Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Not a kit (for a change)

I do love these blown glass Czech beads. I've used them in the Czech kits I did earlier. The same website, 32 Degrees North, that sells the kits also sells beads. I had a pattern I had bought (3D Bohemian Star) and picked out beads from 32 Degrees North. The beads they had didn't exactly match the ones in the pattern but they were close. Since I had bought a variety of beads it was pretty easy to find some in the stash to make it work.

I had hoped to use fuchsia 3-bump beads joining the center and outer star points but they were out of stock for a few months. Gold seemed a pretty good option too.

I put all these beautiful blown glass beads in a little plastic container I had sitting in the craft room. After making this ornament, the open container was sitting on the desk calling to me. I wasn't quite ready to put them away. I pondered a few of them that were the same shape but not matching colors and came up with this simple extra.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ornament or cat toy?

I enjoy many different crafts - probably obvious from the assortment of ornaments I've made so far this year. One of the things I particularly enjoy is chain maille - putting together jump rings to make various objects.  I've made bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pendants and a cute little tree ornament. I've used metal rings - the norm - as well as rubber rings and glass rings. Chain maille isn't too hard although sometimes manipulating the rings can be tricky. The size of the rings you use makes or breaks the design. Aspect ratio - the ratio of the thickness of the jump ring to the size of the ring - is a critical part of making a design work. Different metals and thicker gauge rings can be more difficult to open and close smoothly. My favorite way to mess up is to mangle rings with my pliers.

I saw a chain maille Santa that could be used as an ornament or a pendant on pinterest. When I followed the link to the website I discovered the pattern came from a website in the UK - Beadsisters. They have some interesting patterns as well as kits and materials. I thought I should be able to find the right jump rings at one of my usual US sources but I had trouble finding the correct gauge and size in the right colors. I probably could have done a little arithmetic and found different combinations but there are not as many colored rings available as plain metal ones. I decided to give in to temptation and buy rings from Beadsisters. The rings arrived relatively quickly - along with a few extra kits (surprise!) - and I set in on the ornament. It went well and I had an adorable little santa.

But then there's the rest of the story. I brought it downstairs
from my craft room and set it on the coffee table waiting for a photo. A little later I heard my cat Pepper playing - chasing something all over the kitchen. Later when I put food in their bowl I noticed Santa on the floor next to the bowl. I guess we know what he was playing with! Hopefully he didn't bite or scratch it too much. I guess if he did it would hide any plier marks that I left on my rings.

I wonder if I could make a bigger ornament with bigger rings?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Silly ... and quick!

I spent Mothers Day weekend in Seattle. We enjoyed two Mariners game - a win and a loss - and some shopping. And dinner at Poppy - one of my favorite restaurants. I started two felt ornaments thinking I would do the embroidery on them while I was there. I took them out in the hotel room but just wasn't inspired to work on them. I really don't like embroidery. Another one I wonder why I bought!

Anyway, I got home Monday and evening and needed an ornament. Another kit to the rescue. This really is cute albeit kind of silly looking. It might even look sillier in the photo than in person. And boy was it quick! A little glue, a few cuts and voila!

I have stuff for two more. Anybody want it?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another one that was a long time coming ....

I'm trying to keep things mixed up: not too many beads or pins or whatever in a row. After a few beaded objects I thought it was time for some knitting. For a few years (and definitely a few years ago!), Knit Purl in Portland released 3 or 4 ornament kits each December. Guess what? I bought them. Not too surprising I guess.

One of the early ones was a sweet little star. It was knit in a beautiful Tilli Tomas beaded silk The kit came with silver yarn. I attempted it pretty much right away. I wasn't a great lace knitter at that point. I struggled with it, ripping it out multiple times. Eventually I got a reasonably close. Until the bind off.

The bind off calls for knitting with a piece of fine wire along with the silk.I remember struggling until I pretty much threw it across the room. By this time, the yarn was not at its best so I went and got some more in gold.

For years I have been working up the courage to try again. This year long project spurred me on.  I am a much better knitter now. The lace knitting was not difficult at all! I used 5 short double points, down a size from that called for (I always need to go down at least one size).

Then I got to the bind off. I clearly am not meant to knit with wire. After taking that out and getting things back in order on the needles I decided to bind off with just the yarn. Once that was done, I fed the wire through the edge. The wire is absolutely essential to shaping the star. It might have been better knit in but I think this worked fine. So fine that I might have enough silver that I can salvage to make another - maybe following the six pointed star directions instead.