Sunday, June 30, 2013

Busy Day; or Startitis

Instead of finishing anything that I started earlier today or yesterday (or in fact any time ever), I started more things.

I started a version of this months ago, but using twin beads instead of superduos; it's better with the latter but a bit annoying to make because it's such a tight fit. Or possibly my thread tension is too tight...

Not exactly a rare occurrence.
 And apparently all it takes is one successful way of using Czech-mates, and I'm on a roll.
There's another design waiting in my head using these beads too.

To the Wire

Why is it a rule that when time's running out, as if by magic stuff gets invented? It's very annoying.
 Pursuing something else entirely I made a dodecahedron using superduo beads. Since I could tell it wasn't going to be firm enough and needed a support, I inserted a marble which gives it this interesting kinetic quality: it kinda rattles inside there. The same property (the size differential between the marble and the dodecahedron) allows it to be strung from a chain.

The next motif isn't terribly exciting or wildly unique (not even staidly unique really) but I think it's pretty and doable for almost anyone.
 I hated the colours above, but when I tried to use different beads, I realized that I also had to change it ever so slightly.
This may still be slightly half-baked in that some variations may still present themselves, but I'm not willing to take a stand yet.

Yesterday at spinning I was bemoaning yet again my inability to be in any way inspired by all those stupid two-hole square beads, and I guess something that Amy said must have caused me to think about them slightly differently because guess what?
The very thing that's so annoying (they're flat and square and awkward) works with a directional stitch to alternate flatness to make a sprightly little chain.

I might have an idea for those crazy little slanted two-hole rectangles that I was unable to resist.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Accidentally New

There I was, disconsolately cutting Yet Another Bad Idea apart, so I was in the mood. For cutting. I saw another Bad Something which was essentially a sampler-type variation on a herringbone rope, and as I took scissors to one end, something about the variation on the other end gave me an idea, so with the beads which had so far been freed from this sad excuse for an idea, I started stitching.

It was ugly, but had a germ of something not entirely hideous, so I started again, and when I realized I had a Something, I started again, for real this time.
It's fast, textural, forgiving of the twin beads' irregularity, would work just as well with super-duos, and there's another variation which is also pretty decent.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New But Not New

Well so I made stuff and it's new in the sense that it wasn't here before, but it's not a brand new spur-of-the-moment off-the-cuff design, never before seen by other eyes.

Not much anyway.
 I finished the sample for one of the November through January classes.

I made a sample for Tuesday's class. In doing so, I had a moment (more than just a moment actually) of something akin to panic.
 When I first came up with this design I made a pendant. Just a pendant, nothing spectacular, so it seemed that a better use of the motif would be in multiples instead of single, so I made a necklace which is now in the class samples case at the bead store.

In making said necklace I photographed most steps but not all, so in preparation for Tuesday's class, I needed to make no more than two medallions - and no less either, since the steps I had omitted to capture in pictures involve joining two medallions.

And that's when it happened.
 The design didn't work with different beads than were in the necklace.

Different colours, not different sizes.

It buckled and wouldn't lie flat.

I adjusted my tension, picked alternative colours, tried different finishes, but it just didn't work.
So I had to rework it slightly. Very slightly.

Course that meant I had to rephotograph that which was already photographed, but I think it's only fair since the original photos really are no longer representative.

Like I said, a moment or two of panic.

And three items to put in my Etsy shop come Tuesday evening. It's not all bad.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Great Outdoors

While I was working on this last night, there was a commotion.
Animal noises, that sort of thing.

And one cat was veeeery interested in the other cat who just growled at him.
 Oh wait ('scuse the eyes - she's much more benign than she looks).

There was huntin' goin' on.

The great outdoors came inside in the guise of a very frightened (and soon to be dead) little mouse.
Which I received as a gift, laid at my feet.

I was all verklempt.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I like finishing things, but even more, I like finishing new things.

Finishing class samples for a class I've already proposed and am just about to teach, or have recently taught - yeah, that's all very well and good, but finishing something like that gives me that almost uncomfortable feeling of virtuousness, like when I know I've been working out regularly. It's something I had to do, and I did it, and I'm glad (too happy a word), but it's not quite satisfying.

That's been the weekend in beading and knitting.
 Two-sided mini-pendant.
 Another class sample. Love the colours and it's not unpleasant in the making, but I still have an itch.
 Class sample from WEEKS ago.
 Small variations on this little shape. Progress because I solved one of the problems, but I can't be happy because of too damn much blue. Blue most definitely annoys me, especially today for some reason.
Variations on a theme. It's really not the same as the necklace above but yeah, kinda looks a lot alike, dunnit?

I need something new and exciting, not least because class proposals are due in three weeks and I'm running on fumes.

Oh, the knitting? I should trust my instincts. I didn't feel like figuring it out myself, so I found a pattern and as I worked on it I felt certain the decreases were coming too fast, but hey in the picture it looked nice on the model, so it has to work out, doesn't it?

Not. Really.

Hours of wasted knitting time, and it all has to come out and I have to figure it out anyway because this stupid pattern is crap.

No, it's not you, it's me: I really don't feel like I'm ready for Monday so soon again.

On the plus side the cat/pee issue seems to have been fixed.

Really? You want to know? OK then. She pees crystals which make her want to pee inappropriately, like in boxes that I'm unpacking, or on carpets, that sort of thing. Not the kind of crystals that I pay money to acquire and use in beadwork, the kind that require a ridiculously expensive prescription cat diet that I have to provide to both cats because if I try and feed them individualized diets in separate rooms with closed doors (I tried only that one time with the separate bowls of different food and no matter what, each wanted the other's food), both concentrate on talking to each other and getting all handsy under the door instead of eating and then later they're starving so they yell at me and frankly it's just too much pressure so they both get the pharmaceutical food and I bitch and moan about how I can't just get it at Target or Pet-something because of the prescription but I'll leave off for now because even I've heard as much as I can take for one sentence.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Whenever I made a New Beaded Something, if I think it's going to turn out well (or it's my nth iteration and I think I may have it right this time), I take pictures of each step so that if I decide to teach it, working up the instructions won't be so much of an exercise in reverse engineering, and also a less massive task, especially for large, slow or complex projects.

That's the theory anyway.

Occasionally I actually do photograph every single step, and all that remains is some careful descriptions, but usually I've omitted one or more crucial steps, so during the days before teaching a class, I end up making it all over again.

In preparation for tomorrow's class, when what I really meant to photograph and once again missed was the above (which I did this morning), I ended up instead making a double-sided one of them.
 Which I made into a pendant since I missed the boat.
I'm almost there, really. The instructions will totally be done by noon tomorrow when the class starts. Actually, they'll be done well before that, in plenty of time for me to shower and drive to class, and depending on how distracted I get today and so put off until tomorrow, in time for me to work out before that, but let me not get ahead of myself.

I already had some distraction today which I thought I'd share, even though it's not quite ready to release into the wild.

The first iteration was so bad I didn't even bother to hide the threads. It buckles and the beads fight for space.
 The second iteration was nice enough that I made it into a little pendant, but it still needs improvement. Those fire-polished beads at the centre of each straight edge just look ugly, but I wanted facets, so I tried again.

Except for the cat hair on the left which highlights the injudicious use of my thread burner, this one's more to my liking, though there's one more tweak in store for it. The marquise-ish shapes around the twin bead clusters are well-defined, I have the sparkle of facets, and some nice airiness too, even though it's quite sturdy. It works oriented as shown above and also rotated forty-five degrees. It's a decent size for an earring but a bit small for a pendant. I'm pretty sure there's a good way to join a bunch of them to make a cuff or necklace, so this will turn out to have been a useful distraction.

Sometimes distractions are just piles of wiggly thread in the dustbin.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Beads Please

It's not that I don't like making gifts for people. It's also not that I'm not deeply touched when asked to make something by someone I care about.

It's just hat I haven't beaded a New Thing in ages, weeks at least, maybe a month - at least that's how it feels. I really really wanted to spend my weekend beading instead of unpacking and inventorying kits and making a robe for my daughter's boyfriend.

A very nice robe but still.

Sewing isn't beading.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

In Which Our Heroine Teaches Classes, Sells Kits, Makes New Friends, Spends Time With Old Friends, And Finally Has Her Faith In People's Decency Restored. And Then Has A Field Trip.

I taught a class each of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings, and then Wednesday afternoon, immediately followed by Meet The Teachers which I think I shall have to experience another time for the full immersion, since my table faced away from all the others (I was an end cap to the row of tables) and I experienced only my small part and saw absolutely nothing else, which I'm led to believe involved the liberal use of elbows, but I can't confirm that.

I thought my classes went well, even the ones about which I had had my doubts: the class with only one person (who was quite delightful so that it wasn't weird as it can sometimes be, which is why I generally won't do it), as well as the class that was almost full, in which I had practically nothing to do as everyone was pretty experienced and didn't in any ways overburden me with desperate pleas for help. If half the people had been less experienced beaders, it would have been a different story.

I'm so touched by the students who have previously bought kits and/or patterns, and who signed up for my classes too.

Teaching is always enjoyable for me, and this show only reinforced that.

I had thought I'd be quite the tourist during my long empty days; however except for an outing along the Riverwalk in which I looked for a restaurant for lunch and was slightly weirded out by how uninhabited and quiet the area was, I wasn't actually [much of a tourist]. Turns out there was quite a lot left to do to prepare for both my classes as well as for Meet the Teachers since it was immediately preceded by a class.

I did make a field trip to a bead store in Milwaukee (Eclectica), which turns out to be in the same strip mall as a wonderful yarn store, and stopped by a grocery store to get some fruit, but that's about it.

I met the incredibly talented and delightful Martina Nagle, as well as a host of people whose last names I don't remember, websites I don't know, so I can't give them shout outs. Petra, Martina's friend, Cheryl from Chicago originally from Philly, Melissa Grakowsky who not only is uber-talented, but also young and gorgeous, the one who does quilling with beads, Melanie from the UK who probably views size eleven seeds the same way I view size sixes (her work is all in ridiculously tiny beads, fifteens and smaller) - yeah, the list goes on.
 This is the only picture I took once things got going; it's from either my Monday or Tuesday class showing how well the kit slings worked (very well). I'm pretty sure more people were impressed by these displays than by my beading.

Two things would make them even better:

  1. Something to separate the two sets of kits on each "shelf". I actually thought about it as I was designing them, but as it involved hand-sewing, I was less than excited, so omitted them. It wouldn't be hard though.
  2. WHEELS. Two loaded displays in each hand carried from the Hyatt to the Delta Center is more exercise than I needed at that time in that part of my arms. I'm really sore today!
Other than that, I thought they worked out pretty well for prototypes. If I made another set, I'd work on my sawing accuracy (pieces of PCV that were supposed to be a certain size were only ever approximately that size), and experiment with paints to get a more permanent finish. The paint scrapes of if you look funny at them.

As I was hauling my stuff to Meet the Teachers, I saw to my horror that one of my samples had come loose, and another had disappeared completely. I dropped the displays and retraced my path, to no avail. Clearly the necklace had been picked up. I made a noise in the meet and bead area in the Hyatt, asked at Lost and Found, asked about it at the B&B registration desk, nothing, nada, no necklace.

When it wasn't returned immediately, I hoped that the person who picked it up and KEPT IT would burn in the atheist version of hell (I think that pretty much amounts to feeling very guilty about not doing the right thing). I was annoyed, to say the least.

After Meet the Teachers (which ended at eleven), I had a bite and a drink with a few people (the utterly charming Anne Mitchell, the crazy talented Gail Crosman Moore, and the delightful Amanda someone, sorry, didn't catch your name!) at the Hilton, which is at the opposite side of the Delta Centre from where I was staying. By the time that was over, it was quite cold, so the skywalk, or skyway, or whatever the covered passageway between the two hotels via the convention centre is called, was the only possible route back. Plus as I said, downtown is quiet, and at that time of night the only people out were odd men not appearing to be going anywhere.

When I got to the part of the skyway that belongs to my hotel. It. Was. Locked.

I'd have to walk back about two blocks to get out of there, and then walk those two blocks in the cold. Not a fun prospect.

I did the stamping of the foot, the gnashing of the teeth, the groaning of "Oh shiiiiiT!" at which the phone on the wall rang.

It was like one of those movies where Colin Farrell answers a public phone and then there's this hostage situation, or something, except really it wasn't; turns out I hadn't noticed the sign saying that closed circuit cameras were in operation.

On the phone was an extremely nice man who unlocked the door for me.

Back at the hotel, my necklace still had not been turned in.

Back in my room, I tallied the evenings takings and if there had been zero expenses associated with going to B&B, like buying materials for kits, the hotel room, gas and food and so on, it would have covered about three quarters of my new furnace and air-conditioner. Not so shabby anyway.

Naturally, the morning after the night on which I went to bed the latest my entire stay, even though every other day housekeeping didn't come near my room until mid-afternoon on every other day (which truly wasn't ideal), they freakin' WOKE ME UP this morning.

My necklace still hadn't been turned in at the Hyatt.

Nor at B&B registration, so I packed my car and as I was about to leave, an email from B&B Registration arrived: my necklace was found.

Turns out it was at the Eclectica booth which was not along the path from my room to the Ballroom at the Delta Centre. I bet someone picked it up, was going to keep it, heard the noises I made about how someone who keeps things that were accidentally dropped should rot in hell, was too embarrassed to be seen handing it in, and so left it somewhere that they knew it would be found.

Alternately, it magically levitated from the skywalk when I switched hands, and then flew all the way back to the Hyatt because it was so taken with the vintage beads at the Eclectica booth.

And by the way the carpet in the second room (oh yeah, they gave me another room because my first room had ANTS and carpets so filthy that after sitting on them, my knees, the front of my feet and the front of my toes were black. Ick) were filthy too.

Since the show floor opened after I was leaving (my departure at this time was on purpose; I don't feel I should be trusted around that many shopping opportunities), I decided to make a couple of stops on the way home, so I stopped at Studio Beads in Deerfield where I spent rashly with abandon (it was great; they had twenty percent of seed beads including all the expensive ones I treated myself to), and then stopped at the Frank LLoyd Wright house and studio in Oak Park for a tour.
I mostly missed rush-hour and even made pretty good time getting home.

I hope I can do it again next year. Perhaps if I practise self-restraint all year, I'll even allow myself to stay and shop, but I think it might be dangerous.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

So Far So Good

The drive to Milwaukee was (except for the time involved), smooth and painless and the view from my hotel room is lovely.

The goodie bag was pretty nice with a decent mix of advertisements, coupons and actual usable goodies: small ruler, a mirror compact, a polishing cloth that's fabulous for the iPad screen, a teeny pair of round nosed pliers and some actual beads even.
But wait! What's that picture on the Save The Date page?
Yup, it's Trivoli, the class I taught this evening and will be teaching on Wednesday too.

My kit slings worked out really well, so well in fact that I was accosted by another instructor.

Day One of Bead and Button: no complaints.


Bead and WHAT?

It really doesn't look that hectic, but it was. Is.

Packing kits for my classes and Meet the Teachers, and I was relaxed until today, when I realized what a fool I'd been.

Not only that, but I actually thought I'd finish that last class sample.


If you look semi-carefully, you can see the thread still attached that I tried to edit out (I don't have photoshop).

I will have it finished before the class starts though. For real.

First there's sleeping and driving to do, about the same of each. Slightly more driving.