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· Jewelry making #13
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The Lipstick Page Forums Fashion Blog: October 2005

Jewelry making #20
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, October 29, 2005 12:58 PM (Eastern)

Well, that is the part that's stunning about even simple jewelry making. Once you've figured out what you want to use, and played around with it enough to feel comfortable stretching the piece, getting the drape right, choosing the findings, knotting, yadda can now make anything you want.

I'm now wearing my 24" necklace. It's too long with what I'm wearing...I designed it specifically to work with turtlenecks. But, so what? I could just as easily make myself a 22" one or an 18" one. Or I could make this into an even longer one and double it. Or I could make the same pattern into a two-strand necklace. If I end up not wearing the 24" one, I could dismantle it. shrugs

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Jewelry making #19
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:19 AM (Eastern)

Heh I'm waiting for the glue to "cure." I think it should set overnight before you pull on it too much. Gluing a bead in the back though, it is in a place that doesn't get too much direct stress.

This 24" piece is constructed of two of my favorite colors...deep red and blue-grey. The deep red is key. In this one, it's the color of cheap red wine...deep but clear rather than the smoky tinge of, ah, good red wine.

The blue-grey beads if you look at them closely, seem to have swirls of the blue-grey on the outer layer of the bead. I tried scratching them to see if the color would come off, but I don't think it comes off.

These are accented with a few clear small round beads, that's it.

What I'm trying to do...and people who know me from the beauty forums will recognize this try to build a sort of jewelry wardrobe. By this I mean, more pieces, for me, is not better. I heartily dislike clutter, programming is all about clutter and reducing it to something manageable, so what I am after is always the fewest variables, but not so few as to make more work.

So I had to have a deep red piece and something with grey in it, and a turquoise piece. I'm actually eyeing a bracelet I made for my daughter. lol! This is comprised of the blue-grey beads (round), plus some similarly colored beads (these are less grey, a tad more blue) that look like raindrops...not the familiar tear-shaped ones, but raindrops sitting, say, on the deck. And then some truly beautiful beads that have blue and a sort of gold/brown thing in them. This is in, not a symmetrical pattern, but rather a repeating pattern, so you end up with a raindrop next to a round blue-grey bead where you were expecting two identical beads. That's the part I like best.

It's the eccentricity of these three pieces.... But I have a pile of stuff that I need to restring. One is this cool, red, Chinese thing...I have two of them actually.

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Jewelry making #18
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, October 28, 2005 9:03 PM (Eastern)

I'm trying out a long piece's a full 24". I put a small metal bead in the back to stash the knot inside...why knot in the first place? I made this piece on Stretch Magic so that my daughter could wear it too.

This time it was easier gluing the knot inside the "cover bead." It's still something of a two-man job since, once you get the Hypo Cement going, it wants to keep going, and you have to jack the very fine wire-cap back into the applicator (with glue beading out and the piece you're working on in your hand). This time I just put a big drop of glue on the knot and then put it inside the bead, rather than trying to squeeze the glue into the bead-hole (which in theory would be possible, but as I say, the glue keeps on coming out, it is hardly worth it).

Well let's see how it goes. My 18" turquoise necklace wasn't long enough to wear with a turtleneck sweater, and I didn't feel like making a longer one of the same type. I do however have a turquoise-chip choker that I got a long time ago and never ended up wearing, so I have it in mind to cut it and use the chips for something else.

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Jewelry making #17
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 12:39 PM (Eastern)

My son is so cute. He asks me now every day, "So what did we learn in jewelry making today?"

Putting it that way, you do learn something new each time. I have seven finished bracelets now and one finished necklace. I know that doesn't sound like much...I have easily ten finished designs for necklaces...but they need to be restrung. i.e. I can still be considered to be in the materials phase.

I'm testing out my turquoise necklace now by wearing it, obviously, but also by putting it in my pocket and bending it around and doing the stuff that I myself do to my own jewelry.'s my advice so far.

Don't bother with the 7 strand beading wire, unless you are deliberately looking for the lowest "break point." The 19 strand wire is much better. The 49 strand wire is even better, but it costs too much.

I checked this out on the Beadalon site...more strands = more flexible, less prone to kinking.

As far as the thickness (a different factor from the # of strands), that depends on which beads you're using. 0.18" is pretty thick if you're closing off your piece the Beadalon way (i.e. you thread the excess wire inside the first bead and then cut it flush). I made it fly with the turquoise piece, which uses small round smoky glass beads, but it was snug. I doubt it would work with anything smaller than that.

Crimp beads work better than crimp tubes for straightforward, beads-on-a-string necklaces and bracelets. They crimp much more easily, they're smaller and neater.

The tubes are kind of neat if you're looking to finish off 1.0 mm Stretch Magic ends, but I will try out the crimp beads next time and see how that works.

The 1.0 mm Stretch Magic is quite a bit less stretchy than the 0.7 mm. Its sole virtue is that you can use crimps with it. I actually tried some crimps on the 0.7 mm and the piece snapped neatly in two where the crimps were, so there is something to it.

On a more personal note...I have reached the "it factor" now. "It" is being able to make the jewelry that you've been looking for. Of course "it" is going to be different for each person...and I can't make all of "it" myself. For example, I have this cool Thai-style carved silver bracelet with a little garnet cabochon in it. It's not worth it for me to learn how to make's perfect, yet it's something I can buy in a shop for twenty bucks. I doubt I could learn how to produce such pieces for less money than that.

The beads though... There is the predictable ability to combine colors, materials, textures, and even symbols, but what I've found more intriguing is the notion of capturing light. :)

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Jewelry making #16
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:38 PM (Eastern)

Now it's getting good...finally....

I have only a few kinks to knock out of the system now. One is that, with my new crimping pliers, it seems that the #2 size crimps I have are too large to work with my beading wire. I mean it says on the face of the beading wire which size crimps to use. But if you're squashing your crimps with regular pliers, it hardly matters what size the crimps are, right? It all squashes down the same.

Still, I tried it out with the #2 crimps. It didn't work in the classical, crimping-pliers way in that I had to first crimp, then press into a round shape, then squash the round shape with the very ends of the crimping pliers. The first time I did it, it didn't work. The crimp shot right out when I tried pulling it with the pliers (which I always do).

The second time seems fine. I put a set of 2 crimps on either side of the wire to make it stronger.

A couple of tips I got while surfing is to coil your necklace one and one-half times, before closing the end. The idea is to get just enough slack to make a nice drape. (This is for non-stretch pieces of course.)

I tried this; it works great.

Two is for stretch elastic pieces. You are to get a bead that has a hole that's big enough to stash the knot inside the bead. You are to glue the knot inside that bead, using Hypo Cement.

I tried this also; it works great as well, but it's messier than what I'd thought. The glue in my Hypo Cement, once I got the wire-cap off, kept coming out even though I wasn't squeezing it. Bleh. I managed to get a good glob of HC on the knot and got the knot inside the bead. I let it set some, but while the cement was still "uncured" I went ahead and cleaned the cement that had gotten on the beads either side of the "cover bead," and some of it that had gotten on the elastic cord. If you clean up the piece before the glue gets hard, it's not too difficult to do.

Three...someone had an idea for Stretch Magic bracelets. It involved stringing the beads, then taking the two loose ends and drawing them through a bead. She then closed the loose ends with a crimp.

This looked beautiful but I wasn't 100% happy with it, because my kids would take apart such a piece the first day. i.e. one good pull on the finishing bead knocked the crimp right off.

However, I was happy modifying this idea. I knotted the ends first, using my usual square knot followed by an overhand knot.

I then took the loose ends and passed them through my bead (this is a bit tricky since it's 1.0 size Stretch Magic that works with have to find a nice bead with a big enough hole to pass two lengths of 1.0 through), and knotted again. Here it sort of depends on the bead you're using.

For a cylindrical glass bead, I passed the two ends through it, then took a 10/0 seed bead and passed one of the ends through that. Without the seed bead, the knots at the bottom of the cylindrical bead would go right through the bead with one good pull.

I then knotted again, square knot plus overhand knot, then finished off with a gold crimp and trimmed the ends flush.

Here all of the stress of the bracelet goes to the first set of knots. If anyone pulls on the cylindrical bead, the stress then goes to the seed bead + set of knots of the bottom part of the bead. The crimp doesn't do anything, it just looks nicer than cut ends of elastic cord.

So...that's what I've discovered so far. Right now I'm wearing my first semi-precious's oval shaped turquoise beads, paired with small smoky glass beads. Why the glass beads, well, I figured anyone could make a straightforward string of turquoise beads. Why not make it more special? It's quite beautiful. I was going to make it longer, and ran out of turquoise beads (you can jack the length around a bit by placing a few more glass beads in the back), but now I think it's quite perfect, because it's light in weight.

This piece joins my finished glass bracelets...heh heh...secretly I'm thinking of never selling the jewelry, because there is something divine about wearing your own jewelry, that you designed, you figured out the materials and the sources, you came up with something out of nothing. Well I keep telling myself that these are samples. i.e. I can wear them, and just make the pieces to order. In any case I do intend to thoroughly wear-test everything before it goes on the market. If it's not perfect then I'll make it perfect before it goes on sale.

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Jewelry making #15
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, October 24, 2005 8:47 PM (Eastern)


I'm using 1.0 mm Stretch Magic now on some pieces...and I am now, after what, two months? starting to produce finished pieces.

The 1.0 mm SM is quite a bit thicker than the 0.7 mm one. It can still string size 10/0 seed beads though.

1.0 also holds knots much better. It's less stretchy too, so it's tricky getting the piece loose enough (the right "drape").

I have three pieces done uses "cane beads" combined with the purple and gold beads mentioned earlier, one is an old design...mostly clear glass "e beads" (I'm finally getting the terms right!), and one is brand new, it's different shades of blue and blue-grey.

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Jewelry making #14
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:43 PM (Eastern)

Okay, I'm a convert. I finally got one of those crimping pliers. All this time, I'd been working largely with the Stretch Magic, however, I started using it in the first place because I was making children's designs. It's much easier for children to put on and take off pieces made with stretch elastic. Plus, elastic or string breaks when stretched too far, which is what you want for children.

All of that said, I've been impressed that it is quite easy to make beaded pieces sophisticated enough for adults. You need only find a good bead shop. A chain like Michael's is a good place to start but there's no way you'll be able to find everything you need there. A small-business bead shop can order the stuff that you need, plus most of the stuff is by the piece rather than packaged, so you can choose exactly what you need (and you won't get stuck with the odd dud beads that "make their way" into packages).

About the crimping pliers...if you're using crimps at all, buy yourself a pair. It's around $13 and it pays for itself the first time that you use it.

Hm. I've found the design part of jewelry making, to be almost too easy. It's the technical part...figuring out how to finish off the pieces, getting the tension just right, figuring out the materials...that is eating up most of the time I've spent since I started. I'm now thinking it takes two or three months to boil it down to perfection. I never intended to produce just a few pieces and leave it at that. From the beginning, I've thought of it as a business. Not a business in the sense of cutting costs to the bone and cranking out multitudes of pieces--because big companies can do that better than I can. But a business in me developing pieces that I like, and seeing if I can sell them.

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Jewelry making #13
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, October 19, 2005 10:55 PM (Eastern)

Okay...I've boiled it down to one new design, at most, per day. That does not mean one finished new design per day. It takes at least the rest of the day to simply wear the piece.

Version 1.1 of my green piece failed the wear test. I tried it out with 2 large oval sea-green Indian glass beads in front. It looked great but the oval beads were too heavy. They felt fine at first, but after wearing it for, say, six hours, the beads started to feel too heavy. So the oval glass beads are out.

I tried it again today...using various green beads in front. I tried out some nice square cloisonne beads, some oval (genuine) turquoise beads, the green glass leaf beads, eh...what I ended up with, were two of the sea-green Indian beads, but smaller round ones. I'm wearing it right now.

If I like it well enough, I will probably make a blue version...and maybe a lavender version.

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Jewelry making #12
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, October 18, 2005 8:53 PM (Eastern)

Heh heh...verrrrrrry interesting.

I'm in the test-drive stage now...and it is interesting. Pretty much as I'd expected, what looks good sitting on your dresser, does not necessarily work the same way "on."

I've already taken apart my two green necklace designs. And, I have worked out a way to do the back. That's actually quite key. It is the front and the back that make the necklace, but you never think about the back until you start wearing the pieces.

I'm trying out a few things thing that irritates me about wearing a necklace with a center, is constantly having to adjust the dang thing. I don't mind if it's a little bit off-center but I hate having the center part migrate too much to the side.

Likewise, I hate necklaces that slide backwards. So in both cases, the weight distribution is important.

I have some ideas for designs...I'm thinking, ten to twenty designs at the most. Or, if there are more, then they're going to emerge over time. It takes days to produce a single design that I'm happy with. Once it's done, obviously, then it can be replicated infinitely.

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Jewelry making #11
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, October 15, 2005 2:42 PM (Eastern)

And now...finally...I'm making the final designs. Let's look back for a moment, shall we?

I made my first "jewelry making" post on September 13. Back then, I was still thinking mainly of making children's jewelry. I had not figured out a way of turning beading into anything sophisticated enough for adults.

I tried out what I believe is called "tiger tail"--fine steel wire covered with clear nylon. I also tried out those spiral wire bracelets. I tried "jelly string" and I had a brief flirtation with using regular string. I used crimp tubes for most of these.

But I ended up with a strong preference for Stretch Magic and using knots rather than crimp beads. Why? The obvious reason is that it's comfortable. That slight stretch means the piece never feels tight or strangly, nor does it ever feel heavy on.

So, back to the final designs. Once you've figured out what materials to use, and where to buy them...then and only then, can you truly create whatever you want.

So far my final designs seem to have a lot to do with jewelry that I've been looking for, for a very long time. i.e. I have been looking for, say, a yin-yang design for quite some time. It isn't made that much anymore. I'm not a religious person but the yin-yang design is sheer perfection. It's as good as the cross. I like the cross as a design, it is beautiful. I also like the "ankh" so that is something I'm keeping an eye out for as well.

I've often looked for a "green eye popping" has to be green. For this so far I have a design with two pairs of (real) turquoise beads in front, flanking a Chinese round pendant that contains some green (I have one with a green bird in it). For the sides, I have six green glass leaf beads. I may not stay with the leaf beads; nice green beads are actually quite difficult to find.

Then, I've often looked for a design using green and peach together. So I have one of these...yellow-toned green beads for the sides, peach-colored cloisonne beads in front, and a pink lotus pendant.

Red is the easiest color to work with, because there are so many choices in red beads. I already have 3 red designs up...a "warm" red, rather Chinese looking thing, it's got red cloisonne beads in front, a nice red lotus pendant, and six vintage warm red beads on the sides. I have a neutral red piece with Indian red beads and a ladybug pendant. Then I have one with just different kinds of red beads on a clear-bead base...with a heart pendant.

Blue...I have a "youth" butterfly necklace. I like it, but it's too youthful for me. It has butterfly-shaped blue beads on the sides and a butterfly pendant. I'm planning on making an "adult" version of this as I happen to love butterfly designs. It'll be the same but with plain blue beads on the sides.

For the children's designs (aside from the butterfly and ladybug designs mentioned above), I have two just for kids. One is a sea of pink beads, it is very pink. It has a tiny glass Hello Kitty bead, then pairs of different small accent beads. The other design is the glass cat's head bead (still fiddling with that) on a clear-bead base, with pairs of different colored accent beads...whatever catches your eye, buy two of it and add it in.

That's about it. I have two children's bracelets to match the children's designs. But I'm still playing with the adult's bracelets. I'm going to finalize the adult necklace designs first, then figure out the bracelets.

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Jewelry making #10
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 13, 2005 12:22 PM (Eastern)

Mmmmm... Lessee. I have about 6 designs that I am satisfied with, now. By "6 designs" I mean that the spacer beads (I use 4 different kinds for each piece) and side beads (6 or 8 depending on the bead size...or else a combination of 2 beads, repeated 6 times), and two front beads, are reasonably fixed.

For the pendant, it can be one of those Chinese beads--that is my favorite. It's a round clear glass bead, with a picture inside. I've used ones with a pink lotus, a red lotus, a yellow, green or blue bird, a goldfish design, a ladybug, a blue butterfly...there's one with a bald old man in it but I haven't used that for anything. I make the pendants out of these beads, it is very tricky because the wire wrap functions to keep the beads together (I put a round bead on top of this bead and a small round one under it). If you get the wire too close to the top bead, you stand a chance of shaving off the glass when you close the wrap. If it's too far away, then the beads won't hold together properly. It can take me up to 3 times to get it right.

Another nice pendant is a glass heart with little colored designs in it. Another one...mmm...I have a yin-yang cloisonne bead. It's the round Chinese ones though, that defy your expectations.

I'm in the "wearing design" phase now. To me this is very important. Many times you will buy jewelry that looks nice, and then you end up never wearing it. And then there are pieces that always look good. It's not always easy to define.

I suppose I can refer back to my years of cosmetic experience. It sounds lame, but hey, how much money is spent every year on cosmetics? Isn't it billions with a "b"? I invested some time in figuring out what works. Now I can always look reasonably good; I don't need to think about it much anymore.

So...I have bought many a time, a cosmetic item that looks great--in the package. Whether or not I'll be wearing that same cosmetic item next year...or over the next five or ten years (assuming it's still being made rolls eyes)...depends on that hard-to-put-your-finger-on factor, that "it" factor.

A piece of jewelry therefore, even a precious one...but particularly a "costume" one where the value is not intrinsic...has to have that "it" factor. It takes me days to figure out whether or not a given piece has it.

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Jewelry making #9
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, October 11, 2005 2:01 AM (Eastern)

Well, I am out of the materials phase and pretty much out of the design phase too. i.e. I am already working from my own templates.

Now I am...wearing the pieces. That's the thing. The obvious thing is to make a piece that won't break from everyday wear. The next obvious thing...slightly less how comfortable the piece is if you wear it all day. Can you sleep in it? Does it tend to migrate around your neck or, worse, does it slide back and strangle you? Does it look nice and clean even if you wear it often? How easy is it to clean it?

Then...even less you really want to wear the piece often? Or does it look pretty when you buy it...then it sinks to the bottom of your jewelry drawer?

Do people compliment you on the piece? I'm not big on compliments, but I do want to sell the stuff. So it has to look nice.

I've concluded a few things by wearing some of my own pieces. One is that my design is good. The majority of the weight is on the front of the piece, then it tapers. The back is simple, has no bulk, and very little weight. So the piece tends to stay put.

My it's slightly tricky. I've found the beads do revolve with wear, so I have to choose beads that look good on all sides.

Likewise the side beads...these have to be next to unique. They do show. Has to be something different.

I'm experimenting throwing in some semi-precious beads. But my emphasis is not on semi-precious beads (however much I like them). You can find semi-precious stone jewelry anywhere. What I want to produce is something that you can find only in one place. So it has to be a blend.

I did look at the tiny crystals. They're nice, but I didn't buy them...I got some beautiful blue-grey clear round beads, some deep red ones shaped like tiny tulips, some turquoise beads (real ones, oval-shaped), some faceted purple glass ones with a little gold.

What I'm doing next is using more grey. I've already used quite a bit of grey but here I want to step up the grey and make it show more.

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Jewelry making #8 and odd thoughts
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, October 04, 2005 3:59 PM (Eastern)

Wowza! That is very sophisticated work. :)

Hermmmm...yeah... I do think there is an added element of...creativity is not the word. An element of something when you produce your own clothing (as you are doing) or jewelry (as I am doing).

It is not that assembling ready-made items does not involve creativity. If it's a basic component, you may be reinventing the wheel. Companies like American Apparel or Banana Republic, etc., may produce these pieces as well as, or better than, someone sewing at home could do.

Conversely something intricate may also be better made by someone else.

There is that in-between factor though...the point where you do begin to add in original stuff.

Anyhow, I am still in the learning process myself. A few things I've is that you're supposed to knot pearls. Apparently if you don't, the place where the pearls meet gets rubbed away eventually.

Two is that my lovely pink cat's head bead broke one of its ears. Wah! I'll replace it but I'll have to look more closely next time. If all of the ears are that delicate, then I'll have to find something else to use.

Three...and I'll guess you have discovered this fingers have become much less stiff since I started making jewelry. You and I do a lot of keyboarding, right? Typing is not good for your hands. Making jewelry of any sort, and I will guess knitting, both make the hands bend.

That is one of the main reasons I wanted to make jewelry. It had gotten to the point that I could hardly get my daughter dressed in the morning--my hands were that stiff.

Now they feel nice and bendy. Wondering if it's a good way to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome???

Four...I do have a few, very few, finished pieces that I'm happy with. It does not bother me to redo the same piece over and over and over again. I've come up with a few templates...the idea is to create a few templates and just plug in different beads.

Before I sure to measure the piece after you've stretched it out. It's oddly quite easy to get the piece too short. When you're trying it on, you're also holding the back of it (since it hasn't been knotted yet). Somehow the finished piece tends to rest lower on the back of your neck, than it does when you're just trying it on and holding it.

The standard adult choker size is 16 inches. I've made pieces slightly longer but nothing shorter than that.

Anyhow about the involves this. You have a unique-looking pendant in the front. This of course need not be a ready-made pendant. You can make your own out of beads and a "head pin" or "eye pin."

Then you have two unique-looking beads on either side of it.

Then you have six matching beads...three on either side. These can be more ordinary looking and smaller than the beads in front.

The whole works is held together with spacer beads...which make the piece lighter, more delicate-looking, more elegant, and less expensive.

I even have a formula for the spacer beads, or at least one formula (I'm going to try tiny crystals in the mix next).

So far, so good. Having the majority of the weight in front, makes the piece tend to stay put, and also tend not to creep backwards on your neck which is annoying.

Putting the expensive stuff in front makes it more visible...and using only 6 special beads keeps the back of the piece from being bulky.

I tried out 8 matching beads rather than 2 + 6 but, dunno, it just didn't look as good.

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Knitting (and more thoughts)
Posted by Raphaelle, Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:22 PM (Eastern)

I just want to go back on my previous post for a bit before going into knitting. I've thought a lot about it and I stand by what I said. It's really true that I don't believe in fashion's rules. I even wish we could get rid of societal fashion rules such as those that say what is appropriate to wear to an interview. I do follow those societal rules and I'll readily admit I believe in some of them. Still, I think they should be done away with. It's just clothes. They're necessary to protect ourselves from the elements but that's it. It's like food. Food is necessary but cuisine is not. I don't think potato chip and ketchup sandwiches sound appealing but noone will tell you you can't eat them. So why should the fashion industry (magazines, designers, etc.) tell you what colour/style/texture combinations you should wear? It's personal taste and that's that. You tastes might not be my tastes but there's no way anyone could judge which tastes are better objectively.

I also wanted to say that creativity isn't just about art. It's not about making something from nothing either. It's about looking at something differently or combining things in different ways. It's one of the most important components of science and engineering. In fact, I believe it's one of the most important components of intelligence. When one creates an outfit, what are they doing if not combining existing elements in new and different ways? It is an example of creativity. It's not art but that doesn't mean it isn't creative.

Now to the good stuff (well, I think it's the good stuff!) : my new obsession, knitting! My mother taught me when I was 9 years old but I stopped doing it a year later. Last Spring, I started up again. I needed to make stuff. Maybe it's a nesting instinct or something... Since Spring, I've completed 7 projects : a poncho, a tank top, two felted bags, a short sleeved sweater, a scarf, and a hat. Not all projects turned out great though they aren't bad.

The tank top is the worst of the bunch. It looks exactly like it's supposed to and fits exactly like in the picture so it's a success in that sense. However, I had a nagging feeling I wouldn't like it before I even started and I was right. It's boxy and that doesn't work for me. I have an hourglass shape and boxy stuff just makes me look fat. It looks cute as a vest over a white shirt but the yarn leaves bits on the shirt.

The poncho is cute but that acrylic yarn! It's really bad, stiff and a little oily. I have to see how it wears though. The bags are very cute but a little small. I have no clue how much I'll end up using them. The hat was my first cabling project and it's very cute, maybe not warm enough for Winter. And I made a small mistake. I can't see it but I know it's there. Bothers me. The place where I did the provisional cast on and the grafting is a bit messy too. I just need more practice.

And now, my stars. The scarf is this one : . I made it in a mohair blend in an eggplant colour. The yarn is a bit scratchy but feels fine in the end. And then there's this sweater : . I made it in a burgundy stretchy wool and acrylic blend. I replaced the ribbon with something called an I-cord, essentially a cylindrical ribbon in the same yarn as the sweater. When I wore it the first time, my mother the expert complimented it and my sister actually thought it was store-bought! Yeah, I was fairly bursting with pride there...

It's those successes that keep the obsession alive during the many frustrating moments. The act of knitting itself also provides some satisfaction. As I knit, I see wonderful fabric emerge. The cotton I've used was heavy and a bit slinky. The wool was springy and elastic, sometimes scratchy. And then there are so many other yarns I've yet to use : alpaca, cashmere, camel, silk... I'm still amazed that one thread, one single long thread of yarn, is all that's needed to make knit fabric. And as I'm gaining experience, I'm using my creativity more and more. For Christmas, I'm making hats for DH and Dad and felted bags for Mom and sister. While I'm not designing the bags themselves, I'll be designing the motifs on them. Quite ambitious as it's the first time I'll be doing colourwork...

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