Monday, May 23, 2016

Jean reviews Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel

What is Hubble Stitch? As the author explains, it began as a blend of herringbone and ladder stitch, with a close cousin of right angle weave (RAW), all rolled into one. There are two phases (or two passes) based on what she calls her "super picot", which remains perky because of the double pass. The biggest difference this causes is that each stitch is individual, "allowing lots of movement and slinkiness to the textile formed". This is what gives the beautiful, lacy quality to the Hubble Stitch, as developed by author Melanie de Miguel. If you like what you see on the cover, this book is for you!

The author states in her introduction that each chapter is a progression through the basic forms of Hubble (an astronomy fan, she named her stitch after the telescope, which she hopes will inspire all her readers to more complex and interesting forms of the Hubble stitch).

Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel  will progressively introduce the beader to basic Hubble, 2-Drop, 3-Drop, Spaced Out Hubble (both Horizontal and Vertical), Hubble-in-the-round (Circular and Tubular Hubble) and Inverted Hubble. The author mentions that she has been continuing to explore Hubble Stitch, and that we all can look forward to a second book shortly. Having read the names of the progressive stitches she has come up with for this book, I am looking forward to it!

Chapter One explains Materials and Terms in a brief but thorough manner, with some very nice photos.

Chapter Two continues on with the basic Hubble Stitch and four beautiful projects, from a rainbow colored cuff, to a cool frilled eyeglass holder, to a curvy third bracelet with a variation in colors suggested, to a lovely pair of earrings in an elegant fan shape.

Once the reader gets the idea and becomes familiar with this stitch through working her way through this early chapter, the fascination really begins!

Chapter Three offers 2-Drop and 3-Drop Hubble Stitch  instructions. Here is where you find your total wow: Project 5 is "Mercury", the cover girl bracelet, and what a gorgeous piece of work you will enjoy making, here. As the author says, "the Mercury cuff really shows off this textile to the max!"
Mercury alone is totally worth the price of this book.

Chapter Four continues on, however, to amaze and engage the reader further. This is where you will be learning Horizontal Spaced Out Hubble, also know as HorSO. This beautiful variation of the Hubble Stitch truly shows off the individuality of each stitch. The author likes it for its integrity, as was mentioned earlier, and also because it is great for beaded beads and bezelling cabochons. There are two projects to help the reader understand how lovely this variation is.

Chapter Five is Vertical Spaced Out Hubble (VerSO). The author explains that this is great for minimizing the passes you make through the beads, "and create really beautiful filigree beadwork especially when bezelling crystals." The Christmas Cuff in this chapter is truly delightful, in greens, light greens, reds, pearl tones and silver lined crystal tones (for a sprinkling of snow)!

The reader is greeted with a whole different look when encountering Chapter Six, Hubble-in-the-round (or Circular and Tubular Hubble). The opening project is one of pretty snowflake earrings, That gets you ready for some beautiful Hubble ropes and a striking scarf ring with pretty crystals.

Chapter Seven addresses the stitch called Inverted Hubble, and what a stitch this is. Inverted Hubble, according to the author, is simply Hubble upside down, however it enables you to "bezel crystals and cabochons in utterly delightful ways".According to the author, learning this technique will lead the beader to many interesting possibilities. From the photos of the projects, including the final project in the book, "Solar Flares", that is certainly the case. This pendant is a beaded rivoli bezelled with size 15 beads in two different colors. The reader will be employing numerous techniques she has learned in this book and will end up with a pendant which is drop-dead gorgeous. If you like, you can continue on from there and make a bracelet of multicolored Solar Flares, which is jawdropping. Earring are suggested too, as is a necklace.

I found this book, Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel to be fascinating and beautiful. Just like the Hubble Telescope brings us closer to the beauty of the cosmos, Hubble Stitch gives us a chance to get closer to a different sort of beauty. The delight of learning a new beading stitch!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of Blythes by Jean

Maggie May...

This girl above, whom I have named Maggie May, is my first "faux Blythe". She is a cheap fake! They are known by many names, and they flood eBay. Basically what they are is cobbled together parts and pieces of Blythes which are actually from real Blythes, or, alternatively dolls which have been made from taking a mold of a Blythe (therefore they are not quite the proper size). I got this one because I used to have a real Gentle River (GR). Mine looked like this: 
I took the photo above for a magazine in Australia I was writing a column for. I made the Peace necklace and dressed her in my own choice of clothing. I never would have sold her, but I needed the money. The Gentle River is one of the top Blythes, popularity-wise and --  expensive? You bet. I miss Gwenny (my real GR) but am happy to have Maggie May--she is good enough for me!--jean


Monday, May 16, 2016

Jean reviews Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers by Vickie Howell

Vickie Howell is a favorite knitting teacher, well known for her craft books and her delightful charm. Here, in Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers, she presents garter stitch 28 different ways, all for babies. Vickie learned this stitch when she was expecting her son. It is a simple stitch, but can be translated into all sorts of different looks. As the author explains in her introduction, "When paired with crisp palettes or watery pools of color and simple shapes, garter stitch's clean ridges and textural bumps create a truly modern-looking piece. Nurture the stitch with advanced skills like short rows, stranded colorwork, or lace motifs, and that simple stitch evolves into something unexpected."

The projects in this book are endearing and adorable. Each one of the creations offers garter stitch as part of the design. No worries if you are a newbie, there is a nice section at the end of the book with a lot of techniques demonstrated. As with the projects, they are very well photographed and clearly explained. This isn't entirely a beginner's book, more for a knitter who is bit familiar with the territory, however the reader who is motivated should give it a try and/or save it for later, as it is so darn cute.  

The author's personality shines in her comments, which the reader will note on the little tags on some of the pages. Here is an example: "Oh neon and neutral! We heart you!"
Well, after seeing that cardi, if I didn't before, I do now! 

The projects, which feature baby models, range from blankets, to socks, to cardigans, to hats, to the most awesome mini moccasins ("Mini Mocs") I have ever seen. That one is categorized "easy" (one up from "beginner") and offers a template for the front embellishment. 

It is astonishing what the reader will be motivated to accomplish after paging through Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers.  Do you have a baby diva in the family? Check out the "Gaga Glam Cloche", precious and sassy, with a felt applique you'll be gluing on to finish it.
Do you have a rambunctious baby who dislikes getting dressed to go out? Try the "Poncho Pal". Complete with a peaked hood, it is easy to throw over baby's clothes when you two need to race out the door. As the author says, "a good poncho is a parent's best friend".  She's right! And this one is unisex and as cute as a button.

One other project I found especially clever is the "Horseplay Zebra Mat". Fresh and zingy in zebra stripes knit from a chenille-like yarn, it is one of the projects in the "easy" category, and it makes a great gift or a present for your own baby. It is an animal shaped, striped mat (complete with ears)  any baby would love to play on when visiting friends or at home.   

Although there is only one project categorized as "beginner", the ones which are "easy" are about equal in number to "intermediate" and there is only one "advanced" I noted. That one is designed for a toddler, so you can practice to your heart's content on the simpler ones and wait a bit for baby to grow before you tackle it. 

Everything in Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers by Vickie Howell is wonderfully inventive and appealing. What a great way to anticipate a new addition to your family, or to a friend's family--making something super sweet and beautifully designed from this book!

Here are the kind of knitting needles best used for the projects in this book--aren't they cool? These particular ones are for the bib!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of a Blythe and some Blythe jewelry by Jean

I have finally begun watching Game of Thrones on HBO GO--which means I started at the very beginning. At the moment I am on Season 3. I love it as much as most of you do, so don't send any spoilers my way--I want to be surprised! 
Because of this interest, I made some Blythe jewelry for fun. I dressed Liath, a custom by Zaloa 27 you have seen here before, in a pretty thing I made--I don't sew so it is primarily "artfully draped".
The jewelry is made from aventurine chips, a chunk of turquoise and bronze nuggets to give a sufficiently wild look, I hope! Fun!


Monday, May 9, 2016

Jean reviews New Connections in Chain Mail Jewelry with Rubber and Glass Rings by Kat Wisniewski

This novel book leads the way to a new, fun direction in chain mail weaving. The author employs traditional jump rings, made of various metals, primarily anodized aluminum, and aluminum. She then weaves her projects to include closed rubber and glass rings. The results are pretty, unique, and colorful! In her introduction, she writes that her goal with New Connections in Chain Mail Jewelry  is to present chain mail, her favorite craft, as "approachable, fun, and modern, with a hint of elegance." Each project clearly reflects how well she has succeeded in accomplishing this goal.

Basics, tools, and techniques begin the book. Even such details as how to care and clean your jewelry after you have made it is included.
The projects are suited to all levels of jewelry makers, which means that you can get your rings on right off the bat, even if you have never tried chain mail before. For example, the first offering, "Looped Earrings" is very simple yet extremely pretty. It requires two sizes of glass rings, some aluminum rings and some tiny colored steel rings. You can change the colors to change the look of these earrings in a snap. It is a great way to start off the book!
If you like chic bracelets, wait until you see the "Decadent Confection Bracelet". Made of aluminum rings, Czech glass, and Muyuki seed beads, this is uber cool, with lots of movement and the deep shine of the colors of bronze and silver. It is fabulous. There is also a variation, which is a super earring design, or a pendant, for the reader to try.
If you want to go for the rubber rings, check out the "Oracle Pendant". Shaped like a flat, open flower, the largest ring in the center is rubber, surrounded by luminous Czech rings in Green Iris attached using black anodized aluminum. So pretty, and the variation shown is just as lovely. The authors suggests trying earrings in smaller sizes to go with this one. This would make a super gift for a friend. As with many of these projects, it's easy on the budget.
If you like necklaces, there is a striking scalloped shaped necklace like nothing I have ever seen before. The colors used for the project are silver, from the aluminum rings which create the scallop shape, enameled red copper rings in a smaller size, light red Czech glass rings, and small black rings. This is a gorgeous piece to be proud of if you decide to make it!

A lovely, soothing green bracelet for lovers of the wide, cuff like look is another project which appealed to me. Called the "Crosscut Bracelet", it is woven in a similar manner to the necklace just mentioned (the Japanese method), however the look ends up totally different as it is wider. It is made using Czech peridot glass rings and Miyuki seed beads in magic golden olive-lined crystal, with silver colored aluminum jump rings. It is a pour of spring-like soft green color for your wrist. The fabulous color option shown is primarily in blue glass and breathtaking.

If you would really like a fun bracelet, try the "Lock & Twist Bracelet" . You will be working with a lot of colored jump rings, which are very flexible and used to the max here. They fold, twist, and are attached together with shiny anodized aluminum, creating a clasp-less bangle you can just roll onto your wrist. The color variations the author shows are fabulous. The reader will be able to have a great time making tons of these bracelets in a rainbow of colors! They may look complicated, but as with the other projects, they aren't. The author has made each jewelry piece easy to understand and the photos are great.

There are lots more jewelry designs to explore in New Connections in Chain Mail Jewelry by
Kat Wisniewski, however I hope I have given you an idea of what awaits you if you want to try this book out. I think it is fabulous. I say, go for this one, one hundred percent!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Beadbloggers and a photo of a Blythe by Jean

Molly Bloo, my gorgeous girl with tons of beautiful attitude, by Moon Rouge!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jean reviews 60 Quick Cotton Knits The Ultimate Collection in Ulta Pima From Cascade Yarns

Everything you could possibly dream of, in all the colors of the rainbow, in soft and silky Ulta Pima Yarn!

Now that we are fully into the season of spring, it is a delight to create beautiful knitted items from cotton. It is also to be noted that some of us can't tolerate wool or prefer not to use animal fibers. This book has our backs, too!

60 Quick Cotton Knits  The Ultimate Collection in Ulta Pima From Cascade Yarns, is just the ticket for the reasons above and more.

The book ranges from easiest to most difficult by using a value system of one to four, however the most common is three. The choices of what you can make are amazingly varied. For example, there are tanks, shawls, shrugs, hats, scarves, a bolero (!), wristers, and more. All are knit from Ulta Pima, which is very reasonably priced and truly a beautiful, quality yarn.
Each project is numbered (from 1 to 60) and photographed clearly and excitingly. For example, number 30, the "Breezy Mini Cardi" is a short, white, openwork two button top which is completely adorable for any hip chick. If you are more chic in a preppy way, number 12 is a sleeveless "Marled Mock Neck Top" in a mix of sky blue and white.
If you are in the mood for something totally sensational you can wear through summer, check out number 7, a "Woven Back Tank" in sassy Chartreuse. It is a gorgeous statement piece, as are many of the offerings in 60 Quick Cotton Knits  The Ultimate Collection in Ulta Pima From Cascade Yarns.
Number 48, the "Checkered Tank" is a good choice for the knitter who loves outstanding color patterns. It is charming.

You can't miss with this pretty book. What a way to welcome spring! You and/or your knitting group will be thrilled by the wonderful choices in 60 Quick Cotton Knits  The Ultimate Collection in Ulta Pima From Cascade Yarns !

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jean reviews Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry 20+ Projects to Make, by Cathy Jakicic

This jewelry stitching book is so innovative in that true beginners are going to be able to learn the basics of over 20 projects, each one utilizing a different stitch. As the back of the book says, "With Cathy Jakicic's Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry, you are going to create a wide variety of jewelry pieces--in just a few hours". It goes on to mention that "each stylish project includes design variations and new color choices".
Wonderfully, as the author says, she created this book not just for beginners, but for the more experienced beader who is looking for project ideas for an afternoon, an evening, or the rare lazy weekend.
I have never seen a book quite like this, so I was delighted to check out the projects and the variations.
The projects come before the basics. The projects are very nicely photographed, and varied. There is something for everyone. The color palettes boost some of the projects right over the top and lure the reader in with their charm (see "Lush Loops", where you get your choice of rivers of golds and browns, or iris tones, purples and pinks, in necklace form, cuff bracelet form, and even earrings).The tips are excellent, as well.
I also loved the author's beginner peyote project, "Grasping at (colorful) straws" and look forward to making one of the versions of it. In this one, the author makes a pretty and colorful necklace. When she runs out of a bead she might have preferred to have used, as well as headpins, she offers great tips on how to solve these little problems handily. I like this sort of thinking outside of the box. The bracelet for this one is perfectly stunning and very chic, as are the earrings.
The reader really gets intrigued while perusing this book. There is just so much to want to try! If you have always loved big beaded cuffs, get ready to make Cathy Jakicic's inventive version of one--and quite a bit more easily than you may have expected. It starts with a button or one leftover vacation coin. Once you choose your focal, the amount of bead embroidery you decided to do around it is up to you, as the author explains. You use a bracelet blank to finish this charming bracelet. The coin surrounded with beads is just as elegant and pretty.
The author's version of Cubic Right Angle Weave is very cool and not difficult to make. It is wonderful to have such a gorgeous necklace made available in this book. It is a series of seed bead bar shapes on a seed bead necklace. The colors are incredibly pretty in  whatever version you make (one is made with coin pearls and only one bar, and a third one is made with three bars and two coin pearls!!!). The color variations are amethyst, peach or forest green, basically. Heavenly any way you try it
The "Bicone Bands"necklace is stunning. The reader will be using turquoise daggers, with black 3mm crystal bicones surrounding them (by using the technique of right angle weave), and black double link chain on each side. It is totally hip.There is a variation which is a pendant which is gorgeous, too.
A beautiful project uses square stitch. It is called "Tiny Tapestries" and you will want to snap it right up and learn to make this design. It really shows how color can make a project sing, and the squares, with some lovely round gems, are fascinatingly modern and ancient at the same time. The variations on this are smashing in  both design and colorway.
It is also so cool to see a project using Charlottes in a beginner book! Charlottes are tiny seed beads and not often used. In the project in Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry in which they are used, they look beautiful, add a lot and are not used too much. A bit of history on Charlottes is included as well. It is very interesting.
When the projects section is complete, the basics section finishes up the book in a very helpful way. Techniques, tools, and materials which are essential are discussed and photographed.
This book is a delightful introduction to seed beading for many of us who have always wanted to learn but keep putting it off because somehow it seems more daunting than other forms of jewelry designing. With this author helping you, don't worry. You will be having fun your way, and learning everything you need to know at an easygoing, friendly pace. It is a great book to have in your library at home, to get you started and keep you going. Love this book!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Beadbloggers and a Blythe photo by jean

Prince's royal purple, my Prima Dolly Ebony Blythe, strangely with her eye chips changed to purple. I am going to miss Prince. xox jean