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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WIP: Crochet Blocking

In my free time (ha!) I’m working on the Crochet Along (CAL) I mentioned earlier. It’s a fun color palette, soft yarn, and a supreme challenge working through a pattern from a new crocheter every week (we get a new pattern each Wednesday with the plan to work up four squares – I’m two weeks behind everyone else so far – so, right on target!).

It’s the first time I’ve taken crochet blocking seriously…though there was that crazy crochet snowflake season when I realized they would only work as possible presents/snowflakes when they were blocked and starched. It involved the stove, a bulls-eye target-looking printout from the internet, one trillion pins and some unfortunate craft bead dye-bleeding (which looked as tragic as it sounds – those snowflakes are in the pile called “Never Throw It Away Because You Might Want to Use it Some Day”).

So that was traumatic and I vowed to never block again. Except on week two of the CAL I was turning out some fun trapezoid shapes that didn’t seem destined for any afghan pattern I have ever seen (or would want to crochet), so I decided to block.

Here's what everyone looks like all blocked up (they clean up nice!).
Here’s what everyone looks like all blocked up (they clean up nice!).

Here’s what the unblocked rascals look like:

You can see the sideways madness that drove me to blocking.
You can see the sideways madness that drove me to blocking. Upper left square is missing the border stitch, making him the first cousin to the right upper square. Both of which are aspiring to the stolid nature of bottom left and right squares…we can do it…with some water and pins!

NOTE: It’s taking longer than I thought for those squares to dry…or maybe I need better blocking techniques. I’m expecting company soon so I unpinned those blue squares this morning to try to clear the area…and they quickly started shrinking right up. Hmmm…. re-pinned those suckers post-haste and am considering heat treatment. Nah – too extreme. Will unpin again soon and hope the gods of crochet connection will solve this problem for me.

Sewing on…

Crochet Mandalas

I read a post last week about mandalas by a blogger friend that got me thinking (check out this Hooked! post for an amazing mandala by Amy Le Pelley…she made a clock out of a mandala y’all – genius!!). She also talks about doing a mandala in off-white colors for a baby gift – which also strikes me as genius (patent pending for Amy!!).

She encouraged me to post some pictures of mandalas I have sewn, so I staged a photo shoot today (after several evenings of: “Damn, it’s too dark to take good pictures now. Maybe tomorrow morning…” followed by wash/rinse/repeat until today – breaking the cycle and following the light!).

These are all sewn following this pattern by ZootyOwl (Thank you ZootyOwl!) and using Finca Perle No. 8.

My 1st mandala - mounted on a hoop
My 1st mandala – mounted on a hoop (this involved math and I don’t want to talk about it. Also: I look at this while I brush my teeth every night – highly recommended to get through that 2 minute brush the dentist thinks we’re doing each night.)

Forest Green

My 2nd color scheme,  based on the colors of my walls (e.g. I should crochet one for each room!)
My 2nd color scheme, based on the colors of my walls (e.g. I should crochet one for each room!)

Poor things aren’t blocked yet – they’re stuck in WIP mode and I stretched them across a stepping stone for a photo shoot.

I used to have a room in blue...so I started this color path (still on the hook)
I used to have a room in blue…so I started this color path (still on the hook)…

And now for something completely different…

Uhm...I tried a new color path and suffered the consequences. I still don't know what to do with this...
Uhm…I tried a new color path and suffered the consequences. I still don’t know what to do with this (it might look worse in person. Most people who look at it in person say, “Oh…hmm…” )…apparently it matters what colors one uses, and in what order…I continue to learn this lesson.

 

Petit Point – Needlework from long ago

Today I attended a Cyber Security talk with my local ISACA chapter (blah blah blah what I do during the day blah blah blah), but there’s an amazing set of needlework art on the walls of the college where we meet. And that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Petit Point: Bird detail 1
Petit Point: Bird detail 1

The plaque describing where these come from was gold and shiny and defied all pictures. And my brain was filled with cyber security details related to  my work, so I didn’t even write down the details or take a rubbing (now that’s a good idea for the next meeting! the plaque is engraved!). I promise I will write this down at my next monthly meeting – specific credit is due!

The mixture of small and large needlework stitches fascinates me on these works (and they’re not even behind glass y’all! I didn’t touch the stitches – I swear – tho I wanted to…). So here’s the best visual I’ve found so far of how this is created: Petit Point . I believe these items are from the early 1900’s.

Mastery to the Nth degree, in my book. Reality: This artist started with long blank canvases and stitched complex three-dimensional patterns on them with different threads in different material:stitch parameters. I’m just beginning to imagine how to create this kind of diversity in my threading.

A close-up of another bird
A close-up of another bird

I love being a part of this long history of tapestry, embroidery, needlework and crochet. We are making pieces of love that last the ages (on this topic: Please please check out what Amy Meissner  is doing with historic handcrafted and found pieces. She is a huge inspiration for me, and I love to see how she is incorporating sewn pieces from our cultural past into a new future. I also love how she uses found items in her art. Very thought-provoking for me…).

Things That Make Me Smile

You!! If you’re reading this and starting a smile, you make the list. I want to take a moment to recognize my readers out there. Love y’all and your “following of my blog” makes me smile. If you add comments, I’ll prolly smile even more…

Today while I was sewing the rest of the doll parts for my upcoming retreat I was listening to a comedy channel on Pandora and laughing out loud.

[PHOTO INTERLUDE]

They're inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll?
They’re inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll? Pls note amazingly even hand-stitching on the orange piece that looks like machine-stitching. Oo’s and Aah’s are appropriate here – or maybe that’s just me. 🙂

[END: PHOTO INTERLUDE]

It’s my newest media addiction: listening to stand-up comedy while I’m sewing in the sun (Netflix is getting way too distracting). So I started thinking about all the things that make me laugh out loud these days, and I’m happy to see that the list is not short!

(some of the) Things That Make Me ROFL, LMAO and LOL:

  1. The Carol Burnett Show (Here’s one I actually own on CD! Subtitles are a youtube bonus and my encouragement to learn a new language if that isn’t your native: Carol and the Jackson Five. It’s PURE GOLD (I think there’s an earthquake during filming and she doesn’t miss a beat. Because she’s amazing.). And there’s so much more…Mrs. Ha-Wiggins!) A whole separate sentence goes to her recent SAG Lifetime Achievement Award presentation (lots of tears, but happy tears so it counts for this list right?). SHEESH. Way to start a happy list huh? I’m crying the happy/sad/happy tears over here – don’t mind me – nothing to look at – moving on.
  2. A station on Pandora called “Comedy Death Ray” (I don’t know why it’s named that – sounds kind of menacing – but it’s not!). I added a few female names to the channel (like Kathy Griffin) and now I’m finding gems like Jackie Kashian, Tracy Ashley, Ophira Eisenberg (of NPR “Ask Me Another” fame!), Erin Foley. And of course there’s Kathleen Madigan. (The fellas are still bringing the jokes – they just came with the channel. John Mulaney, Gary Gulman and Jim Gaffigan also make me smile lots. Like this: :D)
  3. Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County – He’s back on fb only y’all, and it’s a new highlight of my day (he happens to be on a brief sabbatical at the moment but you can spend the time until his return catching up – it’s so worth it).
  4. CakeWrecks – I started following this site recently and now I can’t get enough. I also have a picture to submit of a strange T’giving cake I “captured” in an HEB in San Antonio, TX a few years back…I just need to find it in my files! This is real-life funny in every day life – can’t make this stuff up folks. Nobody’s photo-shopping cakes over there…I’m just sayin’…
  5. Jen Hatmaker – She lives near my hometown, tickles my funny bone AND inspires me on a regular basis. (We didn’t go to college together or anything, but I feel like we could have…)
  6. Scruffy Momo (a.k.a. Scruff-a-licious; Scruff-a-Doodle; Scruff-a-Bee, etc.). He’s such an old soul – a gentleman really, in the form of a small furry being. That’s why he never smiles in photos: he’s approximately 82 years old inside and really can’t be bothered. But you should see him chase a circle when it’s time for a walk! I’ll try to catch video of that to share, because it also makes me (and anyone else nearby) smile a lot.
    Grumpy Doodlebug
    Grumpy Doodlebug (taken on my lunch break today when he realized I wasn’t actually going anywhere; despite the all-black furry haze you can clearly see his frown and lack of approval. So judgmental.)

    Plus there’s the left ear that only raises on special occasions. I haven’t captured the exact details yet – it’s still a random occurrence with no apparent pattern (I’ll keep trying to get a photo – it’s kind of like the Loch Ness Monster – you definitely have to be there).

  7. Heirlooms!!
    Gift from Marge, crocheted by Aaron's mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old - probably older.
    Gift from Marge today, crocheted by Aaron’s mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old – probably older. It’s freshly laundered and kind of curly – I tried to smooth out the middle design for the pic.

    Me and Scruff visited Marge and Aaron today and she shared some more amazing things with me that carry so much of their history. The doily above is one example, and the rocks below are another.

Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven't identified yet (clues welcome)
Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven’t identified yet (clues welcome)

Aaron was doing well today and we talked about Scruffy as he sniffed around the house. On a good day dogs make Aaron smile, and this makes me smile. 🙂

Embroidery in the Sun

[First of all: Look at me trying new site templates and stuff! For those of you following me: how ya’ diggin’ it? Suggestions for improvement? I LERV that top photo. I found several logs fallen that had been drilled by woodpeckers in another life. Alongside a bunch of fun acorns with stems. I couldn’t stop until every hole was filled!]

ON TO TODAY…

This morning was kind of weird because my power went out right after I made my ceremonial morning latte (Krups has started my days for the last 19 years, which is – not coincidentally – the age of my child. Making a good latte before venturing out into the world became important early on…and early in the day…).

It was weird at first because my kitchen electronics started beeping at me while I was making my coffee. My stove beeped and flashed a cryptic “PF”* message in the digital display. Huh. Moving my purse strap from the surface of that, in case it decides to turn itself on later. Steaming milk on my Krups. Microwave beeps and flashes. OK, need to reset the clock – must be a power surge. Then, as soon as my milk is steamed and my latte machine is cleaned and put away – all power in the kitchen goes off. What timing! Thank you Coffee Gods! (* “PF” = Power Failure; I thought I would have to consult the manual but I figured it out all on my own!)

Shoes=wonderful Christmas present; Socks=Attempt to trick daughter out of stealing my socks (P.S. It didn't work. Thus the mismatch.)
Shoes=wonderful Christmas present; Socks=Attempt to trick daughter out of stealing my socks (P.S. It didn’t work. Thus the mismatch.)

A quick trip outside (in my house shoes and star socks, because I work from home and have no shame) tells me that one of those transformer electrical thingies attached to a nearby telephone pole has stopped working and they have to “call in a crew.” Bummer. Huh. What now?

I’ll remind you in this moment that I work in IT from home, so I’m pretty much reliant on every electronic device in my house – including that stupid WiFi router whose plug now means nothing. If I’d had a bunch of meetings scheduled I would have hoofed it to the nearest Starbucks, but today was a magical no-meeting day, so I informed everyone of my electronic tragedy (via text – my only way out!) and hunkered down.

Then I actually wandered around the house in a strange fog thinking: what shall I do next? How will I communicate with anyone? Who might have started following my blog while I was asleep and how can I thank them?!?!

Oh dear – dire straits. So I drank my coffee, read a little (Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie is the book du jour – I recommend it if you can handle his brand of zany. I think it’s entertaining, especially in smallish bits.) Then I went really crazy and walked the Scruff-Man over to Marge’s to pick up some new wooden spools she recently found in a drawer. (Apparently “morning sun” smells different in the neighborhood than “evening breeze.” I was equally entranced and sad that “morning smells” seemed like distant memories. Maybe I should be getting up earlier again – instead of hitting snooze – and hitting the streets with the dogie. It was quite lovely and not too hot at all.)

The wooden spools are great, but here’s what really caught my eye.

Crochet Rose by Marge
Crochet Rose by Marge
It unravels to a crocheted string!
It unwinds to a crocheted string!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the hero and mentor that she is, Marge asked if I brought any of my current art with me to show her. Like the artistic coward that I am, I admitted that I didn’t think any of it was “good enough” or “done enough” to “show anyone.” Silly rabbit. I promised I would get over that and bring her something soon. I’m Girl Scout Promising and Pinky Swearing on this y’all.

Girl Scout as youth - GS Leader as adult
Girl Scout as youth – GS Leader as adult

Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other gold.

A circle’s round and has no end,

That’s how long I will be your friend.

[I had to stop my Pandora Lauryn Hill radio station to remember that song enough to web search it. Audio-multi-tasking-challenged]

So here’s one of the things I could have/should have taken to show Marge.

Overcast stitch around the first "L"
Overcast stitch around the first “L” – caught in the sun (I followed this sun spot around the house this morning. Sewing in the sun is more satisfying than I could have imagined – plus easier to see stuff for us near-sighted folks sporting the goggles.)

The previous versions of this were here and here. I’m having a lot of fun with these pre-printed quilt squares my mom sent me as a package. It’s puckering a bit because I don’t have it in a hoop – not sure how to solve that problem (believe you me, I have imagined several self-made “square hoops” that are exactly this size – some made of twigs and pine needles. Is there a market for this?! I doubt it. Is it even possible?! Probably, but why?)

After the basic French knots I looked to my favorite embroidery pattern book for some outline stitches (another amazing Christmas gift…that I requested):

My favorite embroidery dictionary
My favorite embroidery dictionary

I used yellow thread for the base stitches and I’m using the dark orange for the overcast stitches.

Not the greatest lighting, but progress persists...
Not the greatest lighting, but progress persists…

I’m planning to add beads at some point, but I may put more outlining in place before I do that.

Nighty-nite for now. See you in my AM.

Paul the Mushroom

Bringing the Pieces Together

I realized (after the fact) that on Sunday I could have taken pictures of all the things in my daughter’s dorm room that I’ve made for her over the last 2 years. Some used patterns (which doesn’t really fit my requirement for original art every day, but I have Christmas presents to make and they can’t all get done on Christmas eve!), some I improvised based on an idea I saw, and some I just made up.

So here’s some fun characters I’ve conjured up in the last two years from patterns (all hail the queens and kings of crochet pattern-makers, for they make it possible for the rest of us to make coherent gifts from time to time).

These first two patterns are by lalylala (here she is on Etsy and here’s her www site). I love her dolls and I may or may not have bought three other patterns that haven’t been made yet. They call for something called “fingering yarn” or “sock yarn” – it’s 4-ply and feels so delicate to work with. Plus her patterns cite yarns from Europe that I sometimes can’t find – so it’s a fun challenge all round.

Without further ado, here is Paul the Mushroom:
(click on each picture for a bigger version)

Paul the Mushroom with his cap

Paul the Mushroom without his cap
without hat (the hair is my design – most of her patterns are bald)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And more recently we added Rocco the Raccoon to the family.

Rocco and his mask
Rocco wears a mask so no one knows he’s a raccoon. Ssshhhh!
Rocco without his hat
Rocco has a bowl cut
Rocco's rockin' the bowl cut!
Close-up of the bowl cut (all hair my design!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argh! I just realized I didn’t take a pic of him without his mask…’cause it’s remove-able y’all! Too bad. I’ll ask my daughter to grab a shot for me of him in the Santa Cruz wilds going sans mask. (Extra info: I made additional masks for him but didn’t have time to attach the strings. There’s a purple sparkly one for when he’s feeling disco and a green one for when he wants to hang out with Paul and pretend to be a mushroom. Maybe he’ll get them for Christmas next year.)

My next doll was many years in the making. It’s one of those patterns where I got stuck and “put it away for later.” But my recent foray into my WIPs brought it to the forefront, and because my best friend requested it (about 5 years ago) I thought I’d better get on it. So I pulled it off as a Christmas present this past year (finally!) and I’m so glad…’cause she’s pretty cute. I added tiny beads to the edges of her wings, bodice and skirt but I’m not sure they show up in these photos.

Tinkerbell
(Pattern by rabbizdesign: on Etsy)

Tinkerbell
Tinkerbell in her garden
Tink with her arms crossed
She’s so cute!
Tink's flying apparatus
From the back – maybe you can see the beads on the wings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t the easiest pattern to follow, but it’s the best one I’ve found online for Tinkerbell.

I really enjoy crocheting dolls, animals, amigarumi. Putting the pieces together kind of stresses me out but it’s worth sticking with it because the results are so cute. In the past I’ve made ninjas, amazons, medusa, rabbits, monkeys, dogs…wonder how many pics I might have taken of those past efforts…maybe we’ll see in another post. Anyways it’s fun seeing the pieces come together. More to come on that.

P.S. This post made me think of the very first doll I made, who happens to be on the shelf right next to me. So we had a quick photo shoot. I figure I must have been somewhere between 7 and 9 years old. I suspect Mrs. Stoddard helped me with this (love to that sewing angel). Her pinafore dress looks like it gave me a run for my money – there’s gathers where they prolly shouldn’t be and messy connection points all over the place. But she has distinct legs and a dress that covers them – I’m impressed!

My first sewn doll!
My first sewn doll! The facial detail amazes me. eyes, rosy cheeks and lips challenge me to this day. So brave, this new seamstress.
detail of back
Backside of the dress. Looks like a crossed pinafore w/ gathers was challenging…but accomplished!

The Good Ol’ Days

Recently I pulled all my “WIP’s” (Works in Progress) out of their hiding places and lined them up for completion. It’s an interesting task, seeing all the spots in projects where I decided to “give it up” and move on to something new.

Here’s a purse I started at least 3 years ago on our trip to Spain (I know because I remember starting it as a gift for my daughter, and also there’s this band pasted at the bottom of the pattern book 🙂

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The only word I recognize on the band is “alcohol” so it’s guaranteed as an artifact of my trip. 🙂

I think my daughter has outgrown this style of purse by now (plus she has so many others in her repertoire at this point), that I’m planning to use this for my sewing projects.

So there’s these interesting buttons I bought at a garage sale up the street a few years ago, and i think one will work perfectly on this purse.

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I’ve decided to use this in honor of Grizzly Adams’ recent death (it’s kind of toothy and I’m not sure when I’ll sew a rawhide moccasin next).

So then there’s my wonderful friend Marge a block over. We met about 10 years ago when I was walking our (then) new puppy Scruffy. She’s now approaching her centenarian years and she shared her button and spool collection with me today.

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As we slowly uncovered these things from her closets and drawers she told me that she was a child of the Depression, so she saved everything (one of her kitchen junk drawers contains self-threading needles and rounded needles. I’ve never heard of self-threading needles and she and I and both couldn’t remember what one needs a rounded needle for. We’ve both seen it, but can’t remember it.)

And in this tin of buttons I found whole shirts’ worth, jackets’ worth, baby clothes’ worth of buttons. They’re huge and they’re tiny, and they’re steadfastly gathered from clothing that must have moved on to the rag bag. Before it went to rags she gathered these buttons from each piece, and I feel moved to create something from each set of buttons. We really don’t do that anymore do we? Work pieces and parts until they’re basically ground to dust. Some of these buttons actually disintegrated in my hands.

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There’s coconut buttons along with plastic blue and yellow buttons – all steadfastly gathered from the shirt before it went to the rag bag.

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Wooden thread spool threads she saved.

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Pearl and diamond buttons that were removed to be used later.

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Some big and small buttons

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There are some super small buttons in the mix that must be from baby clothes or doll clothes.

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Actual leather buttons! I love to imagine what these came from and I’m excited to think about where they’ll land.

How lucky I am to know Marge and Aaron in my neighborhood. I love you both so much and I appreciate you sharing your history with us.