More Eye Candy!!
Being in the Studio Is Agreeing With Me…

I hope these pictures communicate just how much fun I’m having in my current design “frenzy.” Maybe I’ll just let them speak for themselves. Hope you like!

Pinwheels Necklace

Pinwheels

 

Linked-In Necklace

Linked-In



Check Out New Work in the Galleries
I’ve Been a Very Busy Girl…!
The Long of It Necklace

The Long of It Necklace

I know. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. But in my defense, life has been wonderfully busy. In the past year I’ve seen both of my children marry wonderful partners and devoted most of my knitting time to creating what I hope will be family heirloom afghans for both couples as wedding gifts. I have to confess that taking a break from knitting on size 0, 1 and 2 needles (WITHOUT beads!) was really relaxing!

But once these projects were completed, I found myself bursting at the seams with ideas for new work. And just because I was back knitting with a gorgeous wool/silk yarn for more than a year (you MUST try Cascade Venezia – it’s a dream fiber to knit with) doesn’t mean I wasn’t collecting fabulous beads and new fibers to work with. And, of course, continuing to write down ideas and keep my eyes open for visual inspiration.

Button Up Necklace

Button Up Necklace

These two images are just two of the six new pieces, five necklaces and one bracelet, I’ve created over the last three months. I hope you’ll take a look in both the One-of-a-Kind Necklace and One-of-a-Kind Bracelet Galleries to see what’s new.

And there is a lot more lined up on the airport runway of ideas in my brain. This is FUN! Stay tuned!



Spotlight On New Work:   “Mud Cloth”
Around the World in One Necklace

I often talk about how unique materials inspire my work and this necklace is definitely a case in point. I found the ceramic beads that hang at the end of the knitted dangles at the Market at Stitches Midwest this past summer. I have to give a shout out to booth owner Jolanta Narejko of Elka Design (www.elka-designs.com) because she had some of the COOLEST beads, findings and fabulous finished jewelry pieces I’ve seen in quite some time. I fell in love with these two different patterns of black and white beads. I played with/swatched several different design ideas before settling on this one. I was told when I bought them that they are African beads, but later found out that they are specifically called “mud cloth” beads.

 

I had not planned on leaving the silk threads hanging. They are actually the tails of the individual bead knitted dangles. But they’ve grown on me. Definitely outside of my normal “box.”

 

 

So along with the African mud cloth beads, the thread used is from the USA (Kreinik Silk Serica), the small beads are Japanese (Size 8 Miyuki seed beads and Size 10 Miyuki Delica beads) and the three large beads are German (vintage resin with crystals set in the recessed equator of the beads – I’ve had them for years, just waiting for a fun place to use them.)

 

Four continents represented in one necklace! Pretty fab, no?



Spotlight On New Work:   Unusual Inspirational Materials
Uni I and Uni II

  

I’m often asked about where the inspiration for my creations comes from. My feeling is that inspiration is everywhere and often where least expected. I have to confess, however, that my inspiration often comes from unusual materials like those seen in the two new one-of-a-kind necklaces seen here. The top photo is Uni I, the bottom photo is Uni II. The “spikey,” multicolor pieces are actually the calcified spines of sea urchins! I loved them so much that I had to use them in two different pieces. A few friends have told me that they both have a sort of tribal feel. I guess that’s true, but what you can’t tell from the pictures is that they also make a lovely sound effect when they move around – a sort of tinkling, almost musical sound that I find very soothing. Unexpected and delightful.

There are a few more new pieces in the Necklace Gallery that I haven’t turned the Gallery Spotlight on here in the What’s New section, so as time permits, please click on over and take a peek. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this new work.



Getting From “Before” to “After”…
Staying Open to New Ideas Can Make All the Difference

These “Before” and “After” photos show one way that the gorgeous materials pictured here – some of my favorites: Just Our Yarn Almaza tencel, Kreinik Silk Serica, beautifully variegated, small, round jasper beads and larger, shiny brown, oval shell pearls, along with some teeny tiny needles (Size 0000 DPN’s!) and 26 gauge copper wire – could be worked together to create a new necklace. It’s named for my friend, fellow teacher and inspirational designer Myra Wood.

But the wonderful materials are not the only “Before” and “After” story here.

 
 

By the time I begin work on a new piece, I’ve usually engaged in several rounds of play with my chosen materials and have at least some idea of what I think the finished piece might look like. It started out the same way this time. But then, and I don’t know why, I found myself knitting most of the colorful wrappers for the variously sized beads without even graphing the patterns. Let me repeat…WITHOUT graphing the patterns! SO not like me. But SO much fun! Maybe Myra’s right-brained, organic way of working has inspired me? But then a snag. After several attempts, my original idea for what I was going to do with the completed beads didn’t pan out and I began to feel as though I might have hit a brick wall. Then I saw a random picture of a very simple necklace in a magazine and whammo! Although very different from my finished design for this piece, something about its construction got me un-stuck and started me working with the same components but in a new direction. It required making lots more beads (the small, plain knit beads that form the “chain” of the necklace) but that’s fun for me. And before I knew it, I found the joy of the piece that I thought I had lost.

So many lessons brought home in the making of “Myra.” Staying open is what it’s about. I love what I do.

 



I’m Often Asked, “How DID you make that???”
Take a Peek Here at One “Before” and “After”

When my students express concern that some of the projects in my book feel intimidating, I respond by telling them that the knitting techniques I use are almost always those with which they are already familiar, requiring just two sticks and a string. It is often in what I DO with the finished pieces of knitting where the magic lives. I like to call it KNITTING MADE CLEVER. There’s an expression that says “No one wants to see the sausage made,” implying that the process is often less attractive than the finished product. But in the case of this bib-style necklace, “Meander II,” I thought it might be fun to show my fellow knitters the “innards” of this “sausage” before it became a finished necklace. The jumble of knitting you see in the “Before” photo is a VERY long, multi-color, knitted tubular strap with beads knitted in on both edges. This strap is then stitched together in a meandering switchback, like a road down a very steep mountain, with some wonderful turquoise beads stitched into some of the spaces. So you see? It’s all in the manipulation of the fabric: Knitting Made Clever! I’d love to hear what you think of it.

 
 



Spotlight On New Work: Andromeda
Maybe You CAN Teach an Old Dog….

As a self-described “pathologically organized” left-brained person, I often joke about how much I would love to be able to come up with the occasional funky, less controlled design. Over on Craftsy.com, where I teach a class entitled Brilliant Knit Beads, I challenge students to try something new. So I decided that it was time to take my own advice. With lots of inspiration from the wonderful work my students are doing, I’ve taken a step in that direction with this new one-of-a-kind necklace called Andromeda. You can call this necklace a lot of things, but “controlled” would not likely top the list. It was so much fun to make, is SO much fun to wear and makes me laugh. I’m going to post this picture over on Craftsy as well. Let me know what you think! :-)



Spotlight On New Work:   Meander I
New One-of-a-Kind Necklace

Meander I NecklaceWow, did my life change when I signed on to write Betsy Beads! And it has changed even more since the book was released in March. Rare are those leisurely days in my studio when I have lots of time and creative “head space” to play with my fabulous stash of beads, yarn and findings. More often I spend much of my time responding to email from friendly knitters, from kind folks inquiring about my traveling to teach or I’m actually preparing to teach somewhere around the country. Please know that I am NOT complaining. I know just how fortunate I am. But I also have a huge backlog of enticing ideas for pieces that are just aching to be realized. I often describe my knitter’s brain as feeling like an airport runway, with lines of planes (ideas) waiting to take off. So I am happy to report that one of those “planes” has achieved lift off. I had to work on it in fits and starts, grabbing bits of time where I could. I find the design interestingly reflective of how I am able to work these days. It is comprised of little fits and starts – individual, knit-wrapped beads embellished with wandering metallic thread. These, in turn, are connected by a meandering, tightly bead-knit pathway. If you’d like to zoom in on the details of this piece, you can also view it in the One-of-a-Kind Necklace Gallery. As always, happy to hear your impressions.



Spotlight on Work
Check In and Check Out Some of My Favorite Pieces, Old & New

With the launch of the new website, I thought it might be fun to look back at the first Studio B necklace I featured on the original website when it launched in 2007. This has always been one of my favorites and was purchased by a dear friend – a very stylish woman whose support meant everything to me as I was just starting to sell my work. She tells me she still gets compliments every time she wears it. So grateful for good friends!