Tuesday, 19 September 2017

New workshops reveal

It's September, I'm sitting in my workshop with the doors and windows wide open; sunshine streaming across the door sill; I can hear birds celebrating the warmth, the farm tractor in the distance, and my neighbours chickens and ducks are rummaging through the long grass, clucking and quacking contentedly. So what has all this got to do with new workshops?
A designer's year falls in to different segments, designing, writing, kit packing, hectic travel and teaching, creative solitude, all punctuated with deadlines from venues and event organisers, groups, magazines and stores. So a day of beautiful sunshine and the lovely feeling of having new work ready to share is definitely something to be relished.
The new projects for 2018 workshops are ready and here they are...




I'll be offering nine workshops for 2018, some need to stay under wraps for a little while longer, some are the most often requested workshops from 2017.
If you'd like to see when and where the workshops will be held, I'll be posting the 2018 schedule on my website in November.
Click the link for the current schedule on my website.

You are welcome to join my newsletter to receive regular updates.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Bento box beading

In my travels I've discovered that, just like me, most beader's are on a never ending quest for great storage. Who hasn't rushed out to shop when storage envy strikes at a bead meet?
Portable storage is a quest, either to haul stash to class, or like me, to have everything for a project in one place when I sit down to bead.

I was using the plastic trays you get with food packaging, they are free, abundant, and there's the feel good factor of recycling, but they are just not, y'know, all that pretty to look at.

Then I converted to these plastic food boxes with lids. This was necessary because, after some lengthy searches and moments of complete befuddlement, I realised that one of my cats likes nothing better than fishing out a baggie of beads to go play with... when I'm not looking.
This kind of  box is also great because they can be stacked, if you are a multi project beader. They are made if almost clear plastic, so you can see what's inside; take a fair amount of stuff. But, it is a fishing expedition through the packets and tubes to find the next thing you need to use.



Now though, I feel so happy, I have graduated to a Bento box. I saw these in our local supermarket, they had me at Lime green, but the pocket money prices was all it took to commit. Even if I didn't have a use for it, it's adorable! Should I brand name? It's made by Sistema, widely available
(I google checked for you and, Oh My! they have a gazillion variations, pink and purple too! So you are bound to find one to suit your beady need and spend allowance).
Me? I may be acquiring a slightly larger version, perfect for the travelling, then maybe one for the art stuff, and...and...

It has little lift out trays, deliciously translucent so you can see through to the next layer; which is a plentiful storage space Inn this variation there is a screw top pot for all the random odds and end it takes to build a bead project (for scale, those are 14mm Rivoli in the pot). Long and short bead tubes fit comfortably, and the lift out trays make a great tool station to sit next to the bead board.
I also really like that the lid is segmented, you can put the lift out trays there, or just use it for sorting the larger than seed beads bits and bobs without them rolling away.

Best of all, it is completely cat and accident proof with a snap close clasp that is good and strong.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Mission Falls 1824 Crochet blankets

Fresh laundry
Last week we had hot sunshine, it's a secret pleasure of mine to go a little domestic with the laundry then hang it out to dry in the sun, because nothing beats the smell of sun dried fabric. It's good to get the heavy and hard to dry things out there too and let nature do the work. I posted these pictures of my stack of freshly laundered crochet blankets, and Chester taking advantage of my hesitation putting them away... with a totally cattitude expression on his face. Lots of people commented on the gorgeous colours of the blankets so...
Chester's new sleep spot

I thought it would be fun to share the story behind the top blanket, because although I'm all about the beads, confess love of a good yarn almost as much. Yup, owning up to being the curator of quite the collection of yet to be used yarns; and so try to find time to knit and crochet too.

These are a matching pair of blankets about a yard square, they sit over the backs of the sofas in winter, it's a favourite cat snooze spot as the radiators are nearby.

The yarn is one I totally love, by Mission Falls, a pure cotton yarn in a richly vintage range of colours, a joy to work and a good double knit weight with lots of strength in it. Sadly it was discontinued in 2011 and is much missed by lovers of colour the world over. The artist's hand behind the colour palette was Mags Kandis and you can find her patterns on Ravelry.

Building the first blanket

One summer I began work, starting with small square blocks for the centres, rows of stitches, followed by more blocks then more rows. I would take the yarn basket out and sit on the lawn and work, making it up as I went along and playing that fun game of choosing which jewel and cool colours to work next, then picking out the edges with inky black.
At that time my constant creative companion was Holly, a dear sweet soul of a cat. We made a game, (Cat owners will know it, cats love to swipe stuff off the table/shelf/windowsill and watch it drop to the floor, regardless of how precious/delicate/mess creating it might be).
I'd put all the finished squares on the bench, then she'd gently hit them off one by one, and that was the sequence in which they got added to the blanket. She enjoyed participating, and enjoyed even more, spending many winter evenings snoozing on her finished blanket on the back of the sofa.

Holly choosing squares.
Holly was a very poorly rescue kitten when she arrived with us, but went on to have a long and happy life. Years later I still miss her calm presence and outrageously loud purr.
But, there are always pets in need of a safe haven and now it's good to see Chester enjoying the Mission Falls blankets too.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A year and a day

This past year I have missed writing this blog, the blog on my website is fun and the place where I share snippets of news, ideas for colour inspiration and information about classes and products; but somehow it's not quite the right place for longer chats with you about my beady life...
So, I'm back!
Let's get right into some beady musing and the latest in my 'Just for me' series.
Vintage green Happy sack dress.

I bought this dress, mostly because I fell in love with the colours of the print, and secondly, because it's a 'Happy sack', which is a sack like dress that you feel happy in because you can hide under it's yardage!

I spread out all the beads I thought might be a good fit with the dress colours, seed beads, dainty crystals, frosted daggers, dark plum coloured pearls and some semi precious stone beads in pink (Phosphosiderite) and dark green (Agate).


Choosing the beads
Next was a vintage glass crystal from a hoard I have been longing to use, in a just right shade of dark purple. This transparent glass has no foil backing, and for those of you curious about the behind the scenes processes of building a design, here's what happened. First I cut a ring of backing fabric to support the edges of the crystal, then I used some silver foil from a chocolate wrapper (hence the need for a happy sack dress, sigh). I used a glue stick just to hold everything in place, glue sticks are a 'neutral' glue, like PVA (a good alternative), that will dry and not do weird things to the fabrics, threads or bead finishes.

Vintage glass Cabochons
silver foil backing, glued and trimmed














My bead embroidery isn't perfect, but it's one of the most relaxing ways to create and play, so beady happiness ensued after the crystal was bezelled into place with traditional peyote stitch.
I got a bit daring and added some different size beads among the rows of seed beads, and then brought dainty strands and ladders of seed beads up from the surface to add depth and detail.
velvet cord with beaded end caps and clasp
To finish off, I added a loop of ladder stitch at the top, and lots of fringing at the bottom, each fringe is tipped with a loop of beads, with dagger beads on little jump rings attached through each loop.
A Peyote stitch ring and another ladder loop give a place for the cord and a way for the pendant to hang the right way. The cord is a velvet one and I stitched some beaded end caps to it.

If you're tempted to have a go, I have decided to share the hoard and have a limited number of these purple vintage glass crystals available in the shop here.