Saturday, 30 April 2011

An experimental flower

I made this little flower (approx. 2 cm wide) a couple of days ago. Have been wanting to make lentil bead flowers like these for some time now and this lovely necklace by Bead Origami made me even more inspired. As I made my first flower, I kept thinking that I wanted a second layer to it and began thinking about ways to add double petals. Another row of lentils felt too chunky (though it can be done) and I realised that small daggers would fit perfectly in the spaces between my round petals. Also, the width meant I could substitute them for the seeds on the back of the flower.

Not sure what I'm going to do with the flower. As it was just an experiment, I didn't pay much attention to colour or even tension, just thought of it as a prototype. So I won't do anything with this particular flower, but rather I'm thinking of ways to use this design element in general, for future projects. The daggers most likely need some support in order not to fold backwards if stressed so my thought was to stitch it to a ring base or some other sort of flat foundation.

It's not the best photo, but I wanted to share it right away so I'm afraid you'll have to make due with this one.

Happy Valborg!

Today is Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis night), AKA just Valborg or Siste April. I'm not going to light any bonfires -- even if it weren't so dry there's a fire ban -- or sing or celebrate in any particular way other than by enjoying the day. Valborg is the day that celebrates the arrival of spring and with the warm weather lately, it really is full spring. Flowers blooming, trees budding. Unfortunately, they say it'll get colder next week, but on the other hand the rain is needed.

So... I thought I'd send some Walpurgis/May Day greetings by showing some more photos from the garden. Don't forget to listen to Vintern rasat (Längtan till landet).

The wood anemones are still covering the woodlands, as you can see below:

The colours of spring: light green -- almost neon at times, so radiant are the new leaves -- and white, shining in the sun. And to balance that, a few pics below with more shades to them.

And, for a colourful finale, some tulips.

[I shouldn't have looked up that song on YouTube, though: now I'm sitting there listening to En vänlig grönska -- a good soundtrack for my photos nonetheless. I may not be christian but I love those summer hymns (En vänlig grönska, Den blomstertid nu kommer and I denna ljuva blomstertid -- the first one is the best) and there are so many memories associated with them. Two of them were also sung at my uncles funeral, which was held in spring and my aunt wanted it simple, light and hopeful, which it really was.]

Thursday, 28 April 2011

My leaning tower of beading wire

I'm having a crummy day today, but I thought I'd show you something other than flowers today as I found a couple of pics of my DIY solution for storing spools of beading wire and other stringing materials such as Fireline (even if I normally don't like it, I can still have it).

I used to keep them in one of these, but I needed the space for other things and it would be too expensive to buy another unit of boxes like the two I already have. So I took some hard and heavy black steel wire from the hardware store, and bent it into some sort of holder that can stand on the table just as well as being hung on the wall (by the loop at the top). I can slide of the spools from the top as well as from the bottom.

At first I made just to be able to hang it on the wall, it was first at a latter point I realised this uneven make-shift holder could also stand on its own -- and be reasonably stable when it did -- if I just made a few small alterations. But that also made me spot a possible problem: when hanging on the wall, the hook acted as a stop, preventing the spools from falling off the top. Well, that and gravity. When standing on a table, it was all too easy for a cat (or human) to knock the whole thing over and the spools would scatter across the floor. So I added a "lock". At first it was a big bead attached to the loop using a safety pin, but then I found a more aesthetically pleasing solution by using a chunky work-hardened anodized aluminium jump ring. The open slot is the right size to be able to push it over the steel wire without it falling of by itself.

So there you have it, a far from perfectly shaped but pretty simple and useful beading wire spool holder that takes up almost no place at all and can be put on the table just as well as it can be hung on a wall, which ever suits the best when workning.

Tip: I've got many ways to sort my supplies. Above, I've put the mini spools on top and then sorted by colour, but even more importantly, I've put the wires I use the most either close to the top or bottom so I can easily get to them without having to slide off a lot of other spools to get to the spool I want. That's why you find the Fireline and .010 wire in the middle.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter by the sea

Yesterday, my grandma invited us to lunch and in the afternoon, my sis and I took the opportunity to walk down to the beach (grandma lives in Vejbystrand by the sea -- more precisely by the shoreline surrounding the Skälderviken bay, which divides Bjäre peninsula from Kullen peninsula).

It was a wam day so it wasn't exactly desolate -- many tourists had come down to their summer cabins over the easter break and enjoyed the beautiful, warm day at the beach -- but the water is still relatively cold (we spent some time wading in it) and we didn't see anyone bathing.

The water levels were low so we found quite a bit of shells to sift through. I even found two pieces of sea glass. The bigger piece had probably not been in the water for long as it was still semi-glossy. Here's some of the bits and pieces I took with me. Don't know what to do with them, but at least a few of them will be used in my jewellery one way or another.

I should add that several of these pics are not taken by me, but by my sis (and it's her camera as well, I just borrowed it for a few shots). The shells above were found by her aswell (and photographed by her). They were stacked like that when she found them so the photo isn't arranged.

Too late to wish happy easter, but...

...I'll do it anyway since I never got around to it before the holidays. Or why not wish a happy spring instead? Because this is a lovely time of the year -- especially this year seeing we've had summer temperatures (over 20 degrees this weekend) and the sun has been shining from a blue sky. Temperatures that mean the flowers are blossoming like crazy: bud on day, in full bloom the next.

And as I'm wishing a happy easter/spring -- or should I make it into early Valborg/Siste April (Walpurgis) greetings instead, didn't think of that -- daffodils seem like the flower to show off. Not least since they are the centre of attention in our garden right now.

Of cause, there are many other flowers blooming right now: the hellebore, (cultivated) forget-me-nots, forsythia bushes, hyacinths, scilla, primulas, lesser celandine pasque flower, sweet violet and tulips to name some of those we have. Others, like the crocus and yellow star-of-bethlehem have already wilted.

I have this "bad habit" of wanting to photograph and show everything. Every type of flower blooming or budding is to be captured and displayed on the blog. I'm trying not to bore you with too many pics -- and I am aware not everyone enojoys posts with too many photos as they read blogs on their phones or use slower mobile broadband connections -- or, for that matter, make it in to some weird "gotta catch them all" situation were I feel bad about missing to get pics of a certain flower (or missing to post them as I procrastinate or have other things to do).

And if you wonder how this can be a bead and jewellery blog when it looks more like a gardening and photo blog, well, I promise there will soon be some more bead/jewellery related blogging too.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Two more...

Not spring flowers, but I've had these in my "to post" folder since last year. Two lovely summer flowers, a white climbing rose and a purple poppy. For those of you not familiar with poppies, this is an opium poppy.

Sunny spring days

So... I'm actually trying to get off the computer and go outdoors because it's a unbelievably beautiful spring day to day. Sun is shining, the sky is blue, birds are singing, cats are happy and flowers are blossoming. Last time I checked the temperature was up at 17 degrees today -- and it's supposed to get warmer. It's like summer.

So I should be outdoors in the sun, seizing the day and all that. After all, we don't always get weather this beautiful. But I'm on the computer and because that means being close to my flower photos, I thought I'd show you some more spring flowers. Yesterday I was up in the hill and found the wood anemones in more or less full bloom. There are so many spring flower pics I want to show, but I keep procrastinating. At least I have these pics of the anemones to show today. So pretty, covering the woodland floors lika a white and green carpet. Sometimes so intense you might think it's snow still lying on the ground.

(Of cause the flower pics was just an excuse to blog about the wonderful weather.)

Sunday, 17 April 2011


The daffodils are beginning to bloom. These are planted next to a wall facing south, the rest -- in the lawn, along other walls, in the flowerbeds -- are still just budding. With easter being so late this year, the daffodils are just in time for the holiday.

And a close-up. It was a bit windy today, making it hard to take pics as the flowers aren't still. So I don't have that many photos. Besides, the best pics are yet to come when all the daffodils in the lawn bloom.

And what happened when I was sitting there in front of the daffodils, back against the world? Why, Mimi suddenly appeared. Being in one of her cuddly moods, she still soon abandoned me to investigate the scent around us: while focusing on the daffodils I'd forgotten the chives and crushing their hollow stalks, they released a somewhat intense aroma.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Bead blog recap weeks 14-15

It's been two weeks again so here's a new edition of "Manekis pärlblogg in review". There are a couple of contest tips this time. Other than that, it's a melee of topics as usual, from the dangers of chrome tanned leather to candy beads to yarn made from freshwater pearls.

1000 posts
Yes, I've now written 1 000 posts since starting on July 1st 2008. Who would've known I'd be doing this for so long? Certainly not me.

Four elements design contest
Swedish bead shop Sirlig has announced a new jewellery contest. The theme is the four elements (air, water, earth, fire).

Gerbera design contest
Perle4U announced a new contest this week, based on the pattern Gerbera. Make a piece of jewellery using at least on of the beaded flowers for your chance to win.

Candy beads
This is more nostalgia than a presentation of a bead type you're likely to use in your beadwork. Dextrose beads as you find them in your childhood's candy necklaces.

Toho SuperNova Hybrids
Toho hybrids are japanese quality seed beads (seeds, bugles, cubes, triangles) from Toho given beautiful custom coatings in the Czech Republic.

Swedish bead meet 2011
On the 12th of April, beaders throughout the country could begin to sign up for PUSS (meaning kiss in Swedish), the big annual bead meet in Stockholm. All places were booked by the next day, though you can still sign up for a place on the "stand-by list". Bead shops: don't miss the info on how to become a sponsor.

Leather -- choose eco-friendly, avoid chrome tanning
Leather and suede are popular materials for jewellery, but the (cheap) chrome tanned skins can have severe negative effects on both the environment and human health. Recycle or use eco-friendlier vegetable tanned alternatives.

Sweet shrink plastic flower bell beads
How to make cute flower bell, similar to the popular acrylic/lucite flowers.

Bracelet becomes belt and other costume jewellery make overs
Martha Stewart shows how you can turn a glittering bracelet into a belt for your party outfit. Or why not turn earrings into brooches or brooches into bracelets?

Katiedids design contest
Katie Hacker and Beadalon has presented a contest focusing on Katie's versatile Katiedids jewellery components. Use your creativity to make something original.

Leather strap with chain
Jewellery chains make nice design elements on leather bracelets. You can also buy leather straps already edged with chain.

Articles on eco-friendly jewellery making
The latest issue of Svensk Natur, the magazine from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, had two articles of interest for jewellery-makers. One on the positive news that mercury use is dropping among Philippine gold miners as the risks for both environment and human health is high-lighted. The second article is on sustainable jewellery, from recycling to fair trade. Both can be viewed online for free.

Combining bead stitches
Learn how to make transistions from one beadweaving stitch to another.

More colourful patinated jewellery supplies
Lovely coloured brass tags from Swedish bead shop

Freshwater pearls becomes yarn
There are several brands that offer yarns partially made from pearl fibre -- a fibre consisting of pulverised Chinese freshwater pearls. The pearl fibre is mixed with viscose for a soft and comfortable yarn, claimed to protect the skin from UV radiation and thus protecting the skin from aging.

April challenges
Monthly challenges from Art Bead Scene, Vintaj, Operation Tackle That Bead Stash and La Bella Joya.

New ways to view the blog
Information about the new Blogger features with dynamic views.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lorelei's 24 h giveaway

Lorelei is hosting a 24 hour giveaway. By leaving a comment on her blog and spreading the word you have a chance (or several) to win these lovely pendants by Jade Scott. One winner will be drawn at 8:14 AM local time tomorrow Thursday 14th so be sure to hurry over to Lorelei's blog soon if you want to win these goodies.


OT: Have you read about the Dynamic Views for Blogspot blogs yet? For a new way of viewing my blog, check out You can read more about what it all means here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Year's first butterfly

Ok, technically this isn't the first butterfly I've seen this year. I've seen several small tortoiseshell butterflies (nässelfjärilar) these last seven or ten days and also one radiant common brimstone butterfly (citronfjäril) yesterday. But it is the first butterfly that I've been able to capture on camera this year.

Do wish I had my camera when we saw the brimstone. They're not that rare, but the tortoiseshell butterflies are much more common so while I have several photos of them (also some of large white [kålfjäril] and inachis io [påfågelöga]) I've got almost zero of brimstone butterflies. Well, I'm bound to get more chances to take pics of it later: towards summer we often have lots of butterflies that fiest on our thistles.

My sis, who loves the colour blue, is always on the lookout for polyommatini (blåvingar), but we don't seem to have many blue butterflies around here. On a really warm and sunny day -- one of those days when you can feel the thunder in the humid air -- years ago we visited Ales stenar and climbing up the hills towards the ancient monument we were surrounded by polyommatini butterflies. My sis was cranky from the heat and effort of walking and climbing up the steep paths, but seeing those little blue butterflies made her feel a lot better. You have to bear in mind, we had barely seen blue butterflies in real life before and here they were everywere, tumbling around our feet.

I remember those butterflies just as well as I remember the view from the site. The monument is placed by the cliffs that line the southern coast of Skåne in the area. Up there you have a fabulous view of the waters separating Sweden and Skåne from Germany (and Poland). The day we went up there, the sun made the Baltic Sea glitter like tinsel. Blue and pale gold tinsel stretching as far as I could see to the south, east and west. It was a beautiful sight and it made me think "no wonder they choose to make a monument here, if it really is a king buried there I understand why he chose this place to rest".

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bronze rose -- a beaded rivoli pendant

And for those of you not interested in yarn, let me instead show you my latest beaded bezel pendant. As usual -- check out the bezel or rivoli tag for more examples -- the bezel is made using 2-needle raw that I then embellished on the front and sides.

The pendant is made using a 14 mm rose starlight rivoli (lovely metallic rose/dark gold hues), 15/0 bronze seeds and hex cuts in cinnamon gold luster. As always, it's not easy to capture all the colours in a rivoli with a surface effect, but trust me: if you like metallic and rose tones, you'll like rose starlight.

I made a similar pendant before this one where I added an onlay using just bronze beads in the front, but that version was just obscuring the rivoli too much. Adding the hex cuts, I got some more colour, making the rivoli appear larger instead of visually "shrinking" within a thich bronze bezel.

I keep using by bezelled rivolis as "simple" pendants, but I do feel like I want to make at least one more extravagant design, stitching together several bezels in an glamourous necklace. Not my usual down-to-earth style, but one has to make more exciting and complex projects sometimes in order to explore and challenge one's creativity. (As always, money is often the issue: buying a lot of rivolis and using them all at ones is just so expensive.)

More yarn!

So I said yarn wasn't new to me. There's photo evidence of it here, here and here just to name a few posts. Still haven't make any yarn jewellery, but I thought I'd show you what type of yarns I already have -- that I'm now coveting "specialty fibres", silk, viscose, linen etc I already mentioned last time.

I also mentioned wanting to buy smaller quantities than whole balls as they can be rather expensive. Well, I actually have some mini balls too, as you can see above. If sticking with cotton (eg. Svarta Fåret's Candy), acrylics, wool etc (eg. Järbo's mini mixes), it's not too hard to find tiny balls of yarn since amigurumis became popular. That above are two 10 gram balls of "bamboo silk", ie. bamboo viscose. Very soft and silky. Bought them i a package of five different colours from Panduro.

And this is nettle yarn, handmade by women in Nepal. Believe it's part of some sort of co-operation/fair trade thing. It's pretty uneven, which I guess is supposed to add a real handmade feel. One thing about having yarns or other stringing materials in "unusual" fibres is that it's fun to surprise people when you tell them what it's made from.

This is a nice one space-dyed yarns from Stef Francis in the UK. You can get many different types of yarn (I'm wanting to buy som braided silk and viscose gimp) in many different hand-dyed palettes. This is a bundle from the texture collection, a mix of viscose and cotton "novelty" yarns. Looks better IRL with its mix of shiny and matte, smooth and fuzzy fibres -- all in scrumptious citrus hues.

What more? Well, I'm trying to avoid any cotton that isn't organic (if you don't know why that's a good idea, you might want to learn about it). This is a ball of organic cotton yarn from Marks & Kattens that I got in Malmö. It was on sale, if I remember correctly. In the same shop I got it I made the not so eco-friendly choice of also buying some chrome tanned leather -- didn't realise it until afterwards. It's always easy to shop eco-friendly, a lot to keep in mind...

More from Marks & Kattens. This yarn, called Carat, is a blend of many different fibres, "yarn types" and colours. It kind of moves between looking attractive with its lovely colours and metallic gold shine -- and just looking messy!

Novelty yarn doesn't have to be expensive like Carat or Venedig [the silk/linen yarn in this post]. This fluffy acrylic chenille is something I picked up at Tiger (or TGR as the Swedish shops have had to rename themselves] for 10 SEK. Tiger is sort of a "dollar store". This yarn is just so soft and cozy! The crummy pic doesn't really do it justice.

And here's a yarn that might not look very special after all those colourful or interestingly textured yarns, a ribbon yarn called Lizzy. From a norwegian brand I've forgotten the name of. Bought it in Helsingborg, where we found a nice yarn shop on Söder with a very friendly and talkative owner. Ribbon yarn felt like a useful choice. After all, ribbon is often used in jewellery. I do worry about how much wear and tear this thin and porous yarn can take.

I don't only have knitting and crochet yarns everywhere. As a kid I did hand embroidery and do have some of all those perle cotton and DMC threads left. I also was given an old box of embroidery floss from a friend of the family ages ago (both he and his wife, who owned the box died several years ago). And then I sometimes stumble over pretty threads, I just have to buy. Like the DMC metallic copper thread. Or this skein of hand-dyed perle cotton from Jennifer Gail Threads. This colour is called Moorland.

So as you can see, I do have quite a lot of yarn to play with -- but I still want to buy more... Ok, to my defence, the yarns I'm looking for right now are a bit different from these both in terms of what fibres are used and texture/type.

I must look for others who are fond of yarns, not least novelty yarns of special fibre yarns -- it'd be fun to do a swap. Not of whole balls, but say a few metres of each, the perfect length for anyone looking to use it in jewellery rather than knitting or crocheting bigger projects like clothes and bags.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Yarn -- my latest obsession

I can become very easily absorbed by things, especially when I find a new type of material to work with. Yarn isn't new to me, but recently I found out there are some exciting -- almost exotic -- fibers out there that I'd never seen or at least never touched before. How about fibers made from freshwater pearls, sugar canes, corn, seaweed or milk? Add to that the fact I already love linen, silk and viscose/rayon/lyocell and there are so many yummy yarns I crave right now.

Not sure what I'd actually want to do with them. It'd be all for jewellery making, of cause. Not knitting or crocheting clothes, doilies, amigurumi or what ever else they do. I'd probably just string much of it. Perhaps braid, knot or wrap it in different ways. I'm thinking of buying hand-dyed rayon gimp as it seems the easiest to find a use for in my jewellery. And you buy it in small "embroidery floss-sized" skeins unlike those other yarns. Or perhaps some braided silk yarn, which is suitable for craft work, but I'm not sure if it's as shiny silky as I want it.

Can't buy anything right now, though, as I haven't collected my wages from the potato work yet. And even after I do that, I can satiate my cravings very well: some of the yarns are really -- and I mean really -- expensive and you can't exactly buy just 10 metres or so -- closer to ten times that length. A few year back, I figured if more people are like we there ought to be a market for buying balls of yarn and resell them in smaller packages to crafters, jewellery makers etc. Never actually delved into that, buy now I wonder again if that could be a niche to test. The gods should know I could use the money, but there probably wouldn't be much profit in it, right?

In the photo, can can see a linen and viscose blen yarn by Marks & Kattens called Venedig (= Venice), which I bought in Malmö yesterday. Garish colours for me, but I figured there were a lot of different colours I could use seperatly in it. So it was cheaper than buying two balls of yarn in colours that are more my style.

Hesitated and never bought any pure linen yarn, which a couple of the craft and yarn shops we visited had. Not sure how I feel about that yet. Better to wait or should I have seized the opportunity? Especially considering I don't have any specific projects that need it. My wallet says I made the right decision...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Randa and the snowdrops

I must publish some pics of our other cats soon. I think they're getting jealous as seem to only have photos of Randa to show all the time...

This time, I guess she felt we weren't focusing enough on her, just sitting there and taking pics of the spring flowers (will show you more of those tomorrow) when we should be be paying full attention to her. So she walked up to the snowdrops and placed her self in the middle of them.

After a while she was fed up with the photo session of it and left us with the flowers. You can see how she seems to get less and less interested in us from one photo to the next. I didn't have my camera out when she first started posing. Only my sis had, but I had to get mine as well. In the first pic, I think she's thinking "oh, you too?" She was already getting tired of the attention she craved just seconds ago.

For those of you that don't know, we have eight cats. Counting the one that isn't ours but seems to have made our farm her home. Apart from Randa we have Minimuss (Mini), Mimsan (Mimi), Figaro (Figge), Knatti, Ninjis (Nini), Randi and Rostan.
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