Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last One

No, I'm not waxing lyrical about the last weekend of the year (though it's good and long, so I'm not complaining or anything), it's just that I completed the last class sample for the lot that are due on Wednesday, and handed them off.
I actually had a necklace in the package, but the beaded beads on that necklace used seed beads instead of fire-polished beads like these earrings, and were so monochromatic that you really couldn't see much. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, big monochrome fan that I am. These earrings positively pop compared to the necklace.

Contrast is all very relative, isn't it? All the beads in the earrings are in the same sector of the colour wheel, but some colours are darker or more saturated or duller than others, and there are different finishes on the beads, so there's some appearance of contrast. Value contrast, not hue. (I think I have it right).

And then I noodled this little pendant instead of working on instructions for the upcoming class. (It's over a week away. I feel no pressure).
 It hangs at an angle, and the back has a little window (which is all dark in the picture below so you can't see and will have to take my word on it) showing a sort of floral motif.
I whipped it up in no time, apparently too quickly to actually make into even short-term memory, because I'm having the worst time trying to make another.

Also less fun this time because the beads I'm using now are enough bigger than the beads used above that the beadwork doesn't fit snugly over the spike which wants to wobble right out of its cap.

I've been knitting a tweaked version of Vertizontal as I make my way through Breaking Bad (towards the end of Season four currently) and I have to say that much as I love knitting things in non-traditional ways, socks are poorly served when the knitting is at ninety degrees to the usual angle, as the stretch is not the same, and it affects the fit and the comfort and I think I shall avoid it in the future. Once these socks are done.

I've noticed a similar degradation when using entrelac, mitred squares and triangles in socks, but this quarter-circle rotation is the worst of the lot.

I suspect those who knit socks through which you can see (spend much time darning? No? Never ambulate in the socks?) won't have this issue to the extent that I observe it. When you knit socks for wearability and comfort (no fossils - those imprints caused by too-loose fabric - on my soles, thank you), there's quite a bit less stretch at a tighter gauge than at a looser gauge, and the difference between stretch horizontally versus vertically is quite marked.

For the same reason I found many of the socks in Cat Bordhi's book impossible at a sensible (to me) gauge.

They puckered and bound and were altogether a Very Bad Idea (quite apart from the book itself, the format and style of which annoyed me no end). If you move a set of two or three or four or more stitches diagonally around the foot, unless you short-row over this little band of stitches, you will have Issues since these poor little stitches, already rather constrained by the overall gauge, now have to cover a longer distance than their neighbours which are already managing on the bare minimum amount of yarn (tight gauge, remember) and can spare none for these wastrels that plan on spanning a diagonal length rather than a vertical. The distance each diagonal stitch must span is about twenty-five percent (if the height of your row measures about three-quarters of the width of your stitch, then the diagonal formed by the rectangle with height 0.75 and width 1 is 1.25) more than its perfectly vertical neighbours cover, which is not insignificant.

You know how they give the diagonal measurements of TV sets? It's because it's much bigger than either the horizontal or vertical measurement (you can thank Pythagoras. Think math is irrelevant to your daily life? Think again), and I would bet money that plenty of people have diligently measured spaces before buying the TV of their dreams only to find plenty of wiggle room because they ignored the word "diagonal", even though all the advertisements generally do include the it in the sentence with the measurement.

Or cynic that I am, I could be vastly underestimating the vast unwashed masses and no one has in fact ever confused "diagonal" with "width". I'd be surprised though.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I've noticed that more and more of the beadwork I've been doing is in the nature of small things: pendants, beaded beads, earrings, items that can be made singly or perhaps in pairs; no complex seed beaded chains and ropes by and large. I haven't examined it too closely, because it's not as though I've been bereft of any sort of inspiration, and I didn't need to become self-conscious to the point of paralysis. Still though, small things largely.

In passing thoughts skipping beyond merely noticing, I wondered if perhaps I was stressed (at work; my responsibilities have changed in the last six months), and then let it go.

Even though on Friday evening I was well aware that I was at the beginning of a four-day weekend with no immediate deadlines looming, plenty of free time, nothing to stress me, it took three days to achieve a useful state of relaxation, one in which I was comfortable beginning a project which would take more than an hour o so.
It's still not a seed-beaded lariat using size fifteens, but it did take the better part of the evening and much of the afternoon - and that after finishing the cuff of my earlier post, which also required multiple hours.

I even managed to sleep later this morning than I have in months.

Too bad I have to be at work tomorrow again.

Luckily I have a three-day week followed by another four-day weekend. I could so get used to this.

Ideas That Gell

I saw a rather simple necklace on some blog a few days ago that combined seed beads and round beads in what looked like netting, which gave me an idea.

I started with a modified daisy chain (in my opinion a rather underused stitch. I think perhaps it's viewed as not quite sophisticated enough, not cosmopolitan enough, but it's very versatile, so I'm not quite sure why it's so overlooked) using seed beads and fire-polished beads.

A sweet, rather simple little chain. Imagine small magatamas or farfalle beads somewhere in the mix.
 I added a border along each long edge, and joined two more of the same, resulting in a substantial yet delicate cuff.
I didn't do any cutting up, and the only undoing I did was when I was trying to decide between a few colours of magatama (pale pink or frosted white; pale pink won). It fastens with a very pretty button which turns out to be not ideal as the cuff is too wide and needs fastening across the entire width, but otherwise is quite usable as is.

Best of all? If I make kits for this, with the beads needed for one cuff, it would be possible to make a narrow necklace instead if preferred.

Monday, December 24, 2012

True to Form

 As usual, while I was supposedly doing my best to finish this:
I ended up with one of these (you can tell it was in the middle of the other one because some of the beads are the same):
As well as a pile of dead thread and some partial pieces of Bad which could become Good.

I also knitted half a sock and spent some time with Breaking Bad and you know what? That reviewer was right: Season 4 is the best so far.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Luxury of Time

There's nothing like that feeling of freedom at the start of a four-day weekend when you have no obligations, or close to none. 

In all fairness, I have a January 2nd deadline for class samples, but I'm not worried. All but one are complete, and I've made a start on the last one, and already finished the instructions, mostly, so I'm feeling pretty smug.
 And this before I worked out, so most definitely, Smug-R-I.

Then there was a little experiment over which I've been obsessing for a few weeks now.
Body butter.

It's not as though there's rationing or shortages or low inventory on a global or even a personal scale, but I've been pretty focused, surfing for ingredients, poring over recipes of all sorts, and with this glorious stretch of time ahead of me, I indulged my obsession for less than half an hour and have fluffy, white body butter.

I'd say it's more of a winter cream than a summer cream because I'm afraid that the coconut oil, a solid at room temperature but liquid at skin temperature would probably melt in a warm car or house, but for a first attempt (now that the weather is more congruent to the actual season than to the one months past) I'm quite happy.

It's a light cream that melts on contact, leaving a very slightly oily film that penetrates within ten minutes or so and leaves skin on the silky side.

This all started about fifteen years ago when my middle brother got married and we went to Australia for the first time.

I was at a mall with someone who has been my friend since we were ten years old, and I didn't want to buy Ozzie tourist crap, but I did want something genuinely Australian, and as we were in the beauty products area of the local department store, she recommended a salt scrub for the shower.

Best recommendation ever.

Every time I went to Australia, or my parents visited me here, I'd ensure that my stocks were replenished. It smelled fabulous, it was just the right amount of scrubbiness, and it left a light film on the skin that softened and moisturized.

You know how it is when you have a perfect, favourite thing that you buy from time to time? Like salad dressing, salt scrub, chocolate? And then they discontinue or change it?


The last jar was simply nasty. Barely scrubby, weird gel-like stuff that left the skin slimy but not moisturized and smelled of dollar store lotions.

I looked into making my own, even though I'd never bought another product with more of a resemblance to my beloved Natio Spa than a five-yar-old's crayon drawing bears to the Mona Lisa. I even tried it. Twice. I had success commensurate with that of the child with crayons at the Louvre.

It wasn't a dismal failure, but it as certainly less than satisfying. I couldn't get the texture right: it was too heavy, greasy, oily, and I was pretty sure I wanted an emulsion rather than simply an oil and sugar mix as suggested by all sorts of DIY sites, but I couldn't find much information regarding emulsions in scrubs, though there was plenty in the realm of lotions and body butters.

Hence the body butter.

I may have to look into more exotic ingredients not available at my usual grocery stores, like shea butter or cocoa butter or emulsifying wax, but for a first attempt, coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera gel and rose water aren't half bad.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


One little beaded bead, a dodecahedron. Kinda love the way that varying the beads makes it unrecognisable, just about.
 The second last sample for classes beginning in February.
I much prefer the small accents to the bigger ones. You can't see from the photo terribly well, but they alternate direction, which somehow charms me (it was happenstance rather than by design).

Here's a close-up where you can see it:
It's ziggy-zaggy, this-a-way and that-a-way.

Man, I haven't thought about Miss Osborn, my Standard Three teacher - that's Fifth Grade over here - in years. I was totally fascinated by the way she said "this-a-way" instead of "this way" (regarding the direction of spin of the earth about its axis), I don't know why. Apparently I started saying it for a while. I even invited her over for tea one afternoon after school. Years later my mother told me it was fairly excruciatingly awkward, because of course a ten-year-old doesn't exactly sit and make conversation: I left my mother to do that while I drew or played with something.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Seems like I have no photos since last blog post, and yet I know I didn't sit idle the entire week. Oh yes, I made mittens for a couple of friends and gave them away yesterday without taking pictures. Truly.

Today however I made the last of these:
 and so I was able to complete this:
It's a class sample, and I have to say, I kinda love it. It's bold and sparkly and stone-organic and it just works for me

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Test passed, done.   

More importantly, I have two more samples for Tuesday's class.
 Both are new variations (very small variations).
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy making this pendant. It's layers and layers and somehow they all just go together so well.

There are all these new beads that keep appearing, and I guess I've drunk the KoolAid when it comes to the two-hole beads (I prefer the superduos but the twin beads are satisfactory too). They stitch like seed beads, but texturally are such a nice contrast. The twin beads in the pendants above are the slightly matte golden beads, the oval shapes.

While round seed beads have a direction while you're sewing with them, by and large you can't tell in the finished product, except with silver-lined beads, but they're still round and directionless. Round blobs. There can be groupings of round blobs, lines of round blobs, but individually they're just dots of colour.

The two-hole beads on the other hand, have direction and can give definition. The beads that bezel the rivoli emphasize it, point to it, while the beads around the edge form a pleasing zig-zag.

I know bugle beads have direction, but they have their own issues, like sharp edges. And they're stark and cold and quite frankly not all that versatile.

I like the way the two-hole beads allow me to make an airy piece of beadwork that is substantial and not at all floppy.

I guess I'm on board.

I had two strands of farfalle for about five years before I started using them, but like fringe beads and small magatamas, I find them a very useful embellishment bead.

The two-hole square beads? Not so much. I'm still waiting to be inspired by them, and I don't see it happening, but I guess I should give them five years before making up my mind.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Busy Procrastination

There's this test I really should take, and it requires a small amount of studying and it won't be a huge time-sink, and then I really should be working on the instructions for Tuesday's class, but while I was working on a sample for another class entirely, one not even slightly imminent, I made these teeny little beaded beads which would look quite nice on Peri head-pins, wouldn't they?
 I absolutely had to know of they'd scale up lengthwise (along the axis), and it turns out they do, but only under some circumstances, though it's questionable if they should. The tiniest one pleases me so much more than the other two, though I guess the longest one would do in a pinch.  Do for what? Dunno; under any circumstances in which you absolutely must have a beaded bead just this side of very small.
 The procrastination for my test (still not taken, though I've done the requisite reading. Really, I'm probably at my best earlier in the day rather than later, I should think) was supposed to be only this bracelet which really looks so much nicer with opaque twin beads than with the iridescent ones I used in the original.
I like that you can see the structure of the thing, the orientation of the beads and so on.

It had to be done.

I can take the test tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just One

I know, it's not much, and in fact I did the bulk of it some weeks ago, but I finished it this evening.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Slipping And.

These little four-spike sliders are fun. And work well on a necklace. I'm feeling as though I might need about seven or twelve or twenty-nine on a necklace - no hugging when I'm wearing them though!
 And then, completely sedately, two little round sliders.
I spun today, and ate well, and then after a full day of self-indulgent indolence, I did with the leaves. Blowing, mulching, that sort of thing. The lawn suffered enough with our insanely hot summer - the least I can do is clear the leaves once in a while.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Neither Lee Nor Jones

I didn't show you this which I made on Thursday. Not exactly my usual colours, but they fit me and I like the combination, in spite of the blue (I'm sorta-kinda anti-blue, but the one I hate the most is primary blue, royal blue, that location on the colour wheel. Smoky blues are totally fine, as are some turquoises and teals - but not too much. Powder blue and baby blue are also nasty to my eyes). The rondelle-shaped thing is a variation on something I made years ago (at the same time as the round one actually), and have also been meaning to use somehow, but haven't until now. And I think I see a better variation in its future too.
 Last week when I made this:
 What I really had wanted to make was something more like this:
 Which can slide on a chain alone or with friends.
 But what I really had wanted it for was this:
Spike spike spike spike spike. Yeah, it's all about the spikes really. The rest is just filler.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's not just myself that I want to decorate and adorn, I like playing-dress-up with my plain pendants too. I swear it's not that different from when I used to buy knitting patterns and sewing patterns for Barbie clothes, and then just make stuff up anyway.

[True story: When my daughter was born twenty-two years ago, my mother brought me a bag of Barbie clothes that I'd made back in the day so that I could give them to my daughter. As a young child she was not the type to treat her toys with care and respect, so I kept on waiting for the right time for her Barbies to be ready for some nice clothes, and I waited and waited and she grew out of Barbies, so I never gave her the clothes. I still have a bag of Barbie ball gowns, nurse uniforms, sundresses and the like somewhere under the stairs].

The first one was meant to have skinny spikes all around, but it wouldn't bend properly that way (but I have another plan, no fear!), so all it got was a pair of spikes.
I made a little slider like this one years ago, and every time I think vaguely of classes, I think I really ought to resurrect it because it's easy and fun, and then as the deadlines loom it flees my mind. I just submitted for February though May (and once again missed the boat on the slider), so perhaps sometime after that it'll make it to the roster.
 Best of all?
 Space for both of them on the pendant!
I love the colour scheme, which was pretty much imposed both by the spikes (I really had no idea what colour they would be in Real Life from their descriptions) and some seed beads which were in something ugly which did not deserve to live, so I cut it up and they were on my beading table and I was too lazy to figure out which tube they belonged to. We're sort of bronzy-green and pinky-reddish-brown, a veritable feast of sludge.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The spike bandwagon, that is.
I've had these spikes for months, but until my local bead store started carrying them, I wasn't all that motivated to use them for a class since the deal is that the materials list should be available from the store.

And now it is.

I think this is not complete, though it could be. I have big[ish] plans for this sedate little drop.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Still Want More

There's just no pleasing me. A four-day weekend of sloth (well, after a full day of extreme cooking at least), and it's still not enough. I want two months of no obligations. I have it on good authority (last time I was laid off I had about three blissful months. The not getting paid part put a bit of a damper on the whole thing though) that I wouldn't get bored.

Four days was nice though.

I made a little sample to test-drive the instructions for tomorrow's class.
 These little two-sided squares are fun and fairly obvious when you've done a few, but there's little exact repetition, so the instructions are rather long for such a small piece. I hope they're comprehensible.
I must have started these mittens five times, and what I should learn from this is that patterns just slow me down. The yarn is a delicious cashmere-blend and they're insanely warm, and probably big enough for a light pair of gloves underneath. Suitable for Arctic conditions just about, but with global warming, here in the somewhat southern parts of the Midwest they may be of limited use.

Pretty though.

You never know though. All that cold that didn't happen last winter? Could be saved up and dumped on us this winter. It could happen. And then these mittens will be supremely useful.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eight Shades

Quite some time ago, I planned to make a necklace for the sample case at the bead store so that I wouldn't have to do without my necklace which I like to wear for the duration of the teaching term.

I made half the links, and my necklace is still in the case. I taught the second part of the class two Tuesdays ago, and I teach an offshoot of the design (the little square button which is a nice little component suitable for bracelet links, earrings, or in fact necklace links).

I finally finished the, um, sample necklace today.
 I haven't decided if I'll keep it or sell it, but it's the result of so many hours that I'll never get paid for my time and it's purple, lots of purples, at least eight (exactly eight, actually), so maybe I'll just keep it. Unless someone begs and offers me scads of cash. Perhaps not even then.

In my eagerness, I made an extra link.
So I added some doodads and now it's a pendant.

So far, the long weekend has been quite successful. I've managed to get in a decent amount of relaxing and self-indulgence, and the only downside is the thought that tomorrow is the last day. Seriously, I think I ought to be awarded another day for my pain and suffering (hello! Exploding pipes!) and my feeding of the masses (some of them. A few. Nine besides myself. Seven besides my immediate family. It's not none) but I don't suppose that's happening.

I wasn't holding my breath anyway.

I've enjoyed this lovely break, and anyway, there are two more days off in about a month, and I should be able to survive until then.

And bead more stuff too.

It's all good.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Day After

Although I called for a plumber last night, he didn't get here until mid-morning, and since Thanksgiving didn't really care about my waste water situation, I had to make like the Pilgrims and put a plastic basin in my sink, which I emptied into the toilet across the hallway as needed. It worked well enough, and I used my time well until Todd The Plumber arrived.

Forty-five minutes he told me.

This part may well have taken forty-five minutes, but I hadn't yet reached the stage of looking at my watch and wondering just how late dinner was going to be.
This part?

The part with the gooey black spray in my kitchen? That took a lot longer, in part because it happened three times.
Turns out that never having had a problem with the pipes and never having had to have them snaked in the eleven or twelve years I've been in this house has not in fact been a good thing. If my pipes had been snaked once or more in my years of home ownership, last night's pipe explosion may not have happened, and Todd most likely would have only had to have make with the black goo once only.
 On the plus side, even though I didn't believe it until I sat down at the table, a three-hour hole in the middle of the day didn't suck out more than I could handle (my son and his friend helped), but it was close. If I'd cooked the turkey the usual way (in one piece instead of cut up), we'd still be eating, and it wouldn't have been as juicy. I hesitate to say "tastty" since I find turkey rather dull.

But see? Dirty dishes which will still be there when I wake up in the morning and the dishwasher has been emptied.
 A fridge full of left-overs.
I was worried though.

When asked what my plans were for tomorrow, I said "nothing", but what that really means is "nothing that involves being somewhere at a certain time or doing something because I said I would, or doing anything at all on anything even vaguely resembling a schedule". I'm hoping to bead, knit, play with the cats, go for a walk, watch TV, that sort of thing - as and when the mood strikes.

And that's what I'm thankful for: that the holiday is over, that I fed family and friends, and that I don't have to do it again on this scale for at least another year, probably two.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


My menu is planned.

My ingredients (after an extra trip to the grocery store) are as complete as they will be.

I have a few items complete, and a few parts of a few items done too (the dessert my kids always request has four or five things to be made before it can be assembled. Two are done).

I was going to take pictures of some of the prettier things (cranberry sauce is always a lovely colour. My muhamarra is a delightfully intense orange - and tasty!) The chocolate caramel pecan pie is just brown, but I'm  pretty sure it's delicious. Greens and pignoli and roasted butternut cubes with crispy bacon slivers are also attractive.

I'm well-prepared for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner for ten, or so I thought.

The thing is, you just can't be prepared for when the pipe that leads out of the garbage disposal explodes. There's just no anticipating that sort of disaster at ten o'clock the evening before.

Right now,  I'm not feeling the love. No pictures of food.
Not pretty, is it?

On the plus side, my second bathroom is just across the hall from the kitchen, although its sink is tiny.

The basement didn't get all that wet (drips down one wall only).

I'd just finished washing a sink-full of dishes.

I called a plumber and they say they will come tomorrow, though they can't say when.

Still, it's less than ideal.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Never Enough. But OK

No matter how much weekend there is, even long weekends aren't enough. I always run out of time rather than the other way around. Perhaps because like the rest of my peer group, I'm extraordinarily optimistic in terms of how long things take, and so there's always more to do than hours in the day. Or the weekend.

I did make another pendant in what was going to be a cacophony of colour, but is instead my usual instinctual blendy palette. Consider the raw materials, I suppose: it's not as though I buy masses of primary colours. I'm more of a seventeen shades of sludge kinda girl, so in retrospect, this pendant is in fact a riot of colour. Relatively speaking, that is.
 Another pair of earrings, monochromatic.
 A strange pendant because I just had to do something with those weird oval lentils.
 I should probably keep trying.

And then I thought I ought to be able to make an embellished right angle weave rope, and I thought I might add the embellishments in a spiralling pattern, and while this is not a speedy project, I do think it has potential, though my original idea wasn't like this at all.
 The herringbone chain was just pasta. You know, I was noodling around with needle and thread...
 And then I made another pair of earrings to see if those findings from the bead store would work.

I organized my piles of paper in the kitchen, the water-logged and food-smudged recipes I use repeatedly, by putting them in plastic sleeves in binders, and I do feel good about that, but I wish I'd done more.

I made the cranberry sauce - for anything else it's too soon, though I suppose I could have made the chocolate-caramel pecan pie and frozen it but I didn't.

I can't complain that I got nothing done, but still. I want more.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Time to Breathe. Bead. Breathe

I don't really have all that much to complain about really, but there's been some work-related stress that I think is in the process of being resolved (likely another couple of months to endure), and while the expected resolution is the right thing for me, and for the people with whom I work, and for the software we make (radiation oncology treatment planning), and possibly even for the eye of the storm, it probably won't feel like it for her, and it'll hurt and be life-altering and I'm distressed about that.

It's not my fault (even slightly), but at the same time I feel culpability. I don't like conflict,  I don't like belligerence, I don't like bad-tempered rudeness, I don't like it when people are divided into factions, and I like it even less when I'm not sitting on the sidelines, but an actor in the proceedings.

A friend asked if it was worth pursuing, and all I can say is that I've dealt with bullies, and there comes a point which for whatever reason feels like a watershed moment at which you have to stand your ground, because to turn the other cheek would start on an irreversible path to only weakness, obedience and malleability. There's a moment at which you have to realize that fighting fire with calm just burns you down to the ground.

Stress. It's what's for dinner.

Last Tuesday I taught the second part of a two-parter in which these were made (without the doodads at the bottom end).
 I have to say that I'm quite spoiled on my teaching Tuesdays in that there's a core group of regulars who are very comfortable with each other and even seem to enjoy each other. (I know I do). Even when the projects are involved and there are grumbles and mutterings, there's also laughter and the comfort of doing what we enjoy at the end of a day where we were doing what we must in order to do what we will.

Teaching every other Tuesday means up to eight new projects every four months, deadlines every four months, and another fast approaching, and another slot filled with a new pendant.
 I teach at a bead store, and the deal is that I don't require materials not available in the store, which means (among other things) I have to wait for them to start carrying rivolis in sizes other than twelve and fourteen millimetres   - and now I can start designing for eighteen millimetre rivolis.
I think I need one with multiple colours of the fire-polished beads.

Perhaps tomorrow.