Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Further Adventures of Bead Crochet

Well Monday night I finished loading all the beads onto the thread. Took most of the evening, I kept getting distracted by a loud, colorful box across the room from me (the TV). I'd probably get more done if I didn't work in front of the TV like that, eh? So last night I was finally able to start trying to crochet with it. I have no pictures to share, as I ended up pulling it all out last night and will start it again tonight. But I'll share my experiences anyway, you'll just have to use your imagination and visualize the process.

First off, my arch nemesis, tension, was an issue. But I think I got the hang of it after a few rounds, it started to even out. But then I decided that if I was using a slightly smaller crochet hook, it would probably be easier and the stitches could be a little tighter. But otherwise, it looked pretty good. The beads were lining up nicely and forming a nice spiral pattern (I'm using two colors, a silver-lined teal and a copper-lined black). No beads were "inside" the tube. So I was pretty proud of the 1.5 inches worth I did last night. But I decided to pull it out and try again tonight using a smaller hook. We'll see how that goes. I think I'll surf around later today too, and see what the smallest size hook available is, just out of curiosity. I imagine that if I want to use some finer threads, that I'd need smaller hooks??? I'll have to do some more research on bead crochet myself, see what is recommended. I have some projects in some magazines I plan to dig out, see what they suggest.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading and happy beading!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Learning to Bead Crochet and Other News

Mandi, over at The Bead Circle Blog, posted about a great new site the other day, Bead Pattern Central. I saw "Pattern" and was all over that in a minute. Its really a great little site. They offer patterns for sale, and most are at what I would consider to be reasonable rates. The website is easy to use, easy to navigate, and doesn't take too long to load. But what I like best is that they offer free tutorials on some basic techniques, and some of the tutorials are actually animated! I spent a little while over the weekend watching the tubular bead crochet animated tutorial. I also want to try out the Russian Spiral, looks like a neat stitch that I don't think I've seen before (well, I may have and they just called it something else).

I decided after watching the tutorial over and over again, that tubular bead crochet doesn't really look that difficult. So I printed out the instructions and gave it a try yesterday afternoon.
The tutorial has you using 45" of beads and an additional 36" of thread. Sounds simple enough. So I spent an hour or two loading beads on the thread I was going to use (I was using a fine crochet thread, think its #10 or something like that, and size 6 seed beads). I still don't quite have 45" worth on there. My hands started to cramp up after about 2 1/2 ft of beads. I'll finish loading beads tonight and try the stitching part. If I manage to make something, I'll take some pictures and post them, hopefully later this week (but then again, you know me, it may be later than that...).

I also finished off my first real project using a Knifty Knitter yesterday. I made a little handbag. I'm going to knit a little flap to use for closure, which I want to attach with a button. Then I plan to attach some beads along the bottom seam to give it some sparkle. And I think I may just do a spiral rope for the handle/strap, further carry the beadwork into the piece. I haven't decided if I want to try to create a liner yet or not, but I probably will, so I can actually use the bag (I carry a lot of little stuff). I used a brown, tan and blue variegated Fun Fur yarn, so the bag is fuzzy and the colors wrap around it in diagonal bands. That part was accidental, it just happened, but its one of those happy whoopsies. I'll take pictures when its all finished.

And the biggest news from the weekend. My husband and I have been fostering a dog for almost 2 years now (it would be two years February 9th or thereabouts). The dog came to RESCUE around the New Year two years ago. His name is Tango and he's a Queensland Heeler mix (we think with some kind of terrier). Well, he was finally adopted, officially, on Saturday, by a wonderful woman. We are so happy he has finally found his forever home. We will miss his funny little face, his goofy antics, and his Wookiee-like grunts and growls, but we know that he chose this adopter himself (he just had to wait until she could open her home up to him, her previous dog passed away some months back and she was finally ready now). And we know she will give him the exercise and mental stimulation that he needs, she'll give him the additional training and discipline a herding dog thrives on, and she'll love him unconditionally. (She even lets him sleep on the bed, he's going to be spoiled :D). We'll be getting a new foster dog tomorrow possibly. Hopefully, this one won't take so long to find his/her forever home, but we'll happily shelter and love him/her until that time comes, just as we did with Tango.

So Tango, we'll miss you dearly, but we know you've found your forever home and that makes us the happiest foster parents ever!

Thanks for reading and happy beading!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Website of the Week January 21-27 - D&I Beads

Today I wanted to sing the praises of one of my favorite local bead shops, D&I Beads.

They are located at 7420 W. Cactus Road in Peoria, Arizona. The shopping center they are in is located on the northeast corner of 75th Avenue and Cactus. Lucky for me, I live on the west side of the Valley, so they're only a short drive away!

They have an online store as well, with free shipping to Arizona shoppers. And they only require a minimum $25 order (not a hard amount to reach to when you're buying beads). I don't see myself buying much online, since they are so close, but now I can look ahead of time to get an idea of pricing and such for certain types of beads. Love that.

D&I have a fabulous selection of beads, of course, but they also have a pretty extensive selection of yarns (for the knitters and crocheters out there), with prices comparable to you big chain hobby supply shops. In addition, they offer classes and wonderful customer service. Every time I walk in, I'm greeted. If I look lost or confused, someone spots it and asks if I need help. Usually, I'm just trying to decide if something is more pink or purple, more green or more blue. Or if I already have those beads at home. But anywho. The staff are also very helpful when it comes to selecting items for a specific project you might be working on, giving you advice on what might work instead, and even helping to show you a few simple, basic techniques, right there at the counter. Gotta love that. And you can't beat their sales, which they have regularly, along with their coupons (which appear in various Valley publications but are also available for printing from their website)!

What I love most about their shop though is that everything is hanging on hooks, for the most part (the metal beads and some findings, crystals, and specialty bits are in the glass case/counter). You walk in and the walls are covered in strings of beads. They have a few aisles set up, like short little walls, all covered in strings of beads. Love it!! I can touch the beads, hold them next to other strings of beads, see them from all angles, feel them (I love the feel of beads). Beats Internet shopping anytime. And when it comes to the natural stone beads, you can look them over for flaws or for interesting irregularities (I actually love the flaws and irregularities, gives the stone character), and chose the string that works best for you.

You can see photos of their fabulous showroom here: Walls of Beads (IE. Pure Heaven)
and here: "Beads, Glorious Beads!".

And their seed bead aisles? I usually spend the most time there. Seeds in everyone color and finish. And all the necessary sizes. They also carry Delicas and the like, but I still love my size 11 seed beads.

They also have a large "bin" of glass beads, 15 cents each I believe. I love to dig in that bin, to feel the beads roll over my hands and through my fingers, to hear them lightly clink together. Kind of like when you were a kid and enjoyed digging your hands and feet into the sand. Same thing, only now its beads. I usually spend a few minutes picking out a handful that go together, mostly to make earrings. Its not an easy task, finding ones that go together or "match", but its fun to try.

So, if you're ever in the Phoenix Metro area, and you're looking for a fun little bead shop with great selection and great prices, and don't forget great service, check out D&I Beads. You won't regret it. And you might just run into me, experiencing beaded bliss in the big glass bead bin. ;D

Thanks for reading and happy beading!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not Much to Say...

Well, to make up for not posting anything last week, I'm posting something now. I actually have a entire entry written up (showcasing a local bead shop), but I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to type it up and post it. Will do later this week.

Started a course at a local community college Thursday night, had a small event on Saturday for RESCUE (which I was busy preparing for during the week) , then I had training for new volunteers both Saturday and Sunday, and so by yesterday morning, I was worn out, literally. I even took the day off from work and just snoozed and made myself take it easy. Sometimes, you just have to listen to what your body says (especially when its whining, complaining or throwing an all out temper tantrum) and rest finally. Still feel tired, slight cough, but better.

So after a week of running about preparing for the weekend, and a weekend where I was hardly home, I didn't get much beading done. I did manage to complete a Lotus Necklace which I did in purple seed beads and crystals. Essentially, it is a string of seed beads with petal shaped extensions of seed beads, and in the petals are drops of crystals. Turned out cute. Need to make some adjustments on the number of beads used in the central petal, but overall, nice easy piece. I found the pattern on (I won't link to it, I'm sure you hate pop-ups as much as I do). But if you look for free bead patterns on that site, you'll find the project. Going to create another one using a different shade of purple seed beads.

I also started working on a simple peyote-stitched-beaded-bead bracelet. This project comes from the Beading Pattern Desk Calendar. Its a great little calendar, especially if you are new to beading. Cute, simple projects with very easy to follow directions. They cover many of the most common and basic techniques in beading, from knot tying to simple stringing and simple to complex beadweaving. They even cover wire and other media. Also helps you to keep motivated and inspired, with new projects every day or so. I know I'll end up keeping many of the projects just as reference for future projects of my own.

My father-in-law is a hobbyist like me. His hobby involves tiny pieces of wood (he builds model ships), but he understands the need for a great workspace and storage unit. He bought these great little drawer units, with side panels, that make great storage. Knowing about the need for attractive storage space, he showed them to me over the weekend. They also accommodate a desktop or can be stacked. So they can be used just for storage, or do double duty and be part of the workspace. And they come in a lovely wood color, so they look nice (unlike my current set up of a plastic card table and some plastic rolling carts with drawers, along with countless tackle boxes stacked on top of said table). The best part though is the side panels. They're like little doors that swing out and inside the door panel are hooks, where I could hang finished pieces of jewelry and/or tools!!! I've been contemplating them all weekend and I think I'm going to get them. If I do, I'll post pictures. We've been trying to figure out how we can rearrange the room where I store all my craft stuff, and still have my stuff be accessible yet attractively stored away. My husband even agrees they'd be great for this. We'll see.

Wish I had more to share in the way of beading. But really, I need a nap. Guess I had more to say than I originally though...

So, thanks for reading and happy beading!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Website of the Week: Gold Onyx Beadweaving Supplies

This Saturday, January 6, I went to Joann's to sign up for a sewing class. It was Class Preview Day and I got there just as the event was starting. I first went to talk with the instructor to see what class might be best for me. She was great and I was really looking forward to taking the class later this month. Then I went up to Customer Service to sign up. Both the January and February sessions were filled!! How can that be?! The preview event had only started 30 minutes ago?! Turns out you could start signing up for classes the week before. I did not know that. So now I have to wait until their March/April schedule comes out and see if there might be a class that fits my schedule. I was so bummed. But to make matters worse, earlier in the week I had told my husband that what I wanted for my birthday (which is in February), was to take the "Solder 101" class from the Metals Edge Studio on February 17. He kindly pointed out that the day of the class we have tickets to the Improv to see our favorite comedian, Jeff Dunham perform. And that by the time I'd get home from the class, shower, change, etc, we'd be late for the show. So I had to scrap taking that class as well for now. I'll have to wait until their May - ?? schedule comes out. And after Joann's I had issues with the ATM at the bank (let's just say I was standing outside the bank yelling at a machine, with a small audience forming...). Thankfully I had a breeze at the video store for once. But all in all, by the time I got home that afternoon, I was not a happy crafter.

So how did I make myself feel better after that? I went online and shopped for crafting supplies of course. How silly of you to think I would drown my sorrows in liquer and food (well, actually, I did do that as well, went to Red Lobster after I shopped and enjoyed a giant Lobsterita, but I digress). I did a search for Bead Creator Pro 3.0 and found a site called Gold Onyx Beadweaving Supplies. They also happened to sell C-Lon, something I was going to start looking for in the local bead shops . So I ordered both the software and two spools of C-Lon (for micro-macrame projects I want to learn).

The website is pretty basic in its layouts and graphics. But it was still quite easy to navigate and find what I wanted to buy. I went with the cheapest shipping option, First Class (1-3 Days). They offer a couple of ways to pay online, including the ol' standby, PayPal. I thought that was interesting. After I placed my order I received my confirmation emails, from them and from the online payment service (2Checkout). Always a good thing. Then they sent another email when they had shipped the order. Unfortunately, they ship using USPS, so you don't get a tracking number like you would if they used UPS or FedEx. (I get a kick out checking the tracking on the day it goes out, to see what time they actually deliver it, I'm weird). But, USPS is cheaper, so I really can't complain now can I. I should get it maybe today, more likely by tomorrow. I'm very excited.

Bead Creator Pro looks like a fun piece of software. I'm looking forward to trying it out. I really enjoy peyote stitch, but finding patterns I really like isn't always easy. I've tried creating some of my own with graph papers, but am learning that's not my strong suit. I'd love to make an amulet bag or small purse with my dog on it. And I have some other graphics I created that I'd like to translate into beads but just haven't figured it out myself yet. As I create patterns, I'll be posting them here from time to time to share.

Thanks for reading and happy beading!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year! A Crafter's Resolutions

A new year has begun, and I'm still trying to figure out where most of 2006 went! I am looking forward to a great new year full of learning new techniques, completing many great new projects, going to fun events (and maybe hosting one or two myself), and increasing my skills and talents in all areas. And of course, with a New Year comes that grand ol' tradition of New Year's Resolutions. Yes, in the past I would make the typical resolutions we all make. You know, that ones that no one ever keeps but still make year after year. So I stopped doing that, figured why beat myself up over it.

But this year, I decided to make a different set of resolutions - Crafter's Resolutions. I wanted to share those resolutions with you this week. Maybe it will inspire you to make a few of your own.

  • Complete one amulet bag. (I have so many patterns but I have yet to actually try one out and complete one). [BEADS]
  • Learn tubular peyote stitch and complete one piece (necklace or bracelet). [BEADS]
  • Learn Ndebele/herringbone stitch and complete one project. [BEADS]
  • Complete two complex Eni Oken tutorials (cuff, necklace) and then complete my own variations on her technique. [WIRE]
  • Buy kit/supplies for PMC and complete two pieces. [CLAY/METAL]
  • Complete one new metal jewelry piece (cold connection or soldered). [METAL]
  • Take "Solder 101" class from Metal's Edge Studio. [METAL]
  • Learn basic crochet. [KNIT/CROCHET]
  • Learn to crochet using beads and wire. [KNIT/CROCHET, WIRE]
  • Paint "Zoo" sign letters and Coca-Cola tray. [OTHER CRAFT]
  • Woodburing: complete two simple projects such as wall plaques or a trinket box. [OTHER CRAFT]
  • Learn to sew using the sewing machine (that I bought after the New Year 2006....). [SEWING]
  • Learn Byzantine weave and at least one other chain maille weave. [WIRE]
  • Sell 5 items (not for charity or to family). [BUSINESS/MARKETING]
  • Have a small in-home show by August. [BUSINESS/MARKETING]
  • Learn to use all the Knifty Knitter looms I have bought in 2006. [KNIT/CROCHET]
  • Master some complex macrame knotting (micro macrame) and complete one project.
  • Post to Blog at least once every week (and get the links set up, add more pictures, etc).

Whew! That's quite the list, I know. But I think these are pretty good and attainable goals for the next year. It will be interesting to see just how many I actually complete and what gets tossed by the wayside. I will have to do a recap at the end of the year and share just how many I accomplished. Wish me luck!

So, what are your beading/crafting resolutions for the new year? Setting some goals for yourself, whether its to learn new techniques or just to get more organized or to sell more, are a wonderful way to take stock of where you are, where you are going, and where you want to be in 2007.

Thanks for reading and happy beading!