Shipwreck Beads

We went up to my Dad’s house for a birthday get-together this week. Theoretically that is a subject more worthy of pictures than the bead store we visited on the way back, but I took very few pictures and not a single one came out. Just trust me — it was good fun, including excellent food, homemade ice cream, a fabulous cake, and some of my favorite people.

Now back to the beads. On the way home we stopped at Shipwreck Beads, based on a recommendation from my aunt and uncle. They said it was big and amazing, the size of a warehouse. They said we should see it at least once. They said that unlike most bead stores, they don’t just offer a little tray to put your purchases in; you can get a freaking cart.

So we went — without any specific objectives, and knowing that our time would be limited by the two small children we were bringing with us, which limitation was probably a good thing.

Their web site has pictures of their interior, so I will not try to describe it. But I will say this: Holy. Moses.

In the end I limited myself to a few fire polish beads and some focal pieces — things that I would be unlikely to find elsewhere, and that could be the focus of a necklace. I particularly love the blown glass ones; they’re so light and airy. Now I just have to design necklaces to fit them.

Oh, and I also got a catalog. That might be my undoing.



This Year We Didn’t Get Rained Out

Sisters! My absolute favorite place to be on the second Saturday in July.

It was even worth getting up at 6am. A friend and I went to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show for a total girls’ day out, accompanied only by a very cute and wonderfully mellow 5-month-old. This guy put up with more than twelve hours of driving, walking around looking at quilts, and hanging out in the park with hardly a complaint. All he asked was that everyone who saw him admire him. Which they did.


Each year I take fewer pictures, apparently limiting myself to quilts that really strike a new note with me or that have a specific element I’d like to try. Here is a selection of shots from this year:







The book exhibit this year was on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and it was, as usual, awe-inspiring.



And then there were a couple of free-standing showcases. One was a quilted cover for a weather balloon, about ten feet in diameter. The other was a quilted car cover. We can quilt anything.


Russian Spiral Necklace


I love the thick, luxurious look of a beaded rope. Recently I tried a new one: Russian Spiral. It’s a very simple stitch, but the effect is lovely and dense.

The tutorial I was using said that it worked up incredibly fast — which is true, relatively speaking. At least, it’s a lot faster than tubular netting (which project is still in progress) and it’s simpler as well. But it still took a while, especially once I went down to using size 15 and 11 beads instead of 11 and 8.

One of the trickiest parts for me was figuring out how to finish the piece into a necklace. I don’t really like the clasps I’ve seen made out of beads; I’d rather have a metal clasp, but getting a clean connection between the beadweaving and the clasp always seems difficult. In this case I got lucky: I found bead caps that perfectly enclosed the ends of the tube. I tied the lines off onto closed jump rings and added a magnetic clasp to make a nicely finished choker.

Macrame Necklaces

I’ve done a minimal amount of macrame over the years, and mostly thought of it as something used to hang plants up. But on a recent search for beadweaving books, I ran across a book called Mod Knots and checked it out on a whim. The first thing that caught my eye in it was this simple half knot sennit necklace, each knot adorned with seed beads.



I used what I had on hand for the knots — crochet thread. My first attempt used size 11 green seed beads with an occasional gold accent bead, but I like the second one better: variegated blue crochet thread with clear size 8 seed beads. The beads are a better size match for the thread.

First Picking

It’s u-pick time again! I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Sherwood Orchards web site, and last week when the boys’ grandma was here we made an excursion to get sweet and pie cherries. The sweet ones were Royal Ann, yellow blushed with red and purely delicious. What we didn’t eat fresh, we pitted and froze against the winter. (Ryan, my little fruit monster, loves eating them frozen.)


The pie cherries this year went mainly into jam. It’s the first time I’ve made cherry jam, and I was a bit taken aback by the time it took to cook down all those beautiful juices into a consistency that seemed thick enough. And afterwards… well, to be honest I’m not sure it was worth it. I know, it’s heresy… But even though I’ve been converted to the merits of cherry crisp, the cherry jam just isn’t doing it for me. Too cherry, not enough crisp, maybe. Nathan doesn’t care for it either.

It’s a mixed start to the fruit season, but we’re only just beginning.

Speaking of grandma, I completely failed to take a reasonable number of pictures while she was here, but she was a big hit, as I hope these indicate:




The fact that all of my few pictures capture her with Ryan is not a bias against Nathan; Nathan is just harder to coax into a lap right now.


I think I’m too old for fireworks. That seems a bit sad to me. I remember being a child and thinking them absolutely fascinating and magical, and not being about to wait until the 4th of July, and being so excited when I was handed a sparkler, and oh my gosh, the first time I was allowed to light one myself..! I watched our kids squirm with suppressed impatience in the hours leading up to dusk on the 4th, and could feel a distant echo of that excitement.


But the truth is that I have other things that interest me more at this point. Dave is the one who takes them out to buy fireworks; Dave is the one who runs the show that night, armed with his trusty blowtorch. (Don’t laugh; it’s a great way to light them, and on a windy night it’s invaluable. Our neighbors, initially dubious, ended up borrowing it.) My contribution was to do one sparkler and then bring out chairs and blankets as it got cold and dark, so we could watch what the rest of the neighborhood was doing.



The kids are definitely into the magic of fireworks. This year they discovered that sparklers will leave a white line on the driveway, and so spent their sparkler time “painting.” This year also I believe Nathan got a chance to help light a few things. I’m not entirely sure. It was a chilly, windy evening, and after I’d snapped some pictures I ended up spending most of my time inside, beading.

My ten-year-old self would have been so disappointed in me.

Dragonfly Bead Earrings

My projects tend to come in waves. Sometimes everything is about fabric; sometimes all I can think of is yarn; right now it’s beads. What’s not to love about beads? They’re little and shiny and come in a million colors and shapes. Just another form of crafter’s candy.

Here’s one of the beaded things I’ve made lately:

dragonfly bead earrings

The design for these earrings comes from a lovely Etsy shop, which is full of many other beading patterns I’d like to try. The dragonflies are simple and satisfying, requiring only a few beads and a few minutes of time. The only absurdity here is that I do not now have, nor have I ever had, pierced ears. Which is fine — I fully intend to make one as a pendant. And presumably I’ll be able to find someone to give the earrings to..?

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