Thursday, March 29, 2012


I didn't have to work the core of the bracelet again, just the ribs (or whatever you want to call the outer parts), and while this is probably not an ideal bracelet, it's now workable: the inside circumference is smaller than the outside, and it feels more flexible and doesn't buckle.

Still, it was a fun experiment. Too bad it drew in a bit, as it's too small for me now.

On the sock front, oh yeah.
The truth is that in knitting (and in beading as well, I guess), I don't differentiate between working in the round or working flat, so the fact that these socks are worked entirely back-and-forth and have no sewing or grafting (besides three toe stitches at the very end if you object to a three-needle bind-off in garter stitch; I don't) is more a fanciful conceit of mine rather than having any actual significance or benefit.

They're fun though. I'm enjoying the hell out of them.

They break up multi-coloured yarn. The yarn I've used is a repeating irregular self-striping yarn (there's a pattern, but the stripes are different widths), and the way the socks are knitted offsets the stripes against each other so they look like squares or rectangles. A variegated yarn would probably be interesting too.

There is neither a longish cast-on for the cuff that you have to be careful to not twist, nor is there a fiddly toe cast-on. I cat on twelve stitches for the cuff, and everything else was pick up and knit. Oh yes, if you don't like doing that, you'll hate this sock.

Because it's small bits (narrow strips), it seems to go quickly, or at least progress is notable.

You could actually use up scraps of sock yarn. Yeah, it'll still look like Leftover Sock Yarn Socks, but it's more fun than regular stripes.

You could use different stitch patterns for the strips, as long as they don't affect gauge too much. A hugely intricate cable in one strip and an extraordinarily airy lace in the adjacent strip might be less than ideal.

The joins are very soft, very flat, but add just enough interest.

Unlike the socks which inspired me to start these ones (on account of the stretch being all wrong. Otherwise I thought they were cool), they stretch in all the right directions.

Yes, I do plan to write up the pattern sometime. It will not be well-suited for someone who needs stitch-by-stitch instructions and who doesn't understand the mechanics of constructing a sock.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


It's what's for dinner. Or should be.
A couple of months ago I made a necklace of these odd little components.
I thought it reasonable that they could be made longer, long enough to make a bracelet. Pretty!

Sadly, there's this notion of topology that I completely ignored. If you're making a thick something, and you plan on bending that something around say a wrist, then there's an inside diameter and an outside diameter.
These are not the same.
If you act as though they are, there will be nasty buckling.

I should have stopped to think before spending upwards of four hours on it. I think I may be able to cut off only the offending bits without having to redo everything. Apart from the waste of time, taking right angle weave apart is really irksome, as there's no way to make a cut and then extract long lengths of thread; they're all very very short.

Live and learn, as they say.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Small Things

I'm still upset about my purple cardigan, still steeling myself to rip it out, because if I don't, I won't wear it as it is (though I did wear it once). It's not as though I can survive without anything to knit, so I've been playing with stand-in projects. Socks.
This one is kinda fun actually. I started a sock from the Summer Knitty, but quickly realised that the stretch was all wrong, though the technique was fun. Socks need lateral stretch, not longitudinal, and charming as sideways socks are, there wasn't enough lateral stretch since I knit my socks at a tight and dense gauge for longevity.

I was hoping to make this sock entirely without either knitting in the round or grafting, but I think the toe may be my Achilles, uh, heel.

Meanwhile, it's moving along quickly.

There's another sock too, but it's dark and small.

I also made another one of these.
These are more my colours.

Below is a view through the hole.
I've been wearing the first one on a chain, but the shape of the opening suggests that a fatter, rounder and smoother necklace would be better. Like a herringbone chain with size 15 seeds.

For example.

Not happening through.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Post, Um

I'm still totally in love with my cuboctahedral bouquet from Saturday, and much as my first choice is to make sweet sweet love to its sibling (i.e. make another one), I have to teach a class tomorrow (it's not as thought someone held a gun to my head, but I did say I would. I pretty much teach every other Tuesday) and thus need to spend time making instructions and samples.

In the course of making both (the latter is pretty much a direct consequence of the need for the former), I discovered to my horror that the first few I'd made way back when I was coming up with class ideas used size 11 seed beads that just so happened to be on the large side in terms of their height: the hole-to-hole measurement.

The blue/purple sample above turned out OK, but it seemed I had to keep adjusting the way the stone lay in the bezel.

The bronze one was even more poorly-behaved, but for love or money (actually no money, no love, just lots of effort and grit - I wrote grits which I really like, but that's not it either) I could simply not get the stone to lay evenly in the bezel. No matter how loosely I stitched, it was just too tight.

Discovering that your design might be fatally flawed less than forty-eight hours before the start of class is not what anyone could describe as an ideal situation, especially when most of those hours are spoken for (work and sleep. Hard to get around that). It could have been worse: it could have been half an hour before class, but that would be my own damn fault.

The thing about work is that while it's not what I would call mindless most days, especially in these trying times, there are moments when I need to do some mental cross-training, and thinking about beading is just perfect. It's both engaging and refreshing and weirdly relaxing, and luckily the solution struck me well before lunch, so that by the time I was home, I could implement it and I'm delighted to say that It Was Good.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two More Hours

I could not be more pleased.
Although it's difficult to see in the pictures, I did manage to add embellishment to the square faces which don't need to be open: you can see the cluster of four minty-aqua seed beads in the picture above where that happened. It's not very elaborate (the embellishment of the squares), but it's what was needed.

I like this picture because it shows the little stems of the blossoms.

I'm not sure how well this would translate to a pattern or a class, as even more so than much of what I do, this really requires both the ability to read one's beadwork, as well as a firm grasp of the structural relationships between different sections of the beadwork.

I fear that writing step-by-step instructions of the "pass through three beads clockwise" variety would obfuscate rather than clarify, but this was so much fun that I wish I could share the joy.

It really didn't even take that long, no longer than a bracelet or a simple necklace really.

Don't laugh, but it was so enjoyable that I'd like to make another right now, if only there weren't (as always) instructions for Tuesday's class to be written and samples for the next set of classes to be made. Not to mention a reasonable facsimile of having a life (which happily includes eating Ethiopian food this evening).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Physical Limitations Suck

Seriously, I wish I didn't have to sleep as I'm really jazzed about where I'm going with this.

It started a couple of months ago with these cute little things that make me think of dumbbells with flowers at the ends instead of weights.
I had this vague plan of a rope that split and joined and captured my floral thingies.
I could tell right away that it would be both stupid and tedious, so as you can see I didn't even bother to end it off.

I kept in the way of a cautionary tale.

I had Thoughts today, of geometric shapes with vertices at which four corners met (I'm sure there's a more concise way of expressing that, but not being a mathematician, I'm not sure what it is).

Like an octahedron. It didn't seem quite right though, so my thoughts turned to the cuboctahedron which is pretty easy to make in beads.

And then embellish with one-ended flower dumbbells.
I'm not quite finished though.

Five vertices down seven to go.

And the best thing? The four-sided planes without decoration have holes big enough to string on a pretty substantial necklace, so I won't have to use one of the vertices for a bail as I'd planned. Downside is that I'd like to decorate four of the open squares, but what with the blooming dumbbells, there's no way I'll be able to wiggle a needle in those tight quarters.

Still though, I'm quite pleased.

Of course in all fairness, the reason I'm thinking about sleep before I'm done is that I did spend a couple-three hours finishing this:
Last night I briefly spent time on another idea which shows promise.

I can't really use it, as one side has one too many units.

I also think I can do something a little more interesting with colours.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Subsection 13 of the Life's Too Short Department

It's not utterly ugly (except for the colours), but humans just don't live long enough.
I've completed two units of what could be a necklace or a bracelet and it took me the better part of an hour (or more; I wasn't checking) and I have perhaps three quarters of an inch.

If I didn't have to work or eat or sleep or occasionally socialize I might consider spending a bit more time here but except for being slightly clever (at least in my own mind), this is something that'll let the world (specifically me) rest easier if it is consigned to the Never To Be Repeated Pile.

PS It's not a failure; it's just not a very good idea.


I love it when things work.

I made a tiny little sample on Monday, thought about it on Tuesday, tried some of my ideas on Tuesday evening, and finished it off today.

Actually, I'd have preferred to make a necklace because I wear those more regularly, but I have more ideas and I desperately need to try those NOW too.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rare Day

Just after lunch at work today all the lights went out. That means computers too.

Usually when this happens it's just a blip and everything starts again and everyone groans because something was lost, but it's fairly good-natured.

The lights didn't come on again.

The power in forty-seven buildings in the area went out and estimates ran to about three hours before we'd be juiced again so we were sent home.

I finished the necklace.
I think it turned out pretty well.

I started one sample, photographing it along the way for instructions.
Then I fiddled a bit with right angle weave.
Really, just a bit, and just right angle weave and I think I have something but I didn't sleep much last night and so I'll have to fiddle some more another day, but I think it's promising. And PS aren't those purple beads gorgeous? Frosted light blue glass with magenta core. Yum.

I'm having Thoughts about my purple cardigan.

The neck opening starts too low.

The ruffles aren't all that delightful.

When I knitted in the sleeve cap I made the armhole too deep so it feels as though it's slipping down and it looks weird when I raise my arm.

I having Thoughts about ripping out and reknitting which I'm pretty sure means that I won't get to make the third in the series like I'd planned since by then I'll be pretty keen to start on cotton. I'm guessing I'll have lost momentum.

I'm torn.

It's wearable (I wore it today), but it's a bit unflattering and sloppy, not quite what I was aiming for at all. If I undo it as far as the start of the neckline, that's about a third of a sweater's worth of knitting and while I have been known to reknit (possibly to excess), this is quite the swathe of knitting: smaller needles, garter stitch, different yarns, which will be a bit to undo.

I won't be spending all that time making a ruffled collar though. I suppose that's a plus.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Something at Least

I didn't get anything beaded finished, but at least I finished my cardigan.

I've woven in the ends, but haven't yet sewn on the buttons.
I'm less satisfied the fit than I'd like to be; ditto the ruffle collar experiment.

I should have checked the circumference more carefully as it's a little snugger than I was aiming for, although in terms of current fashions it's probably fine. Or may be it's fine by last year's fashion. I can't keep up.

The neck shaping begins too low, so there's just too much ruffle on the upper half of my body, and so the neck gapes open more than I wanted.

Not awful, not unwearable, but not my best, unfortunately.

The colours are fabulous though.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The first couple of performances of my dance subscription were quite frankly not to my taste.

I was miffed that the Martha Graham company thought we needed a lecture along with the dancing which I personally did not; oddly enough I buy a dance subscription BECAUSE I LIKE TO SEE PEOPLE DANCING. What a concept.

Then Flamenco. There's just so much of pointed looks over shoulders and swishing of skirts that I can take. There's a whole lot less of some over-emotional guy practically crying as he sings that I can tolerate. I do like the Spanish guitar, but once again, guitar music is not people dancing.

I've had an intense couple of months at work which has in part translated into more hours there which plays into tiredness and lack of creativity and all that, and this week has been more of a social whirl than I generally like - don't get me wrong: individually I've enjoyed every event, it's just that I didn't get enough down time. (That really means being home by myself so that I can bead and knit without an eye on the clock).

It's not that I seriously considered not going to last night's Joffrey Ballet performance, it's just that I wasn't sure I was in the right frame of mind for proper appreciation; plus my expectations were low.

I guess that's an excellent way to set yourself up for a mind-blowingly fabulous performance, not at all hindered by the excellent fish I ate before at a nearby Jamaican restaurant (I mean it's really nearby: I can practically walk there from my house).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: my One True Love in terms of dance is Classical ballet. Yes, the tutus, yes, the pointe shoes, yes, the ridiculous drama. Love love love.

I do however have an awfully soft spot for whatever it is the Joffrey Ballet does. I was utterly and completely captivated particularly by their first number, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which was perfection to me in every way. The dancers were incredible, the choreography and music were perfect expressions of each other; the lighting was wonderful, the costumes perfect - I only wish it had been longer, as in the entire evening.

As I went home I was elevated and excited and invigorated, and I guess I decided that those two crappy performances were worth enduring for the Joffrey fabulousness.

And today I fully intend to not go anywhere. The mailbox perhaps, but nowhere else.

I thought I'd finish the sample I started for last Tuesday's class.
It took longer than I'd anticipated (and I'm still not finished; I probably need another two hours or so), so I whipped up a sample for some future class (I gave away all the others I'd made like this).

Unfortunately I messed up the first one (on the left), so had to make another. Not that it's bad, it's just not what I intended, and is less forgiving of variations in size of the cabochon, so it won't do as a class sample, though it's perfectly fine as a pendant.

I think I might knit too.


Sunday, March 4, 2012


I went through a phase some years ago where all I wanted to do was bezel things. As usual, eBay and a slightly compulsive attitude left me with more cabochons than I could hope to use in any reasonable lifetime, but naturally, that hasn't completely prevented the acquisition of more bezel-able items from time to time.
Druzies of course are always exempt from any arbitrary limitations on quantity, or even the application of common sense (which as we know is hardly common), as they jump to the front of the queue almost every time.

The stereotypic plan of attack is to string the correct number of seed beads and start stitching in peyote stitch until the correct height is reached, then decrease either by using smaller seed beads or by reducing the stitch count so that the bezel hugs the stone and doesn't fall off.

This is all very well and good, but my experience is that what looks right as a string of seed beads is less right as a strip of peyote, so this time I tried starting with a strip of right angle weave, which turned slightly more successfully in terms of accuracy.

Its chief disadvantage is that if it doesn't fit, cutting it up is less fun than cutting a strip of peyote where you just slide the beads off the thread.
This was fun because the cab is of variable height around the edges and the usual decrease method just doesn't apply. Instead I added strings of a variety of decorative beads across channels (depressed areas) on the top of the druzy.

Sadly, the size of the bezel wasn't quite right, as can be seen by the not-perfectly-circular shape emphasized by the larger grey beads around the lower edge.
See the gaps underneath? Yeah, not perfect. Too bad so sad I'll just have to keep it for myself.

The square one turned out much better.
It's just a large clear glass tile, I think used for mosaics.

I guess I was a little dubious regarding the security of the bezel, so I decided on the overlay with pearls, which turns out to have been an engineering decision with an aesthetic benefit. I really like the way it emphasizes the depth of the tile.

I've done so little beading lately, so I WANT IT ALL FOR ME.

Luckily there's no one in charge to naysay.

I've been working long hours, getting home tired and wanting only to relax on the sofa, which translates to a decent amount of knitting in front of the TV, so I'm nearing the end of my purple cardigan and find myself in a position entirely unique to me.

Generally I knit different things each time. Technically they're almost all the same because the bulk of what I knit are sweaters for myself, but they're usually different in terms of how I think and feel about them, even across cardigans, pullovers, sleeve length, etc.

I start with a yarn and Do Something with it, or I start with a shape or construction technique or neckline and go from there, but I have never until 2012 been even slightly interested in doing variations on a theme, although over time it's possible that I could group my (ugh, this is going to sound pretentious but I can't think of a more apt phrase) body of work and find pieces that are in fact variations on a theme, but right now as I near the end of the second cardigan which is absolutely a tweak on the previous cardigan, it turns out I'm planning the third in the series and can't wait to get started already.

The green cardigan began with garter stitch triangles which were increased until they reached a certain size, a number of them were joined in a particular order, I worked across all of them until the armhole, did something until the front neck, did something else until the full length of the sweater was reached, and then worked the raglan sleeves down from the armholes.

The next and current purple cardigan is an attempt to use the same knit-to-fit technique with garter stitch triangles but with set-in sleeves and a ruffled shawl-type collar.

The sleeves and body had to be worked separately until the underarms, then the sleeves were joined and the sleeve caps were shaped while continuing to knit the front and back. The front and back were shaped via short-rows as they were joined to the sleeve caps, and right now I'm joining the shoulder seams as I complete the fronts and back. Once the shoulders are joined, I will complete the back neck shaping, and then extend the collar at the same time I join it to the back neck, and finally graft the collar closed at the back neck. These twenty-nine collar stitches will be the only sewn stitches in the entire sweater.

My next one will once again use the knit-to-fit garter triangle technique, but will include a twisted stitch (a two-stitch cable) at most of the increase/decrease points. It will be a double-breasted swing cardigan with a turn-back collar on a vee-neck in shades of coral, veering as far as reds and burgundies all the way through pinks, oranges and golds. I will again make set-in sleeves, but I'll do the sleeve shaping better than on the current cardigan, the sleeves of which are not as tapered as I'd like, resulting in a narrower upper sleeve than I usually like. A wider upper sleeve will also result in better (more attractive) armhole shaping on the body of the sweater.

Seriously, I'm ready to start the next one. The last few hours of the current project are always a mixed bags in terms of my enjoyment. On the one hand, there's the satisfaction of following through on the planning, design and execution, but when there's something pressing in the wings, there's the annoyance of having to actually do the work (and at this point it's a little like work, which is a word I don't like to use for things that I do because I want to, not because I'm getting paid to do them).