Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Affair Ends

After a week hiatus, I'm back with the Alexandra Chain, though the relationship is all spiced up, colourwise:
I think the last time I used this much bright, clear yellow - or in fact any primary - in a project was for a challenge in which we had to use all the beads in the kit, when I made this:
This time, voluntarily, I not only made the earrings above, but also a necklace.
And now I think I need some sludge therapy.

The yarn I spun today should help.
Not extraordinarily dull, but more in line with my colour comfort zone.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I know it really didn't take that long, but it seemed I spent the entire week wanting to work on this, and only managing bursts of a few minutes at a time, so progress seemed snail-like after my initial effort.

I absolutely loved making it, and it turned out perfectly (in my opinion) and right on target and yet ... I can't seem myself wearing it.

I adore the opal-like chartreuse leaves, the lovely organically-shaped amethyst rings (bead artist is Peri, a member of the St Louis Bead Society who always brings scads of beads to each meeting, and I get weak almost every time), the contrast of the sharply crystalline geometric shape of the beaded connectors, but I don't think I need to keep it for myself.

That almost never happens with knitting projects, and only rarely happens with beading projects that entrance me as much as this one has, and yet, there it is.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Fix Is In

I still can't figure out how I thought this ball of yarn was anything vaguely resembling attractive, and as such, could be made into anything I'd place on my body for public viewing.

The socks feel rather nice though, as the yarn is part bamboo (and superwash and nylon).
Fortunately I'm a big fan of the dyepot.

At first I thought I'd throw some purple over it, but it turned out that I had none left and didn't feel like mixing, so I threw in a glug of black which frightened me a bit, as it was, well, rather black and a bit cold-looking. I poured in some magenta to liven things up, but all that happened was that the dye liquor became utterly opaque.

Slightly anxious, I rummaged through the main handspun box and found a skein of scratchy not-very-well-dehaired cashmere yarn in ugly beige, which joined the socks. There still seemed to be an awful lot of dye.
The main handspun tub is quite large, yielding a skein of something containing angora and a couple of sparkles (those white spots are sparkles) in an insipid greyish lavender that's just this side of dirty white. In it went too.
The yarns turned out rather well, but didn't really suck up any of the black from the socks, which is what I was hoping for.

I think salt would have helped with the leveling, and also probably getting it a whole lot hotter: I put it in the crock-pot on medium because I needed to go to bed. If I'd been more engaged and hands-on, I'd have chosen high for as long as necessary, but when you're multitasking, something's gotta give.

I'm not entirely unhappy though; even though the photo doesn't quite capture it, the socks are a very nice, very deep, barely this side of green, charcoal. With a greener and a slightly more purple stripe. Absolutely more wearable than before.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Still Not Over

I thought we'd have broken up by now, but it's kinda getting serious.
Yesterday at the Bead Society meeting, Peri brought her beads (as usual) and I succumbed (as usual), bringing home a collection of odd, organically-shaped glass rings. I've been trying to move away from all monochromatic all the time, so since (a) the rings are a pretty flat, unifor colour and (b) I also happened to have picked up these acid green-yellow opal-finish daggers, it seemed that the two complimented each other very nicely with a little gold and bronze thrown in.

At first I'd thought I'd make some sort beaded bead, something rounder, connecting them to the glass rings with simple peyote or herringbone links, but what with the daggers, it seemed I had no choice, and I'm loving it.

Still a few more hours of work, and I haven't quite decided how to fasten it, but as I'm teaching Tuesday and still have a bit more prep to do tomorrow, I have time to figure it out.

Last year I all but finished a pair of socks and then I ran out of yarn about two or three inches short of the end of my toes, and so it sat.
I've been getting antsy about languishing knitting projects, past the point where I guiltily banish all thoughts of them even as I start another; I'm at the point where I Feel The Need to do something about it.

I really didn't want to buy a whole nother ball of yarn as I'm unlikely to use it again: pleasant though it is, it's heavier than my normal sock yarn, doesn't seem to be available in terribly exciting colours, and what on earth would I do with enough pink-coral yarn to make either one long sock, or a sock and a toe?

Fortunately, I had another yarn of a similar blend (bamboo mainly) in a variegated with some vaguely similar colours.

First I undid the finished toe and started knitting on the short sock until they were even.
Then I joined in the new yarn, increased enough stitches to maintain the size of the foot, and finished both toes.

Now I can start a new project ... well, just as soon as my emergency socks are done.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Affair Continues

(But I think it's run its course).

If you thought I'd made a pair of identical pendants, you'd be partly right.
I made a pair of identical reversible pendants.
And then I made a third almost-identical reversible pendant and joined it to the other two to get a reversible vee-shaped pendant.

Pretty nifty, even if I do say so myself, and if I wasn't eager to get on to something else (a new watchband because I lost my watch on Sunday night when I went to see 127 Hours with my son), I might have continued to make more of them for an entire necklace.
Damn. I'm just second-guessing myself, looking at the pictures above: I should have used those lovely fat twisted copper jump rings to join the components of the pendant; that way if I decide that really the affair isn't over, I can go back and make more pieces and turn it into a necklace but right now because I used right angle weave to join them, I have to be done with it.

I might have to do this again.

I really thought it was over.

In other news in which I'm pleased with myself, I finished a new pair of gloves.
After seventy gajillion attempts to do something interesting with the variegated yarn such that any effort over and above stocking stitch was worth it and didn't get lost, and failing, I fell back to my standard gloves, although this time I made the hand ever so slightly too long instead of too short as usual.

The yarn is a delightfully soft and squishy merino which may not be as warm as the alpaca gloves I've been wearing most of the winter, but they fit better, and I'm much more fond of the person who gave me the merino yarn than of the person who gave me the alpaca yarn although at the time I confess I was quite charmed. (Back then, he was a new boyfriend. Right now, I'm well rid of him).

I'm still not feeling compelled to start a new sweater; instead I'm getting creative with a pair of socks which was one and nine-tenths complete with no more yarn. After that I'm thinking I might finish my emergency car socks (the ones that are always in the car in case I'm desperate for something to knit, for example if traffic comes to a literal stand-still - extremely slow movement doesn't count due to the danger factor akin to texting and driving - HELLO! - or if there's a very long traffic light or I find myself in a waiting room or some other emergency I haven't yet thought of, but am well-prepared for) with which I'm both bored and annoyed due to the colour of the yarn which somehow didn't look as bad in the ball but I can now see in in serious need of a dyepot. I just need to put them out of their misery so that I can work on socks which are better.

OK, newer.

So sue me, I like new projects. And you don't? Really?

Uh huh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is It A Serious Affair?

Dunno, but we've been spending quite a bit of time together, and as you can see, not just for quickie earrings or pendants.

If this continues, the next one might have to be reversible.

Or a necklace.

Or a reversible necklace.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Than a Fling?

Yesterday I was just flirting, just fooling around, didn't think I'd fall for this in any meaningful way, and while I still plan to return to last week's obsession, I''m definitely being unfaithful.

I made a pendant with a rather awkward bail and an earring.
The earring needed a mate, naturally.
And then I wondered if it would work with five arms instead of four.
I think it does.

[Edited to add: It also works with these spade beads that I keep on buying but rarely manage to use successfully.
I also managed to think of a bail before completing the last few rounds; the big twisted jump ring works well for a purchased chain, but would be too small for most beaded chains, unless they have short narrow sections to accommodate.]

I've mentioned that when we went to Australia over New Year, my cat stayed with a friend from work, who posted a video of Isis playing with his cat, Oso who is velvety, like a Beanie Baby.

Nothing much happens after the first minute and a half, but if you enjoy watching cats play, it's somewhat cute.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Variation on an Obsession

I'll be hard-pressed to not keep this for myself, as it's in my favourite palette: sludge. Oilslick sludge. Iridescent sludge.
I used the same base units as I've been using all week, but chose two different rondelle sizes and arranged them to make something of a Vee shape in an arrowhead-like chain.

I have one or two more configurations to try, but I may not get to them, as I'm considering switching allegiance, though this may be more of a brief fling than actually investing in a new team jersey.
Daggers are problematic for me in that I like them and I buy them and then I wonder how best to use them so that they don't look lame, and all that happens is that they overflow my dagger drawer because they come in faster than they go out.

As you can see, I made a beaded bead using daggers as accents, and it's nice and all (this is not a great picture; it's more interesting in Real Life), but using it presents its own set of difficulties - even as earrings, at the bottom of a long head-pin, those daggers stick out a bit too much, but figuring out a suspension point that isn't completely clumsy (as above) may prove to be its undoing.

Or else they will just be funky earrings.

They can't really hang on a necklace - not that the daggers are sharp or anything, but they might be a bit poky.

In knitting news, apparently I can't commit to a big (sweater) project, so I've been deflecting by spending most of the past week being frustrated by gloves. A glove.

The first glove I ever made in my life was from more of an adjustable recipe than a pattern, and it turns out that I've never actually used a pattern for the many gloves I've made. A few years ago, Julia gave me some fabulous merino sock yarn that's not superwash, so I put it away thinking "gloves", and it finally ripened.

It's a very busy variegated, and I decided that vanilla gloves (ribbed cuff, stocking stitch everything else) just would not do, so I went glove-pattern-hunting. There's a dearth of flavoured glove patterns but a multitude of artfully-photographed (read: deceptively un-hand-congruent) fingerless glove and mitten patterns, which I thought would do.

They were too tight, too loose, too boring, too distorted, too busy, not busy enough, unsuitable for the yarn, unattractive, ill-fitting, and so I threw in the towel and am half a thumb short of the first vanilla glove.

I'm wondering exactly why I bother.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Obsession Ho!

As in "Onward ho!", not as in come-to-bed heels.

Still fooling around with the same base units in different configurations.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Week's Obsession

I finished my necklace and had to wear it as soon as possible (i.e. the next day) even though it didn't actually match my clothes.
I love love love the little components that make up the chain, so I had to make a pair of earrings.
Turned out that these crystals were a bit smaller than the purple crystals in my necklace, so I had to adjust some of the bead counts, which means that when I write instructions for this, I'll probably have to include tips for bead counts. I think that makes the instructions better, more useful.

During slow times in last night's class (when they were working towards "twenty pairs of stem beads" or "twelve peyote stitches and an increase") I worked on a matching pendant which I hope to finish today or tomorrow so that I can start on another differently-arranged necklace (or perhaps another different pendant).

The base component is essentially an equilateral triangle, and while its lack of flatness (it's most definitely not two-dimensional like a peyote triangle) is somewhat limiting, the shape nonetheless lends itself to a variety of configurations, some of which I've sketched and all of which I hope to work through before the next obsession strikes.

And it will.

Next class in two weeks: Deveti Pendant.
I made boatloads of these, mostly for sale, but the above is my own, which I find myself wearing very often. When I made it, I was in a huge hurry to wear it, so it's on a gold-tone chain which has gradually become very dark since my skin does weird things to jewellery finishes, but it would really be much better on something beaded.

One day when I have time and am flat out of obsessions, I suppose.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Someone Likes Me (My Earrings, Actually)

My emerald green earrings that I listed yesterday (see this morning's blog entry - yes, it never rains but it pours. What can I say, I'm feeling chatty) sold today.

Pretty exciting stuff, as I was rather captured by the basic design, so much so that I've been working on it (read: generating piles of wiggly thread) for much of this evening, so it's doubly pleasing that someone else, someone I've never met before and therefore doesn't have to be nice to me, likes it enough to buy the earrings.

The first version to survive the scissors is nice, but missing something.
When I added another layer, it got better.
You can see it better from the side:
This is not news, but it is a picture of the sweater I finished last week and which has itchy sleeves. For some surprising but unknown reason, the side panels do not itch. I'd honestly have thought that my waist was more sensitive than my arms, but there you go. Life being full of surprises and all.
It's snugger than I'm currently choosing to wear clothes on account of dissatisfaction with the current state of my geography (which looks to me more like landscape and less like scale models), but my Personal Fashion Maven (my daughter) says it fits well, so I'll grudgingly believe her and might even wear it in public.

That's Why They Call It A Challenge

I have my shop on Etsy, and am a member of what they call a Street Team (I don't know what that means. The "street" part. As if it were a brick-and-mortar store? Clearly all I can do is make wild and foolish guesses), the Etsy Beadweavers Team which holds monthly challenges. One of the membership requirements is participation in some small number of the monthly challenges per year, not at all onerous.

I enter a few challenges a year, but I don't gather all my friends and relatives and ask for their vote, and anyway there's really stiff competition, as there are some incredibly talented beaders on the team, so I never place, but I can live with that. (I'm competitive only when I think I have a chance at winning. This is one of the reasons I don't play games of any sort: not only am I a bad loser, but I'm a truly obnoxious winner. That, and I think they're pointless and a bit silly. I'd rather knit or spin). The winner chooses the theme of the next challenge and quite frankly that's not usually my route (to inspiration), so I don't mind missing out on the main duty of winning a challenge. Apart from missing out on all the adulation, prestige, fame and fortune of course.

Builds character, so they say (living with the crushing disappointment, that is).

The current challenge (deadline was yesterday; voting opens on the 9th) was something inspired by a royal figure (real or fictional), and while I'm not frothing at the mouth to abolish all royalty everywhere, and I do find the institution vaguely interesting, I'm not a huge fan and I don't look to any of them as role models or any other inspiration, except inasmuch as it would be nice to be born into wealth and privilege.

So due to the Eh Factor, my mind kept on flitting right past the notion of entering the current challenge, until I had a bit of time (slow at work) to consider what might be inspiring. I thought to look at ancient civilisations and archaeological treasures retrieved from same. Not Egyptian though: too hackneyed.

My search keywords were clearly not good enough, as nothing much came back (no pictures of well-preserved royal jewels that I might want to recreate in seed beads), so I started thinking about particular royal families and the collections of jewels that monarchs were often given by visiting foreign dignitaries until I landed up remembering my brother telling me that the one place to be sure I visited before I died (hopefully not an imminent event) was the Hermitage in St Petersburg. From there I went to the last Russian royal family in power, the Romanovs, Nicholas and Alexandra.

I couldn't find much in terms of useable and inspiring pictures, but I did find this (click on the picture for more information):
I don't love the bows, but I thought I could work with it. I started with emerald green and silver, and then very quickly, it ran away with me and became this:
I'm not unhappy. In fact, I'm so not unhappy that I made matching earrings, which also did not make me unhappy.
I'm over emerald green and silver now, but I am feeling slightly inspired by the twisty bits between the bows on the original necklace.

Stay tuned (but don't hold your breath).

Thursday, February 3, 2011


On Monday all the weather forecasters were hysterically predicting historic storms, deadly blizzards, huge accumulations of snow, yadda yadda, and all we got was pretty ice and an inch of snow. Why the storm veered around us, I don't know or care much, as it did give me a day off work, so the dire predictions worked to my benefit. Actually the roads were pretty grim on Tuesday.
I worked on instructions for next week's class, incorporating a few variations into a sample.

For an instant gratification fix, I made a pair of earrings and a pendant.

If I'm not careful, I may soon be panic-stricken, as I'm nearing the end of my current knitting project, and although I have socks galore and gloves on the needles, I haven't decided on The Next Big One, which is starting to make me uncomfortable.

My almost-finished sweater is snugger than ideal (you'd think that constantly accumulating incentive to drop a few pounds would actually have some positive effect, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong. I'm not proud of that) but otherwise is turning out well.

Except for the itchy sleeves.

After all my agonizing about the pretty yarn that's too itchy (and oh yes, the wrong gauge) for the front of the sweater, I managed to ignore the fact that it's in some stripes on the sleeves. So the Itch Factor mandates a layer of clothing to protect my skin from The Itch which makes the Snug Factor more pressing and less happy.

Perhaps I'll plan better next time.

It could happen.

Actually, I do have a plan for a Next One, my erstwhile very carefully planned Out of Australia project, the one I was going to knit on the flight home from vacation. I'm just not sure I want to.

I do have a stalled sweater in fine-gauge handspun merino that won't itch and won't be snug that's starting to make me a little edgy because I really like it and would like to wear it but it's been there in that pile in that state for a year or so, although once I get past the irksome bits (shaping edges and sewing things together), it'll be smooth sailing: miles of stocking stitch at six and a half stitches to the inch which isn't as bad as it sounds, at least, not quite.

Potential panic averted.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fear of Snow Day

So we don't actually yet have the worst weather day in all of history, but we're afraid we might, so its snow day all over the place. I don't mind having to stay in and bead and knit at all!
We've had freezing rain since last night, not a downpour by any standard, but enough to turn my laziness as a gardener (I tend to leave fall clearing until the spring when you have to do it again) into a visual delight.

I'm using this bonus not-work time to finish projects
and work on instructions for my class next week.
Yesterday I found a recipe for potato soup which is sounding more and more like a good idea.