Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aquatic Adventure

The Great Barrier Reef - or at least the Outer Islands.

We did a short trip, fourteen people in a speedboat about eight nautical miles out, and snorkeled for a little under an hour.

At the risk of sounding too pyramids and crystals, there's something about being on the water that seems so primal and somehow right. Life came from the sea, it continues to bloom and burst with its myriad life-forms, and what can I say? The smell and moisture of the sea air make me feel whole.

It struck me, while being jounced and bounced on the speedboat, that living in the centre of a continent is a little unnatural, slightly contrived. I'm not sure why it feels this way to me: that being able to eat the bounty of the ocean is easier and more natural than the landlocked need to farm to produce sustenance - after all, the ocean isn't exactly a top-notch source of say wheat or oranges or spinach. Perhaps because I grew up on the coast, had so many formative experiences in the context of being on the coast, everything else seems a poor substitute (she says, little more than a week before ending the holiday to go back to the land-locked freeze).


The Reef.


Not as many fish as I saw in the Caribbean a few years back, but oh, the corals.

We did see a turtle, some of the party saw a couple of small sharks, and I spotted those tiny fish, fluorescent cobalt on top, acid yellow underneath that I remember from the Cape Town Aquarium of my early childhood. A couple of parrot-fish, schools of iridescent turquoise fish, black fish, angel fish and hordes of tiny darting fish.

Corals the shape of shelf fungus, brown edged in lime green, waving plains of wheat-coloured fronds, lavender-tipped spiky corals, clams with curvy lips of black speckled with bright green and royal blue, fields of coral in mauve, yellow and golden brown, brain coral, huge dinner-platters of green and gold, white corals - the surreality of this alien landscape transported us.

Even my mom, who goes in the water only when grandchildren need attention, snorkeled. My dad would have loved it - and then bought all sorts of underwater cameras, as I'm pretty sure the beauty of the corals would have been a strong contender for his photography affection: flowers. My mother has a ridiculousness of flower photos that just had to be taken, but that don't mean much to any of us remaining.

Even my daughter who is quick to proclaim that she really doesn't care for the water, gave in and joined us and wondered and marvelled.

It's seductive in the extreme.


The weather is stinking hot and humid here, but these little guys don't seem too bothered by it.
The house has a lovely pool (salt-water of course), so we can at least cool off. The house is air-conditioned, but my brother (the one who lives in Sydney) and his wife don't seem to get that opening the doors and windows isn't terribly useful when the outside temperature is way higher than the setting on the thermostat, and when the dehumidifier is already working beyond capacity (it drips from the vents so we have a huge puddle next to the dining room table).

My sister-in-law gave me this lovely necklace in its own matching felt bag. I have no interest in doing bead embroidery myself, much as I love the look, so it's a charming, thoughtful gift. I may swap out the ribbons for some chain though - adjustable is nice, but chain sits better.
After seeing Isis on Skype, the two little girls insisted that she buy me cat earrings from them.
It's not the sort of thing I usually go for, but I love that they were so thoughtful, the colours are fun, and it really is like Isis' Halloween cat stance, which always cracks us up.

After redoing the sleeves completely, making them a bit wider so as not to restrict blood flow to his hands, Julien's sweater is finished for the third time once and for all. He's a sweet kid, very taken with the idea of his sweater being made for him right in front of his eyes.

Even though his brother is less interested, I suppose I should ensure that his sweater also fits.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I don't do this very often, but every now and again I come across something that's just so perfect that I have to spread the joy.

I was skeptical about Bucky Balls, almost embarrassed to be giving a toy to a grown man, but man, this was the Best Present EVER! I rock. (Actually, John rocks for the suggestion).

My brother (for whom it was intended) loves it, as do his sons (11 and 8), my nieces (3 and 5), my son and my other brothers. And me. The sisters-in-law and my mother are less charmed, although Eva got more interested when Larry made bracelets and a choker.

The most hilarity was the faux body piercings, which apparently hurt after a while; the magnets are that strong. They faked earrings in various placements (lobe hurts more than higher on the ear), cheek, tongue and lip piercings (both Monroes as well as snake-bites). The faux septum piercing was less successful, as the BuckyBalls really wanted to travel upwards, making extraction a little panicky for a moment or two. Faux eyebrow and bridge piercings were entirely unsuccessful.

We're continually losing (and then finding again) single little balls, at which point nephews and nieces get very stern talkings-to, and everyone looks under things and examines metal things to which they are often stuck (last night it was the clothes drying rack).

When I get home I'm buying a case of these, as it seems there's almost no one who doesn't want them.


I finished Charlie's shrug in plenty of time to hand out with the rest of the presents (including Ruby's shrug which she is not wearing in the photo below; nor was the iPad one of the gifts in my suitcase) which were in the luggage which was finally recovered.
With the contradictory information and run-around, I'm shocked that they actually found ours; even moreso that this is not uncommon.

The afternoon of the day we arrived, and the next day, I was assured that the suitcases would arrive on the following day's flight (on some airline or another) into Sydney. On the second day they got very excited about a bag they'd found in San Francisco with some catalogue in the front pocket and someone else's name on the tags.

Not ours.

At about 10:30 that night, a man showed up with a van with a bag that was not ours. It was the bag with the catalogue in the front pocket, and the luggage tag with someone else's name.

The next morning we received a phone-call with the exciting news that the suitcases had arrived in Sydney and would arrive in Cairns at four o'clock, and be in Port Douglas by five or six. They weren't here by seven, so I called, only to be told that it would arrive on the last flight of the day (at around ten-thirty), and would be delivered the following morning, so we decided that more clothes shopping was in order, but the shops were all closed.

So much for that.

The suitcases arrived about an hour later.

Remember yesterday's photos of the path to the beach? Late night night we thought it might be fun to take a walk along the beach, so we set off: one of my brothers, my two sisters-in-law, my mother, my twenty-year-old daughter and my eighteen-year-old son, and me.

It was a fascinating study of different reactions to adversity.

The path has no lights.

The beach has no lights, except way off to the left, where the safe swimming zone (with nets to keep out jelly-fish) is lit. The path has no lights either, and once you step onto the beach, the path is invisible unless you're right there and shine a light directly at the break in the trees.

So off we set, along the pitch-black path, onto a beach illuminated by neither moon nor stars.

We walked towards the net, wetting our toes only in the safe zone, none ready to play Russian Roulette with the possibility of deadly poisonous jelly-fish, where a discussion ensued: to cut straight across to the road and take a circuitous route home, or back-track along the beach to the path we took to get here.

As my father used to say, bullshit baffles brains, so we started back along the beach.

Monique had counted her steps to the nets, but got involved in a conversation with Eva at around Step 675 on the way back, so was of minimal use. Larry insisted he could find it again, but couldn't (two or three times).

My mother planned seventy-five fail-safe ways of getting back not via the path, and was anxious that we were following none of them. My kids fretted and frowned at the stupidity of it all, the waste of time, and the rest of us laughed and laughed because we're on vacation and we knew where we were (more or less) and we knew a way to get back (if not the fastest way), and what did it matter if the worst case scenario played out and we had to stay on the beach until sunrise to find our way off?

Then Larry hauled out his GPS, started up the flashlight app on his phone, and we were home quite quickly.

In the morning we went to Mossman Gorge, a river in the Daintree National Park with rock pools and little rapids with fabulous swimming.

It was stinking hot, and we weren't the only people, but it wasn't wall-to-wall bodies, always a plus.
The water was refreshingly cold but not freezing, sweet and fresh. The current was strong in places, so when you jumped off the rocks into the white froth (scary but fun), you'd be carried thirty feet before having a hope of reaching one of the banks, unless you got caught in the swirl that reversed direction.

In the US, there would either be "Danger!!! No Swimming!!!" signs posted everywhere, or else both banks would have been built up with hand-rails and steps leading into the river, life-guards posted and too-dangerous areas fenced off. You'd have to pay admission and there would be changing rooms and concession stands.

Here there's just a river in a rainforest.

We ate in Daintree and I wish I hadn't messed up this photo of the burger menu, as it shows items unlikely to be found at a small-town (population: 78) restaurant in many places: Road Kill Burger (today was unfortunately only chicken, how dull), Burra[mundi] Burger and Crocodile Burger. (I had the crocodile. Yummy).
By this time the little kids were tired and went home with a couple of the adults; the rest of us took a drive to Cape Tribulation Beach.
We stopped to take pictures at a lookout point (I think it was before the ferry). It took about an hour to get to Cape Tribulation.

The path to the beach had trees with strangler figs.
Also spiralling vines spanning the underside of the canopy.
One end of the beach had mangroves.
Unfortunately this beach had no nets, so there was no dipping of toes.

There was lots of driving through gorgeously lush countryside, which gave me plenty of knitting time; in spite of having finished Julien's sweater before leaving Chicago, the sleeves needed redoing, as they were cutting off circulation to his hands, even as he insisted he liked them that way, though could I please make the neck a a bit bigger as he was having trouble getting it off?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Getting Better All The Time

We're staying in a gorgeous house just minutes from the beach.
You can tell we're in the tropics.
The bird and insect noises are just different, and the vegetation is unfamiliar.
The beach is gorgeous, but unfortunately there's no swimming at this time of year, due to the box and irukandji jellyfish whose stings don't merely hurt, but will kill you. Badly and surely.
The sand is smooth, and scattered with a charming tracery of aboriginal-style sand paintings.
These pointillist delights are made by little crabs, who you can see plopping into their holes as you approach, but if you sneak up on them, they'll freeze and play dead.
The heat and humidity encourage the growth of mushrooms in all colours and shapes, like this bright orange cluster.
Best off all, the airlines called to say our luggage is in Sydney, will be in Cairns on the four o'clock flight, and will be in Port Douglas an hour or so later.

Better, However...

I'm in the metaphorical bosom of my family, but I have no luggage.

Almost all of the presents were in the suitcases, all toiletries, favourite clothes, underwear, knitting projects.

We went shopping today, which would have been more fun if it weren't out of desperation and necessity. US currency is awfully weak, and Australia is very expensive (and always has been, even when the exchange rate has been favourable), so United's $50 daily clothing allowance really doesn't go all that far, unfortunately.

On the plus side, I finished my nephew's sweater on the long layover.
Minus side? My tape measure informs me that both nephews are larger than the size charts I found had indicated, mostly in the sleeve length, which is fixable only for the sweater whose yarn is not in my lost suitcase...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I subscribe to A.Word.A.Day and much as I enjoy the words (today's word is nyctophobia: an abnormal fear of night or darkness), I always look forward to the closing A THOUGHT FOR TODAY, today's being particularly apt:

It ought to be plain
how little you gain
by getting excited
and vexed.
You'll always be late
for the previous train,
and always in time
for the next.
-Piet Hein,
poet and scientist

All Wrong

I wasn't supposed to be in an airport hotel room looking over the snowy wasteland that is Chicago; right now I was supposed to be trying to sleep in an airplane seat over the Pacific.

Let me just say that United Airlines sucks the big one, and their agents are unhelpful morons and their policies on just what they do for stranded passengers is pathetic. No, I don't think that's putting it too strongly.

When the first leg of our flight was delayed by forty-five minutes, giving us twenty minutes to make a connection from a gate at the far end of the F concourse to a gate at the far end of the B concourse at O'Hare, and they did not rebook us on the flight now leaving before ours two gates away, that should have been a clue.

When they cheerfully informed us that no, they would not hold a flight for ten minutes for three travellers who would then miss their international flight, forcing United to pay for hotel rooms and food and the worst PR I can whip up, that should have been a clue too.

Naturally our delayed flight was even later than advertised, and naturally we missed our connection to San Francisco and thus our flight to Sydney.

Let me just say that we weren't the only people in the airport who missed flights and were inconvenienced, so I'm not claiming our circumstances were all that special, but I still think our treatment was shoddy, as was that of everyone to whom I spoke.

The line at the Customer Service Center was very long and extraordinarily slow.

Joanne was as helpful as her rudimentary English skills and United's crappy policy on stranded passengers would allow. Yes, I'm implying that we were not entirely satisfied.

She did at least rebook us to Australia.

The next day. On United instead of Qantas, which we'd chosen over United in the first place because United blows.

In all fairness, she did get us (middle section) emergency row seating, but it's still United instead of Qantas.

As Archie Bunker would have said, whoop-ti-do.

We received free hotel rooms (with $12.95 wireless. You try changing international travel plans at the last minute without an internet connection) and $15 meal vouchers, but $15 buys you dinner only and we're leaving at 2:34 in the afternoon and will most likely be wanting breakfast and lunch since the next meal we can otherwise expect will be a sad, late dinner outbound from Los Angeles in our (middle section) emergency row seats.

Then there's the matter of luggage and toiletries and changes of clothes.

Standing in line at the Customer Service Center (and let me say here that the notion of "Service" in this instance is only very loosely applied) we kept on hearing largely incomprehensible airport-wide announcements regarding what would not be available to travellers who had missed their flights.

Baggage clam service.

That means: no toiletries (and yes, I do require more than the hotel-provided soap, shampoo, conditioner and generally-useless lotion), no change of clothes, no change of underwear.

No clothing or toiletries or incidentals vouchers from United, naturally. Remember, we're not getting breakfast or lunch either, so it shouldn't be a surprise.

I really don't like starting my day knowing that I'm wearing yesterday's underwear and no deodorant or makeup or hair stuff. So sue me: yes, I am that vain. I've been around for long enough that I'm entitled.

So those are all annoyances, inconveniences, relatively minor costs that we'll incur. The big one?

Missing our non-refundable flights from Sydney to Cairns two hours after we were supposed to arrive.

My brother Anthony is awesome. When I woke up this morning I had an email with our new e-tickets.

On the upside?

More knitting time, which means finishing Julien's sweater,
and standing a chance of making really good progress on Charlie's shrug.
Not to mention still getting to Australia, still getting to spend two of those days with all my brothers, their wives and kids and my mom.

But it wasn't supposed to start like this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Triage Help Needed

It's never the case that I don't want to go on vacation (if I didn't have a job but did have an income, I'd always be somewhere else), it's just that any vacation, no matter how well planned, nor how far in advance, is somehow always in the middle of a gazillion things that need to get done first.

Class proposals are due.
I got stuck with this thing. I need thinner thread, thinner needles (but not bendier) and bigger bead holes because the thread is stuck there, and if it tries to go anywhere, beads will break.

I think this won't be among the proposed classes.

For some reason, it was vitally important not only that I list in my Etsy shop the instructions for the class I taught last Tuesday, but also a kit.
Not done yet, but I did list this necklace.

Apart from practising packing, there's been frenzied movement on the knitted items for the nieces and nephews.

Some things are finished.
Some things are in the frantic stage.
And some things are still balls of yarn (for my niece's shrug; not pictured).

The big thing about travel of course is What To Knit.

Clearly I'll be knitting my niece's shrug on the way there (the blue sweater WILL have sleeves), I'll be knitting a gift for my cat-sitter while I'm there, but it has to be finished before I set off for home, because there's no ways I'll be able to smuggle metal sock needles on the plane, and wooden or bamboo size oughts will just splinter in my death grip. Or bend a lot. Too much.

What I need is something that can be knitted in small pieces using wooden (or bamboo or plastic) double-points because they're not a lot different from pens in size and shape on the X-ray machine, but the yarns that I wanted to use for the thing that I want to knit wasn't the right number of colours (more than one), so I had to do some dyeing in enough time for it to dry properly so that I can wind centre pull balls here at home where where I have my fibre technology toys.

I wasn't quite sure how I made the original sample for one of the classes I'm planning on teaching in the coming months, so I had to make a couple (before leaving on vacation, you understand), just to be sure I could write instructions for it.
These beaded beads make pretty decent earrings.

My first try (I wasn't paying the right kind of attention) was pretty but not the same thing at all.

However I thought it looked lovely with this chain, so it's in my Etsy shop.

Am I nuts? I listed more things this weekend than in any other two-day period that I can remember, perhaps apart from when I listed left-over kits after Puget Sound.

I still haven't packed the kumihimo project (just in case I can't knit on the flight. It could happen), and spent a good half an hour trying to figure out just where I could have put my bobbins (I have only one set).

My Bathroom Saga of Leak is over, finally, so I won't be wondering if I'll be coming home to a flooded basement, though I guess that could still happen anyway. There's always Weather.

My Nook is loaded (I have over sixty books, which should be enough, even if half of them are awful, which is unlikely since all are by authors that I like. I also have a couple of documents describing what I plan to knit, and how, should I become so overwhelmed by being in the bosom of my family that all thoughts of knitting flee my conscious mind. It could happen. Never has, but anything's possible).

I still have to take care of bills. That's always so much fun. Every time I travel I'm convinced that there was something Very Important that completely slipped my mind, but this time I'm sure I'll forget to pay my mortgage or something, and then we'll come back to a house that belongs to the bank.

Online bill-pay. Peace of mind.

I think I should buy new underwear, just in case no one has a working washing machine and I feel too delicate or mellow to bother with hand-washing. Lunch-hour is best for such onerous errands because after work everyone else thinks that shopping is a good idea, which makes it of course less of a good idea unless you like crowds and no parking within walking distance which I don't, but there are team Holiday Lunches and the like, so errand-based available lunch-hours are at a premium.

I did find the time to get a massage though, Apparently I'm occasionally capable of prioritizing. Still need to get on those blue sleeves though.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New One

Included among my piles and piles of sketches of things I fully intend to make are a few convertible mix 'n' match type sets. There's something I find so appealing about the notion of a basic something that can have bits and pieces attached or removed for a wardrobe of different looks.

In fact one of the first kits I sold was a convertable necklace kit to which you could attach one of three pendants. I still like the concept though now I confess I wish it were a bit bolder and/or fancier.

My ideal beading project is the sort that I can't possibly stop until it's finished. This means that there's enough vanilla beading to keep me happy (stretches of peyote or herringbone or netting), enough spicy beading to keep me on my toes (some sort of funky shaping or join or as-you-go-embellishment), and a next step that I desperately want to get to. The next step may be another piece or a change in shaping or even the end, but it needs to motivate me.

I confess to getting a little tired of lots of identical beaded beads, because even though each individually may have what it takes to please and delight me, endless repetition probably does not.

Another motivation is to make another separate possibly different piece (that is in itself fun to make) that has to somehow connect but not BE connected or sewn together. So something that slots into somewhere, that sort of thing.

I really also love the idea of a bunch of connectable components that can be joined, preferably in multiple configurations, but much of what I've either seen or come up with myself has been dull-dull-dull stitching.

After making what seemed like a fairly significant quantity of rather simple right angle weave beaded beads for my nieces, and not having an awful time while doing so, it occurred to me that this might be a reasonable project component.
As you can see below, there are two different hangers or cores, neither of which is what I thought I would make (I was envisioning a loop, but that was just too much bulk), but which seems to work anyway. It's essentially a soft eye pin, I guess.

It works for my beaded large-hole beads, as well as commercial large-hole beads.

Version The Next might be a head pin instead of an eye pin.

Whenever I get to it.

Monday, December 13, 2010


So I started this long musing on the nature of People Who Do The Sorts Of Things I Do (like spinning and knitting and beading), and what it is about us that makes us do these things, and what it means to us to give gifts of these things, and the lengths to which we will go to get it right (I was winding a multi-strand ball of gazillion-over-two cashmere-silk yarn and fighting static and knots and back pain and arm pain) and then I had to take a break and then Isis sat on the keyboard and walked on it and stood for long enough on the On/Off button that it turned off, and even though I know that Blogger has that post saved somewhere, I've lost interest and besides, right now I don't have time, so I'll show you the culprit enjoying Hanukah leftovers.
Gift bag. We loves 'em.

I made a sample for the class that I optimistically scheduled for two days after flying home from Australia.
At least I won't have night-before prep, as the instructions are done too.

I'm still scrambling for one or two more classes for the February through May time period, but my bead count was off by one so I just made a little pendant with a beaded bead I found in a treasure trove so old I completely blanked on its existance.
I have two very young nieces who asked me to bring two things for them when I visit: my kitten, and some jewellery.

Sadly I can't bring the kitten (I don't think she'd enjoy the flight too much, if her car travel crying is any indication), but I can oblige the second request.
They're very little girls (as you might have guessed from their stated desire to pet Isis), and so there's a limit as to what's practical in terms of beaded jewellery. These silicone-ish necklaces are fabulous and bright and suitable for small fingers, and the beaded beads should be fairly sturdy. And there are lots. And they can take them off and put them on and rearrange them to their hearts' desires. I hope they like them.

SPOILER ALERT: Amy and Stefanie, don't look!
December earrings are marbles captured in netting with charlottes (but your colours are prettier).

While I've enjoyed the challenge of twelve pairs of earrings in my Earring Kit of the Month Club, I'm not confident of twelve new patterns for another full year, though I still have the three-month option in my Etsy shop. I had suggestions for an every-other-month pendant club, but I do pendants for local classes quite often, so that's again six more (in addition to classes) designs that I have to invent, and while it's possible, I don't at this time have a backlog of designs waiting for release, so perhaps I'll take a year off and do it again the following year. Or think about it at least.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Last Few Weeks

I don't do Christmas and Hanukah is over (thank you, I now have a Nook which is way more comfortable for reading in bed than large hard-cover books and even more than paperbacks, though you have to turn the page All. The. Time), but there is a big family vacation coming up and I always knit the nieces and nephews sweaters and I started late this time and they're all that much bigger than the last time I did this (three or four years ago. Huge difference between a new-born and three-and-a-half-year-old) and I may not be able to take time out for sleep on the flight to Australia so that I can get them done.

There's still always bead stuff in the interim. You'd think I'd be knitting every spare moment, eh?

Bead sampler class sample for the next set of local classes (February through May).
I made (and sold) a chain of the same design using long super-tapered mother-of-pearl beads, but as long as the beads are longer than they are fat, it works quite well, though these beads required something (size 6º seeds in this instance, 8ºs would have worked too) to cover up the vertices around the equator which were a bit ugly. Very ugly.

Yesterday I saw a picture on a blog (don't remember which; it was German possibly) of something labelled "Fleur de Lis" but which didn't look the way I'd expected it to, so I searched for images and tried to make something similar to the fairly standard motif, coming up with this first cut:

The side curlicues worked out quite well.

I'm not sure exactly what to do with it at this point though.

It's too floppy to be a pin.

Making it into a pendant or earrings or joining a few to make a chain will sort of lose the motif, I think.

Mark II will need a fatter middle thingie to balance the lower part (which is kind of non-standard), as it's too bottom-heavy for my taste, especially if I use baby daggers or more elaborate fringing, which I really really want to do!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Although I post mostly about beading, I think of myself primarily as a knitter.

Knitting progress is slow (relatively) and reporting on it goes something like this: "I'm almost at the armholes" so unless I'm excited about a shape or a colour or a milestone or I have a vaguely decent picture, I don't say much about my knitting, but I'm always doing it, and as a project nears completion, I get antsy if I don't have another lined up - not that I ever am without a project, as there are always socks on the needles.

In my opinion I'm spectacularly bad at photographing knitting and quarter-way decent at photographing beading, so that's what I blog about in terms of Things I'm Making. There's also more to say since beaded objects don't take even remotely as long to do as the knitted objects I tend to make (sweaters, skirts, coats).

I'm also more emotionally attached to my fibre dabbling, both spinning and knitting. I rarely knit for others unless it's some sort of occasion or special request or I have a pretty good idea that it will be well-received, and I never sell knitting, as the time I spend means it's too personal to part with for mere money, not to mention the fact that I won't accept less thanminimum wage for my time. And also sales possibilities would be very sparse given the full-time day job.

There's a fair amount of overlap in terms of what excites me about both media, and my inspiration for both is pretty similar.

Often it's simply the raw materials that are irresistible and to a certain extent dictate the finished product. Cashmere yarn will never be a summer tank top, cotton fibre will never be a bulky singles yarn, and big beads will never be strung, except as separators between bits of seed beading or beaded beads. Cotton yarn could well be a winter sweater for work (they keep it way too hot in there), and seed beads could be almost anything: a beaded rope of sorts, something sculptural, or an overlay with bigger beads.

I'm fascinated with what other people are doing, both in the medium of interest as well as in related (and often unrelated) media. I've seen costume jewellery that begs to be recreated in seed beads, tailored clothing that would be awesome knitted, as well as the odd sleeve or clasp or neckline or chain that is a jumping-off point for something else entirely.

And then there are all the Wikipedia and other pages on platonic solids and molecules and geometric shapes and the like. Those work for both knitting as well as beading: I've been a huge fan of modular knitting for years (a decade or two at least). When I was working in molecular modelling (two jobs ago) I made very detailed sketches about how I'd bead either a chocolate (theobromine actually) or caffeine molecule pendant (they're quite similar), but I just didn't get around to it.

I've seen objects which I've wanted to make, but once I started them, they either turned into something else entirely or simply did not happen, as well as things that have told me exactly what I don't want from a sweater neckline or beaded collar or clasp or whatever.

I have piles and piles of paper with sketches and notes, and it's quite entertaining going through old piles, as I'll often find a design reworked a few times, sometimes days apart, sometimes what could be months or years apart - I don't know exactly as I don't date them. I'll often find a very old sketch for something that I've actually made recently and believed I had just thought of it, but it had apparently percolated for years until I was ready to do it, and I had no memory of working through it the first time.

Like Elizabeth Zimmerman (the only knitting or beading author that I actually READ) said, I unvented it. Or, as has been said before (and since), there's nothing new under the sun.

I've seen other people unvent something I've been doing for years (but they published it; I haven't pursued that avenue much). One of the current beading magazine covers has a piece using a technique I've been teaching (and selling kits and patterns) for at least five years, but it's not the same piece, and I don't think I'm so hyper-creative that no one else could come up with the same concept independently, as it's a variation on a technique that's a variation on a seed-beading stitch.

One of the earliest kits I made available was taught by someone at a major beading show; a friend was very angry to see what she thought of as my design having been appropriated by someone else, but hey, she submitted the proposal and I didn't, and besides, it was a technique more than a design in my opinion anyway, so after the initial surprise, I moved on.

Who did it first, after all? She may have been teaching it locally for even longer than I had. At this point, now that she's been teaching it nationally for years, I wouldn't bother to submit it to teach at a national show; however they do request it every few years at the local bead store at which I teach (yes, I started teaching it there before she taught it at the national show).

Like the piles of old sketches are the baggies of old beaded starts. (I don't have the equivalent for knitting. All my knitting starts are due to be finished eventually when I'm in the mood. If not, they'd be ripped out). Some turn out to be usable as is (completed beaded beads that can be strung on a head pin for earrings or pendants, medallions which require only a bail or necklace, that sort of thing), while some still have unsecured thread hanging from them and really need to go into the "What Was I Thinking" pile (or cut up). Others, although partial, still look like good ideas, though perhaps for another day.

In terms of the origins of those piles of sketches and notes and partially beaded thingies, I don't always remember. Some are outgrowths of common techniques I see every other day (a rope technique that I've made into a beaded bead; a component that I've extended to make into a chain). Sometimes I've seen a combination of types of beads (different seed bead sizes, different shapes, combinations of seeds and other beads) that have inspired a shape or a technique. Sometimes I've read a technical publication or web page that's given me the eureka I needed to stabilize or start on a design, and sometimes I've seen something so bad in its realization and so interesting in concept that I've had to get it right myself.

Sometimes there's an appealingly geeky concept that just demands to be beaded.
For this Sierpinski tetrahedron, I really should have used delica beads to get a cleaner representation, and I should have extended the corners a touch so that you can see the cros-woven tetrahedron in the centre, but this delighted me at the time, imperfect as it is. At some point I do intend to get it better, and perhaps teach it, but not now.

Of course, now that it's public (even with a readership of one a blog is a publishing medium; anything posted is no longer private) there's no reason for someone else to not start with this picture, make it better, write a book, sell the movie rights and make lots of money. I didn't invent Sierpinski tetrahedra after all.

Much of the time though, the techniques I see fall into the sea of my unconscious (especially when they're endemic), to float to the surface when needed.

If I want to make a three-dimensional geometric shape, I can use peyote with carefully spaced increases or decreases to make the entire piece as a single unit, or I can break the shape down into components and use one or a variety of techniques to make and join and stabilize the whole.

Sometimes the desired outcome informs the path inasmuch as there's really only one way that I can see. Sometime I have to try a number of methods to get what I want. I made a hollow self-supporting beaded bead based on herringbone stitch and right angle weave which was satisfactory only when I made each half separately and joined them in the middle.
Sometimes starting in the middle and working each half outwards is better, like with my Fauxbergé beads and pendants.
As to where these came from, I saw (one or two or five or a hundred. Some. Different) beaded beads using round and teardrop beads as the base to get a tapered shape. I have no idea what sizes they used or what techniques were used, or bead counts or bead types, but I liked the idea of the points at each end, so I went from there, and mine turned out actually rather different from any of the others I'd seen.

If it had been too similar to something else Out There, I'd still post pictures, but I wouldn't teach it and I wouldn't sell the pattern and kits, but I was confident that this one was mine. Of course, it's entirely possible that someone else has come up with (or will come up with) something very similar quite independently, not see mine, and start selling patterns for it. As I've experienced before, it happens.

A year or six months ago I made very simple beaded cubes in which the sides were large beads, and the overlay kind of rounded them out.
I made tons, in all shapes from very tiny, using only seed beads, to medium-ish like this one, to much larger. I'm pretty sure (just because they're so simple and obvious) that I'm not the only one to make something like these. I made them until I was done and then I moved on to something else.

A few years before these, I made some where the vertices (where three sides converge) were triads of larger beads with right angle weave units of seed beads forming the square faces. So instead of the lavender beads above, I used seed beads, I omitted the blue beads entirely, and used large beads where the fringe beads are. And various smaller seed beads and small faceted or fringe beads to fill in spaces and to embellish and stiffen.

Where did they come from? Dunno. Probably a combination of Wikipedia pages and simpler beaded shapes I'd made years before that, and pictures posted to beading forums and bead magazines and something that someone said somewhere.

I kinda like that.

I like that there are these communities of people making things and talking about them and being inspired by each other. I love it when former students or people who've bought patterns show me their own interpretations, especially when it's clear that they got the concept and ran with it. In contrast, I didn't so much love it when someone bought a kit and set up an online shop based only and entirely and completely on my design, although in fairness, she asked if it was ok and did stop it when I asked her to.

There's a huge canyon of grey between setting up a sweatshop with someone else's design and inventing your own and never telling anyone about it for fear it may be inspirational. I'm glad there's so much space between those two extremes.