I'm not going to lie, I have several friends who are returning from trips to the Tuscon bead show and I'm just a tiny bit jealous. But I can't be too upset that traveling wasn't in my budget this month because I did get to attend the Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show last month. Besides, I was able to attend the Intergalactic Bead Show this past weekend and spend the day with a good friend. I think I'm doing OK.
Do you attend bead shows? They can be a great way to get out of the house if you've been snowbound most of this winter like I have and they can be a great way to see and touch beads if you spend a lot of your bead allowance online. Being able to hold the beads in your hand is a great help if you are thinking of trying some new beadwork techniques.
Bead shows can be overwhelming, especially if you've not been to one before but I wrote an article Bead Show Tips to help you prepare for attending the show. Even if you are a veteran of bead shows you might find a tip or two that you can use.
I recently reviewed the French Knitter from Clover USA and shared the ins and outs of the tool. I found it easy to learn and even easier to use. So easy that my sample swatch turned into a full length necklace!
This is a great tool and project for getting your feet wet in beadwork. The French Knitter also makes it easy to work fibers and larger sized beads into your jewelry designs giving you, the deigner, many more options in design. With the French Knitter you could easily work multiple fibers and various sized beads into your projects. It would be a great way to use up odds and ends in your bead and fiber stash.
With some beadweaving, or in this case French Knitting it can be hard to know how to treat the ends of the work so that it looks polished and professional. I'm happy to say that by using end cones in this piece I was able to achieve that in the French Knit Necklace Tutorial.
I hope you give this project and the French Knitter from Clover USA a try and if you do I would love to see a finsihed photo of your project!
Disclosure: The French Knitter was provided for my use. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.
French Knitting isn't a new technique and French Knitters have been around for quite a while. Homemade versions of the French Knitter have been made from wooden spools with nails driven in one end as well as models made with Popsicle sticks and toilet paper tubes. But those tools have their issues (nails catching on loosely woven fibers and toilet paper tubes that quickly fall apart) making them cheap but unreliable.
I tried French Knitting with just yarn to get a feel for how it worked and then moved onto a lovely "Ripple" yarn from the local yarn shop with size "E" seed beads from Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts.
I experimented with using the different peg variations (the top goes off and on easily) and differing numbers of beads. The knitted tube is quite easy to reverse knit so that you can try out a few different combinations before settling on a design.
I was only going to knit a short section to see how the tool worked so that I could share it in this review but I got a little carried away. Once I got rolling I found it fun and easy to just keep going.
Be sure to visit the article linked to above to see the full review.
I've had an amazing couple of years writing for About.com Beadwork, and the time has come for me to move on to other projects. I'm so glad to have met so many awesome, inspiring beaders along the way, and I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone -- and continuing to explore the art of beadwork -- long into the future. In 2013 I encourage you to keep on beading, getting better at what you do and discovering more of your hidden talents! Always feel free to keep in touch; just search for "Chris Franchetti Michaels" online to find out what I'm up to.
Earlier this week I got a surprise in the mail from the publisher of Bead & Button magazine, which I've subscribed to for years. It's a DVD in the Design with Style DVD video series. Photos show screen shots of bead stringing, chain mail, beadweaving, and wire work being performed on the cover.
The little flier that came with the DVD explains that this is a "preview" being sent out to magazine subscribers. You can also subscribe to have a different DVD in the series delivered by mail every two to three months.
Also included in the package was a slip of paper with instructions for returning the preview DVD if I didn't want it. My first thought was, if I didn't order this, why do I need to go through the hassle of returning it? So I looked for the fine print and, sure enough, I found it: the DVD does not need to be returned.
If you also received a copy, don't worry -- according to Bead & Button, they are not automatically subscribing people to the series with a requirement to opt out.
By the same token, if you'd like to receive more DVDs, you do in fact need to take action to subscribe. Look for the little order form included with preview.
I haven't found time to watch my preview DVD just yet. If you've watched it, please share your impression of it in a comment. Do you plan to subscribe to the series? Why or why not?
Photo by Chris Franchetti Michaels
This week I reviewed two beading books published in 2012, both of which would make fantastic gifts for beaders (and items for beaders to add to their wish lists). The first is part of a series called I Can. This one is all about right-angle weave beadweaving, and the diagrams are fantastic. Check it out.
The next book is Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes. It's part of the more advanced level series called Beadweaving Master Class. If you already know the most popular beadweaving stitches but would like to take their tubular versions to the next level, this may be the book for you. Learn why.
Are there any other beading books you've had your eye on this year and would like to know more about?
Photo by Chris Franchetti Michaels
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This precious cuff bracelet by Judy Pennington is the newest addition to our Beaded Bracelet Design Gallery. This design is a good example of how you can use bead embroidery to enhance pretty background fabric, rather than filling every empty space with beads.
To learn more about bead embroidery with cabochons and other focal pieces, I recommend the book Dimensional Bead Embroidery by Jamie Cloud Eakin. To read the submission guidelines and submit your own design to one of our galleries, click here.
Photo courtesy of Judy Pennington
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Beaded netting is a traditional stitch for making drapey Christmas ornament covers. Learn how to use the horizontal version of netting to make a cover for a large tree ornament in this tutorial. It uses a glass ball ornament that is about 3 inches in diameter, along with round seed beads and drop beads. Once you get the hang of the basics (no pun intended!), you can experiment with adding longer beaded fringe along the bottoms.
The 5-inch Mirrix loom
Over the past week I've been talking about looms a lot -- which makes this an absolutely perfect time (coincidentally) for Mirrix to announce a big giveaway. It's "big" because they're giving away a free 5-inch loom (perfect for bracelets) to one lucky winner. The 5-inch loom is currently a $145 dollar value. (Optionally, the winner can apply the value toward a larger loom.)
Update: I've corrected this post to confirm that one winner will receive the loom (there will not be multiple loom winners - my apologies!).
Additionally, one runner up will receive $50 towards the purchase of a loom, and another will receive their choice of three Mirrix bead patterns.
To enter, all you need to do is write one paragraph explaining why you'd like to have a loom, and sign up for Mirrix's email newsletter. In your paragraph, tell Mirrix whether you already own a loom, whether you're experienced or a beginner, what you'd like to do with your loom, and anything else important that you can think of. Keep in mind that your paragraph will be published online and made available for public vote!
- Click here to read the official contest rules and submit your entry. Winners will be announced on January 1, 2013.
- Read the current entries and vote for your favorite here.
If you're wondering about the Mirrix newsletters, I can honestly report that they're not spammy at all. I've been on their list for quite a while. You'll be notified about sales, new products, classes, free weave-alongs, and other Mirrix goings on.
If you win a loom, please come back to About.com and let us know!
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Photo courtesy of Mirrix
It's possible to try this pattern using square stitch instead, but I personally haven't tried it. It may be more difficult to stitch the long magatamas (the amber colored beads) with square stitch, and -- as always -- square stitch beadwork has a differerent look and feel than loomwork.
Also new this week is the tutorial for the big, chunky beaded toggle clasp I designed to finish my bracelet. It uses a wooden toothpick to support a peyote stitch toggle bar made with size 8/0 round seed beads. Magatamas adorn the bar ends, and the toggle latches with a simple beaded loop.
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