Crochet Beaded Bracelets

My friend Gina sent me a link about two years ago showing some crocheted bracelets with button closures – so cute! I figured out the pattern, found different sized buttons, crocheted about twenty bracelets in varying lengths (multi-wraps are fun!), used jewelry o-rings to attach charms midway and started handing them out to friends on my travels.

Oh, the charms – they fell off in legions – usually after a household chore like doing the dishes…or walking across a room. Sometimes even before I was done with the visit (In Kauai I actually asked for some pliers and replaced the gifted charm with one from my purse. It probably also fell off soon after I left. Mrgh!)

I have not mastered the fool-proof closure of o-rings (does this exist, beyond soldering?).

Alas, a design failure the internet did not prepare me for. Also, I’m not sure how much I want to talk about how hard it is to BUTTON your own wrap-around bracelet…

New rule: Jewelry should not be a reminder of loneliness, or dexterity challenges, or a cause of any stress whatsoever frankly (right?!). Wait ’til you see how I’ve solved this!!! (P.S. o-rings replaced by stitching…why didn’t I think of that…first?!)

Magical Magnet Closures

I attended a presentation today of the San Diego Bead Society and was inspired to think again about what kinds of trades I could make for my next art retreat. I put 2 + 2 + 2 together and came up with: crocheted bracelet with beads and magnetic closure.

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Size 11/0 beads, Lizbeth variegated thread, size 10, gold magnetic closure

A couple hours before this creation I spent time looking up patterns for beaded amulet pouches and such, thinking that would be my thing. Then I remembered what I already know how to do and how many supplies I already have on hand. And how time works.

So I made the above prototype, using waxed nylon bead string to attach the magnetic ends to the crocheted piece, and also to thread the beads throughout. For the crocheters, I used a 2.25mm needle on Lizbeth size 10 thread. So far I’ve mapped a small bracelet (I have skinny wrists) like this:

  • Chain 60
  • Work a slip stitch in the 2nd chain from hook, and in all the rest to the end
  • Gauge: I worked these stitches fairly loose, to make way for the beads.

After that, I stitched the waxed bead string through a bead on one end and then worked a series of knots before attaching the magnet closure. Then I used the same waxed string to work my way back through the bracelet, attaching the beads on alternating sides.

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I aimed for every other stitch back and forth and it didn’t seem to need too much precision to attain a good effect.

I tried a couple of beading patterns (e.g. all on one side vs. alternating) and decided that going back and forth on the chain gave the best dynamic effect on the wrist.

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I used Dritz Fray Check on the end knots and wrapped the ends next to the magnetic closures with extra stitches. We’ll see how it holds up in the next few weeks.

The Front and the Back

 

So far it’s hanging nicely with beads on all sides and the magnetic catch falling to the bottom of my wrist. I’ll keep wearing it and see how it holds up throughout the week.

Favorite Discovery

Magnetic connectors do the work for you! And they come in really fun shapes – like fish and turtles. The ones I found were too wide to work with my current skinny crochet chains but I have plans for those magnetic turtle and fish connectors…just you wait…

 

 

 

 

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Garden Colors, Despite the Heat

We don’t have air conditioning and my extensive and highly scientific studies have shown that temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit without AC make me a very grumpy and sleep-deprived crafter. These same studies have also shown that small dogs in this situation will move around the bed all night looking for the next cool spot and end up taking way more bed space than they are usually allotted (thus disturbing the sleeping humans on the same bed space). It’s a recipe for disaster and we’re all finding our way (mine involves a wind tunnel created with multiple standing and ceiling fans in the guest bedroom…did I mention my night sweats?).

So we’re having slightly more fun than the rest of the world that’s dealing right now with heat stroke (my family and friends in Texas are dealing with 100+ temperatures so I’ve extended a personal ban on my own complaining). The sluggishness does make me question my lizard roots…(I get so lethargic that the only thing missing is the lizard push-ups…most hilarious thing ever…if you’ve never seen it you should do a quick search…I’ll hold).

I’ve been posting more on social media than my blog (pics with few words are WAY easier!), so my summer life has been documented elsewhere. But no fear of missing out on my every sneeze! I’ve decided to capture a “best of” here to keep us all connected (ok, it’s based on nature and art rather than sneezes – lucky you).

Nature First: In the Garden

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We can finally grow tomatoes without the local wildlife eating (most of) them!

 

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Cape Honeysuckle blooms
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Plumeria in the front yard
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Often when these geraniums grow next to each other one of them creates a bloom with both color schemes in one blossom. I haven’t seen it yet this summer.

Geraniums remain my primary vote for IronMan of Flowers in So Cal. They bloom all year long here y’all, despite heat extremes and water constraints. It’s basically a weed here and I give/throw away runners all year long (poke it in the ground and you have a new geranium bed).

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This is a rose bush I rescued from my neighbor’s driveway under a “free” sign. She has a garden full of more than 200 types of roses (all with official name signs) and for some reason this one was being cycled out. It’s called a “Rosetti Rose” (for the curious). It’s the only  flower in my garden with its own pre-printed name tag.
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This wonder of nature landed on my rental car windshield when I was recently in Portland, Oregon.  What a cool way to be, huh?
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This is my pineapple experiment…

So this took years y’all. I planted three pineapple tops “Avocado-pit-style” and waited…and waited…and waited…and I’m still waiting on all but this beauty. I think 5 years might have passed while these guys sat in pots and got moved in and out of the direct sunlight (causing some lukewarm gardening discussions about placement and which should be moved where when…a lot of W questions were flung about). This is all in the shadow of a favorite previous neighbor who grew  multiple juicy and edible pineapples in pots just like this around his pool (one of these experiments came from his garden). Not sure what I’m doing differently and I can’t guarantee the above fruit will ever be edible. But we continue to try…

So that’s what’s happening in my corner these days. I’ve also been crocheting, drawing and experimenting with the special stitches on my sewing machine so stay tuned.

Happy crafting!

Everything’s Coming up Roses!

My across-the-street neighbor grows only roses (she has over 200 different kinds, all with little signs stating their names!). I refer to her as The Rose Lady on my dog walks when people ask where I live (“across from the Rose Lady”) which always gets a resounding, “Oh yeah!” Everybody knows The Rose Lady, and we’re lucky enough to see her garden from our bedroom window every day.

She encourages everyone to cut a bouquet whenever they want so I headed over this (warm) afternoon to trim a few blooms and plunge them in water.

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I lined them up on the floor for easiest pictures…and now I want to leave them there!
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An army of roses!
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I love this splatter pattern. These remind me of candy.
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These rose petals are orange on the outside and red on the inside. I couldn’t capture the beauty of the whole bouquet.
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I enjoyed placing the cute red bouquet in the middle of these pinkies.

P.S. Marge is doing well and headed back to the care facility (from the hospital). Thanks for all your positive thoughts.

Rule #1 in Learning a Craft: Learn How to Fix Mistakes

I took dance classes for about 20 years…

Same year: Recital included the Pink Panther theme song and "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Don't miss the orange shag carpet and my feather headdress!
This year’s recital included the Pink Panther theme song (acrobatics) and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (tap). Don’t miss the orange shag carpet and my feather headdress!

One of the things I learned early on is the value of learning how to fix mistakes (in dance this involves keeping your face in the right configuration – usually a huge smile unless it’s modern dance – and moving around dramatically until you catch up. It works every single time…even in real life sometimes…).

Fixing Sewing Mistakes

Today I prepared for my last sewing machine lesson (which is tomorrow), and to get the most out of my time (still have to finish up those pj’s) I prepared some things ahead of time for another project: a small zip-up bag made from the remnants of the tote bags. I want to learn about my machine’s zipper foot and button-sewing attachment before the day is over (I’m just going to sew two random pieces of material to button together – not digging the pillow cover with buttons she’s offering – it’s cute, we just have too many pillows already).

The teacher suggested that I just cut out my pieces and bring them to class, but I decided to work ahead on the instructions as much as I could. So this brought me to quilting two pieces of material together with batting in between. Only I forgot to add the 2nd piece of material to the back of the first one (basically “quilted” the batting to one layer of material…not exactly “quilting”), and I got a line of stitch in on the second piece before I remembered. Ah well, forging ahead…

When I was done I had one piece quilted properly (the lining material with the batting makes it looks a little puffy), and one piece that was stitched “like” it was quilted – but it was completely flat (missing the attached lining piece). I thought about just using it as is and letting the seam stitches hold things together, but one of the linings would have been wriggling around inside the bag if I did that so I got creative. I tried a decorative stitch on my new machine!!!

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top piece is quilted to original design; bottom piece has been amended with feather stitch on top of the original vertical lines to fuse the lining piece to the batting

I am MOST IMPRESSED with myself for getting all those feather stitches directly on top of that already stitched line (of course I HAD to use a lighter color thread for “creative purposes” – which shows everything). Looks like I did it on purpose now (though I probably won’t make this decision again as a design choice – pain in the butt to line those stitch lines up).

Once again I have learned a new and important skill: how to undo or fix sewing machine mistakes (P.S. the seam ripper was involved on this one because I also sewed 3/4 of a row of feather stitch with no thread in the lower bobbin – doh!).

Can we also take a moment of silence to enjoy my nearly perfect 45 degree angles on those lines (heck, maybe they’re perfect! They look perfect to me!!). I used another new sewing tool to do that (it’s just a huge flat ruler with a bunch of angles and stuff printed on it) but there was almost math involved, as well as a dull piece of sewer’s chalk from my 7th grade home ec class, and I had to sit down and think about it for a second.

Flower Time!

Meanwhile on today’s dog walk, one of my favorite flowers:

Amaryllis - These usually show up a bit earlier in the year here...shifting weather patterns
Amaryllis – These usually show up a bit earlier in the year here…shifting weather patterns

 

Needle Lace…I’ve Been Inspired by an Artist

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a piece from this amazing artist: Ágnes Herczeg. She does a form of needle lace that incorporates natural elements to create amazing works of art.

Hanging proudly on my wall! By Ágnes Herczeg
Hanging proudly on my wall! By Ágnes Herczeg (link to more of her works on her facebook page)

Her work really intrigues me, and even when I hold it in my hand, I can barely comprehend how the tiny stitches came together into such a beautiful form (I’m still admiring it under a magnifying glass – such detailed work!!).

Needle Lace and Me

So of course I had to look this up and figure out how a lay person might give it a try. I found this super cool tutorial that walked me through the BASICS of creating lace on paper. So I gave it a try.

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Finished product – lots of room for improvement but an interesting experiment. (silk floss on outside/ribs, cotton floss on veins)

 

In Progress Notes

 

Using the cordonnet stitch to attach the framework
Using the cordonnet stitch to attach the framework. I think next time I’ll use broader anchor stitches instead of stitching each cord separately (the anchor stitches didn’t come out easily)

 

Working the buttonhold stitch up the leaf
Working the buttonhole stitch up the leaf

 

Adding silk thread to the veins of the leaf
Adding silk thread to the veins of the leaf (boy did it take me a long time to figure out the direction of stitches on each vein to get the knot to line up…I think I got it…)

I’ll definitely create more patterns to mess around with (and I’ll probably “have to” buy more embroidery thread because my stash colors are boring).

Until then…

Here’s What’s Blooming in the Garden!

Squash flowers are so beautiful!!
Squash flowers are so beautiful!!

 

 

Native Garden Tour: So-Cal (2 of 2)

Here’s the rest of the flowers we saw…

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I love this especially because it is a lupine, which is closest to the Texas blue bonnet that I’ve found here. Missin’ my blue bonnets…
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Fuzzy on the creases – this one cracked me up
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Heart-shaped cactus – I didn’t notice until I processed the photos!
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Aren’t these amazing?! The color juxtaposition floors me…
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This flower just about undid me. So leggy – so other-worldly – with leaves to match…
spiky green leaves
spiky green leaves
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Bottle-brush bush in all its finery (not to be used to clean actual dirty dishes). 🙂
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Another feathery bloom like the white one above…
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Lacey…feathery…fluffy…flowery…loved these!!!
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Part of a hanging basket with many more blooms heading up to the front door. They look like Christmas Cactus blooms to me…
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Same house – hanging cactus in the background. I love the light/dark contrasts in this pic
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I like the rocky backgrounds to these cactus flower shots.
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Colors and shadows…IN LOVE!

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Looking forward to planting our new front/back yards with these native plants in mind.

 

 

Native Garden Tour: So-Cal (1 of 2)

This weekend the California Native Plant Society hosted an event in my neighborhood! I heard about it from the neighbors a few blocks over where I harvested the Torrey Pine needles I used recently for these mini-baskets. Their front and back yards were featured on the Native Plant tour this weekend (P.S. They’re also thrilled that someone wants all the pine needles they keep having to clean off their driveway. In fact, they had some “ready for me” that they must have picked up that morning to make things look tidy. They were happy to see me. 🙂 ).

So here’s some pictures (native and non-native plants are mixed in here – we viewed several hybrid gardens and I didn’t capture all the plant names). We got lots of great ideas and we ended the day in a small yard with chickens and a pair of Japanese quail (no actual pics – peaceful coop made out of a “Tuff Shed” – cute birds that I thought looked a little like hedgehogs, with those cream-colored feathers).

So Here’s Some Amazing So-Cal Flowers

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A type of buckwheat (I like this one more than the many versions of white-flowering buckwheat bushes we saw).
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This is a tall-blooming poinsettia I’ve only seen down here in So-Cal, and how far inland you are determines how long they bloom (like the Coral Trees). I especially love this shot because I took it blind on my tip-toes (this flower was above my head).
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Native Iris – kind of unusual for such an arid climate
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An acacia seed pod that nature opened for me. I turned it upside on my hand and shook out the seeds (usually these pods are sealed tight with four sides of really tough leathery leafy material that seems impossible to cut through). They make great rattles actually. (Amie – I’m already planning to go back and gather some for your nature-loving brood! Can’t believe I didn’t think of it in the moment…blaming it on the chickens and quail 🙂 )
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I loved capturing the flowers as well as the buds behind them that held more promise…the plant progression was palpable. (the wind was also blowing – which made photography fun)
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Cactus flowers are exquisite from start to finish. I love that these factor into xeriscaping. We have some lovely shares from neighbors in our garden already.
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A type of sage – I love how the flowers are as fuzzy as the leaves.
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There’s “Bottle-Brush” (trees) and “Fairy Duster” (bushes) versions of this flower. I think this this on the Fairy Duster end of the spectrum (growing close to the ground).

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I have another list of photos I’ll post in v.2. We saw a lot of flowers/plants and got a lot of inspiration. We’re ready for water barrels and native plants, with some planning.

Chard from the garden – so colorful!

I’m busy sewing up this corset. It’s amazing how many times I end up stitching each panel. I’m finishing seams tonight and hope to have something to try on soon.

In the meantime, here’s what I gathered from the garden for dinner tonight. Such inspiring colors!

the leaves are so big!
the leaves are so big! (see the cute mini-squash in the corner? they were good too)
I love the back view even more!
I love the back view even more!

Most of these leaves are bigger than my face (isn’t that cool when a plant produces such growth?! Chard is such a fiesta vegetable!) I took a few outliers to the neighbor’s chickens (2 new eggs today, both brown). Such a huge vibrant plant that cooks down so tiny so quick. 🙂

Back to netflix and hand-stitching…this corset WILL get done.

 

Patterns and Rhythms, in Nature and Life

I’m busily sewing up this Alabama Chanin Stitch Corset featured (in pieces) in this post: Hand Stitching a Garment. I’ve since embellished it with beads and I’m putting in seams on all the pieces. There’s more before the end…pics to come.

Meanwhile, here’s some beautiful patterns I saw during our recent San Diego Arboretum visit.

a hollowed out log
a hollowed out log
These brown strands were not on every leaf...
These brown strands were not on the underside of every leaf…
I was so enraptured I forgot to read the sign telling me what this enchanting plant's name is...
I was so enraptured I forgot to read the sign telling me what this enchanting plant’s name is…

Lots of looking up for these pictures, and it was so worth it!