Monday, December 31, 2012

Abundance Reconsidered--November BJP

By November, I was craving blue.  After all the blue last year, I thought I would not do a blue page this year.  But by November, I realized that I couldn't let a year go by with no blue.  I love blue!  I love beading in blue!  I loved making this piece!

Technical Details:

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

This piece uses a variety of larger beads, in addition to 15/0s, 11/0s, Delicas and bugles.

I used the backstitch and the stop stitch. 

The piece is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used blue Nymo thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I was so glad to be working with blue again.  It was like taking a deep breath and saying, "Ahhhh."  November, the month of Thanksgiving Day, is a good time to consider the abundance we have and to recommit ourselves to helping those who do not.  So that's what I thought about.

Issues That Came Up: 

Originally I planned to use only a few of the larger beads.  But once I got started, I had too much fun.  The puzzle of fitting the all the differently shaped beads together was a satisfying challenge.  Very enjoyable, and the variety of large beads depicts abundance well.

Embracing The Pink--October BJP

I've written before about my mixed feelings about the pink month of October.  You can see my other October pieces here and here.  This year I decided to embrace the pink.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted a mixture of red and white Dye-na-Flow..

There is a large heart, several large round beads, bugles and sequins.  There are also 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s and 15/0sTwo kinds of larger beads, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, and 15/0s.

The backstitch and the stop stitch were used in this piece.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

I used size A pink Nymo  thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I decided it was time to come to terms with the relentless pinkness of October.  I decided to push my self through it.  And I did.  Pink is not my favorite color, under the best of circumstances.  But I did enjoy working on this piece.

Issues That Came Up:

As I worked, I wondered if all these different shades of pink would work together.  I think they did!

The Year Begins In September--September BJP

Why is it that the year starts in September, even for those of us who don't have anything directly to do with school?  Is it old habits?  Is it many years as a student and as an educator?  After a hot, dry summer, September seemed to be time for a fresh start with new energy.  Although the leaves began to show color, everyone was energized.

Technical Details:

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

For this piece I used some stone (maybe they're stone) chips that had been looking at me for quite a while.  There are also 6/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, Delicas, triangles, tiny cubes, and hexes.

The backstitch, the stop stitch, and couching were used in this piece.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

I used size A olive C-lon  thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I'm a monochromaticist (I made up that word), but it's interesting to work with more than one color every once in a while.  The salmon-pink and green of the stone chips and of the metallic iris olive-pink size 6/0s was a satisfying combination.  Maybe I should re-think my career as a monochromaticist.

Issues That Came Up:

This piece was difficult to photograph.  It really is dark olive, with the salmon-pink highlights of the stone chips.  I tried to do some color adjustment on the computer, but the colors may look different on your monitor than they do on mine.

It's Not All Black And White--July BJP

It's not all black and white.  It's mostly gray.  And that's what this bead journal is about.

Technical Details:

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

Many of the larger beads came from some kind of  combination package of beads.  I have no idea where I got it.  The two rows above the larger beads and some of the vertical columns came from a bargain tube.  They look more gray in person than they do in the photo.  There are 11/0s, 15/0s, 6/0s,11/0 Delicas, 8/0 Delicas, triangles, short bugles, hexes, and nibblets..

Only the backstitch was used in this piece.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

I used size B gray Nymo  thread.

What I Was Thinking:

At a meeting, a friend expressed a very strong opinion.  My thought was that the issue was not all black and white, but many colors of gray.  I didn't say anything.  I wondered if I should have.

Issues That Came Up:

I find gray a very interesting color to bead with.  It's soothing, and I can concentrate on the shapes.  This piece was particularly interesting as I tried to combine the larger gray beads and the bargain beads.

Taking Up Time And Space--June BJP

June was a busy month.  Lots of events and activities.  Sometimes it seemed as if I was just waiting until the one--just taking up time and space.  And that's what the beading looks like to me.  Not much design--just taking up time and space.

 Technical Details:

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

There are lots of Delicas in this piece, many from this shopping trip.  There are some 23 mm twisted bugles, some shorter bugles, cubes, triangles, hexes, 11/0s, and 15/0s.

Only the backstitch was used in this piece.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

I used size B rose Nymo thread.

What I Was Thinking:

Not that much.  Why, exactly, do I have so many amethyst beads?  And why do I keep using them?  They always seem to look better in the tubes and little baggies than they do in my beading.  Maybe I should use them when I have more time to concentrate on the design.

Issues That Came Up:

Because June was so busy, I had a hard time focusing on the beading on consecutive days.  I think the design suffered.  But the beading does tell the story...

So you know how they always say that the sharp ends on the bugle beads can cut through the thread?  Yoiks, it just happened!  Back to the repair shop!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I've Been Doing When I've Not Been Posting


Two pairs of slacks, plus another nearly done
Two jackets (two different patterns)
Two vests (two different patterns)
Five blouses (three different patterns)
Three T-shirts (two 3/4 sleeved, one short sleeved)
One purse
One zip-front fleece jacket
One quarter-zip fleece pullover
Various Christmas ornaments

Lots of big messes in the sewing room

And many, many, many, many alterations on the patterns so the garments would fit, along with editorial and style changes so the garments would be what I wanted instead of just like the picture on the pattern envelope.

It has been lots of fun!

Unfortunately, my sewing machine had to be rushed to the hospital for a consult with an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor.  The needle started to hit the walking foot.  Ouch!  I'm not sure whether the issue is with the walking foot or with the needle arm.  I hope that only an adjustment is needed instead of orthopedic surgery.

Meanwhile, the 1964 Singer is having a good time in the sewing room.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Desperately Need A Beadazzler.

I desperately need a Bedazzler.

This is how the whole saga began.  My sewing group is doing a wardrobe challenge.  Members who choose to participate will try to make a coordinated wardrobe--slacks, tops, jackets, skirts that can be mixed and matched.

So we took a fabric store road trip on Thursday.  Now you'd think that if you went to a fabric store, you'd find fabric.  Well, you will, but around here quilting fabric dominates the fabric stores.  It's not as easy as you'd think to find good fashion (garment) fabric.

Our main stop was at Fabrications in Richland.  They have lovely designer fabric and super helpful clerks.  At the store my friends encouraged me to think outside my comfort zone--to think about a print!  To think beyond my usual fashion guru LLBean.

I purchased some very nice cotton/poly twill in olive brown.  Ok, so cotton/poly twill is not very unusual, but this was a beautiful quality.  I'll make slacks from it.

But what to wear with it?  My slacks tend to be black, navy and khaki.  I wear blue, yellow, green and purple shirts.  Mostly blue.  And all plain colored.  (No, it's not a dress code.  I'm just in a rut.)

Yellow looked great with the olive brown, but I was challenged to try a print.  I purchased a rayon knit with a sort of abstract print in olive brown, navy, tan, white and mauve.  Whoa!  Nothing else like that in my closet!  This fabric will be a t-shirt.

Since I might make a jacket as well, I decided to cruise through Kohl's, Penney's, and Yonker's today to check out what might look good.  Oops!  Wrong season for jackets.

But there were lots of t-shirts in prints.  And that brings us to the Beadazzler.  The t-shirts were Beadazzled!  Sparkle City!  Major bling!

You'd think that a person who has as many beads as I do would have Beadazzled clothing.  Nope.  That I'd sparkle.  Nope.  That I'd wear bling.  Nope.

LLBean is not Bedazzled and neither am I.

I need to get out of my wardrobe rut.  I need to be Bedazzled.  I desperately need a Beadazzler.  Anyone have one I can borrow?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quilts for Twins

What would you do if you received an email message to members of your family that Niece was expecting identical twins?  

Of course, that same day, you'd email the female members of your family asking if they wanted to join in a group quilt for the twins.  Er, two group quilts.  

But being a sensitive person, you'd title your message, "Read Niece's Message First."  You'd want the good news to come from Niece, but you would be so excited that you'd want the plotting and scheming to begin right away.  So that is what I did.

Since we were all busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations, we decided to delay active production until after the holidays.  By then we'd probably know the gender of the babies and we could choose fabric to suit them.  And at Christmas, three of the five of the family plotters and schemers would be able to shop for fabric together.

During our Christmas holiday together time, three of us picked out quilt fabric.  We chose a floral print in two colorways--yellow and orange.  These would be our focus fabrics.  Then we picked out some blue, red, yellow and white to go with it.  The green was added a bit later.  We laundered, pressed, and cut our fabric so each of our five participants would have plenty of fabric to choose from.  The fabric was then sent on to the participants.

Our only plan was to have two sampler quilts with 12 nine-inch blocks.  Each participant could choose her own blocks and colors, as long as the yellow focus fabric was in all the blocks for one quilt and the orange focus fabric was in all the blocks for the other quilt.  Many of us used
 Block Party by Marsha McCloskey as our reference book.  We've used it before, and it works well for group quilts.

I was the only experienced quilter with no real job so I volunteered to assemble and quilt the quilts.  The quilts were finished in late April, a couple of weeks after the girls were born.  

If you look at the quilts, you will see that some of us made the same block twice in different colorways, and others of us made entirely different blocks for each quilt.  That's one of the things that makes this sort of project fun.  These are the sixth and seventh quilts that various groups of family members have made for this generation.

The quilts were delivered in early June to the adorable babies and their tired, but amazing, parents.  One great-aunt got to hold them both at the same time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Are You Going To Do With All Those Beads?

  All these Delicas and bugles?
 All these hanks of beads?

 And these 20 tubes of 11/0s, 10/0s, 9/0s, and cubes that were at first too shy to allow their photo to be on this blog?

That's what she asked me.  I didn't ask her, but I did wonder what she was going to do with those two sets of 1950s salt and pepper shakers.

What we're both doing is increasing our net worth.

This is the way I figure it:  Say, for example, that the beads were priced at $100.  But at the 70% off sale, I only paid $30.  I've increased my net worth by $70.

Early this morning I had a one hundred dollar bill.  Now I have $100 worth of beads and a fifty dollar bill and a twenty dollar bill.

Early this morning I had $100.  Now I have $170 worth of extremely valuable stuff (money and beads).  I've increased my net worth by $70.

Had I been thinking more clearly, I might have relieved Dr. Mathematics of all his cash before he had a chance to peek into the going-out-of-business bead store.  One quick look, and he decamped to the public library across the street.  With more cash, I might have increased my net worth even more.

If the phone is busy when you call, don't worry.  I'll be talking to NPR about economic theory.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Many Suns--May BJP

For me, the Bead Journal Project really is a journal.  But what exactly is a journal?  What is the purpose of a journal?  What is the function of a journal?  How does writing (beading) a journal affect the writer (beader)?

A few weeks ago I attended an artists' event at the church where some of my beaded dolls are exhibited.  I shared two years of my bead journals with those who came by my table.  I explained that each piece represented something happening in my life during that time or something that I wanted to think about more deeply. 

But sometimes, the beads just take over.  And that's what happened this month.  At the end of April, I decided that I wanted to do a yellow page for May.  I have no idea why.  I was just in a yellow mood.*   So here is my yellow page.

 Technical Details:

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

There are 21 different kinds of beads in this piece.  Two kinds of larger beads, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, bugles, and cubes.

Only the backstitch was used in this piece.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

I used size A yellow C-lon  thread.

What I Was Thinking:

When the beads take over, I'm not doing much thinking.  The beads are in charge.  But behind the scenes, I wondered about journaling.  What is the relationship between the writing (beading) and thinking?  How does what one writes (beads) influence what one thinks?   Should the purpose of a journal be to get whatever is in one's mind down on paper (in beads)?  To understand one's feelings?  Or can writing (beading) a journal be a way to change the writer's (beader's) mindset, mood, opinion?  And how are all these things combined?

What do you think?

I had no idea what the name of this piece would be until it was finished.  It looks to me like many suns.  I like that image.  I think the beads wanted many suns.

Issues That Came Up:

I mentioned in the description of my April piece that I've been using size 11 John James Sharps as my standard needle.  I do find this needle harder to thread, especially with the C-lon thread.  That's easy the first time I put a piece of C-lon through the needle.  But if the needle comes unthreaded a couple of times, it gets harder and harder to get that thread through the tiny hole.  It's as if the thread starts to unwind.  GRRR!  I had to resort to a needle with a larger hole a couple of times so I could tie off the thread.  Maybe I should use Thread Heaven when I use C-lon thread.

*Yellow mood:  Think sunshine, not chicken-hearted.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Always Growing And Changing--April BJP

Another month when what I thought I was going to bead changed during the process...

March seemed to be an extremely busy, somewhat stressful month. Ok, I admit I volunteered for all the time-sensitive obligations. All were fun and/or worthwhile, but I did not have enough time to think carefully or ponder deeply. I decided that my April BJP would be something soothing and calm. Maybe even bland. Well, maybe not bland.

Knowing that being near nature can improve one's physical and mental health, I decided that a green piece with some glass leaf beads would be just the thing for a calm, soothing page. What I neglected to take into account was that my green beads and leaves would begin to grow and change on their own.

And I finished it April 30!

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a dilute mixture of yellow and green Dye-na-Flow.

There are several large pressed glass leaves, a few large cylindrical beads, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, Delicas, and triangles.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

The stitches used are the backstitch and the stop stitch.

The thread is both Nymo B and C-lon A in gray.

What I Was Thinking:

Very early on in the beading, it became clear that what I had envisioned was not going to happen. This piece grew and changed. I wanted to be soothed, but instead I was challenged by something growing. This is a journal piece so did this mean that I no longer needed to be soothed? That I was ready to be challenged?

Issues That Came Up:

While I was working on it, I did not find this piece lovely--and that bothered me. If I'd had more time, I might have ripped everything out and started all over. Not until I had stitched the very last beads did I decide that this page worked.

Most recently I've been using John James size 11 sharp needles instead of my usual size 10 short beading needles. The size 11 sharps are stiffer than the size 10 short beading needles. They seem to work better with the Lacy's Stiff Stuff and other firm foundations than the bendier beading needles. But the sharps have a much smaller hole and are harder to thread, especially with the C-lon thread.

Robin commented that my March BJP shouted unity. Maybe what I meant is that I wanted to make a piece that looked unified. I describe myself as a monochromaticist. (I invented that word. It means that I work in one color at a time.) I feel I have to go beyond the color of the beads to make the piece look unified and complete. It holds together. Everything belongs. There are no extraneous elements. Do I achieve this? Maybe sometimes.

My May piece is finished, too. I'll post it in a day or two.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Sister Has Taken Up Quilting--March BJP

My sister has taken up quilting. So she called me with some questions. We talked about how to use a rotary cutter without cutting off your finger. That was lesson number one. We talked about seam allowances, color choices, starching the fabric, and which blocks are more difficult for beginners. And we talked about ripping out. If that wasn't lesson number two, it should have been.

We had several conversations about color schemes. Her color choices are bolder than mine. She has always liked red. In fact, one of my earliest memories is making Christmas cookies with my mother and my sister. The cookies were decorated with red and green sugar. I can remember my sister insisting that the red cookies were hers and our mother saying that the green cookies were mine. Green then became my favorite color because red was her favorite color.

My sister and I don't live near each other. She lives where there are hurricanes and I live where there's lake effect snow. We don't see each other often, and we very seldom talk on the phone.

But during her first adventures in quilting this winter, we had lots of telephone conversations. One day, she called me three times. I loved it! Now it's my turn to make some calls.

March is her birthday month so I decided to honor her with my March BJP. I chose red for her because I have such a strong memory of her red Christmas cookies.

Technical Details:

The Foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with red Dye-na-Flow.

There is a red heart, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, hexes, twists, triangles, cubes, bugles, and Delicas.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

The stitches used were the backstitch, the picot stitch, and the stop stitch. There are also ruffles and branched fringe.

I used C-lon size A thread in red.

What I Was Thinking:

I was thinking about my sister and remembering our times growing up. And I was also thinking about our mother. They were all good thoughts. I also thought about my favorite color. Beginning with the Christmas cookie baking, my favorite color was green. Of course it was. There could be no doubt. But sometime after the age of, er, middle, I was able to change my mind. My favorite color is blue. If only there had been blue sugar for cookies in the 1940s, I would have known all along.

Issues That Came Up:

Once I started putting the ruffles and branched fringe in, I found myself thinking more and more about how to work toward balance and unity in this piece. I'm not sure I succeeded, but it was an interesting exercise in how much to improvise and how much to plan. There's a minimal amount of planning in this piece.

If you want to see the birthday card I made for my sister, look at the post below.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Sister's Birthday

It was my sister's birthday this week. It was a big birthday with a zero so I decided to make her a special card. I had a peculiar feeling that she would like this quilt block in these colors. And she did.

The mini block is foundation pieced and mounted in a tri-fold card with a square opening.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Tribute To The Women Who Didn't Believe In Deference

She Who Shall Not Be Named sent me this link:

I thought those of you who commented on my February BJP might be interested.

She explained to me that the man in the video with the letter from his mother is Harry Burn, who cast the deciding vote for ratification in Tennessee, which was the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, at which point it became law of the land. The red rose he's wearing is for the anti-suffrage movement, but in the end he decided to do what his mother told him to.

Let's hear it for the moms!

Postcard From The Little Girls

The little girls sent a picture from their road trip. They're having a good time in the curio cabinet at the Second Reformed Church in Zeeland. I don't think there's much wild partying going on, but a mom does worry.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Entirely Inoffensive--February BJP

Every once in a while, I wonder what's up with the West Michigan Character Council. The designated quality for February was Deference: Limiting my freedom so I do not offend the tastes of those around me. What exactly, I wondered, did that mean?

Now, I'm an older person who grew up when one job of the Safety Patrol was to remind boys to take off their hats when they entered the elementary school building. We wore dresses to school. Years later, we still wore dresses to teach. I don't use "rude" language, shout out during public meetings, push to be first on the airplane, or wear clothing that exposes my midriff. I don't play loud music at night, eat while I'm on the phone, talk on a cell phone in stores and restaurants, or text during meetings. I try to be polite, respectful and considerate in public and private interactions. I do not intentionally offend the tastes of others.

But "limiting my freedom?" That phrase bothered me. It brought me back to the Women's Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. I would not want to go back to the days when women's freedom and equality in employment, pay, education, health care and other areas were limited because they offended the tastes and traditions of others. Maybe it's the current political climate that made me feel this way.

Is this what the West Michigan Character Council meant by deference and limiting my freedom? Maybe not, but that was my first reaction.

So for February, I decided that my Bead Journal Page would be Entirely Inoffensive.

Technical Details:

The Foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with brown Dye-na-Flow.

There are some larger round beads, 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, hexes, peanut beads, triangles, bugles, and Delicas.

The size is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

The stitches used were the backstitch and the lazy stitch.

I used C-lon size A thread in brown.

What I Was Thinking:

Absolutely nothing offensive, I assure you.

Issues That Came Up:

I had a lot of other deadlines in February so this month's BJP got pushed aside more than once. You can see the two other beading projects I did in February in the posts below.

Sometimes I pull my thread too tight, shrinking up the foundation. That makes the beads squish together and jump off the flat surface. That happened this month. Maybe I was secretly thinking some offensive thoughts and that made me tense. Or maybe I was pushing to hurry and get done.

I still like Nymo thread better than C-lon. When I put the page aside for a few days to do something else, the loose thread hanging from the piece seemed to unwind. Then it caught on the rough places on my hands. Maybe next time I'll try Thread Heaven on the C-lon.

I'm really glad I chose a slightly smaller size this year.

And now, it's on to March. Nearly two weeks left in the month so there's hope for finishing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hope Stone for a Friend of a Friend

It's a question of priorities.

Hope is a priority. Sharing hope with someone who needs it is a priority. As a cancer survivor who can still remember days with not quite enough hope, I find that sharing hope with others facing cancer is a priority with me.

This Hope Stone is for a friend of a friend. I don't know my friend's friend, and I don't need to. All I need to know is that she is facing cancer and that she may have times when she may not be able to summon up enough hope within herself. So I will send her this Hope Stone to let her know that there are many of us standing with her and supporting her spirit as she undergoes treatment.

Glass stones with the word "Hope" etched on the top are given to survivors at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. When they are ready, survivors are encouraged to share their Hope Stone with someone else facing cancer. I mounted this Hope Stone and embellished it with extra wishes, hopes, dreams, and prayers in the form of beads and stitches.

You can see some of the other Hope Stones I've embellished here.

And the priority--Embellishing this Hope Stone was more important to me than completing my February BJP on time. If you have a problem with that, DO NOT let me know!

Today I'm celebrating 11 years as a cancer survivor. I need to find some chocolate.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Good Start For February

I've got a good start on my February BJP. It's not going to be finished by the end of the month. After all, there are only about 9 hours left. Ok, I could finish it by the end of the month. But between now and midnight, I've got a few other things on my schedule, and they take precedence.

Like eating. And sleeping. And typing this post...

I have to say, however, that February has been a very productive month. You can see the little white doll I made in the post below. And there were a couple of other creative projects I completed.

And there were what seemed like lots of extra meetings this month. They were all worthwhile, but they took time and preparation. And none of them were cancelled because of bad weather.

And an extra exercise class twice a week--also worthwhile.

And some good books.

And I'm getting ready to teach a class on Beaded Edgings and Fringe next week at our Fiber Arts Guild.

And there's an amazing social event coming up this weekend.

And someone needs a Hope Stone so I'll put that together before I finish February.

You'd think that with the extra day in February this year, I could get the BJP finished. But February is still two days shorter than January and March.

This is not my only adventure with tardiness. You can read about my February 2009 BJP here and here.

You probably noticed that I did not blame an excess of vacuuming for taking away my beading time. No excess of dusting, either.

White Doll Finished!

I finished the white doll last weekend. She doesn't have a name yet. She has gone on a little trip with two of her girlfriends, Little Greeny and It's Not Easy Being Red. I hope that they'll find a name for the white doll on their journey. I expect them back the end of May. Road trip with the girlfriends! It sounds like fun!

Here's Little Greeny:

And here's It's Not Easy Being Red:

The little girlfriends really haven't gone that far away. They're at Second Reformed Church in Zeeland for a fiber arts show. I'll go over to visit them next week, after they get settled.

Monday, February 13, 2012

White Doll Front Completed

The front of the White Doll is finished! She now has a face, but she has no name. She'll find her name in her own good time.

It's very important for a doll to have a heart. Hers is a Swarovski crystal.

The next step in the process is to attach the back to the front of the doll. Then I'll stuff it with fiberfill. I'll finish the stitched together edges with a beaded picot stitch.

I haven't decided whether or not to add beaded hair. The back of the doll is not beaded. She could have hair just around the edges of her head or hair completely covering the back of her head. I do not intend to bead the rest of the back of the doll.

Any suggestions for a hairstyle?

Friday, February 3, 2012

If I Only Had A Face...

If I only had a face,
I could smile.
I could talk.
I could laugh.
I could cry.
I could hum.
I could sing.
I would sing.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Folly? Or Not? BJP January 2012

It's a new year. A fresh start. A new beginning. White beads symbolize this new start to a new year.

But is it folly to think that we can begin again with each new year?

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff.

This piece includes 15/0s, 11/0s, 10/0s, 8/0s, and 6/0s, hexes, cubes and bugles. More than 25 different kinds of beads were used.

Stitches used are the backstitch, the stop stitch, couching, and some fringe.

The piece is 2.25 inches by 3 inches.

White Nymo thread in size D was used.

What I Was Thinking:
To what degree can we start fresh at the beginning of each year? Does This is the first day of the rest of my life make any sense at all?

If we could start anew each January 1, would we really want to?

If we decide we can't start fresh, are we admitting defeat?

Or can we pick and choose what we carry over from the previous year?

Is it folly to think that we have any choice in this at all?

I've thought about this issue before. You can see my January 2010 page here. I don't think I've changed my mind in the past two years.

Issues That Came Up:
I used the beading thread I picked up at the dumpster diving place for ten cents a bobbin. It's labeled Belding Corticelli and for all practical purposes, it's Nymo. My research showed that Belding Corticelli makes Nymo. My guess is that the production has improved since this particular thread was made. I found that lubricating the thread with Thread Heaven helped limit the fraying.

My 2012 BJP pieces are 2.25 inches by 3 inches. For the past two years, my pieces were 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. I wanted to make my 2012 pieced a little smaller so I would have more time to work on other beading projects. It doesn't sound like much of a difference, but the earlier pieces are 8.75 square inches and this year's pieces are 6.75 square inches. That's significant.

I started this piece by making the three quarter-circle corner sections. Then I made part of the frame, followed by the "branch of flowers." That's where I got stuck. I liked it, but I needed to fill in the background. This had happened before, and I did not enjoy trying to fill in the background. You can see that project here. So I ripped out the branch of flowers, completed the background, and put the branch of flowers back on.

It was really difficult to get a good picture of this white piece. It looks better in person. I'd show you, but it seems to be hiding at the present moment. It will reappear in it's own good time so it's probably not necessary to do any radical cleaning.

And with the spare time from the smaller piece I've made a very good start on the little white doll.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

UFOs or USPs? And Who Will See My Lining?

My sewing group is having a UFO challenge. We're challenged to finish as many UFOs (unfinished objects) as we can during January, February and the first part of March. There may be prizes!

I don't have a huge number of UFOs--or at least I don't have a huge number of UFOs that I want to work on this winter. I may be competitive when prizes are involved, but there's a limit! My UFOs are unfinished for good reasons. Really good reasons.

But I do have a number--an adequate number--a significant number--a substantial number--an embarrassing number--of USPs. Unstarted projects.

These USPs are projects for which I have the idea, the fabric, the pattern, or at least two of those three. Some of my USPs may be almost vintage USPs. Last winter I completed a nearly vintage project, a lap quilt called Fabric in its Prime.

My first USP was a pair of navy corduroy slacks. Nothing fancy--pockets, front zipper, belt loops. I purchased the fabric last fall so I could replace some slacks that were getting rather worn.

My second USP is a white beaded doll. I've made two white dolls before. You can see the first one in this post. She was sold. The second one was given away. This is what she looks like. But I wanted a white doll for myself so I decided to make one. She's about half beaded.

My third USP is a purple corduroy jeans-style jacket. I've used this pattern McCalls 5191 twice before. Each time I make a few more alterations, but it's a fairly loose fitting jacket. I leave off the pockets which are right below the yoke.

The pattern does not call for a lining, but I'm not crazy about raw edges on the inside of a jacket. My first jacket was made of cotton with a little spandex. I made flat felled seams instead of the topstitched seams called for in the pattern. I bound the edges of the facings with a quilting cotton. My second jacket was made of a mid-wale corduroy. It was too thick to make flat felled seams without big lumps. So I lined it.

This third jacket is made from a fine wale corduroy that is somewhat heavy. So I decided to line it, too. It has a rather bright lining. Make that a fantastically loud lining. Purple, red, fuchsia, blue, green, yellow, orange, even metallic gold. Perfect for a purple jacket. But who will see this lining? No one, unless the laundry elves come in at night. Who will see it? You will, because it's right here:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Starting on January BJP

I've been working on my January 2012 Bead Journal Project. After a bit of embroidery, I felt the need to edit, to revise, to modify. So I did.

This is before:

This is after:

Yep. I ripped some beading out. See those tiny dark spots in the photo above? They are the holes in the Lacy's Stiff Stuff where the needle and thread went through. The thread is gone, but the beads the thread was holding on are in a very small plastic bag. I'll put them back on starting tomorrow, and I'll use the before picture to put them in approximately the same places.

But what happened in the meantime? What happened after I ripped the beads out? You'll have to come back in a few days to see the final result.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Experiment In Not So Dark--BJP December 2011

In December 2008 and December 2010, my Bead Journal pages were made with shiny, dark iris beads. You can see December 2008's The Longest Night of the Year Sparkles here and December 2010's The Garden at Midnight here.

Since I enjoyed working with these dark, sparkly beads so much and since they were blue, I had earlier decided to use the same beads in my December 2011 page. But when I began to dig through the bag of dark beads, the matte finished beads spoke to me. They wanted to be used. So I decided to experiment with a combination of matte and shiny beads. This page is the result of that experiment.

Technical Details:
The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with a dilute mixture of Azure Blue and Black Dye-na-Flow.

I used 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, Delicas, Toho Treasures, hexes, 3 mm bugles, 9 mm twisted bugles, 3 mm cubes and 4 mm cubes.

I used the stop stitch, the lazy stitch, the backstitch, and couching.

The piece is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

I used Nymo size B navy thread.

What I Was Thinking:

When I started on the page with the matte beads, I was not thrilled. They looked dull. Then when I added some shiny beads, the real challenge began. How would I give the piece unity? I'm not sure I succeeded, but this experiment was an experience in determination dominating artistic judgement. I was going to finish this, if not on time, at least close to on time. I finished it January 2.

Issues That Came Up:

The matte beads looked lovely and sophisticated spread out on the tray. But when I stitched them to the foundation, I wasn't so sure. I had painted the foundation with the intention of using the dark shiny beads. The background color created a visual dissonance with the colors of the matte beads. That was distracting. Folding the edge of the background back helped, but I couldn't stitch that way. Now I know why I paint the background to match the colors of my beads.

The colors of the beads and the background changed depending on the lighting. The piece-in-progress looked much better in natural daylight than it did with the overhead lights or with my not-Ott full spectrum lamp. I was surprised at how much difference the lighting made.

I did not go back to look at my earlier dark, shiny pieces until I'd finished. Compared to the other two, this page seems flat. I know which of the three pieces I like best. Which one do you like?

Not So Dark Experiment #2:

Before I put the beads away, I decided to make a small piece using only the matte iris beads. It's pictured below. It's 1 7/8 inches square and stitched on a dull blue quilting cotton backed by lightweight sew-in interfacing. I like this look very much.