Bail Fail

Last week I got this interesting bead at my local bead shop. I don’t even know if I like it; I passed it up maybe three times before I decided to get it.

weirdbead

If I had to guess, I’d say it was probably white howlite with some pink dye on it. I don’t know, it’s got a cool 1980s feel to it, and I wanted to make a unique bail for it. So I made a paper template and pulled out an old piece of roll-printed copper with a faint star pattern on it and got to work.

bailfail1Well, it wasn’t great, and I tweaked it a bit before I decided it competed too much with the bead. So I dug out a crappy old glass bead from my collection and set it for the riveting practice.

bailfail2And then I put it on a headpin and skewered a leaf, because why not.

This was a depressing outcome for the work (though all practice is good practice, and I learned a good lesson about NOT riveting a bead with a too-large hole, because your rivet is likely to distort inside it.) The bead is just irregular enough that it will look crooked no matter what. I thought about it last night, when I had my first class of the season (more on that tomorrow or so.) It’s an open studio session this time, but my teacher did pop by for a little while, and I overheard her talking to someone about a failed project. She said it always feels like when you make something that sucks, you feel like you suck, but it isn’t true. Just keep going.

And of course I will.

Coming soon:  a soldering win.

 

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Christmas in September

Every year, a hospital in my town has a Christmas event in which decorated wreaths, trees, and even “rooms” of Christmasy things are viewed and auctioned off for charity. My knitting group has been toying with the idea of making a wreath for a couple of years now, but we always seem to just miss the deadline. This time I pushed a bit to get us to do it. We’ve even gotten the o.k. to use hand knitted/crocheted ornaments, so we’re going to have some of those as well as traditional things like big ribbons and shiny ball ornaments. I’ll talk about it more as the season progresses, but for now we’re just trying to get a few things started to make sure everything each of us is working on will coordinate in terms of colors and size (it so, so, helps that one of us is a graphic designer!)

I’ve been assigned to do a string of crochet Christmas lights. Found a few patterns on Ravelry, but none small enough, so I improvised. The plan is to make a bunch of them separately and then chain them up together later when I have a better idea of how many I’ll need and how they should be spaced.

wreath1

 

If our plan works out, the wreath should be really cute. It’s going to feature a knitted monster, on a ladder, hanging the lights–so stay tuned.

In other news, I haven’t given up on Kayleen yet, but she is slow. This is why I can’t do knit-a-longs.

kayleen3

Now I need to get in gear, because I start having studio time again Monday. I spent some money at the local bead shop last week, and now I have lots of nice beads for riveted rings (if only my silver tubing would finally arrive in the mail!) I also picked out some pretty glass beads in even numbers so I can make some earrings to sell locally . . . maybe . . . hopefully . . . yeah, I really need more confidence on the business end of things.

I might do a post-a-day challenge again soon. That was a ridiculously productive time for me, and formed good habits which I immediately lost when it was over. Ha!

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Filed under charity, crochet, knitting, sweater

Complainypants Averted

I seem to be having trouble with every single thing I’m working on lately, so I’ve been kind of avoiding this blog because I didn’t want to be a downer. However, things have picked up and I’ve pushed through most of my problems, although I wasted a lot of time playing video games instead of working, because I have a very avoidant personality. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening.

Finally got to the interesting cable detail part of the Kayleen Pullover. That’s the good news. The bad news is, I screwed it up at one point and couldn’t really tell until about eight rows later. Fortunately, I was with my knitting group at the time, and our cable guru was able to fix it . . . or maybe not fortunately, because she fixed my mistake but left one of her own. It was the kind of thing that didn’t really show on the right side, but I knew it was there, and maybe it would be more obvious after washing and blocking, so after a couple days of angst, I decided to go in and fix it myself. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but cables are kind of my nemesis and I don’t understand what I’m looking at well enough to make repairs. Or so I thought. And now here’s a picture of the scariest thing I’ve ever done in knitting:

kayleencableproblem(Shiver.)

It took two tries, a crochet hook, a cable needle, and four episodes of Futurama to get this small bit knitted up properly, but I did it! So that was a confidence booster, and now maybe I “get” cables a little better than I did before.

kayleencablefixedYay!

In other news, my commission-friendly friend asked me if I could fix a brooch she bought online somewhere for . . . well . . . probably too much money. It features a bunch of glass flowers glued onto a base metal backing, which was glued onto a pin finding (it took me a while to realize that there were sharp edges on one of the points because the person who made this probably snipped off the ring that originally made this piece a pendant finding.) Not surprisingly, two of the flowers broke off when she tried to put it on. There wasn’t much I could do except try to glue them back on, which didn’t quite work (glass can be notoriously difficult to glue with any security.) So, with a bit of nail polish remover and a heap of patience, I popped off all the other flowers (not difficult, alas) and tried to remove as much glue as possible. I didn’t quite succeed in that.

brooch1Yeah, that glue’s not coming off.

After it dried, I scuffed up the remaining glue as well as possible with a needle file, as rough surfaces hold glue/cement better than smooth ones. Then I replaced all the flowers–which, at least, I was able to clean off, because the original maker had slopped some glue on them–and hypo cemented the crap out of the base and put the flowers back. I don’t know if that was the proper thing to do, but it seems to have worked.

brooch2

The only problem is that from some angles you can see the shiny surface of the hypo cement under the flowers, and I feel bad about that. (On the other hand, at least you don’t see strange red fibers stuck in the glue anymore, because yes, that’s how it was before.)

I’ve decided not charge my friend for this job, and I’ve also decided that my jewelry teacher was right when she advised us to avoid accepting repair jobs on costume jewelry. So: lesson learned. Let’s move on.

Remember this unfinished thing I’ve been sitting on?

picstonefail

Time has come today. Let’s re-do that wrap and get this pretty stone set!

picstonenew

It’s a relief that this is working out. It’s a very basic wrap, but I guess that’s what this stone needed. I’m considering ordering some gold-filled round wire to put a basket weave on the bail, but don’t know yet. As I keep saying, this wire has a brass core that makes it very hard and a pain to work with. Plus, if I can figure out a subtle way to finish the ends, I think that’ll look best. I’ll think about it. Just getting this far has boosted my spirits.

Oh, and one last thing: before tackling the above project, I decided to fix and finish this abandoned wrap of a repro Roman coin just to get a little fresh practice in:

mm2

reprodoneNothing special, but I got it done.

And that’s all for now. Here’s hoping my next projects go smoothly . . . and if they don’t, here’s hoping I can deal with it!

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Filed under pendant, stones/gems, sweater, wire, yak yak yak

Well, That was Fun

And now I’m done with this stashbuster.

navajoafghansmall

If I can ever find more yellow and brown (I just found out this yarn has been discontinued) I may be able to extend it somewhat. As it is, I really like it on my rocking chair.

In other news, I’ve signed up for another jewelry class this fall!  I’ve got mixed feelings about it, because my teacher has cut back her schedule quite a bit, and she won’t even be teaching an advanced class this fall. The session I signed up for is going to be open studio–no instructor at all. I’ll miss the help, but on the other hand, I can practice and strengthen the skills I already have. And, the class fee is way way less expensive than usual (even less expensive than if I’d just gone in on my own and rented studio time.) So, I’ll make what I can of it. It won’t start until the end of the month, so I’ll have time to work at home on the parts I can and be ready to work with the equipment I don’t have at home when the time comes.

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Summer Stashbust (Air Conditioning Required)

Thought I’d check in to show my progress on the stashbuster mini-afghan I’m making with what’s left of my NaturallyCaron.com Country yarn:

diamondblanketPretty neat, isn’t it? This is the Multi-Colored Afghan by Yvonne R (although I guess the general idea is so popular and common it’s practically a folk pattern, like the granny square afghan.) I made it considerably smaller because I didn’t think I had enough yarn for a large blanket. I’d hoped to be able to make this square, at least. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but if it becomes big enough to nicely cover the seat cushion on this rocking chair, I will be very very happy.

And when that’s done, I promise I’ll get back to the Kayleen Pullover. I may even be happy about it.

 

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Back to Work

I spent the last week out of town, and for once I actually didn’t bring any projects with me. No wire and pliers, no knitting, no crochet. It was a nice change of pace, and I actually spent the train rides there and back reading books. Actual, paper, books–not listening to podcasts while working away at something.

Anyway, before I left, I finished up a few things. One is this wire-and-stone bead project I started last month:

lotusbeads

As I mentioned, the lotus pendant isn’t my work; it was something I bought online a few years ago to commemorate a certain religious event in my life. I used to have it on a string of peridot bead chips, but that never looked quite satisfactory. I like this a lot better, although I reckon the bail is a bit awkward. It would be no big deal to change; I’ve got tons of this silver-plated copper wire sitting around.

Oh–and speaking of silver plated copper, I have said that Zebra craft wire holds up really well over time. I just noticed that the plating on a certain bracelet I made a little over a year ago is starting to wear off, so now there’s pinkish areas in the high spots. So, just for reference–if you want your wire work to look good for more than a year, don’t use the craft stuff. (Gee, wish I’d noticed that before I made this. Guess I might be re-designing it again in a year!) I’m going to actually keep wearing the bracelet just to see what happens (and I kinda like the wabi-sabi look of well worn costume jewelry anyway.)

The other thing I did involved a very inexpensive time piece from a craft store. It was a little metal robot with a clock in its belly. Here’s another warning, just for reference: if you buy something like this expecting to use it as an actual timepiece, don’t do it. Craft store watches don’t keep good time, and you’ll have to change the (expensive!) batteries a lot to keep it running. I ended up picking the clock out and creating a shadow box of sorts:

robotflowers

I painted a grass-and-sky background on a bit of paper with acrylic paints, sealed it, and glued it inside the backing. The flowers are Czech glass, held together with stems made of green aluminum craft wire. It’s cute enough, and in time I may feel like taking those things out and putting something else in.

Actually, what I really want to do someday is fabricate a robot pendant from scratch. Right now I’m at the Pinterest stage, where I’m gathering reference photos to decide how I want all the features to look. I want lots of rivets and hinges so the arms and legs can move, and compartments with little doors so you can open them and see found objects mounted inside . . . somehow. It’ll be some time before I get moving on this because I still have a lot to learn, but ultimately this is where I’m going. And of course I’ll post about it as I go.

 

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Filed under beads, necklace, pendant, wire

I Hate You, Sweater

Still making slow progress on the Kayleen Pullover, though I’ve grown to hate the thing. It’s tedious and boring and the worsted weight cotton moves so sluggishly on size 6 needles (last time I made a sweater with this yarn, I used 10s and it was no problem.) Here’s how it looks now, though I still have an inch to go before the interesting detail stuff starts to happen.

hatesweater

(Little thing learned the hard way: don’t join a new yarn on the reverse stockinette side; it’ll make a lump.)

I didn’t want to get distracted by other patterns while I was working on this one, but I need a break desperately. By happy coincidence, a certain crochet pattern appeared on the front page of Ravelry, and I knew what my next stashbust had to be. It’s unusual in that it involves breaking the yarn to make fringe after every row; this is nice because (1) no ends to weave in, yay! and (2) it’ll be great for all the scraps and mini-balls I have left in NaturallyCaron.com Naturally Country, which was one of my favorite yarns a few years ago.

navajo

Here’s what I have so far. The Vs are going to be diamonds as I progress. I like it so much I might just have to buy more yarn (a hazard of making stashbusters out of regular, non-random color patterns.)

Here’s the free pattern.

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Filed under afghan, crochet, knitting, sweater