Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beads & Beading

I am still working on the Ndebele bead weaving.  It is fiddly, and slow, but I enjoy the finished product.  I thought I might share a few more pieces of jewellery I've made in the last few years.  The necklace in the photograph above has been made using Kiwi Jasper, Black Onyx, and Freshwater Pearls.  It is a fairly long piece, as I wear lots of blouses with collars.  This was a design I saw in an Australian Beading magazine, and purchased the necessary requirements.  No doubt by now you will have worked out I have a fondness for Jasper!!

This is another piece I fell in love with in one of our beading magazines.  I did purchase the kit for it, and was VERY surprised [and concerned] at the weight of the parcel.  However, it really does not feel heavy when worn.  I love the soft peachy to sandy pinks in this one.  It has lots of stitched beading in it.  I have never worn it without having a favourable comment.

I've always been interested in chainmaille, and when I saw this design, I thought I would try to make it.  Again, a kit was purchased as it seemed the easiest and simplest way to do it.  It is quite chunky [all sterling silver rings and findings], but not awkward, and I do wear it, but not a lot.  I'm not really a bracelet/bangle person.  I just wanted to do the chainmaille!!

While I'm on the jewellery bandwagon, I thought it was time I shared a photograph of my bead collection.  Sadly, I just couldn't get everything in one frame, and I really wasn't about to start taking shots of 'everything'.  There are still more bottles with bits and pieces, and the odd [??] plastic packet in places I can't remember [I need an embarrassed face here].

Each time I look through the box for beads, I usually remember where I bought something, and why -  like these beautiful square Swarovski crystals that I bought to make a green outfit for my son's wedding, only to be told by hubby that he really didn't like 'that colour'.  These were $77/gross, and yes, you guessed it, I bought a gross!!  I also bought 4 metres of silk fabric, and 6 metres of silk organza, a sort of green/shot magenta.  It is still in the cupboard..........

Not only do I have a passion for gemstones and crystals, freshwater pearls always seem to find their way into my stash too when a bead store is visited.  I seem to have them in almost every colour - yes, there are some yellow and orange ones 'somewhere'.

I've been having quite a lot of difficulty with this post today - Blogger has been slow, and I seem to have had some interruptions from 'outside'.  However, I wanted to add something else to this post, so here it is.  This is a lovely bead board that was gifted to me by a friend and fellow blogger.  The beads were an added bonus.  Thank you so much for this Shirley  I will use this happily.  In case it isn't noticeable, this is a shallow, tray-type rounded board, covered with velvet, neatened with braid, very swisho.  It is so much more pleasing to the eye than my el cheapo beadmats!  I feel very lucky to receive this, as I always get into a mess with seed beads. 

Bead board designed by Shirley

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yesterday's Surprise!!!!

I finally made it to my patchwork group day yesterday.  We only had a few members present as the weather has been fairly miserable here of late.  As I was driving home, well, almost home, luckily I glanced off to the side, and noticed quite a lot of brolgas grazing in a paddock.  I was so excited.  I had to stop myself from slamming on the brakes.  It took me a while to stop, but I quietly backed up until I could see them better, and hoped they wouldn't take fright.  It was quite open, and they often don't take too kindly to be 'observed'.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these beautiful creatures as much I as I did.  My photographs are not the best, as I had to take them into the sun.  This is by far the largest amount I've seen together.  One of them was starting a dance, so I thought I'd better snap quickly and just go.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another First

At the moment I'm finding it quite difficult to focus on any one form of needlework.  The days are short, I have to draw the curtains in my stitching area, making the house dark and gloomy - you name an excuse I'll tick it.  However, I decided yesterday it was time to try a technique I first thought about over three years ago.  You have often heard me say I love bling, and I do.  I have all sorts of neck adornments, etc., some I've made myself.  I shall share a few in due course.  I discovered a necklace in an American Beading magazine that I thought would look great with winter sweaters, gathered all the goods together, and that's as far as it went until yesterday.  The main part of the necklace involves a technique called Ndebele or Herringbone weaving.  I think I've nailed the gist of it, and have made a little progress on what I hope will be a new addition to my wardrobe [perhaps next winter].  Much of the work is done with very small beads stitched together to form a square 'tube'.  That stitched tube is broken by two different sizes of beads in Dalmatian Jasper, a stone I really love.  The centre piece is a round donut shaped bead.  I am changing the design a little, as it involves two rows of tubing/beads, which I'm not quite sure I'll wear.  I think one strand with the donut at the centre will be my limit.

At times I've had an issue with the holes not being large enough to allow the necessary number of passes with the needle, and of course, a bead will break a little way back from where I am working.  It is not easy to unpick in order to do a repair, so I'm hoping the end result will be quite strong.  The seed beads are #11, all a matte finish.  The large ovals are quite heavy, so I have used a few smaller ones to give it a different look.  

I am thoroughly enjoying the process of weaving these beads into a tube.  I like using the black thread, as it adds a sort of shadow effect to the area where the cream beads are used.

As I've been working on some of these different crafts of late, I can't help but wonder about their origins and the people who first decided to pick up two sticks and some string and knit, or gather a few 'beads', some thread and start weaving.  Here we are with all our modern conveniences, and yet still find pleasure in the workings from the past.   

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chunky Knitting

I seem to have managed to catch a head cold, despite not having moved off the place for almost 16 days!!  I am not too bad, over the worst, but now have a silly little cough.  I wanted to keep busy, but really didn't feel inclined to work on anything too intricate or technical.  I knew I had some wooden coathangers stashed away somewhere, and plenty of remnants of checked fabric.  I like making these, as they are quick, simple, rustic, and require very little in the way of concentration, and effort.  I don't even pad the hanger before stitching up the length of knitting.

I make small cuts into the selvedge, 1" apart.  I then just rip the strips off one at a time, about 20 - 23, depending on the weight of the fabric.  There are eight stitches, and the knitting is simple garter stitch, using 10mm needles.  I don't even bother to cover the hooks, as these are mostly meant to be a little on the rustic side.  A little raffia tied in a bow seems to suffice.  These are always quite welcome by my family.

These are fun to make, and I hope they appeal to others.  I really must try some form of crochet with these strips...............

Give-Away Winner

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Kogin embroidered hand towel will be going to Kerrie.  Congratulations, and I find it amusing that, given my thoughts regarding the hand towel, etc., and Kerrie's living not too far from the ocean, the win is quite eerie - meant to be perhaps.  

Thank you all for your constant support.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Civil War Hexagons

I've had a busy few days again, and now have something to show for it!!  After talking, and thinking about machine pieced hexagons for ever so long, I finally decided I was going to 'master' this little exercise.  I know I'm not the first to do this, but I just don't have any patterns or anything concrete to work from.  I found a few photographs online, but in the end, used the grey matter, and forged on regardless.  Pictured above is the finished article.  Some of you may recognize the lovely fabrics in the patchwork.  These are the civil war prints I won a few months ago.  They came via a give-away from Frances   I have been waiting for an opportunity to use them.  I will try to share my method in the following paragraphs.

The first part of the exercise was cutting strips 1½" in width.  I had drawn a 2" hexagon on paper, then simply cut it in half from one point to the opposite.  It was then taped to my 60° ruler which gave me a good view of how to cut my pieces.  I then 'planned' my design.  The next step was to carefully stack each piece from each row, and stitch them together to form pieced strips.  These were eventually all stitched to form the patchwork ground. It was then ready to be appliqued and quilted.  For the body of the bag I used some old chambray I had in the cupboard.  The lining was a better piece of chambray.  I added some pockets for magazines and projects in progress.  I saw a bag similar to this in a Quilters' Companion magazine I purchased recently - it was submitted by Brigitte Giblin -  My shapes are a little different, and I had to improvise on the sizing to accommodate the difference.  I also added some fusible pelmet vilene to the chambray lining, so that the bag has sufficient body to stand up on it's own.  It does just that!!  Thankfully, I also had in my cupboard a set of wooden handles that seem to go reasonably well.  I am so totally over the moon with this way of piecing hexagons.  It's not for those who dislike machine piecing [and loads of pressing], but I found it interesting, and will work on a bigger hexagon for my next project.  I think I'd like to apply the technique to a scrap quilt [of sorts].  

I have also included a photograph showing the inside of the bag, complete with the makings for a scarf.  I still have 25 grams of the baby camel hair, and hope I can knit a thin, openwork scarf from this amount.  If I use larger needles and a loose pattern, I may just scrape through.

I do hope this project interests some readers.  It was fun to do, and it gave me an opportunity to do some machine stitching again - something I really haven't done since the Christmas napery sewing.  I finally had my machines serviced and they are both quite happy.

Thank you to those who have left a comment on the give-away.  I shall draw it in a few days.  I do have some emails from those who were unable to leave comments, so never fear, your names will not be forgotten.