Monday, 30 April 2012

Happy walpurgis!

It's walpurgis night, valborgsmässoafton, today. One of the many days said to be a festival celebrating spring. And we've had some fab warm weather here today -- I think the whole country has -- with nothing but sun, blue sky and singing birds. A perfect valborg and a really great warm spring day (we had over 20 degrees in the sun).

Of cause the weather meant me and my sis went for a walk with our cameras. And Julle. Here's some of the photos I took earlier today, though not all as a headache is keeping me from editing and posting as many pics as I'd like. (No worry, an aspirin and I'll feel better in a few hours and it's not like I was going to any bonfire or party tonight anyway.)

Happy Walpurgis night!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Just a quick pic of the common pasque flower that's blooming at the moment.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Crash, boom, bang... not exactly how it sounded, but it felt just like something that would've sounded like that. I managed to break yet another fragile vintage glass flower on wire. I was just picking out some of my faux pearl drops and glass flowers on wires for a photo that was going to illustrate a future post on my other blog and noticed the wire was bent. I was just going to gently straighten it out. Not a good idea! The frail opalescent floral crumbled like a dried flower in my hands (covering my fingers in glass fragments -- ick!).

Luckily I have a few left, but that's the third one that has broken. One broke in storage (yes, that's bad storing on my part!) and another broke just like this one in my hands. So fragile. I don't think I dare use them in jewellery because of this...

If you wonder what a whole flower looks like, see my photo below.

Another twin bracelet -- revisited

So fairly busy this weekend too -- and my camera batteries were dying, just as the sunlight behind the rain clouds -- but still wanted to show the second version of the bracelet I showed earlier this week. The size of the seed beads were perfect, but the colour scheme was slightly messy and made the actual design hard to see so last night, before falling asleep, I made a new version using bronze-lined twin beads, golden seed beads and crystal rose topaz luster fp (apparently I did have a third colour in that size! Who knew...).

Because I used a different size seed beads, I had to alter the number of beads for each "wave". Below, you can see my trial strip. The first second (without fire-polished beads) was made using three seeds on each side, just like I used in the first bracelet, which fit perfectly with the fp's. Here it didn't work at all. So then I tried five seeds per side/wave -- because I prefer odd numbers and primes to even numbers -- which resulted in a really wavy pattern. So, lastly, I tried something in between and that is the version I stuck with for the final bracelet. The "five seeds waves" would probably work better if I used round beads instead of fire-polished, which -- despite the name (they are called round -- aren't fully spherical.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

WIP: another twin bracelet

Actually, I'm slightly too busy to be blogging today, but I wanted a break and I've had fun doing a new bracelet (still in progress) that I wanted to show.

This is another really simple pattern. My own, evolving from trial and error, but probably not unique as I just let the shape of the beads determine the design. Beads as usual a mix of what I had at hand: seeds and twins from the prize I won and fp from my own stash (this and light hyacinth was the only colours I had in the right colour -- size or colour, you can't get both...) It's not finished, but at this point I began thinking about different directions the design could take: should I add the fire-polished beads as intended or leave it "bare" or just add beads to one side? The last alternative would probably be better for a collar/choker necklace than a bracelet.

Here's a really crummy pic of what the bracelet looks like lying flat. You can see the different design options I mentioned, from beads on both sides to no beads.

I'm also thinking about how different the design would look if I had used fully coloured beads instead of colour-lined. The lining makes it look almost like an open space in the middle. Just as in the lace bracelet I showed earlier. It would be fun to make a second bracelet using coloured beads too, just to see the difference. In such a bracelet the shape of the twin beads would be more visible instead of the meandering line that is the main focus of the design here.

A different colour combo would also make a huge difference. What would happen if the seeds and twins were the same colour? Or if using different colours of fp? Or just a huge "confetti" bead soup? All interesting questions, but I'm not sure I've got the right size, colour and amount of beads to try many variations at the moment.

Funny, looking at the pics, I almost think it looks like those herringbone "wave" bracelets. But much simple (at least for a newbie) as it's mostly stringing, not stitching.

Anyway, feedback always appreciated. Which version do you like best? And what do you think of the design overall?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ice pearls

I can't say that the textured glass pearls sometimes known as "ice pearls" have every been my favourite beads. It's often been the opposite. I've actually used them twice: once for an objet d'art where I used round red ice pearls as wild strawberries strung on a straw of timothy-grass (see this post) and for a summer sea themed bead embroidered brooch (here) where the beads had just the right colours and shine (and it was for a contest so I needed to use beads from the shop, which limited my bead choices).

Anyway, while I've almost always disliked the beads, like with so many things I've still got a few of them in the evergrowing stash, having beaded for years now. In this case, the ice pearls came from two bead mixes I got ages ago. Just recently I sat down and sorted the beads -- having searched for the crackled glass beads in the mixes to illustrate a blog post -- and put them all in neat little piles, one for each bead type/shape. And I must say the colour combo in the ice pearl pile ignited a spark.

The are still not  favourite beads, but at least now I feel interested in doing something with them. They inspire me, which ice pearls have only done once before (the brooch doesn't count). Wonder what it'll be: I only know I want to create something.

That's a good reason to hold on to beads you might not like that much. One day you might discover something in them that you never saw before or you find something else that could use those half forgotten beads, tucked away behind the more attractive ones, to complete the design. You just never know.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 15-16

I'd didn't forget it this time. It's a new round-up of my last two weeks of blogging at my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg. This time you'll find everything from how czech glass beads are made and the latest contests to pearl glossaries and frog closure necklace projects.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Twin bead lace bracelet

Curious to see something I've made with the Preciosa Ornela loot I won? Here's a bracelet I made when playing around with different ideas and designs for the twin beads. Originally I was sceptical of the crystal colour-lined beads, thinking I'd prefer solid colours or finishes, but in this design it turned out that the lining was a perfect way to get both colour and the illusion of open space along the "spine" of the bracelet.

For this bracelet, I used a very simple 2-needle technique. I would've wanted the twin beads to form more or a zig-zag pattern and will try to make some variations with bigger beads (bicones?), but in the end it looks good this way too. (I must say, I think it looks better IRL, being so sheer in colour and dainty in design, which the photo doesn't really do justice too.)

As so often there's no clasp yet. I'm looking for a nice, small one that'll fit and I find shopping for findings much more boring that going bead hunting so there aren't that many clasps to chose from in my stash...

If you wonder about the photo, it's taken with the bracelet put around a tapered beer glass. I find it's often a good bracelet display for photos as it's a) tapered so it works with many different bracelet sizes and b) clear. A bonus with the later is that you can always see the back of the bracelet too.

The actual photo set-up is a bit different from usual as the sunny days (even today when we good the most gorgeous sun shower) mean it's perfect to rig everything in front of the south-facing window at my sister's workbench. As you can see below. Not exactly very professional looking, putting the set-up on my sis's newly-sewn seeds (she just warned me to do it again today as the seeds are beginning to sprout), but it's the best access to natural light I have indoors and the colours and sparkle is so much better when using the sun rather than construction lights to light up jewellery and beads.

TAST week 16: French knot

English name: french knot (pl. french knots)
Swedish name: fransk knut  (pl. franska knutar)

Ok, so now I've catched up. Or I will have when showing the aurica sampler, which is the second half of my catch-up post (to be published here soon). This week I focused on ribbon embroidery as I've never really tried to make french knot ribbon roses before. Do know how to make french knots with thread/floss so why not focus on a type of embroidery I want to learn but haven't got very far with yet (oh, I don't want to use my pretty silk ribbons for my first clumpsy attempts -- what a waste of beautiful, and not always that cheap, silk!).

So these are officially my first ribbonwork flowers. First rose I made was the pink one, using 25-30 mm wide ribbon. Actually it's my second because I messed up, trying to just tweak it a bit and then pulled it too hard so it had to be redone (hence why the ribbon is a bit frayed). Not perfect, but I'm pleased with it considering what a newbie I am.

Then I went on to do the blue knots in 7 mm ribbon -- one turned out better than the other -- and the purple flower, which I made from a cheap synthetic ribbon yarn. I think I'm going to try and do some more embroidery with that yarn in the future...

Of cause I've also made knots with the aurica yarn. I tried a few variations, altering the number of twists and changing between starting with a section "open" or filled yarn closest to the fabric. My faves are the two knots in the middle (which you can see close-ups of below). I liked the black centre and puffy orange "petals" around it. In the top right corner you can see some stem stitches -- better pic of them will be found in the coming aurica sampler post. Hopefully you'll also find a less blurry photo of the french knots there...

 Making these stitches made me think of a UFO I found when looking for my old cotton floss stash. It's a cat embroidery I designed and began, but never finished, to stitch as a kid or young teen. The cat is modelled after a fridge magnet I had.

Stem stitches, french knots and bullion knots -- must be the first and last I've ever made so far! -- it was pretty ambitios considering how bored I was with stem stitch as a kid and knots aren't always that easy when impatient. Of cause I also have the first colour sketch and finished pattern (which was traced onto the black fabric).

Wonder if I'll ever get around to finish it? If nothing else my taste in embroidery and colours have changed a bit since then, making it less interesting to pick up again. I'm into other designs and materials today. On the other hand it's a pity not to finish a design I actually took some time to compose and pick out colours for...

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.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I've posted this pic on Flickr so why not also here? Another image that I played around with in PicMonkey, adding colour effects, frames and textures (one of them being my own).

Below you can see a pic of the original image.

I resized the pohto in another free online tool, Pixlr Photo Editor. If you haven't, you should check out Pixlr too. Apart from the editor, they also have two other free tools: Pixlr Express (their alternative to Picnik) and Pixlr-o-matic (for adding textures and effects).

Why Pixlr Editor when I used PicMonkey above? Well, due to a full harddrive I only have the paper rose pics on Picasa at the moment and with the Editor I can upload photos from e.g. Picasa just like I could in Picnik. PicMonkey doesn't offer this service. Yet.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April bead soup palette

Inspired by everyone making colour palettes etc and publishing on their blogs, I thought it might be a good feature for my other blog. At first my idea was to use all kinds of photos, but then I felt my palettes would just be more amateurish versions of the palettes from e.g. Design Seeds and Brandi Girl. So instead I turned my attention to the big bead stash: why not make bead palettes based on "bead soups" created from my stash? Not that original (FusionBeads, Perles & Co etc etc make such colour ideas on their websites), but it worked better for me than my original idea.

This is the first palette I've made, published on Manekis Pärlblogg today. It's really simple with just two bead types and the design of the picture is in a way a first draft. Maybe I'll tweak it a bit for future bead soup palettes (if nothing else, adapt it to what ever photo editing tool I'll prefer after Picnik closes this week). Focus is on colour, not beads, meaning I select beads based more on their colours than if the sizes/shapes/materials work together.

For the colour key, I'm trying to use the colour names used by the sellers to avoid confusion and make it easy for anyone inspired by the beads to find the same nuance. I've also thought about adding small tips or ideas like "why not try and add some dark pink/rose as an accent, picking up the rose tones in the grape opal beads" or "this combo would look crisp with shiny silver or silver colour findings".

What do you think? Is it an idea worth pursuing? Any suggestions or ideas for my future bead soup palette posts?

Monday, 16 April 2012

TAST catch-up, part 1

I've been doing my best to catch up with the TAST challenges. Five stitches it added up to, all in all, and today I've got samples of four of them to show The couching isn't really part of the challenge: all those pieces are stuff I've done last year; for the TAST challenge I'm only doing couching and satin stitch with Aurica yarn so I won't show that until part 2. Which I'll hopefully write before I need to finish this week's challenge stitch.

Be sure to click the image above for a close-up. To see what everyone else have done, do please click the english name of each stitch to go to the Pin Tangle blog posts. Don't miss the weekly TAST highlights on the blog either!

English name: Whipped wheel
Swedish name: ?

At the top of the sampler above, you see a couple of whipped wheels. A pretty fun stitch, though slightly tricky to get even. I've used similar techniques in wirework. Decided to try and do two beaded versions too, which was partially successful. For the first beaded wheel I added beads to the centre of four spokes. Only had room for one row of thread around them so it's barely visible. For the second wheel I put the beads on the edge of each of the eight spokes. Looks kind of nice, but I should've make it bigger as it was tricky to get the needle in between the beads.

English name: Barred chain and alternating barred chain
Swedish name: ? (Alternerade räta och avigvända kedjestygn?)

At the middle of the sampler you will find a mix of barred and alternating barred chain (the difference being if the twisted chain stitches stick out on only one side or on both). Fun stitch, which like the whipped wheel, I'd never done before. As I loved doing beaded chain stitch earlier in the challenge -- read about that here -- I just have to play around with beaded stitches. Tried different versions, adding beads to different parts of the stitch. Liked the result!

English name: Stem stitch
Swedish name: Stjälkstygn
Last week's challenge was stem stitch. I used to hate that as a kid: you need a bit of patience to make the stitches short, even and smooth -- didn't really have that as a kid. So when I tried it last autumn for the first time in many years, I didn't think I'd be able to make a nice, even line -- but it was really easy! I was surprised. Unfortunately, I can't find the piece of cloth I stitched on and so can't show the kitty I made.

But I did make a new sample for TAST. This time stitching on aida, which works really well. The first row is short, long and whipped stem stitches. The second row is bead stem stitch. I began -- stitching from right to left -- by just adding one bead to the middle of each stitch and then making "fully beaded" stitches, adding five beads per stitch. The last two variations are whipped, adding one or three beads to each whipping stitch.

English name: Couching
Swedish name: Läggsöm

The sample above is another one from last autumn. I played around with cross stitches and ended up doing these variations. Not sure they can actually be called couched, but I like how fixing the centre of the large cross stitches subtly altered them so I wanted to add a pic.

Earlier I've shown my couched ball chain, which you can read about here, and my aurora borealis bead embroidery (one of the first I ever made!), which include lines of couched beads near the horison. You can read about the bead embroidery here.

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).

The first daffodils

Photographing the first daffodils this year hasn't been as easy as it sounds. First, the camera batteries needed charging, which I forgot, and so had to postphone the photo session a day. Next day it rained (oh, ok, drizzled, but still too wet for the camera). And today it was windy. Not that windy, but enough to make flowers on long stalks bob with the gusts. I did manage to get a few decent pics though.

Most of the daffodils are still just budding, but a handful have begun to bloom.

Sorry about the weird angles in some of the pics -- a combination of me crouching in front of the flowers (without standing on my knees as the ground was wet and dirty), doing my best to get close and follow the flowers as they swung in the wind.

That last one is a funny little daffodil. The stalk hasn't grown at all so the flower is not even a centremetre above the ground.

My sis also spotted the first, tiny violets of the year the other day.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Foggy fields

This is a continuation of the pics I showed yesterday. Fields shrouded in steam fog (aka evaporation fog or, when forming over water, sea smoke). As mentioned yesterday, this is steam or smoke rising from the freshly plowed earth. It's not a fog that covers the whole landscape, it's concentrated to the fields where it in places rose as high as the trees. The pastures on the other hand weren't foggy at all -- something you can see in some of the pics (and particularly one of yesterday's photos).

It was tricky to pic which photos to publish and not all where that good, but this is the selection I chose in the end. As usual you can click the pics for full scale (which isn't that big, but it is an enlargement).

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