Monday, November 23, 2015

jean reviews Beautiful Elements, Creative Components to Personalize Your Jewelry, by Heather Powers

Beautiful Elements
Creative Components to Personalize Your Jewelry
by Heather Powers

Beautiful Elements, by Heather Powers shows you how to add your own creative touches to your jewelry using metal, clay, and wire.
In her introduction, the author discusses the "raw materials" which will play a part in her book. Then she adds, "The most important raw material you possess is your own creativity". If you agree with that observation (and I do), and take joy in experimenting with simple materials in exciting new ways, this book will completely appeal to you. The first section concerns the Basics. The reader who is planning to try her hand at the projects will be working with metal, wire, chain, all kinds of beads, polymer clay, fibers, patinas, inks, liver of sulphur, and other materials. Techniques for jewelry making, preparing polymer clay, and using metal are illustrated in excellent step out photos. An easy to use tool kit is set up for the reader, as is a polymer clay kit. They are clear and complete. Included as well is a section called "beyond the basics" which notes a few more tools you might want for your studio.
Beautiful Elements, Creative Components' first set of projects will teach you how to sketch on metal. You are taught the technique, and offered four complete projects to try, using freeform sketched metal as the focus. I particularly liked the "Sketched Metal Toggle Bracelet", because the wire wrapped pearls look so pretty paired with the copper toggle with its wildflower design. I get such delight from Heather's love of nature and her expressive style.
The next section is titled "Add Detail to Metal". You will learn advanced metal sketching, how to make polymer clay tipped head pins, and how to create gorgeous wrapped beads with a bit of wire and brilliant colored sari silk. Then it is on to the projects, where they are all combined. You will have a hard time deciding what to make first. Everything is beautiful in this author's world. I loved her earrings from this section; they are as appealing as ripe fruit heavy on the branch. Her "cover girl" bracelet, the "Reflecting Motif Bracelet" is in this section too, and it is a knockout. This author thinks in ways which reach out to the reader and welcome her in to the whole wide world. It is a lovely quality for any artist to have.
The next section, "Add Shape & Texture" invites you to "create textured leaves that offer rustic charm" and "wreath-like links embellished with berry headpins". These are very beautiful and a signature aspect of the author's style, to me. Wait until you see the unique "Dangle & Drop Earrings" you will be making! With dangling copper leaves and purple and gold clay head pin drops, they fall from entwined wreaths in a very striking manner. They are super! The following necklace and bracelet employing the techniques and colorways offered in this section are just as pretty; both rustic and wild.
Following this is "Create Mirrored Imagery". I was very interested to see this section because what the author wrote invites the reader in. As she says,"Sketch pine branches onto metal with a riveting hammer and create tiny pine cones with a ball peen hammer. Bring the evergreen imagery into three dimensions with molded beads made from real pinecones. Reflect the evergreen theme with needle-shaped beads and teal colored patina." I found this to be a magical way of describing the remarkable things that we can do when we make beautiful jewelry.
This section covers sketching an evergreen metal branch and making molded beads (using a little pine cone). The resulting bracelet is wonderfully expressive of the woods, with Czech dagger beads as accents, looking like pine needles, a beautiful hand made toggle clasp with a pine needle theme you will create, one of the pretty polymer pine cone beads front and center, and some round green/blue ceramic beads all wired together. What a gorgeous display! Two different earring projects and a knockout necklace follow.
The section called "Make Charms & Drops" had me completely mesmerized as I, like many others, love to create small designs which pack a very individualistic punch. You will learn how to make adorable metal leaf charms (like oak leaves) and acorn head pins. Combined with Czech glass pressed flowers and leaves, these make a very pretty earthy necklace, using the technique we learned of making an embellished wreath. Love this! The following project is for matching earrings. Finally, there is an offering for a beautiful double stranded oak leaf bracelet with charms. It couldn't be prettier! Wait! There's more! The oak leaf sister bracelet, the "Balanced Bracelet"  is a different take on the metal oak leaves, and it may just take your breath away. It is totally stunning. Finally in this section we come to a front closing necklace which uses the oak leaf for its toggle which you wear in front. I particularly like the rutilated quartz sticks in this necklace. Overall, what a pretty collection.
I cannot think of anything more fun than the section which comes next. It is called "Add Color With Custom Beads". These hibiscus buds are made from polymer clay and alcohol inks in an assortment of blues, pinks and plums. Gorgeous beads! You will shortly be making my favorite pendant of all, the "Pretty Pendant", which has a clutch of charms (including a hibiscus, potent in magenta) in pinks and coppers, as well as copper chain wired up with crystals. It looks like a forgotten treasure hanging from a forest branch. The earrings and the other necklaces here are just as gorgeous.
The final section is titled "Play with Textures And Patterns".  This section is very valuable and helpful if you are interested in learning how to transfer patterns from the world around you to the polymer clay beads you are making. The author explains bead shapes and caps and offers projects using what has been taught. I especially liked the "Color-Block Bouquet Bracelet and Earrings". It is very feminine and interesting at the same time.
At the end of the book, you aren't left in the lurch: there are templates available in all sizes for the reader's use. They will come in very handy as I expect you will love this super new book by Heather Powers, Beautiful Elements, Creative Components to Personalize Your Jewelry, and will be as excited to read it and learn from it as I have been.I am very happy that Heather has once again offered us such a beautiful and inspiring book!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beadblogger links and a photo of a Blythe by Jean

This Blythe is Liath, a Cinnamon Girl customized by Zaloa's Studio. She is very beautiful! I love her in her wonderful Tammy Powley dress and hair ornament. I made the earrings with glass by Lisa Kan and charms from Green Girl Studios.--jean


Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a great book for holiday gift giving, Resin Alchemy by Susan Lenart Kazmer. What a fabulous book to own and learn from!

Jingle Bell Wreath Ornament
Jingle bell wreath ornaments are fun and easy ornament to make from wood curtain rings, hot glue & bells. They make great gift toppers or wearable pins too.

Get Edgy 
This video review talks about a new book for crochet edges.

DIY Ninja Stars...or Suns... 
This video shows you how to make a Ninja Star. Terry made these for a gift exchange on a recent cruise and everyone loved them. One person told her she was excited to use it in her scrapbook of the trip

Art Bead Scene
Claire interviews Kathrin Kniedl - take a peek behind the scenes at her stunning clay work!  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jean reviews Beadwork Creates Beaded Bags, 30 Designs edited by Jean Campbell

This charming book is shaped like a minaudière, or clutch pocketbook. This adds to the flirty fun of the idea of a collection of sumptuous beaded bags. And with Jean Campbell as the editor of these thirty designs for beaded bags, they couldn't be prettier!
As she says, "Page through the beautiful projects and select your perfect bag. You're about to make a stunning fashion statement!"
The thirty projects are all quite different and are offered by a number of wonderful beaders. Jean Campbell herself has designed three bags, and some of your other favorite beaders are represented as well, such as Jamie Hogsett, Dustin Wedekind, and Robin Atkins. There are plenty more too! If you love the unique and like wearable art, this book is going to be a great addition to your library.
Beadwork Creates Beaded Bags, 30 Designs is a blast to own and to learn from.

The opening bag is from the editor, and is titled "Fancy Dress Bag". It is an amulet bag, in the glorious colors of olivine, topaz and spring green with golden freshwater pearls. What a delicious bag to make and to own! It has an air of celebration which the reader will respond to instantly.
Moving to a different style entirely, "Emese's Bag", designed by Robin Atkins, is full-on gorgeous. Very feminine, primarily in pinks and green tones, this bag is made of cloth completely embroidered with beads of all sizes and shapes, including seed beads. bugles beads, drop beads and coin beads. It is encrusted with brilliant color and yet not a heavy looking bag. This is a little treasure of a bag and one anyone would be proud to carry and to have created herself! The inside is lined with a pretty cotton print fabric which goes with the flower garden feel.
Jamie Hogsett's "Off to Market" bag is knit using beautiful cotton and ribbon yarns and "candy-like resin beads". This carrying bag is amazingly pretty in gray-blue and green tones. The reader will be knitting as well as embellishing this stunning piece with gorgeous beads in green, gray-blue, light olive, dark olive, aqua and lavender. It is a slouchy shaped bag with incredible energy and appeal.
The sienna colored "Lotus Bag" by Dustin Wedekind is smashing, using purple/bronze silk fabric and seed beads in metallics, blues and clear colors. This bag is pure prettiness. The lotus pattern beaded on the front of the pouch shaped bag is offered in the book as a transfer so that the reader can recreate the pattern to perfection. This bag has sweet tassels on the closures and trimming the bottom.

No matter what your taste is, you will find a sweet bag to match it in Beadwork Creates Beaded Bags 30 Designs, edited by Jean Campbell. This is a fabulous book not to be overlooked if you love beaded accessories designed by some of the best in the beading arts!  

Interweave/F+W; $16.95

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jean reviews Resin Alchemy, Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Resin Alchemy,
Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists
by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Resin Alchemy, by Susan Lenart Kazmer, remains one of the best books on resin offered. Easy to understand and fascinating to read, it regales you with beauty at every turn. The author was my primary inspiration when I was first learning my way around resin. Time has passed since then, however resin remains a hugely popular medium for all sorts of mixed media and jewelry design. If you want your work to last and look great years from now, learn how to mix and use resin from one of the greats, Susan Lenart Kazmer. As she says, "Here's to creativity without limits!"
The reader is introduced to the diversity of resin at the beginning of this book, within the author's introduction. It is clear that creations using resin can be extremely adaptable as well as keenly beautiful. It is suggested that you keep a notebook for your ideas, and also be on the lookout for found objects. Found objects can become transformed when used in resin pieces. Objects which otherwise would have decayed and disappeared, such as leaves, paper, and rosebuds, for example, can be captured forever in resin. The author has spent years experimenting with resin, and teaching others how to properly use it. If the projects which you see in this book don't inspire you to love resin, nothing will. They are each beautiful expressions as well as demonstrations of how to learn specific techniques.
The introduction contains photos of what you can make which will drive you forward enthusiastically as you begin the learning process.
The book then comprehensively covers the tools and materials needed. This section is very clear and complete. It includes, among other things, the resin itself, organic items you may want to collect, bezels you might need, coloring agents of all sorts (even spices and herbs!), and more. All these items are as beautifully photographed as everything in the book.

The first chapter, titled "Stirred, not Shaken: the art of mixing and pouring resin" is, true to its name, all about how resin is prepared. However it is more than this, because along with this very basic info comes every other thing you could possibly want to know about resin: how to pour, how to use a backless bezel, how to dry, how to cure, and so on. The reader is also treated to some amazing gallery photos of creations using resin. Within this chapter is a great section called Special Effects and another one called Seven Tips for Choosing and Combining Objects. As well there is a section on Amulets and Talismans, Relics and Prayer Boxes. The reader is helped to learn how to find her voice with the assistance of this chapter. It is a book in itself! Projects from further on in Resin Alchemy are also shown with the intent to illustrate these basics. At the end of this chapter, are two complete projects: a Bezel with Interior Cracking, and a Bezel with Engraving. You will be ready for them, and they are stunning.
Chapter 2 is titled, "Make Mine Metal!, basic metalworking techniques for resin jewelry design". As the author explains, her art background began with metal work, and therefore she has the belief that "resin is made more important and substantial with the addition of metal". The reader will learn how to add eyelets, rivets, and how to make a dapped sheet-metal bezel. You learn how to cold-join attach with resin, and you are shown some wire and resin combinations which are mindblowing. You learn how to make these delicate yet permanent freeform wire creations. The project offered following this is a magnificent Scrolled Prayer Box. What idea would you place in yours? The author prompts the reader by asking this question, then goes on to discuss the techniques which apply to this project. 
Chapter 3 is called "Curb Your Enthusiams: creating simple bezel forms for resin". It discusses found objects which may be turned into bezels, and wire bezels. It gives the lovers of mixed-media tips on building mixed-media resin collages. The project offered, "Decorative-Wire Bezel" is lovely and can be varied and changed up in all sorts of ways. The following project, "Heart Wire Bezel" will capture your heart. As the author says, "The hearts I make are a bit shaky and dilapidated but, I assure you, this quality is intentional". If you are anything like me, this is one of the first projects you'll want to try. This chapter has another project, the "Shaker-Box Bezel". It is as pretty and mysterious as the others, with glints, perhaps, either of sand from a special beach, or of last New Year's Eve confetti loosely contained by resin coated paper within the bezel. You choose your bezel, and you choose what to put into it. The author provides the ample inspiration along with the techniques you will need.
Chapter 4 is "Why I Love Organics: freestanding resin-coated forms". The author explores the transformational properties of resin when it comes into contact with items like leaves, or pieces of paper. When saturated into the fibers, it alters and preserves in a magical way. This is a chapter not to be missed. Feathers, twigs, natural flowers, petals, leaves, anything organic from nature can be experimented with and then made into jewelry. The author explains how to prepare the chosen flowers or whatever you are using, before they are coated with resin. You are shown all sorts of things which have been made into objects of beauty. One of my favorites is her eggshell piece. The wonder of her designs is so evident in everything the author does.  As is true with the entire book, proper safety measures are explained. Resin Hollow Forms are found in this chapter, and they are delightful. The author leads the way as she suggests to the reader ideas for making hollow forms into "small worlds", which might contain "glitter, shredded dollar bills, and tiny 'secret' notes". Heat transfers and layering images are covered in this chapter, among other things. One fabulous project is "Resin-coated Rosebuds". It will knock you flat, with its combination of pink and violet crystal, a twig bar coiling around and capturing the word "sometimes", and natural rosebuds in pale pink set into a riveted bezel. It is like a fairy tale all grown up. Another project, just as exquisite, is called "Resin-coated Paper Leaves". This is a bracelet of oval leaf shapes in different sizes, made of half-hard wire and resin coated paper. It is irresistible in the colors of blacks, browns and beiges along with the see-through lettering of the resin-coated paper.
The eggshell mentioned previously is also offered as a project, in "Eggshell Prayer Box". So striking and memorable. This jewelry begs to be made by you and translated into your own personal experiences.
The final project in this chapter is the charming "Resin-coated Stacked Paper Ring". It is charming and colorful. If flipped upside down, it becomes a tassel. You will love it.
Chapter 5 is titled "Formfitting Designs: casting resin". The reader will learn all about molds in this chapter. You will have a ball making your own molds. Included is a technique for making Resin Druzy Stones. They look gorgeous set into simply pronged metal art rings.
Chapter 6 covers the "Cool & Colorful: cold enameling and surface treatments". With no flame involved (except for a heat gun), resin becomes the sealant. Lots of techniques are offered here, including crackle and plique-a-jour enameling. The reader learns to work with cold enamel powder as well as cloisonné and mica powder. All these cold-enameling techniques are made possible by employing resin, and the author shows you exactly how to do it. There is again a fantastic project: "Cold-Enamel Head Pins". These head pins have a ton of potential for enhancing your own designs. 
The final chapter has you covered with "No Mistakes: finishes + fixes". It is a discussion of what can be done to complete your work. The reader will learn to add the final finishing touches to his or her creations with resin. The chapter ranges right from start to the finish. When you read this chapter, you understand what dedication the author has to her students and to her subject. 
In summing up, she urges you to "be intrepid" in your explorations with resin. 

With Resin Alchemy, Innovative Techniques for Mixed-Media and Jewelry Artists at your side you will find that almost anything is possible if you understand the basics. This book will enable you to be fearless when creating beauty with resin. It is a classic in the jewelry design world. If you love resin, this book is for you!

Interweave/F+W; $24.95

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My spoon arrived from Lori Anderson!

I love this spoon, altered by Maire Dodd and sent to me by Lori. I am so happy that things are getting better for her. Here is my spoon, with the box closed and a sweet note from Lori!

and here is my spoon is all its beauty, below!
How much do I adore this! It is beautifully hammered and there is a tiny piece of rose quartz, the stone which represents Love, wire wrapped and tied to the spoon, which is vintage. Even the box is glorious!  Thank you, dear Lori!
Here is Lori's site:
and here is her Lemon, Sugar, Hold the Lyme site
so you can catch up on all the news!
Here is what I wrote when I initially won this fantastic symbol of friendship and love;

Thank you again, Lori, you are a completely uplifting person! 
xox, jean

Friday, November 13, 2015

Beadbloggers and a photo of a Blythe by jean

Liath is a mohair custom who was originally a Cinnamon Girl. I have always liked this photo of her. It looks to me  as if she resembles Stevie Nicks in Fleetwood Mac.--jean


Beading Arts
When you've made a fancy necklace, sometimes you just need to pair it with a really super-simple little pair of earrings... Come learn how to make them in about 10 minutes!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a how-to book of quick-to-knit, soft and fluffy, chic and fabulous cowls!

Color Scheme Creation
Three popular online applications for creating a color scheme. Fine-tune one, create one from an image or just have fun playing with color.

Crochet a Flamingo
In this video review, the Crafty Princess looks at a crochet pattern for a cute flamingo named Gordon. 

Beaded Lanyards
Terry shows some of her new lanyards from her Etsy shop. These fun pieces have a duel purpose, not only can they be worn as a lanyard, but also as a long necklace, short necklace or bracelet.

Art Bead Scene
Take a peek at the beautiful palette that Heather has pulled from this month's challenge to inspire you! 

Get Diamond Eight Today
Connie's posted Diamond Eight, the next section of the free 2015-6 SAL from Connie Gee's Designs.

DIY Dreamcatcher from Crafty Leftovers
It's always fun to use what you have lying around for a new project, and this dreamcatcher uses a mason jar lid, some yarn and beads for a cute and meaningful craft.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

jean reviews Bead Play with Tassels, Techniques, Designs, and Projects, by Jamie Cloud Eakin

Jamie Cloud Eakin is a much loved instructor and internationally famous designer in the beading world. She has produced a number of fascinating books, primarily featuring seed beads. Once the reader sees the amazing things which can be done using seed beads it is great to learn how to create with them from such a wonderful, knowledgeable teacher. She is energetic, enthusiastic and makes beauty wherever she goes.
In Bead Play with Tassels, Techniques, Designs and Projects, the focus is on how to make some of the loveliest tassels the reader has ever seen. Tassels are a very popular fashion trend. They have also embellished every kind of accessories imaginable and been used as adornments for years. In this book, the reader will see how to employ them in all sort of fantastic and playful ways. From earrings to necklace focals to just the right finishing touch for a lariat, this book has all sorts of intriguing and pretty projects. Progressing from the simplest to grander projects which include gemstones or bead embroidery, the reader will enjoy learning and soon be totally entranced by the charming, cool, and flirty pieces she will be able to make.
In the introduction the author defines what a tassel is (a "collection of fringe strands concentrated in one spot"). She then explains why this can cause problems when making tassels (the strands become too big for the bead hole which is collecting them). The solution will be found in one of the methodologies in this book. As the author says, "Creating bead tassels does NOT have to be a hassle!" The seventeen projects will help you "practice the techniques, refine your skills, and jump start your own creativity!"  
There are six chapters in this fascinating book. Chapter 1 discusses the minimum tassel. As defined by the author, a "minimum tassel is one with less than seven fringe strands".  There are lots of uses for these types of tassels, and they can create lots of impact even with an amount of strands smaller than seven. Directions and photos explain the minimum tassel. There is a really striking earring project offered for the reader to try. It couldn't be more glamorous, and takes minimum to the max. There is also a gorgeous necklace which employs minimum tassels as accents to grand effect. The reader will discover how adept this author is at creating designs and adding impact with color, by now, if she didn't know before! The third project is a pin with three minimum tassels and it is equally lovely. 
Chapter 2 is titled "Standard Tassel". This type of tassel has seven to seventeen strands, according to the author, and is what most of us picture when we hear the word tassel. The reader will learn how to construct the base and create variations of it, depending upon how many strands she wants for her design. The tech illustrations here (and throughout the book) are very clear, as are the photos of the variations. You are going to want to try to make tons of tassels at this point! They all beckon to the reader for any number of reasons. Each one looks so different it is hard to believe that they are all made from the same "standard tassel" springboard. The author also has some great tips, too. There are basic tips, and "what if...?" tips, and tips which are actually important notes on aspects the reader needs to know. These are very helpful. 
The first project ups the beauty of an already lovely lamp work bead by accenting its colors in a swirl pattern which is really pretty. From a fabulous lariat, to multicolored earrings, to a triple standard tassel necklace, to a flowery tassel necklace in the colors of orchid, dark blue and olivine, the reader really begins to understand how fresh and appealing adding movement with tassels can be to a myriad of designs.  There are variations of some of the projects offered, and they are just as pretty. The 6th project in the standard tassel collection is a very full tassel and as such is fascinating. To read how to create this is to understand how this teacher's mind works and why she is so terrific. I loved this gorgeous project. The variation of it is just as glorious; designed all in creamy white pearl. At the end of the chapter the reader is offered a number of tassels which are suggested as Christmas ornaments but would also be great fan pulls, embellishments for keys to an armoire, and more. These are enchanting!
Chapter 3 concerns the Pom Pom Tassel which is defined as a very full, almost "extreme" tassel by the author. Created with a simple ladder stitch, the Pom Pom tassel is stitched onto a base. You create the base and add the fringe. There are variations such as Twisted Fringe and more. The explanation of how to design a Pom Pom Tassel contains lots of lovely photos, all with instructions. Each one is prettier than the next! The final one, "Standard plus Pom Pom Necklace" is a medley of raspberries, pinks, lilac lined seed beads and fuchsias and it is gaspingly beautiful. Tassels in the hands of this author have everything needed to leave you breathless.
The Spiral Tassel taught in Chapter 4 is just as pretty. Flouncy and full (or less so, if you choose), it spirals up to the beaded base in a completely mesmerizing way. The projects offered in this chapter are very cool and interesting because the viewer's eye is led to some many different places. Tassels have a lot of wonderful movement anyway. The projects offered here are fascinating to see and to try.  The third project, in a color combination which refers to blue and white as well as dark blue and a bit of brown, is just stunning. What pleasure the reader will get making this necklace!
Where the previous chapters offered directions on how to make tassels, and bases of tassels, Chapter 5 is specifically concerned with "Attaching Tassels".
Information on Top Loop Attachments, Double Strand Loop Attachments, Herringbone Loop Attachments, Ladder Stitch Top Loop Attachments and more are found in this essential chapter. There is a lovely photo for the Turn Bead Attachment, which can also be used on all the ornaments mentioned earlier in this review. It is super pretty! As well, there is a great explanation and instructions for how to attach fringe to other beadwork, such as the beautiful bead embroidered necklace, a photo of which the reader will find impossible to take her eyes off. It is used to help explain this section. What grand and pretty inspiration!
Chapter 6 has you covered with "Supplies and Basics". Not only is it a good, comprehensive list, the tip concerning converting hanks of Czech beads to grams is very helpful! Basic procedures are offered after the supply section as well as some excellent instructions for basic technique. 
As an additional book to refer to when you try Bead Play with Tassels, consider Bead Play with Fringe, by the same author. It will expand your understanding of how to work with fringe and tassels together. 

Bead Play with Tassels, Techniques, Designs and Projects, is, by far, the definitive book on how to create beauty with tassels. Jamie Cloud Eakin truly loves to teach and understands what we all want to learn: how to design more beautifully and more exceptionally. Don't miss this outstanding book for your beading library! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

jean reviews The Knitter's Book of Knowledge, A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques, by Debbie Bliss

The Knitter's Book of Knowledge,
A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques

by Debbie Bliss

Cosy up to this book and discover the joys of knitting!

The Knitter's Book of Knowledge, A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques, by Debbie Bliss is a massive compendium of everything one might want to know about knitting. Although it is large, it is not unwieldy. The reader will be able to keep it by her side as she knits, to refer to when she has a question of any sort.
Debbie Bliss is a top designer and instructor who is internationally famous for her patterns and her teaching. This guide contains a distillation of her years of knitting in an easy to understand, helpful and user-friendly guide.
The book is divided into eleven parts. There is also an introduction (as well as resources and graph paper at the end).
Chapter 1 contains information on the basics of "Yarns, Needles, and Other Things". This is a great beginning chapter which explains everything the reader might need. It goes into specific types and weights of yarn specifically and thoroughly. The photos are glorious. If you have never knitted before, this is a perfect place to begin. There is a list of equipment which will eventually be required as well, such as knitting needles of various sizes. Also explained are items such as row counters, scissors, cable needles, crochet hooks and more.
Chapter 2 is titled "First Steps".  The knit stitch and the purl stitch are taught here. Readers who have already learned how to knit might want to check this beginner chapter out as well, as there are techniques for casting on and binding off which may be helpful to them. The great illustrations by Cathy Brear, which are essential to understanding exactly how something is being done, and which appear throughout this beautiful book, are in evidence here. They really assist in making the author's instructions that much clearer.The knit stitch and the purl stitch are also offered in their versions both in US and UK, as well as Continental! How cool! For you left-handed knitters, you are not left out either! The Knitter's Book of Knowledge has everyone covered. This is the chapter you will go back to again and again as you bind off, too. It has all the different methods here in one spot.
Chapter 3 is called "Understanding Knitting". Here the reader will be exploring some of the technical aspects of knitting, as well as the language and terminology used. Basic knitted fabrics are explained, and how to read a knitting pattern and a charted pattern. You will learn how to knit a gauge swatch, and why. Certain basic essentials such as how to substitute a yarn and joining in a new ball of yarn appear here. A number of techniques including picking up stitches are included in this chapter.
Chapter 4 is titled "Shaping". The reader will be learning more on how to add or subtract stitches and how to dome and disk shapes, for example, a sock heel.
In the case of the sock heel, a special technique is provided to dispel any concerns about knitting socks. How cool is that? This book is truly fantastic and only gets better!
Chapter 5 is called "Knitting in the Round". Circular knitting goes way back. Early knitters originally created garments in this manner. As the author says, "[this is] perfect for knitters who tend to work a purl row tighter or looser than  the knit row, which can result in an uneven fabric." Within this chapter you have circular needles, double-pointed needles, and a great method is explained concerning when and how to use the magic loop. Among other techniques in this chapter, a pattern for medallions is offered. This is very lovely.
Chapter 6 is all about "Knitting Texture". This is a fascinating chapter which included patterns for all sorts of cables,back cross and front cross, a number of bobbles, knitted lace and more. Textural stitches explained here include the elongated stockinette stitch, elongated garter stitch, dip stitch and ladder stitch. This chapter is packed, as there are even more including loops, tucks. picots, and one of my special favorites, the entrelac technique.
What a gift this book would make for the aspiring knitter in your circle of friends or family! It truly bursts with tons of information on knitting--and it is not done yet!
Chapter 7 is an explanation of "Color Knitting". This will teach the reader all about patterns which use color as part of their design. There is a color wheel and discussions of color families and color values. I found this chapter to be wonderfully useful for any sort of designer of any kind of craft.. The author explains how to work from a chart, using color. She discusses techniques such as controlling multiple yarns. Stripes of all sorts and carrying multiple yarns are discussed here. Slip-stitch knitting and intarsia, vertical color change and how to hold different numbers of strands of yarn in your hands are all explained. Weaving in is explained here as well as edge stitches in color knitting.
Take a breath; it is on to Chapter 8. This gorgeous chapter concerns embellished knitting. The reader will be adding embroidery, duplicate stitch, decorative stitches (wait until you see the offerings!), and bead knitting of all sorts, never forgetting to include how to finish your piece. Trimmings, fringe, pom-poms and other embellishments such as crocheting are offered in this chapter.  It is a mindblowing collection which will embellish the reader's plainer knitted pieces and adds that wow factor we all love.
Chapter 9 is titled "Finishing".  As the author says, "[Finishing] seems to be something that many knitters find rather intimidating". However, she is reassuring, even as she stresses the importance of finishing your work properly. The reader will learn how to block, how to pin out on a blocking board, how to mattress stitch on stockinette,mattress stitch on reverse stockinette, on single rib, double rib and other patterns. Slip stitching and sewing on cast-on and bound-off ends are explained for the reader. As this is a very important part of the knitting process, there are pages and pages more on how to finish specific kinds of knitted pieces. The reader will be able to find and clearly understand  exactly what she needs in this very thorough and useful chapter.
Chapter 10 is titled "Designing Knits". What a lovely introduction the author provides concerning designing your own projects!
She explains that if the reader has been less than confident concerning her own designs, she might look back to the first thing she ever made. Possibly it was a scarf, self-designed. As she says, "And the steps from designing a scarf to designing a sweater are smaller and easier that you might think."
This chapter goes from finding inspiration, to photography, to mood boards, scrapbooks and sketchbooks to creating a collection. Then the author discusses designing to fit and basic garment shapes.The reader will be constructing a diagram and developing a design. Insight into the use of patterns and their practicalities are given. Color-effect yarns and textures are discussed. Every single chapter which came before this one contributes to this elegant coming together of making a pattern. Then, the reader will learn to write a pattern, calculating yarn quantities, and considering whether this will be for a baby, an adult, a boy or a girl. Included are accessories and homewares such as blankets and pillows.  It is very cool at this point to realize what you have learned from this marvelous book by Debbie Bliss, The Knitter's Book of Knowledge, A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques. What a great job she did corralling all the information you might need into one really fine reference book!
The following chapter is one we all need at one time or another: Chapter 11, "Troubleshooting". Here is where the reader will learn how to correct mistakes if they have been found early enough. The author assists the reader with dropped knit stitches and dropped purl stitches, up to multiple rows down, as well as dropped stitches on an edge and unraveling. Twisted stitches are resolved, as are extra stitches. There is a wealth of errors which are fixed for the reader in this chapter. Even mending and darning are included within this chapter. What a consolation to have this book when you realize you have made a mistake while knitting. It's terrific!
The resources (international as well as US), including sites where the reader can obtain Debbie Bliss' own brand of yarn, and knitter's graph paper wind up this lovely and useful book. What a super wonderful find for any knitter, beginner or otherwise. The Knitter's Book of Knowledge, A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques, by Debbie Bliss is a must for the library of a fan of knitting!

Monday, November 9, 2015

jean reviews 60 Quick Cowls, Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud and Duo Yarns from Cascade Yarns

60 Quick Cowls is a vibrant and charming collection of cowls the reader can make using merino/alpaca blend yarns. What a wow of a book! If you have some familiarity with knitting, there will be plenty of projects for you to try. The projects are all gorgeous; soft and pretty. A cowl knits up fast and is definitely fashion-forward, just as the book says. The projects range in skill level from one to four (a "four" level project is one where the knitter is able to work patterns with complicated shaping and finishing). Most of the projects are on a level two to three range. All the projects call for Cloud or Duo Yarns from Cascade. Cascade is a family owned business which was founded in 1987 and is going strong. It is no wonder, either, when you see the amazingly chic and lovely cowls offered in 60 Quick Cowls.
The book opens with a fun section explaining where alpaca comes from. Called "Peruvian Gold", alpacas are also raised in North America. They are very light on their feet and barely harm the environment in any way. They are sweet, gentle animals who are members of the Camilid family. They are directly descended from vicunas. If you have never felt vicuna fabric, you are not alone, as this fabric is very expensive and rare. It was originally guarded like treasure. It is still used sparingly. Only Incan royalty could wear it for years. Alpaca is nearly as soft. It is called "the cashmere of the Andes".
Once the reader has been introduced to the alpaca, it's on to the projects! A real advantage of this book is that the cowls are photographed in two ways in practically every instance. The first photo will depict the model holding the cowl, completely knit in her hands, so you can see a view of it straight on. The second photo is a larger, brilliant close up of the same model wearing the cowl. It is easy to picture yourself all cosied up and looking equally as fashionable, using these photos and your imagination.
One hardly knows where to begin when choosing from these cowls. Each one has flair and personality. You may like the look of "Leaning Tower" a tall, diagonally ridged cowl knitted of vanilla colored baby alpaca/ merino wool, designed by Cheri Esper. This is a second level project and looks snug, warm, and perfect for a winter day.  Perhaps you want something more dramatic which you might like wearing indoors and out. The cowl shown captured by a brooch, called "Entrelac Blocks", designed by Rosemary Drysdale, could be just your style. It is a ridge stitch cowl with a woven look. Meant for third level knitters, the yarns used are Cascade's merino wool/ baby alpaca in plum and anemone. What a sophisticated look!
Second level knitters will fall in love with the cape-like mood of "Bold Shoulders", complete with a turtleneck, and a decorative bobble design which is really pretty in dusty teal. Designed by Deborah Helmke, this uses Highland Duo yarn in baby alpaca/merino wool. This is such a dreamy project!
Perhaps you would like a cowl to knock their socks off. Try the "Curled Up in Cables" cowl, designed for third level knitters by Ashley Rao. What a statement this cowl makes, in Cascade Yarns Cloud in Pumpkin, a mix of merino wool and baby alpaca. The pattern alternates cables with dropped stitches. The cowl is superlarge and very lush looking. I love picturing myself in this one, cuddled up in all its snuggly warmth. You will too!
As a gift, 60 Quick Cowls, Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud and Duo Yarns from Cascade Yarns, might be the inspiration for the crafter in your family to really take off and soar. This book, paired with a gift certificate to enable her to cover purchasing yarns and needles, would set anyone to dreaming over the holidays or on her birthday, picturing what she will choose to make first! This is a lovely, fun and creative book!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Beadbloggers and photos of Blythes by jean

These earrings were made for my girls, two mohair custom Blythes by Cindy Sowers. Cindy did the reroots on both girls and the faceups. She also made the faux suede blue hot pants outfit on one of the girls, who is named Hope, the name chosen by Cindy. She is a groupie, not unlike Penny Lane in the film "Almost Famous". She has a fantastic coat Cindy made. Cindy has her sister (she has a sister--together they are The Serendipity Sisters) at her house. Then Cindy made Pretti in Pink, the girl with the pink hair. They look great together and like to hang out together. Here is Cindy's Etsy shop. If you love the Marie Antoinette look, that is what she has been into, dress-wise for dolls, lately. Very beautiful dresses for dolls!--jean 


Snap out of it, Jean! There's Beading to be done!
Jean reviews a marvelous new book by Nealay Patel, Jewelry Designs with Knitted Wire. It is very original and totally cool! 

Crafting Update
Crochet, knitting, jewelry making, catch up on the crafting action from the Crafty Princess on the latest video podcast.

Art Bead Scene 
Take a peek at our new November challenge!

Thumbprint Penguin Bar Towel
Kids can help make these thumbprint penguin bar towels. They make charming housewarming gifts and fun keepsakes for grandparents, aunts and uncles.

David's Puzzle
Check out the model Connie's cousin Cindy stitched for the David's Puzzle pattern from the Connie Gee's Designs Etsy shop and learn the story behind the pattern name.

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
Leftover Halloween candy isn't exactly a problem, but if you want to do something with it aside from just eating it as candy, try these easy and yummy cookies.

Beading Arts
Here's a book review of one of Cyndi's top picks for Christmas gift-giving this year: DIY Wrap Bracelets!