Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Craft Tools: Beading

I have always loved jewelry. Doesn't matter whether it is made with precious gems, semi-precious stones, wood, clay or macaroni....I love it and probably have a few examples of it.

I wish I had a photo of my first bracelet. I was in grade school and already a fan of Carol Duvall. She was originally local to Detroit TV and had a brief segment on afternoon programming. With her as inspiration, I saved red pistachio shells, keeping them matched, and glued them onto fishing line. Because the red on the shells was a dye, it began to bleed with the glue (probably Elmer's) so I coated the shells with clear nail polish. I thought I was a genius, and quite fashionable, too.

A few years ago I revisited jewelry making, but I went a bit more upscale and took a class. That led to buying tools, beads, wires, beading thread and on and on.
The blue and beige rectangular mats are what I work on because a dropped bead stays put rather than rolling off the counter and going into hiding once it hits the floor. I sometimes empty a container of small beads into the blue tray because it has a funnel and stopper at one end, making it easy to put the beads back into a container. The tweezers on top of the tray have a ball shaped end to them, good for holding a single bead. The small blue box that is open is called Thread Heaven. It is a wax used to strengthen beading thread, shown in the flat spool within the bag behind the Thread Heaven. Behind that and to the right of the stand of tools is beading wire. I use that on most bracelets. The containers along the wall hold some of the beads I've acquired. The gray tray in the photo below is good for making a bracelet or necklace an exact length, and also good for symmetry if you are making a graduated necklace with a large motif or bead in the center and want to be sure of your pattern repeats on either side.
The two most basic tools are a wire cutter and a crimper. I've found my husband eyeballing my wire cutters but I remind him that these are MY tools, just as he reminds me of what is his if I nose around the garage. Photobucket
If you look at stand of beads closely, you'll see a special bead at the end next to the clasp ends. If not covered by a decorative bead or cover, you will see a crimp bead. Originally barrel shaped, the crimp bead has the beading wire running through it east to west, through the clasp end, and back through the crimp bead again, this time west to east. The bead needs to be squeezed tight to hold the clasp onto the string of beads without the wire pulling out. The opening near the tip of the crimper tool is an oval. The next opening looks like a smiling mouth. Go ahead, use your imagination and look again. With the crimp bead in place on your bracelet, you use the smiling opening first by centering the crimp bead within the jaws of that smile and squeeze. Now the barrel shaped bead has trapped the wires but looks flattened. Give the wire a quarter turn and center the flattened bead in the oval opening, squeeze again and you will have rounded your bead again, somewhat anyway, and that part is done.

This bracelet was in Monday's post. It is a good example of a simple string of beads on beading wire with crimped ends at the clasp.
Still a simply strung bracelet, but with two strands held together every few bead lengths by a bar shaped bead designed for holding two strands together. The colors in this bracelet each are symbolic of a color designated for cancer awareness. Proceeds from this kit (bought at a local bead store) went to cancer research.
This next bracelet was done with beading thread rather than wire. To form the design, thread passed through each bead more than once. Tiny seed beads for the loop closure with a large crystal on the other end. This technique is called a right angle weave.
One of my favorite although time consuming things to do is Peyote stitch, another form of bead weaving. Here is a Santa bracelet in progress. See the white thread at the bottom? And a close up of Santa's face.

The finished bracelet always gets a lot of attention when I wear it. There are two types of white beads in his beard, two beiges in his face and two reds in his had, the better to catch to the light.
This is the same type of bead, called Delicas, in their tube. Now you know why that magnifier is among my beading tools. You can imagine what the needle looks like. It is so fine, it doesn't photograph well.
Occasionally I bead something other than jewelry. This was a project last year, a beaded ornament.

And lastly, tying yesterday's post to this one, a combination of knitting and beading, a scarf that was knit with beads strung onto the yarn.
Are you bedazzled now? Or just afraid to walk barefoot in my house lest you step on a bead or a needle? I always wear shoes or slippers and Bill has calloused feet. That might be the secret to our happy marriage!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Craft tools: Knitting

I am very lucky that when we remodeled the house years ago, a former bedroom became a craft room. Considering I have always sewn, knitted, embroidered and painted, it is a wonder I had room to store all my supplies before the addition. We do not have a basement. I was very creative with where I would shove things before I had a room devoted to my projects and supplies.

This week I plan to write about my craft supplies. They mean as much to me as the tools in the garage mean to Bill and I am thankful he understands my need to create and the importance of good tools. I am beginning my craft story with my first love, knitting.

I did not photograph the bin of yarn that is partially buried in the closet, nor did I photograph the file drawer full of patterns taken from magazines or printed from the internet. I did take a shot of two drawers full of knitting needles, row counters, pom pom makers and crochet hooks.
The bag on the left was originally supposed to be for jewelry or lingerie. Ha! It holds packages of circular knitting needles. Not only do knitting needles come in different sizes necessary for the outcome of various projects, there are two basic lengths of straight needles, many lengths of circular ones, and also there are double pointed needles in various sizes and lengths. I can almost match Bill many different sockets to my multitude of knitting needles! The red quilted bag in the right drawer holds most of my straight needles. I have had that bag for over 30 years.

Most of my knitting books are on one shelf in the craft room. One entire wall is book shelves and I try to keep it organized but occasionally one craft encroaches on another.
My ball winder is in the box on that shelf, the swift is stored on top of the book shelf. This photo from the internet shows a swift on the right holding yarn that is being wound into a ball on the left.
One of the reasons I have always enjoyed knitting is that it is very portable. Unless the pattern requires intense concentration, I can knit in waiting rooms, while watching TV or talking to friends who are also knitting or doing a similar craft. I have a tote bag that goes with me to knitting sessions at a local yarn shop or when I visit my sister-in-law, also a knitter. This photo shows the current contents of that bag.
Starting at the upper left, the free-standing tool holder keeps my tape measure, pens, pins, stitch markers, tapestry needles, scissors and other necessities organized and easy to find in clear vinyl pockets. The yellow yarn is intended for a hat, the blue is sock yarn, the red will be socks also. The white yarn is a lace project that I will show when completed. I go back and forth between that and a few other ongoing projects. In front of the yarn is a package of DPNs. That stands for double pointed needles. I began knitting socks on them before I discovered knitting a sock on two circular needles. The sock in this photo is being done that way. It is my favorite way to make socks. Between the DPNs and the tape measure is a row counter that is made like a mini peg board. The black fabric in the lower left holds a set of Harmony knitting needles from KnitPicks. They were a Christmas gift from Bill last year. I love the feel of them in my hand and also how the yarn glides along them.

The only thing keeping me from looking like this lady is that we have cable TV and not rabbit ears.
When I first became active on message boards years ago, I chose the name KnitWit. I am still known by that name on many boards, but usually addressed by the nickname Knitty. These two graphics are the ones I use most often to identify myself. One bears a closer resemblance than the other, but I'll let you guess which one.
Photobucket Photobucket

Thanks for visiting today. Tomorrow I will be back with jewelry making supplies.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blue Monday with a small celebration

Greetings on this last Monday of September. That happened all too quickly, didn't it?

My entry for today is an odd picture, but a triumphant one for me.

It isn't about the bracelet. I made that a while ago and may even have shown it before. It is the blue fabric that my hand is resting upon. The fabric is a pair of slacks. The triumphant part is that I haven't worn these in about a year! They are still more snug than I would like them to be, but I can zip them and wear them without turning blue. As much as I like blue, a blue complexion isn't good unless you are a Smurf!

Click on the Blue Monday above to visit our host, Smiling Sally, and see who else is participating.

As for me, I hope to see all of you around next week, and I hope all of you will see less of me as the slacks get looser.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall decor, home and here

It began with changing the table runner. And then adding a few fall decorations. And soon all the Halloween decor followed. Was that enough? Apparently not. The blog needed sprucing up too.

Some bloggers rarely change the appearance of their blog. That could be a wise choice on their part. Their blogs are recognizable immediately. Some change their appearance seasonally. Others change on a whim. Those are good choices too. Hey, whatever makes you happy will probably result in more blogging, all the better for the readers, right?

Do you ever admire someone else's style and try to adopt it as your own? Are you successful or do you feel that it falls short of your goal when you look at your result? There are so many backgrounds that I love, such as the ones from The Cutest Blog on the Block and many others, but often when I try them on for size, I fear my site looks cluttered instead of cute.

I was gone most of the day today but that didn't stop me from coming here late in the evening to learn some things from The Cutest Blog on the Block's site. Like how to change the background color to something different from those offered by Blogger. (Yes, I was the kid who couldn't make do with the 48 pack of Crayolas, I had to have the 64 pack, minimum. ) You wouldn't believe or want to know how much time I spent playing around with different colors tonight. And then...why the heck not see how hard it would be to change this to a three column template? Guess what? It wasn't hard at all!

So I played around for another hour, deleting some things and adding a few others on either sidebar. And I like it. I think. Until the doubts set in and I wonder if it is too cluttered.

* sigh *

My life would be easier if I did things the way my husband does. If it were up to him, furniture arrangement would never change, wall color would probably be the same each time we paint, and one set of dishes would be more than enough. He does admit that I keep life interesting. I think that is my life's purpose: to decorate the house (and blog) and keep Bill wondering where I moved the salt shaker to this time around!

Have fun with your seasons as well as your seasonings!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christmas jewelry

After being AWOL for a few Fridays, I am happy to be back with a few finished projects at week's end. Please click on the logo to the left to see who else is participating on Finished for Friday and what they've accomplished.

I've been busy the past few weeks and making progress on projects, but unable to post about them for various reasons. Two are gifts and I don't want to spoil the surprise as the intended recipients would surely guess my intention if they saw them.

A few weeks ago I bought beads to make Christmas earrings and a bracelet. Here is what I have done so far.

The snowmen are not glittered, but a very white silver bead that is textured. The hat is a small black crystal and two opposing black sequins. I have given them to someone already and hope I can find those beads in bulk to make more snowmen and try a few other ideas.

The stacked packages earrings did not photograph well at night against a surface. The color is off and nothing beats sunlight shining on a Swarovski crystal. This photo better shows the true colors of the cubed beads.

With the bracelet, I was hoping for a look of Christmas candy, the red and white swirled peppermints that are wrapped in cellophane that flares at each end of the candy.

I couldn't have them butted up to each other because the bracelet wouldn't flex and the idea of candies was lost. I use a clear bead inside the fluted one, a silver bead and the garnet disk for spacers, but still am not convinced that this is the look I want. I have six candy units in all, and I am going to try stringing them on a cord with either knots inside the fluted beads to keep them in place, or unobtrusive beads as spacers and turning them into a necklace.

Maybe that finished project will become another Finished for Friday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aging gracefully

My days haven't been long enough lately. Doesn't everyone feel this from time to time?

I hope to catch up on blog reading today, but in reality, it may not happen until Friday. My older son is coming here today and one of the first things we are requires leaving the house. More on that in a minute.

First of all, if you read my last post and didn't get the referrence to Kanye West, his latest antic is described here. What a self absorbed brat he is, and that isn't what I would really like to call him.

On to personal stuff, Bill and I looked at houses with the kids on Sunday and came home too tired to cook. Mother Hubbard has taken over my kitchen and there wasn't anything to cook for 5 people so we ordered carside-to-go from Applebees. House hunting is exciting and frustrating at the same time, not to mention occasionally shocking when you step inside some homes.

Yesterday was my birthday and I must say, I don't look bad for 82. Too bad I am only 57. Not sure where that puts me on the scale of looking my age. We never look our age in our own minds though, do we? A good friend called me today and commented on a local fire that claimed the lives of the elderly couple who lived in the home. My friend knew the couple as the gentleman had worked with my friend's husband. Beside the shocking tragedy, the media is referring to the couple as elderly. Yikes! The couple is only a few years older than my friend! No one would ever use her name and elderly in the same sentence, and I hope that will be true of me when I reach her advanced years! (Just kidding T...ya know I envy your head of hair without any matter what it costs ya!)

Ahem, I have to be nice to her since I am going to lunch with her tomorrow. She and I are taking our convalescing friend out. That friend had rotator cuff surgery on the 10th but it hasn't stopped her from beating my score on Bejeweled, a game we both play on Facebook. So much for thinking she would be handicapped for a few weeks and I could get ahead of her score....

This morning the local news said that a sinkhole had developed overnight on the main road east of me in my city. They didn't mention cross streets and the the video was taken in the dark without identifiable landmarks. That street only runs for 6 miles in this city so it should be easy to find. And I did try to find it this morning. I thought I had when I found a section closed off and police flashers blocking the street. Unfortunately, that was a traffic accident. The accident victim had to be cut from his car, but was alert and hopefully not badly injured. There was no way that the door would open which necessitated cutting him out. Because the traffic cop didn't seem overly burdened directing traffic, I asked him where the sinkhole was on this street. He looked at me like I was nuts. He didn't know anything about it.

When my son gets here, we are heading out in the other direction to find the sinkhole. I called the news station and they didn't have any further information on the story. Whomever I spoke to said "that's strange, isn't it?"

Ya think?

I want to find out if the reporter got it all wrong or if the traffic cop was woefully uninformed.

If you hear from him that an elderly lady approached him with this question at the scene of a traffic accident, don't you dare believe him! He still had adolescent acne and now that I think about, maybe his badge was really that of a crossing guard.

Dang whippersnappers!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good grief....Get him out of here!

I've been Kanyed!


Do you need to be Kanyed too? Go here with the URL of a site you want Kanye to hijack your site. Photobucket

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ode to Forgetfulness

If you can identify with this, hum along. Nobody expects you to remember the words anyway. Photobucket

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super Baby!

My great nephew Ethan Phillip is 6 days old. He has turned over three times already! Three times! From his back to his tummy. Big brother Alex is going to have his hands full staying a step or two ahead of Ethan. Meanwhile, here are Alex's four year old hands holding Ethan's hand when it was just a few days old.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where does it come from?

We were gone for 6 days. The house was clean when we left. My sons were in and out to bring in the mail and one used the computer to print something, but that has nothing to do with the mysterious "it" (actually, "its" as there are more than one) that I am about to discuss.

If the toilets were cleaned the morning of the day we left, and it is clean water in the bowl, where does the ring come from that appears in a mere six days? Come on....if a ring is going to mysteriously appear, wouldn't you prefer it to look like one of these?

These rings are all from Tiffany's online should anyone care to shop today. The blue sapphire goes for $105,000, the diamond in platinum band is $13,900, the tourmaline and diamond ring is $6,550 and the sweet little bow is a mere $1,500. Now I ask you, aren't these a much nicer welcome home surprise than a toilet ring?

Another mystery is where does dust come from? I can almost understand (but not forgive!) dust from arriving during the heating months because there may be a few errant dust motes in the heating ducts. Did I just say "a few"? There are probably armies living in there but were coexist fairly well. I don't attack them until they attempt to take over my space. This is not to be confused with Myspace....I don't have a page there. Dust motes, bunnies and cobwebs are welcome to go there any day of the week.

Do I dare bring up spiders in this conversation? We pay, yes PAY, to have the exterior of the house and cottage sprayed to ward off spiders. It works well at home. At the cottage, I think it only makes them laugh. Sure, it keeps out the weeker spiders with allergies, but the hardy ones? They reappear within days, usually in the bathroom. If I don't put my glasses on in the middle of the night, I usually don't see them, but I have heard them try to choke back laughter as they view my....never mind....use your imagination or not.

FYI: this is an honest to goodness spider, native to Hawaii. It is not a photoshopped creation. The spiders that laugh at me don't look exactly like this. They are usually doubled over and giggling.

And lastly, speaking or not of certain anatomical parts, where do fat cells come from? I mean really. If I am on vacation, isn't it my constitutional right to eat BLTs heavy on the B? And a few chocolate miniature bars? They would have melted if we left them closed up in the cottage! And the quarter pounder with cheese meal on the way home? That can't count! I was starving and I knew there wasn't any food left at home. Besides, I gave all the fries that feel out of the holder into the bag to my husband. Surely those were the ones with all the calories, right?

Bad Ronald! Bad, bad Ronald!

If anyone can solve these mysteries, please hurry on over. Bring a dust cloth and a toilet brush with you. Oh, and could you go through the drive through at Mickey D's? It is almost lunch time! Thanks!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Here, there, everywhere, all at the same time

This time of year always pulls me in different directions. I valiantly hang onto summer while thinking about fall decorations and upcoming holidays. This year there are many more factors in the mix. My newest great nephew's arrival, house hunting with my son and his girlfriend, plans for a baby shower, preliminary wedding plans and my husband's upcoming retirement all swim in and out of my thoughts no matter what I am doing at the moment.

Today is our last day at the cottage. I worked hard for a few days, enjoyed the company of good friends for a day, dog sat for a cottage neighbor for a few afternoons and still managed to loaf a good bit of the time. At least that is what my body was doing. My mind was thinking baby, wondering what color dress I'll wear as the mother of the groom (tentative wedding date is next October), remodeling the cottage (too much HGTV and DIY viewing!), worrying about two projects with deadlines that I haven't begun yet, and wondering if I can possibly learn to use a graphics program and create my own blog backgrounds by reading a book or two. In my spare time. Photobucket

I really like the design of this background, but I'd like the posting and photo area to be wider. I'd like to use Minima Stretch as my template, or at least something that allows that amount of room for posting.
I googled for information on how to create your own background. Without understanding what the heck the supposedly easy directions said, it looked like:
  1. Tsboendd eoednd ahdoue dodihtl doghesel.
  2. Hoetondaegha dgeumsjklym
  3. Kdidbdad, dwfy mcjsd!
  4. Take a deep breath, turn off the computer and go have a stiff drink!
I plan to switch to a simple stretch background in a few minutes and leave things alone for a while. Or until I learn how to get things the way I want them. Photobucket

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A new great nephew made his debut!

The big news in my life today....(trumpet blaring in the distance, not too close so as not to startle the newborn) meet my great nephew, Ethan Phillip!
PhotobucketWith a birthdate of 09-09-09, I think all his relatives will have an easy time remembering his birthday. He was welcomed into the world at 2:16 this morning, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz and measuring 21 inches long. Mom and baby are doing well.

Birthing is tiring though, and he looks like he needs a nap already.

All is right with the world on a morning like this. Photobucket

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life in a neighborhood of jinxes

Notes from our cottage:

Neighbor Steve had a windmill installed on his property. We haven't had a breeze since the windmill became functional.

Neighbor Rita went on their boat for the first time this season yesterday. The sun disappeared 10 minutes later, followed by rain within another 15 minutes.

We are spending the rest of the week here. It is chilly, damp and gray.

I don't think any of us have a chance at the mega-bucks lottery ticket.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Simplifying Chaos

My head has been spinning the past few days. I thought writing about in my last blog entry would make me feel better. That and making lists. Then I needed a list to keep track of my lists. I fully realize that my mind is racing much more than my body, and in fact, if my body were reacting as quickly and achieving as many goals as what pops into my head, I would be downright skinny and so productive you would all be green with envy.

Don't worry about buying concealing makeup for green undertones.

Two days ago I began knitting a border for a baby blanket. The pattern is old and British. First I had to mentally switch gears as English terms in knitting and needlework are often different from American terms. I thought I was lucky that I had the exact yarn that the pattern called for, although not quite enough. The center of the blanket was an easier pattern than the four borders which were to be sewn onto the square and then sewn together with the appearance of mitered corners. I started with one of the borders to see if the directions would drive me crazy. They almost succeeded.

I took the project to my knitting session last night and thought I could pay close enough attention if I wasn't talking while working. Every other row was simple knitting across all 185 stitches. I timed my conversation to occur on those rows. Somehow I still made a mistake.

While out and about with my sister-in-law yesterday, I tried to buy two more skeins of this yarn, hoping that since it is white, matching dye lots wouldn't be a problem. Neither store had this particular yarn. Once home, I looked online and learned that it had been discontinued in 2005. Uh oh. What if I conquered my mistake in the border pattern, made all borders successfully and got 3/4 through the center of the blanket and ran out of yarn?

You know what? This is a pretty pattern but there are other pretty patterns out there. I took apart what I had done last night and went to bed at 11:15, trying not to worry about the things I wrote about on Monday.

This morning I looked at the calendar and decided I could make my life easier by dropping the watercolor class. I called and took care of that and since the class isn't scheduled to start for three more weeks, my refund will be a full one. Whew! I was feeling better already.

After lunch I went to another yarn store to look at patterns. There are lots of cute blanket patterns available, and I very well may make one of those at a later date. For now I wanted to work on something classic, something to use the white yarn, something that could be used at a Christening if Mommy and Daddy choose to do so. In the smallest book on the store's shelves I found exactly what I wanted!

Today has been a very good day. I feel a bit more in control and my goals seem more achievable if you don't count winning the mega-lottery as a goal.

Now if someone would just plan meals for next week, make the grocery list and go shopping for me, the day would be perfect! Anyone so inclined can reach me at 555-SLO-DOWN. Don't fail me on this. You don't want to burst my bubble!