Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sunflower Bracelet

This is the Sunflower Bracelet by Yasmin Sarfati from the December 2013/January 2014 issue of Beadwork Magazine.  I bought this as a kit from Interweave mostly because I didn't have the beads (especially the crystals) to make it in my stash.  There were two color-ways available, this one and a blue one, and I bought them both.  In the original design there are five of the flowers, but my wrists are so slender I only made four.  I also modified the clasp attachment a little.  There were tiny little jump rings on the clasp that the larger jump rings were supposed to connect to, but if you do that the larger jump rings don't lay right.

Design:  Sunflower Bracelet by Yasmin Sarfati (December 2013/January 2014 Beadwork Magazine)
2 g gold size 15 beads
5 g gold size 11 beads
8 g opaque rose/gold topaz luster 5x3 mm 2-hole sead beads
5 foil-back rose 8 mm crystal chatons
4 gold-filled 6 mm jump rings
1 gold 14x15 mm filigree oval box clasp
Gold size B nylon beading thread
Size 11 beading needle

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 9 Done

I'm liking these short easy charts.  Quick and steady progress is always a good thing.  I started skein 3 on this chart so the gray is starting to come in, exactly where I wanted it to.  When I looked at this pattern this section seemed to me to be vines growing over ruins.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 8 Done

This last chart was a pretty quick and easy knit and most of the wrong side rows were rest rows.  I tried to spread it out so the vine motif could be seen.  I've almost used up all of the second skein so I will need to go wind skein 3 before I start knitting again.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Aventurine and Jasper

I bought these strands as you see them from A Grain of Sand and all I had to do was string them on Soft Flex and add a pretty clasp, also from A Grain of Sand.  The strand on the left is green Aventurine and the one on the right is Jasper.  Strung on Sterling Silver Extreme 925 Flex Soft Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Medium (0.019 in diameter).

Turquoise and Silver

Only they're not.  I'm pretty sure that the "turquoise" is actually dyed Howlite, which takes dyes quite well because of its porous surface and is used to replicate other more expensive stones, like turquoise.  I'm not sure what the "silver nuggets" are, they may be pressed glass.  This is a kit from Annie's Simply Beads Kit-of-the-Month club.  I joined on a whim during my Christmas vacation.  I received the kit this past Thursday and made all three of these pieces that evening.  As you can tell, the kit had ample supplies and I still have some leftovers.  The directions that came with the kit presented several different design ideas, explaining the different techniques required to make each one, encouraging individual design creativity.  The necklace on the left was one of the design options presented, as were the earrings, the one on the right I made up with left over components.  I figured the club might be a fun and relatively inexpensive way to try some different things, plus I like getting surprise presents.  The initial kit was $13.94, but regular kits will be about twice that.  You can pick how often you get kits - minimum timing is once a month, I believe the maximum was one every six months and it looks like you can handle most of your account functions easily on-line.

So why the jewelry kick?  Well, the position that I moved into last October requires me to dress up a bit more than I used to, so I have been wearing jewelry on a regular basis, and I love to have a variety to choose from.  As I've said before, that is one of the advantages of my new position, I get to wear a lot of the beautiful things that I have made.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A String of Pearls

Every woman needs a string of pearls, or three.  I love pearls, their lustrous sensual beauty, the way they feel against your skin.  They are classic, elegant, timeless, and you can't help but feel classic, elegant and timeless when you wear them.  The graduated strands I bought from A Grain of Sand, and the multi-color strand I bought from Artbeads.  All three are strung on Soft Flex 24k Gold Extreme Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Fine (0.014 in diameter).  Typically pearls are strung on silk, separated by knots, but silk needs to be replaced every few years, so I use Soft Flex.  I separated each pearl with a size 14 bead, transparent crystal for the white and multi-colored strands, and transparent pink for the pink strand.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 7 Done

The careful observer may have noticed that I made a mistake when I was working Chart 6 - I did the cabling on every one of the "vines" rather than just on every other one - so before I started Chart 7 I had to fix that.  It wasn't that hard, I slipped the stitches one at time to the other needle, and uncabled the cables when I came to them.  The only hard part was when I uncabled a cable that I wasn't supposed to and had to recable it.  Then I screwed up the three stitch crossing cables on the first row of Chart 7, but I didn't realize it until I was working the next right side row.  I tried to ignore it and tell myself it didn't really matter, but of course it did, so on the last row I fixed it.  It wasn't that hard.  The central purl stitch needed to be behind both of the crossing knit stitches, rather than between them.  I simply dropped that one stitch, laddered it down, fished it out from between the knit stitches and hooked it back up again.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Crimson Lake - Finished

I actually finished the second sleeve just after the New Year, but didn't bother posting about it.  I finally got around to sewing it in to the body today.  We took the day off because of the snow that was being called for so I decided it was high time I finished this one.  Besides, I picked up yarn for two more pullovers of this same pattern at the post office this morning.  Because I tend to knit in the round I set sleeves the same way I would for fabric tops.  Turn the body inside out, put the sleeve inside so that the right sides are together, pin around the edges and start sewing.  I try to leave a long enough tail on the sleeve to use for doing the sewing so I minimize the number of tails I have to weave in at the end.  I also did short row shaping on the shoulders and a three needle bind off.  In knitting, as in sewing, it is these finishing details that really help give the final product a more polished appearance.

Pattern:  Ladies Sweater - 1838 from Moments No. 005
Yarn:  SMC Select Extra Soft Merino Fino
Needles:  US 2.5 (3.0 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 6 Done

As I said, the charts are getting shorter even though the rows are getting longer.  This one was only 6 rows, and most of them easy knitting.  The second to last row had cabling.  I decided to do real cables rather than the twisted stitch variety.  The next chart has more cabling and beads, so it will take a little longer.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 5 Done

I finished up Chart 5 yesterday while watching the AFC Championship game.  Even though the rows are getting longer (I'm using 60 inch cables and still cannot stretch it out all the way), the charts are getting shorter - at least for the next couple of charts.  The end of Chart 5 starts a new phase of the pattern - vines on a reverse stockinette stitch background.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 4 Done

Even though the latest Unique Sheep Mystery Knit Along started this past Friday, I am going to stay focused on my Mayan Garden Cape.  I really don't like doing more than one lace project at the same time.  This weekend I knit Chart 4.  Now that I have gotten the hang of the pattern things click along at a pretty good pace.  I made it through the first 4 clues with the first skein of yarn from my set.  I'll be switching to skein 2 on the first row of Chart 5.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Tudor Roses - Elizabeth Woodville - One Sleeve Done

Last year Alice Starmore came out with an updated edition of her book Tudor Roses.  I have several of her books and have always loved her designs but I have never knit any of her patterns until now.  The updated designs in this new edition are beautiful, elegant, classic and I want to knit every single one, so that is my plan.  The patterns, fourteen in all, are inspired by women connected with the Tudor dynasty.  The book itself is beautifully put together, hard cover, over-sized, with heavy gloss paper.  It could easily be a coffee table book.  When I opened it and started leafing through the patterns I gasped in astonishment and pleasure and instantly fell in love.  I am starting at the very beginning with the first pattern - Elizabeth Woodville.  I am using the recommended yarn for the patterns, which I am purchasing directly from the Starmore's via their web site Virtual Yarns, although I am choosing my own colors.  The original design calls for Spindrift and Selkie.  I picked Corncrake for the main color and Mara for the contrast.

Pattern:  Elizabeth Woodville, by Alice Starmore from Tudor Roses (2013 edition)
Yarn:  Alice Starmore Hebridean 2 Ply (250 g in Corncrake & 31 g in Mara)
Needles:  US 2.5 (3 mm)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Orphan Lamp Work Beads - the Dreams of Jack Flanders via Larry Scott

For a number of years, Larry Scott was my favorite lamp work bead artist at Bead & Button and every year I would buy a number of beads from him.  A lot of the beads that I bought from him were his Byzantine beads, so called because of the complexity of the surface design.  Most of these came in sets of three, one large and two matching small.  The last year he was at the show I bought 3 sets of orphan beads from him, sets of two small beads with no matching large beads.  I had always had it in my mind that I would make bracelets with them.  This past week I finally made the bracelets.
For these dark red beads I picked garnets.  This one somehow reminds me of India, so I have dubbed it Dreams of India.  There is a series of radio plays by the ZBS Foundation featuring Jack Flanders, and Dreams of India is one of them.
For these golden yellow beads I picked amber.  This one I call Dreams of Sumatra, another radio play featuring Jack Flanders.
For these purple beads I picked Dog Teeth Amethyst.  I call it Dreams of the Amazon, yet another Jack Flanders adventure.  I had the gemstone beads in my stash for the first two, but I had to order beads for this one.  I ordered them from Goody Beads, which features Dakota gemstone beads.

The silver beads are Bali silver, which I had in my stash, and the clasps were purchased from A Grain of Sand.  All of the bracelets are strung on Soft Flex Sterling Silver Extreme 925 Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Medium (0.019 in diameter).  The bracelets fit my slender wrists fairly closely.  Because of the weight of the gemstones they tend to hang with the clasp pretty much on my pulse point.  I love them.  The are perfect with a three-quarter length sleeve hand knitted sweater.  I have sweaters that match the first two, but not one for the third.  I guess I'll have to make one.

Polymer and Pearls

Polymer clay is pretty big in some circles, and early on in my trips to Bead & Button I bought a number of polymer clay beads.  They have been sitting in my bead stash ever since.  Last week I decided to pull them out and make some necklaces.  I like to use pearls with the polymer clay because they have a similar glossy finish.  So, I ordered some freshwater pearls from Artbeads and they came last week and this morning I did the assembly.
For this bead I picked Pale Cranberry and Olive Green freshwater pearls.

For this bead I picked Purple Peacock and decided to add in some of the Pale Cranberry pearls.

For this bead I picked Butterscotch and added some Peacock Blue pearls.

All of the necklaces are strung on 24k Gold Extreme Flex Soft Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Fine (.014 in diameter).  I use the fine Flex Wire for pearls because they generally have small holes.  I have a few more polymer clay beads, but am still working on finding the right colors to go with them.  I may end up with gemstone beads instead of pearls.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Carnelian and Onyx

Even though Larry Scott no longer comes to the Bead & Button show, I still have a number of beads by him that I have not yet turned in to jewelry.  This weekend I decided that I really needed to.  Part of the motivation is that the job I am currently in requires me to dress up a bit more than I used to so I actually have a reason to wear a lot of the beautiful things that I have made.  One of the reasons that I hadn't done anything with these beads is that I thought I would try using seed beads with them instead of the gemstone beads, but last week I was wearing one of my sets of Larry Scott beads and I realized that I really just love the look and feel of the gemstone beads.  I also really enjoy working with them, choosing the colors to compliment the lampwork, laying out the beads.

Materials:  Lampwork Byzantine beads by Larry Scott, carnelian and onyx gemstone beads, Soft Flex Extreme Flex Wire

Sea Shell Bracelet

I bought these lamp work beads at the 2011 Bead & Button show because they are purple, and fun, and weren't very expensive (as lamp work beads go).  Needless to say, they were an impulse buy.  The blue and white beads came with.  The lavender gemstones I had in my stash, and the clasp...well, the clasp is a scarab clasp that I bought from A Grain of Sand.  So what does a scarab have to do with sea shells?  Nothing, absolutely nothing, but the blue perfectly matched the blue of the beads.  Once again, the bracelet is strung on Sterling Silver Soft Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Medium Weight (.019 in diameter).

Mayan Garden Cape - Chart 3 Done

I've gotten back in to my habit of working lace on the weekend.  Saturday morning is usually dedicated to lace while I listen to NPR.  We like Car Talk and Wait Wait.  This clue was easier than the previous two, I think I'm getting the rhythm of the pattern.  I am almost done with the first skein.  I'm going to use up each skein as I go, which should pretty much guarantee that I won't run out of yarn, although I do run the risk of ending up with a lot of the last skein left over but I can live with that.  The pattern calls for going up a needle size on row 69 of this clue, but I did not do that.  From what I saw on the forum, you don't really need to increase the needle size until the third needle size increase.  I might not even do that one.  I'll decide when I get there.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Tiger Eye Bracelet and Earrings

I've had these faceted tiger eyes in my stash for a while.  I picked them up at Unfinished Creations in Yellow Springs, Ohio and was just waiting for the perfect project for them.  I had thought I would do something with seed beads with them but this morning I decided that I just wanted to do something that would let them shine.  I separated the oval stones with small tiger eye disks from a strand that I had bought a very long time ago, at my very first Bead & Button show.  I bought the clasp recently from A Grain of Sand, a wonderful resource for unusual and vintage beads and findings, and the spacing is perfect for these beads.  The bracelet is strung on Sterling Silver Soft Flex Metallic Flex Wire, Medium Weight (.019 in diameter).  I thought about using spacers in the bracelet itself, but decided that I didn't really need them and I like the way the strands move when I wear it, which I've been doing all morning.  After all, I did need to do a test run to make sure that it was wearable.  Conveniently I had two beads left over to make earrings.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nouveau Navettes

Interweave has recently been offering kits, all sorts of kits, and I've purchased a few - mostly weaving kits, but also beading kits.  I ordered this one last Monday and received it yesterday.  All of the other beading kits that I have ordered have been seed bead kits, this is the first time I've done anything with chain.  I decided to try the kits because I thought it would be a fun way to try some new techniques and new bead shapes/types that I don't have in my stash.

I decided to do this kit last night because I was tired and didn't feel like knitting, and didn't want to fall asleep on the daybed after supper, which I have been doing on a fairly regular basis lately.  It is a strange thing, but when I bead time just seems to stand still and my fatigue and any worries just fade away.  I put this necklace together in about 4 hours.  The instructions were a bit skimpy, and I didn't really like their order of construction so I modified things a little.

I started out mounting the sparklies in their settings.  That was easy, and was the first step in the instructions.  Then I cut the chain for the two top strands to the length in the instructions (7 1/4 inches and 7 3/8 inches) and whatever was left became the third strand.  I put the two top strands on a jump ring and started adding the beads on the head pins.  I worked from left to right.  The head pins are attached to the bottom strand with small jump rings.  After I had all of the beads on the head pins attached to the top two strands I attached the other jump ring on the right side, and attached the bottom strand of chain.  When attaching the head pins to the bottom strands I worked from both sides to the middle, alternating.  I did this because the spacing didn't seem to be working out right when I worked from one side, by working from both sides in I could at least make sure that the spacing was consistent and symmetrical.  Then I attached the dangling sparklies to the bottom chain, centering them as best I could between the head pins.  All that was left was to attach the larger chain and the clasp.  Easy peasy.

The necklace has some weight to it, so it hangs pretty well.  The two smaller beads are glass and the large ones are lucite.  If you wear it as designed it hangs down a bit and the curve is compressed, so I put the clasp into the chain itself to pull it up so it hangs just below my collar bone, which also opens up the curve into a nice arc pretty much as you see it laid out here.  I worked this necklace on one of my beading trays (you can see it in the background of the picture).  You will recall that last year I came home from Bead & Button with a large rectangular bead tray.  Last month I ordered a second one - a 12 inch circular one, which I thought would be perfect for working from while sitting on the daybed.  It was.  You can get your own Bead On It Beading Board here.  They are a little spendy, but well worth it - beautifully made and wonderfully functional.

Project:  Nouveau Navettes, kit available from Interweave

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mayan Garden Cape - Second Chart Done

I got about half way through Chart 2 a little while ago, but put this aside while I worked on other things.  I picked it back up last night and made it to the last two rows before my brain started getting a little tired.  I finished up those two rows this morning.  Now on to Chart 3.  The pattern calls for going up a needle size half-way through this chart, but I am going to continue with the same needle size.  There is another needle size increase later on that I may or may not do.  I'll decide once I get there.

Pattern:  Mayan Garden by Kitman Figueroa, modified to be a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in custom colorway Mayan Garden
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm)

Twisted Rib Pullover - A New Approach

Last night I decide to do a little experiment, and knit up the beginnings of a larger sleeve using the leftover yarn from Goldenrod and the remains of one of the balls that I used to knit up the original sleeves.  Based upon my yarn usage I may have enough to do the ribbing and the collar in the gold.  I think it provides a nice contrast with the blue.  I am going to have to modify the pattern for the body to get the right fit.  The sizing on this one seems a bit odd to me.  The shoulder width remains the same over all for the extra-small and small sizes and then jumps up an inch for the medium and large sizes.  I've already adjusted the sleeve pattern to make them a little roomier.  I might add some length to them as well.  As the pattern is written they come to just below the elbow.  I would like them to be closer to three-quarter length.  Of course, now I have to ravel the sleeves, and because I blocked them I'm going to have to rejuvenate the yarn.  I actually tried knitting directly from the sleeve as I raveled it, but the stitches looked pretty bad, so I raveled that back.  I may be able to knit directly from the body as I haven't blocked it yet.  I'll see when I start to ravel it.

Pattern:  Design 1835 from Moments No. 005
Yarn:  SMC Select Extra Soft Merino Fino
Needles:  US 3 (3.25 mm), US 4 (3.5 mm)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twisted Rib Pullover - Second Sleeve Done

I finished up the second sleeve last night while we were watching "Psych" on Netflix.  What a fun show.  They had a musical episode just before Christmas that we caught that quite enchanted us, so I added the series to our Instant Queue.  I didn't make it to midnight, I rarely do.

Frankly, this pullover is troubling me.  I am thinking that I should have made the next larger size.  The sleeves are a bit snug, and the armhole depth seems a little small.  So now I am faced with figuring out what to do about it.  It has been worrying me like a sore tooth.  Of course I don't have enough yarn to knit the next larger size.  I could just increase the depth of the armholes.  This would be the minimum effort path and would require the least amount of rework, but would it be sufficient?  I need to check the fit of the body.  It is probably okay through the torso, but might be a little tight across the shoulders.  Probably the best thing to do would be to frog the whole thing and reknit it.  Of course I don't have enough yarn in this color to knit the next size up, but I do have left over yellow yarn that I could use for the ribbing and the collar.  I don't really feel up to tackling this right now, though, so I am going back to Crimson Lake and will finish up the second sleeve of that pullover so I can get it wrapped up.  There is another project, actually a series of projects, that I want to tackle this year.  More on that later.

Pattern:  Design 1835 from Moments No. 005
Yarn:  SMC Select Extra Soft Merino Fino
Needles:  US 3 (3.25 mm), US 4 (3.5 mm)