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.