Sunday, November 19, 2017

Less Little

I guess I mean "more".

Turns out I've been beading more than I thought; I just hadn't taken pictures and you know how it goes: if there's no picture then it didn't happen.
I seem to have a weakness for fire-polished rondelle beads as they conspire to force me to buy them. I mean, they come in colours never found in the regular beads; they are surely conspiring to remove all self-restraint.

So it's a good thing when I figure out how to use them, though in truth I'll need to make necklaces rather than bracelets since they're used somewhat sparingly at the rate of one per inch.
This is a beaded bead I made ages ago which in its first iteration reminded me of the Death Star but above here: not so much. I always enjoy how a beaded bead based on a cube in terms of its bone structure can be filled out and primped and padded to look more round.

Omitting the sticky-out beads from two opposing sides would enable it to be strung on a narrowish chain or cord; keeping all the sticky-out goodness requires that it be strung on beading wire or something fine along a diagonal axis.

This rush of newness is all leading up to the next batch of classes at my local bead store.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Doesn't Look Like Much

I think I may not have done much beading for a while because all I have to show you is a necklace version of the last new thing I made which is once again, an idea in progress. And I'm gathering colours to make another one so I might be stuck, but not in a way that makes me unhappy. So.
The cube beaded bead is the same as the pale green one from last time and I had this idea of making some sort of huge circular bail as a design element but then I didn't have enough small blue beads and so it became this weird oval thing and then once it was there I needed to figure out a necklace (I knew exactly how to make the necklace from my planned bail) and so it grew.

I don't think the clasp goes well with the necklace, stylistically, even though it uses the same beads.

A rediscovered pleasure though is the actual necklace chain: the narrowest tubular peyote rope ever. It's fluid and has a pleasing structure which reminds me of a box chain, though rounded instead of squared, and even with my pretty tight tension it looks somewhat loose and is crazy stretchy.

What I don't love is that it feels incredibly slow to stitch but you know: seed beads.

Also: matte jet picasso seed beads which read black but have organic colour variations which make them so much more interesting.

What I've been doing a lot of is knitting on an endless project on 2.75mm needles and no, it's not socks (I use smaller endless for those and they are relatively quick actually).

This is a moss stitch sweater using up odds and ends of somewhat fine handspan luxury fiber yarns in natural colours. Randomish blocks of colour with the deeper colours towards the bottom and the lighter towards the top.

So far all I have is one and a half sleeves and an underarm panel and I'm not feeling especially impatient, probably because I know how futile that would be, and also because the particulars of the end product are not quite completely decided. Yes, I know I said it's a sweater but the neckline for example isn't completely fixed in my mind, nor the hem as it turns out.

I should probably show you but I'm always very dissatisfied with my inability to photograph knitting such that it looks amazing and this is just swathes of brown moss stitch so it's not as though my photos will dazzle with scintillating colour or extraordinary stitch construction or anything.
I told you. Brown knitting.

But it makes me happy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


When I tiled the floor of my family room and hurt my hands so badly that driving for more than fifteen minutes was painful, knitting for any amount of time even more so, I had to have something to keep my fingers moving. I'd been knitting since my age was in the single digits, all the time, all over the world, while in a plane or watching TV or waiting for the dentist or even a long traffic light.

If I couldn't knit, I had to have something like it, something portable and soothing and rhythmic and the closest and least painful thing I could find was beaded kumihimo.

I started with size 8 seed beads and while the way it chewed through my stash of seed beads, it yielded a ridiculous quantity of necklaces, and so after a couple of months I switched to size 11s which was only slightly better in terms of the volume of production.

I played with different shapes and sizes of beads, colour combinations, counted stringing patterns and some of it was fun but ultimately it started to bore me. Quite a bit. And stitching the ends, finishing the necklaces became even more tedious so I began to let it slide.

And then I guess I killed enough nerves in my hand because I've been knitting again for a year or so and I do have to limit myself because even though I can often manage three or more hours in a single day, if I try to sustain it I pay the price in pain. Sometimes when I hurt I consider making a kumihimo necklace or two - it's not as though I've run out of ideas, it's just that the ideas no longer have any urgency.

it was always a stopgap for knitting.
When I get around to stitching the clasps I'm pleased or perhaps relieved and I often like the necklaces, but still, I'd rather knit. Either way, another beaded kumihimo necklace for Amy's sale this  Saturday!
 I also finally joined the components in the necklace and finished the chain that goes around the neck. This is where the earrings I made over the weekend come from.
 And I made a couple of pairs of earrings.
Really, one can't have too many earrings. It must be true, because no matter how many pairs I make for myself, at least once a week my selection of earrings is found lacking. These aren't for me though.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Slightly Disciplined?

Weaver extraordinaire Amy (@amyfibre on Instagram) is having her annual show and sale next weekend, but due to the vagaries of zoning regulations as it pertains to kitchen renovations, her house isn't quite up to hosting the sale as usual, and so I offered mine.

Among other things this means that I'm not as constrained in terms of quantity what I display for sale so in theory all those half-finished pieces clogging my drawers and bins and baggies could be worked to completion, priced and put out there and I've honestly thought about doing it for a few weeks now but you know, what's it they say about paths being paved with intentions?

Actually I made pretty decent inroads (if you define "decent" as the percentage of unfinished versus finished being greater than zero; perhaps even approaching one) into some of those poor, partly-formed agglomerations of beads.
I finally finished stitching the necklace chain on this sweet little cluster of chatons.
 I stitched the second half of this necklace chain. It didn't even take an hour. I'm not sure why I put it off for so long (probably a year or more).
 I stitched a bail and found a suitable chain for this shiny shiny dodecahedron.
 I both added a bail to this beaded bead so that it could be a pendant on the kumihimo rope and also stitched the clasp and let me tell you that's where the smug started settling in and the discipline started dissipating and I started taking detours into what-if.

Not that it's entirely a bad thing because it's not as though all further efforts led to wasted time and piles of nothing but thread pieces: I was productive and I completed things.

It all started with a necklace which was going to be a class sample for Bead & Button 2017 but then I had plenty of colour-ways so I just didn't quite finish it. It's close though - just an hour or maybe two of stitching the necklace chain to join components. I gathered the materials and prepared to stitch and that's when I noticed that there were two more rivolis and so naturally my thoughts turned to earrings.
See? Complete! (The necklace is still in pieces though).

On Friday at work I had an interaction somewhere between a discussion and an argument; I tend towards "argument" when people who have no idea tell me about things that I'm closer to than they are: specifically that all necklaces are two-dimensional and that while women may make beaded jewellery, it's men only who make fine jewellery. If I cared more, it may well have turned into an argument but after not a whole lot more than "you're wrong" I began to find running another test case far more interesting and I'm not actually joking. I mean why waste time caring about the opinion of someone who's no more than a work acquaintance whom I generally try to avoid?


So the way the earring components are constructed draws my focus towards beaded beads with an insistence that cannot be resisted. Each component is built on a base with eight beads which means I'm looking at a solid with four-sided faces: a cube.
If I hadn't found six rivolis the same colour immediately I might have had time to reconsider my original plans (to FINISH STUFF) but it turns out that one vendor calls these "Pastel green" and the other calls them "Powder green" and so I ordered both Pastel green and powder green and didn't realise that they're exactly the same colour until a few hours ago so there you are.

It's not hideous to stitch (sometimes they are), each motif didn't distort when I joined one to the other, the bead holes didn't fill with thread instantly due to convoluted thread paths and even though it's not perfect and I have Thoughts regarding Improvements, it's not bad for a first prototype.

And it's a pendant (which means necklace, doesn't it) and Hello! It's three-dimensional.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Not Quite According to Plan

But actually I don't mind.

I had a plan which involved cubes made using cubic right angle weave and at least that is what I ended up with.

The plan was a small open cube stitched with seed beads joined to a larger open cube also stitched with seed beads which caged a smallish cube using fire-polished beads. It was a decent plan until I started stitching and feeling less keen on more short sections of cubic right angle weave so I went in another direction.
I made three cubes anyway.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Got It

I have boxes and ziplock bags and bins and drawers of little pieces of beadwork that haven't quite come into their own. Not yet matured, as it were.

There are tiny little motifs, design elements waiting to be incorporated into something bigger, little experiments that gave me an answer that wasn't interesting or useful - some are just ugly, but some are impossible to bead.

Sometimes they're impossible because the stitching is even weirder than usual or the number of passes through one particular bead approaches infinity where the size of the bead hole is definitely finite and sometimes they're impossible because a motif that needs to be repeated to make a three-dimensional shape and which works really well as a singleton just does not play well with others.

Sometimes the making was so unpleasant and unenjoyable that I couldn't even bring myself to finish it.

Sometimes there's something lacking, something which looks sloppy, something which is squishy where it should be firm; sometimes it's just ugly. If I can solve the problem, I tend to cut up the unsuccessful iterations so the bits and pieces of beadwork tucked away are those that just didn't quite make the cut one way or another (pun intended).

And even when I like something enough to finish it and enough to wear it, it's not always quite done because there's an improvement somewhere, whether in the design, the choice of beads, the thread path, something.
 Yesterday I figured out how to connect the components I wanted to incorporate into this beaded bead. It has the rivolis around its equator and tapers to an area with smaller chatons and ends up as something more or less ovoid.

It's ok. Nice-ish.

I really hate the ends. The one you can see above is just a mass of fringe beads which basically hide the fact that I couldn't come to a satisfactory solution at the poles. The south pole is even worse; I did this thing with size 15ºs and it was supposed to be sort of picots but they didn't behave and are just a mess so I covered them with a large rondelle so really only I know what's underneath.

Well, and you of course.
So I started the next version with a couple of improvements in mind, some of which I'd solved in my head, but knowing that the ends of this beaded bead needed to be better.
 Once I did away with my assumption that I'd use fire-polished beads at the ends it all fell into place: tiny picots form something like a star-shaped bead cap into which an accent bead may be nestled if desired, but which is neat and attractive enough to be left naked.

It's also even and regular enough that the bead can be balanced on its end. I think it's as close to done as it will be for a while, perhaps forever.

Right now? It's hanging around my neck.

I might be ready to move onto something else.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I Can't Explain It Completely

I know.

I was silent from March until a few days ago and now it's talk talk talk and maybe it's enough already and what's that about.

All I can say is that I'd think about the blog and the pictures I should post and it somehow seemed less important than sleep or relaxing and it felt like I didn't really have anything to say - and maybe I still don't but am fooling myself that I do - so I didn't. And then I wanted to say something.

I'm on Instagram and somehow that's easier and I guess I like that it's spontaneous and I suppose I should make a button so you can go there if you want to. There's almost no beading, occasionally some knitting, a cat picture from time to time, food, pretty cocktails and travel pictures. You know, just like the rest of Instagram.

 There are two types of people: those who have to have earrings that match (as in exactly; part of a set) their necklaces and those that don't care one way or another. Actually three kinds, those that absolutely must, those that absolutely must not, and those that don't give a damn.  When I make necklaces that I plan on selling, I often make matching earrings but I don't sell them as a set since all three types of people will buy a necklace or earrings but not everyone wants both and so generally the sort of person who must have matching earrings finds that someone else already bought them (because earrings aren't a big investment).

I have a friend who is a really good customer and who invariably has a list of earrings which she wants me to make every time she goes shopping, but to tell the truth I make stuff because I want to and am in the mood and the tides are right or whatever and I'm not focused on making a living off my beadwork (luckily: I'd be living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere) so I'm casual about fulfilling those sorts of desires of my customers.

There's always a class that needs instructions by Tuesday, or class proposals that are due or colour-ways for kits or, you know, the day job which really eats hours and hours of what I wish were free time.

Cindy's birthday celebration is tomorrow so I dug out my notes and made her earrings. The matching bracelets are highly unlikely to ever materialise quite frankly.
I've still been fooling around with the beaded bead with chatons and finally came up with something I like enough, but which is really uncooperative in terms of its being photogenic.
 The problem I suppose is in part that it's a three-sided shape and so it's always lying at an odd angle but in real life it's moderately attractive and sturdy - the latter being almost as important as the former.
It's about an inch and a half long.

I'm also not done yet because More Ideas.

Both this beaded bead and the pendant which inspired it begin by constructing the band around the equator - you know, the fat part around the middle where my maternal grandfather insisted on putting the waist of his pants. He had a very large equator and instead of opting for the usual solution to increasing waist size - actually he was always large as far as I can recall - which is to say, pushing the waistband below the bulge of the belly, he instead required very long belts. Where was I? Oh yes, beaded beads.

Well, anyway, I found a good way to join the equatorial region of the original pendant made with rivolis to the smaller equatorial region of the beaded bead made with chatons in a reasonable way (attractive and sturdy) but I ran out of steam and only have two-thirds done so no pictures. I think I may not enjoy the doing, which happens sometimes, but I'm determined to finish it because I'd be happy to adorn myself with it.

Let me put it more strongly: I want to wear it. Soon.  My goal is Cindy's birthday brunch tomorrow.