Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve

Every year since I created this blog, I've had this little tradition of taking photos on new year's eve and blog about them in the afternoon -- as you can see here. The weather has of cause changed every year: there's been fog and frost (2011), snow and ice (2010) and slightly white with a big pink moon (2009). But this year it's been the most boring weather so far. All day it's been dark, windy, wet and foggy. And not possible to get anything like the photos I've been able to share previous years. Tried to wait, hoping the wind would clear up the fog a bit, but it was only getting darker and around 14 my camera already protested, saying it was too dark outside.

(to make it clear: this pic was taken around 16:30, not around 14 when I took the first pics.)

I don't want to give up my little tradition just because of bad weather, but it's on the other hand boring to writing about the last day of the year and illustrate it with such cold and dreary photos. So I cheated a bit: the photo above is taken today and the photos below are from yesterday.

Fingers crossed we'll at least be able to see some of the fireworks at midnight. Hope the weather is better where you are. And that you're having/will have a good evening, whether your plans include a fancy party or a cozy time at home in front of the telly tonight.


This year, too, I would like to quote Neil Gaiman's new years wish and wish all you creative souls out there a beautiful year filled with beautiful mistakes. Or as I put it last year:

The blogs are filled with people wishing others a happy new year and planning ahead for 2012 now. Some are sending out greetings to their readers and followers, others are making resolutions and preparing for their own personal challenges or inspirational mottos for the new year. I was just going to publish the photos today and let that be my greeting to you on this day, but then I just read this new year's wish from Neil Gaiman on his blog and thought it really applied to us beaders, jewellery makers, crafters and artist -- in our personal lifes as well as in our creative pursuits -- so I wanted to share it with you:

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever."

You can read his whole new year's eve post at Neil Gaiman's Journal.

Thank you for following me and commenting on my blog through the year, even when I'm rubbish at replying on comments or write self-pitying screeds. I do appreciate you and your comments, even when it doesn't look like it and I hope you still see that. Your comments make me happy. They make me smile and they make me enjoy blogging so much. Whether you "just" read (and pin) or also comment, I appreciate your visits and your interest in me and/or my writings. You make the journey of life less lonely for an introvert girl who find it hard to make friends and be social. I hope you'll stay with me through 2013 too and that we all may have a great year in front of us, filled with opportunities, creativity and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

December bead soup palette: the finale

Yes, I might have forgot to show the last two versions of the december bead soup as there was a lot of things happening in mid-december. And now December (and the year) is almost over... So instead of seperate posts, here's a summary of all the four posts I wrote on the other blog.

First a recap of what the first two versions looked like.

For the third week, I wanted to add colour and my first choice was brown and dusty purple (or more precisely burgundy pearls). Crystals in light burgundy and alchemy were also added. The light burgundy crystals are of the kind that makes you go "I promise it looks better IRL...". Hence why I did one version without both the crystal beads and rivoli as you could see at the top of the post. But I still stuck with them, thinking they'd work better once I added the last colours. 

The burgundy pearls and matte brown leather also works well as a colour combo in their own (see end of this post).

For the finishing touch, I added more matte beads. Now focusing on light rose and gold tones. The rose and topaz luster beads are one of the reasons I kept the light burgundy crystals as they bridge the gap between the dusty rose and dusty purple tones.

As with all bead mixes, it's worth adding and removing different beads to find a combo that suits you needs. You can either do as I did and start with a couple of colours and add to that -- or you can go the other way around by first just throwing in all colours you like in the mix and then remove the ones you don't like or feel doesn't fit in.

Personally, I'm rather fond of the simplicity of the first combo while others might prefer the last with all it's various hues. Others still might prefer the alternative version that you saw at the beginning of this post. Either way, it's not just about the colours themselves, it's also about the proportion between the colours and how they are grouped within the design. Sometimes it looks best if you mix up all the colours, other times it's better to separate them into group and use them in different parts of the design -- as illustrated by the pic below where the final "bead soup" has been divided into three lots.

And so here it is, my december bead soup palette experiment. Maybe I'll do it again sometime, though there are other variations I want to try first. Whether you like the result or not, I do hope it still might have inspired you to play around with your beads and try different colour combos.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 50-51

I never wrote the last recap of the year before christmas, but today I'm trying to finish everything I didn't do before christmas which I want to have done by the end of the year. So here's the last recap of 2012 with everything from Color of the Year and EU's new lead ban to beading chain ideas and snowglobe jewellery.

The not-so-violet violets brooch

I just realised I've never shown this brooch on this blog. Not that it's such a masterpiece it just had to be featured, it's just that it's a little brooch that I enjoyed making years ago. And it has a good idea for all newbies at bead embroidery who want to bead a pendant, brooch or similar: using larger beads will make it much faster. In this case, it also makes the brooch more lightweight as I used mainly acrylic components.

For this brooch, which has a black felt base, I used acrylic/lucite flowers and leaves, pushing a few smaller florals under the violets to fill out the space.  I then added a backing and pin and covered the edges with Toho marbled seeds.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Meowy Christmas!

 It's a Meowy Monday, but it's also Christmas eve (which is to swedes what Christmas day is to many other religious and non-religious christmas celebrators) and I haven't got a photo that's both christmas-y and includes cats. So I went with the above illustration that I once found on one of those websites with free graphics.

The kitties here are already in full christmas spirit as they got their presents early: treats, a big saxk of extra yummy dry food and a toy for Ullegull (though of cause, all the young cats like to play with it). Actually, Uggi got his toy several days ago as a sort of pre-christmas gift and we did open one of the boxes of treats already yesterday -- but, hey, Lillejulafton is also kind of christmas.

Myself, I'll mostly be celebrating christmas today by eating christmas ham, nibbling on chocolates and homemade sweets and watch telly, I think. And perhaps bead/embroider a little and be with the kitties. We were going to have a christmas at home this year too as my dad still isn't well and didn't want to have guests over nor visit any relatives, but he was hospitalised last week and is spending christmas at the hospital. My sis went to a friend's house for a couple of hours so when she gets back it's time to have some ham and open presents. It's not as boring as it sounds, though I confess I'd love to have a christmas with at least a couple of relativs, and in a way one of the best things about christmas is the preparations (making sweets and more sweets and some baking) and the tree and all the lights, which are up until Knut at least.

There's still no snowcat here; while we did get quite some snow in the (relatively benign) snowstorm yesterday, it all melted away already during the night. There's still a little snow here and there -- like in last week's meowy monday post -- but not enough for even a skåning to call it a white christmas. So instead, here's a little vintage postcard with a snowcat.

And with that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 
May you all have a joyous and peaceful holiday with the ones you love.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

I haven't forgotten this time, just running a bit late (with so many things...). Today I wanted to share a few pics I took the other day -- or rather, night -- when most of the cats had fallen to sleep. Jisse and Jinja were so cute, my sis and I just had to take a few pics even if it risked waking them up.

So it's another Monday filled with so-so flash photograhpy, but who cares when there's cute cats in the pics? Just look at them. Just look at how Jisse hugs his little sister. My little sweethearts.

(Don't you just love how every little dust particle  shows up on the black fabric thanks to the flash? Blä. But it's not my dirty, cathair covered duvet, nor my mess behind the kitties, so I don't have to feel embarrassed about showing it.)

And -- really OT -- for anyone who saw my snow pics this weekend and think we'll be lucky enough to have a white christmas, this is how it looked today:

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Snowy landscapes

Yesterday my sis and I went for a walk as the weather was supposed to get warmer and we wanted to get some more snow photos before it started to thaw.

I'm not going to say much about this melange of random photos from the 400+ pics I took. Bit busy, but still wanted to share before forgetting about it. Hopefully there'll be time to show some of the snow pattern pics we took another day.

 This last pic is rather dark (it was after 16 by that time and the sun had set), but I still like it.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The 'Swedish brick-and-mortar bead shops' map is revamped -- and got a new home

The bead shop map (Pärlbutikskartan) have been an almost constant source of guilt as I haven't felt I had the time and energy to keep it up to date on my own. But this year, after being on the brink of abandoning it fully or even deleting it, I gave it a new chance. And ended up not just adding and deleting shops, but also creating a new home for the map.

The new site Pärlbutiker i Sverige isn't really finished, but I have already made it public as the new home means it's much easier to inform about the map, writing more about how to use it and how to add shops to it to name a few things. I was also able to add a page with information in english, which you can find here.

While the map is written in swedish, I hope it may also be useful for an international audience, e.g. a way for beaders visiting Sweden to find shops of interest. And while I don't know if you can use Google Translate to read the info blurbs for each shop, at least you can find a link to each shop's website where you can find more info (and translate it into english).

Now, before anyone checks out the map, I also have to stress that it's virtually impossible to keep the map up to date all the time so always, always check with the shops to see that they're still open to visits when you want to go. And remember that some shops are online shops that doesn't have "proper" brick-and-mortar shops, but accepts pre-arranged visits in their storerooms.

As for Panduro, the big Scandinavian chain of craft shops, they also have a better updated map of their own here. To see it, click the "dölj/visa karta" button under the picture on the right or, if yo want a map of a specific shop, click the name of the town/city in the list. (In the list you find both Panduro shops, Panduro Hobby-butiker, and smaller independent retailers, återförsäljare.)

By the way, ages ago I wrote about the map on this blog. You can still find that post, with some info on how to read the map, here.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

December bead soup palette: part two

As I mentioned in part one, this month's colour inspiration/moodboard is a bit different what with beads being added to it every week leading up to christmas when it will be complete.

This week, I didn't add new colours as much as I just added new hues and a different finish, mixing shiny with the matte metallics of the first week. Mixing finishes and surface effects (like celsian and lumi brown here) adds depth and interest to a simple bead combo. So if you want to make something using just a couple of colours, focusing on hues and finishes can be a great way to make it less flat and boring.

You might recognize the added beads from this post, by the way.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 48-49

New Baroque finish. Photo courtsey of Miyuki Co, Ltd

A little belated, but here it is: Manekis pärlblogg in review, a summary of the last two weeks of blogging on my other blog. Everything from bead shop guides and bead embroidery techniques to contest tips and new bead finishes (I so want some of those Baroque seed beads now!).

Monday, 10 December 2012

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

What's this? Well, isn't it our sweetie pie Ullegull hanging upside down. Or more precisely hanging over my sister's arm while I took a photo. This slightly odd photo also gave me the opportunity to show that cute paw with its black spot. And the white stripes on his front legs.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Beading with metallic threads

After embroidering the mingles sample I showed yesterday, I thought 'why not see what happens when you bead with metallic threads such as DMC jewel effects and precious metal effects'? They would add not just colour, but also shine, wouldn't they?

First I tried purple metallic thread (E3837). Pulled the 6-ply thread through doubled so it's 12 strands filling the holes of the smoky amethyst beads. It looks similar to a metal lining (like silver-lined) or sparkling colour lining (because of the added colour). Don't think it added that much: you could get something similar by buying lined seed beads to begin with. Probably cheaper and easier than handling delicate metallic threads. But if you have a mix of thread and beads that you like, it could be fun to use.

I didn't give up though, thinking I wanted something more out of it. And the answer was: using blended threads or ombré/space-dyed/multicoloured thread would give a variegated metallic effect most likely possible to acheive in a bead factory by lining the beads.

There are multicoloured metallic threads, but I didn't have any. Instead I blended two shades, a jewel effects blue and a precious metal effects in silver (E168). Lost the label for the blue thread and there are several metallic blue shades so no colour number for that one (might be E825). The result is similar to the one you could see in the mingle sample, but with some added metallic shine. Again, smokey amethyst might not have been the best colour to show off these threads, but I used what I had nearby and what was transparent enough to show the colour effect.

I do have some metallic rayon chainette and other thicker threads/cords with some metallic threads woven into them, most of them space-dyed. Not so useful in embroidery -- unless I couch them, I suddenly realise -- but could be used for some fun bead crochet or stringing/knotting.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Beading with mingles -- a sample

When I wrote about my new embroidery floss some time ago, I mentioned having an idea about beading with them. Unfortunately I didn't have the beads I wanted -- and still haven't -- but I have now ended up making a small sample using "the wrong beads". They're wrong beacause it isn't easy to see the colour effect made by the pre-blended floss due to the colour, but most of all due to the shape of the beads. My ideal bead here would be a clear or slightly tinted larger size Delica. I used 8/0 smoky amethyst seeds. The only light and transparent bead in the rights size.

While it might be a tad difficult to see the different colour effects in these photos, I still hope you can see some of what I was after. Didn't realise that the aida would be reflected in the shiny, shiny beads, which makes it harder to see any differences between the rows.

Scaling the photo down to a more natural scale might help a bit, as may a good close-up.

The two rows at the top, which you can see in a really close close-up here, are stitched with the pre-blended floss (in purple and white, see photo below). Below are two rows stitched with the white (or rather pale lilac) threads from the skein and below that is one row stitched with the deep purple threads. The thread colour makes a big difference when beading with transparent, light-coloured beads, as you can hopefully see -- and if you can't, pull out some different threads and beads and test it yourself.

Using ombré, space-dyed or blended threads give the beads a very different, colour-shifting look. It's more common to use ombré and space-dyed thread or cord in bead crochet, but it can also be used e. g. in bead embroidery as I am showing here. Don't think it'd work as well in off-loom beadweaving, though, as the threads don't fill the bead holes as much as crochet cord and embroidery floss do. Yes, thread colour will be important, as I've mentioned e. g. here, but to get a really good effect with pre-blended and space- or ombré-dyed threads, they need to fill up as much space as possible in my opinion.

Usually, one uses clear beads when crocheting or embroidering with this type of mixed-colour thread, but it is possible to use coloured beads as long as they aren't too dark or opaque. It's also a good idea not to use beads with shiny surface effect such as luster and AB as they can obscure the thread.


So that's it. The idea I mentioned ages ago. Now I'm just hoping for a good excuse to go bead shopping and picking up some "better" beads so I can do something more with it than just this tiny sample (that's going to be ripped soon).

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Beaded stem stitch

Stem stitch is probably one of my favourite bead embroidery stitches, which is kind of fun considering how long I spent disliking this stitch as a kid. Of cause, back then I stitched on with embroidery floss and my dislike came from a child's impatience and lack of skill in making small and even stitches. When I rediscovered embroidery again, I thought I'd give it a new go eventhough I remembered how difficult I found the stitch as a kid. But once I began stitching, I realised that i's a very easy and pretty stitch! It wasn't as tricky to get even as I remembered!

And then this year, I tested to bead it too. All of this, you can see and read about in the TAST catch-up post. This above is my latest sample that I did for a post on my other blog.

At the top is a row of stem stitches that I made just as a comparison: stem stitch with floss looks in many ways different from beaded stem stitch. Below that is a row made with beads in one colour. Stitched from right to left and as you can see it was first at the end I remembered that in order to get a straight end, you need to begin and end with a half stitch. Which I did in the next row where I also used two different colours in order to get an illusion of a twisted cord.

The last row is more experimental and not really something I'd recommed for stem stitch unless you opt for the wider type of stem stitch that's more like diagonal satin stitch. If using stem stitch and stitchin in a straight row, the bugle beads will be pushed away from the point where the floss is stitched through the cloth and be exposed.

I also tried another version that failed miserably, but which I might as well show. Trying to mix bugle beads and seeds wasn't such a bright idea. Looked better in my head that on cloth. (I did this before the bugle bead row in the above sample, by the way. Just bugles actually worked better in my eyes.)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Variations on a theme

 These are some of the beads I dug up when trying to put together the latest monthly colour inspiration. It all began with the frosted teal seeds on the right. Then I found a more metallic version of the matte teal-brown mix in the metallic leather braid and matte metallic patina iris (yes, that's an expensive colours, but worth the price). And then I ended up adding some more shine with the flower beads and FPs. The flowers are in aqua celsian, but I'm trying to figure out the name of the fire-polished beads. Lumi brown? Hopefully I'll find a definite answer when going through my old invoices as I'm pretty sure I know where I bought these.

 Is it just me or does those teal beads look way too blue in the photos? Tricky colour to get right in artificial light perhaps?

Anyway, I hope to be able to do something with all three variations on the same basic colour combo. Perhaps keep the czech glass bead mix as it is. There's of cause already a plan for matte metallic mix as it's part of the monthly palette. Which leaves the matte brown-and-teal mix. Not sure what to do to with it yet. Pretty sure I'll want to add if not a new colour then at least more nuances.

How about you, do any of these basic mixes make you think "oh, I'd definitely add [insert colour(s)/bead(s) of choice]"?

December bead soup palette: part one

Hope you're not getting tired of snow photos (because there'll probably be more if the snow keeps falling), but just for a change it'll just be beads today.

During the weekend, I pondered whether to do something a bit different for Manekis Pärlblogg what with the advent sundays coming up and all. I went back and forth, but at last I decided I will do some fun weekly feature up until my winter break (usually don't blog between a few days before christmas to new year's day).

So what is this new idea? Well, instead of the usual monthly colour palette, I will make a very simple two-colour palette for week one and then add beads every week for the following three weeks. When I came up with the idea and posted the above palette on my other blog, I still didn't know what to make for the following weeks -- and did get cold feet a couple of days after posting -- but now I do have a plan.

The base of my four-week soup is a matte metallic mix -- even if you can't really tell from the photo that the leather is metallic -- made up of matte metallic patina iris hex cuts and braided matte bronze metallic leather. (A cheaper and easier-to-find alternative could be brown leather and frosted teal beads, but of cause that won't have the same shimmer.)

By the way, I will make another post later today or tomorrow that'll illustrate how I ended up with this combo. Because it was not the colours I started off with.
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