Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Awards Necklace

Most of the necklaces I have made to date have been of the long variety - long enough to go over your head, many of them 2 or three times or worn long and knotted. But for a while now I've been daydream-designing shorter, multi-strand necklace with a wider variety of beads and patterning.

So as it was the Academy Awards last night, which I enjoy watching - probably more for the fashions and acceptance speeches than the movies - I decided to turn the computer off and have a go at a different style.

As I was sorting the beads recently I couldn't help noticing the variety I had in those lovely pinky-brown options, so seemed a great place to start. This necklace uses 7 different beads - tiny and large seed beads, two colours of pearls, two sizes and colours of glass beads and a shell bead. I think they work really nicely together.

I always use seed beads or at least smaller beads near to the clasp, as I think it makes it easier for putting on and taking off. And with this style, I am particulary happy with how you can change the look by just twisting.

Who would wear my Academy Awards necklace? Why, Sharon Stone, of course!

The best hat pictures

Pictures of hats are nice ... sure ... but NOTHING beats seeing one on a happy smiling face - and it made my day today when I saw my friends' little girl wearing a hat that I made her.

And for such an auspicious occasion as making your first snowman - I am honoured. Doesn't she look adorable? This is the multi-stitch variation of the basic hat - should you want to make your own.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Geranium Jacquard

I used to knit and crochet but that was many, many moons ago. So, when I recently re-entered the world of all things woolen, I discovered that a LOT had changed! New materials for hooks and needles, circular sets that you can just change the ends with, and very best of all ... new patternings in wool.

I stumbled upon this quite by accident when I picked up a ball of what I thought was variegated dish cloth cotton. Okay, really it's just cotton, but in our family it tends to go by the longer name. I was working away thinking ... what? ... when I discovered it wasn't 'variegated' - it was 'self-striping'. Ooooh, awesome.

Well, it just got better from there. Did you know ... you can now get wool that does it's own patterning ... in all sorts of variations - even argyle for socks! Well, I never... but I like! You can see some of the Bernat choices - which this is - on the Bernat website.

The knitting positively flys by with this level of excitement, so I whipped up a couple of hats I thought would be perfect for a mommy and daughter. Just think, each row is an exciting adventure ... your just itching to see what's next.

I'm looking forward to exploring these options some more.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was ..... a Hat

This is another variation of the Basic Hat for Anyone pattern that I am quite pleased with. This version blends a faux fur novelty yarn with the wool, and the result is soft, warm and yes, fuzzy. I was of the opinion that this trend might be on the way out until I saw almost the exact hat I made my mum for Christmas (black as requested) in a New York fashion show.

I experimented (of course) with a few variations and found that using garter stitch (knit every row) when incorporating the faux fur yarn gave the best results. For the pink and red hats above, the sequence is 2 rows stocking stitch (wool), 2 rows gartar stitch (wool + novelty yarn). This will use almost the entire ball of faux fur yarn for an adult hat.

This version, in white, is gartar with wool and faux fur yarn for the entire body. The result is super luxurious, but you'll need a lot of the yarn. I also find that without the stocking stitch to retain the shape, this version is a little more 'slouchy' - but that is actually a nice thing!

The base pattern for variations in sizing can be found at Kathy North's The Hat for Anyone.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Basic Hat Variation: Multi Stitch

Goodness me, I don't know where this week has gone. At some point this week I did manage some time to photograph and put away my knit hats, so I shall have a few things to share over the next few days.

Recently I finished and shared with you a variation on the Basic Hat for anyone using novelty yarn. This is another one of my favourite styles - all in wool - but with a variation in stitches.

I experimented with quite a few styles but found one of my favourites to be a combination of moss stitch and gartar stitch.

And as you might notice, I particularly like the combination of a solid colour with a variegated option to compliment.

The base pattern can be found at Kathy North's The Hat for Anyone. For this variation, begin after the rib with 2 rows stocking stitch, 4 rows moss, 2 rows stocking, 4 rows gartar .... etc. When it comes time to shape the top of the hat, alternate in garter stitch rows only for easier decreasing.

The possibilities of colour and stitches are endless, so enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Scarves, scarves, go away

Yikes! I wonder, sometimes, just how many years I have been 'sorting out the craft room'. Sigh. Yup, still at it. Todays crafty job mission - the 'done' projects must get 'catalogued' and move somewhere else. Quite simply I need the space.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It grows!!! ... and it grows ....

Oh how I loved today! DEEEEElightful little spring tease it was, with most of the snow disappearing to reveal the hints of spring below.

Yes, I have lived in Canada for several decades and therefore yes I do know that it won't last long at all, but it sure does give you that burst of energy that feels vital to make it through the cold, grey days of winter. Windows open!

So, in the spirit of growth, I took a little down time this evening to carry on with the first of my stash-busting afghans for this year. As it's clearing out wool, I figure this can go in the "tidying up" category - but then I can justify almost anything.

Pinky/purley/reds, etc blanket coming along ... At this point, I'm thinking it would be most fun to have as many colours as possible, but we'll see what develops.

And we'll see what develops weather wise as well. As I update this, who knows what the nearly 100km/hour winds are bringing in for the weekend. I'm thinking probably not good stuff, but am thankful for today. I can make it .... COME ON SPRING!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Tricia!

Little Blue Planets

Progress on photographing my necklaces is slow, but there is progress nonetheless (little cheering section in my head says "yay"). Of course, it's no wonder it takes me so long when I get distracted ... but doesn't it look funky with paint effects like watercolour, fresco and paint daubs? Well, maybe it's just me. These are after all some of my favourite beads.

For a change it was a bright sunny day recently so I decided to do some experimenting. I love the large glass beads that look almost like mini-earths and almost equally I love the little square turquoise beads that Lynn gave me in her cast offs. A perfect marriage.

I think the long beads at either side help to set off the square beads - they really deserve to stand out. And the light green seed beads and accent pearls bring out the green in the large turquoise glass beads.

Oh how I love these beads. You can see why I keep having to buy them, can't you?


Most of the photos I tried that day were not to my satisfaction but there's always good learning in experimenting. None of the photos I intended for these lovely beads worked out, but an accidental shot reveals better results with contrasting colour and a more textured background.

Notes for next time as I examine everything around the house as potential backdrops.

More random blue/green beads. They look kind of good mix and match, but I'm not in love.

Happy Birthday Susan!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Evolution of the Beaded Coasters

About a week ago I started the Beaded Coaster Experiment. Since then, the verdict has moved from 'maybe' to a definite 'YES!'.

I've been playing around with some holiday versions using a santa design. And yes, more beads from the Dollar Store to inspire! Isn't he cute, all bubbly and festive?

Here are the first two versions with the beading complete but before finishing the edging. I like the striping of the background but I feel you lose the snowflakes, so I think it's one or the other. A few tweakings here and there, and I think this pattern is getting close.

And here they are - first two finished off - all ready for .... ages from now ;)

And because I can almost always find a way to create a spreadsheet, I've been revising the chart throughout these test pieces and this will be the next evolution ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Escher Beads

I made these today. Very simple so they didn't take long and it was a reward for clearing off half my desk.

I think these beads are gorgeous. They remind me somewhat of the work of Escher - probably because I've got them going different directions, which now I wonder about. Above are actually a deep purple but look almost deep brown or black.

These are a deep green. The beads are so lovely and interesting that I thought they needed very litle to distract from them. I had small beads in the perfect shade for a bit of an 'antique' look, so they were very quickly strung.

I used a clasp for these as they hang shorter, and they have a nice weight.

Candy Beads & Shells

I've struggled for a while with the photography of the necklaces that I'm making and while I'm still not content, I've convinced myself (for the time being) that it is time to move on. So in the spirit of sorting out, one of my projects is to document the styles that I like so they can be sorted away, and the things I don't like can be remade. The best way to photograph them, I shall have to learn along the way.

I love these flat round beads, they look just like little candies! In addition, they wear nicely as they sit flat. The colours - that's what first drew me to them - lovely and rich.

I've done a lot up on the "long series" which can be worn double or triple even extra long knotted.

For a while I made everything long as it was easiest to slip over your head - versus a clasp - but I can feel a new hankering for shorter multi-strand versions on the horizon.

They also look great mixed with the shell beads, as luck would have it the colours blend perfectly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clear the Decks!

Eeek! I'm being invaded. I'm getting ready to tackle several 'work related' projects but as I look around my office it is hardly productivity inspiring. And my crafty projects ... they're all a bit of a frenzy. Somehow half the craft room acoss the hall has wandered over to my office - and yet, there is no extra space from whence it came.

OTG - Ripple Blanket pinks/purples
Easy Ripple Afghan
(162 stitches, 6.5 mm hook)

I see surfaces covered in beads that I am 're-organizing' for the umpteenth time, balls of wool from various on the go projects are towering up the wall from the back of the sofa, bags of new craft bits that haven't even found a home and, as always, I'm surrounded by scribble notes on all manner of paper. I'm constantly trying to stop that habit!

OTG - Fuzzy Blue Christmas Tree Skirt
Source Pattern at

I have a big basket in the corner for projects on the go, but it is .... ummm... overflowing ... and I already know that some of them are not destined to make it. Rework!

So, it's time to clear the decks a bit. Wool projects - off the couch and at least sorted into their own project bags. Then we can work to finish things up and thin out the wool stock - a 2011 mission - de-stash. It's looking like a go for these projects.

And, as for some reason (probably the surrounding of scribble notes) I never print out the pattern and keep it with my work - this should help me figure out what I'm doing when I return to it!

Yes, there is a bit of a ripple theme going on, isn't there? Each one is a little different, so I can decide which I like the best. This is how I tend to work.

Next up - clear the decks ... beads.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Photo Effects: Posterize

This is one of my favourite photos - an old door on the Greek Island of Hydra. There are no cars on the island, and from the port, donkeys will help get your luggage up the steep climing steps of the old town. Lovely views wherever you look.

the original photo

I really like the look of the posterizing effects versus the original - looks almost pen and ink with watercolour and reminds me of old books from childhood. Looks even better in a larger size.

Another 'posterized' view.

Luggage transport (POOR DONKEY!)