Thursday, October 31, 2013

Instead of Knitting

Yup, still with the kumihimo.

This was a bit challenging to keep decent tension (and it's not perfect by a long shot) since instead of using beads in different sizes on different strings to make a spiral or other pattern, each strand alternates two different beads and all I can say is that it does weird ass stuff with the tension.

It's still quite effective though, I think.

I'm getting very antsy to knit, but my hands show little improvement, dammit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

And Also

I forgot to take a picture before.
On Friday evening we played in Loyce's classroom where she showed us how to make these crazy clever felted beads using PAPER CLIPS.

I just need to add a clasp.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


This is what it looks like when you're about to leave for SOAR.
 This is what it looks like during Janel's workshop.
This is what I made in the workshop. My hands hurt to wrap the yarn around the cardstock, so I stopped and just wound skeins. By the third day it hurt to spin so I had to stop that too.
 This is what our table at the workshop review looked like. Pretty awesome.
 This is most of what I bought at the market. I was pretty restrained because half of it isn't even for me and I'm not sure when I'll be pain-free enough to spin the half that is for me. I'd been resting my hands pretty well the preceding weeks, but I'm afraid this week has been a bit of a setback in terms of pain.
This is the street view of Alinea. A few of us decided that since we weren't buying airfare it was a reasonable expense (yes, these are more or less comparable expenses), and that was before we knew it was the last SOAR. Turns out to have been a fitting tribute.
This is what one of the courses looked like. (There were a total of thirteen; all fantastic, a couple insanely mind-blowing). Yup, Real Fire. Pretty awesome.
 This is what our dessert course looked like. They constructed it in front of us. Art for the eyes and mouth.
If you're interested, that's a chocolate sort-of custard on something crust-like with frozen whipped milky something on top, pate sucree, candied basil leaves, creme fraiche, violet syrup, and hazelnut somethings, all sprinkled with glittery violet pixie dust (at right front there's a pile).

The grey is a rubberized cloth, and you can see that the violet syrup settled into square blobs.


This was by far one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.

This is what Loyce's nuno scarf workshop looked like.
This is what it looked like when Loyce was cutting into my scarf. No, I really wasn't bothered about the cutting.
This is what it looks like when we hang out in the evenings in one of the classrooms. This was a quiet moment.
This is what it looks like when Gord Lendrum spins on a spindle. I think he was messing with us.
 This is what it looks like the very last night of SOAR, listening to Amy, trying to hold it together, not happy that this is the last time that we will be assembled like this, for this, this time and in the future, even if there's another event that grows to replace SOAR, if there could be a replacement.
 Some spinners don't need fancy tools but make use of what they have at hand. Or on their feet. Sandals make adequate spindle-holders as it turns out.
That was my nineteenth and last SOAR. I've been every year since 1995 when I thought I would go just that one time and then they couldn't keep me away.

Even though it's only a week a year, it's been an integral part of my life in ways I can't express. My SOAR friends, my SOAR family are people hanging out at the extraordinary end of the bell curve and every time I'm with them I'm stimulated, relaxed, excited, comforted, inspired, amused, moved, powerful, humbled and altogether a better person.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Before Leaving

Every time I think I'm fabulously well-prepeared and could really spend the day before leaving with my feet up, it turns out I was delusional.

I knew exactly which photos I was going to take of today's sewing project, and then it was mostly complete with some handwork remaining to do in the car tomorrow, so I guess I blew it.

Another picture of stacks of little boxes filled with something creamy isn't that interesting, so all that remains is the latest finished kumihimo necklace.
You can't really see all that well how the clasp is attached, but so far this is to me the most satisfactory.

So my big project today was to improve this bag I have. It's either a huge handbag or a slightly smaller tote, but either way it's this brightly-coloured floppy leather concoction in which everything gets lost. It doesn't stand on its own but collapses in a puddle and things flop around and even though everyone who sees it just LOVES it, it's not as functional as it could be, so I did something about it.

First I made a framework of plastic canvas which I whip-stitched together. The side gussets can fold slightly so that if the bag is zipped closed the corners of the plastic canvas interior box won't poke the leather (it's fairly soft).

Then I sewed a lining with roomy pockets all the way around, about half the height of the lining and pouchy with elastic along the opening so that you can get more than a card into a pocket.

Last (so far - this is temporary) I, um, used safety pins to attach it to the lining that the bag already has, just below the zipper. This makes it functional (ish) and holds the new lining in place so that in the car on the way to SOAR (yeah!) I can sew it in place.

I've been wearing wrist braces while sleeping for the past two or three weeks, and during much of the day, especially if I'm doing anything that aggravates the carpal tunnel. I've seen some improvement, but my hands are nowhere near back to normal, and I've lost quite a bit of grip strength, just in the past couple of weeks. Opening jars is problematic. I haven't knitted since early September, and I'm a little afraid to try.

I have packed two sock projects, and a summer cardigan which is close to complete in the hope that it won't hurt.

I've also packed a boatload of kumihimo projects in the fear that it will.

Either way, this promises to be a bittersweet week: the last SOAR, my nineteenth. I'll be with friends, and I'll eat and drink too much and laugh more often and be wildly inspired.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Man Up

I mean, one has responsibilities, you know? You make a Kumihimo rope and I suppose you could just toss it in a box or a drawer and forget about it, but if you're not only about the process then this really isn't the best way to go.
Besides, you'd run out of storage space in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


If you're beading a necklace (say) in some sort of needle-and-thread modality, you just stitch and stitch and stitch (and perhaps add a jump ring or clasp for example), and when you're finished stitching, presto chango there's your necklace.


When you're done knitting, there might be some stitching things together (not often if you're me) and there might be some sewing on buttons, but really, once the knitting is finished, there's not much more to be done before it can be on your body in public (assuming we're not talking about knitted unmentionables about which I may have opinions).

Kumihimo is a little annoying at the tail end though.
I'm fine with the time it takes to string the beads and set up (it's not dreadful at all with size eight beads). The braiding is quite fast too. The problem is that it's all too easy to end up with beautiful ropes with hideous and useless ends.

There's this whole effort, almost like a whole other project that has to go into getting a completed kumihimo rope into something that should not be shoved into the back of a drawer. I mean, those are just not useful as they are.

Since these are mine and that's the way I roll, I have to figure out what beads, what style, what closure I'm going to stitch and I find it irksome, that's all, even when I have a plan. It's annoying to be finished and yet not even slightly usable.

I think I like finishing knitting much better than I like finishing kumihimo as it turns out. Of course I like knitting better than I like kumihimo too, but that's another issue entirely.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Just a Pair

A pair of spiky earrings, short ear wires, bold colours, check. (You know who you are).

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Kumihimo is all happy-go-lucky once you string the beads. You just cross, rotate, cross, rotate, adjust tension, repeat until you've finished the rope and then you have this thing with threads hanging off the ends and then what?

I'm more than just not a fan of making a loop and fringey thing with the threads used to do the braid. It's just too boho hippie chick messy for my taste, though it's not unpopular in general as I've observed.

There are bead caps you can buy, wirework you can do, clasps you can buy to make it into a necklace, and often these look fine or even good, but that's not always entirely satisfying.
 Or you can sew your own because you know you have the skills.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Busy Bee

Actually, this was done yesterday, just no picture until today.
Interestingly enough, the amount of time to whip butters and oils is very much proportional to the volume: this took longer than I'd anticipated. I just need labels.

And I liked the coppery necklace from yesterday so much and I've been wanting something to showcase these beads (they're described as "greasy yellow": sort of a slightly translucent yellow-green) so this happened.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Carpal, sadly. I'm all about the wrist braces and ergonomic mouse. Oh joy.

Knitting hurts too much, so I'm avoiding it; temporarily I hope.

My portable projects (I have to have something) are kumihimo instead.

I've dabbled in the past, a project here, a project there, but never did anything terribly interesting, or bothered to attempt to control it particularly.

I like using Czech size eights because they're already strung, so they make a very quick start: tie a knot and slide them onto the cord I'm planning to use and go. The first beaded kumihimo project I ever did was a lariat which I started and finished in a single evening, including stitching the finials (the ends look a bit like turned finials). 

I noticed that my ropes weren't nice and round, the way bead crochet is, and I thought it was perhaps because I was using Czech beads which are a little irregular. 

Almost every beading class I teach, I mention thread control and thread tension, and when I'm doing bead weaving I'm acutely aware of when the thread tension is important enough to make or break a project, and when there's leeway.

In knitting I'm acutely aware that tension affects gauge which affects not only size but durability, wearability, drape, feltability and a whole host of other attributes.

In weaving the selvages are dependant on thread tension.

I know these things.

Why I never stopped to think about thread tension with respect to kumihimo is beyond me.

And then I started thinking and noticing and adjusting.

The gold rope on the right? Not a care in the world, and it's uuuuuugly and uneven. The purple rope and the grey-and-white rope? Better, right? Attention to tension. There's undoing and redoing in my future (what's new, eh?)

 The purple rope was a bit meh until I decorated it. I think it's better now - the dangles move and swing and the centre section no longer threatens to dissolve in a puddle. (And it's more purple than the picture suggests).
I started this rope at one of the Bead Fests I think, and it's been sitting in one of the Drawers of Partial Things since then. Love the colours and shaping, but could never find the will to finish it. I'm not actually sure why this weekend was different. (Perhaps I was inspired by the very pleasant surprise that was the start of the dance season on Friday night. More about that below). Finally, a little appalled at myself, I did [find the will to finish it] - and it turns out to be the perfect rope for a pendant that was hangin' out on a ribbon which was doing it no favours.
 And then there were earrings, which is often the case.

So, the ballet.

Much to my dismay (I was going to say "disgust", but that's really quite rude) the subscription this year included (as last year) an evening of four pieces executed by local dance companies, choreographed especially for the season. Last year's set of four was frankly dreadful, and this season has no extras (I don't count Broadway shows. Musicals are not dance, even if they include song-and-dance numbers. I hate the way everything has to be diluted to have broadest appeal leaving nothing special and unique and intense. Yes, I'm turning into a curmudgeon), leaving nothing to swap in to replace the show.

I fully expected another evening in which the highlight was at best mediocre, but it turns out that two of the four pieces were actually very enjoyable: engaging, intelligent and well-executed, while the other two were as expected boring, predictable and sloppy. The good ones more than made up for them, leaving me energized and more willing to apply myself to what I ought rather than what I wanted.

Turned out quite well.