Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sometimes It's Just Too Much! November BJP

Sometimes it's just too much. Too much to do. Too many meetings. Too many social events. Too many newsletters to publish. Too much food to cook. Too much food to eat. Too much to clean up. Just too much.

Late October through early December were just too much. Not that I'm complaining. I volunteered for (or at least agreed to) all this stuff. And for the most part, I enjoyed it.

But I felt as if I were being pulled in too many directions all at once. It was hard to focus and concentrate. I had voluntary, self-induced ADHD.

These feelings came out in my November BJP. But I ripped some of them out. My original intent in this page was to revisit Abundance, a concept I pondered in November 2008's BJP. In this year's page, Abundance became Just Too Much.

I started with golden yellow beads, creamy yellow beads, and some light brown beads. But the light brown beads were just too much. Too much contrast, too much busyness, too much distraction, too much lack of focus. So I ripped out the brown beads. And I finally finished the page last week.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff, painted with yellow and orange Memories Mist spray.

The beads are the usual suspects--15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, with some hexes, Delicas, and triangles. In this piece I also used some larger beads--6/0s and some even larger than that, whose size I don't know.

In addition to the backstitch, I used the stop stitch, some fringe, some ruffles, a twisted stitch, the moss stitch, and the picot stitch.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used yellow C-Lon thread.

What I Was Thinking:

It was interesting to think about how Abundance moves to Just Too Much. How do we know when we have enough, when we have an abundance, when we have too much? And what does that mean when we think about those who do not have enough? Beyond that, I spent a certain amount of time thinking that I had better get this done and that I hadn't blogged in a very long time. I tried to prioritize what I had to do so I would not be overwhelmed, and the beading and the blogging ended up at the bottom of the list. I'm sure that my discomfort with the brown beads slowed me down, too.

Issues That Came Up:

I am SO much more comfortable working with a limited range of color and value. Very limited. How do I balance my comfort (artistic preference?) with the desire to challenge myself?

I had a similar reaction to working with fuchsia (still can't spell it) on my October BJP. Should I just admit my artistic preferences and forget about moving outside them for my BJP?

I've got to do a better job of organizing myself. Or perhaps of organizing my mind and exercising self-control.

And I've just got to stop spending so much time surfing around on the internet learning about Turkey and attempting to learn some Turkish. Oh, no I don't! Instead I'll spend even less time vacuuming.

My December BJP is well underway. I hope to finish it by the end of this year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not Pink Either! October BJP

It's not pink either. My October 2008 BJP was Not Quite Pink, and this one is Not Pink Either. It's a different color than the earlier page, but it's not pink either.

October is the Relentlessly Pink Month. I'm a survivor, and I support the cause. But I don't necessarily want to think about it while I'm buying cauliflower. So I bead in a color that is not pink.

After September's character-building experience of using fuchsia (When will I ever learn how to spell the name of that color and what is the deep psychological meaning of the misspelling?), I resolved to use a color that was more comfortable, pleasant, and soothing. In fact, this month's color was so comfortable, pleasant, and soothing that I forgot to ask its name. Dusty rose? Dark roseline? Salmon? Whatever. It's not pink either.

Technical Details:

As always, Lacy's Stiff Stuff is the foundation. I painted it with a mixture of Dye-na-Flow and Sherrill's Sorbets in a combination so secret that not even I can remember what was used.

The beads are the usual round 15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, and a few 6/0s. In addition, there are bugles, triangles, hexes, Delicas, and some 1.4 mm cubes.

Stitches used are the backstitch, stop stitch, lazy stitch, and a twisted stitch with an unknown name.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used baby pink and light mauve Nymo thread.

What I Was Thinking:

Mostly I was glad to be done with the stressful, intense fuchsia. (Rats! Misspelled it again!) Whatever this not-pink-either color is, a person can breathe deeply and slowly and smile while using it. It's like yoga, only with beads.

Issues That Came Up:

Some day I'll learn not to crowd the beads so much. Until then, the more the merrier.

I actually finished this in October, but I am a little behind in posting. I had two newsletters to write, which used up about all of my enthusiasm for the computer. Plus I got quite distracted researching a trip to--Woo-Hoo!--Turkey.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Building Character By Trying This Color--September BJP

I decided I should try this color--a fuchsia purple. I can't remember why. I love bluish purple, but I'm not particularly fond of fuchsia purple. But I decided I should make a month's BJP in fuchsia purple, to build character, I guess. So I spent September building character. And making this page.

As I worked on the page, I found it not quite fun. I did not find the color lovely. Now many of these beads are lovely in smaller amounts. But all together? Too much fuchsia for me. In fact, this color reminded me of fingernails on a chalkboard. (Shudder!!!) But I kept going. To build character. And I finished it.

Technical Details:

The page is beaded on Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a blend of red and purple Dye-na-Flow.

The beads include some Swarovski crystals, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, Delicas, cubes, and triangles.

The backstitch is the only stitch used on this page.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used C-Lon Lilac thread in size AA.

What I Was Thinking:

Yeah, what was I thinking? I was determined to finish this page. Really determined. I hoped my character would improve. I wondered if there was always an icky side to character building activities. I wondered if it would be The Beginning of The End Of Civilization As We Know It if I tossed the whole thing and started with a new color. Or if it would be The Beginning Of The End Of Me As I Know Me...

Let me make clear that I did not find this a totally annoying project. It did not make me crabby. It was interesting. As I completed each row of beads, I was challenged to try to figure out how to make the page meet my idea of loveliness. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I think challenges like that can build character. Mine, I hope.

Issues That Came Up:

Working with a color I am not fond of is tiring. Can I choose only colors I like from now on? What challenges would I miss if I do that?

I move back and forth between C-lon thread and Nymo thread, depending on the color I have. The C-lon works ok, but I like Nymo better.

I spent a fair amount of time as I stitched thinking about the color I would use for October. Perhaps I should have embraced the fuchsia during that time.

I have not decided yet what my October color will be. But it will be a lovely color.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Little Girl to Play With!

The dolls have another little girl to play with! She doesn't have a name yet, but she does have hair.

I worked on this doll over the summer and into September. My first plan was just to bead the front, so I did my stitching on the flat fabric. As I was get close to finishing, I realized that I wanted to spend more time working with these beads. So I made a beaded back. I tried to continue the beaded lines from the front to the back in a few places, but this was a little tricky. The lines don't always match up when the front and back are stitched together.

After the front and back were beaded, I stitched them together by hand and stuffed the doll. I then added extra beads along the edge to cover the seam.

The most interesting part of the doll was the hair. Some days were good hair days and some days were bad hair days. I learned a lot along the way, but there was no way I was going to rip out her hair to apply what I learned.

One interesting thing that I didn't realize was how heavy the hair would be. In fact, the hair weighed the doll down so that to balance when hanging, she sticks her "feet" out to the front. Now why didn't I know that? I took physics, but it was a long time ago.

I think the dolls are having fun together. In fact, last week they had quite the game of Hide and Seek. I told them to go to an out-of-the way safe place while we had the carpet cleaned. There was no need for them to get mixed up with loud machinery.

After the carpet dried, I called "Olly Olly Oxen Free" so they would come out of their hiding place. They didn't come out. Where were they? Wherever they were, they were having a good laugh at me, I'm sure. Finally I found them on the bottom shelf of the china cabinet, standing there like the good little girls they usually are.

If you want to see the other dolls I've made, you can look here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Risk In My Beading

Did you figure out what risk I took in my August Bead Journal Page? Did you see what is different than the other pages I made? Take another look. It's below.

Someone thought it was the recognizable shape, but I think April 2009's "Choosing to Grow" is the closest to a picture of anything I've done.

Others thought about the hearts, but hearts were here in February 2009's page, "Why Are You Always So Happy?"

Still others mentioned straight lines, but they were here in May 2009 in "It's All About Control."

And in March 2010's "Meditations in Shades of Gray."

Now do you see what is new and different--and risky--in my August piece? More than one color. In fact, two colors! It's a shock to my monochromatic system!

Or maybe, just maybe, you see something in my work that I miss...

And for those who asked, the hearts have no symbolic meaning. I just loved the colors. And my personal risk has nothing to do with my heart, either physically or emotionally, except in the way that everything centers on the heart.

I put the hearts on first, but I realized as I was finishing the page that I could have just as easily have sewn them on last. Or could I have really done that? Probably not, because the design began with the line of hearts. This page was done with no planning, design lines, or sketches beforehand. It was completely improvisational.

Thanks, all, for looking at my work. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking A Risk

I'm a risk-averse person. I don't skydive, climb rocks, bungee jump, or ride a motorcycle. I don't trade stocks on the internet or speculate in currency futures. I believe in bike helmets, seat belts, anti-lock brakes, vaccinations, and a balanced portfolio.

But I took a risk. Not one of those risks we teachers used to encourage our students to take--sitting with someone new at lunch or reading your sentence out loud. A real, grown-up risk, and I can't believe how quickly I decided to do it. It took me about ten minutes to make up my mind, and by the time I got home, I was fully committed.

It doesn't really matter (except to me) what exactly my risk was. What was interesting was the process of making the decision. Most of the decisions we make involve trade-offs. We give up something to gain something else. We give up chocolate cake to gain improved health. We give up beading time to take an exercise class. Taking a risk is different than making a decision involving trade-offs. With a risk, we understand that the outcome is uncertain. Maybe that new person you sit next to at lunch will be mean. Maybe the other students will laugh at your sentence. With a grown-up risk, we may move into an area of definite and sometimes serious uncertainty. If the outcome is not what we were hoping, we may not be able to undo it.

I decided to represent my decision to take a risk with my August BJP. To my way of thinking, this page is a definite departure from my previous bead journal pages. Instead of telling you exactly how it's different, I challenge you to discover it for yourself. You can look at my other pages here.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a mixture of blue and green Dye-Na-Flow.

I started this page with the blue and green glass hearts. They jumped out at me at the bead store, and I shared the strand with a friend. The beads include 15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, triangles, cubes, niblets, and bugles. There are also some 13/0 green Czech charlottes.

I used the backstitch and the stopstitch in this page.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used blue Nymo thread for most of the beading, with some chartreuse C-lon for the green beads. I used 00 gray Nymo with a size 13 needle for the green Czech charlottes.

What I Was Thinking:

To be perfectly honest, I was marveling at myself for taking a risk. And I was hoping that my risk would turn out well. And I was thinking about how much I liked this color combination.

Issues That Came Up:

That size 13 needle is a bear to thread. It's not just seeing the hole; it's having the coordination to put the thread through it.

I'd like to make a doll with the some of the remaining beads. I think she'd be lovely.

Now It's Your Turn:

What's the risk I took with this page? How is it different than all my other Bead Journal Pages?

Or is it only different to me?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Washed My Phone, And Other Household Catastrophes

But more about the phone later...

The first incident occurred during All Together Week. Since most of the All who were Together were at cottages, I volunteered our washing machine. The offer was accepted, and a basket of laundry arrived at our house. I loaded it into the machine, added the detergent, and pressed the button. All went well until the spin cycle.

Then Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! OOPS! I had washed Grandson #2's rock collection. Now Everyone thought that Someone Else had checked the pockets. As is usual in these circumstances, that meant that No One had checked the pockets. I retrieved four small, very interesting rocks, half an inch to an inch in diameter, and forty cents from the washing machine. I later retrieved a fifth rock and another dime from the dryer.

Fast forward a couple of days. More dirty laundry, none of which belonged to Grandson #2. All the pockets were checked. Washing went well, but then there was the spin cycle.

Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Ka-Blam! Double OOPS! Part of the rock collection had migrated around the rubber flange to the space between the tub and the housing. Fortunately, two aspiring MacGyvers were available, my associate homeowner and the visiting She Who Shall Not Be Named.

They went at the washing machine with a collection of interesting tools: a screwdriver, two flashlights, a wire coat hanger, duct tape, mesh from a bag of fruit, ribbon, and a darning needle. I went off to a meeting, leaving them to their project.

I returned an hour and a half later to find the washed but not rinsed laundry still in the basket and the name of the appliance repair service with the best ratings on the internet. I suggested that the aspiring MacGyvers rinse out the soapy laundry in the bathtub while I arranged for a repair.

So I called. That service did not repair my brand so they gave me two other names. So I called. Eventually arrangements were made for the repairman to come the next week. We were determined to live the clean life--no messes or spills--until the machine was fixed.

The repairman arrived and went at the washing machine with a tool that looked amazingly similar to the coat hanger device my own MacGyvers had used unsuccessfully. He was unsuccessful, too. He determined that it would be necessary to take the machine apart, a two-hour project. He would call me the next day with a scheduled time. I quickly determined that the fifty cents I had found would probably not cover the labor charges for a two-hour repair. However, the repair would be less expensive than replacing a three-year-old machine.

The next morning the repairman called to refer me to a second repairman who had more experience with my brand. This didn't sound good. I called the second repairman. He assured me that he had been to Whirlpool School and that he knew all the secret tricks. He stated that he had never had to take a machine apart to retrieve a foreign object. I was hopeful, but not fully convinced.

The second repairman arrived the next day. After a couple of tries with the coat hanger type device, he went to the secret tricks. This is the method, as nearly as I understand it: Prop rubber flange open. Put contact cement on rock. Cut piece of strapping so it will reach rock. Put contact cement on end of strapping. Wait until contact cement achieves appropriate degree of tackiness. Drop strapping down onto rock. Press strapping against rock so the two cemented parts are in contact. Hold in place with screwdriver. Wait until a complete bond is formed. Pull strap and attached rock out. Amazing!

And now for the phone.
I did not want to wash the phone. I wanted to wash my backpack. My backpack is an heirloom backpack. I inherited it from She Who Shall Not Be Named, who had used it in junior high school. It was, frankly, disgusting. It had made several trips to Europe, serving as an airplane footrest. It had numerous spots of unknown origin. I wanted to wash my hands after handling it. It needed to be washed.

Remembering the rock collection incident, I carefully checked all the pockets. Out came the pencils and pens, the index cards and the kleenex. Out came the Google Map to the family reunion. Out came the old boarding passes and luggage tags. The phone, unfortunately, did not come out. Now I had last used the backpack about ten days before, when we spent a week with relatives. I hadn't needed the phone during that week and I hadn't needed it since we returned. I don't use the phone much. I have a super cheap, pay-by-the-minute plan.

I put the backpack into the bathtub with Camp Suds and left it to soak for about ten minutes. When I returned to swish it around and rinse it out, I knew there was a problem. Something was still in the backpack. The phone. OOPS!

You might be surprised at the number of internet sites that offer suggestions for dealing with a wet phone. I used the open the phone up, dry as much as possible with a paper towel, put the phone into a container of rice (or other absorbent material), seal it, leave it overnight, and hope for the best. We were fortunate to have the perfect rice in the cupboard: Arborio rice with a 1999 expiration date. (Note to self: Clean the cupboard more frequently and check the expiration dates on the contents.)

Despite this fabulous rice, the remedy was not effective. And the rice is on the way to the landfill. It's biodegradable. To continue with the food theme, the phone is toast.

A friend offered me her son's old phone, and here it is. Cool, eh? I think it will be a great replacement, as long as she can find the charging cord and the instruction manual in his room. He's off to grad school, so she's on her own.

Once I get connected again, I'll give you a call. In the meantime, my associate homeowner is doing the laundry.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Much Is The Purple Hope Stone Worth?

I made a purple Hope Stone for the American Cancer Society's Cattle Baron's Ball.

It's purple because the ACS color of survivorship is purple. Ok, it doesn't look purple. It looks blue, doesn't it? I assure you, however, that this Hope Stone is purple. I fiddled and fiddled with the color of the photo, but I couldn't get a good representation of the purple. So even if you can't see purple, think purple!

In our area, Hope Stones are given to survivors at the end of the Survivors' Victory Lap at the Relay for Life. Survivors are encouraged (whenever they are ready) to pass the stone and the hope along to someone else who needs an extra boost of hope in dealing with cancer.

The stone is about 1.75 inches high. It is mounted on a piece of Lacy's Stiff Stuff that I painted with violet Dye-na-Flow and backed with UltraSuede. The beaded fringe was added last.

If you want to see my other Hope Stones, you can look here.

The American Cancer Society representative asked me the value of the Hope Stone. How do I answer that question?

The cost of the materials? I already had a bunch of purple beads, the UltraSuede, the Stiff Stuff, the thread, and the Dye-na-Flow. I did buy some beads, but I have plenty of them left over.

The cost of my time? I'm retired. I beaded most of this piece while on vacation, sitting on a porch listening to the sounds of a lake.

The price at a retail shop? Oh, puh-leese! I don't sell hope! Hope is to be shared, to be given away, to be presented generously to anyone who needs it.

I understand that the ACS needs to keep track of the value of contributions, but it was very, very hard to determine how to set the value of the Purple Hope Stone.

How would you value this stone? I'd like some ideas so I can have a better answer next time.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Am Not Meek!

"Meekness? What's with meekness?"

That's what I wondered when I saw the July Character Trait of the Month on page 2 of our local newspaper. There was something about this that I just didn't get.

Part of what I didn't get was the rest of the advertisement. I mean I couldn't visually decipher it. The font was small, and the print was blurry and gray on gray. I knew there was a further explanation, but I needed more coffee and better light before I could find it.

The complete text read, "Meekness vs. Anger. Yielding my personal rights and expectations with a desire to serve." I still didn't get it. Next stop, the dictionary. This is what I learned: Meek means mild of temper, gentle, not easily provoked or irritated. Ok, that sounds fine. But meek also means submissive. That's where I draw the line.

I decided to take a survey of other people. My sample was the four people I was eating dinner with. All were thirty-somethings--an English professor, a college librarian, a stay-at-home mom who previously taught math, and a software developer. Only the English professor is a male. (Note to gender discrimination sensitive individuals: He's only listed first because I asked him first, starting at my left side.)

The English professor contributed a biblically-based, academic answer. The college librarian elaborated. The stay-at-home mom and the software developer focused on the submissive aspect. Battered women were mentioned. The occasional feminist, software developer objected to a person having to yield personal rights. The college librarian said that meekness was not always viewed positively.

Even though my survey participants are in a different age group than I am, I look at things the same way they do. It seems to me that meekness connotes submissiveness, which I do not usually view as a positively trait.

I don't have a hot temper, I don't often get angry or irritated, but I am not submissive. I am not meek!

My BJP for July focuses on my non-meekness.

I chose the least meek color I could find. Except for orange. I've played with orange before, and you can see the results here. This is an orange-red-bright coral combination.

Non-meekness is not flat. It shows its lack of submissiveness with texture.

Technical Details:

This page is beaded on Lacy's Stiff Stuff sprayed with some red Memories Mist.

There are more than 30 kinds of beads in this piece. There are a few 15/0s, some 11/0s, 8/0s. and 6/0s. There are some very cute 15/0 triangles, some cat's eyes, some daggers, a couple of little hearts, a few cubes, and one dangling Swarovski crystal. There are two kinds of beads that are slightly smaller that the 15/0s and have extremely tiny holes.

I used the back stitch, couching, the stop stitch, fringe, and a twisted stitch.

It is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used red AA C-lon thread. For the beads with the tiny holes, I used a size 13 needle and grey Nymo OO thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I was thinking about being not-meek. I was hoping that this was not a horrible character flaw, because I don't think I'm going to turn meek in my old age. I have to admit that it was fun reveling in my non-meekness and playing with these non-meek beads.

Issues That Came Up:

It's not all that easy to thread a size 13 needle. I do need some vision correction, which will happen in the near future.

I have a ton of non-meek beads left. I'll have to do something with them.

Want to know more about character traits? Check out the website of the West Michigan Character Council.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Topaz Doll--Her Front, At Least

I decided to make a doll with some topaz-colored beads that I had collected. Then I wondered if collecting is an appropriate way to describe how I acquire beads... But that's another discussion.

Originally I intended to use some of the amber I brought back from Lithuania in 2007. I knew the colors would look nice in my living room. But the pieces of amber are about 1 cm across, and they didn't seem to go with the rest of the doll. (If you want to see what I did with some of the amber, look here.)

My plan was to bead the front with the interfaced fabric flat, sew the back on by hand, stuff the doll, and finally add a picot beaded edge. As I got further and further along on the front, I realized that I had more ideas for using the topaz-colored beads on the doll than there was space on the front. The solution, of course, to this problem (if it is a problem) is to bead the back of the doll, too.

The next part of the process will be to bead the back. Then I'll stitch the front and back together, stuff the doll, and add the picot edge. This will be the first time I've sewn a front and back together after they've both been beaded. I've made several dolls with only the front beaded, and stitched the back on afterward. I've also beaded the front and back of a couple of dolls after they've been stuffed.

Beading an already stuffed doll with a curved needle is much harder on my wimpy, grandma hands than beading flat fabric with a straight needle. I'll see how sewing the beaded pieces together works.

If you want to see my other beaded dolls, look here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Red Hope Stone

This is the red Hope Stone I made for the mother of a friend. Hope stones are given to survivors at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The stones are plain, with the word "Hope" engraved on them. I add mount them and add fringe. The stone is backed with ultrasuede.

I also made a little storage bag for this stone. It's edged with gold seed beads in the picot stitch.

I'm sending lots of hope and good wishes to my friend's mom as she undergoes treatment.

You can see a couple of the other Hope Stones I made here. I've made two or three more that I did not photograph.

The Room Formerly Known As Pink

is no longer pink. Sewing supplies are being reinstalled.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

She Must Be Superwoman!

We're painting the Room Soon To Be Known As The Room Formerly Known As Pink. Perhaps a more accurate statement is that my associate homeowner is painting the Room. My contributions so far have been limited to suggesting that we hire a painter (That didn't go far.), picking out the color, putting the screws from the fixtures in a place at least one of us (that would be me) would remember, cutting in around the ceiling, and washing the brushes. My associate homeowner has done the really ugly work of pulling off the wallpaper, cleaning off the old wallpaper paste (Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!) and washing the walls and woodwork.

The ceiling was painted Monday, and it looks nice. Extra credit goes to the painter for working in 90 degree weather.

Yesterday afternoon we decided to put the light fixtures back up. Yeah. Right. It seemed so simple. The first attempt took 45 minutes. It involved two people, a ladder, a step stool, two screwdrivers, masking tape, two drinking straws, and three flashlights. And some rude language, which, you will be relieved to know, I did not use. It was determined that a trip to one of the big box home improvement stores was needed.

Upon returning from the big box home improvement store, a second attempt was made. Doh! The purchased items did not help at all. So it was back to brute force. After about 25 minutes, the light fixture was finally reinstalled. And here it is:

Which made us wonder--After painting her bedroom, how did She Who Shall Not Be Named put her ceiling fan back up all by herself?

She must be Superwoman!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

If I Knew What This Is About, I Would Have Posted It Last Week

Actually, it's my June Bead Journal Project. I finished it during June, but I wasn't sure what it was about.

How can you journal and not know what you're journaling--unless it's some kind of automatic writing directed by an other-worldly spirit. No, this is definitely not spooky, spirit-directed, automatic beading. I did it myself, and I decided how to do it.

In the end, this page seems to be about repetition and how repetition--or maybe the familiar--can be comfortable and satisfying. I don't want to think that I'm in a rut, but there are many times when I enjoy the familiar. Music in the background is one example. I have fewer than 15 CDs, and I seem to play about five of them over and over. None of this iPod shuffle stuff for me, playing songs in random order, calling my attention to the music instead of what I'm doing. So it's repetition, with a few variations.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with dilute Emerald Dye-na-Flow.

The beads are 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, charlottes, Delicas, cubes, hexes, and fringes. There are more than the usual number of larger, individually purchased glass beads.

The stitches used were backstitch, couching, and stop stitch. Most of the beads are in what Robin Atkins describes as the "wallpaper stitch."

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used C-lon thread in the color Seafoam.

What I Was Thinking:

Well, that's the whole issue. I was thinking a lot of stuff, but my thoughts changed as I stitched. Some of the thinking stuff resulted from an irritating incident at the beginning of June. (Notice how politely I put that.) But the irritation passed, and I moved on to a very busy month, which continues to make me wonder where June went. I kept stitching the wallpaper stitch, and I enjoyed it. By the time I was half finished with the page, I was quite intrigued by the ideas of repetition and variation. So I kept repeating and varying.

Issues That Came Up:

I began to see how challenging varied repetition could be. Interesting thought.

I enjoyed using these larger beads. They were part of a group purchased for a Hope Stone (see previous post) a couple of years ago.

The color of the beads signifies absolutely nothing, except that I hadn't used it before in the BJP.

It's interesting to see the limited range of values in this page and the May page.

So here I am at the beginning of July wondering what this month's bead journal will be about. And what color it will be. It's time to start digging in the bead stash.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Even More Hope!

I made another Hope Stone. This one, the fourth or fifth I've made, was for the door prize drawing for survivors at our local Relay for Life.

Glass stones with "HOPE" inscribed are given at the end of the Survivors' Victory Lap at the Relay for Life. The idea is that one survivor can pass the stone on to another person who is in special need of hope. I think that most cancer survivors will agree that immediately after diagnosis and during active treatment, any extra hope is welcome.

You'll have to look hard to find the word "HOPE" on this stone, but it's there. The stone is mounted on Lacy's Stiff Stuff that I painted with Dye-na-Flow. Since the stone is translucent, I didn't want to use glue. I stitch back and forth across the stone to temporarily hold it to the backing. Then I attach the beads to the backing to bezel the stone on.

The method for bezelling (Is that a word?) the stone on has varied from item to item, mostly because I never remember how I did it before. It's pretty much reinventing the wheel. Our library has a couple of books that show how to attach the stones, but they never seem to be in when I'm ready to use them. One is Beading with Cabochons by Jamie Cloud Eakin and the other is Beading on Fabric by Larkin Van Horn. The two authors use different methods, so I figure that gives me the opportunity to invent my own.

One issue with these Hope Stones is that they are relatively thick with a somewhat straight edge. That needs to be taken into account when attaching them to the backing.

I then attach an ultrasuede backing with a picot stitch and add fringe at the bottom. I used to find keeping my fringe symmetrical a fussy task. Then I invented a way to keep the beads organized. I got a piece of cardboard--like a cereal box--and cut it about 5" by 8". Then I made elongated "donuts" of masking tape* and stuck them on the cardboard. Voila! A 5" by 8" piece of sticky stuff. I found that I could lay out rows of beads for each fringe, and they wouldn't move around. I could put the whole thing in a plastic bag and press the bag onto the tape, and the beads would stay in place if I had to stop before finishing.

I'm working on another Hope Stone now for the mother of a friend. If you want to see the second one I made, look here.

*If you don't know what masking tape donuts are, ask someone who taught school before there was poster putty.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering Morocco--May BJP

My May BJP Remembering Morocco is finally finished. It seemed to take forever. While I worked on it, I wondered why that was. I have several reasons:

1. I didn't start on it until mid-May. We got home from the trip to Spain and Morocco in early May, but I needed to get over jet lag before I operated dangerous machinery, such as needles and scissors.
2. I needed some time to process the experiences of the trip before I could begin to interpret them in beads.
3. Things got busy--Tulip Time, the grandsons, all the meetings left over from April, all the May meetings, and all the end of the year grand finale meetings and celebrations. Whew! It was a wild month!
4. I wasn't crazy about anything but the memories and the color of blue. Don't try to talk me out of it! I know what I like. And what I don't like. I'm a strong-minded woman. When I'm not crazy about it, it takes longer.
5. I had to order beads for the background and had to wait for them to arrive.
6. Beading the background to go around the swirls took much too long. And it wasn't that much fun.

Those are my excuses for tardiness.

But I finished it. At last.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with watered down blue Dye-na-Flow.

This page contains the usual combination of 15/0s and 11/0s plus some hexes, cubes, charlottes, one lentil, some long tubes, and some vintage spherical beads about size 6/0.

In addition to the backstitch, I used couching and the picot stitch.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

The thread is blue Nymo D.

What I Was Thinking:

I was thinking about Morocco. Our time in Morocco was a stimulating and challenging sensory, intellectual and emotional experience. There is no way I could represent all of that. The blue sky in Asilah was absolutely stunning (see photo in previous post), so that sky became my little beaded memory. It was very windy, and we had sand in our clothes and hair that evening. The beaded swirls represent the wind. The two upright columns are Moroccan doorways. I'd love to go back to Morocco. I'd even love to go back and do everything we did again.

Issues That Came Up:

Ok, this blue is my favorite color. My really, really favorite color.

The more representational the beading is, the less I like doing it. The same thing happened with the BJP from April 2009. And I made a similar comment then, although I didn't read it until I went back to put the link in this post.

And I don't like doing backgrounds, either.

But now that I'm finished, I like this page. Especially the color. And remembering Morocco.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering Morocco

When we arrived in Morocco on the ferry from Tarifa, Spain, to Tangier, we took a bus to Asilah, a smaller town on the northwest coast. It was a good way to ease into Morocco, without the busyness of Tangier.

This photo is the inspiration for my May BJP. It was taken across the rooftops because I loved the color of the sky. You can see that some of the building walls are also painted blue. Our guide told us that was because blue represents water and coolness.

My May BJP is about half done. I need more beads, and I won't have them for another ten days or so.

Monday, May 10, 2010


April's Bead Journal Page was all about Anticipation! It was a wonderful example of how anticipating something can take over one's mind and crowd out all other thoughts. In this case it was the anticipation of something wonderful and very exciting--a three-week trip to Spain and Morocco.

The trip was beyond our expectations! We had a great guide and assistant guide and a very congenial, but small (only 17), group of travelers. For me, the highlight of the tour was the two days in Morocco. Those two days were satisfyingly stimulating and challenging sensory experiences. I loved it! The side trip to Morocco added depth to our understanding of the history, art and architecture we saw in Spain. I was glad that I had spent time reviving my 50-year-old high school Spanish before we left.

We spent a few days before and after the tour on our own in Barcelona and Madrid. Apparently people debate about which city is better. I preferred Barcelona. The early 20th century architecture is fabulous! Our timing was perfect. We completely missed the travel disruptions caused by the volcano in Iceland. There were quite a few empty seats on our flight home last week, and we wondered if some people had canceled travel plans.

Thinking creatively was difficult during the first part of April. I was busy with preparations and distracted by anticipation.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a blend of red, black and white Dye-na-Flo.

This page has more than the usual number of bugle beads, along with 15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, and 6/0s. There are some hexes, triangles, fringe beads and Delicas.

I used the backstitch most of the time and the lazy stitch with the bugle fans.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used mauve Nymo D thread.

What I Was Thinking:

This was a non-thinking page. It was automatic handwork while my mind was distracted and elsewhere.

Issues That Came Up:

I may be learning something about mixing colors. The combination of red and black and white paint came close to the color I wanted for my foundation.

I will often do needlework while I am distracted by anticipation. This time, it seemed to free my mind so I could think about the trip. At other times, it occupies my mind so I don't think about something less pleasant.

I finished the page in mid-April. I considered whether or not to post the page before we left. I finally decided in favor of waiting so I would not notify the public that the house will be empty for three weeks. Ok, so maybe this blog isn't exactly public. But I would have been irritated if I'd come home and found my bead stash gone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Meditations In Shades Of Gray

I finished my March BJP in March, but I am tardy in posting it.

When I started thinking about working with gray beads, I wondered what people would think this color--or non-color--symbolized. Much of my thinking took place on a long car trip. That's a good time to think about beads. It keeps a grandma anxious to see her grandsons from asking, "Are we there yet?"

I see the sparkly gray beads as understated sophistication. I'll wear a gray, bias-cut evening gown and carry a gray beaded purse when I go out dancing with Fred Astaire.

I did love working with these gray beads. Who knew there would be so much delightful variation in what many people regard as a non-color? I loved the way the beads took off in their own directions, seeming to weave in and out, over and under.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a blend of black and white Dye-na-Flo.

The beads are the usual combination of 15/0, 11/0, 8/0, and 6/0 seed beads. There are some cubes, hexes, triangles, and niblets.

The only stitch used in this piece is the backstitch.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used Nymo D thread.

What I Was Thinking:

Gray, in all its variations, is beautiful. To smile when looking at so much gray is the triumph of an optimistic outlook and a cheerful demeanor. I smiled when I sewed these beads.

Issues That Came Up:

The beads wanted to do Art Deco instead of the swirls I imagined. I love Art Deco, so that was fun.

I felt so smart that I mixed black and white paint to make gray instead of using just watered down black. Maybe I'm learning something!

Part way through the project, the page looked like an aerial view of a rail yard. Yow! Interesting! It may mean that I'm going on a trip!

What in the world am I doing with about forty kinds of gray beads? I only used about thirty. Get a grip, Marty! Keep that bead budget under control!

After using C-Lon thread for February, I went back to Nymo (because that was what the gray thread was). I do like Nymo better than C-Lon. For some reason, it feels better in my hands.

In response to comments in my (long ago) previous post:
1. Carol gets the extra credit points for explaining grey as "tomahtoish." We midwesterners think of it as gray.

2. Carol and Barbara and Arline commented that this angular design was out of the norm for me. I did not think of that until they mentioned it. No kidding! I didn't even know I had a norm! They challenged me to look at all of my own work to see what kind of beading I usually do. What a treat to be encouraged to look at your work as others do!

3.In February, Bobbi asked if I were planning to work in a monochromatic color scheme for the rest of the pages. The answer is probably yes. I love working this way. I like to focus on the shapes, the sizes and the finishes of the beads. Plus I find combining colors very difficult. Of course, if I worked with a variety of colors more frequently... I have a friend who has a living room that is all in shades of beige and tan. I love going to her house. It's so relaxing to sit there, with limited stimulation.

I should also note that She Who Shall Not Be Named (See below to find out if you are She.) has been harassing me about the monochromatic color schemes for a year. Ok, maybe harassing is a strong work. She challenges me to move out of my comfort zone. See, dear, no bugle bead paths for February or March.

How to Tell if You Are She Who Shall Not Be Named:

Did you call me Shrimpmom when you were in seventh grade? If the answer is Yes, you are She.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Meditations in Shades of Gray--Or Is It Grey?

Gray or Grey? I always thought it was gray. But then grey started showing up in art related writing. Or maybe British writing. Whoever can explain why there are two different spellings and when each should be used gets a lot of extra credit points. But since the points will be in a gray (or grey) area, we don't know whether they're worth anything.

I decided to use gray/grey (hearinafter known as gray) for my March BJP. This has been the most interesting color (if it is one) to work with. I know that many people associate gray with dull, dreary, blah. But I thought about gray beads as understated sophistication.

You may wonder what I know about sophistication, either understated or overstated. To be honest, absolutely nothing. Except for how to spell it. But I wanted to work with gray beads anyway. I visualized a glamorous 1930s woman, in a bias-cut satin evening gown carrying a gray beaded handbag.

My first thought was to use some sort of swirly design to counteract any perceived severity from the gray. The beads, however, didn't want to swirl. Instead they wanted to play Art Deco. So what I have are straight lines. I'll finish this next week and then share the final result.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If You Want to Be An Athlete,

don't get glasses like mind. I really like these glasses. They're very lightweight. They're rimless so they don't block my face.

But they've broken three times in the past year. Last spring it was the left earpiece. That was replaced. During the summer, it was the bridge. That was replaced. This morning it was the right earpiece. That was replaced with an almost matching one the optician had in stock. A matching earpiece should come in tomorrow.

You may wonder how an ordinary grandma who closely resembles a little old lady would break her glasses so many times. I wondered that, too. And then I realized...

It's my athletic career. I play contact sports. Hockey. Soccer. Football. Hide and Seek. With my grandsons, ages 8 and 6.

The first incident occurred last May when we were playing soccer in the backyard. I was in goal and the only member of my team, playing against the two boys. My older grandson moved the ball down the field while my younger grandson distracted me. My older grandson gave a powerful kick. Blam! Right in my face! Who would believe that someone with my amazingly fast grandma reaction time could get hit in the face? It was an athletic anomaly.

When I went in to get my glasses adjusted a couple of weeks later, the earpiece broke. My excellent and extremely cheerful optician Mr. Steve replaced the earpiece while I wondered how in the world I could have broken it.

Fast forward two months. One Friday evening the bridge of my glasses broke. Just broke. I dug through the drawer to find my substitute glasses. There were two pairs of old glasses. I couldn't see very well with either of them. For sure I couldn't see any needles, thread or beads. It wasn't my favorite weekend. On Monday I trooped back down to see Mr. Steve.

"How could this have happened?" I asked him. He smiled and ordered another bridge. Within a couple of days, I was ready to start beading again.

Then one day last fall, I had a thought. Could the broken glasses have anything to do with getting hit in the face--in the glasses--with the soccer ball? Duh! Double duh!!

And then the right earpiece broke today. This time I knew why. It was hockey. Or maybe football. Or maybe hockey and football.

This past weekend my grandsons and I were playing hockey. We play in the basement (no ice and no skates) with a wiffle ball and plastic hockey sticks about two feet long. Our hockey games do get exciting. We were scrambling after the puck (wiffle ball) in front of the net when Blam! A hockey stick right in my face. Er, right in the glasses. No harm done; no goal scored. But I realized I'd need my glasses adjusted. Later we played football outside, with a football smaller than a grapefruit. But my amazingly fast grandma reaction time let me down again. Blam! A football right in the glasses. No harm done; no touchdown. But the glasses really needed to be adjusted.

So this morning I went back to see Mr. Steve. And after the glasses had been adjusted and cleaned and I was putting them on, Snap! The right earpiece. I am now nicely dressed in glasses that are silver on one side and bronze on the other. But I can see.

And I'm not going to give up my athletic career. I'm just going to speed up my grandma reaction time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

February BJP - Tranquility

So maybe I've been so tranquil during the past month that I haven't felt the urge to blog... Just a thought...

I started my February BJP February 1 and finished it February 28. In the meantime, I did a few other things, in part to delay the completion of the BJP until the end of the month.

I had decided in late January to use light blue beads and to meditate on the concept of Hope for my February BJP. A few days into February, I made two discoveries. First, the beads were sending feelings of Tranquility instead of Hope. I paid attention to the beads. February would be Tranquility. Second, I was working so quickly that I decided to slow down my beading. I wanted to savor the feeling of Tranquility for the entire month.

Slowing down was easy. I cleaned the house (including vacuuming!) for my book group meeting. That was snowed out so I was left with a clean house, a dessert, and a free evening. I made a couple of small beaded cards. I made three pairs of slacks and a pair of yoga pants. I temporarily perfected my pants pattern. I studied Spanish. I watched Olympic curling. (Who knew it could be so exciting?) And on February 28 I finished Tranquility.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a mixture of blue and white Dye-na-Flo.

The beads are 15/0s, 11/0s, 8/0s, and a few 6/0s. There are some lentils and some diagonally drilled cubes that are important parts of the design. There is one small blue heart.

As usual, it's done in the backstitch and the stop stitch. There are several rows of twisted beads.

The page is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used C-lon AA light blue thread. I'm getting used to the C-lon thread, but Nymo still feels more natural to me.

In a departure for me, I started with some segments of circles drawn on the foundation using a compass. You can see the resulting curved lines in the completed page.

What I Was Thinking:

It was very interesting to find that the beads changed this month's theme for me. I considered two types of journaling. My assumption at the beginning of February was that I would journal (bead) about my chosen topic. In the end, I found myself responding to the visual stimulation of the first beads stitched. Robin Atkins has written about some different ways of bead journaling here.

I enjoyed thinking about what tranquility means to me. Peace, calmness, serenity, harmony, peace of mind, composure. And not getting into a twit over unexpected occurrences. I like tranquility. I was glad to have tranquility last the entire month.

I'd like to do a page using grey beads. But what would that color tell me? Right now I'm thinking sophisticated but subtle. Maybe I'll start with a small pin.

Issues that Came Up:

Ok, so I ripped out parts again. That's ok with me. Because I create the page in parts, without an overall plan, there are occasionally sections that detract from the whole. I am very willing to "edit" these parts as I complete more of the page.

This size is working well.

I felt guilty about going so long without blogging. But I didn't do anything about it.

And I was rooting for the Canadian hockey team in the Olympics. Do I dare tell my grandsons?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A New Year--January 2010 Bead Journal Project

My January Bead Journal page has been completed. And, yes, I did edit my improvisation. If you look two posts below, you can see what the page looked like before I edited it. I'm pleased with the changes.

I had decided to do a page about the new year. I started with the assumption that I would use white beads--clean, fresh and pure. A new start. But then I realized that none of us start a new year without bringing our pasts along. The new year is colored and shaded and toned by the previous years, even before it starts. While we may not be able to erase those previous years, we can use our crayons and markers and paints to change the appearance of the past years.

What I mean exactly is that by the way we think about and talk to ourselves about the past, we can change the way we see it. We can change the way the past affects us. In fact, we can actually change our brains--physically--by the way we talk to ourselves.

And so if we can change our brains, it was fitting that I change or edit my improvisation.

Since I would be entering the new year with both the richness and the detritus of the past, white would not do. Ecru was my color of choice. Included with the ecru is a tiny bit of grey and some not-quite-pink. Not-quite-pink has a great deal of meaning for me. If you want to know more about it, read this post and this post, which contains the entire rant.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with titian buff acrylic paint.

The beads are 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s and 15/0s. There are some drop beads, bugles, triangles, hexes, and three larger beads.

It's almost entirely sewn with the backstitch, but there some beads sewn on with the stop stitch. There are three rows of a twisty stitch, two tight and one taller. I don't know the name of this stitch, as I saw it in a Japanese beading book.

The beaded page is 2.5 inches high and 3.5 inches wide.

I'm not exactly sure what kind of thread I used. It looks and feels and sews like Nymo, but the tiny print on the bobbin says Belding Corticelli. I got several bobbins of it at The Dumpster Diving Place for 10 cents each. They were dirty, so I had to throw out the first layer of thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I found ecru to be a very pleasant color to work with. It's tranquil and relaxing, and there are a surprising number of variations. About halfway through the page, I found myself thinking, "This is pretty. 2010 will be a pretty year." I was a happy beader, and I could embrace and cherish the things that make my new year ecru instead of pure white.

And now for the editing business: First, thanks to everyone who offered feedback, encouragement, and suggestions in response to my question about editing improvisational work. As the page neared completion, I felt the diagonal lines on the left side weighing the page down. Weighing my year down. I decided I could take action to prevent that. So I edited my page the same way I try to remember to edit my thoughts. I didn't erase it; I edited it.

Issues that Came Up:

I had a terrible time deciding what size to make my pages this year, so I decided to go with a 2.75 inch square, the same as last year. I cut the Stiff Stuff, painted it, and basted the outline on the Stuff. When it came time to stitch, I couldn't do it. I needed a new size for a new year. A rectangle 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches fit on the already cut piece of Stuff. So that was it.

Every time I use acrylic paint on fabric or Stiff Stuff, I am reminded that it makes the fabric or Stiff Stuff harder to needle. You'd think I could remember that.

Thread Update:
According to this website, Belding Corticelli makes Nymo thread.

I'm excited about starting my February page next week. I've already picked out the colors, and this afternoon I'll paint the Stiff Stuff. But this time, I'll dilute the paint first.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Old Is This Zipper?

I have a lot of zippers. More than I need to last a lifetime. A fair number of those zippers are more than 30 years old.

From 1969 to 1978, we lived in Meadville, Pennsylvania. At that time the headquarters of Talon was in Meadville, and Meadville was known as "The Home of the Hookless Fastener." Talon was a (the?) major zipper producer in the US, and one of our neighbors was an engineer at Talon. At the factory, there apparently was a box of not-quite-perfect zippers, and employees were allowed to take what they needed. Our neighbors knew that I sewed, and the engineer would bring me reject zippers from time to time. These zippers were perfectly functional. There might be a misweave in the zipper tape or the zipper stop might be put on backwards. Occasionally the color of the teeth did not match the color of the tape. These zippers were not packaged. I have a pretty good group of unpackaged zippers.

I also have a nice collection of packaged zippers from the last millennium, and this zipper is one of them. Some of them were mine to start with, some came from my mother's stash, and some came from thrift stores. I don't know exactly how old this zipper is, but there are a few clues that a zipper detective could use to find out.

Look at the top picture. This zipper is priced at 50 cents. It's a bargain! Today a 12 inch zipper would cost more than three times as much. You wouldn't even need a zipper detective to determine when a 12 inch zipper cost 50 cents. All you would need would be an economist and/or a statistician and information about the rate of inflation. If you are one of those persons, go for it! When did this kind of zipper cost 50 cents?

Look at the next picture. The package says that the coils are two continuous nylon coils, and there is a warning printed on the zipper tape about using a hot iron. I don't remember ever seeing this warning on a zipper tape before, but I don't think that means the zipper is a new-fangled 21st century item. Today polyester is used instead of nylon in zippers. I know I shouldn't use a very hot iron on these zippers, but I don't pay much attention to my iron temperature. I've never melted a zipper.

The last picture explains that the zipper is "Magically Self-Healing." This was a new concept when the nylon coil zippers first came out. Anyone who has tried to repair a metal zipper and ended up using rude language understands the appeal of magical self-healing. Note also that the second numbered point says strong. This is also important. Some of the early nylon coil zippers were magically self-splitting.

So how old is this zipper? Late 60s or early 70s?

Want to know more about this history of the zipper (and who wouldn't)? Check out this American Heritage article by Robert Friedel. After you read it, you may qualify as a zipper detective.

This zipper, whatever its age, is going into a pair of khaki slacks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Editing an Improvisation

Can an improvisational work be edited? If it is edited, is it still improvisational?

The work in question is my January Bead Journal page, as pictured. Maybe it's done, and maybe it's not done.

It's improvisational bead embroidery--embroidery done without a plan. It develops as it is stitched, until the page is covered. The page is now covered, and the question is whether or not it can be edited and revised--ripped out and re-stitched--and still maintain the character of improvisation.

My considerations:
1. The page does not look balanced to me. I can visualize a couple of changes that would improve the page. After the eighth grade, anything I've learned about art has come from books. I don't have a natural feel for what would be balanced and what wouldn't. So when I improvise, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.

2. The unbalanced page conveys a different impression than what I was feeling and thinking as I stitched it. That leaves me mildly annoyed. It's not a true journal of this month. Or is it? (The meaning of this page will be revealed later.)

3. I am perfectly comfortable ripping stuff out. Lots of stuff. I personally believe that every needleworker should have a seam ripper in every room. I have six seam rippers. That leaves the bathrooms without seam rippers, which I think is probably ok. If I had all the thread I have ripped out rolled into a ball, it would squish quite a number of people when it rolled down a hill.

4. I already ripped out some beads. But that was before the page was covered. Can I rip out more now that it may be finished?

So here's the deal. Nothing is going to happen this morning. Later in the day, maybe. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Everything I Know About Football I Learned from the Wall Street Journal

In order to be a Highly Qualified Grandma, I need to know about football. My two grandsons are probably the biggest football fans in the entire world. Ok, so they're not that big (kindergarten and second grade), but their fan-ishness knows no limit. The older one has been trying to teach me to throw a spiral for a couple of years. So far he has not been successful. They both quiz me about team colors, mascots, and quarterbacks.

So I've had to take the Wall Street Journal's short course in Football for Grandmas. And this is what I've learned:

1. Quarterbacks are the handsomest players, if facial symmetry is equivalent to handsomeness. Check it out.
2. After a football team changes its logo to look fiercer, it wins more games. Note: The new logo has not helped the Detroit Lions in any way worth thinking about. (But Matt Stafford is handsome for a kid.)
3. Statistically, going for it on fourth down pays off in points.
4. Losing the last one or two games of the season does not bode well for a team during the playoffs. The Colts forgot to read this article.
5. Peyton Manning may be the best quarterback ever. Maybe even better than Johnny Unitas.
6. The blitz is the trendiest move in football. But it can be a bad idea when playing against the Colts.
7. The Vikings built their team by aggressively recruiting elite and free agent players with potential to meet specific needs. And paying big money. And going after old, frequently retired quarterbacks. (Brett Farve is handsome for an old guy.)
8. During a typical 174 minute broadcast of a football game, the football is in play for approximately 11 minutes.

You'd better have your knitting handy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January Bead Journal--A Start

I've got a good start on mu January Bead Journal Page, but it's not turning out like I expected. After making a public statement that it would be 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches, the same size as last year, I changed my mind. I'm going to make the pages 3.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high.

There isn't any particular reason for this size, except that it fit on the pieces of Stiff Stuff I cut when I was going to do the pages in a 2.75 inch square. I just found that when I started to sew, I felt a strong need to do something different than last year.

And a new size fits with my January theme, which is a meditation on what a new start in a new year means. I'll post more about that when I finish the piece.

When I visualized an almost entirely ecru piece, this is not what I imagined. But so far, I like it very much. I found that working with these ecru beads is quite different than working with the white beads that are on the Snow Princess in the post below. Interesting...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Princess Doll Complete!

Meet the Snow Princess! She was completed yesterday. Next week she will be adopted by her new parents, who support children and families through a regional, private, not-for-profit social service agency.

The Snow Princess is five inches tall and nearly four inches from fingertip to fingertip. Her bead-encrusted front is fabric backed by lightweight fusible interfacing. It was beaded flat. The Snow Princess has between 30 and 35 different kinds of beads and a sterling silver heart.

Her back is the same fabric painted with a mixture of Pearl White Lumiere and some sparkly craft paint. After the beading was complete, the front and back were stitched together by hand. She was then stuffed, and a picot edging and some hair were added. She has a ribbon so she can be hung on a Christmas tree. She also has a little fabric bag to stay in when she is not on display.

I think the Snow Princess will love her new family!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fitting Pants Is a Pain in the

place where the pants are supposed to fit.

I've been working on the pants with the pickpocket-proof pocket. Although I had to reinvent the pocket, it went together well. The front zipper also went in smoothly. The front was done.

Then I made the pants backs. Darts. That's about it.

The moment of truth: Sewing the front and back legs together. Sewing the crotch seam.

The trouble always starts here. They didn't fit. AARGH!!!!

In 2006 I perfected the perfect pants pattern. Then as a result of my exercise program, I lost some hip fluff. So last year I readjusted the pattern. I was sure it would fit (I haven't changed size.) but I was confused by the notes on the pattern pieces. They listed slacks made in my less svelte period. Was this last year's pattern? Or an old one? If it was the old one, where in the world was the new pattern? Dumb questions. It was the old one. Time for the adjustments to begin.

Just last week my Co-Granny asked if I made all my slacks. I make nearly all of them. If I have a good pattern, I can make pants that fit faster than I can find pants that fit in a store. But I need my good pattern, which apparently is now located in Someplace Else.

Now I'm not a really weird size, but I am short. There's no sense in euphemisms. I'm shorter than petite, but my weight is in the right range for my height.

Honestly, I don't think that many women who are in my age group--older than Barbie--have an easy time finding pants that fit well. A couple of years ago, the Renegade Militant Seamstresses drafted pants patterns using the directions from a Nationally Known Sewing Instructor. The process involved stripping down to our skivvies, taking numerous measurements, doing complicated mathematics, drawing with yardsticks and T-squares on large sheets of paper taped together, and laughing a lot. I think one of the seamstresses came out with a usable pattern. Who knows where the rest of us went wrong? Measuring, calculating, drawing? The only thing to do was to laugh some more.

I wasn't laughing that much last night, but I've got the situation under control today. I adjusted all the darts, the side seams, the crotch seam, the leg width, and just about anything else that could be adjusted. More than once. Now I'm ready for the waistband and belt loops.

These pants are intended to have a relaxed fit, to leave room for the pickpocket-proof pocket to hold what a pickpocket might want to pick. I'll put elastic in the waistband so there is a little give and attach a loop to hold my pedometer on.

I've got to rework the pattern. Because fitting pants is a pain in the patootie!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hanging Around With Friends!

My four little dolls are hanging around with their friends.

Little Greeny is the oldest of the dolls, at nearly a year. You can find more information about her here.

The red one was the second one of these started but the last one finished. That would be finished yesterday. You can read more about her here and here. She doesn't have a name yet, so suggestions are welcome. And here's a close-up of her.

Blue Moonstone is a round robin birthstone doll. All that beautiful and complex beading? Three other people did it. I was stunned and amazed by the finished doll when it arrived home. You can see how I started to make her here and here.

If you read the first post link about the Blue Moonstone, you'll see why I had to make Miss Peachy. She was finished just before Christmas.

Now it's on to other projects--a pair of black slacks with a pickpocket-proof pocket. The pocket has a hidden zipper compartment. A nefarious individual would have to get his or her hand pretty far down into my pocket to get ahold of the zipper pull. There is another secret pocket hanging down on the inside for my passport. I made another pair of pants with a pickpocket-proof pocket a couple of years ago. I didn't write down how I did it, so I had to re-invent the process. I vowed that I would write down the steps this time. Oops! Forgot to do that. But I did write down how I changed the pattern (made smaller) when I cut out the slacks. Sure hope they fit...

*Note: I am not paranoid. We're taking a trip to Spain, and there are lots of warnings about pickpockets.

And then there's my January BJP page.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Peach Doll #2--Miss Peachy

I finished Miss Peachy before Christmas, but in the midst of all the festivities, I did not have the time to post about her. So here she is:

And here's her back:

Faithful readers will remember that the poor little thing has had her problems, necessitating a heart transplant and a complete facial reconstruction, as described here.

She's doing well now, hanging around with some new friends.

A little over a year ago I made a doll in a similar color. Her name was Not Quite Pink. You can see her here. Not Quite Pink was beaded on only the front. I beaded the fabric, sewed the front and back together by hand, stuffed her, and put on a picot edging. She was sold so I needed to make a new doll.

Miss Peachy, as you can see, is beaded front and back. I fused some lightweight interfacing to the fabric, stitched the front and back together, stuffed her and beaded like crazy, using a curved needle. Except when she needed Major Surgery. (And for all of you who were wondering, I DID wash my hands before I performed the heart transplant and the facial reconstruction. You will not read about me in today's New England Journal of Medicine.)

I have two other little dolls nearly finished. One of them is Red, as shown here. She's been waiting for her back and stuffing for nearly a year. The other one is white, and it will be a gift.

If you want to see my other dolls, you can find them here.