Old Ring, New Ring

As you might remember, I was working on jazzing up the 20 gauge hammered band I made last year in beginner’s class. It was a bit uneven (first time I ever used the cutting shear, what can I say), the seam was awfully visible, and I just never loved it. So, since this round of classes was all about bezel practice, I decided to slap a stone on it. Well, not slap: do a good job on. So I rolled out a strip of 20 gauge sterling in the rolling mill (it was probably about 22 gauge in the end) and got down to work.

teardropringbigNow this, I love! The stone is probably a smoky quartz (it came from an inexpensive grab bag of cabochons) and it gave me a bit of trouble. The bezel I made was just perfect . . . until I soldered it and found it was now just a bit too small. I cleaned out the inside of the bezel box with files and grinding tools, and that worked just fine. I made sure it it had a good 45 degree angle around the rim and a neat, subtle notch at the point. After that, my problem was actually moving the metal, because this ain’t no 28 gauge fine silver strip.  This is hard.

I didn’t have anything at home that would really do a good job, but in the studio I found a nice bezel pusher (it looks like a small square rod of steel with a wooden handle on one end.) I put the ring into a vise (with protective leather on each side!) and held down the stone with some fingers while sort of holding the pusher in place with some other fingers and gently hammering with the other hand. It was a bit awkward, getting at all the sides, but I went back and forth and got it done. (I don’t know if it was strictly necessary, but I’ve read that it’s best to set the point first, so I did that.) After that I used a burnisher to get the edge smooth and nice. I definitely want to get both of those tools for home, not to mention one of those vise clamps with a ball socket so you can get at all angles more easily. Ah, someday.

Here’s the way the band originally looked, by the way.

firstring

It still has some tool marks and such on the inside, which I will take care of in January when I (fingers crossed) have my very own flex shaft at home. If not, I can do it in the next round of classes, especially since the studio just received a donation of a bunch of flex shafts–enough to have one at each of the ten benches now. Yay!

 

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Come On, Kayleen

Well, five months, three audio books, who knows how many movies and t.v. shows and . . . it’s done. I am done with the Kayleen Pullover.

kayleen7Whew! There are a few areas around the seams and such I wish could have been smoother (literally smoother–worsted weight cotton shows up lumps and bumps like nobody’s business) but overall I think it went well and looks fine. (Blocking might help, too.) It was harder than I thought this “simple” pattern would be, but challenge is good.

Just for a laugh, look how much yarn I have left. Boy, did I cut it close!

kayleenscrap

I understand it’s good to keep a bit of leftover in case of repairs in future. Maybe even wash some of it every time you wash the sweater, so it ages at the same rate. Not a bad idea.

Before I move on, I just want to share a picture of me knitting with my old kitty, Mongo. He hadn’t been in great health for a while, and his time to pass on came this week. As difficult as it could be to knit with a cat in your lap, I often made an effort to let him do it because I’m sure the warmth was good for his old bones.

meandmongomcgeeHe’s been a part of my life for ten years and I miss him. Maybe I’ll make a piece of tribute jewelry for him soon, I don’t know.

 

 

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Bars and Vs, Smiles and Frowns

If you have any idea what that title means, you have obviously seamed a sweater before.

It’s not hard to do, but there are things to learn, and so I’ve procrastinated a bit on getting down to the set-in sleeves of my Kayleen pullover. Seriously, I had to search around the web and learn horizontal-to-horizontal seaming, horizontal-to-vertical, vertical-to-vertical (oh wait, that’s just good ol’ mattress stitch!) and all THAT was just for the stockinette side. The front of this sweater is reverse stockinette, so . . . ? Turns out it’s not hard to seam, but you have to pay attention to which stitches you’re picking up (and how cute: those that curve up are smiles, and those that curve down are frowns.)

So, here’s where I am today.

kayleen6All those ends . . . all those ends to weave in . . .

I’m not 100% sold on how those seams look, but I do appear to be doing them very neatly and in accordance with the pictures in the pattern (note: pattern is no help in matters of seaming.)  I’m a bit afraid that (1) left will not match right and (2) I’m going to run out of yarn before I can do the applied I-cord around the neck and sleeves.

Still, there’s a certain meditative concentration to this that I like, constantly focused on just where to put the needle next. I . . . think I enjoy it!

kayleen5My idea of fun these days.

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That’s More Like It

So, I was annoyed and upset the other day by my mistakes and lack of progress. I wasn’t sure if I should, but today I decided to go ahead and at least finish the riveted bead ring I was working on. I couldn’t remember where I saw it, and so couldn’t find it again, but there’s a tip out there somewhere about slightly repositioning a drilled hole that’s off-provided you started with a too-small pilot hole–which I actually did, hooray. So, using a drill bit that matched the rivet wire, I kinda “pulled” the hole a little bit more towards where I wanted it. It’s still not perfect, but it’s not as horrible as I feared. When I get my flex shaft for Christmas (fingers crossed) I am going to make a point of practicing drilling until I get good at it. Until then, I have this:

beadring2

All the lessons I learned from bad riveting paid off, because I did really well on this one, so I’m happy about that. Now all I have to do is clean and polish up the band in class, but it’s going to be a while until I get to do that (or even update this blog), so I thought I’d post now. Besides, my mood is now improved 100%. Guess I like a challenge.

I want to make another one of these with a pretty red agate bead, but I think I might follow a different pattern next time. This ring was based on a project from this book. It’s good, but I think I want to try something a bit more complex. I came across this video yesterday while finding some awesome help from another Soham Harrison video, and I think I like it better. The ring goes all the way around the finger and the bead sits atop that.

BTW this is my 200th post! Not bad for someone who was playing around with ideas of making crochet thread jewelry nearly three years ago.

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Filed under ring, riveting, stones/gems

Coffee Cup Cozies (Yes, I’m Serious)

I’ve been in a mood to stashbust again, and that means using up the last of some wool (or wool-blend) scraps on cozies for my coffee mugs. They look ridiculous, but they really do keep my coffee hotter, longer.

coffeecupcozy

 

I don’t have a specific pattern for these, but if you know your way around a crochet hook, it’s not hard to improvise. The base is a circle done in single crochet in-the-round. When it’s grown a little wider than the cup, I start doing rows. The first row is through the back loops only (of the circle); you can do single crochet, half-double, double, whatever you feel like–just one stitch per stitch so you start growing a column. The only thing to remember is to stop a few stitches short so you end up with a slit wide enough for your mug handle. Then you turn, leaving those few stitches unworked, and do another row. Keep going. When you get up about halfway through the handle area, make a big chain loop at the end of a row for a button. Keep going until it’s tall as you like, add another chain loop, and weave in your ends. Add a couple buttons opposite the loops, and you’re done. One last tip: use a double yarn for extra cozy thickness, as the one on the left.

Now that I have a few of these, I’m ready for a long winter of making jewelry in my cold basement. I was actually going to talk about my current projects, but they’re all going badly. All of them. Every ring I’m trying to make. I’ve got one with a stone that won’t set, one with rivet holes I drilled badly, and one . . . well, that one is promising. I had to get some advice from a Facebook group on how to do it, and I think I’ll be able to, now. It’ll be a while before I get to any more work on these, however, because I have to miss class this week. So, until then, chin up. If I can’t solve these problems, I can always start again.

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Crochet Mini Lights! With free pattern!

As the deadline to turn in our holiday wreath for charity auction looms, my knitting group is trying to finish up our assigned components. As I mentioned, I was to do a string of lights, which I couldn’t find a suitable pattern for. (By suitable, I mean small bulbs.) I kinda scratched up a pattern, made a bunch of bulbs in four colors, and strung them up (perhaps temporarily; Tuesday we’re going to get together and I’ll see if they would look better spaced differently.)  Here’s what I’ve got now:

minilightscrochetpatt

If anyone would like to make these, here’s how it goes.

Mini Crocheted Holiday Lights

You will need:  scrap yarn in at least four colors, plus the “hardware” color; size E or F crochet hook, whichever gets you a tight gauge; fiberfill or polyfill; darning needle; stitch marker recommended

Note: for neat decreases, only work through the front loop of each stitch (look up “invisible decrease” if you need more guidance)

Pattern:

With bulb color, make magic ring

Make 5 sc in ring

2 sc in each sc around; place marker (at end of this and every round, unless you’re less easily distracted than I am); (10)

1 sc in each sc around (10)

1 sc in each sc around (10)

Increase (2 sc in sc, 1 sc in next sc) around; (15)

1 sc in each sc around (15)

1 sc in each sc around (15)

Decrease (2 sc tog, 1 sc in next) around (10, but don’t finish off last stitch; leave two loops on hook for neater color change)

Switch to hardware color and finish that last stitch with it

1 sc in each sc around (10)

1 sc in each sc around (10)

Stop ‘n’ stuff with fiberfill

Decrease (2 sc tog, 1 sc in next) around; one sc will be left over

Work last sc with first sc together as a slip stitch. Slip stitch the next two as well, and then put your hook through a stitch across the gap and slip it to close the bulb (no need to get all precise about it, as long as it closes neatly.)

With hardware color, *ch 8. Sl st through top of bulb to attach. Repeat from * to end.

 

This pattern is free for you to do with what you wish, except sell it. Actually, if you can get people to give you money for it, we should get in touch because I could probably use the business advice.

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The Stone I Learned Wire Wrapping For

I’ve brought this project up a couple times over the past year; it involves wire-wrapping a “picture jasper” I bought at a gem and fossil show last year (from this seller, I believe.) I taught myself wire wrapping from jewelry magazines, YouTube videos, and just plain experimentation. Worked with copper, ordered some gold-filled wire, started this piece, didn’t like it, let it sit, started it over, got stuck on what to do with the wire ends, and then finally . . . today . . .

picturestoneBAM! 

It got a little fancier than I anticipated, but I like it. I didn’t want all eight wire ends hanging around the stone and cluttering it up, so I gave it an updo, so to speak. I think it’s delicate enough to not appear too gaudy on a chain–and even if it does, I’ve decided not to care so much about that. I’ve been going minimal for a bit too long, I think.

One thing I’ve learned–remembered, actually–from this piece is that it’s fun and worthwhile to sit and think and come up with ideas of your own. As a student jewelry artist, I spend a lot of time on Pinterest–more time than I spend working at my bench–looking for “inspiration.” I need to let that go for a while and just play on my own.

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Filed under pendant, stones/gems, wire