Friday, January 31, 2014

Empty Queue

That's (for now) the last of the queued kumihimo necklaces waiting for clasps. I love the colours of the daggers, but the entire necklace is ever so slightly twisted - not enough for it to be on purpose but too much for it to be quite straight.
 Perhaps someone will love it just as it is.

Meanwhile there's another using small beads in process.
And earrings as a class sample for Tuesday's class.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Slim and Lumpy

Size elevens with some eights for texture.

I may have to keep this one for myself.
Not so much because I love and adore it (it's fine. Quite nice) but because I had to join in new thread about three quarters of the way through and I'm concerned that its strength might be compromised, and also that someone with actual prescription glasses will be able to see where I fudged a thing or two.

It's not as though I have no use for it - it should be quite useful as I'm generally too impatient to make matching or coordinating chains for my pendants, and this will do nicely.

And I inadvertently sold one last night. It was sort of an accident but I'm perfectly okay with it as they're still being made faster than I can get rid of them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Like Thinner

I finished the kumihimo necklace using all size elevens (instead of eights, which are bigger. Think eight beads per inch versus eleven beads per inch. Very approximately)
Since I may (most likely) want to slide a pendant onto it, instead of my usual sewn clasp, I added jump rings and a narrow S-hook clasp so as not to make the ends fat and lumpy.

See how much nicer? The thicker necklace has better colour definition and those beads work really well with some of the other beads I've been using as accents within the braiding, like lentils and daggers and teardrops, but as a sort of wardrobe staple on which to hang things, the thin one is better.
It doesn't take all that horribly long either (I did about a third or more of a necklace in under two hours), though the braiding seems more likely to go awry: I found I had to correct a couple of mistakes that I missed. I suppose if I'd have been wearing glasses while braiding that might not have happened.

I think I'm in denial about the fact that my eyesight is just not as sharp as it was. It's somehow always a surprise that oh! I can't see! I should put on my glasses! which sounds studiedly and annoyingly disingenuous but is in reality the same affliction that strikes so many people who are no longer in their twenties or thirties: they feel that they still are and every time they're reminded by reality it's just a tensy bit shocking.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Play Date

I finally got the colours to play nicely with each other.
There. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Less Time, More Done

One queued kumihimo necklace completed.
 I bought the focal bead years ago and made the two small beaded beads dangling below soon after, and then I stopped. I suppose there didn't seem to be an attractive plan immediately presenting itself, even though the beads with which any plan would unfold were apparently obvious.

I started braiding the necklace with little to no plan (just braid it and then make a clasp) when I remembered the stone and found the beaded beads and then it was obvious.

It's rather satisfying to have something fall together so conveniently: the necklace is more interesting than when I started it, and the stone and beaded beads are no longer being shuffled from drawer to drawer in the stash.

Today I was teaching part two of the class for which I made the sample yesterday, getting a massage, running errands and yet somehow in the remaining time there was more beading than the day before which was almost completely dedicated to beading. Go figure.

Actually I really shouldn't be surprised as I've always maintained that the less free time you have, the more efficiently you use it. Back in the paleolithic era when I was married with two small children I still managed to take care of the three (no, that's not a typo) children, work full-time, cook every meal except when I was lucky enough to get a babysitter on the weekend, and still sew about eighty to ninety percent of my clothes.

Not that I even slightly yearn for those days, though the kids were pretty cute.

You know how when you buy new clothes that you really really like and you just have to wear them immediately and even though there's no need to change that day, you do because you Must Wear New Clothes? Yeah same with new beads. Mostly I buy and I put them with others to which they're related and then some time later they get used in the course of things without much fanfare.

Not today.

I had a few minutes around the class time and picked out two tubes of seed beads, some utterly delicious daggers and some tile beads and I USED THEM ALL THIS EVENING.

 The daggers and tiles in the necklace above, and the tiles and both seed beads in the pendant below.
And look! I thought I'd see just how awkward it is to string size elevens for kumihimo (quite) and just how tedious it is to braid (not dreadfully). The rope is the perfect size for the pendant and is actually really close to a herringbone rope with four size elevens in each round.

I think I should switch to elevens to slow down the rate of production. If I'd taken elevens instead of eights to Australia I wouldn't have made quite so many necklaces and my hand-luggage wouldn't have been quite so heavy - though not light enough to have made a difference at Brisbane airport.

Some of the accent beads I like are better matched to the larger seed beads though. I guess it's always good to have more options.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Not Enough

I've probably said it before, but I'll say it again anyway: my ideal weekend is one which has minimal time accounted for before it starts. A successful weekend day (in winter) is one in which I don't step outside, except perhaps to collect the mail.

It's not that I'm a complete hermit or misanthrope, it's just that I value my unstructured time (which I probably structure somewhat anyway) in which to Make Things (sore hands notwithstanding). I like to have some number of hours, preferably all of them, in which to fiddle and dabble and come up with stuff or make another sample or well, whatever I please. So it's not unreasonable to assume that when I have an entire Saturday at my disposal I'll get quite a bit done.

Unfortunately most of what I generated today were piles upon piles of wiggly thread in the trashcan - I must have cut up the same piece at least twice, and there's a version of it on my desk slated for the scissors and I'm still not liking the colours I've chosen.

At least I finished this sample for tomorrow's class.
 And I did make this little doodad - it's really quite small, not much more than an inch across.
I came upon a design element: the little stems with the clusters that stick out of this piece, but I'm not sure that they're best used this way. I have a few more ideas, both concerning configuration as well as colour - sometimes using multiple colours where previously there was only one can add interest enough to be worthwhile making a second or third time, and even incite someone else to make one.

This though isn't there yet.

I have two kumihimo necklaces with unfinished ends and I didn't even get to them amidst the generation of the wiggly thread.

Sadly, tomorrow is rather more spoken for than today.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Perhaps there should have been more value contrast in the colours, but  even so, I like the way these colours go together in this sample.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Like a Dream

That's the thing about vacations: once they're over and you're back in your regular life, they're much like a book or a movie: you remember what happened, and how you felt, but they're distant memories and there's only so much retelling your friends can stand.

This is the picture that caused the hand-luggage semi-fiasco.
 It looks really good in my family room.

So a couple of years ago, Phreadde introduced me to these:
 And I've managed to get a few people addicted myself. I love to spread the joy.

Then one of my students introduced me to the coffee version:
 It's surprisingly good.

When we were in Melbourne, we ate a dish which we loved (Shanghai rice cake stir-fried with spicy pork and spinach), and which I have decided I must recreate, so off I went to my favourite Asian grocery store to find these rice cakes which are really a round or oval flat rice noodle with a most excellent chewy consistency.

I found a dried version which I think isn't working (you're supposed to soak them for ages and ages) and next I need to look for fresh or frozen rice cakes, but in the checkout, I spied these:
 Which are (not entirely surprisingly) rather good too. They have less up-front ginger taste, but after you're lulled by the mango, the spicy ginger burn sets in.

When I go back for the fresh rice cakes (or frozen) I'll have to pick up the orange-flavoured version.
Apart from the focus on food today, and taking my primary cat to the vet to have her staples removed (she was very good. She spent so much time there while I was away that she wasn't even slightly freaked out at being there like she usually is), this is the bulk of the beading I did today. It's a sample for tomorrow's class.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wrapping Up

 Made clasps for the last two kumihimo ropes I made in Australia (or en route from).
That's a total of twelve.

Yeah, ridiculous.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

In Review

Let's just say that the actual travel part of travelling can be the least fun part of travelling. I mean, when one faces four flights spanning more than twenty-four hours one just knows it's not going to be the best part of the trip; the question is just how much awfulness it can encompass.
 I suppose it could have been far worse, as it started off well and then suddenly badly and that pretty much set the tone.

Queues at the airport were light. Check-in was relatively uncomplicated. The lines for security were short and then it all came crashing down a bit.

As an aside, let me just say that each of us has logged many national and international flights (my son somewhat less so, but still plenty) and that while we have always been aware and careful about checked baggage weight limits, carry-on has always been the safety valve for excess (and I won't say "excess shopping" because often it has nothing to do with shopping. When you're going to live in another country for some number of months or years, shopping is the least of it) and this time was no different.

On the way to Australia my hand-luggage was almost entirely gifts, so I brought a flimsy fold-up suitcase as my actual luggage, fully intending to use my carry-on wheelie as the sum total of my checked baggage after presents were disbursed. Due to (a) my mother's intention to unload as much of her excess goods and chattel as will not ft into the new apartment, (b) my daughter's plan to use everyone else's luggage as license to shop more and (c) my realization that I'd be using the fold-up suitcase anyway, I bought a couple of things - nothing excessively large, though I guess soaps are pretty heavy and I bought more than one. More than ten.

We packed our suitcases without scales, guessing at weights, with our hand-luggage filled with crystal and silver and other momstuff as well as my daughter's camera equipment (she WILL NOT check that as it's too valuable) and other excess.

Turned out the suitcases were each at least two to three kilos underweight so we could have packed more, though the truth is that there was little in our hand-luggage that we would have been comfortable checking.

In. Brisbane. They. Weigh. Hand. Luggage. At. Security.

The limit is 7.5 kilograms or 16.5 pounds. I can easily fill a lightweight child's backpack with that weight, so wheeled carry-on which is not weightless and is considerably larger will easily weigh more than double the allowance. (Mine was eighteen kilos. It had books).

And they don't care. Rules are rules and they go on and on about safety and how anything larger than 7.5 kg is dangerous. I'm thinking that if your plane is crashing and jiggled about so much that the overheads burst open and luggage falls on your head then (a) most likely luggage falling on your head is the least of your worries and (b) if the overhead is so tightly packed (and it always is especially on international flights) then nothing is going to jiggle free anyway.

Back we were sent to the check-in counters where an extremely kind and patient person did her best to help us distribute fifty kilograms among three people and five pieces of carry-on luggage - I was carrying a painting which accounted for one of my pieces. Do the math. It's just not happening.

Eventually we realized we had to check one piece, and my wheelie, being the biggest and heaviest was it. Unfortunately all that left me was the bag I made for my travels which was (a) too small for my 7.5kg of necessities and (b) slightly broken (the strap) due to shoddy workmanship (yup. Mine) so I had to blow $40 on a very ugly and ever-so-slightly-too-small backpack to accommodate my stuff. I'd been hoping for a cheap and ugly canvas tote bag, but I guess Australian airport tourist shops don't go that way.

Once that was resolved, and once we saw that NO OTHER AIRPORT gives a crap about carry-on, we decided that (a) we're never flying out of Brisbane again because bitches, and (b) Virgin Australia is so NOT our favourite airline. Next time it's Qantas and Jet-Star all the way. Virgin's only win over Qantas was the really cute free pen, but that's not enough to sway us.

That being said, our flights were mostly uneventful from then on, though there were annoyances in Sydney, LA and Detroit, all of which required terminal changes in and out of security again (except Detroit which had its own issues) which is just a nuisance and a waste of time, energy and any vestiges of goodwill that we may have retained.

In Detroit we had less than half an hour to departure time (boarding had started by the time we landed) to make our connection home and the estimate gate-to-gate was fifteen minutes, so we ran and ran. And then sat on the tarmac, sweaty, in an unairconditioned plane for at least another half an hour or more. In the US, the airlines are extremely mindful of closing the gates on time, as the fines for lateness are excessive, but I'm guessing the fines (if any) for not leaving the gate on time are less so.

The only good and unexpected part of the journey was that all our luggage arrived and we didn't have to wait the usual forty-five minutes to an hour for it. And oh yes, temperatures were not close to absolute zero so it wasn't horrifically cold getting home from the airport.
 Except for the stringing and the clasps, this is what I made in the airports and on the flights. Two necklaces.
This is the rest of what I made on vacation (eight more necklaces), except for the two I gave to my mother and sister-in-law.

It's taken until this morning for my poor cat who was so sick while I was gone to forgive me. She's washed me thoroughly, and is purring and sleeping on my lap. My other cat has relaxed and no longer seems to be afraid that I'm about to be Not Here.

There's work tomorrow and grocery shopping today and, y'know, life moving forward and I do wish I was still on vacation.

Sleeping outside on my brother's deck.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Koalas and Kebabs in Brisbane

Cuddled and missed, respectively.

Since we're flying home out of Brisbane, we decided to spend the night before here and check the place out.

The nieces were sad to see us leave.

We found a koala sanctuary and for sure you couldn't find anything more touristy than getting your photo taken (or not) as you hold a koala but O!M!G! It was wild! Well really it was quite tame as they're very mellow and only interested in munching on eucalyptus leaves but it was so cool!

We saw aTasmanian devil who did not look especially devilish.

We think this is a wombat. It was hiding out in a hollow brick in one of the koala cages. At first we weren't sure if it was real as it was so still, but it twitched occasionally.

In the kangaroo and wallaby enclosure you can touch them. This joey was nursing. The mom looks bored. We were fascinated. Kangaroos are very soft, much more so than koalas.

Then began the search for kebabs. We looked a place on Yelp, spent another twenty bucks on bus fare, walked and walked and backtracked only to find it closed. Another place on Google Maps just wasn't there, so starving, we ended up getting mediocre overpriced sandwiches before making our way to the West End where there were kebabs on every other corner, but we'd just eaten.

After some more wandering we ended up back at the hotel getting Indian take-out.

And this morning, with minutes to spare, I finished another necklace.

I won't tell you about our drama at the airport except to say that the Brisbane airport is the only airport I've ever travelled through where they weigh your hand-luggage and WILL NOT LET YOU THROUGH if it's over 7.5kg which is about 16.5 pounds. In part because of concerns about checked luggage weight allowances, but also because my mom had foisted on us stuff that she doesn't want in her new apartment, we had, let us say, Severe Issues.

But here we sit in the departure lounge with a very awkward hand luggage situation, but were good to go.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Leaving the Gorgeous

On our last day at my brother and our second last day in Australia I was favored with a morning smuggler. My nieces decided that he needed to be wrapped in my blanket and he really didn't seem to mind.

We visited Cape Byron, the national whatsis with a lighthouse.

This is the first fourteen of four hundred and fourteen steps that I climbed. Why yes, I did count them.

The lighthouse itself appears to be just a lighthouse, but the views are spectacular.

And there we were.
Views of beaches.
Big grand cragginess.

As we were leaving, we could see very distant rain.

Fitting, right?


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Days

Monday was beach weather, Tuesday we had a spot of retail therapy in preparation for some relatives coming to dinner and today really wasn't beach weather though we sort of tried (and failed).
I'm still sleeping outside every night.

This is my bed, magically transformed to a sofa via seat back cushions, a niece and a cat.
Last night I heard fluttering, felt the swish of wings and turned my flashlight to see a violently green stick insect (fat stick, only its legs were skinny) attempting to climb the neighbouring chair, certainly part of its nefarious plan to jump on me later. Panicked, I retrieved the dust pan and broom to ensure its delivery to the bushes. It looked surprised and offended, as though I'd committed the sin of judging it by its looks.
Don't care.
Didn't sin.
Totally did diss it on looks alone.
My son really is crazy tall; he has about six inches on my brother. Locale: Mullimbimby, minutes from my brother's pie shop just out of town.

Finished another necklace.

The younger niece asked if she could have it. I think not, though possibly I'd make her something when she was old enough. The older niece thought that ten might be old enough. That's barely two years away.

My sister-in-law warned me that she will not forget, and shortly before her tenth birthday is highly likely to remind me that she's owed a necklace.

Yah, we'll see.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Cat Sea Sun

My brother has one of the best cats ever (Isis and Anubis, pay attention: I said "one of the best", not "the best"). He is configured exactly like the Pink Panther, but colored brown and white with a moustache. He is just as cool.
I finished a necklace which my sister-in-law snagged. In reality she admired it and ever susceptible to flattery, I forced it on her.
We spent part of the day at Torakina beach.
That's my baby boy.
My sister-in-law and nieces.
After getting home and getting rid of the sand, some hammock time was necessary while I cooked dinner for the crowd.
The younger niece set the table. She has Opinions as to how this should be done.

My brothers and the other niece lay on the water tank and discussed the scenery. It's gorgeous.

This is why Maverick is cool. He likes to be held like this, legs dangling.