Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beyond Help

Yeah but ok this one is part of a necklace.
I couldn't find the single absolutely correct seed bead colour, so I used a few, and I have to say I rather like it this way. You have an ostensibly plain chain in that there's no texture, and yet its interest lies in the movement from one colour to the next. Somewhat surprisingly to me, I like the most contrasty bit the best: the part with the golden seed beads.

It's also a convenient way to use colours which are fabulous but may be overpowering when appearing as the only seed beads in a project.

Queen of Murk and Sludge that I am, there's something about this misty and dewy Fauxbergé that I love better than all the others. I have an inordinate weakness for opalite beads (these are purely glass beads lest you imagine a mine in Ireland or somewhere cool and foggy) which in general have no place amidst the dark iridescents where I usually find myself, so I buy them and gaze longingly from time to time, and when I occasionally use them, I'm generally disappointed.

Not this time. I'm perfectly satisfied with this combination of cool, damp colours, and the opalite rounds that glow from within.

It's possible that by now (I think the count is eight) I have almost enough class samples, although to be fair, I did change a design element about halfway through, so not all are suitable.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whoops Again

I don't think it's technically a disease, but it's starting to feel like a syndrome or some other word indicating a systemic issue (I'd prefer to avoid the word "problem") of sorts.

I showed them to one of the women at the bead store on Saturday and she found them reminiscent of Fabergé eggs; Fauxbergé is more like it.

I disliked the low-contrast purples Fauxbergé from Saturday, so I tried high-contrast instead, which is a bit of a swing of the pendulum in that it might be a bit much. Interestingly enough, my spinning friends gravitated to my low-contrast, should-I-cut-it (so I guess I won't now) Fauxbergé.

The base beads inside the midsection are 8mm fire-polished rounds, and so I wondered if it would work with the luscious 6x9mm rondelles for which I'm so weak.
Yes, mostly.

It was much squishier while working it (and still is a bit) because the shape of the beads really do not lend themselves to right angle weave at all, and I was loathe to use corner beads to cover the thread, so it was awkward to work. I definitely wouldn't teach it using the rondelles, though I like the way they're framed in the middle row.

And the finished pieces are not noticeably different in appearance (yes, I made another purple one because despite other opinions to the contrary, I don't care much for the low-contrast one).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Know I Am But What Are You

I'm pretty sure the word "obsession" has been mentioned here before. I'll probably say it again. I mean, after this time, when I say it in pictures (mostly).
OK, that's in progress, but in real life, it's much further along.
Pink and golden. Yummy.
Just a regular beaded bead that can be strung.
I'm not entirely sure about this one - I think I should have used lighter fringe beads, as I'm not loving those dark purple ones. I guess I could cut it up. Tomorrow, perhaps.

I found the faceted drop beads in one more colour, so I suppose one more is in the works, and then I'll have to start repeating. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
And I've been knitting too! (The attentive will see July Earrings upper right, too small to see much). Lovely shiny soft cotton in a stitch that I like the look of, though I don't adore doing it, as it slows me down. Just a bit.

I tried it on for the first time about half an hour ago, and when I say "tried it on", I mean that I put it on my body which could have gone either way really (perfect fit so far) as I didn't swatch even slightly, and guesstimated the armholes and neck.

It's way too hot to wear it though, except indoors at work, where it's badly over-air-conditioned. There's always an up-side, isn't there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Voice, Stilled

I know everyone dies, and I know Daniel Schorr lived a long time, and it seems he never lost his edge, didn't fade gradually, but I was still distressed by his death.

I admired his honesty and directness and impartiality in his work - I once heard an interview in which he recalled a biased comment he had made in one of his news analyses, and expressed more than a little regret and appeared embarrassed or perhaps a little angry that he'd allowed his personal feelings to get in the way of his objectivity.

He was always insightful and sharp and cut to the chase.

I'll miss that voice.

What with Puget Sound, I needed to play catch-up with July's Earring of the Month. Here's a teaser.
I've realised that for me, beaded beads are the ultimate honey trap, and once I start on a theme, it's hard to move on.
I was in the mood to make something too heavy to suspend from an earlobe, so I scaled up the bead sizes, and expanded on the embellishments.
I'm completely in love with this.

It's big, about two inches long without the loop, and heavy. The beads are also fabulous, and seem to be a somewhat new style of which I've seen a few variations lately. They're transparent with a gold[en] core, and a very soft aurora borealis finish, so unlike the harsher version of this effect, they do not have a couple of wildly mirrored facets, but have a gentle iridescence over the entire surface.

On the plus side, it looks like a class for the upcoming list but I need to make another one in beads I don't adore quite so much for the glass case at the store. I want this one in my home with me. I think I may marry it, or at least have an intense affair.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Working System

I'm a bit of a procrastinator, and unless I'm doing something that I chose to do at that moment, I almost always would rather be doing something else; failing that I draw sketches and write often indecipherable notes on the back of printouts that I no longer need. (Yes, I don't like to waste perfectly good blank paper, especially when I need only one side and most especially when I need scratch paper that's to be tossed anyway).

So I accumulate piles and piles of paper with sketches and notes (and occasionally bits of defunct shopping lists or to-do lists - I'm a big fan of lists), and I go through them every so often, depending.

While preparing for Puget Sound, I accumulated without perusing, but now that I'm in preparation mode for Lady Bug classes (the local bead store at which I teach; my next class is always in the right sidebar here), I'm trying to figure out if I had any good ideas while I was pining to be free to bead at whim, shackled by my own efforts (to teach and make kits to support my beading obsession which paradoxically but not unusually leaves less time to bead what I want to bead now).
This one worked pretty much as planned, more or less.

All I needed was one practise leaf (the attachment point was not quite right as it deformed the leaf too much), and now all I need is a few disciplined hours in which to make this into something necklace-length. I think it would be better than as a bracelet-length, although it might be pretty fabulous if I braided three strands.

This one, which I finished before starting on the leafy twig was also from a sketch. I didn't exactly consult the sketch while I was making it, so it's not precisely as originally envisioned, but that's just another possible variation.

The pile is still impressive (though I did have to toss a few pages which were either stupid ideas, all lists, or unworkable ideas, of which I have plenty too), so instead of panicking because the bead store wants classes for October through December really early and how on earth will I come up with eight new projects, I can just work through the pile.

I guess the system (such as it is) works after all.

Unfortunately it's not even slightly useful when it comes to actually preparing for classes (as in compiling illustrated instructions), but short of elves, I'm not sure what would be.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

And So It Starts Again

The need for classes for the last four months of the year.

I'm in the middle of seventeen or so projects, mostly with this end in sight.

I think I like this one, and the chain is working well so far. I'm tempted to add another layer behind the second. With beadwork, more is so often better.
What's not so readily apparent from the picture is that both layers ruffle somewhat. If I made them bigger, they'd ruffle some more, but in real life they're already quite lively.

My initial thought with these was Pandora- or Troll-style beads, the kind you slide on one of those fat silver chains, but the bead grew, and while it'll still happily slide onto a fat chain, the hole is actually quite a bit bigger than I'd originally envisioned (it'll slide over a herringbone rope), as is the bead. Pendant. Donut. Whatever.
The next picture shows a single repeat of a chain which I started before Puget Sound. It grew in part from a kit I wanted to develop to take with me, only to find that the main colour seed beads I'd ordered was just the wrong shade, although it still went well with the other colours. And the actual project didn't go quite as planned, so I have a bag of ingredients destined for greatness, only not today.
I actually played around with this shape a few years ago, using only a single colour, and wasn't quite satisfied, but I think it's fun with stripes, and with a bit of colour patterning, could be even more so. I'm pretty sure it'll work to make a graduated chain of these little boxy things.

This next is purely for me.

This is a bead I bought at Puget Sound, and I don't exactly know where I'm going with it, but I don't care. I just wish I had more time to play.

As always.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back To Life

My trip home was happily uneventful. The most excitingly unexpected thing was getting in fifteen minutes early.

Whenever I travel, my first priority in terms of packing is knitting projects.
Yeah, I'm glad I brought three.

When I took this photo in my hotel room yesterday morning, I felt a little foolish, but as it turns out, I was not misdirected at all; my instincts were spot-on.

On my flight home, I determined that the project top left (a bolero-to-be) was ill-fated due to yarn insufficiency, and so there was little point in continuing. Two projects left.

As an aside, if there's not enough yarn for a cropped, short-sleeved bolero, I'm not sure that there's enough yarn for anything I'd care to make (not suitable for socks or gloves, not enough for a sweater, not going to make unmentionables), and as it's completely dissimilar to any other yarn in my stash, any project in which yarns are combined will needs be on the creative side.

Since I neglected to bring a tape measure in my carry-on (my knitting kit in a little tin also contains scissors which I thought should fly in the hold instead of with me), I was unable to check fit, size or gauge on the grey/pink project, so I stopped in order to prevent massive rippage due to a garment better fitted to a giant than I. Not big enough yet is more happily remedied.

Which left the third project, socks composed of hexagons, of which one is complete. Hexagon, not sock.

Booyah! I brought exactly as many knitting projects as I needed, and in fact one could argue that I was cutting things dangerously close.

Before the market closed, I went back to Scott and bought this huge bead because let me tell you, size does matter.
I have no idea how I'll use this bead, but I will, because it's gorgeous.

And big.

And because I always neglect to buy these capped resin beads, which I know are all over the place and probably nothing special, but I really like them, so I finally gave in.

There were seed beads too, and the odd Czech beads. Brass toggle clasps, Sterling s-hooks, other useful findings. I didn't find the pearls I wanted, but there's always the Inter Webs.

This was a fabulous show. I have no complaints at all.

I have taught at bigger shows where the students are ill-prepared for the classes in terms of requisite and specified skill level, and then are grumpy when they find the project too difficult. This was nothing like that.

As always, each class presented with a range of experience and skill levels. One of my classes, listed as intermediate level, because I really wanted students to have at least one of peyote stitch or herringbone, contained at least one student who had never done any off-loom bead-weaving IN HER LIFE EVER AT ALL. And it was not a tiny class, which meant that I couldn't realistically spend half the time sitting next to her, and helping her.

I was a little concerned.

She was incredibly good-natured about the mismatch, and actually, much to my delight, walked out with a partial project, and the ability to complete it (I believe). It always helps when you have little chants, like "two on top of two, one everywhere else", or "thread exits a red and goes into a red" to help people remember where they are, and what they're doing, and how to continue.

Email can be misleading, because not everyone writes the way they speak, and I was very pleasantly surprised by so many people when I met them in person. People were universally more interesting, friendlier, and altogether more fun than some of the email exchanges might have indicated. I shouldn't be so judgey.

It was a fabulous teaching experience, and the organisers are wonderful.

Once again, I realise that it's not a huge show, so it's actually possible for them to meet every teacher in person, but still. I was humbled by the fact that even as I was surrounded by stars of beading, the good people from The Bead Factory thanked me for being there. I'm not famous, I'm not iconic; I may be a star in my own mind, but realistically, I know I'm not even a minor candle in the constellation of beading stars.

It was quite wonderful to feel appreciated.

I hope they let me come back.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Playing in Tacoma

The advantage of teaching a class at 7 in the evening is that it leaves the day free for playing.

The play that was not shopping (see later) involved the Museum of Glass which started really well with the Bridge of Glass.
These people happened to be in the picture. I actually didn't notice until I uploaded to my computer, as the sun was so bright that I could barely see the viewfinder, or whatever you call the LED display on new-fangled digital cameras.

Looking skywards in the covered portion of the bridge reveals a profusion of Chihuly.
Yes, breathtaking.

At the bottom of the staircase, you see waterfront. Coming from land-locked St Louis, this was such a treat.
A lake of glass is to the left.
It's full of twisty and opened-up clear glass hat catches the light so wonderfully.
The museum itself, sad to say, I found underwhelming. It consisted of the works of a single artist, whose aesthetic was wildly antithetical to my own. I was out in ten minutes or so.

Walking quickly along the waterfront to release my annoyance at wasting money that could better have been spent on beads, I happened across a seafood place (for people who're going to cook it, as opposed to sit down and eat in the spot) that had a couple of seafood salads available for purchase by weight.

The bend in front of this colourful thingie seemed a perfectly appropriate place to sit and eat my lunch.
I was so miffed at the Museum of Glass that I bypassed the art museum; possibly a mistake, but perhaps I'll come back again.

I ask you: could you resist polyclay beads that looked like this?
I could not.

My new favourite glass artist is Scott Parrish.
His colours speak to me in dulcet tones: lots of reactive colours and shards and big and yummy and oh yes, eletroforming.

So I had to make earrings.
Which I liked so much that I went and bought more of his bead pairs and made a couple more pairs of earrings, though by this time I'd run out of ear wires.
Not to worry, there are more at home.

The class last night was plenty of fun; I had a last-minute sign-up from a former student from Bead Fest Portland last year. He's such a delight, everyone's favourite. As Anne said "I loves me some George!"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Not Kansas

Tacoma is having a heat wave! It's almost as hot as St Louis was when we were having that gorgeous weather.
I'm on the 20th floor of the hotel.
The lamp on the night stand has a low-wattage bulb in the lavender-coloured base, so it glows. Not really much practical use, though I suppose it would be good romance lighting.
Last night's teacher meet 'n' greet went pretty well - I sold out of almost all extra pearl ruffle kits except the peach above.

I've met some fascinating people, among others, an evolutionary biologist who likes to bead viruses.

Today I will visit the Museum of Glass (what a great idea is that?) and teach a class in the evening. Pretty perfect.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Little Corner Of

This is more or less (less, actually; there's more, much more on my work surface) what it looks like when I'm preparing for a show.
On the lower left is a box of instructions for kits I will have for sale, plus cover sheets. The picture on the front page is obscured by my hand-written scrawl listing the box contents.

To its right is my enrollment list, sent to me yesterday, and I guess it's as up-to-date as it's going to be. Each name has annotations saying whether or not they've paid for class supplies (the majority have), and whether or not they've expressed colour preferences (most have). A few people don't have email addresses, so I haven't been in touch at all.

Top right is a box of baggies. I've just run out of 1x1" baggies, which are surprisingly useful, and can be fiendishly difficult to open because they're so small, so I suppose it's all for the best, though I like them. There's something pleasing about appropriately-sized containers. I still have tons (well, many hundreds) of 1.5x1.5", 2x2", 3x3" (which I should stop buying as I don't use all that many) and 4x4" baggies.

In the back left corner (in front of the bookshelf of children's books too precious to discard) are the actual kits, beads in tiny baggies inside 4x4" baggies with needle, thread, and findings, in larger baggies (one per design) with hand-written notes describing the colour composition of the contents. So it might say "Fireworks, 3 green/bown, 3 gold/blue", or "Pearl Ruffle, 14 with names, 4 extras (one of each colour)". The baggies are split between two boxes, one for classes I'm teaching, and one for kits I'll have available for sale. The teaching materials all go into my carry-on in case of a luggage destination malfunction so that I can teach no matter what, while everything else goes into the suitcase.

Even split up like that, both are really weighty.

I love my carry-on wheelie, because it's big enough for a box of instructions, a small box crammed full with kit supplies, and my knitting and a book and my laptop. And also because it has four wheels, so you can push it without having to tilt it. The only time I really feel the weight is on the plane when it's going into or out of the overhead.

I think I need to work on looking more frail or useless or something, so that I can get some help with the overhead bin insertion and removal. Apparently I never look as though I'm struggling and appear perfectly capable of lifting one thousand pounds of glass and paper into the overhead bins. In truth, I suppose I am (it's not as though I've ever tried to lift it and failed by dropping it on the head of the person sitting beneath. That would be bad. I imagine it could break a neck), but it's quite an effort (as in at the limits of my strength), and I have a bad back.

This is Fireworks, gold/blue (sample).
It's not in the class supplies box.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Even though I've been very busy getting ready for Puget Sound (eek! Less than a week away!), ensuring that class kits are all packed, that I have extra needles (because they get lost and bent and broken if you even look funny at them), packing new kits, new colourways for old kits, planning what I'll do in my free time (besides shop. I need to be restrained), I can't do any of that at my day job.

What I have been able to do, as the weather has been so gorgeous, is to grab my car-knitting socks (for long traffic lights and boredom emergencies and waiting in line at the Post Office, not for while I'm driving. Jeez) and sit on the grass near one of the man-made lakes that the Canada geese favour, and knit at lunch-time.
Socks will get done a lot quicker than traffic lights only.

This was something of an experiment, which is conceptually a success, though the implementation, while not technically a failure (the socks are wearable, after all), could certainly be improved upon.

They are cuff-down socks in which the stitches are divided into four equal groups, each separated by a little cable, and the heel shaping (it's not a flap) is achieved by increasing on either side of the centre back cable until the stitch count is up by 50% (pretty standard), and then turning the heel in the usual way (short-rowing and decreasing to eat up heel stitches). Because there was no flap as such, the extra stitches were decreased away by continuing to short-row until the instep and sole each had half of the original number of stitches.

On the first sock I continued the side cables at the border between sole and instep; by the second sock I was tired of twisted stitches so I didn't.

On the first sock I worked the heel stitches by knitting through the back loop to twist them and make the fabric a little sturdier, whereas on the second sock I worked the standard heel stitch, which in retrospect was a bad choice, due to lengthwise draw-in which distorted the overall shape slightly. If one couldn't conceive of socks without a slip-stitch heel, some short-rows to equalise the discrepancy between instep and heel row gauges would be in order.

I also turned the heel a little sharply on both socks (even though I thought I was making the second heel rounder) which made the heels slightly pointy.

On the sole of the second sock I knitted every other row through the back loop of the stitches, which is really pretty in this yarn, and makes for more of an arch-hugging fit, though I'm not really in much of a position to address that, as I don't exactly have high arches. But still.

To shape the toes, I decreased on either side of the four-stitch cables (or non-cables in the case of the second sock) until there were about an inch of stitches between each cable, and then worked the cable across the toe, eating up those last stitches, and grafting only four stitches. A cable would have been a good choice for both socks, as the texture adds a certain amount of reinforcement.

I might repeat the general idea sometime, but first, I need to make socks out of hexagons.