Faux cro rocks!

For several years I have been eying up the photos on Jean Power’s website of her ‘faux bead crochet’ bangles. Now I love the appearance of bead crochet, but I’ve had several goes at doing it which have always ended in tangles, uneven work and tears. I’m sure it’s lovely and quick once you are expert, but for me it is incredibly slow, and combined with the absolute tedium of threading all the beads on before you even start I feel it’s not for me. However it does make the most beautiful beaded ropes, so a fake version using beadweaving techniques I’m familiar with seemed worth a try. Staring at Jean’s photos repeatedly over many years sadly did not reveal her secret, and though Jean has been teaching it as a workshop I’ve never been able to go. So when her recent newsletter announced she’d released a tutorial I grabbed one straight away (the joys of instant downloads). Reading through revealed I had been a numpty, as her solution is elegantly simple, but there is much in the tutorial that I would never have worked out even after years of playing, particularly the joins, so it was well worth the money to skip the experimentation and go straight to a very refined solution. All I need now Jean is to work out how to split the rope into two or three so I can do branches please?

Anyway I’ve made so many bangles lately that I thought I would instead make something more like a lariat, but I ran out of beads (poor planning) so I’ve made a short rope with increases at either end to form frilly cones (a la CGB 1 although using Jean’s stitch with increases, not their technique as it didn’t really work for me).  I then threaded a wire through the middle so the piece can be sculpted into a choker, bracelet, whatever. The simplicity of the design and technique made it a very relaxing, stress busting kind of piece to make, so I think I will be using this technique again soon.

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Recipe

  • 20g of red striped frosted crystal size 8 seed beads – mine were from Beadworks
  • 1g of opaque scarlet miyuki size 8 seed beads – 407 from the Bead Merchant
  • Red miyuki KO thread
  • 65cm 1mm silver plated wire

Tips

  • Read the instructions all the way through. Jean explains the theory as well as giving step by step instructions so you will be better equipped to improvise and add your own touches, as well as to complete the projects she details.
  • If you are not used to the basic stitch Jean uses, do a flat square sample first so you can get your technique (particularly tension) sorted.
  • Use big beads. There are some extremely beautiful bead crochet works out there using teeny weeny beads, and this technique will undoubtedly work extremely well for those, but you need to practise first. I would definitely heed Jean’s advice and start with 8s.
  • Make sure you have enough beads as this lovely speedy technique will munch them up quite quickly – 20g made a 5 around rope (probably the thinnest you can do with size 8s) 70com long.  So I’d reckon at just under 30g for a 1m rope which would make a versatile long necklace or lariat, and you should get a bangle out of the standard 6g tube of 8s.   You can always do a sample of say 10cm and then weigh it to estimate.
  • The slightly more organic appearance of crochet or faux crochet with 8s means this is a really good way to use up those beautiful but sadly wonky and uneven seed beads you bought all those years ago before you discovered the easy uniformity of Japanese beads. And you can also use the beads you bought for kumihimo but couldn’t use because the holes were too small for the bigger working thread (although you can use thicker threads for this technique and make a feature of them if you want, just like bead crochet).
  • Wiring the piece allows me to sculpt it each time I wear it – it would look very nice with the wire poking out and drops or rizos dangling from jump rings attached to a loop at the end

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What’s next?
In theory you can use this technique for any bead crochet type piece – there are some amazing patterned ropes out there and I can’t wait to try.   Have a look at my Faux Cro Pinterest board for some ideas if you’re interested.

I’d also like to try working round a core of cord or tubing so that I can tie on and bead over some feature beads, and I will have to find some quiet time and work out how to split the rope so I can do branching designs.

Telling fortunes

I’ve had my electronic copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork 2 for a few weeks now, and with the bigger boy at school  at last I felt I had the time and energy to have a go at another piece. One of the loveliest pieces in book 1 was the Fortuneteller, and with lots of lovely examples in book 2 I felt inspired. It’s gone together very nicely (they really are deceptively simple designs in the end) and I’m really rather pleased with it.

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I used a variety of shades of red, orange, salmon and peach delicas, including two of the newish luminous colours. In natural light the finished piece is very bright, but the yellow tones of artificial light do quieten it a bit.  Apologies for the failure to take photos in progress, but I don’t get much chance to get at my beads in daylight……

Babies and beading don't mix
Recipe
29g of delicas in around 15 different shades of salmon, red, orange, peach, yellow and pink, including luminous, mattes, metallics and transparents.  24 Miyuki drops (various colours, taken from a mix).

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Tips & variations
I made their ‘small’ which is only just large enough. However I do expect it to stretch a bit in wear so I’d say this should be perfect. Their small is six repeats of the zigged band with 10 units on each side of the zig. My knuckles measure 21cm round.
I had a little trouble following the instructions towards the end so I ended up simply adding a drop to what I felt was roughly the right place, and zipping 3 beads only Jean Power style,  which gave about the same look, avoided making it any smaller and seems fine to me.
Next time I will vary slightly and add drops to the modified raw band (at the decreases) to match the other points.
I didn’t add drops in the final round (after zipping) as I felt the three already there were sufficient.
I used some transparent frosted lime beads for the raw band and edges. If I was making again I think an opaque bead would work better here (although I would still use transparent beads for some rows in the main fabric), or even a metallic. Alternatively I might use two colours in the RAW – one for the horizontal, one for the vertical beads, as that would more closely mirror my colour use in the rest of the piece and allow the band to blend more.

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What next?

Another one I think, in more subtle colours (probably soft grey metallics and blues).  I am also wondering what this would look like in seed beads?

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The Search for the Source

This is so very helpful – if we all did this Pinterest would be an even more useful place! Thank you Westcott jewellery.

Wescott Jewelry

Despite the fantasy novel title, this post is about something pragmatic and useful – finding and crediting original designers of jewelry on the internet!

We’ve all experienced the annoyance of finding a picture of a beautiful piece of jewelry and having no idea where it comes from.  This is frustrating both for the beader looking to buy a pattern and for the designer whose work is floating around the internet without credit. Luckily, there is an easy way to solve this!

I have noticed that Pinterest in particular tends to have a lot of dead pins (pictures without sources or designer credit), so I’m going to use Pinterest in my example. This method will work just as well for any situation where you need to find the original source of a photo, though.

So, let’s say you are scrolling around Pinterest and you see a bracelet that you just love.

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Bezelling……

I was scratching my head as to what to make to wear to a big wedding recently, and having dug around found some crystals in the right colours to bezel. And I bezelled away night after night until I had a lovely collection, but the day before the wedding bought a different dress, so I am left with fifty odd marea, crystal, sunflower and sapphire stones with gold bezels.

So, what shall I do with them dear readers?

Curizo

I love Sabine Lippert‘s work – the techniques she uses are incredibly clever but often simple to bead, and the results are wonderfully exuberant, beadtastic pieces.  When she created her Rizo beads a while back I bought a copy of her Curizo design so that I could use them in the way she’d intended, and I fell in love with it.  So much that I made another, and then when I needed to put something together in a hurry  for a wedding this weekend, another.  They’re quick to bead – 3-4 hours for me, and use my current bead binge favourite chatons.  And I love them, and other people love them (although the smallest boy sadly loves them so much that he bust the chain on the white one last week).

Recipe

Turquoise – Opaque turquoise rizos, opaque olive 3mm fire polished, crystal AB Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

White – Opaque matte white rizos, opaque lime 3mm fire polished, sunflower Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

Grey and Opal – Brown Iris Matte rizos, silver 3mm fire polished, white opal Swarovski chatons, white opal czech small teardrop beads.

Tips

I don’t have many tips for this one, it’s really very lovely to bead and works perfectly.  I quite like to thread the chain or cord through the whole finished piece (as I did with the white and lime version), although that then leaves you with quite a short piece.  For the grey and opal version and the original turquoise I’ve added a loop – the former needs to go with a specific dress with quite a low neckline, so long was the only option.

If you’d like some matching earrings like my turquoise ones, simply complete the flower shape and capture the chaton, then add a loop to hang.

Variations

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For the final version, in the step where you would add fire polished beads and crystals I simply used fire polished, and then in the final joins I put Czech drops where the fire polished would have been.  I did this because I didn’t have any 3mm bicones in the right colour (and have bought far too many beads lately so didn’t want to buy any more).  On reflection the drops don’t really go with the rizos I used, and the cube shape is more visible (the others look more like a ball which is easier to wear), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this variation.

And next…..

Some lovely Heliotrope chatons have just arrived from the States, and I’ve got some fab neon Rizos (Robin’s Beads), and neon fire polished beads (More Beads 4 U – Etsy) – quite a flambouyant Curizo this time.

Folksy features

The nice people at Folksy have made me their featured shop this week. This means items on their front page (scattered about at the top, and then lots at the bottom), Facebook mentions and articles in the Folksy Blog. All rather lovely. Plus the Facebook mentions have stirred the interest of other beaders including my idol Jean Power, so I’ve even sold some tutorials. More lovely people – thank you all.

Zig-wing tastic

While we were on holiday I decided it was high time I made something for me – beading recently has been about competitions and the shop, rather than stuff for myself. As every beader knows, we are the strange people who have something to match perfectly with every outfit, and I seem to have acquired new clothes without beadwork to match. Chief among these are my new and very silly trousers (under the bangle above) from Boden, and whilst I rarely get to wear jewellery because of the littlest boy, their colours seemed to present an opportunity for something very loud. This isn’t quite as daft as it seems – I wear them with a plain navy blue top so some colour is needed to balance things out a bit.

I made a little pendant with some fluorescent pinks, blues and magentas, but it was still a bit dwarfed by the trews. Something truly epic was called for – and with some extra time courtesy of a few rest days at my parents with the boys, I finally felt ready to attempt a bigger piece from Contemporary Geometric Beadwork. I dug out a PDF they issued last year for the ‘Mowgli’ Zig Wing Bangle, and a big box of beads.

Here’s what I learnt:

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  • The modified RAW band is lovely. However, you will end up holding it while you bead, so make sure you use beads with a very permanent finish. I think I grabbed the first silvers I found, and they were galvanised so they’ve lost a little sparkle.
  • Their small/medium (5 points) is quite big. If I make another I might drop some repeats from each side.
  • The written instructions don’t quite match the diagrams for the beginning of the second side. Follow the diagrams, the words will give you about 4 extra rows – not the end of the world, but time-consuming, possibly affecting the sizing and probably not as nice.
  • Another time I think I will skip the ‘slipper’ join and shaping on the inside layer, and instead just zip that part together. It feels like this would make a better base for the outer layer and show that fantastic shaping with less distortion.
  • I didn’t keep a full count of hours – at a guess I’d say around 20? Certainly a reasonably big job compared to my usual pendants and earrings, but a lot quicker than expected.
  • Also actually much easier than expected – is basically plain peyote with some herringbone increases and decreases.
    I’ll be honest and say I didn’t find the instructions hugely clear – I can’t quite identify exactly why, but they do make the piece seem more complicated than it is. However the diagrams are good, with thread paths at critical points, so most intermediate beaders should manage fine if they concentrate!
  • I’m going to pop some drops or even seed beads into the RAW band at the point where the decreases will go next time, as they will form a nicer corner than delicas.
  • Kate recommends soft tension. She says this a lot and she is quite right! However this is tricky with delicas, and even trickier with matte beads. Try to relax, the fitting and shaping (as well as the finished feel) will be easier if you do.

All in all, I’m pleased. I’ll certainly have a go at another big piece from CGB ( now I know they are easier than they look), and I await CGB 2 with eagerness. If I am feeling really energetic I think I will treat myself to one of Barbara Brigg’s patterns from Etsy – they look incredible and should I think be nice and clear.

When I get a minute I will update with the finished weight so you can see what kind of volume of beads is involved.

 

 

Well done little sister

Well the results of the Stitch N Craft Four Seasons Challenge are out and sadly no win for me. Above you can see Thomas modelling all four seasons at once, below some more detailed shots.

But never mind, I made some fun pieces and rather wonderfully, my sister Susie Hoad, who I taught to bead a few years back, won the intermediate class. I am immensely proud of her, she has learnt so much since those first rows of peyote and really seems to enjoy it. And as a thank you for the introduction (and the extra beads I gave her for the Winter piece) she is going to buy me a Thread Zap 2 with some of her prize vouchers,so I will never have to sharpen my Fireline blunted scissors again. Happy, happy, happy, happy……

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Holiday beading

Last week was our annual holiday with my extended family in North Norfolk. The boys had a wonderful time on the beach with their cousin and grandparents, and in a few rare quiet moments we managed some beading. Here you can see me in blue stripes whizzing up some more feather earrings for the shop, my nephew Ben loom banding (nearly beading), and my little sister Susie (who I taught to bead a few years ago) making a series of CRAW loops which she eventually looped together using a loom band technique to make a fabulous bracelet. Later on in the week I finally plucked up the courage to commit to a Zig Wing Bangle (from Contemporary Geometric Beadwork) and it’s going well – piccies soon.

Finished in the nick of time.

Why is it that I work so much better under pressure?  Or is it that I just think I do because I am a hideous procrastinator and it makes a good excuse?  Either way I have had nearly a year to get my four pieces done for this years Stitch ‘n’ Craft Four Seasons challenge, but with a week to go I was still faffing around with the construction of Autumn.  Pretty fundamental stuff…..

Anyway, I gave up at about 10.30 on Friday night, and in the cold light of day (OK the very warm and humid light of yesterday) I’m reasonably content with the pieces as a whole and my final work on Autumn is just fine.  I can’t show you any of them properly as that would spoil things, but there is a taster above.  All peyote pretty much (have reverted to my beadweaving roots), and only one piece using delicas (so running away from my roots there).  I labeled them up last night while dear husband was at a glamorous party, so tomorrow morning I need to scribble a quick note about presentation (‘please put necklace on bust, looks a bit odd otherwise, don’t really mind about the rest’), and then pack them up ready for posting.   And then I am free – at least for a couple of days and then back to prepping for the Folksy featured shop and coping with the school holidays.

So for this year at least I can bid a fond farewell to the four pieces that took over my beading life – adieu to ‘Crystal Garland’; ‘Tumbling Leaves’; ‘A ********* for Oscar ‘ (sorry, can’t give you the full name because it spoils it); and ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’.   Bye Bye.

PS I rather suspect dearest husband would rather I didn’t enter next year – something to do with stress, obsession – not sure?  He may be right because it does rather completely take over, but I’m reserving judgement until I know what next year’s challenge is……….sorry darling, and happy 7th wedding anniversary my sweet.  XXX