So I had this necklace (and earrings to go with it too).  I liked it rather a lot, but I never ever wore it.  Why you ask?  Because of the clasp.

lengthening a too-short necklaceThis clasp drove me insane.  It’s meant to make the necklace adjustable and be lovely and decorative.  But there are two flaws with that.  Even at the longest setting, it’s still about an inch shorter than I’d like (I cannot stand short necklaces, they make me feel like I’m strangling).  Also, that lovely chunk of decorative rock dangling back there gets all snarled up in my hair.

Now, the proper way to solve this problem would be to track down some matching (or at least complementary) beads and restring the whole thing.  But that would take work.  Not so much in the stringing (that bit is kind of idiot simple), but in the hunting down more beads.  So the necklace languished, loved but unworn, abandoned in the bottom of the jewelry box.  Until I saw this.

lengthening a too-short necklaceThat’s basically a bracelet, but with a clasp only on one end.  Out of the package it looks like this.

lengthening a too-short necklaceNow, I will be frank.  It is not a high quality bit of jewelry.  It’s actually sort of crappy.  But, it cost next to nothing, it was easy to find, and I thought it might turn the necklace I never wore into something useable.

And amazingly, it worked.  I ruthlessly ripped apart the first link in the chain that came with the necklace and took the whole irritating thing off.  Then I clipped clasp of the new chain on where the original chain had been.  The whole thing took maybe 1 minute.  It took me far longer to take the pictures than to make the swap.

lengthening a too-short necklaceThe result is utterly practical, if not necessarily earthshakingly beautiful.  I’ve got the extra bit of length I wanted, and the hair-snagging dangle is gone (tucked away to see if I find something else to do with it, because the bead is pretty).  I’ve not done any damage to the beads, so if I want to go to the trouble of buying extras and restringing them later, I can.  But until I manage to get around to procuring the supplies to do that, this will turn the necklace into something I wear instead of something I feel irritated by every time I see.  For four bucks and a minute of time, I’m calling it a success.

Anybody else taking pliers to their things to make them suit you better?  I’m finding it surprisingly liberating!

Unabashedly Sparkly

I came home from the trip with ideas.  Lots and lots and lots of ideas.  I think that’s half the fun of going away.  You get out of your daily routine, and you suddenly have extra time and space to make plans.  One of these plans involves disassembling a dock and finding a custom metal fabricator (that one will take a bit longer to come to fruition…it’s a biggish plan).  One involves yards and yards of beautiful wool felt, a handful of buttons, and my firm conviction that I can convince my sewing machine to do what I want (this one will also take a while to be done, there is a research step before I get up my nerve to cut the fabric).  One involved something much simpler, beads.

I’ve actually been prone to playing with beads far longer than I’ve known about yarn.  I went through a terribly unfortunate beaded earrings phase as a kid.  I like to think my taste has improved in the intervening years.  That, or I can afford nicer beads now.  So back to the project.  Years ago, I bought a beaded necklace.  It was just a long strand of simple seed beads (strung on a wire) with a few more interesting beads thrown in here and there for variety.  You could tie it around your neck or wrap it around your arm.  I liked it, but I rarely wore it because it wasn’t my color (turquoise and I do not get along) and because it wasn’t the right length for how I wanted to wear it.  I decided I had the stuff on hand to do better.

1I grabbed my beading wire (I use this one, and I like it because it’s skinny enough to go through the tiny beads, strong enough not to break, and flexible) and a box of beads and a little dish.  I pinched out a bunch of the beads I wanted to use and dumped them all in the dish together (heresy I know, but I wanted to make myself be random with this one) and went to work.  Just string the beads, one after the other, do not make a plan, do not be too exacting.  Embrace the random.

4Well, embrace the random until you get half way through, then make some general effort to match the placement of the big beads on the second half to that of the big beads on the first half.  Random is good, but we mustn’t invite chaos.

5And go long.  Like really long.  As in this strand is as long as I am tall, and I might secretly wish I’d made it a tiny bit longer.

2Miss Blossom is modeling it for us here, and her neck is a bit willowier than mine.  She’s also alarmingly naked.  When I wear this, I generally use my own neck and I fairly consistently manage to have a shirt on, and so I tend to only loop it around twice.  That said, I’m very pleased with it.  It feels nice and substantial (quite a few of the beads are stone, so it has a good heft to it), and I have been wearing it a lot.

And yes, I am still managing to (more or less) refrain from combining beads and yarn.  I don’t know how much longer my self restraint will last, but you’ll be the first to hear about it when I succumb to my baser impulses.

So Much Better (Plus Giveaway)

So, as promised, I’d like you to meet someone who really knows her way around the bead shop.  May I introduce the lovely Laura Nelkin?

I got to know Laura when she was design director for Schaefer Yarn.  She got in touch with me when I was very new at this pattern thing and asked if I’d like to do a design for Schaefer.  This was an incredibly generous thing to do.  I was a complete newbie and was totally making it up as I went along.  Her encouragement was a tremendous help.

Laura has recently made the switch to being an independent knitwear designer, and she’s doing some amazing things.  Her latest project is a video class on lace shawls that looks like great fun.  Even more impressive (at lest to me, as I sit here surrounded by hundreds of beads and a few false starts) is her way with beads.

She’s done lots of individual beaded patterns in the past (Ennoble more or less makes me weak in the knees), but now she’s done something even more fun.  She’s put together a whole collection of knitted jewelry and other accessories (most of it with beads).  She’s releasing one pattern a month, plus a few surprise patterns here and there.  The first pattern came out back in May, and new patterns are being added every month.

The pattern collection is called Adorn, and it is absolutely marvelous.  The patterns are lovely, and the instructions are clear enough that even a bead novice like me isn’t intimidated.  If you’re already a bead expert or if you’ve only been considering taking up beading (and really, if you like yarn shops, there is a good chance you’ll like bead shops…they hit a lot of the same ‘oooooh, pretty colors’ buttons in my brain), you’ll want to add this to your collection.

I’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky reader.  If you’d like it to be you, just leave me a comment below and tell me what you like to do with beads (even if it’s just admire them from a distance).  I’ll pick a winner on Friday.  Do be sure to use a real email address so I can get in touch if you win (and don’t worry, I won’t do anything with any of the addresses except contact the winner).

Not So Smooth

I occasionally get messages complaining that my knitting always looks better than that of the writer.  Seriously folks, this is because I cheat.  I tend to only show you the pretty stuff.  The stuff that isn’t working out?  That gets tossed against the wall and sworn at and then ripped.  But just so you know it happens, here’s an example of something that isn’t working out.

Now this had promise.  The stitch pattern is pleasing, yarn is lovely, the beads are shiiiiiiiiiiny, and the silk thread is interesting to work with.  See?  Far too pretty to throw away.

But this is a case where the whole is so much less than the sum of the parts.  I think its because all the colors are just too similar. The yarn and the beads and the thread all sort of blur together and nothing really pops.  So, I’ll be ripping (which to be honest, is no fun at all with two strands plus beads), separating it, and finding another plan.  And I have a suspicion the plan will involve just that purple yarn because it’s just singing to me and trying to sweet talk me into finding a better use for it.

And just to provide a counterpoint for my beaded failure, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to someone who does all sorts of nifty things with beads (and have a little giveaway to spread the love).


The bead thing seems to be working out.  Or rather, I seem to be able to apply beads to loops of string in a more or less consistent manner.  And, working on the idea that something done consistently tends to eventually look intentional and maybe even appealing, I’m getting a pleasantly orderly result.

I know it looks a bit scruffy now.  I promise it will look better later.  I’ve still got to figure out if it’s going to be a bracelet or a necklace, and there’s a fair bit of fiddling with it yet to be done, but I’m liking it so far.

And really, I want some sort of reward for putting those lighter beads in there randomly.  It’s very unlike me, but I think it was the best choice here.

Siren Song

So I’ve been led astray.  The siren song and subtle sparkle of some wee glass baubles have sidetracked me.

While we were out in Oregon and Washington we saw lots of glass fishing floats.  Not on the beach (because you know I would have snatched those up half a heartbeat), but in stores.  I’m hesitant to buy them in stores.  They’re pretty and all, but the ones in the stores somehow don’t have the same sort of backstory as one you found on the beach would have.  I will just have to keep looking and hope I find one some day (such a hardship I know).  But you know, the look of them still appeals.

So I hatched a plan.  The plan involves beads and that cording I bought on the trip.  I have no idea how well the plan will work.  So far, I have a promising swatch and an awful lot of beads jammed onto a string.  It could be the start to a genius creation, or the beginning of my descent into madness.  I’ll keep you updated.

p.s. I did not take the picture of the box of floats.  It can be found here.  I believe it is available for public use.