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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:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On the Last Day of Christmas

My Christmas stitching isn't done.

Yule Sampler by The Primitive Needle:

Gingerbread Garden by Victoria Sampler:

I did manage to make Wild Olive's adorable bell/hoop ornament:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Candy Canes Galore

One of the things I enjoy about the actual Christmas season is that after spending all of Advent (and most of the fall) focused on stitching for other people, I can finally relax and make some stuff for myself.

When putting up my candy cane garland in the kitchen I realized I needed more candy cane ornaments.  A perusal of pinterest led me to this pattern for earrings made from size 15 seed beads.  Thinking larger beads would make a good-sized candy cane, I started with size 11 beads:
I love it, but it was still a little small, so I tried next with size 8 beads:

Of course, I could I resist candy cane earrings?
That candy cane on the right is actually the first one I made with size 15 beads, but it came out wonky and misshapen, probably because my damn wiener kids were pestering me while I made it.  So I stuck it into the beaded stocking I made a few years ago:
Maybe I can make a tiny beaded teddy bear to go with it.

And now that I've made five candy canes and written "candy cane" a gazillion times, I'm done.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ornaments for everyone

For Beadboy1, his beloved Kermit in cross stitch (I modified the pattern somewhat to make his face symmetrical):

For Beadboy2, a Ninjabread Man:

For Beadboy3, who has no pop culture preferences yet, a Mistletoe Monster (pattern by Tina Lewis from the 2012/2013 Quilting Arts Gifts):

For a generous aunt, as a thank you, a tin ornament (instructions by Judy Coates Perez, from the 2008 Quilting Arts Gifts):

For the always awesome Beadmom, another tin ornament:

(My machine, long-overdue for servicing, started acting up at this point.  I tried to cover the worst of the glitches with ribbon flowers, always appropriate for the Virgin Mary.)

For me, the Jeweled Pear ornament from Mill Hill:

Adding a bird fetish makes it another Partridge in a Pear Tree ornament.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Magician King and The Magician's Land

Grossman's adult mash-up of a little Harry Potter and a lot of Narnia continues with The Magician King and The Magician's Land, only this time the parallels are to Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle, respectively.  The second book opens up our world a little bit, too, as the story focuses in part on Quentin's friend, Julia.  Julia was rejected from the magical school of Brakebills, but the spell to make her forget didn't quite work, and she spends the following years in an increasingly desperate and single-minded journey to learn magic by other means. The depiction of an underground world of safe-houses and unofficial practitioners is neat, but Julia's journey is a dehumanizing one -- literally so, preparing her for a final transformation.  Because Julia is so eager to shed her humanity and her connections to other people, it became hard to really care about her or her journey.

The third book tracks both Quentin on Earth and Eliot and Janet on Fillory.  All three have matured greatly over the series, a satisfying development and one that suits Grossman's reworking of fantasy tropes.  Several loose ends are also wrapped up, although there is a bit of an unfinished quality to the narrative. But then, that's only fitting since much of the story is about what happens after you graduate from the magical school/come back from the magical land.

As much as I enjoyed the trilogy, however, it took me until the climax of the third book to realize what it was the bothered me about it, and it is the lack of a moral center.  Grossman is a smart, inventive writer, and is quite insightful when it comes to the trilogy's themes of maturity, responsibility, and the need to find a meaning in life.  But the characters (and narrative) are concerned, ultimately, only with themselves and the people around them.  It's a world where there are magicians, formally educated or "street smart," disciplined or wild, but there is little mention of a code of conduct or guidelines for interacting with the mundane world.  The characters care about each other, and make efforts to do right by each other and their charges, but there is no concern with "the greater good."  Niffins are wild, evil creatures that were once human, but while the return of one niffin's humanity is touchingly handled, the moral dimension is almost completely ignored.  The climax of the third book deals with the time-honored themes of a deity's sacrifice and the cycle of death and rebirth, but where genuine self-sacrifice, and sacrificial love, suffuse the Narnia books and even the last Harry Potter novel, the sacrifice portrayed here is anything but; because it is imposed on the unwilling victim, the brutality and cruelty of it cannot be elevated into something meaningful.  It is a very pagan scene, and it fits with the worldview Quentin has:
The world was fucking awful. It was a wretched, desolate place, a desert of meaningless, a heartless wasteland where horrific things happen all the time for no reason and nothing good lasted for long. ... The world was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring -- a moving oasis.  He wasn't desolate, and he wasn't empty.  He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it that's what being a magician was.  They weren't ordinary feelings -- they weren't the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things.  There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world.
 But it is not a worldview I share.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Candy Cane Garland

From the Purl Bee:
I was mystified by how to construct it, until I read the directions and realized I had made a paper version as a child:
When I wasn't looking, Beadboy3 took a bite out of it. Literally.

I need more gingerbread and candy cane ornaments.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Button Garland

Inspired by something I saw on pinterest.  I strung them onto perle cotton and tied a half-knot to keep them from sliding around.