Sewing reorganization.

I’m going to leave continuation of the career questioning for another day. Today, I cleaned off the craft table (again) and reorganized the sewing, needlework and yarn stuff. I’m posting this to remind myself where everything is.

Basically, every small item needed for sewing besides chalk pencils, DMC embroidery floss, fabric shears, transfer paper, and large or blunt needles, is in the small plastic caddy that used to have my Fat Quarters in it. That is, I’ve moved the sewing machine threads, hand sewing needles, pincushion, pins, marking wheels, both hera, sashiko threads, and thimbles, to the caddy.

The new pack of transfer paper is in my white folder; the white Saral paper is still on the table. Embroidery hoops are in the sewing box with all my fabric, including all the Fat Quarters — both the Kona cotton and the patterned fabric — along with the dark blue cotton I got for embroidery.

My new circle templates for sashiko patternmaking are in the top drawer of the black file; my graph paper is going to live on top of the altar table in my office, for now.

I took the Wool-Eater crochet blanket out of the fabric box, and am thinking that I should probably either finish it or find larger storage for it. It’s pretty large and heavy, right about now. After finishing the final rows, I’ll need to weave in the yarn ends; which isn’t going to be fun, but it will make the thing okay to wash.

It’s fairly late right now…I have work tomorrow, as well. I’ve gotten into the pattern section of Japanese Country Quilting…which I suppose I can read more of, at lunch. I think this is enough writing, for today.

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Compensation for adulting? (Beads.)

Today I went through my paraprofessional Library qualifying exam, which wasn’t bad. I think I did better than last time; and last time I got an interview, so I think my chances are pretty good. Because I did do that for about two hours, then went to dinner…it’s kind of been a roller coaster, anxiety-wise. Countering that, I received some stuff today which kind of softened the blow.

A lot of this stuff was hanks of Czech seed beads. I think…it would have been easier to pick these if I could have seen them in person before paying for them. I’ve got some interesting color combinations, but not everything was as I expected. I did take some prior-bought hanks out of their plastic bags and just put them into drawers, loose. Because of that, I have ended up tossing some price tags which were just on sticky paper which lost its stickiness long ago — though I think $0.50 per strand (about $6 per hank) is about accurate, for most of them. It averages out.

The tricky part of this is trying to predict what I’m most likely to use so that I can make sure it’s easy to access. I also need to make more of the Czech beads accessible…I’m not sure, though, whether this means to take them off the strands, and if so, how many; or to only disassemble what I know I’m going to use immediately. It’s kind of a pain to have part of my stock readily accessible, and the rest of it somewhere else; but if I purchase beads in large packs…I’ll have to do that.

I basically just bought my first known Matsuno-brand seed beads, which came in a large (40-gram) pack like this. That in itself is kind of interesting, though it would have been nice to be able to see the beads in person (and next to other beads!) to really understand what I was getting. I think I buy more “sophisticated”-looking beads when I can see them next to others and gauge when paying twice as much (or more) is worth it. That said, I’m not sending anything back. I have ideas for them.

I also need to set a date to head to the International Gem & Jewelry Show. One of the vendors I’ve regularly visited at my local Bead Society’s conventions, has a horrible website. The Bead Society conventions have also stopped. If I want to purchase from them, I’ll need to do it either in person or via snail mail. Meeting in person will be a way to pick beads that coordinate, without depending on the quality of the online photos.

The reason I’m even on this is that they have a large stock of Czech seed beads (which are more donut-shaped and less cylindrical) in larger sizes. I’ve actually found this online, as well; but Intergem sounds like a better bet.

And…I did finally get my copper head pins and crystal scarab beads, so I can move forward on updating my earrings and reworking the necklace I posted about, earlier. I also found some Chinese crystal beads in my stock, with which I want to do something now (probably, earrings). Because the bright green seed beads I got almost perfectly match the Crystal Scarabeus 2x coated scarab beads, I’m heavily considering doing a technique such as Chevron Stitch and combining the blue-green Matsuno beads with the bright green.

I also have a bunch of other green beads in different shades, which might work well with those real bright green ones. There are just so many different shades of green!

I also would like to finish the bracelet I began so long ago…it’s almost done, after all. And I did finally find my Erinite-color crystals (they’re a bluish-green), so I can make a button in that shade.

I’d also like to try making something like it, in blue; I just recently got some light blue Czech bugle beads…and am wondering how they will work up with Czech size 11° beads, as versus Japanese size 11° seed beads. They’re bigger than the small bugles I used in this last project, which means that the band will be wider.

The major problem I’m having is that I’m aiming for an LIS career path so that I can have the money to support myself and to have the money to buy, and the time to do, things like this. It’s just kind of hard to focus on the actual job and education bit of it, in the moment — because it is work. That thing about having a job that you love so that you never have to work again? I don’t think that exists, anymore…

Finished Object: Scarab necklace.

So, a couple things have happened. I passed my written test for Driver’s Training (yay!), I did not fail Programming (yay!), I got a giant frikkin’ toolbox for my metals…which I’m wondering if I need, now (yay?), and I found some SuperDuos (? sadly, beads make me feel rich).

If you’re wondering why I didn’t post earlier, it’s because I spent 7 straight hours at the DMV, reapplying for an original license.

SEVEN. HOURS.

We got there at 7:30 AM and weren’t done until 2:30 PM.

But. I can practice driving, again.

About that necklace I mentioned, last time: I was able to finish it, and it wasn’t a lot of work at all. One thing I need to keep in mind, though, is that when I’m closing the crimp endings, it’s to my advantage to close one half at a time, instead of immediately squashing the thing flat from one side. If I do the latter, I may end up with a slippery connection, as happened this time. I was able to mitigate it somewhat by tying an overhand knot directly after the crimp, so it will have a harder time moving…but crushing it halfway across, results in an inward-biting fold in the center of the crimp which may be more secure.

As it was, I tried using G-S Hypo Fabric Cement on this, and…I think the tube is mostly dried out. Like, there’s air in there and some vapor, but not much else. Normally, I’d use clear nail polish, but I kind of feel tacky using that, at this point. 😉

I should replace my cements, though. Not fun trying to coax anything (anything at all!) out of a needle applicator when you know the tube could bust at any second.

I took a number of photos earlier. Bathroom time! (I was using the viewfinder through the mirror, not taking a picture of the mirror itself…)

Photo of green beaded macrame choker with scarab

In the process, I saw where my design could be improved. In particular, I’m looking at the fine pinkish stripe. Because it’s on the bottom and borders the green size 6º beads, the pink is sandwiched between two bright greens…and because of my skin tone (which is closer to pink than to green, thankfully), it begins to get lost. I am wondering what would happen if I either made it broader and/or put it on the upper edge of the choker. I could broaden it by interlacing another one or two rows of lark’s head hitch (the knotting pattern I used), which I’m fairly curious about, now.

I was concerned that the second choker would be too short, as I made the length of the knotted area the same length as the cord on the original version, which can be seen below.

Initial trial choker

However, it’s plenty long enough. I don’t know why, except maybe the drape could be messing with me. I’m strongly considering getting rid of the extension chain I put in the back of the green one for safekeeping, as the chain tends to tangle with the hook-and-eye clasp I’m using. The only reason I’m using that, in turn, is that I can’t find my narrow-gauge silver wires or jump rings (wire rings). I thought I had found some, but no — that was (more) extension chain!

I didn’t want to cut apart a soldered chain just to get a jump ring. (Chains are pretty expensive.)

All of the silver clasps I have that are right now unused (except for the sterling filigree box clasp, which I would prefer not to use, as box clasps aren’t known for being secure), have piercings that are too small for the rings I’d be inserting into them. (The rings are at least 20 gauge, if not thicker.)

I do have sterling wire in some finer gauges, but that’s going kind of expensive for a connector. I’m unsure where all my silvertone brass wire, went. While it is possible that I was wholly using sterling, before, that seems kind of wasteful. And I know I had some “non-tarnish” craft wire that tarnished (surprise), and I must have gotten rid of that. I’d had it since high school, so what do I expect, right? 🙂

But when that stuff goes bad, it’s pretty terrible. I mean, it turns crusty.

If you’re wondering about Lark’s Head Hitch, I’ve got a close-up for you below. It’s not too hard. If you look in basically any beginner book on macrame, it will probably be in there (just not this version).

Close-up of Lark's Head Hitch chain

One thing that I did find out about my working process: I was unsure nearly the whole time I was making this thing, if I’d have enough cord to finish it cleanly. I used a bit more than two arm-spans each, of the green and pink cord. One of the reasons I added the beads is to space out the knots, which then extends the reach of the tying cord.

I really toward the end, wished I had left more cord at the beginning of the necklace, in case I wanted to extend the other side of it. It would have been easy. But I left myself only about 3″ of working space — just enough to insert into the crimp ending and secure it. It would have given me options, if I had more.

As stated before, I’m thinking of where I can take this, next. In addition to a wider band, I’m thinking about fringe. Short fringe, at this point, but enough to give an impression of feathers.

I really don’t know what that will do; and if I’ve learned anything over the past 48 hours, it’s that I won’t know, until I try it.

WIP: Scarab necklace

Apologies for not having any photos, tonight. I have a work-in-progress (WIP) which will very much be worth sharing when it’s done, but unfortunately I threw my back out today, and haven’t gotten to finish the last 2″ of knotting on the WIP.

Luckily, I’m pretty sure the back thing is just a muscle spasm (don’t twist while carrying heavy loads and descending stairs at the same time), but it’s meant I haven’t been able to do much. On top of that, this and taking medication around 1:30 AM this morning (from staying up late knotting and not noticing the time), kind of wrecked my motivation for today.

So the project itself is a knotted micromacrame choker-length necklace with a central crystal drop and seed bead embellishments. After 1 AM, I was reminded of the need for sleep, and my pinkies were about to blister, so I called it a night. (They’re still a tiny bit sore, today.) Given what was on TV, I think I was working at least 3-4 hours — though this was on two projects.

I made a first project that led directly into the second, as it looked more like a prototype than finished work (although it’s wearable) — but I wasn’t about to cut it apart, right after making it. I had used a set of silver-plated crimp endings; crimps don’t come undone. I would have had to just throw them away, and they still look fine. It’s the cord and the lack of embellishment, that I don’t like.

The craft table looks like a disaster area…but maybe it’s supposed to? I really did want to finish that necklace last night, but I’m already viewing it as a prototype for something more. For instance, working off of the cord loops with thread, to attach finer beads: the center drop bead is a Swarovski scarab, and I’m thinking of placing falcon wings on either side with fringe. The major issue is how to secure the thread ends, but if I worked the thread in from the beginning, it would be well-anchored at both ends of the necklace like everything else (and hidden).

But yeah…it feels really good to be working on (and with) this stuff, again. There’s something about looking at beads that lets me know that something awesome can be made out of them with the right amount of applied skill and creativity.

Hopefully, I’ll be up to finishing it, tomorrow.

Getting back to beading.

Today was interesting. I’ve begun to get back into (and recover) my beading stock. The major problem — which I have gone a long way toward ameliorating, today, is the fact that at various points in time, I’ve separated out tubes of beads as an attempt to notate color schemes for potential projects.

Because of that, what I have isn’t all in one place.

In particular, my size 11/0 (also alternately notated 11º and pronounced “eleven-ought”) seed beads are so scattered that my main storage areas look somewhat…well, pink and purple. But a lot of materials are still stashed away for one single project. That project includes a lot of greens and bronzes, which balance out the mix. And I haven’t yet decided what to do with what I have separated out.

That, in turn, probably isn’t going to be figured out until I just sit down and play with what I have.

Until I finish that project — or alternately, give up on it and put things back where they’re supposed to be — it’s going to be hard to figure out the sum total of what I’ve actually got. I was, however, able to recover some of the stuff I loaned M, which…is a very good thing.

She went on a discarding spree and threw out a bunch of stuff that she assumed was hers. (A lot of it appeared to be inexpensive stock gotten at flea markets by friends. Having started out with cheap Darice beads, I know not to use these for anything to wear or sell — to practice with, is another thing.) Luckily, my stuff (that she thought was hers [I was trying to be polite and not mention the error]) was nice enough not to be tossed. What I’m talking about are the materials for a certain bracelet project.

(While I’m logging unfinished projects, I should leave a link here to this one…I finally got the appropriate interfacing for embroidering a bezel for the cabochon [the big shiny thing], but the materials were sitting uncovered so long that I may have to wash the beads.)

Anyhow, I also was able to make it out to a beading supply place, today, so I have no lack of 3mm or 4mm fire-polished rounds, anymore. (5mm rounds…are comparatively rare. I’ve found them at one bead store relatively distant from me. 6mms, however, are common.) What’s weird is that I have a collection going back decades, and so they aren’t all the same size, even if I have a bunch which look like they were all supposed to be the same diameter. I also have samples of early versions of the Preciosa Twin bead…which aren’t the same as the current ones (which are closer in shape to SuperDuos).

I’ve realized that beadwork is relatively niche (much moreso than watercolor — it’s also possible that beaders just largely either aren’t on WordPress or don’t talk on WordPress, as they’re too busy beading and designing), and so readers here may not immediately know what I mean by words like, “fire-polished round,” or, “rondelle,” or, “druk,” or, “vitrail,” or, “Twin,” or, “SuperDuo.” While this is easily researched, I’ve found people (including myself) aren’t apt to do extra work in order to understand something — especially if they’re not invested in it, aren’t that interested, or it’s just way too much information that they don’t know at the same time.

Because of that (it’s a communication barrier), I’m thinking of setting up a Page or series of Pages that I can direct people to, as a kind of Glossary. I wouldn’t be surprised if a project like that brings in a lot of traffic, either. Though I’m not really all that social, I do see certain of my posts showing up over and over again in searches. If I wanted to monetize the beading, as well, higher traffic would be OK.

As for other labors of love — I’m told to produce my jewelry as art objects and then if they sell, that’s just a happy consequence. One of the drawbacks of beadwork is that it can get expensive, for a hobby. The reason I started to sell is that I was getting prolific, and had a bunch of backstocked, finished items that I wasn’t wearing. (I was also putting a lot into materials — though ironically, most of the cost of those pieces tended to be metals.) That’s no longer the case — a lot has been either sold, donated, or given away to family and friends.

Oh — but! I did restart macramé practice today. I have a pattern using 6 cords, which I’m thinking of expanding into a wider form. I came across a version of a knotting pattern I can’t altogether remember seeing before; it’s kind of lacy, and I’m hoping I can use it as a diagonal lace. It seems like a possible beginning of a zigzag pattern as well, but I’ve got to play with it more, to confirm.

Sorry no new pictures, today; though I do have to start cataloging these things…

What do I *want* to do? The crafts are calling.

I…think I might love sewing. I’ve been working minorly on the Folkwear monpe (mompei) pattern, entirely by hand (no machine stitching). It’s satisfying to see something come together, stitch by stitch. I believe that when I make the final garment, though, I’ll be using backstitch (for strength and durability) instead of a simple running stitch.

Right now I’m still working on the toile (trial garment), but now that I have puzzled out what the directions are saying…

It’s still nice. Actually better than quilting, because I know that I’m working toward an end product of something custom (and three-dimensional) that I can use and wear.

I am not even really upset about having to follow a pattern (though I know that if I keep at this, eventually I will begin to design on my own: it’s the same thing that happened with me and bead weaving, once I moved into beaded micromacramé). There are a few other patterns from Folkwear that I want to make: the Tibetan chupa, Tibetan panel coat, and the Nepali blouse.

I already have a Nepali blouse toile in progress, but I began it so many years ago that I doubt it will fit at all, now. If I’m right, the pattern is still in production, though; and I do have my working notes (and instructions) from trying to figure it out the first time.

There is something (obvious) there that satisfies my need for precision. I also like working with pins, needles, thread, and blades.

I want to go back to the beaded micromacramé thing, as well. The difficult part of this is that knotting will toughen my hands, though repeated needle pokes will do this, too (I’m finding). I’m also keeping in mind the possibility of using unusual knots and cords, which can handle Korean and Chinese knotwork. I am not entirely sure why certain cords work and others don’t, yet, except that the ones that do work are supple and have a firm, round cross-section, in addition to being synthetic fiber.

The knotted beadwork that I had begun to make before I stopped selling jewelry was actually elegant and unique; I haven’t seen anyone else doing the same thing. I am trying to remember why I stopped, and I’m not entirely certain. Maybe I got tired of my pinky fingers being calloused? Freaked out over the fact that I only personally designed one unique pattern? Freaked out over only using a handful of simple knots? Not sure.

Hmm. Well, in any case…my free time will be cut down over the next several weeks, which may ironically get me to spend it more intentionally.

I’ve also been reflecting on how the decline of local bead stores (and conventions) has impacted my usage of glass beads. That is, I’ve essentially stopped my beadwork. A great deal of instability has been introduced with a large number of unique (not round) bead forms, many of which have multiple holes…I think it threw people off, and continues to do so. (Marketing.)

I’ve got to remember that I can still buy online. The trouble there is that one can never be sure exactly what they’re getting. But I’ve bought beads from actual brick-and-mortar bead stores which had finishes which rubbed off — so that isn’t a guarantee of durability or quality.

So there is that.

And I have wanted to play with wirework, again; after having run across samples of weaving in my work boxes. I might be able to use my cabochons in this, too. In particular, I have a moonstone teardrop which I need/want to use. It would look great in some type of silver (at least Sterling, if not Fine or Argentium).

Of course, that requires design! And drawing! And trials in copper or brass!

I still wonder about combining weaving and knotting with wirework…

Now I’m going on…I should stop, for tonight.

Ideas are fun :)

Yes, I am still generating ideas of things to do. 🙂

As I was cleaning up the craft table, I ran across a printout which I realized is the exact dimensions of one of my linoleum blocks (2:3).

flowers in greyscale

The image to the right is what it looks like in greyscale (though I can’t remember if this is the 4″x6″ version or the 11″x14″ version, and am away from my source photos and image editor. It looks like the 11″x14″ version, though). I wouldn’t think it would be possible to do this and preserve the character of the image, but I ran across a posting earlier this week which does show that delicacy can be exhibited by a linoleum block print.

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to look at this in a painterly fashion; I can look at it as something to draw. With contour line in there, I can express the shapes. I can also edit and get creative with the background — with the lower left corner, I’m thinking of blacking it out and adding in lines of light to hint at vegetation behind.

So, there’s one project I can play with. The next one is a bit more ambitious: this is a pair of Japanese field pants (monpe), which I have some nice fabric for, but haven’t started, yet. I know I will have to make a trial pair of these, because with the version of the pattern I have, I’m one size above the maximum (I think I’m a size 16 in Misses’, right now). Luckily, this pattern isn’t difficult to alter, as it’s basically a couple of big rectangles which are slashed and stitched back together.

Apparently, the name for a trial garment is a toile. And…apparently, I don’t have to wash the muslin before I cut and stitch it, though it seems like a waste of muslin, otherwise.

I’m also not sure whether to use the elastic I have for the leg openings at the bottom. This is basically because I know latex degrades, and the elastic I have is YEARS old! But…maybe that’s OK for a trial garment?

In addition…do I stitch it by hand like I want to, or do I stitch it by machine, which will be faster and more durable?

(I think I want to stitch it by hand! I will just have to figure out a method to bind the seam allowances.)

On top of that, there is an option to integrate snaps into the legs, instead of using elastic. I’m just not sure if that’s what I want, yet.

But I guess that’s what a toile is for, right?

(And yes, I do want to make a pair in pink, now, in addition to the one I’ve got planned in black, blue and grey ikat…after this! After this!!!)