Friday, February 27, 2009


Yup, that's it. It needs more yellow.

I've finished the Dutch Spiral rope, and I've decided that the reason I'm not crazy about it is that the color balance is off; the yellow is getting lost. Red is such a strong color; although there isn't a lot of it by volume, it's taking up more than its fair share of attention.

Right now, the red and the green are demanding all the attention and making it look more like Christmas than like a field of tulips. I guess that's always a danger with red and green; they do scream Christmas when used together.

I've got an idea on how to make it stop saying Christmas, but I'll have to leave that for tomorrow. I'm off to a party right now!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spiraling along

The Dutch Spiral is moving along rather rapidly now; I've really got it this time. But for some reason, my color combination isn't working for me. Or maybe it's just the regularity of the stitch; I don't know, but I'm not crazy about it. It's (gasp!) sort of boring looking. Maybe it just needs a lot of embellishing.

I'm going to leave it alone and see what I think tomorrow. No point in making a decision tonight; I'm tired and ready to crawl into bed with a good book.

It might just need some more yellow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I've been facing a few. Lately, I have been facing some very difficult challenges; they are learning experiences that I didn't choose, lessons I don't want to learn. Frankly, sometimes it's hard for me to accept some of the things that have been happening; I really, really don't want to deal with some of these things. I'd like to have those challenges go away, but I know they need to play themselves out, and I will deal with them. Grudgingly.

So what did I do today? I accepted a challenge of my own choosing. If I can't beat 'em, I may as well join 'em.

One of the forums I'm on posted a challenge to use Dutch Spiral, and provided a gorgeous photo of a field of tulips as inspiration. I love tulips, but I don't love Dutch Spiral. In fact, Dutch Spiral is one of the "easy" stitches that has always given me fits. My attempts to learn it looked like something the cat had coughed up, had the cat been grooming beads.

A year or so ago, I told my troubles to the lovely Christina of Good Quill Hunting and she taught me how to do it; I managed a pair of earrings and swore, never again. Dutch Spiral was off my list of stitches to use; I figured there are enough stitches in the world, I won't miss that one.

But that photo of the tulip fields stuck in my head. And I got to thinking that I wouldn't mind a challenge that was of my own choosing; if I'm going to do something very, very hard, why not something that I can appreciate learning? And lo and behold, I discovered that I can do Dutch Spiral. Easily. I don't know why it was so hard for me before; it's not hard now.

Perhaps the rest of my challenges will work out that way, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another day

It's been a tough few days. It's been a tough few years, actually, but the last few days were pretty bad.

I'm always surprised when I find myself getting over it; yesterday, I really thought I would never get over it. Somehow, though, I am. Not because anything has changed; not because of anything I've done; not for any reason at all, really. I just found my feet again.

I'm standing.

For now, that's as good as it gets. And, for now, that's enough.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's done

I think.

In any case, it's time to let it sit until I'm sure. There's still plenty of time before the contest ends for me to change my mind; I don't have to send a picture in until March 16th. So I'm going to walk away from it for a few days.

It's an odd feeling, finishing something that has consumed me utterly; especially something that had as many problems to solve as this one. I learned so many things! From the relatively easy, like antiquing brass wire, to the merely difficult: soldering brass wire, this project was filled with opportunities to learn.

In the process, I came up with some new ideas I want to try.

But not today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Maybe. I'm down to the embellishments. The trick now is stopping when I've done enough!

This contest piece has been a real challenge for me; I have learned so much. I tried out some stitches that were new to me, and used some old favorites in new ways.

I've incorporated metal, maille, seed beads, crystals, and pearls. It is opulent and decadent and, if I say so myself, totally fabulous. This piece has given me fits, but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I snagged a treasury

So I haven't exactly been working the Etsy thing . . .

But today, I happened to be there at exactly the right moment and I snagged a treasury. For those who don't do Etsy, it's a temporary list that members get to make, showing things they like.

Mine is called secret desires and it's full of a bunch of things that appeal to me. No real rhyme or reason to it; just things I like. Go take a peek, and if you're an Etsy member, log in, click on your favorites, and leave me a comment!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A window opened

The flexible beading wire didn't work.

As you may remember, my contest entry needed a bit of structural work after I added the focal section; the poor necklace part was weighed down, and well, it sagged. Sagging is not attractive; it happens to most all of us, but not to necklaces. Well, not if I can help it, anyway!

Oh, I was able to force the beading wire through the beads (it wasn't easy, but I did it); unfortunately, the beading wire added more new problems than it solved. It was too stiff, and ruined the drape of the necklace. It kinked in places, and ruined the line. And, worst of all, the necklace still sagged, just enough to bug me.

So I pulled it out again. And, this time, I thought more about stabilizing the structure than about shoring it up. Physics, baby: what are the most stable structures in nature? And, how can I leverage that? So, now the beading on the necklace is more crystalline in nature. Strong, yet flexible.

And, best of all, it's not only stronger, it's better looking.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A new find

Lean Dog Pottery is amazing! We were running some errands today, and I poked my nose into a cute little shop while my hubby was in the music store buying a guitar strap and the kids were snarfing down a pizza. Neither activity appealed to me at the moment, and am I ever glad.

I ended up buying a gorgeous Lean Dog pendant; when I came home, I googled her and found her Etsy store. I will definitely be buying more of her work. I can't wait to use this pendant; as soon as I'm done with the Contest Necklace That Has Taken Over What Used To Be Called My Life, I'll get right on it.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Structural integrity

It's an ugly truth: a necklace must hold up its pendant. Sagging and stretching are not attractive. Digging into the back of the neck is not comfortable. A piece of jewelry must have structural integrity in order to be attractive and wearable.

Sometimes structural integrity is built into the design, and sometimes it is imposed later. This necklace is one that I'm having to shore up. Crystals en masse are heavy; heavier than I thought, actually. When I put the pendant on my necklace I realized at once that it was just too heavy.

Oddly enough, it's gorgeous that way. It doesn't look too heavy, but it weighs too much. So I had three options.
1. Make the pendant smaller.
2. Make the necklace chain larger.
3. Make the necklace chain stronger.
I like the way it looks; it has an air of defying gravity that is magical, but not uncomfortable. So, no choice, really; I have to make the chain stronger. Now, there are definitely harder things than forcing flexible beading wire through seed beads that have already been strung into a pattern. I've done harder things. But this ranks right up there. It's going to take awhile.

But when I'm done, it will defy gravity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How many needles do I need?

No, it's not a riddle, just an observation I made this afternoon. I have eight needles stuck into my beading pad. Do I have eight hands, you ask? No; but for some reason I have eight needles.

I know why some of them are there; the two quilter's betweens are my preferred needles for doing two needle right angle weave; one of the many methods I rejected while doing this piece was right angle weave. The needles are still there, and, actually, I'm still using them; I settled on herringbone, and they're equally useful for that. I'm not exactly using both of them, but I might. You never know.

I also have a very thin long beading needle for pulling thread through the tight places. I definitely need that one handy. Then there are two different sizes of darning needles; those are useful for picking the threads apart when I must backtrack or rip things out altogether. Can't do without those.

The other three are a mystery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back to square one

Uh huh. I've ripped it all out again. The design wasn't quite right, and the more I did, the more obvious it became. It had to come out. Really, it did.

But I've started over, incorporating everything I've learned about how not to do it, and I think I've got it this time. I know, we've both heard that one before, but this time it just feels better. It's a funny thing about trying something new; at first I'm not sure if it's just the discomfort of not knowing what I'm doing that makes me feel off about the whole thing, or if it really is off and I'm just extraordinarily perceptive. So I keep going until I know for sure.

This time I was very perceptive.

Once I figured out why it didn't quite work, the solution was easy. Rip it out. Make the motif just a little bit longer, and suddenly it has the elegance that the first one lacked.

No, it's not wasted time. It's learning time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Partners in crime

Gardening would be perfect here, if not for the gophers. I'd like for them to go away, but I don't think that is going to happen just on my say so! Killing them is not something I really want to do, so we are doing our best to protect the plants from them.

However, I recently discovered that I have a partner in the gopher hunt who probably doesn't share my distaste for killing them. A beautiful grey cat has taken up residence in our yard; she spends long hours watching the gopher holes with intense concentration.

As far as I know, she hasn't caught any; I sincerely hope that she doesn't leave them for me to find if she does. Knowing cats, she'll undoubtedly bring her trophies home to delight the people she lives with; I'm probably safe on that count. Although I do have twinges of guilt for letting her stay, I really would rather that the gophers go somewhere else; so I admire her beauty and perseverance and turn a blind eye to the potential consequences of her vigil.

We're partners, after all.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Inching along

Two more inches.

Yup, that's today's total.

But, to be fair, that's not all I did today. I spent a good part of the day out; we went over to my parent's house to pick up our boat trailer. They'd been keeping it for us while we got settled, and, well, we're pretty much settled now.

I also cut some rings; this piece will combine maille and beadwork. This is the first time that I've used brass; I gave the wire an antique look by torching it, and I'm very happy with how it came out. It adds a wonderful vintage quality to the beadwork.

This piece is going to be really different; I'm going to have to hustle, though, to get it done before March 16th.

Three inches and counting . . .

Friday, February 6, 2009


I've spent the last two days doing something that I can't tell you very much about.

No, it wasn't like that; it's something I'd like to tell you about, but I'm under a gag order. So I'll have to dance around it, and tell you what I can, without using any specifics. Remember the beading contest I've entered? Well, it has a fun hook; one of the kit components is titled "The Muse" and the muse must be used in the project.

Before receiving the kit, I imposed another condition on myself: not only would I use the Muse, but I would use it as a Muse, and let it inspire and guide my beadwork. Luckily for me, the Muse was a useful Muse and gave me an idea right away.

Unluckily for me, it has take two days for me to figure out how to make my idea work! I have tried so many different techniques, and picked out ever so many failures, erm, learning experiences. But I finally got it late this afternoon; I now have one square inch of my necklace finished.

Yup. One square inch.

But at least I know how to do the rest of it; and it really shouldn't take two days for the next square inch. I can't wait to show you this one; I think that keeping the details secret is going to be even harder than making that first square inch.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bead News

Surprise! I'm not all about gardening!

On a whim, I decided to enter a beading contest called Use the Muse, sponsored by The Beader's Muse. It's one of those buy the kit contests, and I liked the kit. It wasn't stuff that I would normally pick out, but I liked it.

And I felt like stretching a bit.

Of course, I needed new beads to go along with it; that's pretty much a given. Especially since the kit has colors that I don't usually use. So I'm waiting for my supplemental beads to arrive and beading in my head.

I have a feeling this is going to be something completely different.

Monday, February 2, 2009


It's something I'm experimenting with; deliberately giving myself days off the computer. Hanging out online has become a habit for me; I needed to do something to shake myself up.

Well, that and gardening. The time had to come from somewhere!

But seriously: unplugging (and plugging in) is something I need to choose to do in order to truly appreciate. If it becomes routine and unthinking, it loses something. So I will continue to shake myself up and be more unpredictable.

Just thought you might like to know.