Rainy days

I don't mind rain. Really, I don't. Snow, yes. Rain, nope. Summer rains are the best, after a long humid day, they make me want to dance, and it has happened more than once that I got strange looks because I was the one to go and stand in the rain while others took shelter under a roof.

Best of all I like the dark, grey days, when I am all snuggled up, with a cat, a DVD, a new project, in bed, in my armchair, with a cup of chai, with a blanket around me, with a book, whatever ... while out there the skies are coming down.
I remember that even when I was in elementary school (one or the other decade ago ;-)), I loved rainy days. I felt safe in school then, it was somehow comfortable, and I loved to look out of the window. It's a feeling that is hard to describe, but that I never forgot or lost.
Yup. I like rain.

Do you want to know what the other Jewelry Artisans Community members think about it? Have a look!

N Valentine Studio
Ponder the Cat

Meet Kimberly from Gerushia's New World

Is it Monday already you may ask. No worries, you didn't miss the weekend.
This is a spontaneous post to introduce you to Gerushia's New World, "a dreamy and surreal New World. A world filled with color and whimsy and curiosity, and a bit of darkness too. A world filled with unexpected twists and turns" how Kimberly, the artisan behind it, describes it herself.

If you like the unique, the unexpected, the twisted, you should take a peek into this world.
There's a big holiday sale going on at the moment and you can save 50%. Yup, you heard that right, 50%!!! There are prints, originals, ACEOs and even a few very special dolls.

Let me show some of her pieces to make you get a first idea.

I had never heard of La Llorona before, but it's a fascinating legend you can read about here. I really like the darkness in this watercolor/collage original called "The Haunting of La Llorona".

Many of us are getting ready for winter and Christmas, that's why I picked these ACEOs called "Winter's bird" and "The Christmas crow".

Also getting ready for winter is Jack Frost Humpty Dumpty, one of Kimberly's dolls. She calls them "gnarly-dolls" and says they are odd, sometimes creepy - definitely not a children's toy, but art dolls.
Jack is completely hand sewn, without a sewing machine!


I hope I have made you a bit curious now, so go and take a look. I'll say it again - 50% off!
Also visit Kimberly's page on Facebook and her blog.


Wire knit or wire crochet?

Two of the favorite techniques I use in my work
are wire knit and wire crochet. People often ask
me why I have different names for them because
they know that I use a crochet hook for both
techniques. There's an old post here where I
started to explain the difference, but then I
thought it might be interesting for you to if I dig
a little deeper.

First of all let me say that there's no official term

that everyone uses. What I call wire knit, might be
called wire crochet by others, or invisible spool
I took some pictures of basic samples for you to
hopefully clear the confusion up a bit.
Even though it might be hard to believe ... ALL of
these samples started out with eight chain stitches
and ALL of them were worked on with the same
size crochet hook – and the same fingers.
So what exactly is it that makes them look so
differently from each other?

Let's start with the flat piece. The first difference
you might notice is what I like to call "open
stitches". They make a piece much easier to
unravel, that can be a good thing ... and it can be
very bad if a cat tries to run off with your wire
(which is not something I ever encourage).
As you can see, the wire knit sample has all open
stitches while the wire crochet only has one open
stitch at the end. Again, open stitches can be good
if you found a mistake you want to fix, but more
often it is not something you want. This goes for
all shapes of wire knit or crochet, you will see that
in the next pictures. Of course it is nothing you get 
to see in a finished piece, so that fact is interesting,
but no help in identifying a technique.

The other thing you can see is that the wire knit
sample has a much more open, airy structure.
Compared to it the other sample is tighter and a
bit smaller, too.
Why is that?
In wire knit you put your hook through a stitch,
grab the wire with it and make a loop. That's it.
You move on to the next stitch, grab the wire,
make a loop, to the next, and so on.
In wire crochet however you put your hook
through the stitch with the last made stitch still
on your hook and grab the wire. Now you have
two loops and you grab the wire once more with
your hook and pull it through both of them.
So there is more wire in crochet pieces, which
makes them less slinky and delicate looking
than knit pieces.
They also can't be pulled as easily as knit pieces
which again can be both an advantage and a
disadvantage. On the other hand it makes them
sturdier and the stitch pattern is maybe more

Next I will show you two rope or tube samples.
Wire ropes offer endless possibilities and I love
to play around with them to make new designs.
Again you can see how much more open the wire
knit sample looks. I deliberately took the
pictures on reflective underground to point that
out even more. It makes this technique perfect for
filling beads into a tube. The beads are not hidden
as much as in a crochet tube where we know
more wire is involved. Also the beads help
maintaining the shape of the knit rope because
they don't just look delicate, they really are. A
crochet rope withstands pressure from outside 
a lot better. I wouldn't recommend wire knit ropes
around children for example, or you might end up
with a flattened rope which is not that easy to
re-shape if possible at all, or you suddenly have
a slimmer, but much longer necklace which is
something that can't be changed back at all.

Last, but not least I'll share the disk with you
which is often the base for making bezels for rocks,
beads or cabochons.
Thanks to being so flexible a wire knit disk can be
shaped beautifully around a stone, even the free
form ones. I have also used it for rings, earrings
and pendants, with or without beads.
The crochet disk is sturdier and therefore harder
to use on irregularly shaped stones, but works
great for rounds or ovals. I have also used it as
focal for necklaces or earrings.

Of course I know I have only scratched the
surface with this, but I still hope that has helped a
bit for the beginning.


Black Friday sale and Ho-ho-ho

I'm about to starve right now and urgently need to get to the food pots (being in Germany I don't have Thanksgiving leftovers ;-)), so I'll make this short and sweet to remind you I'm still around.

Check out my Zibbet shop now and be able to save 20% on all items! I announced that I would only run it today, but it's quite possible I'll change my mind spontaneously - I'm pretty good at that - and run it through the whole weekend and Monday.
Don't miss out!
While you are at it, you can also take a look at my Etsy shop where you'll need the coupon code THANKS2012 to save 20%.

Putting my shops on sale is not all I have done today, however. I also finished a bead loomed Christmas cuff which is extremely hard to photograph this time of the day.
Somehow Santa and his sleigh fascinate me (maybe you remember one of my first bead loomed cuffs which also showed him, much bigger, though). Here he's flying over the trees which have glass pearls for Christmas baubles. Can you also see Rudolph's red nose? ;-)

And now - food!!!


Lord Peter or Do you speak Greek?

I think this is not necessarily a post you'd expect from me, but the wheels in my head have been turning for a while and the thoughts just had to come out now. Don't be scared, it IS really me sitting here, trying to write this with a huge black cat blocking the view on the monitor.
The last few weeks I have been on a Lord Peter Wimsey trip once again. I have started reading the books when I was a teenager, loved them then, love them today - and have read them countless times, some more than others of course.

Each time I read one it makes me wonder if there are people like that out there anymore. I don't mean noblemen or murderers ... oh wait, maybe I should explain a bit about Lord Peter first.
His full name is Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey, he was born born in 1890, brother to the Duke of Denver, and what you could call a gentleman detective.
In one of his cases he saves mystery writer Harriet Vane from the gallows, and he asks for her hand more than once afterwards until she finally says yes in my favorite book "Gaudy Night" which plays in Harriet's college in Oxford.

That's the point. They are so well-educated, they quote from here and there, they drop little remarks or names, they speak in Latin and in Greek ... well, Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter's "mother", had won a scholarship for Oxford, she was a student of modern and classical languages - she herself thought her translation of Dante's "Divine Comedy" was her best work.
Well, and there I sit and read the books, the short stories, watch the DVDs, and I can't help asking myself what I have learned in my life and, even more important, what I have forgotten. The only thing I can remember from my Cicero is the picture on the cover of my paperback copy and I'm not sure how quickly I'd find any Latin words in my poor old brain. Did I need it in my life? I guess not. Would it be nice if some of it had stayed in my life? I don't know.
I just can't help wondering if my inner dinosaur which undoubtedly exists is craving a little less technology and a little more of an old-fashioned education instead.

If you made it to this point, thank you. I could have gone on, but I didn't want to overdo it.
If you have a serious opinion about this, be welcome to share it.
If you only think the crazy cat lady has gone over the River of Bonkers for good, be nice and keep it to yourself ;-)

P.S. Yes, I know the picture was taken in Cambridge, not Oxford, but I haven't been in Oxford (yet?), so bear with me.


The Panther

At Jardin des Plantes, Paris
His gaze has grown so weary from the passing
Of bars that there is nothing it can hold.
There seem to be a thousand bars about him,
And, out beyond a thousand bars, no world.

The mellowed stride of sleekly powered footsteps
Revolving in the smallest ring of all
Is like a dance of strength about a center
Wherein a mighty will stands numbed in thrall.

Only at times the pupil's soundless curtain
Is reeled away, letting an image start
Inward through the taut silence of his sinews
And come to nothing in the heart.

Bead loomed cuff - Black Panther

Obviously I'm not a poet myself, and it was hard to choose a translation for this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke from the ones I found. This is the one that spoke to me the most.
It's a translation by A. Z. Foreman that I found on his blog Poems Found in Translation.
You can also find the original there.