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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Chain Maille Funne

 I spent some time earlier this year sorting through old magazine patterns, and decided I had to make this chain maille ring by Daleann Stark:

That's an emerald crystal in there; I just could not get a good image of it.  

Steel rings made this ring affordable, and it was fun, albeit super fiddly, to put together.

That wasn't enough chain maille, though! 

These earrings, made with anodized aluminum rings, were a heck of a lot easier to make. 

I'd forgotten how tactile and slinky chain maille can be. I'd also forgotten that it takes a certain amount of practice and skill to close all the rings properly. Clearly, I need to make more!


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Daisy Chain

 In college, as a newish beader, I picked up a pamphlet with instructions to make different styles of daisy chain bracelets. I made a bunch, using size 11 beads and nymo thread, and wore them a lot, and eventually I stopped wearing them because the thread got loose and they felt fragile.

Last week I decided to remake them, with size 8 beads and fireline, for a sturdier and chunkier look.

Here are the old ones:

I have a mixed-media surface onto which I've been sewing beaded scraps, failed experiments, and false starts. I'll add these to that project.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Blackwork Hexagons

 The Facebook group Snarky & Modern Embroidery and Cross Stitch is hosting a blackwork stitch-along in conjunction with blackwork experts The Steady Thread. I've always wanted to do a sampler, so this was perfect.

Behold, the first seven hexagons:

The SAL is 49 weeks long, but I won't be doing all 49 hexies -- I'm already behind by several weeks, and my fabric isn't big enough. Instead I'll see how many I can do before I run out of space.

That fabric, by the way, is a basic cotton evenweave, and I hate it -- stiff, unravelly, and too easy to stain. But this will use up the last of it! You can't tell from the picture (I've yet to take one with perfect lighting), but the thread is a variegated Waterlilies from the Caron Collection, in very deep purples and teals. 

Behold, a big old error in hexie no. 8!

 I think I'll keep it. It's kind of fun,  testing others to see if they can see it. Can you? 😛


Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Lady Emily Aston Series by Tasha Alexander

 There are fifteen novels and counting in this mystery series by Tasha Alexander, centered around a young (and unconventional) Victorian widow who finds herself caught up in several murders. I read the first four -- And Only to Deceive, A Poisoned Season, A Fatal Waltz, and Tears of Pearl -- and while I enjoyed them, I think I'll stop there. 

Modern historical fiction, particularly the lighter stuff, has to walk a tightrope in creating characters who have sensibilities compatible with modern viewpoints but who aren't so anachronistic as to be historically inaccurate (or worse, ridiculous). For the most part, Alexander succeeds at this. Lady Emily marries a man she didn't particularly care for because it was expected of her and he was the best of the lot; when he dies a few months later, she is thrilled to now have a freedom no single woman would have. Her status as both a lady and a widow allow her to spend her time studying antiquities and drinking port, and eventually investigating the murder of her husband. People gossip about her (and her mother nags, a whole lot), but she can afford not to care.

But in a welcome change, Alexander does allow Emily to care, at least sometimes; she is only human, after all, and a product of her times. In the second volume, especially, Emily wrestles with the loss of her reputation and just how unconventional she's comfortable being. She also must decide whether she wants to marry again; the love of her life values her freedom and intellectual pursuits, but even a modern marriage requires sacrifice and compromise.

The third volume wasn't quite as good as the first two, mainly because it relies on a trope I hate -- the bitchy ex-girlfriend. And by the fourth, I was starting to lose interest in the series as a whole.  I may return to Lady Emily someday, though; some of the later books sound quite interesting.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Desert Succulents

 Wasting time on the internet last month I found, in rapid succession, Allegory Gallery's Desert Succulent design challenge kit (sold out) and The Beadshop's Fun Times necklace design. Many weeks later -- I needed more copper chain, there were shipping delays, I ran out of jump rings, I ran out of headpins, I burned the knuckles of my left hand, I burned my right fingers -- I have a necklace, a.k.a. a "neckmess":

It's three 12-inch chains with lots of beads and charms attached, and beaded sections to complete the necklace. The three strands laid out:

The little succulent charms deserved to stand out from the rest, so they became earrings. And I loved the look of the beaded strands on each side, made from an assortment of beads roughly the same size, so I made a bracelet, too:

And look! I still have lots of beads left to play with.


Now I need to get back to stitching.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Jewelry Round-Up

 Most of these beads came from a kit from Candie Cooper, and initially I was going to add them to my collection of raku beads and make a necklace (I'm thinking on some silk sari, or an interesting novelty yarn), but the more I looked at the beads the more I liked them all by themselves. I added a few more and voila:

I used some of the raku beads I already have to make earrings:

That upside down bead was totally on purpose

But wait! I forgot to post these earrings I made last month!


 I love those pink flower beads, and I have to find a use for the rest of them.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Book Round-Up

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz: a meta-ish cozy riff on the Sherlockian/Watson partnership, where a fictionalized Horowitz teams up with a disgraced former cop. I should have loved it, but I didn't; it left me cold. 

In preparing this post, I realized I never wrote about the other Horowitz book I read!

 Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz: I liked this mystery quite a bit more, in part because there's a mystery within a mystery -- Susan Ryeland is the long-time editor of Alan Conway, and when he dies mysteriously she must not only solve his murder but figure out what happened to the last chapters of his last manuscript. We are treated, then, to both a contemporary whodunit and a pastiche of a Golden Age cozy. Lots of fun.

D: a Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber: D is for delightful. This was a wonderful middle-grade novel about a girl -- Dhikilo, a refugee from Somaliland -- who is sent on a quest to return the letter D to the world. It reminded me very much of The Phantom Tollbooth, one of my favorite childhood books. A reviewer on Goodreads complained that the choice of the letter was arbitrary, but early on a politician states that "iversity [sic] was all very well, but not if it got in the way of forging a strong, safe nation." It seems quite clear to me why Faber chose D.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala: Another delightful read. This is the first in Manansala's cozy mystery series, set amongst the Filipino community in a small town in Illinois. The writing was a little green, not surprising given that this is Manansala's first novel, but I loved the characters and the story. Can't wait to read the next two!