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Monday, March 2, 2015

Tango Bracelet

Mr. Beadgirl gave me the Tango Bracelet Kit for Christmas, and here it is:

Between this, the flower earrings, and the candy canes, I've done a lot of beading with the herringbone stitch, and I've come to love it.  It's versatile (as these three projects show), it works up quickly but is still sturdy, and it has an interesting texture.  I must do more!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I know, I'm way behind on this one.  I'd been meaning to pick Gone Girlup for ages, and even managed to avoid any spoilers, but I never got around to reading it.  Then I started seeing previews for the movie last summer, and wanted to see that; but of course, I had to read the book first (I always have to read the book first).  I requested it from the library; so did every other person in Queens, so I didn't actually get it into my hands until December (I know, I'm late with the review).  (No, I haven't seen the movie yet.)

It's really good!  I'm not generally a fan of thrillers, but this is smart and well written.  It's also a sharply witty novel, as Flynn expertly satirizes modern romantic relations, the over-privileged, and the media (and people's obsession with it).  The first half alternates between Nick's first person narrative of the events following the disappearance of his wife Amy, and Amy's journal entries from the start of their relationship up until the disappearance; the dual narrative continues in the second half, in a different form.  It becomes clear rather quickly that neither is a reliable narrator, and part of the fun comes from trying to figure out who is playing whom, and what the next twist will be -- a bizarre, insane riff on the typical "he said, she said" depiction of a relationship.  Both Nick and Amy are highly intelligent and deeply, deeply flawed, and I alternated between wanting to see them succeed and fail in their manipulations.  Not until the very end did my detached (they are horrible people) enjoyment turn to horror when I realized an innocent party would someday pay for all that happened.  That thought left me genuinely distressed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Whimsical Herringbone Flower Earrings

The problem:
I loved these earrings, but the deep purple finish on the size 11 beads wore off.

The inspiration:
I pulled these socks on, and thought the color combination needed to make its way into my jewelry box.

The solution:
The pattern is "Whimsical Herringbone Flowers" by Bonnie O'Donnell-Painter, from the October 2006 issue of Bead & Button.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lots o' Hearts

I took the two beaded hearts from last year and attached them to a third heart, made from even bigger beads:

A felt Scandinavian heart basket (I need to fill it with something):

A simple heart pendant, pattern from the Purl Bee:

I quilted and finished the heart quilt:
Rather than my usual faux binding, I decided to practice with a real binding made from bias strips I cut myself.  And ... I need the practice.  There are some unfortunate lumps and tucks, partly from last of skill, partly from rushing to finish while the baby napped, and partly from using a batting I don't normally use.  Oh well.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Number 9

Cocoa Eyes clued me into the the Pi Project, and how could I resist?  I made a 9 from silk, felt, and wool, and will shortly be shipping it to Washington to become part of the art project for March 14, 2015 -- Pi Day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Round-Up

The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogyby Nora Roberts: I picked this up because I wanted more witchy books after finishing Harkness's trilogy, and it was October, and I generally like Roberts.  Unfortunately, the trilogy was a disappointment.  The structure, the characters, the not-very-conflicting romantic conflicts, even the scenes were too similar to her previous books; I get that Roberts doesn't want to mess with a successful formula, but I'd like to see her experiment more.  Moreover, the witchy plot itself was too thin -- there was little attempt at world-building or describing the magic, and the antagonist was one-dimensional and uninteresting.  Things did improve in the third book, once Roberts was finally free to focus on the final battle.

The Charnel Princeby Greg Keyes: The second in the tetralogy was just as entertaining as the first; Keyes has created both an engaging world and a fascinating plot.  The very short chapters alternating between the characters sometimes made the narrative a little choppy (more than once I'd skip ahead to read several chapters pertaining to the same storyline), but they certainly serve their purpose of making the reader think "just one more!"  I do have two issues:  1) The series fits into the sub-genre of "dark fantasy," which means there is a fair amount of violence and destruction and a high body count, something I don't enjoy, especially when the majority of the tortured and dead are ordinary background characters just trying to live their (fictional) lives. 2) The Catholic Church is, apparently, evil, which at this point is not only annoying, it's a cliche.  It's the same problem I had with Becket's trilogy, and I can't help but think of the storytelling opportunities if there were multiple factions within the Church (like there are in the various governments) or if the Church were not actually evil, just a rival with the same goal of saving/preserving the world but different methods.

Boxersby Gene Luen Yang: This is one half of Yang's masterpiece about the Boxer Rebellion, and is told from the viewpoint of a Chinese peasant who leads a rebellion against foreign influence and abuse.  Yang's clean and youthful illustrations contrast with the complex story, and his spare storytelling elicits both sympathy for Little Bao's experiences and ideals and abhorrence of the actions he ultimately takes.  As soon as I finish the Keyes series I will pick up Saints, which tells the other side of the story through a Christian convert.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bobbing Earrings Tutorial

Browsing pinterest the other day I came across these bobbin earrings, and I just had to make my own version:

They took all of 15 minutes, too.

Start by threading your, uh, thread through one of the holes in the bobbin, from the center out, leaving a tail of an inch or two:
Rather than use actual sewing thread, I used a thick embroidery thread, the Caron Collection's Waterlilies in one of my favorite colors, African Sunset.  Yarn would work well, too, and novelty yarns could add some interesting texture.

Wrap the thread around the bobbin, anchoring the tail:

Keep wrapping until you get close to the outer edge of the bobbin, and cut the thread.  Using a large, blunt needle, thread the end under a few wraps and out a hole on the other side, to secure the other tail:

Trim the tails flush with the bobbin and add a drop of fray check (or glue or clear nail polish) on the ends, to help keep the thread from unspooling:
It's hard to see (a good thing!), but the fray check is on the hole at one o'clock.

The next step is adding a finding.  The earrings on pinterest used a very large ring through the center of the bobbin, but I didn't want the bobbin spinning about freely.  I tried wire wrapping but it looked messy and spindly:
Heavier gauge wire would have been better, but I didn't have any in the right color.

Instead I switched to chain to create a hanging loop.  Attach a length of chain (mine is five links, make sure yours is an odd number too) to one of the bobbin holes with a jump ring:
and repeat on the other side with the other end of the chain.

Attach your earring finding to the center link: