Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop 2

Thanks to Michelle Buettner, our "Pearl Professor," for hosting and creating such inspiring pearl art.

For this challenge, I am gearing up for the July 4th holiday and chose a pattern by Jill Wiseman as my inspiration. Jill's Fireworks Necklace was in the August/September 2013 Beadwork Magazine shown below.

I decided to interpret it quite literally in a color palette of red, white and blue. The white pearls are complemented by blue and red glass beads.

And here are the handy links to more pearl inspiration.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Focus on Life Week 26: Free Space!

AKA: Bitten By the Bead Crochet Bug

The wonderful thing about beading are its endless permutations. Countless stitches, materials, surfaces and techniques make it at turns fascinating and frustrating. It's almost like learning to ride a bike all over again each time a new technique presents itself. This was my experience with bead crochet. Several years ago, I bought a kit at the Bead Babe Conference. I tried it once with a sorry-looking result and put the kit away.

StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig and Tutorial

Fast forward to this Spring when my LBS was hosting Judy Kintner to teach a bead crochet class. I signed up and dragged my friend, Janet, along too. Judy was also displaying her bead spinners which are an essential tool for many of her patterns. The first part of our class was learning how to use the bead spinner without spinning our beads all over the room. Honestly, it took us over an hour to string our beads so we could start the crochet portion of the lesson. By then it was time for lunch!

My New Bead Spinner
We then moved to pony beads and yarn and that kept us occupied for another hour. Then the hard part -- graduating to #8 pearl cotton and a teeny tiny crochet hook. Not so easy. I started and ripped, started and ripped, started and ripped. By then the class was over.

Arriving at home, I was determined to complete the class assignment. So I dragged out my jig from Studio Dax and was able to finally successfully start AND finish my bracelet. Here is the result.

I was so smitten that I went online to learn more and ordered a couple kits from Beads East. By this time, I was able to start the crochet ropes without the jig. I guess it's like training wheels for bead crochet! The first kit used 8/o beads in a patriotic pattern but the second one was an even greater challenge with size 11/0 beads and an even smaller crochet hook.

Beads East Kit: Liberty Bead Crochet

A whole new world opened up to me. My web searches turned up a great store called Marion Jewels in Fiber which had a tutorial for flat Turkish bead crochet. I made one as a wrap bracelet for my niece and a bunch of red, white and blue ones as gifts for our family reunion.

Flat Turkish Bead Crochet Tutorial by Marion Jewels in Fiber

And then I found the Turkish loop variation which works up much faster than the slip stitch crochet tubes. Thanks to Debbie Patel for the great Etsy tutorial in Turkish loop crochet.

Turkish Loop Crochet
All this practice gave me the confidence to pull out an old pattern I started years ago but never finished -- just in time for summer at the beach.

As if I didn't have enough projects in my to-do list, now I have a whole new technique for inspiration.

Let's take a look and see how our other contributors are using their Free Space!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Focus on Life Week 25: Color! (Green)

Sally's description of color this week was "having much or varied color". Well my story is more one of monochrome. It started when I was going through my photo files reviewing projects I was checking off my completed list. Sure and begorra! I definitely was on a green binge and never realized it until now. It all started with the Well-Behaved Cuff I shared with you earlier this year.

Here we have some green again in the Autumn Branch Necklace, a design by Linda Gittings from the (gulp) August/September 2004 Beadwork Magazine. Yes, I hung onto that issue for 10 years!

At least I pulled in some browns on this necklace but those green chunky beads and ceramic pendant continue the trend. I was playing with waxed Irish linen for the first time and fell in love with it!

And here we have some coordinating (green of course!) earrings.

But my very favorite is this green turquoise cab on a herringbone ribbon strap.

I think I am ready to move onto a new palette.

Let's see what other colors inspired us this week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Focus on Life Week 24: Have Fun and Get Snappin'

Sally's guidance to us this week was just snap with abandon. I found myself in the kitchen, which is a bit of an event all by itself. The occasion was making a dessert to take to a dinner party. And what's more fun that a yummy dessert that is super easy to make?

Peach Melba Trifle is about as easy as a recipe can get and it is great for warm weather. Better yet, it looks oh-so pretty and will earn you some ooh's and ahhh's. So here are the shots I snapped.

First I made a batch of pudding mixture and folded in some whipped whipping cream. (used the real stuff thank-you-very-much)

Then I cut up a store-bought angel food cake. (horrors!) If you're picky you could make one from scratch but I'm not that picky especially when Safeway does such a good job.

You drizzle some Harveys Bristol Cream over it -- or orange juice if you're a tee-totaler. And yes, they still make this stuff. I think this was the first bottle I have ever purchased -- all for 1/4 cup!

And then you add some layers of yumminess: peaches and red raspberry preserves.

....topped off with the whipped cream-pudding mixture and repeat layers.

And then to dress it up, you drop some globs of red raspberry preserves on top of the last layer of pudding mix and swirl it around. You can also add toasted almonds but I forgot to do that so it's good that step is optional.

Assembled in no time and earned rave reviews.

I put the recipe in my public Dropbox if you'd like to download a copy. I can't claim to have invented it. The recipe came from my good friend, Chris. But feel free to grab a copy if you like!

And now let's see what made everyone else snap-happy this week!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Focus on Life Week 23: Silliness!

By now you have endured countless photos of my crazy cats. But I couldn't resist one more photo since it is just about perfect for this week's theme. Here you see Harold inside a pillowcase. As I was beading I heard this commotion on the bed behind me and saw that somehow he had maneuvered himself inside the pillowcase and was looking out. Weird cat.

This next photo hit my funny bone one day when I was out for our walk. I guess our town council thought we needed a creative twist to more traditional traffic signs!

Now let's see what silliness our other friends are up to.

© Cave Creek Beads