Monday, March 28, 2011

More Samples

These beaded beads are named after my silly little cat, Isis.

Naming projects has never been my strong suit, as I tend to be too literal.

There was a Netted Bracelet With Pearls, and a Netted Vee-Shaped Necklace With Pearls and at this point the names were getting too long, so as a drowning man I grasp at straws of inspiration, and Isis was very new to me when I first made these beaded beads and there was no good reason why I shouldn't name them for her, so I did.
I'm putting together a slew of kits for patterns mostly from classes I've taught, some of which I've sold in my shop, and this is the second colour-way for the Isis Beaded Beads. After my order arrives, I'll have a full complement of beads for a brown-green-bronze version.

Until then, I have a Bubboo sample.
This is a very silly name.

The fat bits look like bubbles, and I couldn't help thinking of my daughter at about a year old or so, being fascinated with someone blowing bubbles, I guess with bubble gum.

"Bubboo?" she'd ask.

And then there'd be a bubble, she'd squeal, the bubble would burst and she'd plaintively ask

"More bubboo?"

Clearly bubboos are very desirable.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I freely admit, I have some reliable hot buttons.

For instance, I hate a Big Fat Waste of Time.

I don't mean that every second of every day has to be dedicated to my enjoyment (although this is not something I'd refuse if available, let's face it). I also don't mean that all of my free hours (or minutes, as the case may be) have to be fully employed in the Making of Something. Pawing through the Yum Section of the fiber stash (that part lives under my bed for safe-keeping) or deciding which is my absolutely favourite gold seed bead are perfectly valid uses of my time.

What I can't bear is being trapped doing something that is neither beneficial, necessary nor pleasant and not being able to escape.

Like being unable to extricate myself from last night's performance of Stomp (insert universal finger-in-mouth sign for gagging).

The current season's dance subscription has so far at best been mediocre, and at worst (so far), Stomp.

Wikipedia describes them as a dance troupe, but I think that's being generous. Tina Turner's live show had a dance troupe. Those cute boy bands are pretty decent dance troupes. Brittney does a pretty good imitation of a dance troupe.

You get the picture.

Stomp doesn't even come close.

They have one concept: making rhythmic percussive noises by hitting things with other things, none of said things being anything manufactured for their acoustic properties. That's a fine idea, if not unique, and eminently suitable for a ten-minute slot on a late-night or morning talk show, but two hours of it on a stage WITH NO FREAKIN' INTERMISSION was more than I could bear.

At first I was just bored.

For quite some time - at least it felt like a few days, or perhaps even a week. I kept waiting for intermission so that I could leave.

Then the noise started to bother me, especially the mindless and endless "WOO!"s made by audience members, especially the prepubescent boy to my right.

I found it dull and low-brow: the sound ordinary, the so-called comedy trite at best, unfunny more often, and I kept on wondering when the dancing would start. People putting their whole ungraceful bodies into hitting things with feeling is not dance, no matter how hard you squint.

I may have been the only person in the entire theatre who was not hysterically enthralled and enraptured.

As it happens, I did have a small (sock) knitting project in my purse, but it's more complicated than stocking stitch or even two-by-two ribbing and so not well-suited to KITDWB (knitting in the dark while bored).

Now that I'm well and truly past the halfway mark on my own personal time line, I really resent those three lost hours (two sitting there, another getting there and home again). At least I got some knitting done in the ten or so minutes sitting in my seat waiting for it to start.

Today my time was well-spent.

I made a kit sample.
I made a cool right angle weave open cube on a necklace (removable).
And earrings to match.
And a pair of earrings to match the pendant I sold two weeks ago.

And then I saw Jane Eyre, which I liked far better than I'd thought I would, notably the actress playing Jane, who was remarkably aptly-cast. She's not ugly and has a wonderfully expressive and interesting face, but isn't too pretty, unlike in the previous Jane Eyre I saw. And Mr Rochester was pretty yummy.

Also I think I may be clawing my way out of Knitting Hell. (I've resigned myself to stripes in the context of multi-directional knitting in the interest of not being permanently mired).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not According to Plan

I'm in Knitting Hell.

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a sweater from a German magazine that inspired me, and I collected some handspun in shades of dull reds, pinks, browns and oranges, with deep blue-violet for the accent, and started knitting.

At first, it went well.

Then, when I had to knit on the next section, it started getting ugly and I knew I couldn't continue as planned (knitting one section onto the next), and I'd be certifiable if I persisted in the design but had to sew everything together, so I tried to come up with an alternative plan for my fine (I'm knitting on 3mm needles) collection of yarns.

I found a modular shell-like motif.


Modular squares.

Just not right.

I'm not in the mood for intarsia, and I don't think a stranded design will be ideal for the yarn, and stripes are so ho-hum and I HAVE NOTHING TO KNIT and it's driving me crazy.

The socks that I keep in my car? Yeah I don't like what I've been doing with them, so I've ripped out a few inches too.

M beading life isn't helping all that much either, as most of what I'm doing is packing kits, and any actual beading is kit samples.

Like this one.

At least I like it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I enjoyed working with Peri's lampwork rings so much last time that I went a little crazy at the Bead Society meeting yesterday.
Rings in four colours (that semi-opalescent orange is to die for) and juicy round beads with raku frit.

Yum yum yum.
This sample for the next batch of classes has been taking forever (right angle weave isn't fast, but somehow I like it. Weird) but I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out.

The seed beads are fabulous up close, with striations and washes of rainbow colour on deep sludgy navy which from here looks merely dingy. (The green tint is probably due to the deep olive thread I used. With right angle weave the thread definitely shows, and so you can alter the overall colour of the piece with the thread - I'd still use something in the same vicinity, but you can nudge it around the colour wheel). Still, there's something to be said about an item which is pleasurable in different ways from a number of different perspectives.
And then a sample for Tuesday's class. I'd made a single sample (currently in the case at the bead store) and written no notes and taken no step-by-step pictures which is often dangerous, as not all seed beads are the same size and proportion, and it can happen that when you try to repeat a configuration, it just doesn't work quite the same way.

Additionally, different colours can alter the look, moving it from "Cool!" to "Uh, really?"

Colour and comfort zones and the way we interact and react and work with and in them are fascinating.

I'm generally drawn to deep, sludgy, murky colours, but am simply weak for semi-translucent and opalescent shades, so these lovely soft pink rondelles found in me an easy mark.
If they'd been any kind of brown or green or burgundy or grey, I'd have been done in an instant, but because they're not what I often work with (and when I do, I'm rarely satisfied with the palette), I had the hardest time.

My first (and usual) instinct was monochromatic, but with varying intensities, so colours ranged from deep, gunmetal purple all the way through to pink. Let me tell you, it doesn't look nearly as bad in the picture (on the lower left) as it made me feel just before I cut it up last night.
Then I tried for some seed beads in a matching shade (also opalescent. I have tons of them. I cut up just about everything I ever start with them. The universe is telling me something) and accents of bronze. That was even more nauseating.

I'm not sure what it is with me and photography. Gorgeous in the flesh (uh, glass) translates to blah on the screen, and lunch-losing in the flesh is merely meh when I show you. Everything seems to migrate to an indifferent common denominator.

In the end (going with silver, grey and black accents), I changed a fair amount in the way it's constructed, and have included a bunch of suggestions and variations with the instructions, so I am not dissatisfied.

Except that tomorrow it will no longer be the weekend, with which I AM NOT YET DONE. That's always so very disappointing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Small Progress

It's been a week.

Work, sleeping, getting stuff done - nothing was easy, including beading. There were lots of piles of squiggly beading thread, beads that ran out and could not be replaced exactly, but last night I moved forward more than I moved back.

It's not done, but it's progress, and along the way, another related little beaded bead (and siblings) happened.
But the socks that I finished on Wednesday, no pictures.

A thousand years ago when I was in grad school in Israel, a friend and I went to give blood.

It went fine, though apparently my body was not so keen on giving up its precious bodily fluids, and it took forever. After I was done, I carefully sat up slowly, stayed there for a while, went to get my tea and cookies and sat down to ingest.

I felt ok, but this silvery-grey mist kept swirling around me. One of the blood-letters asked if I wouldn't like to lie down which I emphatically denied, because I knew that if I stood up to walk to the cot, I wouldn't make it there. I insisted I was perfectly happy sitting right there in the chair.

And then I found myself on the cot, knees to chest.

Fast forward a few years, a blood drive. I mentioned that I'd fainted the last time, which seemed to frighten the blood-collectors a bit, who suggested that I instead go to their brick-and-mortar facilities, as their van wasn't equipped to deal with involuntary loss of consciousness.

So I haven't even bothered to try since then.

Yesterday they had a blood drive at work with embarrassingly few people signed up, and so I girded my loins to attempt to donate.

They didn't seem concerned about the fainting business.

But the questionnaire to determine the suitability of my blood proved challenging.

"Have you been outside the US in the past twelve months?" wasn't too bad. Australia is not a problem.

"Have you lived in or visited Africa for more than five years?" was problematic, as was "Have you ever had sexual contact with someone living in Africa?"

Apparently the American Red Cross thinks that the entire continent is a malaria-infested swamp where the only culture is one of rampant unprotected sex with HIV-positive people, so that even though there are times when I find the notions of culture, civilization, sophistication and the like to be way more foreign to my current home city than to my previous home in darkest Africa, the local view is that Africa is a seething mass of rural and tribal life with no upper body clothing, let alone support undergarments, not to mention personal hygiene or the concept of viruses or bacteria.

That took awhile to sort out.

My veins, no doubt upset by the insult, sniffed and turned their backs on the needles, which was all vey well for them, but less comfortable than desired for me. After reluctantly releasing close to a unit, they changed their minds and made the technicians work really hard for those last few millilitres. Precious bodily fluids indeed!

Good news: no fainting, no almost fainting, nothing even vaguely related to loss of consciousness apart from extreme tiredness which could very well be the result of vastly different attitudes of me and my cat to the notion of my sleeping through the night for this past week.

I might do this again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Right Fun

Earrings are wonderful and all, and I do like custom orders, but sometimes I just have to play.

I had some fun with right angle weave and using different sizes of beads and patterning.

I'll get back to the earrings soon.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Eyes Don't Have It

My latest beading (that I've completed, not what's still in progress) seems to have been all about ears.

All orders, all for one person, and I'm not even close to done yet, as I still have two necklaces to make.
I spent an awfully long time coming up with an earring design suitable for this necklace.
What you can't see from the picture is that the focal bead is very small - perhaps half an inch in diameter. The toggle clasp is about a third of an inch. Tiny tiny tiny.

I tried dodecahedra using size 11s.

Ick. They looked messy.

Ditto icosahedra. These are among my go-to beaded beads.

And then it came to me: Panspora beaded beads using 11s.
The copper panspora bead is the size I usually make them, using size 6 beads. I've also used 8s, but the 11s are rather miniature, somewhere bigger than a quarter of an inch but not more than a third of an inch in diameter. Because I'm a human being programmed to go all squishy over tiny things (such as kittens, puppies, seed pearls and marinated baby octopus) I'm completely in love, and made two more pairs of earrings with disproportionately large ear wires just because I love the contrast.
And see? It doesn't have to be configured as a cube (or cuboctahedron) : it can be built as a funky little tube too! The basic unit is a square which rather limits the shapes that can be built with it, and it's not flexible like right angle weave, so it's not really suitable for chains or ropes (and besides, it's so slow that I'd lose my mind even making a bracelet for a newborn, but still.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It's amazing just how much having no phone or internet affects the tone of one's weekend, even if one did indulge themselves in a new MacBook Pro whose iPhoto now puts things somewhere else so that as they were trying to gather the pictures for a blog post, they couldn't find their latest pictures of things (which were fewer than they'd like to tell you about, but they neglected to photograph the pink handspun cashmere lace baby hat that should almost be at the recipient in San Francisco, as well as the silk blouse which they are wearing today).
Not to worry, I found them eventually (the ones I actually photographed).

First is a class sample for what I've been calling my Alexandra Chain, this one with each unit pointing in the same direction like a little chain of arrows. The one with units in alternating directions now belongs to Amy, so there had better be another class sample in the works.

This evening I'm teaching Isis beaded beads.
They're kind of spicy to make, and as I was sewing the samples above and below (but the one below is based on an earlier version; that's why I had to make the purple one), it occurred to me that perhaps I was in a bit too much of a hurry, and perhaps there should be more overlay, more embellishment, but I guess that's something for another day.

This class I'm feeling all organised, as I'm simultaneously putting a kit together which I'll be able to release after I've made one more sample.

The cashmere baby hat is for very dear friends who suddenly (i.e. much sooner than they'd anticipated) have become adoptive parents of a new baby girl, and even though they said they didn't need more clothes, (a) a newborn-sized hat is all I could come up with on such short notice and (b) I doubt whether she has one. My response to new babies is via knitting - isn't that the norm?

And I had to make a silk shirt because I just spent all my money on a new MacBook and my existing clothes don't mesh well with the temperatures at work and besides, my fabric closet isn't getting any emptier.

So when you're cut off from all civilization for three whole days, blogging takes a back seat, even though the MacDonalds up the road has free wifi in the parking lot (so you don't have to change out of your jammies). Just downloading email and ensuring that pattern buyers on Etsy got their PDFs within twenty-four hours was about all I could manage, since most of my available energy was directed at being furious with Charter Communications Customer quote-unquote Service, about whom I cannot say enough bad things.

I don't usually go off all nasty here, but I had no phone and no internet, and even though I possess a cell phone, it's a pay-go and for emergencies only and few people even have the number, and I'm doubly annoyed that I had to waste so many minutes on hold, or being shunted from one useless, lying customer service agent to another.

I hate that I had to make threats and tell people how much their company sucks in order to get anything done. I'm more comfortable being a poor facsimile of Oscar Wilde, making supercilious comments about the riff-raff than actually saying mean things to people who may not be personally responsible for my situation, but who apparently will not take action unless I do so. And I did have to, because they really didn't want to send anyone to fix my service until I was firmly ensconced at work on Monday. The thought of wasting precious PTO was too much to bear, not to mention that I WANTED MY SERVICES BACK!

And the irony of it all? Desmond, their repair guy, not only fixed it in two seconds flat (something outside had shifted or jiggled or otherwise become unconnected - and he assured me that I could neither have discerned the problem nor corrected it), but said he'd been on call the entire weekend, working on much lower priority service calls than mine.

Apparently the FCC expects telephone providers to fix services outages within twenty-four hours, giving said repairs the highest priority. And equally apparently, Charter doesn't give a crap.