Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I'm not usually about the quick projects that bring instant gratification, since I want more joy not less, and I suppose that technically a necklace I started last night and finished minutes ago shouldn't really count as instantaneously done, but it feels like it.

Gorgeous, gorgeous bead from Polychrome Beads on Etsy, accented with jade beads, seed beads and copper.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Off The Wagon

There have been times, but I have been strong lately.

Back in the nineties you could get these amazing deals on wool yarns on eBay, and the place was awash with boutique fibre vendors, and I had the watch-list and disposable income of which I disposed.

When I'm retired and on a fixed income I will not have to spend a cent on yarn or spinning fibre; in fact I could stop right now, stop beading even and spend all my time knitting and spinning until I retire and I still wouldn't run out.

Then I stopped that.

Some years later I was given a virtual eBay gift certificate for lampwork beads and once again I fell hard. I used up the gift certificate and kept on going. I had my favourite lampwork artists, but was in no way restricted by my favourites.

If I gave up knitting and spinning and teaching and only beaded things incorporating lampwork beads and seed beads - well, I might eventually have to buy more, but not for a while. I stopped the breakneck rate of acquisition when I was laid off a few years ago, and occasionally succumb, but not often.

And then there were gifts but they didn't quite cover all the bases, so I did it myself.

And to prove that I don't just accumulate lampwork in order to increase my collection, I started something, a slightly embellished version of yesterday's red necklace. I rather like these little thingies. Components, for want of a better word.

They're not beaded beads because they're not bead-shaped, whatever that may be.

They're not beading findings because, well, they're not clasps or links or ear wires or anything like that.


Components, I suppose.

I'm debating bead placement.

The focal is more or less symmetric in terms of overall shape, but it definitely isn't in terms of colour placement and design, so perhaps it ought to be hung vertically, but it fits so nicely this way and really, I'm not usually hung up on symmetry so actually yes, I think I'll just leave it this way.

Thanks for helping me talk it out.

Monday, December 26, 2011

To Close

I just knew the weekend had some more beading time left in it.

To be sure, I should have gone to bed half an hour ago, but I have priorities!

Head Space

I'm looking at the final half day of a four-day weekend and even though I didn't (yet) sew my daughter's robe, I'm happy with the places my head took me.
I redid the first of the big square pendants which I think I'm calling Nellio, a bastardisation of the word "square" in Finnish. It's easy to say and it's kinda funny-sounding, which reminds me to not take what I do too seriously, as I do it because I enjoy it, because it's fun. I'm not Making Art or a political statement or bringing beauty to the world or anything like that; I'm merely pleasing myself by scratching an itch.

It's really that simple and that personal.

I was surfing and saw some brilliant chains beaded from right angle weave links, which inspired me to make these.
Yeah, not so inspiring, are they? Ugly even. Their lack of gorgeousness forced me to make these beaded beads (the link thing just didn't work out. There are other ways to join them into a necklace or bracelet):
which make a sweet pair of earrings:
or a sweet little pendant.

Dolce, n'est pas? (Sorry, I'm feeling all multilingual).

I don't care as much for the colour-way of the pendant; what I like about the earring colour-way is that the centre groups of four bright gold beads really pop, because all the other colours in each beaded bead are about as dark as each other and are closely related in terms of temperature.

I celebrated December 25th in the traditional way of my tribe: by eating Chinese food and seeing a movie (not a very good one unfortunately).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Not Unsuccessful

My daughter's hat turned out pretty well, I think.
Oddly enough, I'm completely satisfied with the blue and purple in the photo; however I used a burnt orange, not a screaming firey orange for the ball on the top (and how cute is that?)
And then of course because I just needed to, two more of the big square pendants (also because two were given away as gifts, the one below and one of the others from yesterday.

I think I might be done now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Born to Eat Bonbons

When I have a day off work it feels like my true vocation: to recline on a velvet chaise longue and have a cabana boy place the finest Belgian truffles in my mouth whenever I need them.

Not that days off are ever actually like that, but in my self-indulgent use (or misuse) of my time, that's what it's akin to. Sort of.

It's how I feel when noodling around with beads just because I'm inspired.

First came this, which I didn't finish (it's due for the scissors actually) because it's not quite right.
The next I like much better, especially because I found a use for the beads in the corners, the ones with glitter and windows. I like the corner pointiness of the pink one better though.

This one also has some extra embellishment that ended up on the back. It's not actually hurting anything, but it is a little silly.

So I had to make another.
Instead of the glitter window beads, I used cathedral beads, just to see if I could. They're a slightly large 8mm, and they needed extra stuff (seed beads around them) which had the added bonus of making the whole thing a bit firmer.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Slightly New

Only inasmuch as I haven't made this exact configuration in these exact colours before, but otherwise not so very new.

Given that I spent most of the evening knitting (a hat in many colours), it's not so bad.

PS I think the background is kinda awful, in case you were wondering. White looks like a disguise, black is too stark, I couldn't find grey and I'm just opposed to royal blue (all I could find besides neon green).

PPS Hat:
(Upside down. The blue/gold is the brim).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Apropos of Nothing

I didn't finish much; or more precisely, I didn't photograph much.
There was a pendant which is supposed to have matching earrings, but I'm not feeling all that compulsive so I may not bother, much as this opalescent glass thrills me. I have the stuff, that's the thing after all.

This was going to be a set like the aquamarine one from last week, only slightly shorter.

Sometimes when I'm teaching and intoning "Repeat Step 20 until you can count five pairs of A beads", I often want to interrupt myself because after all, five was just a number chosen randomly (I stitched until I thought of something else or got bored or found it pleasing to my eye), not for any specific design concept or principle of proportions or anything like that.

So I decided to make a shorter one of those and see how I liked it.

Well enough.

I made a mitten and darned in the ends and sewed on the buttons (it's a flip-top jobbie) - only one, because only one was lost and needed replacement, not that I'm generally much of a fan of rewarding carelessness on someone else's part with additional effort on mine (like the time the ex-boyfriend wiped snow off his car with his hands while wearing the handspun hand-dyed camel down cabled gloves I'd made him, disappearing two or three fingertips. Of the gloves. He didn't actually even last a full year beyond that), but offspring have special strings they can pull so that you don't even resent it, not really anyway, just enough to tell the world you don't, but not enough to be actually annoyed.

I started two other necklaces, samples for class proposals for a bead show I'm planning on applying for. One has a respectable amount of work done (trust me on this please, even though it's not immortalized and verified by the wonder of digital photography), but the other is awful. Hate the colour scheme I started with, hate the colour scheme I switched to, and also the one after that.

I put it underneath something opaque.

Discouraged, I had to indulge in something frothy.

An entire necklace which took me a little more than an episode of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", and by "a little more" I have no idea how many minutes (or hours even) that translates to, just that it's more.

Work has been a little frustrating these past few weeks. I'm glad there are only four days until the next weekend; three would be considerably better though the sleeping kitten on my lap makes the prospect a little less unappealing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Until the Next Time

This evening's class made a version of this:
I tried this variation once before with a very long narrow crystal pendant, which I thought was rather elegant, but I'm partial to the aquamarine too.

And then I slipped and fell into The Cute again.
I needed a shop sample for classes and I couldn't find all the others I'd made. I wanted to see if copper-plated charlottes would work instead of Japanese 15ºs.
Yup. And look: you can see the thread I didn't trim all that short but just left inside.

I finished my mitred cardigan, and am wearing it as we speak.

For odds and ends, it turned out really well.

The yarns were small amounts (only an ounce or two) that I'd bought, samples spun in classes at SOAR, generous SOAR goodie bag samples carded together and spun; that sort of thing. I chose blues and greens as well as multicoloured everythings, and overdyed a couple of Oh No You Di'nt skeins too.

In spite of a construction faux pas (I didn't account for the front overlap correctly), it fits well enough, doesn't slide backwards or off the shoulders (I see a plethora of patterns for sweaters in heavy yarns with necklines that are too wide that I know will require constant readjustment in the wearing. Not a success in my book!) and is soft and warm but not too warm for work where they really should save money and energy by lowering the temperature a few degrees, so I'm counting it as pretty successful.

Even though I was a little sick of it towards the end, it's unsuccessful enough that a somewhat different approach using similar techniques (garter stitch, mitres, multiple yarns) is appealing. I think I'll go purple next time, but first I have to finish a mitten (my daughter lost one; luckily I have tons of that yarn and I trust her remorse enough to knit it again) and a hat (she'll be in Geneva and needs to be stylish, warm and funky - you know the hat won't be ordinary!)

Onward ho, I guess.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never Just One

(Unless it's big and takes ages. Like this necklace which was in the queue forever because something else suddenly took precedence when I wasn't even close to finished and then it sat until I absolutely had to finish it so I could submit it with the rest of my classes for February through May).
I really like it though. The insides of the beaded beads are marbles.

On the other hand, I finally got what I wanted in these pendants with rivolis and daggers.
This one was right.
See? the rivoli sits up above the daggers, unlike the blue one where it's somewhat submerged and can't seem to lie straight.
Of course I had to make another one to iron out the details that were slightly off.
And then another to be sure that it wasn't just a fluke.
I guess there was just the single star though, because I realized that the necklace I had made somehow found its way into my Etsy shop which means it's probably not a great idea to have it also sitting in the case at the bead store and besides, the class will just be on making a star, though I'll also give examples of how to use it (other than as a pendant).

Apropos of nothing I've mentioned here before, except that it was weird and I feel like talking about it, I saw a movie last night and for the first time in my entire life, had to leave in the middle because I thought I was going to be sick.

(Turns out I wasn't).

There was nothing in the movie (Melancholia) to induce this; it wasn't even disgusting or violent or anything like that, though the cinematography was very distracting: extreme close-ups (often only half a face could fit on the screen) and jiggly and bright, but I'm not sure that's it either. Roller coasters (or more accurately, that one roller coaster that one time) only scare the bejeezus out of me, they don't make me ill. (They do make my cry though, hence only one that one time ever. It was very bad).

It wasn't even a very good movie. It was self-indulgent and overly long (the first half could have been cut out as it added absolutely nothing relevant) and the only potentially (but not actually) redeeming feature was that the Kirsten Dunst character did a single kind and unselfish thing (ensuring that her nephew wasn't afraid) seconds before the end of the movie. This was not enough uplift for me, not that I of necessity require happy endings. It just wasn't satisfying in any way, shape or form.

Perhaps I'm influenced by the fact that I felt rather ill through a full three-quarters of the screening time, but I think not.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Something About A Deadline

My class proposals for February through May are due on Tuesday when I teach, so this weekend I not only have to write up instructions for Barokia, but also need to fill in those last few classes that have been eluding me.

It's been an intense week at work, and as such, I've been too engaged to doodle, um come up with beading designs as my mind wanders. It happens from time to time, depending on how much I have to concentrate. When tasks are mundane or not challenging, ideas distract me and I come home with sketches of beading and knitting, but not this past week with its looming deadline which has come and gone (not my fault!)

Frankly, I was a little concerned about the class schedule.

I thought I might have to recycle one of the older ones, which actually isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So I came home and finished the knitting on my cardigan (there's still finishing. Weaving in of ends and sewing on of buttons) and took a beading break where this happened.
About two thirds of the way around I changed some of the bead counts and I didn't put the bail in a neatly symmetric place (I like to align it with the bead hole when I'm working with transparent or not entirely round beads), so I made another one.
For grins, I used different fringe beads on the other side.
It's a nice project for a two-hour class and uses those gorgeous Czech paddle beads which fill me simultaneously with lust, covetousness (both of which I give in to) and despair because I have had no idea how to use them.

Well, now I do!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Always Again

No sooner is a class over when another deadline is imminent.

I'm more or less decided on my class proposals for February through May at Lady Bug Beads, but I still need to complete samples for the case in the store, so I spent a little post-class time beading.

This is a mostly right angle weave chain with beaded bead accents filled with garden variety glass marbles. Since the beaded beads are solid glass, you probably don't want a full length of beaded beads as it might be a bit heavy, even though it doesn't look that way, but the rest of the chain repeats part of the motif for continuity.

There's a version of this that makes a pendant (beading around a marble) or a lariat end, and I think for the first time, instead of trying to cover both variations in one two-hour class, I'll simply offer a class for each version. That way, people who prefer small projects can do the lariat/pendant version, and those who enjoy bigger projects can do the chain version.

I hope it works out.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Little Things

For Stefanie, to send to her kitten-deprived daughter.
My daughter and my kitten.

For the class I'm teaching tomorrow, some samples to check the instructions.
Colours as usual, not quite right: the blues are actually more lavender, the brown beads more smokey grey-purple, the yellow beads more beige.

My pictures of knitting are really misleading!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Can't Get Up

There's apparently no stopping The Attack Of The Cute because I did it again.
I was thinking that I'd made only one pitcher (the prototype doesn't count because it's ugly) and two urns (although now that I think of it, urns can be handle-less too) and so it was time to balance the numbers of each.

So I did.

I couldn't help myself, and I'll tell you something else: this is not the last of them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Taken Over By Twee

OK, I admit it.
I've been subsumed by alien minds who like Cute and Whimsical.

All I want to do is make adorable little amphorae (quick, I need an Asterix fix) and pitchers.It's not my fault.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Might Be Broken

Not my bones or my skin or anything physically obvious, but somewhere deep inside.

I mean, I don't usually do whimsical, but then this happened.
It's not as if it was even an accident, because I have sketches to prove I was thinking about it and planning it, and anyway, it's not as though I stopped either.
I made another one. An improved nother one.
And in spite of myself, I like it.

I'm a little afraid, quite frankly. I might have regrettable taste. If I put it in my Etsy shop, what's to prevent me from being Regretsyed?

On the other hand, I still maintain a shred or two of sanity, I think.

I made earrings which I hope are not hideous or twee; at least not too much.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Very Boring


Raking them, or blowing them, or otherwise herding and taming them when they are no longer useful and green, but have reached the stage of their existence in which they're no better than garbage.

My lawn guy used to take care of this onerous time-suck of a task, but I fired him because he would mow anytime there wasn't snow on the ground (we don't get much snow here. Most of winter is snowless) but now I realize what a bargain I was getting in at least the disposal of all those dead leaves. I bought a blower because I'm such a delicate flower that rakes and brooms give me instant blisters (this fragility and eagerness to blister is related to my lack of skiing experience), and besides, my garage somehow went from the condition of having two rakes and one snow shovel to having no rakes and four or five snow shovels, which is ludicrous since we don't get all that much snow and anyway there's never more than one person here who is motivated to shovel it.

I lie. Once when I was car-pooling and my buddy's car has seriously pathetic tires, he helped shovel my driveway so that we could go to work but otherwise, seriously, there's not a lot of shovelling that happens.

So a blower seemed like a better, if more expensive choice than a rake.

I suppose shovelling is as boring as raking leaves, but it's a better workout and doesn't require such an investment of time; at least not here, where it's Grand Central for leaves, or so it seems. Turns out there's also a huge difference in terms of Getting It Done as to whether the leaves are bone-dry or not quite a week post-rain. On the plus side, if they're not dry and crumbly, mulching doesn't result in leaf dust in every orifice and on every surface of one's skin.

Still I was delighted when I'd done enough to call the job more or less complete, so that I could finish my sample for the instructions for Tuesday's class.
I made earrings too, just in case.
The seed beads are my absolute favourite colour of Czech seed beads: silk dark bronze. They're a velvety assortment of metallic patina colours: golds, browns, green, pinks and my only regret is that the Japanese manufacturers don't have anything comparable, because if they did, I'd be all over it.

This is one of the few seed beads that doesn't lie: it looks as good (and almost exactly the same) when sewn up as loose, or in a tube or a hank. I can't count the number of times I've splurged on ridiculously expensive seed beads (ahem, Toho hybrids), only to find them dull and utterly uninteresting (except for the apollo colours, which are quite nice) when used in a piece of bead-weaving.

While I don't share any of the often-popular disdain for Czech seed beads, they definitely are not suitable for every application. Like Japanese beads, they have their strengths and weaknesses, and netting as in this necklace is without a doubt a strength.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not Quite There Yet

I'm not as obsessed with beaded flowers as I once was, but it's not as though I'm completely over them or anything; it's just that I've realised that while I want to make them, I might not want to own them or wear them, but that's not enough to stop me with the needle and thread.
This red one was the first in a series, and oddly enough, it might be the best of the bunch in terms of shape and structure.
Sure, the blue one has teeny-tiny daggers and fire-polished beads.
And the green one has polka dots on the front daggers, but the rivoli isn't seated straight exactly and the tiniest seed beads may do what they're supposed to (firm things up and hold the daggers in place), but they're definitely not doing it with anything remotely resembling grace or style.

Fortunately it's a long weekend and I have time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


If one is going to cut up one's beadwork, it had better be peyote, because anything else is just too irksome, and there's a measure of satisfaction in sliding those beads off the ends of the thread.
Still, I prefer not to.

What you can't see at the left of the photo above is that there's an oval crystal cabochon held in place by the darker beads. Clearly this was not a useful design.

I bought a bunch of them as soon as the local bead store started carrying them, made one abortive pass at bezelling them, and then gave up in disgust when it didn't work terribly well.

The baggie with the crystal and the seed beads and my notes folded very tightly mocked me every time I opened the rivoli drawer. I'll get to it. One day.

Last week I thought that day was imminent, as I had an Idea, which turned out to be a Bad Idea, or at best, not a Very Good Idea. Hence the scissors.

Turns out that the Rather Bad Idea led to what turned out into something I'm happy to post, and not as a cautionary tale.
It doesn't have a working bail and yes, the drop is a bit pink, however it's a start in the right direction.
The colours are a little Bollywood, but it works, though the thread path was rather too convoluted.
Much better. Doable, which is to say explainable in instructions.
The back's pretty too.

We won't go into my other activity today, except to say that it involved leaves, a blower and a mulcher, and even though my back insists that it's all squared away because if not I may never walk again, there's a front yard and a pile of leaves in the back yard that vehemently disagree.

I always take counsel from my back. It's so the boss of me.