Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday - free pattern!

Happy Friday!  I've been busy this week preparing for a short vacation trip to Massachusetts.  My entire family except my mom lives up north, and most of my closest friends!  So I'm really looking forward to visiting!! 

I'm taking my Spring Fling kit with me - I'm working with the blue kit.

Challenges with kits are some of my favorites.  They remind me of school children art projects...where everyone gets similar or the same materials and instructions - yet the results are ALWAYS individual! 
I took these at Jackson's school last night while I was there for the book fair/science fair night. Jackson received the illustrious "participant" ribbon for his tireless work on Peeps disintegration!

 The event took place in the library and I saw one of my favorite children's books while I was there:

Have you read this book?  Not only do I love this sweet story - but I really adore the illustrations:

So the cover of The Little House was my inspiration for creating the free pattern this week:

Stay tuned for the Blogging from A-Z challenge beginning Sunday, where I'll be blogging about all things beads or things related to my bead world!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blogging from A to Z....why do it?

I'm excited and nervous about Bloggingfrom A to Z which begins a week from today!!!! I did it last year and really enjoyed the experience, but to be honest it kind of kicked my a**. The challenge is to blog every day of April, except Sundays.  This year, April 1 falls on a Sunday, so we'll begin then, but the rest of the month is every day M-F except Sundays.  Bloggers follow the calendar beginning April 1, from A to Z.  

 It's not easy to blog nearly every day. At least for me! Blogging takes time just in the writing component.  But I also find blogs a little more interesting with picture or graphics in the I always try to include that in my posts.
Hahah - as if!  My 'studio' is the kitchen table any time from 10am-6pm  on sunny days only!
Which means: taking the picture(s) (in the right light, at the right time of day), uploading the picture(s), selecting the best picture, editing the picture, and uploading the picture to blogger. That's actually a lot of steps and sometimes I might skip a blog post because I don't have the time to worry about all that! Sometimes I don't bother because I think – does anyone really care?! But then I talk myself out of that thinking because it's not hard to remember why I keep blogging. It's because I've been completely BLESSED to be part of an amazing bead blogging community all over the WORLD. It doesn't get much cooler than that. The ability to share my passion for beading with all my blogging friends is more gratifying than I can put into words.

But why do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge??

Well, for starters, I love a challenge! I also like the hopping aspect of this challenge. There are currently over 1200 bloggers on the list for this challenge. I am certain I'll find some new and interesting blogs to follow(I sure did last year), maybe make some new friends, and maybe get some new followers too! And finally – I need to write more, and I need writing to become a better habit for me. In my work, I manage the social media for 9 businesses. Out of those 9 businesses, I write monthly or weekly newsletters for 5 of them. And for two more I write their blogs! The problem here, is that I procrastinate when it comes to writing and I need it to flow more easily. I have often read that in order to become a proficient writer, one has to write daily. So in addition to all the fun of the challenge, this is also an exercise in building my writing muscle!

I hope that if you are a reader, you won't become bored to death with my nearly daily posts in April! The topic will generally be focused on beads/beading/bead blogging! And if you want to check out some other folks in the challenge, click here!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Friday!!

Happy FRIDAY!!!  We had an absolutely gorgeous day here in Maryland - sunny and warm - is this really MARCH!?!

I was overwhelmed with excitement earlier this week when all the kits I put up for the Spring Fling challenge were gone in one day!!! Thank you to everyone who is participating!  I can't wait to see what you create! Be sure to check back on April 20 for the reveal!

I've been working on Nancy's pattern for Beading Babes.  I love this tubular right-angle-weave!  It has also renewed my enjoyment of Fireline.  When will this company start making it in every color!  It's the only reason I don't give up Nymo thread!!  I had some trouble with the netting on this rope though and had to pull it out.  Also, I selected beads that were too similar in color to the base of the rope and I didn't like the way it was coming out....but I'll be back at it again this weekend.

I'm also playing around with this gorgeous cabachon I won last year from Lori at Out of the Flames.  This picture doesn't do the cab justice, but if you click here you will see a better pic of the cab I'm using it's the one on the top left.

 When I finish this embroidery project, I am planning to adhere it to this nifty business card holder I received as a sample:
That will make giving out business cards a whole lot more fun! :)

It's Friday and that means a Free Pattern! So in honor of Spring beginning this week - and the wonderfully warm weather - here is a trio of dragonflies!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Fling!

Finally I got around to sorting through my stash from the January bead show, and my personal stash, and I'm ready to do a blog hop with a challenge kit!  I'm calling it the Spring Fling Blog Hop.

The kit will be $2.  There are four orange and three blue.  I'm hoping that if you purchase a kit you will participate in the blog hop and reveal your creation on April 20th.  I'm will be participating in the A-Z blog challenge in April and April 20th's letter is Reveal will be the theme for that day!

  • Orange focal (wood bead with decoupaged bird - on each side)
  • 8mm a/b finish rondelles
  • 4 & 12mm pearlescent orange faceted glass beads
  • 4mm pale green glass faceted green beads
  • clear farfalle beads lined with gold a/b
  • 1 container of orange delicas (there are two darker orange and two lighter orange)
  • strand of 3mm peach Czech FP beads

  • Blue focal (wood bead with decoupaged bird - on each side)
  • 8mm a/b finish rondelles
  • 8mm bluish glass pearls
  • 4mm pale green glass faceted green beads
  • clear farfalle beads lined with gold a/b
  • 1 container of light blue delicas
  • strand of 3mm olive Czech FP beads

I love these farfalle beads, but I keep staring at them and can't seem to come up with a way to use them!!!  So hopefully this will force my hand!

But wait - there's MORE!  If you get a kit and participate in the reveal and use at least 50% of the kit including the will be entered into a drawing to win this stash! 

This kit contains four recycled sawdust beads, blue and brown pearls, and faceted black rondelles!

One of my favorite things about blogging is taking part in blog hops and I hope you'll join me in the fun!!! With this type of challenge, I am fascinated to see the individuality come through in the amazing range of creations!!

The kits are for sale in my Etsy Shop.  Click on the picture or the kit description to get your kits!

Friday, March 16, 2012

TGIF! Beading Babes Sneak Peek and a Free Pattern

Really, I can't believe I didn't post at all for a week!  I better get my act together for the A-Z Blogging Challenge which begins April 1. And then there are only four days off from blogging that month!  Yikes!  There is also a good chance I'll be traveling for the first couple days of April!!!

I started working on one of the Beading Babes projects for round 4!  I finished one of the earrings of the Paisley Drops by Jane Lock.  This pattern is a variation of the peyote Russian leaf pattern.   I've been wanting to try this for years and I am so glad I am getting the push to do it now!

This pattern is mostly easy to follow - I had a little bit of a hard time starting the second half, but I think that was beader confusion and not the pattern.  However when it came time to pull the two halves together...
...the pictures shows the thread coming out of the second to last bead on one side, but going into the top bead on the other side....and well.....that just wasn't working out for me when I tried it like that.  The little piece wasn't sitting right and it seemed off balance...maybe I was reading it wrong or something, but I tried several times and pulled it out several times, until I decided to go with my instinct and instead make the thread go into the second to last bead on the other side.  Once I did that, everything worked out marvelously.  I am loving this pattern and already dreaming up lots of variations and uses for it!  Can't wait to tackle the second earring for this pair and move on to the next Beading Babes project!
Here is a little shamrock for St. Patrick's Day!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Free Pattern Friday

Happy Friday!  I've been thinking a lot about what to make for this week's free pattern, but I've had cherry blossoms on the mind since I'm working on an event in DC that is centered around the 100 year anniversary of the cherry blossom gift to DC. 

I've lived in the DC region for a little over 20 years now and am always in awe of how beautiful the cherry blossoms are around the tidal basin (and equally in awe of the colossal amount of traffic in the area!)  Somehow though, I never have captured a picture of them! The only pics I have of the cherry trees in my photo library are these from May 2006, when Jackson and I went on a paddle boat ride.  But anywhere you see  green in these photos they are cherry trees, and are covered in pinkish blossoms during the peak bloom!

Also - as an unexpected treat, we have a cherry tree right in front of our house!  We moved in during the month of June 5 years ago, so it wasn't until the following spring that we had the glorious surprise of the cherry blossom bloom, right outside our front window!  (Again, I'm surprised that this is the only shot of the bloom I could find!) 

So for this week's free pattern I picked cherry blossoms!  This pattern measures about 3.75 inches long.  I'm planning to work up this pattern and plan to reverse the pattern for another 3.75 inches to make a bracelet!  (If you need the pattern in a larger form, please feel free to email me and I'll send it to you in a pdf or large resolution jpg!)

In other bead work, I realized I forgot to share my cast offs from the Challenge of Music hop.  These below are similar to the purple earrings I posted earlier this week, except I didn't do the complete final rounds.
 And these are of course, a version of Marcie Abney's Looking Glass pattern!
 Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Let me give you a little background...

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Maryanne, author and bead artist, of Zingala's Workshop blog.  When we discovered that we live fairly close to each other and patronize the same bead shop we talked time and time again about meeting up - and finally today I got to meet her!  And I'm sorry it took me so long, because she is really delightful!

We met at Bead Soup, a fantastic bead store in Savage, MD.  What makes a bead store fantastic? Having beads is one thing, but Bead Soup's owner, Kathy, seems to have a knack for creating really fun/unique/inventive events that attract many of the beaders in the area!  Sometimes there is a theme, or a lesson, or a special activity, and sometimes it's just for the simple act of beading together.  Today was the latter, a beading circle, to hang out and just bead and work on whatever you are working on! It's so great to be around other creative spirits and see all the bead work!

Since I didn't have an ongoing project to work on today, I made a pair of earrings during the beading circle.  I used some rather delicious metallic purple charlottes, size 15.  Everyone commented on how pretty those charlottes are!  I agreed and admitted I've been using them a lot, because I love them so much....but then I complained that, in general I like purple, but I find it very difficult to photograph.  Maryanne emphatically agreed!!  She mentioned that she'd once read that photographing purple on a green background helps, but marginally. 

So, just for the fun of it today, I decided to photograph these purple earrings on various colored backgrounds. 

It's true - the green background seemed to give me the truest representation of the actual color.
It should also be noted that I took the rest of the pictures in the exact same spot, the same distance away (give or take a few inches), using natural diffused light, and all were taken in less than 3 minutes.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky so the light didn't change in those three minutes...the only variation of these photographs is the background was changed....and amazingly - here are the results!
Can you believe those are the SAME earrings in each photo!  I was really blown away by how BLUE one of them came out....and how PINK another came out!  And frankly - how dull the purple is in so many of them because it is so vibrant in person!

So tell me other beaders out there?  How do YOU photograph purple??
On another friend David Guas, chef & owner of Bayou Bakery in VA, who I worked with for a decade, has been nominated by Food & Wine Magazine as best chef in the mid-Atlantic

Anyway, right now he is neck & neck in the lead with a former Top Chef contestant!  It would be a great favor to me if you would vote for him, here, on the F&W site!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beading Babes Project!

This time around for the Beading Babes' project, we had two projects to select from. I attempted both!

I first began work on the Ravishing Rosettes.  And I ended it not too long after I started it.  It was many, many weeks ago that I started working on this, so I honestly can't remember in detail what made me feel a little batty while trying it....all I remember is that I struggled....a LOT.  I made a couple rosettes and tore them up and started them over.  It felt that the directions weren't easy to follow, but also that they didn't match the pictures.  I kept having a gap on the first rosette, that wasn't matching up with the photo.  After redoing my first rosette several times, I was able to get two rosettes done.
 But when those were all said and done, I realized I wasn't really enjoying the process, so I decided life is too short to be doing an elective activity and not enjoy doing it!  So I moved on to Runway of Pearls!

I am a big fan of right-angle-weave (RAW).  All in all, I enjoyed this project.  The only problem I had, was in the supply arena.  When I first started thinking about supplies for this project, I looked at the list and compared it to the picture, and was unbelievably confused, because one of the pictures showed the base of the bracelet done in Czech FP glass beads.  After a while I realized it was a substitute for the triangle beads.  I worked up a small sample in the triangles and didn't like it so I planned to do the Czech beads instead.  ( I think that the supply list should have made a notation about the use of Czech beads and maybe even mentioned how many were needed to complete the project) Chatter within the Beading Babes group, told em the Czech beads were most likely 2mm.  I picked some up at a bead show, but after working up the base, it turned out I didn't have enough.  I searched high & low for additional beads in that size and color I already had, and didn't have any luck.  I ordered some more on line in a different color.  They came in weeks ago.....but my schedule never allowed me to work up a new base for this bracelet.I don't know why I got so caught up in making sure I had enough of that one set of beads, because I've improvised in the past, and finally realized this weekend, that it was time to improvise again!

I really loved the way this worked up with the five rows of RAW when it was flat.  I thought the zig zag embellishment was quick and easy and I really enjoyed the effect.  I can't wait to try it again and just keep if flat and try playing with the colors in each row.
It zipped up nicely too:
Oh, and did I mention I didn't have the 3mm pearls - so I subbed the Czech FP beads once again so perhaps I need to call this Runway of FP Beads....

Because I didn't have enough of the 2mm Czech FP beads for the base, I just did the pattern as long as the supplies I had would allow.  I strung some beading wire through the zipped up base and used the remaining beads to string the remaining length of the bracelet!

I really enjoyed another round of the Beading Babes projects.  I love hearing about the other beaders' experience attempting these patterns! 

Check out Karyn's Facebook page, or her blog to see projects from the rest of the group!