To frog or not to frog

It’s been one of ‘those weeks’. The type where life gets in the way. On top of that, my beading mojo did a disappearing act on me! So I was left with no motivation, despite working on something nice and exciting. I normally force myself to work on the project and find it comes back. This time i just couldnt! I managed to pull myself out of the funk on Tuesday. I was all set up and ready to go (it takes about 5 minutes for me to lay out the beads), but children got in the way. By the time I thought about starting, it was too late to get any decent weaving time in! So, I (dishearteningly) spent another 5 minutes putting the beads away. The next day was a work day so any chance of doing something was out the window.

It came to Thursday and I was DETERMINED I would do some looming. I set myself up (5 minutes once again!), then took the children outside for a while. As soon as I got the chance, I made a start! The excitement was starting to build as I’m now coming up to the face.

Now, I have done a little bit of (on-loom) editing while weaving the upper rows of the hand. There was one particular colour used below, which I felt didn’t work. So I removed it in the last rows of the hand, and it seems to look ok. I thoughts about editing the neck colour as well, but ran scared. I find the colour stands out too much against the surrounding area. I’m debating whether to undo all those lines and use a softer colour….if it were you, what would you do?!

Getting there

Today, I spent the morning having my hair done. I did some crochet and now my thumb is sore. So I can’t (shouldn’t) do any looming today. That would just aggravate it. I can wear thumb support but it’s difficult to work with it on. I’ll just finish my book and prepare for the coming week – the face(s) appearing, WOO!!

The next time, you’ll be seeing whether I decided to go reverse and change the neck colour, or left it and moved on! Enjoy the remainder of your weekend and happy reading :)

Creating a pattern from a photo

I was asked to create a bracelet from a photo of the great Nelson Mandela. I was able to find a very good photo. Although the file size (and quality) isn’t ideal, it will work.
When creating patterns from photos, I tend to use BeadCreator. If it’s in black & white, I may also use BeadTool. My first step is always to convert the photo before doing any editing.
BeadCreator comes with 3 palettes, including the Miyuki delica size 11 (my choice of beads for all looming). It’s advisable to edit the colours so they look as close to real life as possible, but you can also create your own palette(s). I saved the available palette so that all silk delicas are excluded.
Once you’ve chosen your palette, you have to decide what size you want the (entire) pattern to be. This step is always trial and error for me. I enter a size, click Apply, and see how it looks. For this one, I started with a width of 6”, which didn’t give me the detail I needed for the face. 8.5” gives me good detail, and I could go wider on this cuff, so it suited my needs.

Next I remove unwanted columns and/or rows, and reduce the colour count. The original had 156 colours! I cut it down to 35, resulting in this:



It’s not bad but I want the face to be more distinguished from the background. So, in Photoshop, I darkened the background area surrounding the head and shoulders. I also lightened the face, hands and jacket a little. I re-converted, and ended up with this:

The difference between this and the original may not be obvious, but is there nonetheless. For the final conversion, I increased brightness, decreased saturation, and also altered the hue slightly. It’s ok, but perhaps a little too light in the face.
So you can see my photo conversions are a matter of trial and error. I will first convert the original then play with it in Photoshop. What I alter/edit depends on the result in BeadCreator, and also what I think may help. I normally save several versions of the patterns, particularly the full colour pattern. 
I’ll show you how this turns out when I eventually start looming it – hopefully in about two weeks.  Tomorrow I have to try and squeeze in some looming time so I can free it up for the next projects.
Happy beading and enjoy your weekend.

Two needle method for beading on the loom

As you probably know, the usual method of bead looming is to tie a length of weft to the edge warp then load your beads, and pass through them from the top. That’s how I started, and the only way I knew. Until someone introduced me to the two needle method. 

In this branch, there are two methods. In one, the needles move in opposite directions. In the other, they move in the same direction. Since discovering these, I use then (mainly the former) 99.999% of the time. That obviously tells you I prefer them! I can work with a longer length of thread, skip beads less often (not that I did much previously), and seem to add new thread less often. 

The latter method, where the needles move in the same direction, is very useful when you’re working an area of the same colour. You just load one half of the weft with beads and go on your merry way. This advantage is best seen with wider pieces. I used it in one of my previous portraits for the background. I got tired of counting, and loading using the bead spinner then having to remove some!

So on that note, here is my second video. I try and explain the first of the two methods, including a few close up pictures. I hope it’s clear enough and gets your interest. I don’t think these methods are talked about much, at least not as far as I’ve seen.

If you have questions, contact me through the blog. 

I mentioned the bead spinner above. I had the lightbulb moment (I’m sure I’m not the first) when I was working on that background. Imagine counting out 150+ beads of one colour, a shiny white. Yes, you can see the concentration wondering! So, if you have a bead spinner and are working in one colour, think about dustin off those cobwebs :)

Lastly, I found a way to work on the Mirrix in a horizontal position. Just pull out the legs and place the clips behind the loom. Bobs your uncle! I’ll edit this tomorrow and post the photo. 

In the meantime, stay well and happy reading.

Getting to the good part!

The plan for yesterday included looming in the afternoon or evening. By the time I was done with shopping, cooking, washing and getting a packed lunch ready, it was too late to get in a decent amount. I was also tired – more probe to mistakes and redoing rows several times over!

With the purse on the loom (Mirrix), I’m working with 37 colours. The setup looks like below. It takes about 3-4 minutes to get all the colours laid out in order (lowest to highest DB number), and put away when I’m finished. I have been using this setup for a while, and it works for me. 5 colours in each row numbered from 1 to 9 then A and up. I’ve used it enough to memorise which letter or number is at the start of each row. I don’t need to count very often I’m so used to it.

When I first worked with two mats worth of colours, I stuck a piece of paper to the wall in front. It just had the start number/letter for each row, serving as a reminder. The getting out/putting away can be tiresome, so I need to think of a way to store them so they’re ready to be used without too much faffing around! I’ll have to think about that a bit more.

setup

I have done two things with this. The first, and new, is to loom from the bottom up. I didn’t reverse the rows in the word chart so I’m reading from the bottom up! I haven’t confused any rows yet so that’s good. But I think I prefer to work top down. I guess that’s what I’m used to. The second is I worked those first rows with a single needle (usual method of looming). I normally use the two-needle method regardless of whether I’m working on a bracelet or wider piece. The needles travel in opposite directions.

There is another where the needless travel in the same direction. That is very useful for areas of solid colour. You can load beads onto one half of the weft, and use the other end to pass through to secure them. The advantage is being able to use a longer length of thread without fear of it becoming tangled. I also seem to add thread less often. it’s better seen so I’ll try and show it in my next YouTube video.

On that note, here is the progress. That’s a hand appearing on the left! The excitement starts now! There’s one colour I need more of, so don’t know how much I’ll be able to loom tomorrow. I’m getting more on Wednesday so can continue soon.

Till next time, happy beading :)

Which would you choose?

It seems a habit to collect more patterns than I can bead. I like this one. Oh but wait, what about that one in those colours? Hmm I can’t do that one, I don’t have the colours to hand. This seems a habit on occasion! And it’s reared its’ head again. There are two projects that I would really like to loom on the Mirrix. The problem is which one to get on there first! Both are very important and close to my heart.

First is a black & white portrait of my Husbands’ late parents. This is LONG overdue (thank you for being patient Husband!). I first planned to loom two portraits and have them in a spinning frame. Then I remembered a great photo of them together, that would work even better. I graphed it sometime last year – is it really that long?? – and I’m ashamed to say its not been loomed yet.

The other is a large purse of two wedding photos – my parents on one side and my late maternal grandparents on the other. Yes you read that right :) The idea came to me when I graphed the photo of my parents. I didn’t want anything plain the other side, so first tried a photo of my late grandmother. Then I remembered seeing their wedding photo in a memorial booklet! Perfect! I think my mum would really love it. By the way it’s a surprise! She’ll only find out about it when I give it to her :)

So you see the problem I have. Now, if I stopped procrastinating and cleared my large loom I could actually work on the at the same time….I think that may be the best course of action. Most of the colours in each one are the same so I’d order them all together.

I think I’ll start buying them slowly while I finish off what’s on the large loom. Then I can start on them. Now, you can help me by deciding which one should go on the Mirrix. The portrait is 152 wide and the purse 152 wide! The loom should be able to hold 162 warps. So, please take a vote and help me decide :) In the meantime I’ve warped for another tapestry weaving attempt. This is wider. Hopefully I can actually use it.

On that note I bid you a good night. The looming dreams have gone down a lot now :oD

Not quite conquered but almost there!

The thing I was fearing the most is over…at least partly! A a participant in the Social market for a Mirrix, we have to post a YouTube video every two weeks. I had NEVER posted a video, let alone a recording of myself! But yesterday I decided to grab the bull by the horns and go for it. I was worried about not making it long enough (i.e. more than 2 minutes) but it actually turned out longer than I had anticipated – close to 11! I cut out a little to shorten it – according to YouTube it was going to take at least two hours to upload!

Anyway here is the result.

Yes that’s really the same person speaking in both sections. My voice seems to have had a mind of its’ own last night :) Sorry about the quality. As said this is my first time recording a video. Hopefully by the end I will be better and more confident. But otherwise I hope the content is of interest. If there is something you would like to see, please let me know and I will try to oblige.

For now I have to head to bed, tomorrow is work. I also need to decide what project to get onto the loom after I’m done weaving this sample. I’ve still got the shedding device and yarn setup on there. I think I may try out some patterning in weaving the it it off and. Just keep as something to look at. There is a particular project I want to really make a start on, but need to buy the beads for it – about 35-40 colours in total I think. I have a little of some of them but they’re being used on other loomings. I may start buying slowly to replenish stock then I can start. It’s quite a…large project but is a very exciting one. Hopefully I can begin on it soon.

I bid you a good night and good Monday!

Those weft ends

In tatting, it is advised you hide the thread ends as you work, rather than wait till the end. In looming, the same can be applied. It doesn’t necessarily make it faster, but there is something laborious about weaving in those weft ends you’ve decided to leave till last!

Now, I always tell myself this time I’ll weave them in as I go along. Problem is I never follow through! I think with the next bracelet I will do just that. It’s only a few mins here and there, so makes no difference doing it during rather than after the looming.

On that note, I had to weave in the weft ends of the bracelet that was on the loom. I settled on a simple brick stitch edging so that the pattern stays centre of attention. It’s odd how colours can really make a pattern. I did this previously in black and white. I think I prefer this colour scheme by a mile!

There was a bit of ‘pull & pray’. But not too many as I split some warps. Nonetheless at least i tried it. I think will definitely use that method at least once in future. Fireline may be a better thread to consider for warps in that case.

Today (read tonight), I managed to try the shedding device again, with just thread this time round. I was advised to try it with thread and the occasional line of beads. So far I’ve only used thread – DMC Perle. It’s nice and simple, quite relaxing actually :) You just have to remember to have the ends at the back of the work, and to change the shed after each pass through.

I had to face my fear and do a video. It turned out to be about 10 minutes long, eek!! I’m hoping to upload it to YouTube tomorrow. Hopefully there’s something watchable in there lol!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day. I’m off to bed to dream about looms – I seem to do that nowadays! :)

Onto a good thing!

The Mirrix had not been posted yet, so I suggested going to collect it from the affiliated London shop – The Hand Weavers Studio! David handed me my loom, and showed me a 12″ with a tapestry in progress. He also introduced me to the owner, Wendy, who wished me well and offered to link to my blog on their Facebook page. The first thing I like is that the loom comes already assembled. All you need to add is the warping bar and spring bar, and the shedding device if you are using it (after you warp the loom). There are printed instructions that come with the loom. You can also find PDFs on the Mirrix site with pictures of warping step by step, for each setup – bead weaving with/without the shedding device, and tapestry weaving.

Armed with these two, I warped for my first looming – a bracelet. It was not as difficult as I (for some reason) expected. Once I remembered which way to go round the warp bar and the bottom/top ends, it went quickly. The only issue I had (on my part because I’m spoilt!) was counting the warps. On my other looms, I marked the threaded rod in groups of 10 so I have to do minimal counting. I think I’ll find a way to do the same with this.

I usually loom standing up, even with small pieces such as bracelets. The looms I have also need propping up, even when I, standing, so I don’t strain myself leaning over etc. This loom has legs!! It is a great thing because it stands on its’ own without the need for additional ‘equipment’ to prop it up. That’s a big box ticked for me. I actually tried it sitting. It was ok, but I still prefer to stand. I believe I work faster that way. Anyway with all that rambling, here is what I managed to loom yesterday. It was a late finish but worth it :)