Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

The Circle of FOs and WIPs? QIPs? BIPs?

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Knitting,Sewing — folkcat at 1:18 pm on Monday, March 26, 2007

It’s the way of the crafter, the endless cycle of projects. When I started this blog, I began using the term WIP – Work In Progress – the way I saw so many knitbloggers do.

So then, if I quilt, is it a QIP? If I bead, is it a BIP? The knitting doesn’t seem to get called KIP – Knitting in Progress – if only because I know that term usually means Knitting In Public among us bloggers.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter, except to the degree that tossing the variant terms around tickles my fancy. Which, I must admit, it does!


The socks, they are done!

FO: Gryphon's Beaded Rib Socks

Yes, Gryphon and I both have incredibly pale legs. Neither of us is an outdoors type. The socks, though, that’s what you’re supposed to be looking at! Aren’t they cool?

The Pattern: Beaded Rib Socks, from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. A toe-up pattern.
The Yarn: Special Blauband, gifted by Claudia, with plain black Scheepjeswolle at the toes and heels to extend the yardage.
The Needles: Brittany dpns, US size 1.5 (2.5mm)

Modifications: None. Well, one – Gryphon’s ankle is smaller than his foot circumference, so I decreased an inch worth of stitches after the heel before continuing as normal up the leg.

Issues: Just one. My gauge seemed to loosen up on the second sock a bit, and it doesn’t fit quite as well as the other. I think it’s a simple matter of me being more comfortable with the process by then, and so I knit faster, and when I knit faster, I knit looser. Knowing that, I’m sure I’ll be able to improve my consistency with more practice.

We already have another ball of yarn in the house for his next socks, and two more on order. So I guess this experiment was a success, since we’ve got plans to repeat it until Gryphon has a reasonably-sized sock wardrobe.

WIPs, BIPs, and QIPs

Let’s see…Mystery BIP didn’t progress over the weekend. See, it’s part of working on Judith’s book, which I am treating as a Monday to Friday job. So I get weekends off from that.

Mystery WIP, for which I showed the yarns on Friday, made good progress. I set out expecting to make a certain number of items from the pattern as written, just in different colors. But, true to form, I quickly saw easy modifications I could make that would differentiate these finished pieces even more. In the end, I think only two will be made as specified in the pattern, and at least four will be made with my mods. Tally thus far: 2 out of 6 completed, 4 to go.

Meanwhile, on the quilting front, I’ve been struggling with the Sawtooth Star pattern for the challenge up at my Most Local Quilt Shop – unsuccessfully. I made the second attempt, and still found things not lining up as they should, pieces coming out to not match the edges they have to be sewn to, etc. Very frustrating, and I’d really like to have gotten it right. But given all the other projects I am working on, and the fact that the Sawtooth Star project has a deadline of the end of the month, I have decided to cut my losses and abandon it. I may decide that the parts and pieces can come together in some other project some day. But I think the Sawtooth Star, with so little instruction given along with it (just the cutting list and a diagram showing which way to press seams, really), may not have been my best choice for a first project.

Still and all, yes, there is officially a QIP now. I had bought the pattern for the Bento Box quilt some time ago. (Okay, it was all of 20 days ago.) The design appeals to me visually, plus the instructions are straightforward and complete. And it’s all straight seams and 90 degree angles, so it should be much easier as a first project.

What officially turned it into a QIP, though, is the fact that this weekend I went to Yet Another Local Quilt Shop (we have more of them than yarn stores), and bought the fabrics to make the wall hanging size of the quilt.

QIP: Bento Box, Fabric Selections

That’s 12 fat quarters, six in darks, and six in lights to go with them. The pairings of light and dark you see here are the pairings I expect to use in the quilt. So far. I may still move them around and try different combinations before starting to cut and sew. We’ll see!

Things to Come, and Things Nearly Done

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Craft Shopping,Crafting Miscellany,Knitting — folkcat at 3:28 pm on Friday, March 23, 2007

My energy levels seem to be picking up a little as we get closer to the weekend again. I’m still having trouble getting out of ruts – for instance, if I sit and knit, I’m not likely to ever stop to do anything else unless I force myself. Which I really have to do, because my legs get cramped if I sit in one spot too long. Plus, you know, the food doesn’t bring itself in from the kitchen. That’s how bad the inertia is – it takes extreme effort to make myself spend the energy to get food. Sheesh!

Still, things are managing to progress a little. I had a small influx of cash that’s for my crafting, so there’s been a little crafty purchasing recently. For instance, I picked up this yarn today:

WIP: Mystery Project Yarn

That’s three balls of Plymouth’s aptly-named Oh My! yarn, in colors 13, 54, and 12. What’s it for? That part, I can’t tell you yet, since there are certain readers on this blog who aren’t supposed to know. Suffice it to say it’s soft, Easter-y, and fun, as well as knit from a free pattern online that I’ll link to when the gifting has reached its full course.

Then there are these beads:

BIP: Mystery Project Beads

Silk-finished copper Czech 11/o’s, and assorted Swarovski crystals. These are some of the beads for the mystery beading project I’m working on. I can tell you that it’s a design I’m creating for a book my friend Judith is letting me help her with, and that full details will be forthcoming when we get closer to the publication date.

A few other purchases are on their way via mail-order; a kit for a double knit afghan that I’ve been wanting for some time, another kit that will get me into yet-another-craft, some sock yarn at an incredible bargain from Knit Happens. (Regia Brasil Sock, normally $15.10, for only $6.80! Thanks for the tip, Lynne!)

As for Gryphon’s socks, I did make good progress last night at Panera, though I didn’t quite finish. That’s certain to happen tonight, though, when my friend Bea comes over for our weekly television night. I’ve only got a couple more pattern rows to go, then an inch and a half or so of plain 3×2 ribbing. Hooray!

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Almost There

So that’s the state-of-the-craft at the end of the week Chez Folkcat & Gryphon. Hope you’re having a great day, and have an even better weekend!

Beadwork Teaser; and, Math Lies

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Knitting — folkcat at 3:01 pm on Thursday, March 22, 2007

I did spend time knitting last night. Actually got 3 or 4 inches done on Gryphon’s sock leg! No picture, though there should be photos of a complete pair before too much longer. Possibility I might even finish them tonight, in which case I need the Trekking XXL divided into two balls, ready to start the next pair. More about that later on!

Mystery Project

Thought I’d give you a little teaser regarding the project I’ve been spending so much time on, but can’t really show. Here are a couple of my test samples for the design I’m working on.

Mystery Project Samples

Yup, that’s bead crochet. Can’t reveal all, but there will be more tidbits as time passes. I will tell you that one sample is a failed test, the other a successful one, and neither of them shows the final colors for the project.

Stay tuned for more teasers!

Trekking Math

Okay, everyone sharpen your pencils and take out a piece of paper. We’re going to have a small quiz.

91.81 divided by 2 = ?

The correct answer is 45.905.

So if 91.81 grams is the starting weight of my ball of Trekking XXL yarn, and I want to divide it into two balls of equal size, each one should weigh 45.905 grams. Right?


I placed my Trekking XXL on the scale and began winding it off into my yarn winder, watching the numbers carefully. When I got down to within a few tenths of a gram of 45, I stopped. Without cutting the yarn, I took the ball off the winder and weighed it.

It came out to around 42 grams.

I swapped the balls again. Yup, the first one was about 45 grams. Put the second one back. Only about 42 grams.

So I fiddled the yarn back and forth a little by hand, until I got two balls that claimed about the same weight. Here’s what I wound up with:

Trekking XXL Ball One, 44.32 gms.
44.32 grams

Trekking XXL Ball Two, 44.07 gms.
44.07 grams

Now, by my calculations, 44.32 + 44.07 = 88.39 grams. Did you all get the same answer?

Well, apparently Trekking doesn’t! When I stack the two balls on top of each other, they total up to what the skein weighed before I started dividing – 91.81 grams.

Trekking XXL, Total Weight 91.81 gms.

I’ve done this several times now, weighing them individually and then weighing them together, and I get the same results every time. I know the scale is accurate – it’s the one we used to use to weigh out Delicas and seed beads for the store.

I’m not going to fuss about this. I’ve got two balls that claim to be equal now. I just wish I knew where that extra 3.5 grams vanishes to when they stand apart!

Mistakes – I’ve Made a Few…

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Rats! — folkcat at 3:20 pm on Thursday, January 18, 2007

We all make mistakes. The real test is how you deal with them.

Way back in November, I told you of a large bargain bead purchase I stumbled into. Delica beads in quantity, many, many colors I didn’t already have, and at wholesale prices.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Partly because it was such a deal. Partly because Gryphon, who I count on for reining things in if they’re going overboard, went along with the commitment.

Normally, the two of us making decisions together works in our favor. This time, my failure at limiting myself clashed with Gryphon’s inability to say “no” to me, and we wound up committed to buying far more than we could afford on our budget.

I’ve been hemming and hawing about this for two months now, and last week, I finally owned up to the seller that I felt a need to recind the purchase. She is, of course, disappointed, as I am. But she’s a friend, and she was far more generous and patient than she had to be in agreeing to accept them back.

She only was concerned about the difficult task of re-integrating all those out-of-order Delica beads into the remaining stock she has, and I absolutely agreed that would be unreasonable to burden her with. So yesterday, instead of knitting, I spent the day doing this:

Sorting Beads

That’s what my card table looks like when it’s being used to sort 595 flip-top boxes of Delica beads. (What you can’t see are the bowls and boxes being used to contain portions of the pile under the table.) They’re all being put in order by color number. 20 boxes fit neatly in a sandwich-sized zipper bag, and a label on the front of the bag says what number range it contains. The way they’re packed, everything will stay in the order I put them in until my friend opens the packages and puts them away at her end.

It took a lot of getting over my fears of upsetting a friend to admit to my mistake here. Once I actually got it together to do so, the consequences weren’t anywhere near as bad as I feared. (Are they ever?) I feel a lightening of my spirit from finding a resolution to the matter.

The whole thing also forced me to re-evaluate the place of beads for me right now. A big part of my discomfort was the amount of money being spent on materials for a craft that, yes, I’m still doing – but not as my dominant craft any longer. I think part of the original decision to buy so many beads was a remnant of old buying habits for the bead store – when you get a bargain, you buy in quantity.

Hopefully, I have learned to make better decisions about these things in the future. I can’t just spend money on beads just because they’re brought right into my home, right in my face, to buy! Obviously, I hadn’t learned that lesson before this opportunity came into the house. Maybe next time, after the effort I’ve had to go to in correcting this mistake, I’ll have an easier time remembering.

To my friend: I am so, so sorry about this. The beads will be on their way back to you shortly, and should be easy to put back in their proper places. Thank you – a million times, thank you – for being so patient and understanding. I wish I knew what I did to deserve a friend as good as you are!

Meanwhile, at the Rattie House

Star proved to me that she can give puppy-dog eyes, too.

Star with Puppy Dog Eyes

X is for…

Filed under: ABC - Along,Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Television — folkcat at 2:10 pm on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

xena12 logo_edited.jpg

I can’t believe I’ve been fretting over what to do for “X is for…!” At least I remembered in time that, in addition to the Connie & Carla movie props and costumes I wrote about before, I own several costume pieces from the popular television series, Xena.

Xena Cotume Pieces on Display

This is how they were displayed in my bead store, back in the fall of 2004. The cropped jacket and the belt are the costume pieces here, and the piece of burlap hanging in back with rattan is actually a prop window covering used on the show.

I never was able to pin the jacket down to a specific character – more likely, it was worn by an extra someplace in a crowd. I did find that the Gabrielle character, Xena’s co-star, wore a top made from the same green beaded fabric in one season.

The belt is the best documented item I was able to acquire. It was worn by a savage warrior character in an episode called “The Price”.

Still from "The Price" showing costume belt

Here we see Gabrielle showing mercy to a dying enemy warrior on the battlefield. If you look at the bottom right, that’s the belt.

The other two costume pieces I have from Xena are these bracelets.

Bracelets from Xena, Warrior Princess

One is strung with simple pressed glass beads on elastic. The other? Even more anachronistically than the first, it’s made of beads strung on safety pins!

How could they get away with that on Xena? The suspension of disbelief, for one. Plus, it was probably worn by an extra in the background somewhere, and if visible on screen at all (I’ve never managed to spot it), it was for only a fleeting moment and probably in motion. So it would look like crude metal and rough gems, if anything.

So there we have it – I was able to come up with a personally meaningful “X”, without resorting to “Xmas” or “X-treme” or anything like that! Yay, me!

Did I Do (All) That?

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Holidays,Knitting — folkcat at 3:39 pm on Monday, November 20, 2006

It’s a funny thing sometimes. All weekend, I felt over tired and unmotivated. If you asked me outright what I got done, I would have sat a moment, gazing stupidly at nothing, before coming up with “not much” as my best answer.

But the fact is, I actually got quite a lot done. I kept myself moving steadfastly along, albeit at a slow pace, and I can feel pleased with the results.

A Complete, Start-to-Finish, FO

First up, on Friday afternoon I had a papercrafting session. I went for a much simpler model than my first one (the Maneki Neko). This one had only seven parts, and they all fit on a single page of cardstock paper. It was so easy, I actually did the whole thing at one sitting!

And so, here’s what I’m calling Little Blue Penguin.

Little Blue Penguin Papercraft
Little Blue Penguin

If you want to make one of your own, you can find the PDF to download here:

Little Blue Penguin 3-d Paper Model

You’ll need Adobe Reader to open the file – it’s available free here. Once you open it, please don’t be alarmed at the funny text – the document is in Japanese. But the instructions are well illustrated, and the assembly is pretty obvious once you get started.

If you like the Little Blue Penguin, you might like other models by the same artist. His name is Ryo Tokisato, and the entry page for his models can be found here. Again, the page is in Japanese, but it’s fairly easy to navigate. Just click on the links on the page, and you’ll be taken to the various model pages. The bottom most link is for e-mailing the artist, you can probably skip that – unless you do want to ask him about his work!

If you decide to pursue his models at a later time, fear not – I’ve added the link to my sidebar under Papercraft. I also added a link to the excellent papercraft models at Yamaha Motor – yes, that’s right. The company we know for making motorcycles has a wide assortment of detailed, realistic, and free paper models on subjects ranging from, of course, motorcycles, to endangered species and holiday decorations. This site will be easy for you to navigate – it’s all in English, and well organized.

Thanksgiving’s First Shot

The first bit of Thanksgiving cookery happened on Saturday afternoon. I made a double batch of jellied cranberry sauce.

Cranberries Boiling
Cranberries Boiling

The recipe is right on the bags of fresh cranberries you can buy in your supermarket. And it’s ridiculously easy. There are only three ingredients – sugar, water, and cranberries – and all you do is boil them together for the specified amount of time. If you want whole cranberry relish, you’re done then. If you want the jellied variety, you take the boiled berries and press them through a mesh strainer to remove the skins and pulp.

Piece of cake.

At that point, you can select the mold(s) of your choice to let the jelly set up in. If you personal holiday traditions demand that your jellied cranberry sauce come in a big, ridged cylinder, then you might want to save a can to pour your homemade stuff into. If you are able to be more flexible about the shape, though, there are any number of items you can use.

Finished Cranberry Sauce
Finished Jellied Cranberry Sauce

The three low, flat, copper molds at the front are actually family heirlooms from my mother’s side in Sweden. Goodness only knows how old they are – could be a hundred years. I have four of them, two with a sort of fleur-de-lys looking design, one with what I believe is a dragonfly, and one with a simple daisy-like flower. At the back left corner, you can see one of the unused copper molds sitting upright.

The remaining cranberry sauce will be shared with friends, so it’s been cast into four little Glad storage cups. They give a useful, attractive enough shape to the jelly when unmolded, and they’re cheap enough that I don’t care if they come back to me or not.

Christmas Knitting

I made a lot of progress here – let’s copy and paste the complete gift knitting list in from another post and give a rundown. You’ll find the new status information in italics.

  1. Bag from cotton yarn – status: All pieces knit, ends woven in. Next steps: steam blocking, then assembly.
  2. felted bag – status: Ends woven in, awaiting felting
  3. felted bag – status: Same as #2
  4. bead knitted bag – status: materials gathered, pattern chosen. These only take a day or two (at most) to knit.
  5. handspun and dyed yarn – singles partly spun. Stalled due to boredom with undyed pencil roving. May be replaced. Status: Will certainly be replaced. Probably with a purchased gift.
  6. unnamed object to include felted bowl – status: Experimental pattern for felted bowl has been felted, and is a success. Now must knit simple, scarf-like piece to go with it.
  7. mesh shopping bags – status: Test bag knit, am halfway through first of three gift bags now.
  8. same as #6 in different colors – status: Having confirmed pattern for felted bowl with #6, must now knit one for this gift.
  9. same as #4 in different colors – status: Same as #4
  10. “We Call Them Pirates” hat for Gryphon – status: Needles arrived from KnitPicks. Just need to knit it now.

I’m feeling eerily calm about this knitting list. It’s such a lot – and yet, it’s going so quickly. Gifts that need to be shipped to their recipients in other parts of the country could well be done by two weeks from now, and at the same time, I’m making lots of progress on those that will be handed directly to friends and family. I’m resisting temptation to add another knitted gift or two…or three…don’t want to mess with apparent success now!

Storing Japanese Beads the Folkcat Way

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Knitting — folkcat at 4:04 pm on Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yesterday I stayed home and concentrated on a couple of different projects.

More Beads

First up was spending a bit more time organizing and sorting the Delicas and seed beads I already owned.

I like this roll-around six-drawer unit for storing my Japanese beads. The flip top boxes I favor fit precisely in each drawer, 9 columns across and many, many boxes back.

Bead Storage

The top two drawers look a little different because I’ve modified them a little. As molded, the fronts of the drawers don’t go straight across on the inside. Left alone, this leads to the flip tops sliding around at the front and messing up your orderly number sequence.

Inside Drawer Fix

To fix the problem, we purchased some flat strips of balsa wood at the local hardware store. Around 2 inches wide, we cut the strips to length to fit the front of the drawer. They’re not glued in or anything – the natural shape of the drawer holds them in place. This gives us a flat, even surface at the front to line up the flip tops against.

We only outfitted two drawers this way so far, because, well – the volume of beads I’d properly put away only needed that many. Now, though, I’ll be picking up some more balsa wood so we can fit out the rest of the unit to match.

As you can see, I store the flip tops bottom side up. This way, I can see the colors. A tiny white label from the office supply is marked with the type or size (DB, 11, etc.) of bead, followed by the color number assigned by the manufacturer.

Delica Drawer

11/o's Drawers
11/o Japanese Seed Beads

The drawers are sturdy, and will hold flip top boxes up to 3 inches long. It makes it very easy for me to find the beads I want to work with. Or it will, as soon as I finish marking more of the boxes with those little white labels.

If you want to replicate this system, be careful what type of drawer unit you buy. Look for one where the drawers will pull completely out of the case without catching on anything. Some styles have “catches” on the outsides of the drawers that are meant to keep the drawer from falling out. Since you have to squeeze the sides in to get around that, it won’t work if you have the drawer full of little boxes of beads.

Be sure that each drawer is fully supported, not just hanging on a pair of grooves on either side. Without support under each drawer, the drawers themselves will flex under the weight of the beads, and fall out of the tracks.

Drawer Supports

As you can see here, not only does my drawer unit badly need dusting, but each drawer is supported by an open platform that will keep it from flexing and falling out.

I still have some beads to locate in various storage spots around the apartment before I’m done with this part of the project – the “organize what you already have before adding the new stuff” part. By the time I’m done, this drawer unit will be a little over half full. I’ll probably be buying a second one to accommodate the new stock.

Knitting, too

I also did some more work on the first Christmas Gift on the list, this time using my new Knit Picks Options needles to pick up stitches around a couple of pieces to knit a piping trim. I gotta tell you – these things are awesome! As the stitches slid along the needles, you’d never have known they were screwed together where cable and needle met, the join is that smooth. And the tips – I also employed an Addi Turbo circular in the same size for the project (we’re talking piping around the edge of some fairly big projects), and side by side, the Knit Picks were clearly more pointy.

Given the ease of use, the incredibly good design, and the affordable cost, I’ll be buying into a lot more of the Knit Picks Options needles in the future.

I made a lot of progress on this particular knitted gift, but you know what? Picking up hundreds of stitches in cotton yarn around all four edges of a cotton-knitted rectangle is hard on the hands!

Ack! More Cotton Knitting!

Tonight’s take-along project for Panera is another Christmas Gift knitted with cotton yarn. This should be easier on the hands, though – it’s on size 13 needles instead of size 4!

Mardi* Mixed

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Knitting — folkcat at 1:26 pm on Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I got some of my crafting feet back under me yesterday. I pulled out my latest Barefoot Diva socks, the ones I’m doing two at a time on two circular needles, and worked at least another inch on them. I had been thinking of converting them to Magic Loop (the better to keep the needles under control), but that lasted only as long as it took to get them back on two circulars again.

The technique is working better for me now. I have knit enough of the socks this way to get a feel for the rhythm of moving the socks and needles from piece to piece without tangling. I had far fewer instances of getting the yarn to the ball caught in between the circulars, for instance. And I figured out that, when you do the first sock on a needle, if you simply maintain the circle formed by your working needle, it’s very easy to move the second sock into place when it’s turn comes up.

I also spent some time, in light of the weekend’s bead bonanza, organizing and sorting my previously existing stash of Delicas and Japanese seed beads. The better to be able to integrate the new stuff, you know. As anyone with a collection of stuff will testify – whether it’s yarn, books, or whatever – it can be almost more fun just sorting and organizing the objects in question than it is to actually use them for their intended purpose.

I think it’s the magpie gene kicking in again – you know, the one that has us bring multitudes of shiny, pretty, not necessarily useful things home? I think the magpie in us likes to just sit and fondle our collections and ponder the joy of sheer abundance.

“Sorting” and “organizing” sound better than fondling, though.

In Other News

I also got some Christmas Knitting done, but of course you can’t see that. The yarn that I had ordered so I could finish one piece came in last week, so that’s been knit now. That Gift only has one more piece to knit before I weave ends, block, and then start assembling. Which should be interesting, since part of the assembly involves picking up stitches around the edges and knitting some trim in a contrasting color.

Meanwhile, I still have Gifts that need felting – but first, they need ends woven in. I know that I don’t have to be as tidy since the ends will felt into oblivion just like the stitch definition, but it still feels like a pain to do. If I can just get myself started on it, though, it’ll go quick enough I’ll be wondering why I waited.

Then there’s the Gift that I started knitting and altered the stitch pattern on for easier knitting. I think I’ve decided that I preferred it the way it was written – the alteration is, indeed, easier to knit, but it changes the appearance of the stitch in a subtle way. So I’m going to be frogging that and starting over.

The Last Hug

The final Wearable Hug was given out last night, and according to Gryphon was received with much enthusiasm. Earlier this week, he’d given a ride to work to a woman on the same shift as him at his company. The reason? Her mother was going for a medical something or other. Next day, we learned that it turned out to be a bigger deal than was expected, and her mom was kept in the hospital overnight and all that.

Well, we knew then that someone involved needed a Wearable Hug – we just weren’t sure whether it was mom or daughter. So Gryphon took it into work yesterday, told the daughter about it, and pulled it out of the bag.

Apparently her eyes lit up quite brightly when the candy apple red shawl came out of the bag. “Well, I guess that settles that!” Gryphon said as he gave it to her.

The Wearable Hugs are now, officially, a retired program for me. They’re an easy knit, but I’m just not feeling the need for one at the moment. Still, I’m pleased with how I was able to touch the lives of so many, so easily.

If the time is right, I’ll do them again. The Hugs have always told me true when and how to be knit. My job is merely to listen for the call, and be ready to answer it.

*Mardi – French for Tuesday.

Large Energy

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Daily Life,Family,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 1:42 pm on Monday, November 13, 2006

It’s said that it’s a good thing to shake up your life now and then. Energy flow that never changes too easily becomes congested or blocked. It can even become so backed up that it breaks out in places and directions you have no control over.

Even something as simple as rearranging your furniture can make a difference. So what do you suppose happens when, as Gryphon and I did recently, you swap the purposes of two rooms in your house?

The result seems to be that Large Energies are moving in our life. Life-changing sorts of Energies. The kind that turn everything upside down.

Life Altering Choices

I can’t talk about much of it yet, because it’s so early in the planning stages. But I will say that Gryphon and I made a decision last week that we’ve considered previously, but that we never felt it was the right time for. Now it feels right.

There are many cogs to make mesh in order to get this thing to happen, and we haven’t even begun pulling them out of the parts bin yet. So there’s nothing real to tell about this one – yet. But trust me, you will be fully informed when there is.

Family Matters

In the midst of conquering our own shaky reaction to making this decision, we received news on Friday that Gryphon’s mother, living with his sister and her husband in New Jersey, was starting to fade and likely to leave us before much longer. Big stuff to absorb, even though you know it’s going to happen one day.

Big Little Bead Buys

On Sunday, I made a significant purchase of beads from a friend. She had made arrangements to buy the remaining stock of Delicas, and many 11/o, 8/o, and 6/o beads, from another friend who used to own a bead store (but who closed it about the same time I closed mine). The purchase price was at wholesale, and that’s the price that was passed on to me.

There were several other friends who were present for this purchasing opportunity as well, all gathered in my living room with clipboards, pencils, calculators – and tray after tray of beads in little flip top boxes. The process of making our selections took several hours, and included a dinner break.

It’s safe to say that a room full of five beaders on a discount shopping frenzy for that long a time stirs Large Energies.

It’d also be safe to say I went a little crazy with my selections. I love Delica beads, but never had a chance to accumulate many different colors. Here, we had leftover stock from a store that used to offer every color of Delica that was made. But I was getting wholesale pricing, and better yet, didn’t have to buy in wholesale bulk quantities (bags of 50 grams or more) to get it. I could get retail packages of smaller quantities, but at the wholesale price.

So what did I wind up with? See this box in front of the television? The one that measures 12 inches on a side?

Bead Box 1

Go ahead, take a closer look.

Bead Box 2

Yup, there’s beads in there.

Bead Box 3

Lots and lots of beads. I probably quadrupled my Delica stash alone with this, adding a significant number of colors I didn’t have before.

I won’t tell you how much, even at wholesale cost, these came to. Suffice it to say the number has more digits than you’d think I would commit to at this time, what with a tight budget and a spinning wheel already on layaway.

And get this – Gryphon was totally okay with this purchase. He recognizes that I haven’t bought any Delicas since I had my own bead store, and that I don’t anticipate having any good opportunities to buy them at prices I’m comfortable paying in the future. None of the local bead stores carry them at this time, and mail order quantities get difficult. Gryphon agreed to this large a quantity because he recognizes, as I do, that this is a long-term, deep stash purchase. I probably won’t be buying much for Delicas or Japanese seed beads for a long, long time.

And the purchase is with a friend who is offering us very good terms for payment. I’ve done work for her before, and part of this will be paid in the form of future services for some projects she’s got in the pipeline. (We are doing a written agreement – we’re all friends, but we’re not stupid. And I do watch The People’s Court!)

Passing On

After the shopping frenzy ended on Sunday, Gryphon and I were still reeling from the bead buying Large Energies when he received a call from another of his sisters. His mom had passed away Sunday afternoon, less than six hours earlier. It’s still too early for many decisions to have been made, but it appears there will be no actual service – merely a gathering of family, if they can get them in from their disparate locations, to scatter her ashes on her husband’s grave in Fort Dix cemetery.

Gryphon is now the eldest Kubeck, being the first born. Being the one who moved away from home the longest ago, though, his sister Judy, with whom Mom lived for the last several years, has been the rock taking care of the family in New Jersey all this time.

Judy, if you ever see this, we want you to know that you’ve done an amazing job there. Thank you.

If anyone wants to send Gryphon any good thoughts, you can leave a comment at his blog. He doesn’t update often, but he will see what you say.

My Family

More Large Energy – it’s my own mother’s birthday today, and I expect to be talking to her about that decision that I mentioned earlier when I call to wish her a Happy Birthday. That conversation alone will hopefully start putting a few cogs in place…


Today is otherwise a day to try to get my feet back under me. I need to make plans to get some Christmas Knitting felted and stitched together. I actually need to make contact to acquire a few snail mail addresses to send gift items to.

I need to get a little bit of comforting, normal routine – such as normal ever is – back in place to help me recover from the turbulence in the Large Energies of the past week.

It’s All for the Good

Well, almost. I mean, you never want a parent to die, after all. But otherwise, every single thing this week has felt right – for all that it felt like a major earthquake under our feet.

I promise, you’ll know what there is to know when there’s something definite I can report. In the meantime, rest assured that we’re a little shaken, but we’ll be okay!

Of Movies, Props, and Beads

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Daily Life,Movies,Spinning — folkcat at 3:25 pm on Thursday, October 26, 2006

There seems to be a new round of allergens in the air this week – everyone I know is having miserable post-nasal drip. I’m exhausted today from waking several times in the night with a massive throat tickle and coughing.

But I’ll muster through, as ever, and get some more Christmas Knitting done tonight at Panera.

As for what I did yesterday that’s worth showing – I did some spinning. It’s hard to tell the difference just looking at the ball of roving, but the topmost layer on the spindle is nearly completely yellow now, instead of green. Which means at least a bit of progress.

Yellow/Green Spinning

And Gryphon and I picked out some artwork to hang on a wall in the new living room:

Art on the Walls

Apologies for the crooked photo – I thought I was standing straighter than that! Guess I’m really tired…

The pair of paintings on the left are my renditions of Gryphon and Folkcat. The posters on the right are part of my mini collection of items from the film Connie and Carla. Rightmost is the movie poster that was used in the movie theater across the street from me when they showed the film.

The one to the left of that, with Connie and Carla shown in monochromatic blue and red, is actually a prop from the movie. If you take a look at some of the scenes outside the Handlebar where Connie and Carla performed their act, you’ll see these hanging there. (Look to the extreme left in the movie still below.)

C&C street scene with posters

What am I doing with a prop from the movie? Well, Wilton, NH has an annual Film Festival. When I owned the bead store, one of the things I did for window displays at Festival time was purchase beaded props from television and movies.

In 2004, I saw the film Connie and Carla when it came out, and really enjoyed it – and then a company that deals in props and costumes put a bunch of items from C&C on eBay. I bought some beaded bracelets, the poster, and two costumes. One is the outfit that Alec Mapa’s supporting character, n’Cream, is wearing the first time we see him – all sequins and beads on a denim jacket, with stretch leggings.

Alec Mapa as n'Cream

The other outfit is a bit more distinguished. Worn by Nia Vardalos as Connie, this is the gold dress she wears in the climatic song-and-dance number in the movie, as well as the one featured on both the box and the actual disc of the DVD.

Nia Vardalos in gold dress

See that gold dress? I own that!

The other Connie & Carla props I have are a rubber tambourine used in a fight scene towards the end, and a poster from Connie & Carla’s act at the beginning of the movie, before they went off and pretended to be drag queens. The cool thing about that poster is that it’s got the little bullet holes from when the gangsters chased them, and there are still duct-taped remnants of the squibs on the back that made the tiny explosions on film.

Sadly, budget and storage limitations have made me hold off on new costume and prop acquisitions. And, okay – maybe Connie and Carla wasn’t the hugest success. But I enjoyed it, and I really enjoy having a little piece of it to call my own!

The Connie & Carla thing happened in 2004. In 2003, the year before, the bead store was in a much smaller space, with a smaller budget. What did I do for a Film Festival tie-in then?

Bracelets and two costume pieces from Xena: Warrior Princess. Nothing as significant as the Connie & Carla items, but at least one that I can show in a still from the episode it was crafted for. Remind me to tell you about them some day!

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