Sunday, May 22, 2022

Spike Stripe Earrings

Lately I feel like I've been knitting more than beading, but when I was between 2 dresses for a baby shower I decided to come up with a new earring design that would work for them. Both dresses have stripes. I have been searching the internet for spike and punk designs a LOT while getting wedding ideas so I figured it was time to try my hand at a large spike drop.  

This isn't a great photo put it shows the rainbow 
sheen in the white beads a bit better.

The black and white dress is the one I ended up wearing, it's been a while since I've worn it and it was fun to have these as a new matching piece of jewelry.

I've never really had a good piece of jewelry to match the other dress which is navy with white and orange-red stripes.  It's been really hard to find a real navy seed bead in the past and Miyuki seed beads has this wonderful deep navy color now.

Between these earrings and someone posting a selfie on social media wearing an older earring design I've been inspired to get into my jewelry pieces again. I have some fun new bead colors that are calling to me now that the weather is turning warm and bright with our gardens.

Monday, May 9, 2022

My First Toe-up Socks, Maybe My Last

Sock knitting. I've recently decided to make the switch to smaller needles (1's) which made my tight cast-on even more problematic.  I spent a lot of time talking to my friends Jenn and Sarah about different ways to get my cast-on looser, I've watched "stretchy" cast-on YouTube videos....nothing seems to be helping. Everything I stitch is so darn tight. 

I noticed that when I cast-off it tends to be a little looser or at least a little stretchier, so, I decided at 20 pairs of socks it was time to learn how to knit socks from the toe-up rather than from the top down. I found knitting from the toe-up to be very different, maybe even awkward. I completely understand the  reasons why some prefer it... but... it didn't help my problem. Moving down to size 1 needles is really the issue here (beyond my tight knitting). I also, finally, have the hang of knitting socks from the top-down, 20 pairs of practice will do that.  I can change, but this is a relaxation-thing so I don't really want to change how I'm knitting socks.  I keep socks as small, portable projects to keep my hands busy during meetings, to find some calm on my lunch break and while I find a little down-time while waiting in a line. I dream of one day having a sock drawer full of hand-knit socks for myself and Bryan. 

Now I can at least say that I've tried it and compared top-down to toe-up sock knitting. I will also mention that the difference between the slipped stitch heel vs picking up the stitch heel is very noticeable to me and I prefer the look of the heel shaping on my top-downs.  

As for my too-tight-cast-on issue, I decided to cast-on with my #2 needles and knit 1 round, then switch to the #1's.  I think this is going to work for me, I'm well into my 22nd pair of socks (to go with a pair of leather platform Converse for this summer). 

I keep saying no more projects but I may have started sampling for another crop-top. Apparently I'm thinking ahead to summer concerts and honeymoon/RiotFest outfits.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

#MyBeadingYear How it's Going

At the beginning of this year I made sure to talk about how I try to make very loose plans and goals because I'm so hard on myself when I don't finish things "in time" or "fast enough" so I only hoped to get my current weaving off the loom this year, maybe finished. 

How's that going? 

I stitch a little on the beaded netting which will be the weaving's edge (this portion of the project sits in a 9mm case by the couch for evenings in front of the TV). I haven't been weaving a whole lot since it's been getting nice enough to work outside but I did notice that I'm just past half-way on "Is There a Thing to Which Brings Us Less Joy Yet We Devote More Time."  I've been feeling like I may be playing "yarn chicken" but at the end I'm sure I'll have enough rayon in the colors I had dyed.  Trying to match a dye years later never really works and I designed this so that the "Wi-Fi" pick-up design is repeated on the beginning and ending of the piece.

I'm also beading some ideas for wedding stuff. Lets face it, wedding planning if going to be the big part of my summer which will force me to finish the garage, reroof the shed, cleanup and add-to the door fence and get our gardens under control. My beading has turned to jewelry with spikes and leopard print for bridesmaid ideas; fishnet is also becoming more prominent in my styling process.

I am falling madly in love with the spikes that Swarovski offers. The bangles and dress details are really giving me that dressy-punk look that we're looking for.

So wish me luck on playing yarn chicken this year and getting all the beading done for our upcoming nuptials!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Pink Blend Fishnet Bangle and Earrings

When I finished the first "fishnet" bangle (the "Stained Glass" look one) I felt like it wasn't what I was going for. So I decided to create one with just the pink blend of seed beads.  I like this one a lot better thus I made earrings to match.  

The earring ideas took all different shapes but as I tried different layouts nothing was working.  On the day before Capital City Film Fest's Red Carpet event I created a larger diamond to be the bottom drop for the earrings I ended up finishing and liking. 

I also made a pair of small diamond earrings in the red blend, just so the original bangle design had another color option to go with it. 

As I was getting ready to go to the event I liked both bangles with my outfit so I said screw it, I'm wearing both. Too much? There are never too many beads or bangles for me. Of course, they didn't end up in any photos, but that's how it goes.  :)

Valeta and I back at it at CCFF Red Carpet

Earring detail after I got home

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Joy: Renewal

It didn't register that Easter was here already until my mom texted me 2 days before. I realized that it's a holiday that I've always blindly followed-suit with and never gave much thought to it other than which fun hat do I get to wear if I'm expected to go to some sort of gathering or to church.

This sent me on a spiral of digging around my thoughts on how I do or do not feel about the holiday, religion, and my own personal journey.  These have been constant questions over the past 3 years for me. My AA meeting Saturday further helped move my pondering to the direction of renewal, rebirth, spring. With that idea it became very clear to me that the Easter Sunday that has meant the most to me ever was 2019, 3 years ago.

You can read the original post from 2019 here:

I had agreed to do the River Terrace Installation. I was still drinking at the time when I decided I could take on this project but maybe only for about a month before I joined AA and stopped drinking for good. I didn't know it then but this installation would become a representation of my own renewal. I was probably going to 5 meetings a week between work and working on this installation piece at the start. Looking back on it, it was probably really good that I had this large commission to focus on. The first year of sobriety it tough. Also, I would have never gotten it done by the Easter deadline without all those meetings.  Easter wasn't the dedicated deadline in the beginning, but at the rate I had been sewing the panels together we decided that it could be unveiled at Easter service.  I went to that service and my Dad joined me,  I cried the entire time.  Everything had more meaning and nowadays I cry harder with tears of joy than I do in sadness. 

I didn't originally think I would name this piece as it was to be a possession of the church's and not my own, but that first year and working on this piece gave me so much hope, so it is titled Hope Flows. It still does flow through me on a regular basis. The turnaround my life has made taking things in small chucks, one day at a time, I had no idea how bright the future would be. It just keeps getting better.

Renewal and rebirth for me is about learning from your past and adjusting or changing so that you don't keep making the same mistakes that led you to the bad spots in the first place. 

Twice last week the story about how we walk down the same street over and over and there's a hole. We keep falling into the hole. Eventually you recognize that you're coming up on the hole but you still fall in. After a while you eventually remember that the hole is coming and you can avoid it altogether. Then later still, you may eventually decide to take another street.

 I read that in my meditation book and one of Bryan's morning meditations started off with that so I overheard it while I was making us breakfast.  When the universe starts telling me something I'd better listen. So this time of year does have meaning, I'm ready to get outside.  I'm excited by the irises, daffodils and peonies that are starting to pop up.  I even split and moved a few plants on the handful of nice days that we have had. The specific day of Easter I worked and, sure, I'll eat candy, follow suit and if I happen to have the day off in the future I'll probably go to River Terrace Church to visit Hope Flows and have a good joyful cry.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Joy: Earth

I was listening to an AA speaker on YouTube a while back, I can't remember who it was, I was on an AA speaker-loop in my studio but the key thing I took from her talk was that we are all connected to the Earth and when we're feeling like things are off we need to feel the Earth. Physically touch it. Dig into it, bare hands or feet walking over grass or sinking your fingers into dirt. For me this usually consists of weeding or working in the back yard but this week I was thinking about the joy of our compost pile.

Whenever I need really good dirt I get into the bottom of my compost pile. The smell of nutrient-rich dirt, the deep warmth and movement of worms over the falling pile give me such a deep sense of gratification. Simply making "good" dirt feels good, it feels like connection. I ever knew such a simple thing, throwing my compostable waste on to a pile and flipping it on occasion would be a good simple feeling. I have a lot of gratitude for the simple pleasure these days.

I filled the tops of my big planters with the compost pile dirt this week and planted my favorite annual this morning before the rain: pansies.

I need to split my allium this year after they bloom; they're really starting to spread.  I started splitting up and moving some of my irises and hostas this morning also.  I love working in the dirt when it's warm, wet and a little overcast. 

The crocus are doing better than I recall them doing in the past. Last year I started just doing a little bit of moving and weeding every day and it's really showing this year. I'm getting some of the vining weeds under control and everything is really happy under the mulching leaves.

It's the time of the spring when the green is this brilliant hopeful color. Everything smells fresh and new and ready to burst with energy. I'm feeling the same way.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Fishnet Stained Glass Bangle Bracelet

I'm always inspired by fashion; it flows so easily into my process of creating new designs for my jewelry. I have so many clothes and should be buying more but every once in a while a fresh dress for an event is nice to get.  Lately I've been picking up some great pieces on Poshmark that are really inexpensive. (Like 2 dresses for our wedding for under $100 for the two of them...seriously).  I was so excited that the Capital City Film Fest is back on this year that I purchased a dress I've been eyeing in a color I rarely wear; red. It still has purple in it (my go-to color), but it feels like it's mainly red.

I have been leaning into styling more punk rock looks and decided that this dress would be fun with a pair of fishnets and my new tall purple John Fluevog boots. Planning this outfit led to what jewelry I might make to go with it. Fishnet. I have been integrating fishnet tights into my regular non-work wardrobe a bit more lately.  I decided it's time to try to work fishnet patterns into beads. 

I decided that the fishnet should be the feature and I haven't done a fun bead mix in a while. So once the dress came in the mail, I took it into the studio and matched some colors to mix together. 

This is the first bangle I made with this base idea. It didn't turn out quite how I wanted it to.  It's not very fishnet-looking. Bryan suggested that it looks more like stained glass and I agree.  So I'm working on another one and I'll decide next week which one to wear. I'm simplifying the idea on the second version of this bangle, but I may ultimately need to dumb it down to just 2 colors. Boring to bead but can often looks very sharp. Like my Classic Cuff Bangle bracelet, all the white got so boring to bead but I absolutely love how the piece turned out at the end of the day.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Joy: Spring Yard Work

Spring is around the corner and I, like lots of other people, looks forward to changing seasons. I didn't get the amount of skiing in this winter that I'd have liked to but there are reasons for that and there's always next year. 

I'm on to getting back to putzing outside.  Now that I have a nearly-completely-dry garage I'm set up in there painting a little bit every day to get the trim for the finishing of the roof done.  I also had a few huge tree branches come down this winter and I have them in a pile by my fire "pit" which is more like a chimney in the middle of my back yard.  While I'm outside I had a small fire going to burn down my heavy yard waste to then get it moved to my compost pile.  

I got another door up on my door-fence which I had also been picking away at painting on the days I wanted to be outside.  

I love burning stuff.  Whenever I poke around and see what other properties aare for sale that might be a good fit for us, I look for a big yard but I also want a fire pit. I've bagged and put out my yard waste in the past and it's such a pain. Plus, the city doesn't always get it in time; my neighbor across the street has had his sitting out all winter.  I also like that the askes help grow my compost as I use it for a lot for gardening.

I have 1/3 of an acre and I love it.  My gardens have been coming along slowly with time and patience and splitting and moving plants. The door fence is turning out really cool and I'm learning about what doors will work for it and what needs to be replaced as I go along. I put in my earbuds and spend a couple of hours out there picking up, cleaning up and getting my hands dirty.

There was an AA talk that I listened to quite a while back and the speaker talked about how we are part of the Earth and we should feel the Earth with our bare hands or feet on a regular basis. I hadn't really thought about it like that before, but I definitely need that.  When I'm feeling squirrely, I go dig around outside. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Metallic Pink and Black Jewelry

After I made myself some jewelry options with metallic pink, black and white checkers for NYE I couldn't seem to put away the extra shiny pink 15/0 seed beads. I wanted to use them in a gift for a friend, then I just kept going. I made a few pairs of earrings and then felt like the pink needed to be a "stripe" in a netting bracelet. Above is the base set that I feel goes together.

Lately I've been saying that jewelry just kind-of falls out of me and that's what happened with these.  My attraction to these metallic pink beads mixed with blacks just needed more attention. I keep saying that I'm trying to focus my time on my larger woven pieces but I always end up making some jewelry in between. I bead while winding down watching TV at night with Bryan  

I hadn't made a netting bracelet in a while and one of the cool things about this design is that it can be adjustable to whatever length I make it and smaller.  The loops for the design are also the loops for how it clasps.

My tiny pod earrings have been popular with both sales and I'm wearing them at work a lot.  They have a little bit of pop but don't get in the way of the masks, and they don't fight with patterns in outfits.  I love how these tiny beads allow for every stitch to look so delicate.  

I started thinking about stitches that I have used over the years...all the way back to the very first stitch I taught myself; the Daisy Chain. I recall grabbing a "how to" tear-off paper in the bead section at Frank's Nursery (remember that store chain?).  I was always attracted to beads and I was stuck on a thing I had stitched on a bead loom.  Not knowing how to get my first beaded piece off the loom I just kept playing with the beads I had.  I was in elementary school when I started teaching myself beads stitches.  I always recall the daisy chain to be simple because it was the first one I learned. I later tried to teach it to some girl scout groups and it wasn't as easy for them. Now that I really get into the stitch again, it's not that simple.  In this little stitch I learned a lot about the importance of bead and thread direction.  It turns out that stitching tons of daisy chains as a young person gave me this amazing base for my ongoing beadwork.  

So I decided to make a daisy chain from this bead combination and I'm in love all over again.  In the 15/0 seed beads it is much more delicate and will layer nicely with other bracelets and bangles.

Metallic pink earrings! These beads just look so wonderful stitched together.  I wanted some silver accent beads to go with them and the above and below pairs of came about.  I am always attracted to interesting-shaped polka-dot beads. In the above earrings I think the pink frames the center beads nicely.

Below I found these white and silver disc beads which I hadn't ever used. I started stitching around them thinking that the pink band of beads would hang vertically around the disc but it looked much better when I rotated it to have the pink band horizontal around the disc bead.  This was harder to bead then I thought it would be but I really like how they turned out.

I think I'm about ready to change up my evening beading to some other colors, but I have to say after taking the photos of this set today I may keep the pink out a bit longer and see what else comes about. 

Spike Stripe Earrings

Lately I feel like I've been knitting more than beading, but when I was between 2 dresses for a baby shower I decided to come up with a ...