Friday, 21 September 2012

Celtic cable neckwarmer

It's been feeling more more autumnal here the last week or so which always makes me want to start hunting out loads of yarn and new knitting patterns for some warm, chunky knits. Preferably quick projects like hats, gloves or scarves but with a bit of a challenge to them as well. I managed to find one to start with - the Celtic cabled neckwarmer - full of complex looking cables with a simple button fastening around the neck for a warm snug fit. No flapping scarf ends with this one, just a neat fit for a snuggly neck come winter.

And snuggly it is:) I don't usually like too tight fitting things around my neck but this one has such a snuggle factor and is so warm that I'm tempted to knit another just for me:) I'm thinking a strong red or a forest green maybe? It didn't take that long to make either - a few evenings of tv watching and this knits up a treat. 

The neckwarmer itself is about 20" in length and has a three button fastening to keep it wrapped around the neck. I used two strands of DK yarn on 5mm needles to get a rough worsted weight yarn as per the pattern instructions. It has a simple 1x1 rib border with the cable chart repeated to the desired length then another section of 1x1 rib with two rows to incorporate the buttonholes. It took only 4 repeats for my knit to be 20" although it did feel a bit of a tight fit. But the pattern did say lightly block first so I had fingers crossed that it would ease the fit to a slightly bigger size. I suppose I could just have reblocked it bigger if it was still too neat for me:)

Cable repeat

If you don't want a neck wrap then you could just continue the cable repeats and make as long a scarf as you wanted. I quite like this idea too and I did consider it for a while till the shiny buttons convinced me that a neckwarmer was really the only way to go! Still, I'm not sure how many guys would want this style:)) Happy to be proved wrong!

There is an errata in the pattern at the first buttonhole row - just a small one:) I noted the changes I made on my ravelry project page here if you are thinking of making this yourself or want more technical details of this knit. I personally didn't want to add any bigger sized buttons to this aesthetically and found the buttonholes then a little on the large size so if I knit this again, I might alter that buttonhole row anyway and bind off one less stitch per buttonhole for a neater fit.

So, first knit of the autumn is done. I haven't knitted cables in a while so I really enjoyed this knit. I'd forgotten what a lovely textured effect cables can give and it's been fun to watch the crossovers of the pattern appear as you knit. Hmm, now what will be next on the needles? I think I'll have to have a good look around for some inspiration - something with a challenge, hehe :)

Off to have a scout around - see you all soon!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Pearl crossover bracelet

This week, the weather has pretty much turned into Autumn, that colder feel in the evenings and the nights drawing in. So my intention today was to put away the beads for a bit and get out the knitting needles to start a nice warm, snuggly 'something' ;) I had got as far as thinking something with cables that would knit up quickly so I entered into the dangerous world of Pinterest and started looking at my boards for inspiration. Did I get distracted? Of course!

I've recently started following quite a few new people and all these interesting photos had suddenly appeared that seriously needed investigating. All of a sudden I hit the jackpot with an amazing beading tutorial site and that was my day GONE, lol!! I have soooo many exciting new patterns I want to try now - just amazing. They only have diagrams to follow but I'm finding that quite easy now so my list of projects to make has just got a lot longer - ok, off the page longer - but it's all very exciting!

So this is the pattern I wanted to try today. It's very similar visually to the last bracelet but it uses the Fuchsia bicones at the edges instead of round beads which needs a slightly different construction method. These are the real deal crystals and they sparkle so nicely. I also got some new silver lined gold seed beads to add the crossover detail around the pearls. Alas, the pearls aren't the genuine freshwater variety but until they are in my price range, these will do ;) This pattern had the different crossover method I was wanting to try out too so this was the perfect opportunity to see how well it worked. Pretty good, so that's a keeper.
So, all in all a very good beading day today:) I'm thinking of trying a necklace version and/or earrings using this technique as well. Maybe not in this colourway but that will depend if I have enough beads for a larger necklace project. I've spent a lot of time sorting out my beads this last weekend after trying to make a matching necklace for my magenta medieval bracelet.  I just didn't have enough of one colour to finish so that was disappointing. Still, the more I practice, the more new techniques I can bring to designing. The more original designs I make the sooner I can sell them and make some money to afford some more beads, lol!! So, onwards with the experimentation!!

Hmm, what technique shall I try next? So much to learn!!

See you all soon,
elaine x

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Medieval Crossover bracelet

My first designed bracelet - what do you think? You may notice some similarities with the snakey bracelet I made last month but that only had one layer of overlaid beads on the top side. This one has the beading detail on both sides and going both directions to form a cross. So it has been fully decorated within an inch of its life!

I've loved testing out my design theories with this bracelet to see how patterns and structures could be explored and I have so many ideas to try next! I'd love to see this design as a necklace with some firepolish stones instead of rounds in the centre and it will give me a nice opportunity to work with basic shaping too. Of course, I bought a few more beads in the shop with this in mind :)

There are still a few modifications I'd like to try out to create a better finish where the 4 strands of beads meet but I have an idea for that too. Not that it's bad at all - I'm just a perfectionist! And if it takes just a little more thought at the design stage then that's all to the good.

One thing I have realised very quickly is that the good beads are really worth the money. The handle, weight and quality of finish is so very different with czech glass and pearls that you really don't want to go back to anything else afterwards. But the cheaper beads are good for experimentation and I'll have to save up quite a bit  first so I can build a proper 'stash' of shiny beads! Hopefully I'll have a good few designed patterns under my belt by then.

Hmm, so what beads will I use for that necklace version then? See you all soon!

elaine x

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Creative challenge complete!

      Weeks 3-4

1. spiral green vessel, 2. bracelet band, 3. Felted Pod, 4. Not available, 5. snakey, 6. jubilee earrings 2, 7. Not available, 8. snakey bracelet, 9. Pod detail, 10. green shield 2, 11. camino bubbles, 12. button detail, 13. jubilee earrings 3

Now we've moved into September, I thought I'd collate all the projects from the last two weeks of August's creative challenge into a little mosaic. Seems I made less finished pieces in the last fortnight but quite a few were two day tasks or more, so that's cool. As much as I like the excitement of making something in a day, the more complex patterns and experimental vessels are just not that quick! But sometimes the best ideas take time to grow if they're given a little space.

It's been a very interesting creative month where I've learned new wire and beading skills, refreshed on some textile ones like felting and the crochet wrapping, and of course it's always fun exploring new challenging knitting patterns! There are a few experimental samples that I'd like to revisit from this group of projects - the camino bubbles is ongoing and I feel there will be a few more little pods to keep POD company:) And I do intend to get back into pattern writing so the crochet lace parasol will be a definite contender.

     Weeks 1-2

1. turquoise ring, 2. waves and ladders, 3. copper wrapped earrings, 4. Sparkly!, 5. swirl sample, 6. spiral pendant, 7. Hand dyed yarn, 8. firebird, 9. turquoise ring, 10. green shield 2, 11. turquoise monastic weave, 12. copper bracelet, 13. knitted bracelet

Looking at the whole month overall, I am surprised at how much jewellery has made it's way into my creative journey. The wire wrapping is especially important as I can intergrate that into my vessels and hopefully take them to the next level. The beaded jewellery has been a very happy surprise. I've found that I just love constructing with beads. I suppose all my projects have a strong emphasis on construction at the moment - wrapping, weaving, knitting, even felting.

So where to now? Well, I have a good creative flow going on right now so I'm going to see where the creative journey takes me this month. Maybe slowing down just a little though but I'll still be posting every day or two. I'd like to spend some time designing patterns and doing more sketchbook work on new directions for the vessels too. I have a few ideas percolating away :)

I've also got ideas to open a jewellery etsy shop soon as at the rate I'm making beaded bracelets I could seriously stock a shop, lol! And I'm going to re-open my dyed yarn Esty shop for a bit too. I remembered this month how much I love playing with colour and I couldn't use all the yarn I'd dye - even if I tried super hard!! So when I dye some up for my vessels or create more graduating colourways, I'll pop some in the shop as well. I'll let you know in advance if anyone is interested.

But for now, I'm going to take the rest of the weekend off and knit me some camino bubbles watching a film - or two!

See you next week and thank you all for following and supporting me this month!
elaine x

Friday, 31 August 2012

Little felted pod...

Once upon a time there was a little felted pod. He started off a lot bigger but got felted and pulled and shaped and felted.... again and again. And he began to shrink, just a little. At one point you couldn't even see the lovely colours on his surface there was so much soap. But he began to notice that he could keep his organic curves better now and he was kind of liking the deliberate lopsidedness of his shape.

When he was put beside the other stones in the garden, he thought he was the best dressed Pod in the neighbourhood :) He had lovely ochre yellows and grey/green contrasts with some nifty highlights in there too. And as if to prove that, he was now getting lots of attention from someone with a camera, obviously admiring his looks!

So he maganimously obliged and gave a few poses showing off all his lovely colours from many angles. Click, click... and a close-up? Of course, don't mind if you do..... did you catch that lovely orangey/yellow detail?... you did! Excellent :) Click, click......

And then.... it was over. Pod relaxed again, contentedly basking in the sun. It would be nice, he thought lazily, to have some other little pods to talk to. Stones weren't the greatest of conversationalists. Maybe he could persuade the pod maker to create him some company? Now there was a very good idea.......

......and then they could all live happily ever after :)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Felted pod - part one

Last night as I was finishing my blog post,  I had the notion of making a small felted pod, to get back into felt making again and explore 3D forms more. I just wanted to keep it a simple form so the colour and fleece qualities would stand out more.

I have lots of fleece in my stash but my favourites are the hand dyed ones I got from DT Craft & Design when I joined their Fibre adventure club a few years ago. Each month you got a dyed colourway with several types of fleece: roving, tops, silk tops, etc. Each bag was like a little treasure trove arriving each month :) I never got round to using it all so it's been sitting there waiting for the right project to come along - and for me to have enough energy to do some lovely felting again.

'Lovely lichen' -  Fibre adventure club december 2009

I must say I have sorely missed felting. I've really enjoyed my afternoon up to the elbows in fleece, soap suds and bubble wrap! I didn't realise how much satisfaction I get from playing with fibres and all that tactile yumminess!

I chose to work with 'Lovely lichen' as it had some gorgeously soft roving with contrasting delicate silk tops, and I was thinking these pod shapes would look interesting mimicking stones, or weathered dry stone walls - with lichen on them:)

The simple pod form uses a resist technique. In this case, I used a plastic circle inside and wrapped fleece around the form, alternating each flat side as I went, building up colour and tonal values. The detail and decoration went on as the last layer.

I've wrapped the layers and started fixing the top detailing in place here. The silk tops was a bit slippy and didn't want to bond with the roving much. I gave it extra rolls and more pressure with the bamboo mat and it mostly fused. I'll have to remember that next time I use it so I can open up the silk fibres more to get a better grip.

This was as far as I got today before my energy ran out. But I'm pleased with how far I managed. I haven't been able to do any felting since I got chronic fatigue so this is a huge step forward for me. I love felting but it is one of the most demanding techniques energy-wise. So today was also a test to see if I could manage - and I have a nearly finished pod -YES! :))) It has definitely taken me much longer than before but that doesn't matter - as long as I can felt again!

So what needs to be done to finish? I've got to the stage where I can now cut an opening for the pod and take out the plastic. The felted circle has now shrunk enough to be smaller than the plastic disk so it needs to come out, and the fleece - and the silk - is all well anchored in place. So next I have to felt the cut edge, smooth out the side seams, then start shaping the pod. So not much left to do, and then some photos. Felt can reflect the light and bleach out the colours, so capturing the true colours could take a while. It would look lovely on a stony beach, wouldn't it? :)

Well, I'm off  to bed now, to recharge my energy batteries for tomorrow. There is a pod waiting to be finished:)

See you all soon!
elaine x

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beaded wrap bracelet

Ta-da!! We have a finished beaded bracelet to reveal today:) I've really enjoyed working on this one, very logical, simple to thread but has built up into a nice complex bracelet overall.  It has a rather medieval feel to it doesn't it with all that dense beading.

We left this partway through row 2 yesterday. That row was quickly finished and I was pleased I remembered the pattern without too much of a refresher. Row 3 was very simple to do as well. I was expecting some complex interweaving to hold those middle beads in place but it literally threaded straight down the middle!! I was happily surprised it was so easy, hehe :)

The pattern suggested finishing off with a clasp fastening like a bar and circle but I used my last one up on the snakey bracelet last week so I decided to improvise:) I used a decorative metal button from my stash instead and made a re-inforced loop from the dark purple seed beads for it to fit through. I strengthened that loop so many times it's not breaking, no way!

I spent quite a bit of time photographing this evening trying to see how best to show off the pattern and the button. One thing I've done a lot of this month is brush up on my photography skills with all these final shots!! It's fun when you have the time to spend, playing about with different coloured backgrounds and presentation styles. I need to work on it so when I open my Etsy shop it'll look professional - I hope!

I didn't manage to catch the daylight in time today so I might take some more photos tomorrow and compare the difference. No rain, please!

I am feeling a lot more confident with the beading patterns now so I'll be hunting for some more patterns to try next., the more complex the better! I might even try and design one of my own soon, lol!

Well, there are only a few more days of the August creative challenge left so just enough time to squeeze a few more projects in, don't you think? I think I know just the thing........ :)

See you all tomorrow,
elaine x

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Beading in progress......

I decided to work on a smaller project today and chose a slightly harder looking beaded bracelet to try. This has been in my tutorial folder on Pinterest for a while but I wanted to get the hang of the basics of beading and pattern reading before I launched into this one. The tutorial for this is extremely detailed and has very clear visuals to follow but the instructions are in Hungarian. If you have done just a little beading like me, it is do-able, just follow the photos and have a laugh at google translate as you go!!

My favourite so far is:

8 persons in the forward strand, and three eyes visszaöltünk recorded on the back of seed beads, from which the fibers stand up and the four eye-circle forward binocularly the thread.

The mind boggles, lol! It does make sense when you are making it though - google translate has had me laughing most of the evening ;))) Out of curiosity, does anyone know what visszaöltünk means??

It really is a lovely pattern and isn't as difficult as I thought - despite google's 'help'. It is taking a bit longer than I planned so I thought I'd record what I've done so far and give you a feel for how the bracelet is shaping up. It's constructed in rows, wrapping a 6mm bead with size 11 seed beads, using the little picot on each unit as a joining method for the next row. Once you get the hang of the pattern, you just carry on till it's long enough for your wrist.

My wrist takes about a 7" wrap so I've beaded a little under and left a little space for the clasp. Hopefully a perfect fit. This is the end of row 1, ready to link row 2 with the little picot decorations.

The original pattern has two rows like this and a filler row between them as being the whole construction of the bracelet but I imagine you can make this wider by adding more rows. It would be lovely as a larger cuff too, don't you think? It's beginning to come together now the second row is on it's way and I'm looking forward to seeing it when the third row fills in those middle spaces and it becomes a more solid wrap.

Time for me to call it night now and finish off my three eyed visszaöltünk tomorrow :))  ( I really should find out what it means just in case!!)

See you all tomorrow!
elaine x

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

After a few days knitting over the weekend I've managed to do enough of the camino scarf to show you how the bubbles are working out. Very yummy indeed! The zauberball was an inspired choice I think as it's slow graduations are working well with the size of the bubbles.

Now I'm working with the pattern, it's quite a simple construction but gives a more complex visual result. I think that's a bit of a theme for me:) Anyway, I love how this pattern uses the tight and loose tension to create waves and the lace circles. It doesn't look quite like this when I'm knitting it though! Lace knitting never looks like the real thing till you stretch it out and pin it at the end. But I wanted to see how it was going to turn out so I pinned this little sample to have a peek. I'm liking this a lot :)

Another knitter on Ravelry who used zauberball suggested that one ball should be more than enough for a nice long scarf or half a ball for a short tuck in the jacket length scarf. I'm thinking why not go for the whole ball as it's going to make rather a bright statement anyway!

Ooh, and can you imagine this as a wrap - maybe in a more subtle colourway - monochromatic perhaps? I'd love to see the pattern over a wider piece. I have visions of duck egg blue or pale sandy colours for some reason. Not very me I know but I think it would be very beautiful in a quiet, delicate colourway. Hmm...

I've only completed two bubbles as yet but nearly at the third one. I like when it comes to dropping the stitches and the bubble appears :) I do double check my pattern and stitch count before I let the stitches run though - check twice, drop once!! Once you get going though you can see pretty easily where the drops will be. I can, now I'm getting into the flow of things, watch the tv as I go and the pattern is easily memorised so you don't have to live with the chart under your nose all the time either. As long as I get the changeover row right then it all flows nicely.

I think though, I'll be saving this for evenings and getting some more jewellery or beading back into my days or I may be seeing bubbles in my sleep!! And after lots of short day projects this seems to be working up really slowly - for me anyway!

See you all soon,
elaine x

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Camino bubbles

Today's been a busy day of mostly painting the ceiling with a little bit of knitting. It wasn't quite meant to be ceiling 90% - knitting 10%, but the painting just kept going on and on..... and one coat wasn't enough so it went on and on.... again! Hoorah for my friend who phoned and made me stop, lol!!

I really should try that the other way around, shouldn't I? Start with the knitting first and then squeeze in the painting. I obviously got my priorities skewed!!

So after said phone call and a lovely homemade pizza, I decided it was well past time to start my weekend knitting project. I've been eager to try Camino Bubbles out since I spotted it last week. My first quick sample used my own dyed yarn but the colour runs were too short for this design so I'll just save them for something else. I haven't dyed any new graduating yarns yet so I thought I'd have to put this on hold. But as I was yarn rummaging, I found a lovely bright ball of Schoppel-wolle's Zauberball in colourway Fuchsia. Seriously yummy find. And it's going to be just perfect - long stripes and gorgeous colours:)

I haven't got far yet but I can tell the colour gradations are going to be just lovely. The deep purple is going to run into a deep fuchsia soon, then onto red, vermillion and orange. This is going to be one bright scarf! But I think this pattern is designed for just that so it's going to be really exciting to see both the pattern and colours emerge together.

It's a very clever little design using tension and ladders to create the distortion from straight lines - a very nice knitting challenge indeed. And that makes me Happy :)) I'm sure I can squeeze in another hour of knittting yet tonight, don't you think?
See you all soon, hopefully with a knitting update. Fingers crossed that ceiling looks finished in daylight because tomorrow it's knitting in the lead, painting nil!

Friday, 24 August 2012


While I was updating Ravelry today, I remembered I hadn't shown you how this lace crochet sample dyed up last week. This project goes back a bit, to the end of last year in fact where I was deconstructing a lace pattern I liked that had no instructions to follow so I thought I'd have a go at writing one out for myself. The aim was to design and make my own lace crochet parasol inspired by these images herehere and here.

I'm quite comfortable with crochet and the general construction of stitches but I've had less experience with the more complex crochet lace designs. So last year, I was sampling a few out and getting the hang of how pieces increased in the round and how to build the complexity of structure and pattern into a design. There are some amazing patterns out there that are dismissed because they look too 'doily'- like, but I've learned a lot from my doilies! 

Working out the lace pattern design

I learned how to increase evenly around the circumference, and that the tension is sooo important. If you mess this up then your whole pattern can go out of shape, even with strenuous blocking and pulling back into shape when it's wet at the end. I also got the feel of when that was happening before I got to the end which helped a lot!! There was a lot of crocheting and ripping back as I went so this little sample has had a time of it:) 

But once I understood how to make an increasing circle regardless of the complexity of the stitches, I could then become more free with the pattern. As I was following an existing piece rather than designing from scratch, it was quite easy to place the pattern elements into each portion of the circle. This sample uses a filet stitch and chained threads so it is easy to see how it grows as you crochet.

I originally decided to use a silk/wool undyed yarn instead of cotton as I wanted a softer edge to the design. I'm not convinced that this is the best yarn for the job but the sample certainly does have a 'soft focus' look to it! It handled the wear and tear of sampling well but it you can see the slight wool content giving it fuzzy halo - slightly.

Saying that, it isn't as noticeable now it's been dyed. Being mostly silk it has taken the acid dyes well but not as intensely as the sock yarns. The dyeing was another tester to see how well the colour took and how easy it would be to hand paint a pre-crocheted sample. Very easy! In fact it absorbed the dye quicker than the wool and the colours bled into each other for quite a ways. Less is more in this case!

So it's answered the question of  'do I dye the yarn and crochet, or crochet then dye?' Crochet then dye!! As much as I love dyeing yarns, I can get much more control over the colour gradations this way and as the circle gets bigger and bigger, the colour proportions would stay the same width. A pre-dyed yarn of equal colour blocks - like a graduating yarn - would make smaller and smaller bands the wider it got. Not what I want myself but cool if that's the look you're going for:)

Well, that's the testing all done. So am I ready to design and make that parasol? :)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sea glass ring

I've been looking forward to sharing the sea glass ring I made on my day workshop last month. I was so excited to get the chance to take this course as I've never had the opportunity to learn the basics in  silversmithing techniques before. The course I attended was the Sea glass Jewellery course which runs several times a year at my friend's Gallery/studio here in Cornwall, UK.

The course gave you the opportunity to create a piece of jewellery that incorporated a piece of sea glass. Some people had their own stash but there was plenty on hand for me to choose from. I loved this sea green colour and as I have small hands, it needed to be chunky and dinky at the same time :) Did you know how many different colours sea glass comes in? There were electric blue pieces, sunshine yellow and deep orange as well as pale turquoise and cloudy whites - it was hard to make up my mind. The yellows and turquoises were particularly nice.

We all went for making a ring - which is harder than a pendant apparently, lol, but the example rings were so lovely that I was drawn to them. Then onto the fun bit - the learning!!

The class had a mix of abilities - some had done a bit of working with silver before and others, like me, had none at all. But I felt that was a better mix for learning. Our teacher Rebecca was soooo good - you could easily tell she was an expert! - and I managed to grasp how to shape, solder, use that mini blow torch confidently:) and construct my ring from her demonstrations and individual guidance. As the group was a maximum of 6, we got lots of 1 to 1 time, for which I was very grateful. I was good at following each step but needed more time to learn how to correct the mistakes as I went. But it's all good - I like mistakes because I learned so much more than if it had gone swimmingly the first time!

The filing and polishing at the end was when it started to look like a proper ring. Suddenly it was clean from solder and heat - and SHINY :) And that's when it hits you - OMG, I've just made this ring!! From nothing - like wow! A total dizzy headrush moment, lol! and such a feeling of accomplishment I can tell you. I was on cloud nine all the way home!

This course certainly made me re-think my comfort zones in my own work. It was a huge confidence booster and helped me consider expanding my work to incorporate new materials and techniques. If I hadn't done this, I might not have got into researching jewellery techniques, beading or wrapping wire, or set myself the August challenge to push myself further in my work. A catalyst indeed.

If you are interested, you can find this course and other glass/jewellery courses over at the Jane Smith Glass website. Jane produces amazing glass work, I just love her wall panels - worth a visit:) So many courses I'd love to try - precious metal clay, making your own glass beads - yes please!!

So I'll be collecting coloured sea glass the next time I'm at the beach, lol - I fancy making a pendant :))
See you all soon!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Snake bracelet :)

Hooray! My parcel of beads arrived today :) which means that today's creative project is bound to include lots of beads. This wasn't on my to-do list but I found this when I was looking at another tutorial and that was it, all the rest were put on hold. Youtube is good for that isn't it? You start someplace and end up miles away with something completely new and unexpected!

Why this one caught my eye was it uses the right angle weave stitch that I learned for the monastic pendants last week. I wish I had found this sooner as working last time from just a schematic with two needles was a little more difficult than following this video. I also chose this as the video was produced by Kelly from Off the beaded Path, who designed the jubilee beaded earrings I posted a few days ago, and her videos are always very thorough.

So with my bead list to hand, I started sorting though my new beads - rummage, rummage:)

6mm round beads
4mm round beads
Size 15 seed beads
1 clasp
1 beading needle
2 metres of 6lb fireline

Video ready? Righty-ho, ready to go!

This right weave bead pattern uses only one beading needle and I found it a lot easier actually. I had a little trouble keeping the beads tensioned as I threaded at first but I got the hang of holding the thread pinched between my thumb and index finger to stop it slackening when I picked up new beads. That made a LOT of difference.

This design is worked in two layers: the woven green beads first and then the purple wrapped layer second. So only two simple techniques to learn. I went for a colour contrast but if I had more size 15 seed beads in my stash, I'd have liked to have used a rich gold colour with the greens - yum!! I'll have to save that for the next one. Oh yes, I'm sure this one will be made again, and again....... :)

In the next one, I'm going to try working around the woven beads twice as I go for more re-inforcement. It feels secure enough and probably doesn't need it but I'm curious to see if it will hold the beads in place better as I go. It does bug me that the thread is obvious at the sides even after the second layer. Maybe I need to use a less obvious colour of thread or play around with bead sizes to get a better 'fit' so the thread is less visible. Maybe two wraps of thread may make it even more noticeable - probably! I'll let you know how it works out.

Now I'm off to sort out my beads into compartments - a bit sad but so much fun, lol! See you soon for some more creative experiments :)

elaine x

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Spiral green vessel

As I was working on design ideas for the wrapped yarn samples over the weekend, I decided to finish the green sample that I showed you last week. The sample was designed to work on the flat and be part of a much larger suspended wall piece like 'sunburst'. As I didn't like the joining method that kind of stopped it in its tracks.

So what to do with this little sample? Although this was a tester for wrapping several wires together, it also tested the support method for larger organic shapes. This has worked well and these shapes moulded into a small vessel hold their form successfully. I think they would be even stronger with the wrapped method so I'm very excited to try that out as soon as possible.

I still like the design ideas I had for the large wall pieces so I'm wondering how wrapping would give me more flexiblity of design there too........ and what if the circles vessels were wrapped, how would that affect the stability of the structure - could I go bigger and bigger?? It would be so cool to have something large enough to actually walk inside - imagine!! 

So many possibilities! Got a lot of sampling to do before I get there but let's see where it goes :)

See you all tomorrow,
elaine x

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Jubilee beaded earrings

So this was the project that started me making beaded jewellery. I was following a link from some jewellery pictures on Pinterest and ended up at Off the Beaded Path's how-to video of these lovely earrings. They looked super complex to do and a bit of a challenge - so obviously I was interested :) I followed the how-to video closely which was very, very good indeed. So that decided me. This I had to try.

I didn't want to commit to buying a huge amount of beads in case I found it frustrating or too fiddly so I opted to buy her kit version on her Etsy shop as a treat to myself - and it was really nice to have all the right beads and findings to hand for my first attempt! There are four colourways but I liked this version best. Much more subtle than the red, white and blue version!! (click the shop link if you fancy seeing that :)) I didn't have to wait long for delivery from the US to the UK either so within a week, I was able to get beading.

The kit was great - all the beads needed, thread, beading needle and a very detailed PDF instruction booklet on disk. The book was easy to follow as well but I preferred the video myself as it was literally in real time and I could see every stage as she went - and it was super easy to pause and fix anything as I followed.

This was maybe a little ambitious for a first project as the bead weaving is quite complex compared to a lot of other things I've tried this month - like the monastic weave - but if you have patience with yourself and follow the video or booklet then you end up with a huge sense of achievement as well as a lovely pair of earrings. It teaches you a lot about the construction of beaded designs too which was really helpful.

Because I got on well with the how-to video, I've subscribed to her Youtube channel where you can see all her new jewellery how-to's every week. There's a good back catalogue there if you're interested too. So many projects I'd like to try but I have to wait till my beads arrive - sigh. But I've earmarked a few bracelet designs there and on Pinterest so I'm all ready to go as soon as that parcel arrives at the door!!!

Still got a lot of painting and decorating to do this week but I have mananged to start the Camino bubbles pattern I mentioned yesterday. Knitting is always good to relax with so I'm looking forward to doing more of that tomorrow.

Hope you've all been having a good weekend, see you soon!
elaine x

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Creative update - 2 weeks in!

1. turquoise ring, 2. waves and ladders, 3. copper wrapped earrings, 4. Sparkly!, 5. swirl sample, 6. spiral pendant, 7. Hand dyed yarn, 8. firebird, 9. turquoise ring, 10. green shield 2, 11. turquoise monastic weave, 12. copper bracelet, 13. knitted bracelet

It occurred to me today as I was looking through all the projects so far that we are two weeks into the creative challenge this month - already! So I thought I'd put together a little mosaic of everything so far. The rainbow bag and the colourwork didn't make it to the final cut but hopefully the bag will make a reappearance nearer the end of the month.

It's interesting to see when you give yourself an open ended project like this what you actually decide to spend your time doing. There's a lot more jewellery going on than textiles isn't there! But I'm glad that the vessels are making a comeback even in a small way. I'm thinking that the green swirly wrapped yarn sample (bottom left)  is big enough to be moulded into a vessel - excited to see what that looks like!

And I'm wanting to try out more experimental knitting - patterns with a bit of a challenge to them. One that caught my eye today was the lovely Camino bubbles pattern by Kieran Foley. I've already printed out the pattern and have the yarn ready for that. If I get a chance I'll start it tomorrow. There are a lot of charts so I'll give myself some time to work it out first, but hopefully it will be a quick fun knit :) Looks like a lot of Knit/Labs patterns are quite challenging so I think I'll be back to try some more after this one too. If you're on Ravelry, you can check out their pattern page here or go to their website instead. Definitely worth a look.

Back tomorrow with another project for you but till then enjoy your weekend:)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Monastic bead weaving

After making the rings yesterday, I fancied trying out this bead weaving technique. I have more of those turquoise blue beads I used for the ring and I thought it would make a nice chunky necklace using this technique. First though I tried out a small one to get the hang of the threading. I've tried double needle beading before so I kind of knew how this was going to be constructed but I used a schematic for reference as I went though. (Edit: Sadly this link is no longer working but I have found another great site that shows a great step by step tutorial for this here )

This technique is called monastic bead weaving or right angled weave - if you go to Youtube there are many video how-to's. They were very helpful to get a basic understanding of construction although I wanted to add small seed beads so I had to adapt as I went. Took a few attempts to get what I wanted but I got there. After taking this pattern back a few times, you certainly get to know it well:)  The Amethyst weave uses 6mm AB glass round beads which have a lovely pearescent sheen to them, and size 11 metallic plum iris seed beads. In certain lights the gold comes out more than the plum so it gives lovely subtle contrast.

Then I moved on to the lovely turquoise chunky beads. These are about 8mm compared to the 6mm amethyst ones above, and I used some white pearl size 11 seed beads in between on a 6lb crystal fireline. I think the nylon thread could have done with being a bit thicker as these glass beads are heavy!! It was a bit more difficult to keep the weaving in place as I worked but once I re-inforced the structure by going around the beads again, it pulled everything more into shape and made a stronger finished pendant.

I added a seed bead loop for a chain or ribbon but I'd like to use a more secure method of hanging next time. A chain may eventually break the thread and then it would all unravel - not good! I'm sure I've seen some other methods on my travels, I'll have to find them and try them out. 

I am really enjoying the beading and learning all the new patterns and construction methods, although I need more practice on good finishing where the thread doesn't show quite so much - well, that or some clear nylon thread :)

There might not be so much creative time over this weekend as I've been postponing the painting and decorating in the living room. So the sooner I can get that done, the sooner I can get back to play! I do have a few projects I've done quite recently that I'd like to show you, especially the silver sea glass ring course I went on last month and my first beaded earrings which I love. It really is a shame I don't have pierced ears you know. The irony isn't lost on me :))

Till tomorrow, paint brush in hand, goodnight!


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