Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chunky is Good

I've been experimenting with different styles of necklaces lately--both in my making and in my wearing. I don't normally wear necklaces that I would call chunky, but I've attempted to make a couple recently. I had these interesting big beads waiting for repurposing.

Not feeling too happy with my experiments with leather, I tried some waxed linen thread. One thickness was all I could manage to thread through the beads, but I wanted a thicker texture, so I then braided another two lengths of yarn around the first. I wasn't able to estimate the finished length successfully, so my next step was to add several knots between each bead until I had the length I wanted. My next step is to try wearing it with some of my new black tops. Hopefully it will add a bit more variety to my wardrobe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sock Progress

I am happy to report that number one sock is finished. I even did the kitchener stitch and wove in the ends right away! And number two sock is on its way.

I'm keen to get it done so I can actually wear the socks. I can certainly see how this could become addictive.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Colour Fix Options

I've done a bit of clothes shopping in the past week. Apart from one pretty blue top, everything I could find in a size and style to suit me was black. The alternatives were mostly lime green and tangerine--not colours I can happily wear. This isn't a new challenge and I do have quite a collection of accessories to add the necessary colour to my wardrobe. A bit more prettiness is always in order, though. And the necklines of the tops I bought don't suit my existing necklaces too well. Here's what I made yesterday:

The sea-green feature beads were in my stash. The pretty clear faceted chrystals came from my Christmas stocking. I've made a slightly longer necklace than the ones I normally wear and it has a ten centimetre extension chain so I can vary the length just a bit. As well as earings to match, I had enough beads to make a little pendant. That can go on a silver chain as a low-key alternative to the necklace. The scrap of fabric in the top right of the pic is silk. I hemmed up a 20 cm piece to use as a summer scarf. So that's three possibilities to add colour to my new tops.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

For Me

Just to prove that I really am getting on with my sock knitting, here's where I'm up to this morning.

It's going to be a hot day here--not the weather for wearing woollen socks. But part of the beauty of sock knitting for me so far is that the piece is small enough in my hands that it's comfortable to knit in any weather.

Oh and I'd better put mopping the living room floor on today's to-do list as well!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sample Sock

I don't know how many times I've shared my desire to knit socks here. And how many times I've been "welcomed to the dark side" by my sock-knitting friends. I've knitted a few pairs in 8-ply, but they're really only good for lounging around, not wearing with shoes. Now I'm one step closer. This week I finished a sample sock in 4-ply wool on my new knit-picks dpns--2.25mm. The itty bitty stitches make me feel like a real sock knitter. Admittedly it's only one sock and I did it in a child's size, just to make sure I was clear on every step along the way.

I was so pleased with myself that I promptly cast on in my size--thankfully I have a small foot, so it's not that many more stitches to tackle. I've already had the benefit of having worked a sample. I've used the long-tail cast on this time and it looks better than the one I used for the sample. I'm just about to turn the heel. Then I will have gusset stitches to pick up. That will be the next place to learn a lesson. The sample has the predictable little hole at the end of the gusset. I'd like to avoid that if I can.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


After my succesful necklace makeover experiment, I thought I'd try making another chunky necklace. I had some black leather cord which I thought would be ideal. The main limitation was the thickness of the cord, but I found a nice collection of beads with big enough holes. I threaded and knotted away happily until the cord snapped.

Drat! If I get thicker cord, it won't fit through the beads. Maybe I can try something with wire.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Martha and Me

I have to confess to a general ignorance of things famous: movie stars, pop stars . . . you'd think I'd been living on a different planet for the past forty years. But I have heard of Martha Stewart--not that I'd easily recognise something designed by her. Recently Bec at Sticks and Stones featured a Martha Stewart pattern. She said, " it hardly used any yarn and was a fun quick knit." That sounded attractive. I was particularly intrigued by the clever loop design which allows the scarflet to secure itself. I decided to commit a ball of hand-dyed baby yarn to the project as an experiment.

It was a fun quick knit. All except for the last five minutes or so when I found myself playing chicken  with the end of the skein of yarn. It was a that point that I registered the fact that my ball of baby yarn was only 25 grams rather than the 50 grams or so called for in the pattern. I'd taken the comment "hardly any yarn" a little too literally. It was enough, but only just. In the interest of saving yarn I didn't repeat the ribbed loop on the second end. And my anxiety about running out of yarn resulted in a considerable tightening of my knitted tension. Anyway, there are enough attractive features that I'll be keen to play with the design a bit more. By the time I streamline and embellish the ends of the scarf and add a bit of length it will no longer be recognisable as Martha Stewart. That's the way I like to play the game.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and a bit of quiet craft. Waking up the computer and checking messages is usually a low key part of the routine. Not today. Today I had more than an hour on the phone with technical support for my wireless router before I could get anything on my computer. That included three different service representatives and several times being cut off. Not a happy start to the day.

Thankfully I did have a bit of simple knitting in my hands which I was able to use to soften some of my frustration. Now everything is up and running again. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Light and Bright

I just spent five minutes reinforcing the stitching on this top.
I picked it up for $10 at a factory outlet yesterday. I'm going to wear it today. We're expecting another couple of days in the mid-thirties. This is one of my absolute favourite colours to wear and it's light as a feather cotton with all those pretty spangles. How could I resist? Well, perhaps the fact that I've already spent time stitching sequins back on before I've even had a chance to wear it, but it's a price I'm willing to pay for now. There's a little bag of spare sequins, so I don't have to worry too much if a few come adrift. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Heart Chart

A friend asked me to show her how to make these crochet hearts. There are various versions on the internet and I couldn't remember where I'd found a pattern last time I made them. I did a quick search and found something that made me very happy.

Did I mention I LOVE charts! My crochet heart doesn't even use the same stitches as this pattern, but the chart summarises the basic features. A square of double crochet is the base. Then there's a half circle of treble stitches fanning out from the centre of two sides. A slip stitch anchors each curve. Easy! I think I'll find it a lot easier to remember now that I've got a way of thinking about it. By the way, the yarn is an alpaca blend I dyed a while ago. It's really warm and fuzzy, just right for a happy heart.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dancing Light

I did a bit more beading yesterday. Here's another candle holder based on my rescued coffee cups.

I'm pretty excited about the herringbone stitch cuff, considering that a month ago I made a pretty shiny tangle! I feel like I've got the hang of it now. The overall effect reminds me of a belly dance costume. I can just imagine cande light dancing around.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Happy Gift

These knitpicks double-pointed needles were also happily received on Christmas morning. This is their first outing and I'm loving them. I'm making a pair of wristies to match the coral scarf.

This is the biggest set (at 3.25 mm). The smallest is 2.00 mm. And they come in sets of six! That's enough for the five dpns I like use when knitting in the round plus an extra to use as a cable needle. They're smooth and strong and I'm not having any difficulty with laddering at the join between needles. That makes me a very happy knitter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Gift of Learning

This book was a Christmas gift from my friend A.

I'm looking forward to reading it and using it as a bit of a workbook. Hopefully I can do that without feeling like I have two heads and am juggling sharp objects. I'll see how I go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Popular Trends

I've had this promotional postcard on my noticeboard for a long time. I just love it's cheeky assertiveness. And, yes, I'm a reading addict so "popular penguins" certainly appeal to me.

I'm letting this little guy raise a couple of different issues today. I'd love some feedback!
  • I've seen plenty of predictions that upcoming seasons colours feature various shades of fruity orange hues like "tangerine". They look great on this card, but are definitely not my personal favourite . . . How do you work with colour trends? 
  • The unashamed self-promotion of a "popular" sash on this little penguin draws me in with a smile, but it's not something I would do myself. I love making, but find marketing much more difficult. It's something I want to tackle more this year. Any suggestions?
This is where I remind you that I just love comments! Please click on the link below and let me know what you're thinking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I've featured mostly beading here in these summer days. It seems to be the perfect type of craft for hot weather, since it's easy to do no matter how warm my hands get. But we have had some milder days and I've been knitting away at some of the ruffled wristies I have requests for. The question with ruffles is "how much is enough?".

I make the ruffles by doubling the number of stitches in each of the final rows. There's one row difference between these two. I decided that either might appeal, though my personal preference is for as much ruffle as I can get. So there's a pair made with a little less and a little more. I'll see how they go.

Today is going to be hot. I need to do some more spinning before I can tackle the other wristies on the list. I need grey and black. I'll wait for a really cool day before I sit down to that task.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pretty for Me

These pretty blue crystal beads were in my Christmas stocking. Yesterday I made them up into a necklace for myself.
The colour is very  similar to the other necklace I've been playing with recently, but the faceted crystals give a more classic beauty and there's just a little touch of silver to set it off. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I started the morning with  pair of earings to match yesterday's necklace.

The teardrop bead at the base of each earing isn't in the necklace, but the colour matches well. I've echoed that shape with a little loop of seed beads and capped it off with a faceted bead from the original collection. It's a bit like the design I made on New Year's Eve and equally light and easy to wear.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Breathing Space

I finally made it to the studio this morning. Once I got in the door, my first task was to tidy up my work surface a bit. It's been so cluttered lately that I find it hard to think. Once I'd created myself a bit of space, I tackled the necklace which I'd decided to lengthen. I really like the collection of beads I'd used originally, but I wanted to just add a little bit of breathing space. I didn't have the energy or patience to tackle a hand-made chain necklace today. So I found a tiny seed bead just a bit lighter than what was already there. I've used them to separate each of the other beads.

That plus the extras I had was enough to get the length I was after. I'll have to go back to make the matching earings. My eyes had done enough close focus work for a bit and it was time for lunch.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Proportions and Compromises

I finished off this chain necklace and earings recently. I started them a year or so ago and they had been sitting neglected until I'd just about forgotten about them. I've enjoyed wearing them a couple of times in the last week or so. Neither is a length that I usually wear. I've included a 50 cm snake chain for reference.

Here's a detail shot:

I'm thinking of remaking yesterday's set in a similar length, though that will probably make it heavier than I like. There's always a catch!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I made this necklace and the matching earings years ago. I expected it to be a favourite, but I rarely wear it. Yesterday I put it on to remind myself of what I do and don't like about it.

I love the colour and the variety of beads. The length of the necklace is wrong: too short for most of the tops I wear. And the earings are too straight up and down. I like a bit of flexibibilty in my longer earings. As you can see there are a few beads from this collection left and a spare earing. I think I made a second pair at the time and one was lost. There's also a small blue seed bead in the necklace which I think I have still in my work-box. So the plan is to pull it all apart and start again. I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


When I saw this journal featured in the window of a stationery shop yesterday I didn't even try to resist.

It's always good to have a reminder to lighten up!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One More

Here's the third of the flower brooches I made with my friend L the other day.

I was intrigued to see how much difference an extra row of petals made to the overall effect.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Flower

Here's the purple wool-felt version of yesterday's flower brooch. As often happens my camera has failed to pick up the warmth of the purple colour . . . 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Flower Play

My friend L and I have been investigating her friend H's flower brooch for a while now. We've also been looking for an afternoon to enjoy some crafting together. Yesterday was the day. There are countless flower tutorials available on line. I found this one for a camelia. I like the way the stitching down the centre of each petal gives real depth.

The fabric is from a wool-flannel jacket I found at an Opp Shop years ago. A button from my button jar and a handful of seeds beads added some more depth and sparkle. By the time we'd made three it was getting too dark to take a really good photo. And our variations make it look quite un-camellia like, but interesting enough to be worth the time and effort. I may even play with the ideas and make a few more.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Easy, Happy

These were a Christmas gift. They came on a card as a pair of "charms". I added earing hooks and was instantly very happy.

They're light and bright and easy to wear.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Rose

It's the twelfth day of Christmas today--or maybe that was yesterday. I haven't made twelve of anything, but I did make a couple of these roses earlier as Christmas gifts. Today I made just one more. That finished this particular hand-dyed cotton yarn.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I'm still in holiday-go-slow mode.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


This is not something I would wear, but it sure was fun to make, with a bit of off-balance drama!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pretty Simple

It's been uncomfortably hot and I haven't been too ambitious with my making in the past few days. I did manage a new pair of earings. I was looking for a more geometric look and came up with this.

Nothing fancy, but I think they'll be easy to wear.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Necklace Makeover

My friend D gave me this necklace to play with last week. It had been a favourite in its time, but hadn't been worn for years.

Sixteen year-old E liked the feature beads, but was more interested in silver and black than brown and bronze. I decided to add length and simplify. Here's the result:

There are plenty of beads left over too.

Monday, January 2, 2012


My Christmas this year was hosted by the next generation. It was peaceful and beautiful. J did a fantastic job of decorating to really make the occasion.

She has dreams of working in interior design--it seems to me she has what it takes with creative flair and an eye for detail. Thanks for having us J and A!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

My idea of a good New Year's Eve celebration this year was to make my way home after a week away with friends; unpack my bags and tuck myself in for an early night. I did wake with the fireworks at midnight for long enough to calm my dogs before going back to sleep.

Earlier in the day I made myself these:

They're made on tigertail--just a loop threaded with silver-lined seed beads plus the feature bead in the middle. Light as a feather, bright and easy to wear. So I had my personal sparkles for the occasion even though I didn't have the energy for much in the way of partying.