stay in place, but my time wasn't much to brag about. I did get the June Earrings done though.
Just a hint, as no one has them yet (some are in the mail, and some will be delivered on Tuesday).

Mostly what I've been doing is packing kits for my classes at Puget Sound.
I'm psyched. Enrolment is pretty good, to the point where I might even do better than break even, and that's without the Teachers' Showcase, which is a meet-n-greet with kit sales and class signups. I always enjoy these, even apart from selling kits: I get to meet people I've seen on-line and pay them extravagant (deservedly so) compliments regarding their work. If I want to be Maggie Meister (or Cynthia Rutledge or Marcia DeCoster or Diane Fitzgerald or a host of beaders too numerous to iterate), I'd better buck up!

And while I was feeling all gushy about teaching at bead shows, I thought it might be fun to have a drawing for a kit in each of my classes, as well as contributing a door prize to the Teachers' Showcase.
Back when I first released my Pearl Ruffle kit, big, good quality pearls for a decent price were fairly easy to come by, but I've been having a hard time finding them now - and I need to, since I'm running out of a few colours. I have only a couple of purple and turquoise kits left, but I haven't been able to find anything suitable in a colour even remotely similar without doubling or trebling the price, so I've been looking for other colours, with approximately the same success.

In other words, little to none.

I considered shell pearls, which as far as I can tell are an order of magnitude removed from cultured pearls. They seem freakishly regular, which for some reason seems to be problematic for me (I have the same aversion to cylinder beads, which for many imply Beading Nirvana).

I rejected the notion of shell pearls, in part because of the squeam factor, in part because I didn't find them in the right colour and price and size.

I considered the pearls variously referred to as tadpoles, biwa, baroque, blister, and a slew of other equally non-descriptive names that elude me right now, and even ordered some. On arrival I concluded that these would have to be acquired live and in person, as pictures are of necessity two-dimensional, which in this case proved to be an important consideration, and rendered them Not Useful for my purposes.

In desperation, I ordered a single strand of somewhat baroque (read: irregular) pearls in a gorgeous [possibly] natural peach.
I think they worked, so I ordered ten more strands, which should last for a while.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

All This Before Spinning

I found another collection of stone rondelles with which to make my latest earring obsession, epidote or spice jasper, depending on who you believe.
I also finished a kit sample to take to Puget Sound which is insanely soon.
John made a weavette square and asked me to knit a border around it, which I did while watching Hamlet in the park in the dark.
I didn't know how ugly my edging was until I actually saw it the next day. Whoops!

After making Tacu Tacu to bring with me, I'll spin all day on the second and possibly third) ply of the current pink yarn.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My new favourite earring design works well with the stone rondelles that I've acquired over the years too. These are quite a bit bigger than the faceted glass beads I'd used in the last go-round.
The fluorite beads are just so, I dunno, tasty. Cool almost minty green, just about clear.
No, I didn't put blue seed beads with the purple stones (I have no idea what kind of stones these are. Probably a dyed jasper). Once again, my camera is arguing with me, because I know that they are an excellent metallic royal purple.

I used to know what these stones are, but because I neglect to take notes, I no longer have a clue. It was something unexpected, but that's not really useful information, is it?

I Do So Have A Life

It just doesn't get better than this on a weeknight.

First teaching a very entertaining group of people to make these:
Followed by a mad dash to Blueberry Hill so I could enjoy these guys:
The only thing that could have been improved upon would have been an extra couple of hours for beading and knitting, instead of sleeping so that I could get to work this morning.

Actually, I wish there had been a better turnout for the band, as it was a very small audience, even for the Duck Room.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

As It Turns Out

You know how sometimes you notice that time has passed, and yet you feel there's nothing to show for it?

I was convinced that a few months had passed since my largely content-free last post, that there would be no photos to display, since I'd done absolutely nothing whatsoever. I did read a couple of books that I enjoyed quite a bit, but that's not necessarily worth mentioning. And I did snag some extra shelving thingies for my ever-expanding beading space for an excellently low price, but once again, hardly news-worthy.

Turned out that while there were no grand works, Stuff Got Made After All.

First time ever, I made a pendant, put it in my Etsy shop, and on THE SAME DAY it was put in a treasury.
These are collections of items on Etsy (did you click the link? That's a treasury on the Etsy front page) that anyone can make, but there are a limited number of treasury slots available, so I understand that people sit and wait to snag one as it expires. The thing about them is that Etsy is so huge, with so many gazillion incredible (incredibly gorgeous and incredibly ghastly - see Regretsy) things that it's hard to get other people's eyes on your stuff, so treasuries highlight them and bring traffic to your shop.

Or so I'm told.

Either way, someone paid me a compliment by announcing that they liked something I made, and that's pretty cool.

Speaking of cool, my daughter suggested that I might have enjoyed going with her to Bonnaroo, and that perhaps I should consider it next year. I just might.

I did spend quite a bit of time preparing for the class I taught today, during the course of said preparations making two samples.
It's a fun little piece, a bit unexpected in terms of construction, and although Stefanie yawned the whole time, claiming it was because she was just so relaxed, Amy thought it was a bit intense, but not in a bad way. So did I.
(I was going to put the above in my shop, until the close-up revealed a huge thread loop around one of the drop beads. Whoops! Guess it's mine now).

The reasons the instructions took so long was that I've made the basic Sputnik (I was told it looked like a spaceship) in a few different configurations, so I thought it might be nice to include instructions for all of them.

It was time-consuming though.

I also made a sample for a new kit.

Lately all sorts of shops, both brick-and-mortar as well as online, have been carrying these gorgeous Chinese crystal beads, which are very reasonably priced, and frankly, quite unlike most of the beads from China, in that the quality is impressive.

Unable to resist the lure of shiny things, and particularly shiny things in what is known as a rondelle shape, something shorter along its axis than its lateral diameter, especially if it has any kind of iridescent finish or is otherwise extraordinarily coloured, I have been acquiring them without a clue as to what they're good for.

I lie. I have a clue. At the very least they're good spacer beads between necklaces of beaded beads, and that's what I've done with some of the smaller ones, but the bigger ones have been eyeing me malevolently, knowing I was out of my comfort zone.

Until today.
At which point, I went on a bit of a jag.
Given that a substantial portion of my day has been taken up by either preparing for class or teaching it (and oh yes, changing the belt on my vacuum cleaner. Why don't they have snap-off or screw-off pieces? Why did I have to unscrew and then re-screw so many screws? Not a great UI), not to mention ongoing prep for Puget Sound (I'm doing pretty well in that department. I should be done in time), I don't think that three pairs of earrings is too shabby.

The concept, slightly modified, works well on the smaller rondelles too. You can't tell, but these are what they refer to as "red velvet", which I believe to have an opaque red core with a transparent red overlay, resulting in a really luscious shade with a very rich glow. And I don't usually even like red.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Slice Of

So there was this joke about Dubbya I believe, in which he offended his waitress because he pronounced "quiche" as "quickie". And this post is a quiche, a slice of. So I amuse myself.

Finally, the samples for the last two colour-ways for my Double Donut Pendant class at the Puget Sound Bead Festival.
Amazonite (the oval donut) with turquoise [dyed] magnesite (the go-go bead).

Rhodonite with quartz (the small one) with mother-of-pearl (the other one. No, not the small one).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strange Day

Way back at the beginning of the dark ages when I got married, I'd sort of intended to keep my maiden name, but no one here could pronounce it correctly (which annoyed me no end; it's a single syllable), it was sometimes awkward when it came to things like banks and houses and children, and then when I got citizenship, I ended up going with my married name. And then when I got divorced (at the end of my dark ages), it was easier to have the same last name as my children.

And besides, no one could pronounce it. They seem to have problems with my adopted name too (which is pronounced as it is spelled, but apparently this is problematic too; I'm not entirely sure why as it's hardly polysyllabic or fraught with umlauts and cedillas and the like), but I don't much care, because it's not my name. It has no emotional investment for me, it's merely a convenient tag.

Which made it even odder to receive a package addressed to my previous incarnation, the one with the name that I think of as my real name, as opposed to the one on the bank accounts, mortgage, bills and so on.
Its contents (towards the odd and inappropriate end of the scale) are not entirely useful, as my kids have long since figured out hair washing and besides, I think they'd be horrified at the thought of my washing their hair in the bathtub. I know I would be.

I discovered the package when flowers were delivered, flowers that a friend had said were being delivered today (and by "today" I mean "Saturday", as it becomes Sunday only when I wake up after having slept the night, and I have not yet gone to bed), except they weren't from her at all.

Gorgeous flowers, but not from Julia.

Then the day got really strange:

There. Was. No. Line. At. The. DMV.

I was in and out in as much time as it took for them to verify that yes indeed I did pay personal property taxes, my new car is insured, I do have a valid driver's license, and how much do I make that check out for? Taxes on a new car = not inconsequential.

Still. No line at all.

Then the flowers from Julia arrived. My living room is awash with growing colour. I love it.

Birthday extended by yet another week, check.

For normalcy, I made samples for kits I'm taking to the Puget Sound Bead Festival in July. I'm actually teaching this class at my local bead store in a week or so.
And then I started on a sample for the next class I teach in town (and will probably also bring as kits to Tacoma).
I'm surprised at how much I like the colours, because I honestly came to them rather reluctantly.

I started with the large black beads, the gunmetal seed beads, and the alabaster white seed beads, but red really wasn't my first choice (or for that matter, my second or third choices) for the accents. My first choice proved to be surprisingly uninteresting, in that it really didn't in any way enhance or advance the pattern.

Not contrasty enough, quite simply. I really should pay attention, as this isn't the first time I've been rescued by a contrast.

Seems like the day ran out of odd.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

High Fibre

Because photographing my beadwork is so much easier (the camera and lights setup is an armslength from my beading surface, and the camera is pretty well adjusted), I rarely photograph anything else, which has the dual effect of my sucking at photographing anything besides beadwork (not that I'm claiming to be anything even approaching vaguely good at it), as well as appearing something of a braggart when I mention knitting or spinning and have nothing to show for it.

To attempt to remedy the latter, even partially, I present: socks in progress in a yummy bamboo sock yarn, a birthday present from me to me (I'm such an appreciative recipient), Janel's Rivendell. Needles to say, the real colour is more of a coral and less of a pink.
I've been lusting after it since I first saw a picture, and was crushed when I realised that none of my sock yarns were the right size, and the pattern was not easily scaleable. Luckily I didn't pay much attention when ordering my birthday yarn, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed, even moreso that I'd expected!

Serendipity. It rocks.

I suspect the foot will not follow the pattern because I have this habit you see...

More birthday yarn - I LOVE THIS STUFF - progressing swimmingly.
Of course, the fact that I'm not a fan of knitting in pieces and then sewing where knitting in the round would do, I used the pattern as a guideline only, and didn't swatch, not even a bad, inaccurate swatch, and in fact I still haven't measured my gauge.

The knitting in the round thing gives me no cause for regrets; however I'm guessing that my row-to-stitch ratio is different than the pattern was expecting, because the area from the bust up needed rethinking. It's still a vee-neck and all that, but the top part really needed to be knitted on a bit of a bias to allow the bottom part to hang correctly, and as of about fifteen minutes ago, seemed to be working very well indeed.

A month or two ago, I was all smug and braggy at spinners' day, telling them all how I always wash my yarns as soon as they're plied, and so of course the yarn that I plied that day sat unwashed for over a month, but I'm pleased to announce with a certain amount of embarrassment at my erstwhile smugitude: Twelve Ounces of Yum!
It's mostly merino, with some silk and some angora, I think. I don't exactly remember, as three different rovings were spun and then plied to make it.

And lest anyone be concerned that I've forsaken beads for fibre (as if!) it would be remiss of me to not post pictures of two necklaces, one of which will eventually go into my Etsy shop, the other of which is causing me to have a hard time with the concept "not mine", so I think it will have to remain so. Mine, that is.
This is really a tiny little beaded bead (not much more than half an inch in diameter) on a very fine chain with the smallest toggle I've ever seen. I can easily bear to part with it, as the colours don't sing to me and besides, I can make more.

This one, not so much.
The little beaded beads are quite small too, the main focal (a variant on those I made over the weekend) is little more than inch in diameter. What enchants me about this is the fringe beads that I used in the small beaded beads: pale transparent lime green with a neon-bright orange core, which are really quite ugly when you see them in a pile on the table or in a tube, but when sewn together with semi-matte dull bronze beads, there's magic.

It's possible that the really hideous ones with neon pink cores that I've hidden so well I don't know where to start looking for them might be attractive in the right setting too, though I confess my heart sank when I first saw them. Context is everything!