Semele’s Cuff is a winner!

Some of you will know that I’ve been working hard this year on a piece for the annual Stitch N Craft Challenge.  Stitch N Craft are probably the leading bead shop in the UK for bead weavers, and every year they run a different challenge.  Sometimes it’s for multiple related pieces, sometimes one, sometimes there are provided components to work in (usually Swarovski) and sometimes none.  This year it was a single piece, and just a tiny Swarovski butterfly to work in.  We had to make a piece inspired by a British butterfly and its habitat, with an accompanying sketchbook explaining the piece and what we’d learnt about the butterfly.  I’m really thrilled to say that my piece ‘Semele’s Cuff’ won the professional category, which is a great honour and delight.

When I have more time, I’ll write more about the butterfly I chose, and give you more details about the piece,  but for now, here are some images and a very quick description:

Semele's Cuff - The Indecisive Beader - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

‘Semele’s Cuff’ is inspired by the sand dunes of our annual extended family holiday location, Old Hunstanton in North Norfolk.  I’m typing from there now, and we were here last year when Stitch N Craft announced the 2016 theme.



The dunes here are full of maram grass, sea holly, and other interesting coastal plants, and were attracting lots of butterflies.

I was inspired straight away by the gorgeous silvery grey spiked Sea Holly, and after some design detours created the cuff base, which is a zigged peyote round with herringbone increases creating spikes, using some of the techniques explored by beaders like Jean Power and Kate McKinnon and the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork crew.

Semele's Cuff - TThe Indecisive Beader - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

The sea holly is topped by a band of Grayling butterflies, with their beautiful mottled outer wings, balancing on the MRAW points and hovering above six beaded beads representing the Sea Holly flowers.

Semele's Cuff - The Indecisive Beader - Sarah Cryer Beadwork.

There are three sets of beaded beads, each pair worked in reversed colours in shades of silver and mauve – a pair of fringed beads using a variant on my usual design, and two brand new designs, one using cut and knotted threads over a peyote base to create a ‘hairy beaded bead’ and the other a 3/5 ball using spiky buttons which I am especially pleased with.

Semele's Cuff - The Indecisive Beader - Sarah Cryer Beadwork.

The cuff is named ‘Semele’s Cuff’ as the Latin name of the Grayling concerned is ‘Hipparchia Semele’.  Semele, (according to Ovid, the mother of Bacchus by Jupiter) is the subject of one of my favourite Handel Operas, and I love the idea of her wearing this cuff while she sings ‘Endless Pleasure, Endless Love’!

2016 Secret Beadalong – Beads

Regular readers will know that I was going for a more neutral colour scheme this year.  Clearly the gratuitous use of Neon Violet and other magenta beads means that I’ve failed, but it’s still a quieter and more wearable scheme than last year’s!  Plus it goes with the Penstemon in my ‘hot’ colour schemed flower bed.


Here’s the list of beads I used:

Miyuki 8 seeds – 1051 Dyed Galvanised Silver; 2002 Matte Metallic Silver Grey

Miyuki 11 seeds – 1051 Dyed Galvanised Silver; 2002 Matte Metallic Silver Grey; Black Picasso (after factory coating)

Miyuki 15 seeds – 181 Dyed Galvanised Silver; 2247 Fuchsia Lined Crystal Lustre; 1310 Dyed Transparent Fuchsia

Bricks – Pastel Bordeaux; Black Picasso

Mini-duos – Black Picasso; Neon Violet; Antique Silver

4mm Fire-Polished rounds – Transparent Magenta Lustre; Matte Metallic Gunmetal Matte; Neon Violet

3mm Crystals – Preciosa Crystal Vitrail; Swarovski Crystal Light Chrome

The eagle eyed among you will spot that I didn’t use the various sliperit beads, both etched and not, which I showed you in my post about my pre-prep bead selection.  I did start off with them but the scheme wasn’t hanging together – so I swapped in some silver and I think it works better.  In the end, I think the sliperit works better with warm metallics, which I didn’t have in the shaped beads required, so I’m going to plan something in the future with copper as a base.  I’ve got some lovely after factory Coated Crystal Vintage Copper Miyuki 11s – a slightly matted, muted finish and they will look lovely together with maybe a hint of fuchsia (of course).  Who knows, I might even use them to make another set of this design.


2016 Secret Beadalong – Days 6 & 7

I’m afraid I have a confession to make – I’m not going to be beading days 6 & 7.  I don’t have the quantity required in my choice of mini duo (the Black Picasso), so I would need to order more, but instead I’ve decided to make a braid from some lovely mid grey sari ribbon from YarnYarnYarns, which I blogged about a while back.


I haven’t attached a clasp yet – I’ll probably wrap and neaten off the ends, then add a large popper which can be hidden in the run of beads, to give a lovely tidy finish.  I know it’s naughty, and not sticking to Jean’s design, but to be honest I really love the (almost) finished piece.  Plus I’ve sent her a picture and she likes it anyway!


In the end the beauty of this set of beaded beads is that they can be worn on any necklace or bracelet – singly, in small groups, altogether or whatever you fancy.  So I might make another braid for a bracelet, or maybe a CRAW rope round a wire bangle base?  Or just hang the neutral coloured beads from a silver chain (I made sure made some in just grey and silver) – even I can’t wear magenta every day. And maybe when I’m less busy and more organised I’ll make Jean’s rope………….


2016 Secret Beadalong – Day 4

Another new bead type today – bricks.  A couple of blocked holes slowed me down –  always remember when using twin holed beads to check for blocked holes when you first add them – there is nothing more annoying than doing all that work and then finding you can’t connect the second hole.

Beaded Bead 10


Beaded Bead 11


Beaded Bead 12


At a guess, with 3 more prep pieces left, tomorrow is the last day for beaded beads.


2016 Secret Beadalong – Day 3

Fire-polished today – big beads, so theoretically quick.  I did get myself in a bit of a pickle with the clever thread paths, but once I stopped just guessing from the pictures and actually followed the instructions to the letter, all was fine.  I should know by now that Jean is much cleverer than I when it comes to innovative thread paths, and there’s no point in trying to second guess what she’s up to.

Beaded Bead 7


Beaded Bead 8


Beaded Bead 9


I enjoyed these – the twist on Bead 8 is very lovely, and it’s very slim and pretty.