Wednesday, February 28, 2018

SJ Designs February Challenge

Every month over at Sarajo Wentling's blog SJDesigns, her husband Eric gives her a photograph he took as a challenge in her jewelry making.  This month's turned out to be a perfect and needed pick-me-up!  At the beginning of February, we had snow drops blooming and daffodils starting to look like they were thinking about blooming.  Sarajo blogged about Eric's photo here and I thought how nice to just continue into spring with some new jewelry designs.  

Eric Wentling

After a mild winter, I was looking forward to planting the gardens and getting ready for warmer weather.  Ha.  Mother Nature had a different plan.  We got several snowstorms - in fact, we had two weeks of snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm!  Unusual for this area.  Today is the first day the snow is mostly gone, however .... and there always seems to be a however .... another round of snow is likely for tomorrow night into Friday morning.  I thought that just going with the flow and doing some winter themed beading might make it seem more like the beginning of winter - it didn't work.  So I put up Eric's photo and started looking through the spring and flower themed beads I've been working on.

First I put together this pair of earrings from ceramic yellow and peach daisy-like and leaf beads, green glass, and bone beads.  These remind me of sitting in daisy strewn grass putting together crowns with my granddaughter .... (insert big smile here).  Lately it seems niobium ear wires are the only ones that my ears can take for more than an hour or two - I used copper colored ones and copper headpins.

I actually had inspiration and time for another piece this month!  After coming in from inspecting the lavender (not even thinking about blooming yet), I made this lavender based bracelet from two sprig molded ceramic beads, a ceramic leaf bead, copper beads, fluorite, and some bluish-green jade rondelles I found in a box and don't even remember getting.  They're an unusual color so I'm glad the label telling me they're jade was still on the string!

After being so inspired by working this spring theme, I spent the rest of the morning creating some new flower beads!  The ceramic beads I used today are currently up in the shop at and the new beads will be out in a few weeks.

Be sure to stop by Sarajo's blog and see what everyone else created.  I'll give you a hint - you'll see a gorgeous marigold pendant!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Winter Beading

After a nice, mild winter, our area of the Pacific Northwest has been hit with real winter!  The past couple of weeks have us looking like New England in January .... and the promised warm up hasn't materialized yet.  

I've been working on a knitted shawl for the Rose City Yarn Crawl and planned on starting some nice warm colored spring projects, however the other way to go is to just give in to the weather and admit it is actually still winter!  So I went in search of winter beading projects that can be finished in a day or so.

This Winter Blue Bracelet looks like something the Snow Queen would wear!  I can just see it with a white ceramic snowflake clasp. This is the type of bracelet I always want to make for Christmas, but never have the time - maybe now!  There's a good YouTube tutorial for it here on the Lefthand Beading Channel.

This next one looks a little more challenging, but oh so elegant!  The tutorial is in Russian with a lot of clear step-by-step photos.  The instructions are here.

And finally, I found a wonderful tutorial on a beading technique I've always wanted to learn but have never been able to figure out the instructions for.  Ann Benson has a YouTube tutorial on crocheted beaded ropes here.  

I've admired many necklaces made with this technique!  And once you've gotten it down, there are some gorgeous winter themed necklaces.  I found patterns, but was very confused on how to read them - and then found Wendy Gratz's great post on how to read bead crochet patterns. And after I get some beads ordered (and if it quits snowing every day so they can be delivered!) I think I'm going to give this pattern a try (found at

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Lantern Light

Okay, this post title should really say that chandeliers are the inspiration this week as this is all the result of a challenge to make chandelier inspired earrings!  There were a couple of things that led me to lanterns, though.  First, while I do love sparkly, crystal heavy earrings, there are very few times of the year when I actually wear them.  And I'm trying to cut down on all that stuff I love and collect, but never actually use!  And then there's an idea I've been working on for a couple of months - lanterns.  

It all started pretty much right before Christmas when I was brainstorming beads with a winter solstice theme.  I've always loved lanterns - the way they glow on summer evenings when one can spend hours out on the deck watching the world.  And the strong light they give off on dark winter evenings - luminarias, Christmas lanterns, solstice lanterns to bring back the daylight.  I had a couple of types of beads made and bisque fired when the February Art Bead challenge came out - this wonderful 1909 fairy tale illustration by Warwick Goble.

And when Erin Prais-Hintz announced her earring challenge theme for February (read about the challenge here), it all seemed meant to be!  It's been a bit of trial and error to get a glow on the lanterns using stains, but I have one set finished and one that I thought was finished - maybe not.

The set done is based on the Goble illustration.  The beads are earthenware ceramics, stained and fired multiple times before being finished up with a satin/matte glaze.  I used sterling silver wires and findings - the stars have been in my stash for years and never looked quite right with anything I used them in.

This second set is based on Chinese lanterns - I wavered for a few days on whether I should overfire them with tiny gold dots sprinkled over the red and now I think I will take these apart and do that.  It wasn't until I saw them on the finished earrings that I realized, yes they do need that bit of sparkle.  The findings are gold fill and I used black and gold lustre glass beads.

Finally, I have to add in a pair of earrings I made for Christmas last year that really do fit the more traditional chandelier idea.  They're gold fill and crystal and I loved the way they swung when my head moved!

Head over to Earrings Everyday to see how others interpreted Erin's challenge - I've already looked at the first batch up and there is some really beautiful work!  And the entries are still coming in on Art Bead Scene Studio's website, so keep checking back during the month to see other inspirations from Warwick Goble's illustration.

I'll have the star lanterns up on the website shortly and the red lanterns by Monday or Tuesday (

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Selah's Blanket

A new great-neice was born Friday!  She's Selah and is adorable!  I made this blanket for her - a variation of the ones I've made for my grandsons.  Hers is in pinks and purples, but any color works.

*3 skeins Cascade 220 Superwash - Aran
*2 skeins Cascade 220 Superwash - Alaska Sky
*1 skein each of Cascade 220 Superwash in Mystic Purple, Periwinkle, Lavender, Tahitian Rose,  Cotton Candy, and Pink Rose
*size 10 1/2 circular knitting needles, 36 inch
*size E crochet hook

1.  With Aran, cast on 125 stitches and knit 44 rows.

2.  Knit 10 rows with Pink Rose.

3.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

4.  Knit 10 rows with Cotton Candy.

5.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

6.  Knit 10 rows with Tahitian Rose.

7.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

8.  Knit 10 rows with Mystic Purple.

9.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

10.  Knit 10 rows with Periwinkle.

11.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

12.  Knit 10 rows with Lavender.

13.  Knit 46 rows with Aran. 

14.  Knit 10 rows with Lavender.

15.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

16.  Knit 10 rows with Periwinkle.

17.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

18.  Knit 10 rows with Mystic Purple.

19.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

20.  Knit 10 rows with Tahitian Rose.

21.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

22.  Knit 10 rows with Cotton Candy.

23.  Knit 6 rows with Alaska Sky.

24.  Knit 10 rows with Pink Rose.

25.  Knit 44 rows with Aran, then bind off.

26. Join Aran to an edge and single crochet around the blanket, putting three stitches in each corner.  Repeat with two more rows.

27.  Repeat edging rows as follows:  after the Aran, crochet three rows with Tahitian Rose, one row with Alaska Sky, and three rows with Mystic Purple.  Fasten off and weave in all the ends.

Happy snuggles sweet Selah!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Hello Sun!

There seems to be a common belief that in the Pacific Northwest it rains all the time during the winter.  Okay, it does rain or drizzle a lot, but it's rare to have a day where it rains steadily the whole time, so usually one can get out for a dryish walk.  However, it is cloudy most of the time so it's really exciting when the sun peeks through the clouds!  Seeing it today made me realize how much I'm missing those golden yellow summer afternoons!

One way around this lack of yellow sunshine is to work on a project with that warm summer feeling.  I've found a few ideas!

Today's Quilter has free patterns and instructions for making a Sunshine Quilt Block using fat quarters.  This would make a great quilt for those cold, gray winter days or a nice pillow or two to brighten up a living room.

If you have a local quilting fabric shop they likely have a good selection of fat quarters as does Joann's.  If that doesn't work, I found these two fun fat quarter bundles at the online Fat Quarter Shop, this one in yellow ...

and this one in warm oranges.

If sitting by the fire embroidering sounds good (and it does to me!), Handiworks offers a free YouTube video here on creating a basket of sunflowers.

The daffodils are starting to poke their green stems up through the dirt here!  Judy Hartman (Art and Stitch) has a great free tutorial on making a darling little bunch of felt daffodils.

Last winter I made a fun to knit cowl that's also free.  Spiral Cowl is one of those almost mindless knits you can work on anywhere and would look great in a warm sunshine yellow.  

Juniper Moon's Moonshine is a super soft wool, alpaca, and silk blend - Sun Haze would be a good color!

Another good choice would be Malabrigo's Silky Merino (silk and merino wool) in Sand.

Finally, if you're feeling more into jewelry making than fibers lately, take a look here!  I love participating in Sarajo Wentling's monthly challenges and this month's inspiration photo is beautiful yellow black eyed susans!  Instructions on how to participate are on the February Challenge page here.

Eric Wentling
Happy Creating!  Deborah