Friday, September 23, 2011

Long time, no see, eh?

Working on some updates to be posted over the next few days :-) I promise!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Queen Mermaid - Finished!

The particulars: The pattern is Queen Mermaid by Mirabilia. The fabric is 28 count (done over 2) Sterling Silver hand dyed linen from Silkweaver. She was started September 2010 and completed May 22, 2011.

She is my first finish of 2011. Ack!

QM is my first project since deciding to switch over to using 28 count fabric instead of 32 count fabric. After struggling getting all the beads on Midsummer Night's Fairy with her 32 count fabric, I decided that I'd start kitting up projects with 28 count if there were a lot of beads.

And QM definitely has a lot of beads, but honestly? They're so scattered across her that I don't think upsizing the fabric made much of a difference, except perhaps for her beaded collar and crown. But you'll be glad to know that the beads are sitting nicely in those areas thankyouverymuch. If I'd substituted Miyuki Delicas for the Mill Hills, I wouldn't have had anything to worry about at all as far as getting beads to fit neatly on. Duly noted for future projects.

The briolettes are a nice touch as far as the sparkle factor goes but are just kind of hanging on to her lower body. If I had to redo, I'd probably relocate them so that they looked like they were hanging off some of the seaweed instead of just hanging on to random body areas. Just sayin'. Also, the areas on the pattern that were left open for the briolettes and flower treasures were entirely too large (and oddly shaped to boot), so I did quite a bit of filling in there.

As I've mentioned before, I intend on doing Mirabilia's Deepest Love as a companion piece to Queen Mermaid. I have her kitted up and tucked away with another piece of Sterling Silver linen but I'm not sure that she'll be my next Mermaid start. Enchanted is calling quite loudly so we shall see. Eventually I'll have them framed to match so QM and Deepest can hang out together, probably in the powder room.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Queen Mermaid...nekkid!

Nekkid in that she's all finished with the cross stitch, but still needs her beads and just a bit more backstitching. Yay!

Lots of beading to do, so it will probably take a few more days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Every Queen needs a little bling...

It's almost that time!

I pulled out the beads for Queen Mermaid this morning, although I'm not quite ready to start beading. I'm using all the recommended Mill Hills. More on Mill Hills in a few....

The numbers in the slots are clipped off the Mill Hill packages, just so I know which ones to use where. It's a lazy way to keep track but highly effective.

And of course, the Mill Hill Treasures:


I'm looking forward to doing the beading...just a little more stitching and backstitching to do first.

So. About Mill Hills. There's always leftover beads at the end of a project, and the question is what to do with them. In theory, I could bag them up, tag with their ID number, and hope I can use them for another project. If you've been following my blog, you've probably already figured out that is probably far too organized for me. I do have a small "bead soup" type jar that I usually toss the leftovers in.

And now, there's the new bead stitching/jewelry obsession, and frankly, Mill Hills are not good for this type of use because as you've no doubt noticed if you've used them, they're not exactly the most even-sized beads out there. That's being diplomatic, right? Anyway, they're fine for stitching - there's usually plenty of them to pick through and you can discard the truly awful ones.

Did some searching around and I've found that you can get the tubes of Miyuki Delicas for about the same price as the smaller packets of Mill Hills online...and the added bonus is that the Delicas come in more colors and are just about perfectly even so can be used for my other crafting activities.

So I think, in the future, I'll be swapping out Mill Hills on stitching projects for Delicas so I can use the leftovers in jewelry projects. There's certainly no shortage of Delica colors so I can't see having a problem finding satisfactory matches.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well hello there....

Obligatory face shot....she needs some beads!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slowly but surely!

So even with a finish so close, I'm in a bit of a stitching mojo funk. I'm not really sure why, other than it hits the best of us from time to time. I'm still stitching; but just an hour here and there really. Ugh. Maybe I need a new start to kick me into high gear?

I am getting really close to being able to bead Queen Mermaid though. Here she is.

Arms and head done....most of the hair (although I'm short one color - ack!)...her gift and some seaweed to do as yet.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

QM Watch

And the Queen Mermaid watch is on!

There's only a minimal amount of stitching to do on her now - mostly her face, hair, another arm, and the funky box thing she's holding. Oh excuse me. Her "treasure". LOL

And of course, the requisite going back and filling in anything I missed, some backstitching, and beading. Lots of beading! But regardless, there's an end in sight, and it's high time I had a big finish this year, so QM is my focus until she's complete.

Never fear, fellow Mermaid lovers, I have more Mermaids lined up. If you recall, my plans for QM include stitching her a companion, Deepest Love, on the same fabric. Long term, I'll get them framed to match so I have the option of having them "hang out" together. That said, yes, Deepest will be my next start, but I'll probably give a little love to some of the other Mira projects that I have going first, since I've been focusing on both QM and Knotgarden lately.

Check back for regular QM updates - she'll be finished soon!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Just peachy...

A couple weeks ago I went to a local Beadfest to wander around the vendors, and ended up feuling my pearl obsession a little more. I picked up a couple of strings of lovely peach colored freshwater pearls with the idea that I wanted to do a wider cuff bracelet in right angle weave, similar to the amethyst bracelet I made previously.

I wanted to do something monochromatic, so I added size 11 Miyuki seed beads to the mix to keep it simple.

I spent much of Friday watching the royal wedding festivities and playing with beads - not a bad way to spend the day!

Here's the bracelet I came up with:

I used a slide style clasp so the cuff would sit flat when wearing it.

And a close up:

I keep seeing 6 lb Fireline being the recommended thread to use, but I tried 8 lb for this project to see if that would give it a little more body, which it seems to do. The knots when ending threads aren't as tight though since the fiber is a little heavier, so I made sure I went through quite a few beads with it.

Right angle weave seems to be a very popular beadweaving stitch, and I can see why. It's not hard to master and is quite versatile. I'm sure I'll be experimenting with it again with other projects.

Because the pearls are slightly irregular, you can actually see some of the threads here and there in the bracelet, but I'm still very pleased overall with the effect. I have another pearl cuff bracelet that I wear all the time, so I think I'll end up with a lot of use out of this piece.

And of course, I wanted some sort of coordinating necklace. I chose to do a variation of the Gothic Chevron necklace from B&B's Your Seed Bead Style book. The pearls I was using were larger than the recommended size for the pattern, so I also opened up the bottom a little by adding a few seed beads in there as well.

Very grand, eh?

This was quite fun to make and easy once I got the pattern down. I did start it and undo about five times until I had the variation down pat that I was doing. It doesn't sit perfectly flat on my neck which bothers me a bit and I might redo it in the future as I get better with beadweaving skills. Since I did spend a bit of time reinforcing the necklace, it's going to be a project to take it apart though LOL To be fair though - our necks aren't one continuous curve so if you make a collar with an even curve, there ARE going to be areas where it's not perfectly smooth.

I did one repeat of the patter to put together some earrings:

Meh. They're ok. I'm not sure what bothers me about them.

I had about two dozen leftover peach pearls which I suppose I could have just tossed in my stash along with another tube of the seed beads. Although I like the collar, it's not a very "casual throw on" kind of necklace so I started paging through some of the various bead magazines I have, looking for inspiration for something a little lighter. I've really been drawn to St. Petersburg chain because I like the feathery lightness of it, and found a project that I borrowed some elements of.

This is what I came up with:

Since I didn't have many peach pearls left, I dug in and added some small white potato pearls in, and some rocalle (15/0) seed beads with a white pearl finish. I like how delicate the chain came out and it was a lot of fun to stitch.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nine of Twelve

Page Nine of twelve pages of Knotgarden - complete!

More or less, anyway, as they beadwork and specialty stitches are nowhere near done.

Still, only 3 more pages of cross stitch to do on this project...unbelievable!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Amethyst Bracelet

My first attempt as seed bead stitching. The larger stones are 4 mm amethyst beads and the pattern is a freebee from Bead and Button. If you click on the picture, it will come up much larger.

I've been reading a lot of beading blogs and forums online lately to try to learn, and along the way I picked up the little gem that the Fireline 6 lb sold in sporting goods stores is the same Fireline 6 lb that is sold for beading...but it's about 1/3 the price if you buy it in a sporting goods store. You have to buy a much larger spool, but it's all good - I won't run out anytime soon and it's not large to store.

This was surprisingly easy to do, but I do have a lot of experience reading various craft patterns and doing different types of embroidery. Once I got in the groove, it only took about 2 hours or so to complete.

I have my next seed bead project planned and it will incorporate some of my beloved pearls (if I haven't mentioned it, I'm obsessed with pearls), Swarovski crystals, and Delica beads. I am waiting for a few supplies I ordered online.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And one more....

Last one, for now anyway.

I have to rework the earrings...I like the design but the execution isn't as smooth as I'd like.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Close ups of the mixed jasper set

Per a friend's request, close ups of some of the jewelry I posted yesterday.

The necklace:

The pattern is quite random, which works really well if you have some consistencies. Each element is separated by six stone chips, and each round polished jasper is flanked by silver beads.

Another close up:

And here's the bracelet:

Just a simple stringed bracelet of the polished round stones alternating with silver beads. I picked up some memory wire today so I should be able to make a wrap bracelet that matches the pattern of the necklace later this week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ribbons and Seaweed

It's Mermaid week, so I've been working on Queen Mermaid, slowly but surely. I finished her arm, but was focusing on filling in the cascading ribbons and the seaweed. I'll probably finish off that one batch of seaweed before putting her away until next month.

QM is getting close to getting finished, isn't she? Once I get all the stitching done, there's a TON of beading to do on her. They really are all over her, and I have found that I've missed a lot of stitches since the beading has really broken up the stitching in a lot of places. I'm filling those in as I notice them, but I expect when I start beading I'll find a lot more and have to fill in.

I'm debating if I want to work on another project for a week or so or just go straight back to plugging on at Knotgarden.

Exploring a New Craft

Because I don't have any other projects to keep me busy, right?

Over the years, I've played around with making my own jewelry - quite a lot as a teenager and less so as an adult. Still, I love beads and it's fun to mess around with such things, so I've been working a little more towards learning proper techniques and such lately. I thought I'd share two recently finished projects.

This first set uses deep red beads alternating with small silver beads. It's a simple, chunky design that is actually quite striking. I don't think I managed to really capture the depth of color of the beads with this picture, which have slight variations to them. You can see towards the change in pattern at the back of the necklace where I ran out of the silver beads and just filled in with the red ones. It works! I've since found some more of those beads but I don't think I'll bother to change the necklace.

The next one was just finished this morning and the camera definitely does not do it justice.

The necklace is an infinity style - no clasp, no beginning or end, just a few strategically placed crimp beads to hold it together. It's a mix of different jaspers, blending chip stones with 4 mm, 6 mm and 8 mm jasper rounds with silver beads and a few pewter beads for some visual interest. It's 75 inches long, so I can wear it as two long loops, three shorter loops, or as a four-strand choker with the use of a clasp. I really love this piece - the stones are gorgeous and interesting with all their natural variations. (Yes, Michelle - this WAS inspired by that fab pearl necklace I have been drooling over!)

The bracelet shown is one of several that I'll be making. I need to get some memory wire so I can make a multistrand style wrap bracelet with the rest of the chips. I also think I'll probably use the rounds mixed in with pearls using a pearl knotting technique I want to practice.

So that's it for now. My next project will be an adventure in seed bead weaving - just gathering materials for that and then I'll have to find a block of time (ha!) to work on it. I picked up a couple of seed bead books to teach myself, and I'll probably take a class or three at my local Potomac Bead Company when I can fit them in my schedule.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Welcome April!

I guess the fool is on us, eh?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

3 Gates, 12 urns, and a border

I don't seem to have gotten very far with Knotgarden the last two weeks, but here's what I've done. Still lots to do, but I am putting it away to work on a Mirabilia or two and give myself a break.

A couple of weeks ago, I also started keeping an Ort jar....why not, right? I had a spare jar, I certainly have lots of ends. Here it is thus far:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Knotgarden

It's been a busy week and I don't seem to have gotten much done on Knotgarden at all...ack! I have however finished off the third gate and am currently working on the flowers/greenery at either end. Confetti stitching. How do I love thee. NOT!

And no, your eyes are not deceiving you - I have finally started filling in some of the specialty stitches, starting with some of the Algerian eyelets in the border. The pattern calls for using just a single thread but I didn't care for how that looked, so two threads it is. The eyelets are fairly simple to make as long as you can manage to get them started properly AND keep the tension even throughout since you want to open a small hole in the middle (hence, an eyelet!). I just did a few down the one side so far, but they're fairly quick to bang out. Hopefully the rest of the specialty stitches will go that smoothly.

You may recall in previous posts that I debated for a long time whether to spring for the hand dyed silks for this project or just substitute DMC. I ended up going with using the Caron Waterlilies conversion rather than Thread Gatherer mostly because they were just easier to get. I've also used Waterlilies more in the past and there was a better chance that I'd be able to use any leftovers since that's what Mirabilia uses. While hand dyed silk fibers ARE gorgeous and bright and have their own luminescence, I will say that if you wanted to use DMC, the final product would still be gorgeous.

I pulled out the baggie of beads for Knotgarden as well. Specifically I wanted the Kreinik so I could start adding that to the gate. I'd forgotten how many beads are in here! A lot of those are the Treasures, so it's not like they're all the tiny seed beads that need to go on. As always, I won't start beading until all the stitching and specialty stitches are in.

And as always, when one project is nearing an end, I'm thinking about the next project. It's been 2+ years since I decided to do a couple of the Chatelaine garden mandalas, and I still think I got it right with three I picked to do (Knotgarden, Watergarden, Alhambra Garden). I still love all three designs, to the point where no other Chatelaine is going to line jump. I appreciate that I went with projects with no over-1 stitching and had reasonably affordable materials lists. Every time I look at the patterns...I'm just so in love with them still. Good call, if I do say so myself!

I have decided that I rather like some of the architectual Chatelaines mandalas and will probably do some of those after I've worked on these Gardens. But that's what - 4 years before I will finish the next two? No rush to decide!

I am very much looking forward to getting Watergarden started. I have the DMC floss for it, as I got a piece of blue fabric in trade a while ago and wanted to do a floss drop. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll end up using that fabric - the blues of the center don't pop enough off it, and I need to get a piece of antique white instead. Rather than piece together all the beads/specialty threads like I've done with Knotgarden, I'm going to go ahead and order the kit from European Cross Stitch. That should make my life a little easier!

I'm debating a little bit whether or not I'll just work on Watergarden until it's done or get started on Alhambra and work on both at one time...what's another BAP, right? I'm at the point where Knotgarden HAS gotten a little repetitive, but at least it's a couple of weeks out from being completed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby Afghans

Off to a family baby shower today, so you know I had to make something special for the little one. With baby afghans, I typically chose to do simple designs in highly washable yarns - they're meant to be used, washed frequently, etc. These are for a little boy, hence a lack of ruffles or other florishes.

This one is just a simple shell pattern. The yarn is a super-soft acrylic sport weight in a pretty yellow/turqoise/white ombre, and I used a little solid white for the border.

I opted for a reasonably tight repeat shell pattern so while a lighter blanket, it will still be quite warm. Also, as it's a lighter yarn, it took quite a few extra hours to crochet a blanket of substantial size, and it's a pattern that's easy for me to hammer out.

The other one I did is my favorite of the two.

I fell in love with the yarn, which is Red Heart's "Ocean".

I love the swirling blues and purples in it, so I let that guide me to a pattern. I chose a slightly more open pattern because it's a heavier yarn - standard worsted weight - and I wanted to have kind of a wave pattern to again pull out the ocean theme.

Size wise, it's quite a large afghan so it can cover Mom as well if she's cuddling the baby or be spread out to play on the floor.

I'm really pleased how this one came out, and have tucked instructions away because I could see making it again at some point in the future.

Here's a little detailing of the wave pattern and the edging:

And so, they are off to their new owners today and will be enjoyed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring is coming!

Or coming along, anyway!

I opted to work on Celtic Spring for a little while this week and made some great progress with her skirt. I need to pick up some gold metallic for her skirt, as there's quite a bit of it throughout and I would prefer to fill some of it in as I move along.

I really like the blending of the lavenders - the 200 series in DMC - and might opt to steal those colors for the lavender conversion of Rose of Sharon I have planned for sometime in the future. I haven't quite nailed down the colors I wanted to do for that, so I might make it simple on myself and just swipe them from Celtic Spring.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Oops....wardrobe malfunction!

Of sorts, anyway. I was trucking along with my #4 peacock Kreinik, filling in a lot of the body area that I'd previously skipped. Ran through the one roll, reached for my backup roll and realized that instead of another #4, my ONS had accidentally sent me a #8....ack!

So here is Queen Mermaid, not quite covered up:

I'll have to order another roll so I can finish her "top".

I'm fairly pleased with my progress overall this week, wardrobe malfunction aside. Finished her tail, filled in more of her body, got started on her arms, hair.

The interesting thing is that depending on the light (day, night, OTT lite, etc), the color of the fabric (Sterling Silver by Silkweaver) keeps changing between gray and blue and somewhere in between. It has a really interesting depth of color and luminosity that I can't seem to quite pick up on the camera (as per usual).

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mirabilia Mermaid SAL

Towards the end of last year, I joined up with some fellow Mira mermaid enthusiasts on the Mirabilia Stitchers discussion board for a Mermaid stichalong (SAL), where we'd work on our chosen Mermaid the first week of every month.

I opted to do Queen Mermaid, because I had just started her anyway. I ended up not working on her in February because I was cruising along with Garden Verses and enjoying working on her (what can I say - at the end of the day, this IS a hobby to enjoy above all else!). I put away Knotgarden yesterday and got a head start on Queen Mermaid for March.

Here's where she is as of yesterday:

The fabric is Sterling Silver by Silkweaver.

I definitely will finish up her tail fin this week, and probably get some work done on her back and arms. I'll post another picture at the end of the week so I can see how far I got.

As with most Mirabilia mermaids, she seems to be working up fairly quickly. I'm looking forward to having both QM and her companion piece, Deepest Love, finished within a reasonable amount of time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What I've been working on lately....

I've been working on Knotgarden the last couple of weeks because I am determined to finish it this year. I've got most of the center medallion completed but still have two gates and another dozen flower pots to go, as well as all the specialty stitches and beading. Ack!

Mira updates

And of course, plenty of Mirabilias in progress.

The Kiss:

Garden Verses:

Christmas Elegance:

Some Project Updates

Although I've been a little (ha) remiss about posting to the blog, I have been working on various projects and generally making slow but steady progress. As always, I divide projects into "Miras" and "Non-Miras", since there's usually about a 50-50 mix of WIPs.

First up, Scarlet Ribands by Long Dog Sampler:

I'm nearly finished the fourth page of the design - just a little more to go on that.

And Broadway by Silver Lining:

I finally got the center page completed - that was quite a lot of work! Fortunately all the other pages of the design have less stitching so it should go quite a bit faster now. Lots of confetti stitching, but to be fair, you just don't get the same effect without it.

And you knew it was coming: I started the Celtic Ladies series!

The lady in question is Celtic Spring, and she's off to a good start.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Royal Holiday Completed

The particulars: The pattern is Royal Holiday by Mirabilia; the fabric is 32 count cream belfast, done over 2. Started November 2009 and completed November 2010.

Some notes: I despise using Wisper thread, so I opted to use just plain DMC white as a substitute, something I've done to replace Wisper in previous projects. The only downfall is that there wasn't enough contrast between the white edging on her robe and the cream Belfast that I stitched her on. I fixed that by adding grey backstitching, which does what backstitching is supposed to do and make the edges pop out.

She is my fifth but not final Queen. I plan on doing Queen of Freedom and Queen of Peace in the future, but have no immediate plans to start either of these ladies just yet.

Sorry it's taken me so long to post an update, but I've had some issues with my old camera talking to my new laptop, and what's a blog about needlework without pictures, right? I think it's worked out now so it should be smooth sailing. I have lots of works in progress to update, which I'll do in the coming weeks.