Bead Weaving: A Love-Hate Relationship

Craftsy Class 5: Affinity Bracelet Variations
 


The second Affinity Bracelet variation uses 4mm crystals & hex-cut beads. Besides being entirely bead woven, it employs the technique of substituting a larger bead for two smaller ones in specific rows. As Claudia explains, one can always replace any two smaller beads with a larger one if the larger one is exactly twice as long and wide as the two smaller ones. Pretty cool concept if you think about it and it opens up a world of creative interpretation using a variety of beads. Of course now I can imagine obsessively trying to measure all kinds of itsy bitsy roll-y beads. (Thanks, Claudia). Then again, I suppose I can just eyeball them and hope for the best which is really much more my usual m.o. anyway. 

I admit to starting this project with a little trepidation. With all due respect to the fabulous bead weavers reading this (you know who you are. I won’t mention my fellow blogger, Brenda’s name here), I’m just not a big fan…not for myself, at least. Lots of blinding work weaving with microscopic beads and where’s the fiber anyway? By know you must know that I always need my beautiful fibers. For this reason, I predict that I will be more of a tapestry girl. I can’t wait to begin the Tapestry Cuff but I really must complete the lessons in their proper order and that one, sadly, is last.


Several missteps thwarted my initial attempts. I kept splitting the bead thread and piercing (or missing entirely) the warps. Very frustrating. The ability to count to six posed a problem as well. (Hey it was after 10PM when I started…first mistake). The other thing I learned about bead weaving is that you need amazingly good light. In fact, more light than I have in my entire house- at least at that late hour. Note to self: must save these projects for daylight hours only or suffer the consequences. Still, I forged ahead…straight through David Letterman. As Dave said goodnight, so did I. With a mere 16 bleary-eyed rows completed, I called it quits. “G’night folks,” as Dave says. Yeah, I’ll say.



Stealing some time from my lunch break the following day (who needs to eat anyway? Not me lately…but that’s an entirely different blog post topic), I took my loom outside and was able to finally make some serious progress. I really love how the beads line up in this pattern and my choice of lime green silk warp matches my green 4mm beads to perfection. (Almost like I planned it but we know better). The four row pattern repeat, as we knitters would call it, is an easy one to remember and after a short while comes quite naturally.



I find that the near-instant results seen in these bracelets are incredibly gratifying. Within a very short period of time, you’ve completed another little work of art. Fabulous!

As I’m beginning to expect from Mirrix, this bracelet has turned out to be another winner. This really is becoming addicting.

xxx, Karen

Thank goodness it’s over

It’s amazing how I fill my time, doing something with my hands. The forced rest was painful (in more ways than one)!. For the first time in years, I was bored!!! Yes, bored!! I played games, read, played more games. And I was still bored! It’s been a while since I’ve been stuck for what to do. The real issue is my hands were idle. I stopped ALL activity to really rest my hands. Luckily it paid off and a few days later I was back on the horse. I’ve never been happier to pick up a needle!

I’ve been spending time reweaving the warps on the purse. I even worked on it on the bus journey home from work. Once, a last sat near me was impressed by it. She asked to hold it and seemed to enjoy the feel!

Anyway, I finished reweaving the ends and started joining the sides. With this one, I decided on odd-count peyote for the join. I like the solidness and sturdiness it affords. I got an idea for the strap while searching online for Swarovski crystal beads and pendants. I’ll have to see the element in person so I can work out some measurements.

Joining the sides of the purse

The fringe design is still eluding me. If anyone has any ideas I’d be glad to hear them. There is something I saw, but think t would be too chunky. I’ll continue pondering on it, luckily there’s still a little time.

I’ll be starting the Nelson Mandela bracelet soon….or rather as soon as I empty the loom! So by Sunday it has to be freed up. I’ve got to buy one colour on Monday then I’ll be good to go. I shifted the pattern down so the face would sit in the middle (thanks Noreen). But I’ve yet to decide what to do with the blank area above. Perhaps a bead soup could work…..I’ll decide when I get to it.

I had a little shock when we got home from the beach on Sunday. My husband had cleared the ‘cloakroom’ and had put my violin in the corridor along with some other things that needed throwing away! It’s a good thing he didn’t do it that day, I would have been crying!! I’ve put it back where it was *sigh of relief*

So I have a lot of catching up to do. Hopefully Sunday I’ll be more up to date. Till then, have a good evening.

Gold, Gold Everywhere!

Craftsy Class 4: Gold Thread & Hex Bead Bracelet
If I thought I loved the hand painted silk floss introduced in Class 3, that was before I discovered this gold plated “wonder thread” in Class 4. What IS this fabulous stuff? Claudia describes it as a silk base with real gold fused to it. Whatever it is, it weaves up fabulously and really does in fact look like the real thing. That’s the good news. The bad news: Don’t let this happen to you:
Gold Thread…Before



Gold Thread…After



Really, I should have known better. After all the various yarns I’ve wound, skeined, unwound, untangled, got-so-frustrated-and-thrown-away, over the course of so many years, you’d think I would have done a better job with this one. And it’s not that I wasn’t prepared. “It’s got a mind of its own,” Claudia warns. Yep, it sure does. (It’s like letting a tightly wound spring out of a small box). And it surely is one of the finest threads I’ve ever encountered- it’s nearly invisible. So now I’m warning YOU: take your time and be patient with this stuff because it is all so worth it. Once you do get it wound and threaded on the needle, it’s a breeze to weave with. In fact it practically weaves itself. And it is also very forgiving as it fills itself in almost magically. Just be sure to keep those six plies together. As far as the hex beads are concerned, after using the larger size 8s for the Affinity Bracelets, these smaller beads seem a bit more challenging but you’ll see that it’s nothing unmanageable. Of course, I had to add my own personal spin to the finished product by adding a little bit of purple/pink mulberry silk between the gold and the beads. I kind of like it, what do you think?  



The finished bracelet



Weaving at the beach…the best of all possible worlds!



So, Class 4…Just stay calm, keep at it and you’ll get a truly beautiful result. And be prepared for lots of requests from friends for this one. It’s a stunner!
Now onto Class 5. See you there.
xxx, Karen

Oooh Claudia made gorgeous kits for the Soumak Pouches

Oooh, Claudia has made gorgeous kits for the Soumak Pouches!

Oh my word!
Claudia has outdone herself in making the kits for the Soumak pouches for the Weave Along in September:

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Aren’t the  colors and textures gorgeous?
I just went and picked up the text from this page: LINK

If you’re a weave-along 8 participant get $10.oo off this kit with discount code:   weavealong8
This package goes with our Weave-Along 8 hosted by Noreen Crone-Findlay.

Learn more about the weave-along and sign-up here today.

Kit Includes:
-30 yards of 10 each of ten colors of  wool/mohair yarn
-12 x 6 piece of silk for lining
-A semi precious stone for a clasp
-100 gram tube of Navajo Wool Warp
*Please note, this kit does not come with fiber for the edging or a kumihimo kit to make one.
The kit can be purchased separately.
You will have 4 options for making the edging cord for the pouches: 
1- A beaded peyote stitch tubular cord.  If you want to make your cord with beads, be sure to add beads to your shopping list.  Either #8 or #11 work fine, depending on what your favorite size is. I used the #11.
You can order them from Claudia when you order the kumihimo kit and the pouch kit. 
By the way, you will be able to weave more than one pouch from the kit.
OR:
2- A kumihimo cord. You can order it from the link above.
OR:
3- A spool knitted cord.  LINK for the ordering information.
OR:
4- A twisted cord. I’ll be showing you how to make a twisted cord with a spool and a crochet hook.
I am rubbing my hands together in delight, as I am having a wonderful time working on a ton of videos to make the Weave Along really fun and super user friendly.
There is a mountain of information, so I am breaking it all down into bites that make sense and are easy to refer to when questions come up.
Happy Weaving!
Noreen



Mirrix Goes to Montauk

As it happens, my Mirrix loom arrived the day prior to our little holiday in Montauk. (I know you’ve heard of Montauk Point. You know, at the very tip of Long Island, NY?)  Well, I couldn’t leave her home alone, now could I? Certainly not with all that fabulous fiber haunting me from afar. So, unbeknownst to the family, I sneakily stuffed her into yet another canvas bag and she made the two hour trip to the beach. Here she is on the deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean looking rather majestic, don’t you think?

Craftsy Class: Introduction & Looms

Claudia’s introduction, besides doing a great job of whetting one’s appetite, speaks for itself. Not much need for comment, I believe. The second “lesson” concerning various looms is significant particularly if you are not yet fortunate enough to own a Mirrix. (Notice I say yet. Don’t worry, you will). Prior to receiving the Mirrix, I fiddled with both a $10 craft-store seed bead loom as well as my Cricket, both with excellent results. They really do weave beautiful bracelets. However, tensioning problems as well as awkward warping renders them less than perfect. Learning to warp a Mirrix is a snap and the tensioning is a dream. I think the Volkswagen/ Mercedes analogy applies here; there’s simply no comparison. If you can, by all means, get a Mirrix!
  
Craftsy Class Lesson: The Silk and Bead Affinity Bracelet

I have a thing for silk… always have. It is by far my favorite fiber to work with, be it knitting, crochet, sewing or weaving. I love the tiny little crunch it makes when you fondle it which I confess I do. The vibrant colors that Claudia has created make all the difference in the final product, I can assure you. Not wanting to waste the precious silk, I practiced my first few Affinity Bracelets using lesser fibers- some pedestrian embroidery floss and even some commercially dyed silk floss. I can tell you that they can’t compare to the subtle color variations of Mirrix hand painted silk. (Pssst, Claudia, have you considered offering a silk dyeing workshop? Hint hint.)

I wish I could write about some problem or difficulty that I encountered while attempting to weave but honestly, it is so simple and enjoyable that I cannot find anything to critique. Ok, my selvedges are less than perfect and I probably could use a pair of magnifying glasses to thread that blasted bead needle but that’s about it. Come to think of it, I’m not crazy about that peyote stitch yet either but I’m sure that will improve with more experience. Heaven knows, I’ve got a long way to go.

When one chooses to forego an afternoon at the beach in order to stay back to weave, I think that’s really saying something. Here are my results. Whaddaya think? Not bad, eh.

xxx, Karen

Hello, Gorgeous!


For those of you too young to remember, this is precisely what Barbra Streisand uttered upon being handed her first Oscar statuette after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress. (I won’t embarrass myself by revealing the year…perhaps you remember? Don’t worry, I won’t tell.)


Whatever does this have to do with weaving, you might ask? Well, if you’ve ever had the joy of setting eyes upon your first Mirrix loom, this will pretty much be your response. It was surely mine last evening when I opened my glorious and much-anticipated package from Mirrix. And although I’ve certainly seen enough photos and videos of them, to hold a Mirrix Loom in my very own hands is quite a different experience. Trust me, they’re absolutely gorgeous.

To back up a little…I must admit to my surprise upon learning that I had won the Social Market for a Craftsy Class contest. After all, I’m certainly not much of a weaver. And although I’ve woven a fair share of some lovely yet rather simple items on my Ashford and Cricket rigid heddle looms and even on a ginormous 7 foot triangle loom, until recently I had never heard of Mirrix Looms. I am however a Very…Serious…Knitter, having owned two different yarn shops over the last twenty years. During this time, I have taught untold numbers of classes to countless students of all levels and have blogged about the trials and tribulations of owning one’s own knitting shop. Just two years ago, after selling my most recent beloved yet truly exhausting yarn shop, I was fortunate to land my dream job as the Marketing Manager at Knitting Fever. Perhaps you’ve heard of us? We are the nation’s largest importer and distributor of many fine yarn brands including Noro, Katia and Debbie Bliss. In this position, not only do I design knitting patterns but I often get to help develop the actual new yarns that will be brought to market each season. Very exciting stuff, I can assure you. So, if there is anything I do know fairly well, it is fiber.

Enter Claudia’s Craftsy class, Bead & Tapestry Cuffs. Upon first discovering it, it appealed to me immediately. Naturally, I was captivated by the unique fibers used in the Affinity Bracelets and of course, the magnificent Bead & Tapestry Cuff. Just one quick glance at the extravagant materials shown in the class promo, I knew I was hooked. Hand-dyed silk, golden threads and beads of all sizes and shapes. (Be still, my beating heart!) But I am getting ahead of myself…I must first finish opening this fabulous Mirrix package because there are LOTS more goodies in here to unearth. Stay with me while we embark on a fascinating, fiber-filled weaving adventure, won’t you?                        

 xxx, Karen



Feel the pain and stop

Ive developed some stiffness in my right hand. I’m not sure if it’s from weaving or just work and life in general. I don’t really feel it unless I go to make a fist, stretch my fingers out or scratch!. It hasn’t stopped me weaving. But what has is a recurring problem with the area beneath my thumb. I developed something like carpal tunnel syndrome shortly after the birth of my first child. I have since had it on and off. However, I noticed earlier this year that if I weave too much or for long periods at a time, I get pain in my thumb which travels downwards. No twinges or discomfort in the wrist, it’s all in the thumb and the surrounding area. If I ignore it, it does become a nuisance so I have learnt to stop pretty much as soon as I feel any twinges. I bought this thumb splint which helps. But it’s hard to wear it and weave – particularly if the metal is still in there. It’s hard to get my hand behind the warps without slowly slotting it in – that just ruins my rhythm and becomes cumbersome! So I’ll have to wait a day or two before I can do any more.

Anyway, having waffled on about why I can’t weave, here is my progress so far. Not much has been done on the bracelet on the right. With the blues bracelet, I decided it would be easier to weave the pearls into the design once the sides are done. So now it’s moving quicker and should hopefully be done soon, fingers crossed.

I’ve also made progress on the strip for the side of the violin. It’s looking very pretty if I say so. I think I may also make some curtain ties using some of the designs but in different colours to suit the decor of the sitting room. I wanted to try advancing warps but it won’t work because I started weaving at the top rather than the bottom. So that will be left for another time.

I’m thinking they would look nice as a camera strap as well. I think I’ll make one for my brother, a nice surprise :)

Since I can’t weave, I’ll have to try and come up with some more designs! But hopefully I can show some progress by the weekend. Have a great evening!

Chalkboards are low tech dandy design tools

Chalkboards are low tech dandy design tools

Sometimes, I get stuck in the design process.
That’s when I need to give myself nudges that break up the mental and emotional constriction that is keeping me from moving forward in a project.
And, so, I reach for some of my favorite tools that help me to see things differently.
My chalkboards and chalk.

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Eh? as we say in Canada :)
Really!  A chalkboard is a fabulous tool for knocking the design blechs sideways!
I have wondered about why they work so well for me and I think that there are a couple of reasons.
The first is that white chalk on a black surface reverses the way I normally see things when I am drawing.
This is invaluable, because it clears the deck of any pre-conceived notions that I had about sketching.
It’s like working with negatives instead of photographs. You really do see things differently.
And, if you are stuck, then that is really helpful!
The second reason why I love chalkboards so much is that drawing on a chalkboard is so playful.
There’s a real feeling of ‘little kid’-ness to them that is definitely very freeing.
You know that it’s not permanent… it’s just a bit of dust on black paint … so wheee…… draw, draw, draw!
If you don’t like it…. whoosh whoosh, wipe it off and it’s gone.
If only the rest of life were so easy!
AND… if you do like it, then grab a piece of paper and a pencil and copy the sketch onto the somewhat more permanent surface.
How did I get such a neat shape chalkboard?
Easy.
I drew the shape on masonite, cut it out and painted it with several coats of chalkboard paint from the hardware store.
I even like the scritchy sound the chalk makes when I am drawing.
Low tech is often a wonderful way of opening the doorways to creativity and imagination.
Try it…. you might like it :D
Happy sketching and chalky drawing!
Noreen
PS: Anne, who is one of my online friends in the Mirrix facebook group suggested that you take pics of your favorite sketches and load them into your paint or bead making programs.  I don’t use those programs, so it didn’t occur to me. 
Anne’s suggestion also reminded me that I do take ‘archival’ photos of some of the sketches that I really like… sorry… I completely forgot to mention that!  Thanks for the reminder, Anne! :)

A lightbulb moment

It’s amazing what a bit of time away from something can make it ‘click’ when you get to trying it again! I felt this way the first time I tried tatting. I just couldn’t get the knots to sit correctly. There was a lot of pulling hair (figuratively speaking of course), throwing the shuttles down in frustration, and scissor action! I put it away after being brought to the brink of tears of frustration. A short while later, having refused to be beaten, I tried again. AND SUCCEEDED! I don’t know why or how, but it clicked.

So, I felt (almost) the very same thing when I first tried loom bead weaving with the shedding device. The first two rows were okay, but it was downhill from then on! I followed the instructions – specifically a Mirrix video on YouTube – but it just didn’t seem to be working! I didn’t want to up the frustration level so decided to just leave it for another time.

My loom is empty since I cut off the panel for the purse, so I thought I’d try loom bead weaving with the shedding device again. This time, I used double delicas (size 8), with Nymo for the weft and top stitch thread for the warps. I figured it would be easier to do with larger beads. So I set to warping, getting the shedding device and the heddles on with ease. I watched a recent video that concentrated on the weaving part, and wove as followed it. And guess what, it WORKED!!!! The beads were going into their spaces nicely, and there were none out of place at all!!!!! It’s just a sample, so I’ll have to try it on a ‘proper’ project before I give a full review!

So I cut the sample off quite quickly and was once again left looking at a naked loom! I thought I’d make a start n the patterns I designed for the side of the violin. I made the mistake of taking out my stash of delicas and other beads. I ended up having three projects I wanted to work on. So I warped the loom for three. Here is what WAS on the loom up until this afternoon.

I’m not entirely happy with the middle bracelet, but someone likes it so I’ll finish it and give it to them. I wasn’t happy with the bracelet on the right, so I undid it and changed the deign entirely. There is an element still to be added. This will be done when it’s been cut off the loom as I think that will be easier.

I’m absolutely loving the design for the side of the violin. I also drew these up, and will loom them eventually as well. Hopefully they all look s good!

If you’re still awake after reading this, thank you for doing so, and I hope you enjoy! Happy beading, and enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

Mirrix Loom Weave Along Soumak Pouch- 2- Looms, tools, equipment

Mirrix Loom Weave Along # 8 -Soumak Pouch- 2- Looms, tools, equipment

This is the second ‘Prelude Post’ for the Mirrix Loom Weave Along for the Soumak Pouch.
The pouches are perfect for both business cards:

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or for cellphones:
My cellphone is one of the smaller, lower tech ones  [4inches tall, 2 inches wide, 5/8 inch thick] if yours is larger, then you will want to upsize your pouch, if your pouch is going to be a cellphone pouch.

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Alright… now onto the gathering up of tools and equipment:
First of all, you need a loom:

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Most of the photos and videos for the weave along will feature my 8 inch Lani Mirrix loom. (Although I have ordered a Mini and a Little Guy, so hopefully, they will arrive soon, so I can use them in the photos and videos, too.)
The pouch can also be woven on any of the larger Mirrix looms as well- if you are using one of the smaller Mirrix looms, then warp up one pouch at a time. If you are using one of the larger looms, then you can warp and weave 2 pouches at the same time.
Even if you don’t have a Mirrix loom, please feel welcome to join in the Weave Along.
As long as you have a loom that you can get good tight tension on it, then you will be able to weave the pouches.

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You will also need: A steam iron, a pressing cloth, a good source of light, pencil crayons or watercolors or some other way of coloring your preliminary pattern colorways, 2 clothespins, scissors, needle and thread for finishing, snap fastener and a swivel clip, you’ll also need paper for tracing out your patterns and trying out different color schemes.

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Knitting needles and crochet hooks are very helpful, and  a loop turning tool is  handy (I bought mine at my local fabric store),  a piece of cardboard that is 10 inches tall by 3 inches wide (25 cm tall by 7.5 cm wide),  a weaving stick, small paper clamps, a fork or beater, a hole punch, at least a yard of firm yarn or cord, clear tape (packing tape works well); a black fine tip permanent marker

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You’ll need rods for the top and lower edge of the weaving: 6 inch (15 cm) tent pegs or 6 inch (15 cm) lengths of steel or brass rods 1/8 inch in diameter (I bought a 36 inch long one at the hardware store and cut it to 6 inch lengths with a hacksaw);  velcro straps (I bought mine from Lee Valley:  Link‘S’ HOOKS: 25  “S” hooks, either 7/8 inch or 1 inch- opened or closed :[ I had a huge 'AHA' when I bought closed 'S' hooks.... having one end closed is just GREAT... so if you buy closed 'S' hooks, open one end with pliers.  If you buy open 'S' hooks, squeeze one of the ends closed. Having the closed end keeps the 'S' hooks on the rod.  :) ] ; 1/4 inch Washers: 54 in total; 1 or 2 pairs of pliers for adjusting the ‘S’ hooks; ruler and tape measure.

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Some of these things have shown up in other photos, so I won’t list them again, but the other things are:  A small bowl for holding pins, needles, clamps etc;  a bag or box to store and transport the project (that’s Tottie Tomato’s knitting bag); chopsticks are very handy for several things  besides your Pad Thai :)

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You will need at least 5 or 6 blunt tapestry or craft or darning needles. It’s handy to have a needlebook or tin, or cardboard tube or eyeglass case to store them in.

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To line the pouch: Fabric (I upcycled one of my son’s abandoned t shirts for the lining of the first 4 bags), scissors, pins, needle and thread, snap fastener: I used the 15 mm size.

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To make the edging cord: A kumihimo kit (the cd is a stand in as I haven’t received mine yet) available from Mirrix: LINK
OR a spool knitter: Lion Brand: LINK
or Harrisville:  LINK

CHECKLIST at a glance:

- Loom

- steam iron
- pressing cloth
-a good source of light
- pencil crayons or watercolors or some other way of coloring your preliminary pattern colorways
- paper for tracing out your patterns and trying out different color schemes
- 2 clothespins
-scissors
-needle and thread for finishing
-snap fastener 15 mm size

-swivel snap hook (optional)
-knitting needles & crochet hooks
-Optional:  a loop turning tool is  handy
-a piece of cardboard that is 10 inches tall by 3 inches wide (25 cm tall by 7.5 cm wide)
-  a weaving stick
- small paper clamps
-a fork or beater
-a hole punch
-at least a yard of firm yarn or cord
-clear tape (packing tape works well)
-a black fine tip permanent marker
-Rods for the top and lower edge of the weaving: 6 inch (15 cm) tent pegs or 6 inch (15 cm) lengths of steel or brass rods 1/8 inch in diameter
-velcro straps   Link
-‘S’ HOOKS: 25  “S” hooks, either 7/8 inch or 1 inch- opened or closed 
1/4 inch Washers: 54 in total
-1 or 2 pairs of pliers for adjusting the ‘S’ hooks
-ruler and tape measure
- small bowl for holding pins, needles, clamps etc
- a bag or box to store and transport the project
- chopstick (optional)

- At least 5 or 6 blunt tapestry or craft or darning needles and a needlebook or tin, or cardboard tube or eyeglass case to store them in.
-Lining fabric
- Straight pins

-kumihimo kit  OR a spool knitter
-any other embellishments, beads, buttons, charms or found objects that you wish to use.
Happy Weaving!
:) Noreen