Friday, November 01, 2013

time2cre8 ... going UnderCover

No, I'm not becoming a spy...  I've just gotten carried away creating more of my UnderCover series of bead crochet necklaces.

I made the first of these pieces early in the year, and since then I've made six or seven more.  They've been in a bunch of different colors, and a few in different lengths, but all with the thing that gives them their name:  the magnetic clasp is hidden underneath two peyote tubes that wind up looking like a pendant when the closure is worn in the front.

For some reason, I had the urge to make more of these in the past couple of weeks.  It started with that dark steel colored one; and then I saw those copper lined hex beads and thought they'd make a pretty necklace; then came the multicolor one, which is also made with metallic lined beads (this is the first I've done using more than one color); and finally, what could be prettier than matte metallic silver?

Do you do this?  Get on a roll making one thing and just keep creating variations?  I think it's fun to see just how different pieces can look when they're made in different colors.  And Miyuki helps us with this, giving us hundreds and hundreds of Delicas from which to choose!  :-) 

Monday, September 16, 2013

time2cre8 ... A Wonky Bead Lariat

If you're at all like me, you probably miss a good number of your friends' and acquaintances' posts on Facebook.  I try to keep up with them, but it's nearly impossible with the massive list of friends I have (most of whom I've never met, but we share a common art form - beadweaving).

One post that happened to catch my eye was by Kristi Bowman, the polymer clay artist behind KristiBowmanDesign on Etsy.  Kristi had created a new batch of polymer clay beads and posted pictures of several sets of them.  I think what attracted me to the post was that she had called them "wonky beads."  How could you possibly resist reading a post about wonky beads?

Her post was all about doing a Wonky Bead Blog Hop, with each participant purchasing one set of the wonky beads and using them in a project.  There were several sets of the beads available; you can see some of them on her original post.

I decided it would be fun to do, and today's the reveal!

As you can see, I opted to track down some of my Czech seed beads with their beautiful picasso finish to coordinate with the beads.  After finding the perfect beads in my stash, I crocheted a rope that's a blend of the three colors -- mostly taupe/brown with sprinkles of turquoise and dark red.

Head over to Kristi's blog to visit the other participants' blogs and see what they did with their wonky beads!  :-)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

time2cre8 ... a piece of Pi

When inspiration strikes, do you follow?

I don't always, but sometimes an idea takes hold and won't let go.  Last night we were watching a movie, Life of Pi.  I hadn't read or seen much about it, other than noticing that it received some attention at the Oscars, so we didn't know what to expect.  I wound up really liking the movie, but something in the back of my mind kept saying... "What if you did something with pi?"

Actually, I already had one idea about combining Pi with beads, a couple of years ago.  The result of that idea is this Piece of Pi bracelet I made using square stitch.

Knowing that there's no real "pattern" to the number sequence in Pi, it still made me wonder what would happen if I strung beads using Pi as the stringing sequence and then crocheted them.  Hmmm.

And so it began.  My first thought was to create a bead crochet rope using black and white beads, just alternating the colors for each number.  I'd even thought out using a bead of a different color for the decimal.  And that all worked -- until I hit the first zero in the sequence.  Naturally, I chose red to represent the zeros; and I was off and counting.  Thanks to the interwebs, it was no problem finding sites about the numerical sequence in Pi, so I printed off the numbers from a site that has Pi to 10,000 digits.

After about an hour of counting and stringing, I have approximately 18' of beads on my thread.  This is Pi to 1000 digits.

As I was stringing the beads for this rope, I started thinking about other ways I could do the stringing...  I could assign a specific color to each number and string beads of all different colors.  Or, I could assign different shades of the same color (say, all shades of blue) and string a monochromatic Pi.  Just imagine the difference between stringing one bead to represent each color and stringing multiple colored beads to represent each number (for example, 3 red, 1 blue, 4 green, etc.).

I was so anxious to see how this would look that I couldn't wait to start crocheting.  I chose to use six beads around (and if you know bead crochet at all, you realize that changing the number of beads around would drastically change the look of the rope), and as the rope developed I started to see bits of what look like patterns.  Not really patterns, but it definitely looks different than a rope that's strung in truly random order.  To me, it kind of looks like birch bark.

Those strings you see at the ends of the rope aren't part of the design...  I'm just trying to figure out how I want to finish this off.  Using an invisible join, one of my favorite ways to finish bead crochet ropes, seems wrong somehow -- that would mean that the 1000th digit of pi is connected to the first digit.  Nope, can't do that.  And I don't want to hide the ends of the rope under bead caps because then all the digits wouldn't be visible.  I'm still thinking about it (any suggestions?).


I'm not the only one who decided to combine beads with Pi.  A friend of mine, Lidia, recently finished work on a loomed bracelet whose colors are mapped to the numbers in Pi.  One really interesting coincidence in our both coming up with Pi ideas?  We share the same birthday, February 28, so we're both PIsces.  Funny, right?  :-)

She's graciously given permission for me to post a picture of her bracelet here so you can see it.  Yes, she even says it looks a bit like bead soup; but when she wears it she knows that it's really a representation of pi and not soup at all.

Lidia's bracelet was woven on a loom (as opposed to what I do most often, off-loom weaving using peyote stitch).  She said it actually took longer for her to map out the graph than it did to do the actual looming!  I can see why...

So what now?  I think there will definitely be another version or two of pi for me.  I'm not sure when, but the idea's still churning around in my head, and I have another copy of the digits printed so I'll be all set.  Maybe this time I'll make a rope using Delicas.

Friday, August 16, 2013

time2cre8 ... Pickled Beets

I'll bet you thought I was going to say something about beads...  That's usually the case, but since we moved into our new house this year and planted a pretty good-sized garden, we've been inundated with veggies.

Specifically, zucchini the size of baseball bats, piles of green beans, a few peas (they didn't do very well), a few green peppers, loads of tomatoes, and gobs of cucumbers.  And beets.

Because everything was planted at the same time, it all ripened at the same time, and I've ventured into the world of canning -- the thought being that it would be better to start off canning stuff rather than investing a few hundred dollars in a freezer (that may come next year, though).

Just look at all these zucchini and cucumbers!

My only experience in canning foods was many many years ago, and I was a mere spectator.  Oh, I helped string and break beans, but I wasn't allowed near the canning apparatus (that was for the experts).

I did a little reading in some of the recipe books I have, and I even found a recipe on Pinterest for refrigerator pickles -- they're quite good, but because of the way they're made they only last for a couple of weeks.

When I realized the beets were ready to pull, I enlisted the help of a neighbor who does a LOT of canning.  We'd been to our neighbors' house and sampled their pickled beets, and they were delicious.  She offered up her help and her kitchen, and we drove up there with our freshly-pulled-up beets (with all but about 3" of the tops cut off and the roots intact to keep them from "bleeding out"), giant pots, vinegar, sugar, spices, and jars.

The process was relatively easy.  Even for beginners.  Because the beets are pickled, there's no need for a pressure cooker.  It's just a few steps:

1.  Clean the beets thoroughly.  Don't brush or scrub them so the skin doesn't get damaged.  Make sure to leave 2" to 3" of the tops and the entire root intact.

2.  Add beets to boiling water and boil for about 35 minutes.  They're ready when the skin starts to "slip", the sign that they can be peeled easily.

3.  Take beets out of boiling water and put into a cold water bath.  Cut off the tops and the roots, and peel them.  The peels should slide right off (although you might have to coax them with a knife).  Cut them into 1" or so chunks or into slices (we opted for chunks).

4.  In a big pot, add 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts white sugar, 1 part water, and pickling spice.  For our recipe we used 3 cups of vinegar, 1-1/2 cups of white sugar, and half a bottle of McCormick's pickling spice.  The pickling spice was poured into a coffee filter and tied up, since we didn't want to wind up with spice floating around in the liquid.  We just kind of guessed at how much liquid to make, just trying to make sure we had enough to fill all the jars so the beets were immersed in liquid.

5.  Bring all of that to a boil, then add the cut up beets.  Bring back to a boil, and boil for five minutes.  (Here they are, cooking away -- isn't that a great color?)

While all of that is going on, the jars and lids are being prepared.  The jars are already clean, so they're sitting in a pan of boiling water, tops down, to keep them hot and keep the tops of them sterile.

6.  Take a jar from the pan, and using a canning funnel, fill it to about 1/2" from the brim with beets.  Add liquid to about 1/4" from the brim, then wipe the edge of the jar to make sure it's clean.  Add the lid and the ring, then set the jar aside to cool (we set them on a towel, since we wanted them to cool evenly).

A little while later, you should hear the lids start to pop as they seal (if some don't seal, put them in the fridge and eat them within a couple of weeks -- all of ours sealed successfully).

Bada bing - bada boom -- pickled beets!  THEY'RE YUMMY!  (And they're good for you too, but mostly they're yummy.)

After the pickled beet canning, I moved the operation back home and canned some bread and butter pickles and some green beans.  The giant zucchini were peeled, seeded, and grated so they could be stored in Ziploc bags for future zucchini bread.

And soon the garden will have more veggies for us...  :-)


Saturday, August 03, 2013

time2cre8 a Patchwork Peyote Bracelet

I've lost track of how many patchwork peyote bracelets I've made.  Each one has its own personality, from the very first multicolor one (the one most reminiscent of my grandmother's quilts) to one of the most recent metallic multicolor one that I named Not Your Grandma's Patchwork.

Mamaw's Patchwork Quilt...
photographed on one of my grandmother's handmade quilts, a piece I've treasured for many many years.

The metallic delicas have always been some of my favorites, and I came up with this bracelet after playing around with some of them for another project (do you do that?  I often think of a new project while I'm in the middle of working on something.).

Not Your Grandma's Patchwork
I've been asked numerous times to publish a pattern for these, and I just keep putting it off.  But I think I'm finally about to do it!

Oddly enough, writing the pattern for one of these patchwork designs is proving more of a challenge than for some of my other designs, simply because I've never done one of these from a pattern.  So I'll be working backwards to write the pattern -- making the bracelet first and then mapping the colors.

I just received an order for one of the Not Your Grandma's Patchwork bracelets in my new OpenSky shop, so I'll have a fresh bracelet to use as the model.  If you're on OpenSky, follow me and give some love to some of my listings!  If you're not on there yet, you can click this link and sign up (there are some really cool things on the site):

Saturday, July 20, 2013

time2cre8 for the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop

I've always admitted to being a bead hoarder.  And it appears I'm not alone, as more than 100 participants signed up for Lori's Bead Hoarders Blog Hop.

As always, I started out with the best of intentions:  Use up a bunch of those beautiful beads I've collected over the past seven or eight years.  And as always, it seems, something gets in the way of my best intentions and I don't get nearly as far along as I expected.

Nevertheless, I did finish a couple of pieces and used a few beads.  The first project is a diminutive little necklace that features a pretty clay focal that's been in my stash for at least five years.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't remember who made this piece (so if you know, or if it was you, please leave me a comment!).  But it's a pretty embellished square in a beautiful olive tone with a hint of turquoise.  To highlight it, I decided to make an ndebele rope using colors that are found in the focal.  The rope, although twisted, also has a square shape.  I think they go together wonderfully!

The second piece I made actually serves two purposes...  Use a few beads from my stash, and finish off a UFO (UnFinished Object) from my pile of unfinished pieces.  :-)  This bead crochet rope was just screaming to have a collection of lampwork beads added to each end.  The rope is about six feet long, made from a mix of Czech glass seed beads in shades of gray and silver, so the beads I chose for the ends are in the same colors.

I think I need another blog hop challenge to get me to use up more of my bead stash!  Maybe the next time I'll get to use more -- this challenge was interrupted by a trip out of town to visit relatives.  At least that's the excuse I'm going with.  :-)

** Please visit Lori's blog to see more of the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop!.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

And After Ten Months...

Ten months?  Really?

Yes, that's how long it's been since I wrote a blog post.  And as you would imagine, a lot has happened in ten months.

  • We finished building our house and moved in.  Our first night in the new house was January 1, which somehow seems fitting.  There's still a lot to be done, as we have trim to put up, a shower to tile, windows and doors to polyurethane, another deck to build, and a massive amount of yardwork to do.   But it's awesome being here!  :-)
  • I opened another Etsy shop, so my Captioned Critters and other stationery goodies will have a place to live.  I missed the critters.  The new shop is
  • Countless new pieces of beadwoven jewelry have been created and listed, and quite a few sold, in my Etsy shop
  • Lots of new peyote and bead crochet patterns have been published and/or are in the works.  I now have help from Alicia Hartley, who's doing a lot of beadweaving so I can get new designs out faster.
I'm sure there's more.  But as usual, once I sit down to write about it I can't think of anything.  I really ought to take notes...

One new thing that's coming up:  I've signed up to participate in the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop, which I'm using as incentive to incorporate some of the beautiful art beads I've amassed into some new pieces.  One of the requirements of participating is that I have to post pictures on my blog on July 20.  So at the very least there will be two posts this month in this sorely neglected blog!  LOL


My plan (which is more of a dream, really) is to make more frequent, more interesting posts here.  We'll see if I can follow through.