February 26, 2007

A Path Less Taken

I took a side trip into free form plain crochet over the last month or so. An Arizona friend wanted a skullcap that he could wear while riding his motorcycle. My first design of netting with beads was quite interesting, but just did not do the job. Clearly I didn't understand exactly what was wanted.

We discussed what qualities a skull cap should have. It should be very close fitting, not lift in the wind, be comfortable, have a weave that he could put the ear pieces of his glasses through, and have ear flaps for colder days.

The purple hat in handspun wool worked well and provided warmth from an unusually chilly Tombstone winter, but it needed some tweaking in the length and fit of the ear flaps.

He belongs to The American Legion Riders who participate in parades and other ceremonies and requested something that emulated an American flag. Thus the Flag hat was born. Now the actual construction became well defined and perfected. By now I knew what I was doing and just how this hat should fit and work.

I commissioned a friend , Jen, to knit him a winter dicky in Harley Davidson colors and I made the matching skull cap from leftover wool. It's a good thing he has a great sense of humor as the orange just begged me to put a jack-o-lantern face on the back. This final hat met all of the qualities that we had discussed

So if you see a uniquely dressed man on a Harley in and around Tombstone, Arizona, it's probably my friend. He seems to be satisfied with my final design. Thanks Ken, for giving me a side trip with a creative challenge and some fun in crocheting with yarn again.

Now back to beading after a small side trip down a path I haven't traveled in a long while.

February 25, 2007

Arizona Beading

Arizona winters can be cool, but not as cold as other parts of the country. Bright blue skies over hills and mountains are what I see when I look out of my bead room window to the south.

Last week I spent a day beading with friends in Huachuca City. It was a beautiful day in the desert as we gathered in Electa's bead house.

We gossiped, told stories, teased each other, laughed and beaded. Electa fixed a great barbecue lasagna for lunch. I had never had anything like this before, and it was outstanding.

Left to right - Electa, Helen, Pennie

In between we worked on beading projects and Pennie swears that the bracelet she was working on should have been a yard long, not just a couple of inches.
Here is how mature, grown women play beads.... they get on the floor with a peyote pattern book and try to find the Delica beads that the pattern calls for. Not much different from being a youngster again playing jacks!

Days in the winter desert seem to end in style. Sunsets that make me run for the camera. I'm fortunate as I can see both the sunrise and sunset from my beadroom work table.

February 21, 2007

Tribal Stripes Necklace

I've had this necklace waiting to be finished for about six months now. I think it was just waiting for the rings to show up. The rings are probably 1940's plastic curtain rings or crochet forms - I'm not really sure. However, they have a nice sound to them and I liked how they added some interest to the necklace.

The other impetus to finishing the necklace is that I'm headed to Chicago for 4 days and I wanted something dramatic to wear with all the gray and charcoal shades I have in my limited Arizona winter wardrobe. This is what the 3 necklaces look like when twined together. I think they will do nicely as my only jewelery for the trip. The three pieces are various combinations of elements from my Tribal Stripes patterns that can be found on Bead-Patterns.

Just how often do beaders hurry up and finish or quickly make a piece just to wear with an outfit or for some special occasion? I seem to do it fairly frequently. I think it happens more often than we'd all like to think about.

Trivia - Do I have Value?

My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

Interesting tidbit of useless information......

Thanks to Claudia & Jen for sending me on this amusing trip.

February 18, 2007

A Designing Trip

Yesterday I was looking up a snake in my Audubon book when I ran across this beautiful Grass Snake.... I thought, Snake + my favorite lime green = bead crochet rope!

This rope needed to be a pattern that ran parallel to the length of the rope and did not spiral. I graphed what I thought would work in 2 shades of green with a cream colored belly. This type of pattern is what I call "The Thirteenth Bead"; an odd number of beads in a repeat crocheted in an even number around - in this case a 13 bead repeat crocheted in 6-around.

OOPS, somehow I got a dotted patterned belly rather than a solid color and I really didn't like any of the green shades that I had chosen. However, on closer inspection, the pattern I did get looked like a zipper and was interesting in it's own way.

This led to trying the "zipper" in matte root beer and matte crayon colors. OK, still interesting, but a bit too busy to suit me. So, the next effort was in black & white, which are easy colors to see what's really happening with a pattern. Those who know me also know that I just can't leave something alone..... I wondered what would happen to the the cross section of the rope if I used drops for one element? In the back of my mind was a possible snake vertebrae effect. Now this pattern was really getting interesting and I like the last two large-bead effects. Those two I think I'll keep and write up for Bead-Patterns some time in the future.

I still don't have a Grass Snake pattern, but I'll give that another go again tomorrow. Just remember to never throw out a mistake pattern or stringing as you never know what interesting thing you might come up with.

Serendipity Zipper Pattern
crochet in 6-around
2B, 3A, 2B, 6A
B= zipper color
A= background color
If you try this one, let me know how you like it and what you came up with.

Tucson Beads in Use

I started a "Snazzy Chain" necklace with the turquoise chips and coral drops that I purchased on one my Tucson bead buying trips. I really like how it's coming out with the copper metallic thread.

Bead Crochet Sampler Ropes

Many bead crocheters have mentioned that they have problems starting a slip-stitch rope. There are days that I have that problem myself.

One way I get around the
starting problem when I'm trying out new patterns is to use a sampler rope. I have several in different number-around and bead sizes. I simply string about 12" of a new pattern, add the thread into an existing sampler rope and crochet the test pattern.

Some of my sampler ropes end up being unusual enough to turn into a lariat or necklace. They are truly one-of-a-kind pieces.

See my next post for the story of the grass snake pattern evolution - and it does not even end up being a snake pattern!

February 9, 2007

Tucson Report II

DONE SHOPPING .... for another year I've finished my two weeks of Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows.... my feet hurt and I'm tired - I'm in sensory overload with all I've looked at. The knitted felt bag you see on the chair went with me every day and was the hit of the shows. I got stopped numerous times by people admiring it. Two people asked if they could take photos to show to friends with the cry, "I want them to do one for me!" Thanks Jen, it's a big hit and I love it.

At the Holidome I took several breaks just to listen to the Andean Nation play. I love listening to the music of the high Altiplano pan pipes.

I did the Holidome with my sister Tina, Cherie and Annette - 3 tents, 10 hours and very full bags of neat things. The one thing about the shows that impressed me was the attitude of all of the shuttle and transport drivers: all cheerful, usually funny, and very helpful.

Going on a Wednesday meant that it was not as crowded as on other days.

The next day Annette and I went to the Palo Verde Show to have fun and to look at the rocks & mineral specimens. We admired what Mother Nature offered up. Rutilated quartz was everywhere and when it was back lit you could see what looked like fine hairs within the specimens.

I found one fluorite sphere that had my Daughter-in-law's name on it. I can enjoy holding it and looking into it until I return to NH and hand it over to it's owner.


Here is a selection of things that I found interesting and which came home with me. The turquoise and coral will become a "Snazzy Chain" necklace.

Other than the 11/0 1-cut marcasite beads, I didn't add any seed beads to my collection. I was fascinated with the matte black onyx that I saw here and there. I bought myself a few strands of 6 mm rondells. I'm not sure what I will be doing with these stone accent beads, but they will go into my collection waiting for that creative urge to use them.

My very last stop was at Gary Wilson's booth for a selection of his unusual beads and cabs. This year I brought home drilled rocks - no fancy, polished minerals.... just rather neat rocks. They contrast so well with the delicacy of seed beads.

February 8, 2007

Six Weird Things About Me

I've been tagged by Bev. The rules are: Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post telling 6 weird things about themselves... as well as clearly state the rules. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you're tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means."Go to my blog to see the instructions".

1.- I wear flip-flops year round, and socks only when the snow gets deep.

2.- I bead in bed.

3.- I have two studios; one in the East & one in the West.

4.- A favorite treat is sauteed chicken livers.

5.- I am guaranteed to wrinkle... and I have a beaded pin that I wear that says so!

6.- I collect old kitchen things and have about 100
returnable tin pie plates that say something.

I have not tagged anyone else as everyone I would consider tagging has already been asked to play along.

February 4, 2007

Tucson Report

Spending the winters in Tombstone AZ allows me the fun of attending the Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows on my own schedule and sleep in my own bed every night. I'm half way through what I need to do and want to see. Doing just a small portion of the 43 listed shows can be physically and mentally exhausting.

I spent several days at the Best Bead Show with Judy Kintner, the Bead Spinner Lady, signing my books, talking to other bead crocheters and demonstrating bead crocheted ropes. Judy and I have fun once a year catching up with each other's lives and I get to meet a wide range of people who want to learn the technique or talk about what they've done.

I spent one day at the Manning House Show catching up with people I knew. After years of corresponding, I finally got to meet Sig Wynne-Evans in person. She is as delightful in person as in email and we had a nice long visit. I was accompanied by a friend and it was interesting to view the beading world through the eyes of a non-beading male, computer oriented person. He was interested in how patterns are done and the variations of ways they get listed out. I guess you could say that beading patterns could be computer code for a beaded project.

While I was at the Manning House, I treated myself to a set of John Winter's unusual glass beads in a beautiful floral, black matte color. So far I just seem to be collecting and haven't used any of the beads I've bought from him. One of these days I'm going to have to actually use some of them instead of just admiring them.

This next week will be working trips to several wholesale shows to see the direct importers. I'll be looking for what's different this year, stocking up on sterling, findings and probably stone beads. So far I haven't seen anything really new and "Oh Wow" things. I may skip the Rodeway show that I usually go to as my sister went this past week and said she was really disappointed in what was there. The only reason to go would be to visit Wild Things and see if they have re-stocked their 11/0 marcasite seed beads. However, if I don't go, I won't be tempted to splurge on their large selection of Czech pressed glass accent beads.

It's been an interesting week that culminated in a misunderstanding of just where one could and could not park in Tucson and a $150 parking ticket..... Oh, the beads I could have bought for the price of a parking ticket!