Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Ears Have It

I guess it's been an earring sort of weekend, beading-wise.
 I finally finished this pendant which unfortunately has a nasty bit caused by an imperfect recovery from a broken bead. Guess I get to keep it.
 On the plus side: matching earrings.
 And another pair in the same style with slightly different beads and ear wires.
No knitting; it hurts too much.

I can kumihimo though, but I have no pictures.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Loose No More

On my beading desk there's a box full of sketches and notes, and on top of the notes there's a large ziploc bag containing those things that I absolutely completely most urgently have to finish right away so that when I sit down to bead, I will definitely work on those before anything else.

And sometimes I do.

Sometimes though I change my mind or a deadline comes and goes or I need those beads for something else, so the contents of the bag are somewhat fluid - at least the top layers. There's stuff in the bottom that's been there for years.

I did finish this necklace, and even made a pair of earrings to match, because some people like it that way.
 I also made a pair of earrings to match the necklace I finished over the weekend.
Trust me though: even though I tied up a few loose ends, I'm not yet done.

Not by a long shot.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

So Very Prepared

I'm so prepared for the next class I'm teaching that I finished this sample (and the instructions too) well before the class I taught this afternoon.
It can be difficult to exactly fit the teaching of a project into a time-slot, in part because different people work at different speeds and have different strengths and weaknesses, but it's probably fair to say that more often than not I think that something is quicker and easier than everyone else does, and although I usually manage to cover everything in the allotted time necessary to finish the project, I do sometimes wish that we could have done a little more.

This afternoon's class was for a four-hour slot, and even though not everyone finished (one person did, and even Instagrammed it before I got to where I was going after class), everyone was really really close to complete, and I was able to talk everyone through the tricky bits (there are always tricky bits I'm afraid, Usually there are tricky bits) as they hit them, so I would say it was one of the more successful pairings of Things To Get Done with Time Allowed To Get Them Done.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The way it works is that I fool around with needle thread and beads, and if I'm both lucky and persistent I end up with something that I don't want to cut up for spare parts, and either it's something I absolutely need to add to the ever-more-overflowing place where I keep the beaded jewellery which is for me to keep, or it's something I like but isn't for me (I kinda thrill to make floral things, but I rarely want to put them on my body), or it's something that's clearly just a first pass needing a few more iterations to get right - whatever that means.

Sometimes it means that I need to find a better way of assembling it without passing through the same bead more than three times. Sometimes it means that I need to find a way to stop it from collapsing in the middle (or alter my expectations of what I'm making), and sometimes it means that I need to find a less complicated way of putting it together so that I can explain it to another person. As in teaching it.

So I go off and do it again - sometimes the initial version never gets finished: as I start it I see its flaws so I cut it up and do the next one better. 

When I think it's coming out right, I start photographing every step because I know that when it's the week before I'm due to teach it, there's a really good chance I won't remember how I did it. What this means is that writing instructions for a class ends up being a combination of explaining (first to myself) what those photos represent in terms of what must be done, and being annoyed that I omitted to photograph one or more steps, so I have to make it yet again.

This turns out to be not a bad idea at all so that I have extra samples on hand to show the students in class.

I had completed two samples for tomorrow's class months ago when I was putting the proposals together; one went to the store, and one sat in my drawer until it was time to put the instructions together.

There were some steps for which there were no photos, so I had to make another one.
 Really, that's a good thing because as I was making this one, I found a better way to do one part.
 I also had the opportunity to use some new beads and crystals. I'm really enjoying the magatamas: they're frosted clear gold-lined yumminess.
I only wish it was a shape which photographed better - even the ones in less confusing colours look ugly in pictures.

But I was all done by lunchtime so I had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted the rest of the day, and there won't be a mad rush to get done tomorrow morning.

The only thing I forgot? To call the store to find out how many people are signed up.

But I do have two samples to bring in.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Under My Belt

There's this ebb and flow of things that need to get made or get done, at least that's how it feels.

I have a sometimes rather vague idea, sit down with piles of beads and start stitching. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it takes a few tries, and sometimes it's like magic because it all falls into place just the way I planned - or better.

Sometimes my ideas are around small things: pedants, earrings, components, and sometimes it just has to be this huge piece that takes so long I swear I'll never do it again and then I end up making one in shades of purple with bronze.

I'm happy to make smallish things (but not too small) because they fit nicely into a two-hour teaching slot, but when there's too much of that I have the sense of skimming, of not engaging entirely, even when everything happens perfectly. 

I like a project I can sink my teeth into, that has a substantial time investment, that has the heft of complexity either in terms of the intensity of the construction, or else in the richness of the finished piece. A simple chain with nothing happening doesn't do it for me, but today, at the end of a dull work week, I'm fulfilled.
For now.

Until next time.

It doesn't hurt that it looks gorgeous on skin.

And it's shiny.

PS This is the centre of the flower from last weekend. It stands on its own as a self-sufficient project, but it also works to bling up the flower pendant.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


So I showed you this the other day.
 And when I taught this evening they wanted to know if it would be a class, and it will - two separate classes though, because it's more than we can fit into one four-hour class, or probably even split up into two two-hour classes with homework (which is not unheard of).

The large part looks like this if you don't add the rivoli centre - or it could look like this on the back if you do.
 And the rivoli centre can be a very sweet little pendant alone, or else yummifying (why yes that is a real word. I just wrote it down, didn't I?) a large floral motif.
Either way.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


A friend from work lent me his nail gun. 

I don't know much about nail guns, and I certainly didn't know that you have to plug in the air compressor that very noisily gets up to 150 PSI (the cats didn't like that part one bit) and then you fiddle with the knob such that when you pull the trigger, the nails go all the way in.

Powerful stuff.

I don't understand all those movies in which the heroine is chased into an abandoned building site by the crazed killer, and she runs until she's cornered and you're sure she's out of options but the movie still has at least half an hour to go and then she discovers a nail gun and shoots him with it like seventy-three times but on account of he's crazy (and this is, after all, fiction) and there's at least half an hour to go, he doesn't actually get dead from all these nails but does bleed a lot - anyway, I don't understand those things because the thing I have in my living-room is nothing like those things.

Not that it couldn't hurt someone, but (a) it needs electricity, (b) it's loud - you can't exactly sneak up on someone and (c) you have to press really hard against the thing you're trying to nail so that the whats-what retracts and the trigger gets enabled which once again interferes with the whole element of surprise thing and I don't think that even a crazed killer would hold still for a nail gun being pressed quite hard against his delicate (or even indelicate) bits so that the heroine could put two-inch nails into him. At least not more than once, I imagine.

Anyway, I had my way with the nail gun, and all those long, thin, oddly-shaped pieces of wood that I've been mitering and measuring and painting are now safely attached to the place where the wall and the floor meet, but there are no pictures because it would be dull.

And when I ran out of things to nail in the room with the new floor, I wandered around the house until I found more things that needed nailing (thanks to the ex who was famously good at starting things and famously dreadful at finishing them) and I had my way with those things too and I'm happy to say that the TV room in the basement is much improved (though it still needs More Effort).

And then I did a little beading.
I needed to make something quick to hang from these cool ear wires that I had to make. I really should always just make my own; these are so much more interesting than the ones I buy and even better, I know for sure that these are solid brass, not just brass-plated (which I suspect of the ones I buy but can't be sure).
 Then I did this. I'm wearing it right now. I don't think I can bear to part with it to tell the truth because the colours are so much more delicious in Real Life.
Then I made the middle part of the necklace above, but I may need to cut it up because the colours are ugly together and the copper bail thing really didn't work out well at all.

Then I made more and different noise with the tile saw I borrowed from another work colleague. (Turns out there are advantages to working in a male-dominated environment). This must have been the economy model compared to the one I rented when I was cutting tiles for me floor, because it didn't make cuts as clean and smooth as the other monster. Still, it successfully cut some tiles into coaster-sized pieces but I have to confess, excited as I was at the time by the possibilities of all that left-over tile, I'm pretty much over it.

I'll make a coaster for Mike (who lent me the nail gun) because I said I would and I'll make a trivet because I already started it and I may even make the box-thing that I want to use as a planter to see if gel super-glue really does glue ceramic tile, but honestly my heart's not in it.

I'd rather bead or knit or spin or sew (I need really nice fabric for curtains for my bedroom because after twelve years of hating the hideous lacy disgusting nylon things that were there when I moved it, I just can't stand it any longer and I'm ready to do something about it) or make body butter or maybe even that bath-mat I started for my daughter.
And then I worked on the instructions for Tuesday's class and then I watched Breaking Bad which OMG was pretty exciting.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Speed of Life

My ideal weekend is one in which my plans are minimal (to be honest: non-existant) so that I can putter   (bead, knit, spin, make stuff, read, whatever) to my heart's content with no appointments to constrain anything. (Except for massages. I'll interrupt for a scheduled massage). 

I'm lucky in that I manage to approximate this fairly regularly.

When you're getting through the hour or day or week, waiting for that right time, that good time, life just speeds by, but when you're immersed in time that's yours, you can savour and enjoy those molasses moments.

I'm still waiting for my hands and wrists to stop hurting (perhaps I won't after all tile my bathroom myself), but that's not primarily what's interfered with my ability to take pictures of New Things I Just Made. Not having been able to complete any New Things I Just Made is the main driver.

On Thursday my baby turned twenty-one, so on Friday after work I drove to Columbia, took him out for a rather nice dinner and drove back. By the time I got home I wasn't quite sure which way was up.

It was a long, long, long day. The cats gave me an earful.

Saturday the Summer Rolls I made for spinners took longer than I'd anticipated, but at least spinning hurt less than anticipated. (Not much at all, actually). Saturday night there was incremental progress on this and that.

Today there was brunch with a friend in from Portland (preceded by mad prep instigated by "Cindy would love it if you brought some jewellery"), checking out the new wing of the Art Museum, visiting a friend who's not well and then finally I finished something.
 They say third time's a charm and if this were exactly the third time I'd made this I'd agree, but what with all the semi-cutting-up, I'm not sure what the number is.

Either way, I did manage to figure out a better way to get this together, which for the purposes of teaching is a Good Thing.

Since there's always a sock project (in the car. You never know when you'll need knitting, right?) which doesn't count and since I finished my silk tee-shirt I need something else to knit (that stash just won't knit itself up) and even though I don't have a project that excites and thrills and engages me, I still need something to knit until such time as brilliance strikes.
This little cotton no-brainer should tidy up a bunch of those pesky odd purples one has lying around.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Not to go on and on and ON about it, but the whole floor thing was very physical in ways I didn't anticipate. 

I didn't really think about how I'd mix a fifty-five pound bag of thin-set and then move it from my mixing station (the driveway) to inside the room I was tiling when I can barely get the large box of kitty litter from my car to the litter-box, and that's only forty-something pounds.

It didn't occur to me that grouting would hurt my hands and my wrists and leave my fingers so swollen that for almost a week I couldn't wear most of my rings, and my hands so sore that too much knitting or computer usage (hello, my job!) would be very uncomfortable.

Yeah, I said it: Too. Much. Knitting. Didn't know you could even put those three words together - it just doesn't make sense, does it? What does that mean, what is too much knitting? How can there be such a thing as too much knitting?

Sadly, there is such a thing.
Beading however? Much gentler on the hands.

And in totally unrelated news, my baby (who at about six foot three inches tall is almost a full foot taller than I) turns twenty-one tomorrow. I know, it's pretty unbelievable.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Not Idle Hands

Honestly, it's not as though I've been sitting around, watching The Tudors on Netflix and doing absolutely nothing. Well actually I have been watching The Tudors but I've not been doing nothing, though most of what's been keeping me busy is small and dull or else doesn't photograph well.

I made a sample for tomorrow's class.
 I started making a trivet using left-over tile. I think it's an ingenious design; too bad my woodowrking skills are so poor.
 I made progress on the bathmat.
I knitted, I attempted to use a wood plane (let's just say I'm glad I didn't buy the most expensive one), I fixed the closer thingie on a screen door, I made ravioli using wonton wrappers instead of making my own dough (I wish I could find pre-made ravioli skins because I don't like the wonton wrappers much though the filling was fabulous), I made some ricotta, and I worked out all three days of the long weekend and here's a funny thing.

Or not so funny, because of the pain. Apparently all the muscles I was using to do the floor? Not the same ones I use when I work out, so everything hurts. On the plus side, I feel very virtuous and smug - working out is an unpleasant chore, so knuckling down and doing it earns Brownie points in my head.

I also stopped by Home Depot to show Linda (the person who helped me get all the right stuff in all the right quantities when I was embarking on the tile project) photos of my floor. I know, pretty silly, showing pictures of my success, but she was so helpful and so sweet and so encouraging that I thought she might get a kick out of them.

I think she did.

She hugged me and thanked me for bringing the pictures in and said I should be proud.

I guess I am.