Monday, 21 November 2011

Beadiful bug

is this a mini stag beetle?
I found this gorgeous little fellow wandering around in the back yard, probably looking for a winter snoozing space before the frosty weather comes. I love the way it's looking up at the camera, sure it noticed me!
I'm OK with bugs, I am fascinated by their incredible structures and always trying different ways to 'draw' it out in beads. 

red crystal bug 8cm long approx
This red beady bug was one of my first experiments at making Albion Stitch bugs, the body is an acrylic crystal about 5cm across and I kind of built onto it. Red bug usually sits on my shelf in the office, but comes on visits to workshops with me and is a great conversation starter! the bugs have slowly grown more elegant and refined (see the pic at the top of my blog) as I graduated from plastic to divine Swarovski crystals... so much sparkle, so many lovely shapes to bead around!

beaded bead caterpillar on felt leaves
My articulated beaded bead caterpillar is 'feasting' on some dry felted leaves. He has a pin to attach like a brooch and kind of wiggles about as you wear it. This really creeps some people out, but better than those 'Living jewel' brooches (apparently all the rage in the 19th century) which were real beetles with crystals stuck on their wing cases and a little gold chain tethering them to an ample decolletage. I always wondered what their owners fed them on.

Sally's giant bed by 30cm long
not including antennae
One dear chum saw red bug and handed me a giant crystal she had found in the V&A shop in London. 'Bead a bug out of that then!' was her challenge and serious commission. The crystal measured 20cm and it took me weeks to get to grips with the dynamics of working at such a different scale. The wing cases are wire knitted with added bead embroidery (otherwise the whole thing would have weighed a ton!). It took many weeks of going back and trying different things, but happily my friend is very pleased with her bug. The legs and antennae are posable as they are made from iron wire embellished with beads and crystals.
It lives on a beautiful wrought iron bedstead fashioned like wild grasses, so we call this the giant bed bug.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

bobbin along

Just got these little cuties into the post for a magazine article which will be coming out soon. I'm having such fun with the French knitting. I wrote a little book about it, then I did a mini marketing campaign for the book... and it's all sort of snowballing from there. I've had lots of invites to create projects, and to answer questions about my book and French knitting in general, which is just lovely. It's definitely one of my fave ways to relax... you can't always relax with beadwork!

More acorns...

knit an acorn today
When I'm not busy beading, I do like to tinker with a bit of yarn! To make these acorn pomanders you'll need some pure wool (a skein of tapestry wool is ideal) for the acorn, some chunky wool for the acorn cup.
Also gather together some acrylic toy stuffing, an 8 pin knitting bobbin a 3mm (or similar) crochet hook, some dried herbs... I used a mix of cloves, crushed cinnamon sticks and dried lavender.

Knit the Acorn, wind the yarn around each bobbin pin in turn, then wind round each one again so that you have two rings of loops. Stitch by making a new loop, lift the bottom one over the top two and off the pin. This gives a nice snug stitch. Work for 20 rounds then cast off by lifting the two stitches off each pin and pulling the yarn through both. Pull the cast off yarn tight.
Turn the whole tube inside out and stuff lightly with toy stuffing. Sew the end closed.
Felt the acorn... dunk the whole thing in hot soapy water and keep washing until you feel the yarn begin to firm up and shrink. Rinse it in cold water and squeeze out the excess. Roll the acorn into shape and leave it to dry.
add a scented mix of spices
To make the acorn cup, use a chunky yarn and cast on one row of stitches onto the 8 pin bobbin leaving a long tail to work with later. Knit 8 rows and cast off loosely, leave another good long tail.
Use the yarn tail at the start and crochet three or four chain, work back up the chain in single crochet to form the stalk of the acorn cup. This is not an exact science, but use the rest of the yarn to fill in around the base of the stalk until you think it looks nice and cup shaped.
Stretch out the top of the acorn cup and single crochet around the edge with the second tail (or just over sew the edges if it's easier).
Fill the base of the cup with a pinch of dried herbs. Slot the knitted acorn into the cup and stitch the two together.
Make several and pile them in a bowl for a sweet and seasonal room scenter!
sew the edges together

add some fir cones and horse chestnuts too