Friday, April 29, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened

I lie.

It wasn't actually that funny and nothing actually happened per se.
I was on the way to making this pendant, which I'd really intended to be a component of a bracelet, when I noticed that in a partial state of undress, it was quite pretty.
I really like them both.

My plan was always for the seed bead outlines around the bigger beads to add definition and polish, but it really holds its own without them too.
Perhaps a two-tiered pendant? With matching earrings?

Not the worst idea I've come up with in my entire life. At this point I'm not so keen to enumerate some of those less-than-stellar ideas I've had, in part because it's bed time, but trust me, it could be worse. More seriously worse too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Better Alternative

I almost titled this post "Precious Moments" but the associations were inordinately more saccharine than I could tolerate, so I didn't. Yay me.

What I really should have been doing this evening was Putting Things Away and Doing Bills and other equally responsible, adult things, but what I really wanted to do was to bead.
Sunday's version, while eventually more or less what I had aimed for (and missed a few times, but that's all right), was somehow a little messy-looking, thrown-together and altogether not quite right.

Not that I've been bored at work (although today's forty-five-minute optional-but-expect-to-see-you-there Webex on the new Global Review System, or whatever they call it, certainly provided ample opportunity for thinking about beading, sketching beading ideas, and writing beading notes as WELL as taking in the perhaps minute and a half of actual information which could just as easily have been in a short, pointed, company-wide email which would have actually been more useful without the forty-three and a half minutes of quote-unquote important information about a process in which I have been forced to participate in almost every job I have had, and which I found almost exactly the same in every job I have had, but apparently our HR people either (1) think the rest of the world incapable of understanding such simple concepts. Every year, or (2) just enjoy giving lame presentations in a monotone, or (3) have it in for everyone not in HR and are attempting to bore them to death or at the very least waste their time, or (4) think we need a nap just before lunch, but I'm guessing that's probably not it), but I did get home kind of itching to stitch.

So I did.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

There Was Beading After All

Colour aside (always problematic for me), this was a bit difficult to photograph such that the structure shows well. I might have to make another.
I've had the sketch around for a few weeks, and it took three cut-up samples (I mean that literally: I took scissors to them) until I got something close to what my mind's eye saw when I drew them.
The bail part should accommodate a herringbone rope, but I didn't have one handy for the picture.

I actually had no thought of a particular lampwork bead either when I conceived of this, nor when I started stitching, but once I saw the interaction of the seed beads and fire-polished beads (all fairly random selections, not even slightly carefully considered), I knew exactly which bead to use.

The not-white background is due to my frosty acrylic mini-bust which a sort of a dingy not-quite-white about which I'm Not Pleased.

Some years ago when my friend Gayle started selling her lampwork beads on eBay, she mentioned a particular glass artist with whom I was very taken. At the time, this artist maintained a web-site (as well as selling on eBay for sometimes thousands of dollars per set) on which she advertised either gift certificates or special orders which weren't too (relatively) hideously expensive.

My boyfriend at the time wanted to give me a gift certificate for my birthday; unfortunately the above-mentioned glass artist no longer actually offered them, due to the lucrative nature of her eBay gig.

[As an aside, her beads were lovely, her copy and photography were outstanding, but no set of lamp-worked beads is worth $7000 or even $4000 or even $2000 in my opinion].

Anyway, in lieu of a gift certificate for a set of beads made by this artist, the boyfriend gave me a virtual gift certificate for lampwork beads on eBay, and with that, created a monster of sorts.

Long after the gift certificate was used up, I continued buying lampwork. The only reason I stopped six months later was that I got laid off, otherwise my collection would be in the nature of an investment, rather than merely slightly impressive.

This is one of the beads from this period, and all I remember about the artist was that her first name was Elizabeth, and the bead came from Canada. Either way, I'm fairly happy with the way it's displayed.

Weekend Project

There was some beading this weekend (so far) but not a lot.
One kit sample.
One reworking of an idea whose first incarnation was a little lacking.

The focus of the production was directed by the disintegration of both the handles and lining of my every-day tote bag.

The lining had perished slightly, becoming completely detached from the body of the bag, and the handles were so badly frayed that all I was lacking was a cardboard sign proclaiming "Will Work For Food" to be in character.

I hate sewing strips for handles, much preferring the inkle-woven handles of my Better Tote. My father, a consummate woodworker but not necessarily attuned to the needs of the fibre dabbler, had made me an inkle loom that wasn't so very fantastic, so notwithstanding that I had successfully woven quite a few bands on it, I sold it. I'm still in two minds about having sold something that he made for me, but the truth is that it was a sub-standard tool, unlike the nostepinde or the swift or the desk that my daughter now uses or the plant stand or toys he made for my kids. And on and on.

So I borrowed John's.
The weaving went pretty well after the first few inches, which is how long it took me to get back such weaving mojo as I have (very, very minor. I am not a weaver, and I mean that, unlike Sara who was foolish enough to proclaim herself Not A Knitter, and we all know what we think of that, after scads of lace shawls, colourwork mittens and baby clothes), and to persuade one Isis that she wasn't really all that enamoured of weaving.
One small problem. Unwilling to buy yarns when I have a stash whose volume would no doubt have protected me from Friday's tornado, had I lived five miles north of here and required such protection, I found oddments in the general colour scheme of my fabric (cover of my living-room sofa. I'm a big fan of upholstery fabrics for non-upholstery purposes), which from tornado-distance were perfect, but up close were much too bright and clear.
After most of a day in rather strong Darjeeling, the light lime green is somewhat muted, not really enough, but good enough for my impatience to finish the project.
All-in-all, a success. I think it'll serve me well.

My daughter, who was young enough to be unaware when I sold my inkle loom, thinks I should make her a camera bag strap. I have a week, as she leaves for a two-week course in Italy on Mother's Day.

Guess I'll be raiding the cotton yarn stash again.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cool Beans

I knew it was a possibility, but I didn't know for sure until I saw the table of contents that I'm in the new Interweave Knit & Spin.
Click on the Contents tab, and my project is the middle picture, the mitred squares one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not That I'm Ungrateful

But really, it's better if I do it by myself.
I know you like to be involved.

I know you think you're invaluable. You are. Just not for this activity.

I know you think you're irresistible. You are. Except when it's dark o'clock and I'm in the process of sleeping. Or trying to.

I know you think you're talented. You are. I've never seen a cat so good at fetching, and so entertained by it. You're also really good at knocking things off my nightstand when once again, I'm very busy trying to stay asleep.

On the other hand, your presence on my lap really enhances my movie-watching, because you've figured out that you don't care to knit.

I guess you're still thinking you might like to weave.
You need to leave the selvages to me though, because I'm much better at it when you're not helping.

Not that I don't appreciate the effort.

I'm pretty glad you've decided not to help me with my beading.

It works out much better that way.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That's What If

As I was teaching last night (way too exciting: tornado sirens are so very intrusive), it occurred to me that I could vary these Satellite Beaded Beads a bit, give them a bit of height along their axis.

I talked it up as they were stitching, but of course didn't know for sure that it would look decent. I just took an educated guess.
Luckily I wasn't wrong.

As you can see, it's not hugely dramatic, but it makes them less squatty. (Yes, that's a technical term, just like "sticky-up bead". It's not as though people don't understand when I say these things, so in my opinion, it's working). Guess I should update the instructions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

And Taxes Too

No, nothing to do with the other inevitability with which taxes are associated; just that I did my taxes all over again from the beginning (no, not because I love it so much: because my software behaved badly), but I managed to get more done than just taxes over the weekend.

In no particular order: socks.
A part of a sock, more precisely. I have an Idea for a unique heel shaping which hinges around equilateral triangles for the body, though actually I should be doing each one over half of the circumference, not a third, but I prefer the smaller ones. The smaller triangles.

Garter stitch cuff (it's nicer than ribbing and you don't have to worry that your cast-on is too tight to get them on, and it looks good with variegated yarns) and three triangles. I needed about ten to fifteen percent more stitches than usual for the triangles than if I was knitting straight, in the round.

Samples for tomorrow's class, Satellite Beaded Beads.
The originals used Czech rondelles, but I found oddly many (i.e. I have no recollection of either the reason for nor the occasion of their purchase) of these serpentine rondelles and wondered if they would work. I think they do, but I'm undecided on the seed bead colour (I'm thinking of a limited edition kit, since I have a large quantity if it's personal stash, but not all that many if it's for kits for sale) - I thought I'd prefer a lighter, brighter colour that would pop, but now I'm not sure.

And a kit sample.
I just love these clear aurora borealis-finish fringe beads. I wish they were easier to photograph.

And my son, annoyed at being photographed, on his way to prom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Always Serendipity

Perhaps discoveries are always that way.


As I was stitching the chain on this green and bronze flower (which photographs very poorly by the way. Too shiny or something), I considered different arrangements of seed bead sizes and shapes, resulting in the gold and lavender chain below (same stitch).
As I stitched that one, it looked as though there was a rather nice gap between the picots on the upper edge that might accommodate a bead, stitched peyote-wise to encourage the chain to hold a curve, so when I reached the clasp and still had thread on the needle, I decided to experiment.

I really was going to make a scalloped curve, and perhaps I still will, but that's not what I ended up with.
This flat little ring is surprisingly sturdy, but I confess I'm not sure what it's actually good for.

It's small, barely an inch fringe-tip to fringe-tip and its opening is about a third of an inch. The overlay gives it texture, but it's still barely more than an 11ยบ thick, so there's not much to see when viewing it sideways.

It could probably work as a link in a chain of its clones, but the stitching would be awkward.

Still, I like it. I do need to think of something though.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Better Than Expected

I'm not feeling quite so beset upon by deadlines.

Some things which were anxiously awaiting attention and completion are now relaxing with drinks in fake coconut shells, attended by cabana boys. Must be nice.
Class proposals are in. Luckily the samples don't have to be in the store for a couple of weeks, as this one is a fake.
No no no, I did bead what you see in the picture, it's just that there isn't anything else. The sum totality of this class sample is just these five little motifs joined together - there's no remainder of it outside the picture, no bits that make up the necklace or bracelet, no clasp that was cropped out.


Sort of.

Classes in, most of the samples complete.

Taxes suffered a setback though: my tax software, how shall I put this delicately, did unkind things to me in secret, so that I have to start over from the beginning. Annoying (that's putting it delicately, very delicately). Doesn't really fit in well with my weekend plans.

I did get one set done for my customer tonight though.
She saw this item, but isn't a fan of asymmetry, so I made a symmetric version.

With earrings.
I rather like these little cuties.

And by the way, yes, SOARing this year again. I'm obliged, sort of.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All At Once

I'm not sure why I do this to myself: allow fifty gazillion deadlines to all pile up at one time.
  • Classes are due on Thursday.
  • Taxes are due on Monday.
  • I have plans to see one of my customers on Friday and I have orders outstanding.
  • Two customers, actually.
  • New kits and samples still only half-done.
Those have the weight of fifty gazillion. Really.

But see, one class sample almost done - I need less than an hour to make another reversible beaded link and attach a clasp. I really would have liked to include a couple of different shapes, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon, as there's, y'know, family, home, hearth, that sort of thing, and all the attendant chores.

Still, five beaded links is better than none.

And I seem to be making actual knitting progress, and I think I may not even want to pull it out, though it's far from complete and I really want to be knitting Other Things, but isn't it always that way? The yarn in the other project is always softer, brighter, better spun, more inspiring, more useful Right Now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy Accident

Classes for June through September are due next week, and I was pretty sure I had them all nailed down. Apart from taxes (and oh yeah, yard work), I had planned to spend the weekend getting those last samples done.

When I woke up this morning, two pairs of earrings had sold in my shop and while I was searching for the second pair (the first pair was where I expected them to be; the second was not. At first), I came across this little piece of Fooling Around.
With today's eyes though, it was way more inspiring than when I tossed it into that drawer, whenever that was. I don't remember. So inspiring in fact, that this happened.
And then this.
These are so delightfully pleasant to stitch, and even without super-humanly tight tension (with which many people have some difficulty) have dimensional depth. They'll be lovely as a garland-style necklace, or singly as earrings, or in pairs as a pendant.

Now I need a complete sample, as this is definitely going into the next class roster.

And this happiness started last night at the last dance performance of the season (end of the subscription).

Overall, it's been a very disappointing season.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a city with a very active ballet company which produced multiple classical ballets every season, and offered school matinee performances for about two bucks a pop. By the time I reached adulthood, I'd seen just about all of the best-known ballets, as well as the odd more modern ballet (think "Balanchine". It was a very old-school classical company).

Perhaps it's redundant to say it, but I love watching ballet, and wish more was available locally, and the best I can do is buy a subscription each year (about five performances usually) to see dance companies from around the world and the country when they come to town.

I've seen some incredible dance, very little of it classical ballet, but still, if the choreography and dancers are good, it feeds my need.

The problem with dance and the midwest is that most people just aren't interested.

They like sports, so in order to attract new audiences, the Worst Dance Advertising Campaign Ever a few years ago compared dance and sports. I thought it was dreadful and if I didn't already like dance, and hadn't already bought my subscription, I might not have - I was that put off by the notion that there was in fact any comparison. (To say that I hate sports would give it too much importance. Sports are not on my radar).

This past season, obviously in a further attempt to attract the hoi polloi, part of the subscription included a Broadway show. I was singularly unimpressed (a Broadway musical with dancing is NOT a dance performance. Yes, I have Opinions), and was given the opportunity to see Stomp instead, and if you've been here before, you know what I thought of that. (Not much).

The show before that was Alvin Ailey, which I've decided I'm pretty much over. There's not enough dancing and too much pantomime and "education". I go to see dance performances purely for the aesthetics and don't care to be preached at, especially if it replaces actual dancing.

Before that, it was something that I ultimately didn't like all that much. I don't remember which dance company it was, and I didn't hate it but I certainly didn't love it either.

So last night, given my disappointment with the season so far, I didn't hold out much hope for the last show of the season, especially as they call the troupe "dancer-illusionists" and the program doesn't say "Danced by" but "Assisted by". I was convinced I'd go home in a bad mood. The fact that next year's line-up includes West Side Story - ALSO NOT DANCE - didn't help in the optimism department, though it did wonders for my pessimism.

I'm so very pleased to report that Momix in Botanica, even though the dancing was slightly diluted by wild props, dramatic lighting, weird and clever costumes (the marigolds were fabulous) was a unique, gorgeous, enthralling delight. You should see them.

I'd see them again in a heartbeat.

Seriously, I want to see them again soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Kit Samples

Swirl has been really popular, and I hadn't originally planned to teach it at all. I had made one, sold it on a whim, but before I did, a sometime beading student of mine saw it and begged for me to teach it which I did.
Since I had the instructions done, I made them available in my Etsy shop, where it's been quite popular. It's a fun, quick and easy project, and even though the pictures here show matching beads, it would also work pretty well with an assortment of beads approximately the same colour - or fading from light to dark or random or whatever. Or for using up left-over odds and ends. I might just make one of those...

And now I'm putting kits together with one more to go (teal with copper).
It felt to me like taking a break (from kit samples), but the earring below may well be a class sample for the June through September session.
Today I taught Slant, which was interesting in that it really shows how adept people are (or are not) at reading their beading, which is hugely helpful in making happy progress.
I didn't teach the changing-direction thing that happens at the centre front of the necklace (though the instructions do include a description of how to achieve it), all we did was the basic structure.

You have to be able to do even-count tubular peyote with increases and decreases and keep tabs on your step-up which tends to move around in a seemingly arbitrary manner, which I kept telling the class participants, a bit stuck record-like. (As an aside, I think everyone in the class was old enough to know what a stuck record is. I just realised that to a boatload of people, that's just a semantic-free phrase. Weird).

To be honest, I find it harder to follow written instructions than to do actual beading just by looking at it, because it tells you what to do next. Five pairs of decrease beads? The colours shift. Working downhill? Add the colour you're moving towards. Uphill? Add the colour you're coming from. Just keep track of your step-up, though if necessary (if you lose it irretrievably) you can fake it.

Although my approach to pretty much all beading is conceptual rather than step-by-step, this is the sort of thing that is utterly painful step-by-step and a breeze in the overview. Like right angle weave: tedious in the extreme to explain step-by-step, but obvious looking at the structure, at the geometry.

Oh well. I clearly lack the part of the brain that gets sports: goals or wickets or baskets or runs or fouls or overs or offence for defence and which animal or bird name is what sport and why it's important who wins. I'll just never get any of that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not Much Play

The instructions for the class I'm teaching on Tuesday weren't quite done, so I ended up making a bracelet in the course (I accidentally wrote "curse" but I don't really believe I actually meant it) of illustrating some of the steps and variations (this one gets wider in the middle. A bit like the brontosaurus, as theorised by Miss Anne Elk, except not quite so much).
It's a technique that I accidentally discovered while working on something completely different, and while the samples I've made have all had the same rate of slant, they don't have to. And until this sample, all had used a repeating stripe pattern, but apparently this more random and broader palette is quite appealing - at least according to yesterday's spinners at our monthly Eat Fest.

I also needed to make samples for another colour way for these Isis Beaded Bead kits. I didn't like the way the metallic green seed beads looked with the other greens, so I swapped them for something a bit orange, which I think is better.
I like the orange as the base colour even more.
And as a reward for my diligence (hey, I make the rules, so I can invent the rewards too), I played around with a simple flower shape I saw somewhere in blog-land.
I kinda like it, but find it Not Quite Satisfying.

I do like the way it's gently cupped, but there's little other dimensional interest.

I need to make a few in varying sizes and stack them, separated by Russian netted flowers, perhaps using beads in different sizes to make them more appealing. Or colour gradations or embellished centres or something.

Sadly time dictates that I work out first.