Monday, May 25, 2015

Things I Made

I started this blog in large part because I wanted a way to encourage myself to keep track of the things I made, and to that end it's been quite effective, especially for beaded things. I've been pretty diligent about at least photographing my projects, even before they've actually been successful (and of course sometimes they never are), but certainly as soon as I have something that I neither plan to cut up nor set aside for more work.

Until a couple of weeks ago. Or more, I'm not sure I can keep track.

Beaded kumihimo has replaced knitting as my go-to keep-my-hands-busy activity, not because I love it so much, not because it's so very satisfying or tactile, but because it hurts to knit ad my hands do better with gentle activities to keep them lubricated. The hints that is, not the outside.

It's fine and a useful technique and excellent for doing something with the excessive quantity of lamp worked beads I've acquired over the years, the ones I can't seem to find a way to use with stitched seed beading (and no, stringing seems like a pathetic copout; not to mention it's over too quickly to enjoy it) but it turns out that most of the beaded kumihimo I do results in something perfectly nice that I have no need nor desire to keep for myself, except occasionally.
 It's not that these are my colours (pastels? I think not) or that this style of pendant rocks my world (no pun intended but I'll claim it, why not) but the stone is one I bought from Peri's stash sale and even though it's not a colour or shape or tone I associate with her, it's a little connection; a remembrance of sorts.

I braided the rope, stitched the clasp and wore it immediately, but somehow forgot to photograph until this morning.

What's that about.
In service to my preparations for Bead and Button (next week!) I finished a sample for a new kit and am crazily trying to get the last colour-way for this design stitched before I leave, but I've run into a bit of a snag: I don't like the colour of the fringe beads I've packed, there's nowhere to buy them here before I leave (and in time to finish stitching) and they may not get delivered in time.

We should all have such first-world problems, right?

And related to nothing I've said today and even though I didn't get any pictures at graduation (it rained and we rushed for cover. Lunch actually), I managed to get the kids to stand still for a moment before they both went home.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


I'm officially in Panic Mode for Bead and Button.

Honestly, it's not that I seriously believe I'll show up to class unprepared - I won't: all my instructions are done and all kits are semi-packed (all the necessary beads for all the kits for all the classes are measured and bagged, however not all the kits are assembled and some of the individual baggies may not yet have identifying stickers on them) - however it always seems as though there are a million things to do and only two and a half hours in which to do them, what with the competing demands of the day job and family.

Speaking of which, my baby graduated from college yesterday and I have NOT ONE photo. It would embarrass him if he knew I was saying this, but I'm so proud: he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

 Even though the bulk of my nervous energy has been in service to Bead and Button preparations, you just can't turn Being Compelled to Make New Stuff off completely, so I spent half an hour on this cute little two-sided chain. It's not enough to have in a class by itself, but it's a nice component of a[n unplanned as yet] project, and it's so simple that it's begging for variants.
There are some kit samples that I can stitch up relatively quickly, but this isn't one of them. There are many MANY hours of effort in this one - and I have two more colour-ways to go. It's possible I won't complete them both, but as it's for a kit, not a class, and as I'll have a decent amount of free time before Meet the Teachers, I can live with that possibility.

 And then I was so relieved to have finished that colour-way (and packed all its kits) that I played some more.

I saw some sort of beaded beads on a (possibly Czech or Polish or some other Eastern European language that I don't recognise)  that used two-hole lentils in a vaguely dodecahedral configuration and I thought it seemed like a fun idea. I think it was with bicone crystals and seed beads; I don't remember, but I started playing anyway.
The first one on the left above only came together after a few tries, and even then, not so much. I messed up the thread path so the tension is uneven so the shape is uneven too, and it seemed as though the seed beads were too small, so I tried again with Super Duos and bigger beads and that was better. Then it struck me that the two-hole triangles might behave (they don't always; the sometimes want to list) so I tried that and changed the seed beads again. I'm happiest with the final result but there might be an embellishment I could try...

After Bead and Button.

Everything is on hold until after Bead and Button.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


No not me, but the colours in this last of the class samples.
I use these bronze seed beads all the time, and in fact I think I hold back sometimes because it's not as though I don't own other colours which I love, it's just that this always seems right. Anyway I just bought two hundred and fifty grams of them, all at once, in a single large bag.  It feels like a commitment somehow, but I know it won't be a problem to use them up or anything.

I also love them with these rich reds, maroons, deep pinks and a touch of gold.

I think it might be my favourite colour way for this design. (Janus, if you were wondering. It has no back and no front, facing forward and backwards). While putting together the class samples, I found a much better (more efficient, easier, less complicated) way of connecting the ropes and the little components on the chain and with that, after making two complete necklaces in fairly short order, I can confidently say that it's actually a rather pleasant stitching experience.

I have designed pieces which had what I thought was clever construction (which often means that you don't have to keep needling through the same parts of the beadwork, filling the holes of the beads and creating potential for breakage) but which were uncomfortable or awkward or difficult to  learn, but I don't think this one's like that. I mean, unless you absolutely cannot with the cubic right angle weave - but I'm assuming you're OK with that.

I know I am.

So on the classes front (kits, supplies, instructions), I'm all good for Bead and Button. It's just the kits for Meet the Teachers that aren't quite all the way, but I'm really close.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Empty Nest

As if it has always been this way.
 Even the unhatched egg has disappeared, no doubt into someone's stomach, shell and all.
 Today I made samples.
 All the colour-ways for this kit.

I confess to being pleased that these are done although they really don't take that long - around an hour per bracelet because I stitch decisively and without pause unless I don't like the colour combination and then there's the cutting up and re-deciding that seems very inefficient because next time I look up half an hour has passed and that doesn't seem like a very good use of my time but I suppose someone has to do it.

It doesn't feel as though I've only spent three hours at bead-related activities but in reality it's more, just not the fun stuff. I filled endless baggies with beads. The seed beads I measure out to the nearest quarter teaspoon (occasionally to the eighth) but everything else has to be counted. I like the beads that come on strands, but even counting three millimetre beads by the tens takes time.

Then there are the stickers and the baggies within baggies: each tiny baggie of beads has to have a sticker identifying the beads. Some may be obvious (fringe bead, size eleven seed bead) but if I don't label then "11A" and "11B" then the instructions for which they were intended could get confusing, especially if they are not interchangeable in terms of quantities. 

Then once all the tiny baggies are filled and labelled, needles and thread are gathered and the slightly larger but still quite small baggies are filled with the tiny baggies containing all the beads for a kit. The instructions are printed, stapled and folded and placed inside a folded cover sheet, and a large baggie gets the baggie of baggies of beads and the instructions with its cover sheet and THEN finally the work in preparing the kit is done.

Right now I have baggies of beads, sheets of stickers, some samples, some cover sheets designed (for the new kits), nothing printed - there's still  lot to do. I have some time - not much, but with a bit of luck, enough.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mostly Samples

I mean, it's that time of year: the mad rush to get an insane amount done before Bead and Button. Just the way it is. 

I try and bring new kits, so that means colour-ways and samples, and I just finished the one on the lower left a few minutes ago.
 For people who know me, the colours may be surprising (i.e. not sludge), but there's something about this shape, this configuration that cries out for committed colour rather than something murky. I also found really cool bead holders, you know, those things with a loop on one end and a screw-off stop bead at the other end that you can use to make a pendant out of a beaded bead, so I'm quite excited about this kit. I only hope they arrive in time. I'm cutting it close.

This is the first of a limited edition of these bracelets because I bought the tile beads from York beads, so sadly no longer around.

I don't often make things that I intend to be bracelets (a rope or a chain can be a bracelet or a necklace; I usually want it to be a necklace) but this is so perfect, so comfortable and unobtrusive and you don't have to take it off when you're at the computer, so this one was intentional. Plus the rhythm of the construction is very pleasing to me: each section seems like it ought to have more steps than it does because it's complete well before you expect it to be. It has a satisfying amount of detail even though it's about as close to instant gratification as a stitched bracelet could be.

I have enough of each of four colours to make one sample and pack five kits, so that's what it'll be. I'm about to start stitching the purple one.

It's not as though I never take a break for "me" beading time.

(Yes, I realise how ridiculous that sounds: it's all "me" beading time because it's not as though there's a gun to my head. It's my very own time when I bead because I want to, because I have an idea I want to follow, something I want to wear, whatever. Then there are classes I've said I'd teach, kits I promised to pack, proposals someone might be expecting from me, and that's "duty" beading. It's not as though I don't like it or don't want to, but it doesn't give me quite the rush that unstructured beading gives me).
 So I saw a picture that looked something like the ugly collection of colours above right (same configuration, better colours). I really like the way the pinch beads and the super duos and the o-ring beads fit together so harmoniously, but someone else already thought of that.

My first riff above left reminds me of a baby's rattle: that handle, that unappealing pastel blue. I buy these colours because I think they'll be a useful accent or I need to get out of my colour rut and then they're so ugly to my eyes that all I can fathom to do with them is to make ugly samples.
 Riff the second is a bit better (and you can see I did something different at each end) but then I started panicking about Bead and Button again so I stopped, but when I can breathe again, I'll work on it some more. I have some ideas.
And then there was the class at the bead store that needed a sample to prove my instructions.

So I have this stand of bamboo between my back yard and my neighbour and it's still recovering from the Polar Vortex a year and a half ago.

At this time of year I'm on Bamboo Patrol every morning for about five minutes, ensuring that the bamboo doesn't encroach: I break off new bamboo shoots so that it doesn't take over my yard, North America, and then the world.

Apparently a nest was built among the bamboo and when I pushed it aside to examine the earth beneath it, I'm guessing it got dislodged because the next time I walked past, I saw this:
Two baby birds, all quivery and kinda semi-naked.

This morning: one baby bird and an unhatched egg. Three feet away, chirping madly, a very wobbly baby bird. No ways the little guy is going to fly anywhere: not enough in the way of feathers.

I'm not sure if they'll make it and I don't think my involvement (even if I knew what to do for them) would help much. Circle of life and all that, but still.