Friday, 30 March 2012

Crocus close-ups

Here's some crocus pics I took earlier this week. Having taken quite a lot of crocus photos lately, I focused on some more artsy close-ups this time.

(Two similar photos as I'm not sure which one I like the best.)

You can't really tell how hard it was to take these pics by looking at them. The reason for that you can see below.

Yes, Julle was in one of his extremely cuddly mode and just had to be the centre of attention the whole time, he couldn't see how some silly plants could be more important than him and he kept bumping into the camera and my arms and feet or walk in the flowers I tried to photograph. "Pat me, pat me, pat me! Me!", he seemed to say. (And I did -- after wrestling him down several times so I could get the photos.)

Garden work with Julle

Our kittens love the wheelbarrow. For some reason they find it to be a really fun, both empty and when filled. A few days ago I got a few pics of Jullsi enjoying a ride in it.

 Not much room among all the twigs and leaves and branches, but he found a corner he liked. So much that he didn't jump off when it got in motion (as they otherwise often do: a stationary wheelbarrow is much more fun than a moving one).

On the way back, after having dumped the waste, I put him in the wheelbarrow again. On the way he found a vine to play with.

...and then it wasn't fun anymore and he jumped off.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 11-12

I've almost forgotten my bi-weekly summary of my writings at my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg -- again... Anyway, this time you'll find tips on contests and challenges as well as several jewellery projecets (e.g. inspired by the Hunger games) and glossaries.

Random bead photos

Have I mentioned that I love czech glass beads? I love czech glass beads!

Do you recognize the beads on the photos? They're from my bead soup blog party necklace. I took these pics while at the same time as the rest, but they never ended up in the reveal post. So now I'm showing them today instead.

I really like the look of backlit glass (not just because of the crisp white background it gives, even without photo editing, and would love to have something like this -- or perhaps just this with a lamp under -- when taking photos. I don't. Instead, these pics are taken with the chain of beads draped over a milky white plastic lampshade while the light was lit (and then some extra lighting from above).

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Greenhouse in hibernation

Before the camera batteries died I got to take a couple of pics of the old greenhouse windows. Odd angles as the ground was too wet for me to wanting to kneel in and then I tried to find a position where I could take pics without being too disturbed by Julle and Jinja who where bumping against the camera, demanding to be cuddled and patted.

The lichen on the old window panes and wooden frame almost makes it look like I've been playing with textures, but it's not edited like that: colours, textures etc are just as captured by my camera. However, it did get an urge to play around a bit with one of the phots, actually adding a bit of texture and altering the colours. Not sure if it enhanced anything or made any real difference...

A sunny foggy spring day -- part 2

When looking at the flower pics I showed in yesterday's post, you might get the impression that it was a sunny (or perhaps slightly overcast) day. It was sunny. At times. But it was also foggy, as you can see in these photos from the same afternoon. As the fog often drift in from the sea, it's not unusual for it to be foggy in the west while the sky in the east is clear and blue.

Ah, yes, the kittens came after me. On the pic above you can't see Jinja, who's hiding on the other side. It's Jisse to the left and Julle to the right. They love playing on that side of the road, but are still too young to dare venture into this unknown territory on their own so they love it when me or my sis go there (so they can follow us).

I stumbled over some puffball mushrooms. Used to love finding them as a kid. Showed them to the kittens, squeezing them to release puffs of spores, but they were thoroughly unimpressed...

And that was the view west of the house. Now let's look at the sky towards the east at the same time:

I was waiting for the fog to clear up and the sun did indeed break through it more and more, but I still couldn't get a misty or let alone clear view to the north. When it seemed to have cleared up and the sun was shining, I went up the hill again. Sure, the sky was blue, but the fog enveloped the ground to the north... (if you've seen my other pics, you'd expect to see a church and houses against the horizon on the left side, which instead is covered in thick, gray fog.)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Two more...

A sunny foggy spring day

I'm having a long weekend this week as we finished the first potatoe field and won't begin working on the next until Monday. How perfect then that this weekend looks so promising. Today it felt like a real spring day. All the birds singing as they haven't sung in many months, no wind, warmth in the air, some sun (yes, it has been sunny AND foggy today). A good day for a walk with the camera. Forgot to charge the batteries, but I still managed to get a few shots. Today I'm only going to show the flowers, I think, leaving the rest for tomorrow as not to give you all a photo overload here.


Wishing you all a great weekend!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Guess where I found these beads...

A few days ago when we couldn't work due to the rains, I finally forced myself to clean up a bit, chasing dust rats under the bed, washing the floors, that kind of things. Often that means finding stuff under the bed that the kitties have stolen from me as they're such fun toys. Half-filled tubes of seed beads, ribbons and chains are their favourite jewellery materials. The tubes rattle and roll around. And they're pretty easy for a cat to lift and throw in the air. Perfect toys. So I wasn't that upset when I discovered a small tube of smokey amethyst 15/0s under the bed. But I was a tad upset finding the 11/0s pictured above.

They weren't just hidden in a dark corner. I found that bead tube in the litterbox. Partially soaked in cat pee and in places covered in cat poo... Very nice... (Good news are it seems the tight lid have protected the beads well.)

I know cats like seed bead tubes, especially when not full so they make a noise when rolling or being poked, but normally that's just a problem when I bead, having the tubes in my lap or in the bed. But our current kittens are so brazen they more than once have stolen things from my build-up of bead bags etc on my beadside table. Saying no only works for the moment with these cute kitties. And Jisse is the worst: 8 or 9 times out of 10, if someone's trying to run off with some chain or play with a bead found on the table, he's the culprit.

And it's not the only thing they've taken when I've had my back turned: I'm still missing a rhinestone chain that one of the kittens most likely have stolen from me too. Don't mourn the chain as much as the relatively expensive tin thread I've braided into the chain. It's vanished from the face of earth it seems -- and I know Jisse and Jinja couldn't keep their eyes and paws from it when I was working on it. Thought it was hidden under all the other bags of beads by the bed.

My own fault for leaving things so easily accessible for cats, but I want some things close by. And before we had a handful of kittens it usually worked. These hyperactive thieves are so different from many of our cats.

PS! I once made a popular cat toy for a then-kitten who loved my bead tubes by pouring some cheap leftover beads and other little bits and bobs into an empty bead tube and popping the lid on and sealing it with tape. They did enjoy playing with it. Until someone (human) stepped on it and broke it. And, yes, I did come up with the idea after I -- not the cat -- played with him with my filled seed bead tubes that I was using for a project I was working on while he was sleeping in the bed next to me -- talk about learning cats bad habits! (But he still never stole beads from me little the current little rascals.)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Baking dreams and reading blogs

So it seems I've survived a week of manual labour. We did a few hours on Saturday too so I didn't get to "hålla helg" until almost midday yesterday. But on the other hand, the rains today mean we won't be able to do any work tomorrow. Now we have to wait for the soil to dry before resuming work.

While I spent yesterday mostly sleeping and reading (it's hard to suddenly change your daily rythm and get up  at 7 when normally falling asleep hours after midnight), today I've actually managed to get myself do something at least somewhat useful. I've been baking. Tex mex pierogi and some cookies. I ate a good portion of the chocolate cookie dough as usual and couldn't resist tasting the dough for the dreams referred to in the title, the airy, crispy sweet cookies called drömmar in Swedish. Bad move. They contain baker's ammonia (hjorthornssalt) and, unlike the swedish name, the english name pretty much tells you what it's going to taste like. I never learn... Granted, it's ages since I last baked with it, but that smell and taste is very memorable. Makes for great cookies, but jeez it tastes horrible before baking (and stinks during)! And eating cookie dough and cake batter is kind of half the reason I bake in the first place...

Now that I'm an adult I can have as much dough or batter as I like so I'm making up for all those times as a kid when mom always poured most of it in the pan or sliced almost the whole roll into thin cookies -- even the ends. It's not like we didn't get to lick the bowl, eat the trimmed-off uneven ends of rolled cookies, pinch the "scraps" of dough around the gingerbread men etc. It's just that now I can eat as much as I wanted back then, but never got as mom for some odd reason meant that most of the batter and dough should actually be baked. Hmpf, we all know it tastes the best before baking. Well, unless it contains baker's ammonia... (It's hours ago and just writing about it, I can taste and smell it. Yuck!)

But, anyway, I'm not just baking. I'm also doing my best to catch up on blogs, blog post writing and job ads, but haven't yet gotten to the blog hop lists so if you read this, having participated in Suddenly Spring Challenge and/or Bead Soup Blog Party, and I haven't yet visited you: I will be by soon. Or relatively soon -- every time I promise to "stop by soon" things have a way of getting in between.

I should remember to bring the camera. The field is down by the sea and the climate is actually warmer and milder there, a few kilometres south of where I live, than here so you can already find lots of sweet pussy willow. Ours are probably days or even weeks behind. I rarely bring the camera with me as there's little time during the work day to take photos and afterwards I'm if not tired so at least too dirty to want to handle my precious camera. Since I see so many of the spring signs while working, it can be slightly frustrating not being able to snap a pic. There's the first pussy willows, the first day you see smoke raising from the tilled soil, the first white wagtail etc. But then other times I find it silly that instead of just enjoying it, I'm obessed with capturing in on camera. I'll remember it and treasure the sight, but for some reason I also want a photo of it. To share, of cause, but also for my own sake.

Well, enough rambling for today. It's soon time to go to bed again and I still have blogs and e-mails to go through. Just wanted to say I'm still here, still reading even when I don't write.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Suddenly Spring challenge reveal

When I'm writing this on Monday afternoon it's been a chilly but sunny spring day. Hopefully it is also so when you read this as I'll most likely be spending the day working outdoors. That's right, potato season is finally starting for us too. Great timing, huh? (And that also means I'm not sure when I get time to blog hop, which includes not just this hop but the remaining half of the bead soup blog party list... I'm so behind...)

But enough of that. To the challenge now.

When I first read about Michelle's Suddenly Spring challenge, my initial response was that I probably shouldn't sign up for so many challenges in a row but I really liked the theme, the idea of transforming a simple wintery bracelet (above) into spring jewellery. The same way winter turns into spring. So I ordered a kit.

Early, I decided to turn the big rondelle beadss into flowers, but due to other comitments and unexpected events, I ended up doing this last minute and having to panic buy some beads -- not a good things as I really don't like the range of beads available in the craft shop I had to get them from. Yesterday (as in Sunday) I seriously considered throwing in the towel and tell Michelle I had to drop out, but I didn't want to do that so late and after all I'd spent money on the bracelet and beads so I wanted a result. Any result. And this is it, my spring necklace.

I guess if I was a newbie I'd like it. (Maybe if I was in a better mood, I'd find something to like about it.) But in my eyes it just doesn't look that good. It looks very amateurish and you really can't tell I've been doing this for years. I don't like the colours, the bead mix, the over-all design etc etc. I know I often complain about my designs, but this truely is one I'm so far from pleased with. That's why there's no clasp: I'm going to frog it. See if it's possible to tweak the design or if I have redo it from scratch. If I do, I promise you'll get to see the new, improved Suddenly Spring necklace. Because I know I can do better than this!

Still, hope you enjoyed coming over here despite my bad mood and if my negativity is spoiling the fun of this blog hop I sincerely apologize as it wasn't my intent. I'm just a bit disappointed with myself and can't help but write how I feel about my work when I blog.

Thank you for stopping by and be sure to visit all the other participants (whom I'm sure made some fab things using the challenge bracelet as a base)!

Michelle - Beads & Books {Hostess}

Andrew - The Writing & Art of Andrew Thornton

Christa - Adventures of One Beady Woman

Dita - Alankarshilpa

Donetta - Simply Gorgeous

Erin - Erin Siegel Jewelry

Heather - As I Bead It

Jean - Snap Out of It Jean - There's Beading to Be Done!

Karen - Over the Moon Design

Kate - We Can Make That At Home

Kay - Palm Coast Art

Kim - CianciBlue

Kristina - Wild Roses and Blackberries {YOU ARE HERE}

Linda - Lindy's Designs

Lisa - Pine Ridge Treasures

Marlene - Amazing Designs by Marlene

Michelle - Reverie & Revival

Pam - The Crazy Creative Corner

Pamela Someday Beads

Renetha - Lamplight Crafts

Sharyl - Catchenthesun

Terry - Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry

Therese  - Therese's Treasures

Monday, 12 March 2012

Glow-in-the-dark bead fun

As I've mentioned before I've got a childish fascination with glow-in-the-dark beads. And after having seen this project, I came to think of GITD Hama beads and what if I could use that technique and those beads for something... The lightbulb moment came months ago, but it was just yesterday that I got some cheap beads and was ready to realise my idea. And here's the result.

The beads are cut and then put on the thin cables, one bead for each light. The result is a "double" light garland that is either lit up by the LED lights or glows in the dark (as long as the bead "charge" lasts). I couldn't get any pics of what it looks like in the dark so I made this illustration based on one of the photos:

Nice, huh? My very own little night sky. Now, if I could only charge the beads enough for the "stars" to shine a little longer so I could enjoy it a bit more every night...

(Just remembered: this isn't my first indoor night sky project: when my sis and I had to repaint the corridor between our bedrooms, we painted a silhouette landscape and used glow-in-the-dark paint to illuminate the sky with stars. We used real constellations as templates so you can find e.g. Orion and the Big Dipper on the ceiling and walls, but not in the right place in corelation to one another.)

UPDATE: There's a step-by-step tut at my other blog available now. You'll find it here.


Talking about home decór projects, why not take a look on my new makeshift lampshade? It really is just something I threw together, something to make the lightbulb feel less naked and austere until I can come up with an idea of a proper lampshade. One that doesn't include fluffy pale pink tulle because I may be a romantic but I don't like girly pink and frilly stuff like that.

If you take a really dark photo it can look quite spooky:

Sunday, 11 March 2012

TAST week 10: Running stitch

English name: Running stitch, darning stitch, (if long, often temporary: basting stitch)

Swedish name: Förstygn, tråckelstygn (= basting stitch), stoppstygn (darning)

Well, I haven't done very much this week. And I will be doing and posting the week 9 stitch sometime in the near future. And I'm behind on seeing what others have done for the TAST challenges for weeks as well as on my bead soup blog hopping (still half the list to go!). But I have a few things to show this week.

First out is the pièce de résistance (yes, I had to google the spelling) -- the stitched silk cord. For the first time I dared use my fancy silk embroidery thread! Like all my more expensive supplies I was saving it for "a special project" (read: never using it), but now that I got the idea to embroider on my silk cords, it felt like silk thread was the only way to go. So I took out a skein of  hand dyed 12-strand silk yarn from Stef Francis -- see pic below -- and began stitching the length of the cord, which I had previously dyed with tea. All in all, I added three rows of stitches. Each stitch is begun at the same end and using two filaments from the variegated floss so the colours are the same in each row.

For a while I considered adding a few more rows, filling the space between the existing rows, but I like it this way too. And, yes, I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to stitch with such long lengths of floss as the thread wears easily, but I felt it was the best way to ensure the colours lined up the way I wanted.

I've of cause also done a few stitches with the Aurica yarn, which I showed already in the first part of the sampler (here).  The long stitches probably can't be called running stitch. They are twisted, inspired by a technique I found on Di van Niekirk's blog, called twisted straight stitch. I've also stitched a few running stitches with Aurica on tulle:

(Below the Aurica is some bouclé yarn stitched on the same coarse tulle.)

And that's all I've done. Instead I treat you to some easy pattern darning sample I did last autumn. Which means I once again subject you to that horrible red aida... The pattern are stitched in one colour: using multiple colours would've enhanced the patterns more. Also, the chevron pattern would probably have been more visible if it was smaller in size. Now it's a bit like standing too close to a pointillist painting.

The last example isn't pattern darning. I just did a few offset rows of running stitches and then "connected the dots" with back stitches so a brick-like pattern began to emerge.

Seeing how I like whipped, threaded and interlaced stitches you would perhaps think I'd do something along that line, but I didn't get that far this week. I do have a sample somewhere, comparing whipped back stitch with whipped running stitch, but I just can't find it. And most of my other old samples use back stitch rather than darning stitch as a base. This goes for the threaded sample below too, though it looks a bit like running stitch so I added it anyway...

What is TAST?

Take a Stitch Tuesday is a weekly embroidery challenge throughout the year by Sharon of Pin Tangle. You can read more about it here (or by clicking the TAST badge to the right).

To see what others have done in this stitch, check out the comments in this post on Pin Tangle. Be sure not to miss Sharon's lovely stitch variations in the actual post.
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