What does the last of the housewives do?

Category: Beading

Necklace o’ Squares

I done a necklace! I haven't done one for AGES, what with working and studying and kids managing to fit an an outrageous amount of extra curricular and making kilos of chocolate chip biscuits and moving upstairs. I'm going to a fancy military dinner next week, or possibly the week after, I really should pay more attention, and of course the outfit I plan to wear requires a rounded necklace, rather than the pendant type I tend to make.

And there it is. You'll notice that it's on my flashy new beading desk that I'm managed to clutter up extremely quickly. Yes, the renovation is finished, and you didn't hear about it because it was rather uneventful, which is excellent for living through but no good for blogging. Except for the shower screen, which I should have told you about, and the smoke detector which is too annoying for words and I'm worried that if I start writing about it I may actually set it off. And the painter's name is Silver. Either that or he's lost the battle with autocorrect.

I got terribly terribly efficient and went through all of my beading magazines and scanned all of the patterns I wanted to keep into Evernote, and I highly recommend it. You see, in my new work area, or the Lair as I like to think of it, I have ample shelf space and no desire to put anything on it. So the magazines all went out, and now I have this terrific system of filed patterns, searchable with tags and everything. When one wishes to produce a necklace based on a string of black agate squares, one merely searches the tag Square, and there's a pattern from Beadwork 2010 that fits the bill perfectly. The pattern was for the red square in the middle, but it scales down beautifully to 8mm rounds with size 15s and 1.5mm cubes to make the silver squares either side of the centre.

Do you want to see the Lair?

We put in an upstairs bedroom, and there was this space around the corner from the stairs and I baggsed it. Some amount of joinery later, and the kids are lucky to ever see me downstairs. To the point where the Moose has been known to email me goodnight. The curtain conceals, not a window, but an enormous amount of triangular storage space, all around the corner of the roof. It does require some stooping, but it tucks away ones various hoards of material, wool, coffee tables, craft stuff, suitcases, framing equipment, screwdriver collection and so on. IKEA has made a fortune out of me. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it.

I don't know if I've got time to do earrings. Oh, I do have some that would match it, but they're not long and dangly and fancy. Hmm. Depends what my hair is doing that day, it's very temperamental and one never knows until one gets there.

Did I mention that the dinner is at Gallipoli? Yers. Expect to hear a bit more from me in the near future.



Back in Black and White

Haven’t done any beading in AGES! I’ve had a few things bubbling away in the back of brain, behind the baking plans and getting my legs working again plans and throwing out half of our possessions in the next cleanup plans. I went to a committee meeting last night that was planning, not a Fair or a Fete, goodness no, we’re a boys’ school, we’re all about the RUGBY! But a day of some description. My subcommittee is in charge of the bit that makes sure the Day is not just a long line of stalls supplying men dressed in black and white with sausages in the afternoon and egg and bacon rolls in the morning. I could go on at some length, but I’ll save for later, shall I? It just made me think of black and white jewellery again.

The week after this Day is a grand and marvellous Black and White Ball and naturally some of us may want some black and white jewellery to go with our black and white frocks. I’ve been meaning to do another Bargello style necklace for ages and the last two I’ve done have been monochrome, so I think it would lend itself to black and white rather nicely. So to the choosing of the beads, and for any of you that have ever attempted to paint a room white, you’ll know that there’s white and there’s white. AmIright?

I like to include Swarovski crystals wherever I can, and they only actually do two shades of solid white, chalk and alabaster. I only have alabaster, so that makes my white decision simple, stark white it is. The Ball invitation also suggests a touch of silver, so that’s going in too. The Bargello pattern that I use is from a 2006 edition of Bead and Button magazine and I’ve found that the pattern as written is a bit narrow and too short. The first Bargello necklace I made is the only one I’ve kept, here it is.

I’ve not offered it for sale, partly because I rather like it, partly because it is too short and narrow and partly because it has about fifty bucks worth of kyanite as dangles. I think it’s kyanite. Kind of an olive green gemstone, in leaf shapes. It’s also useful as a reference for starting a new necklace, it’s always a bit discombobulating.

I manage to start it off successfully even with the distraction of having to shoo away a couple of Jehovah’s witnesses. I do wonder if they should have good hard look at themselves, the last few pairs have consisted of one non-English speaker and one very elderly somewhat English speaker. Different pairs. I think they’re losing their base. I haven’t the heart to play with them any more, they’re too pathetic.

I’ve only got a few points in before I run out of 3mm Swarovski alabaster bicones. What a shame, I’ll have to order some more from Fusion. Oh, and they’re having a 20% off sale, and there’s some interesting discontinued stuff. And I’ll need some more black and white beads, this will by no means be the only black and white piece of jewellery I’ll be making. An hour and a hundred bucks later…

Well, here is what I’m up to.

I think it will work nicely. The question is, do I keep it for my own swanlike neck, or should I put it up for silent auction at the Day That Is Not a Fair? Or should I sell it for filthy lucre? Mmmmm, filthy lucre. My favourite kind.

Sydney Stitches and Craft Show

I love to go to a craft show, because I’m always delighted, surprised, inspired, amused, bewildered and ultimately creeped out by them, at which point I go home, exhausted. And so it was with the Sydney Stitches and Craft Show, held at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse at Rosehill, not Randwick, stupid Google Maps. I’d been there before, so I wasn’t fooled.

The tone was set by an elderly gentleman outside the entrance, shaded by a large black umbrella who was playing, to the accompaniment of a boom box, panpipes. He would put them down occasionally to attempt to flog a CD to anyone that got too close, but most of the time it was continuous panpipes at a pretty high volume. Carefully avoiding him I waded through a sea of excited pensioners all filling in the form for the lucky door prize to get at the treasures within.

For those who haven’t been to the Stitches and Craft Show before, its bread and butter is this kind of thing.

These are fat quarters, and are used in quilting. Apparently you cut them into shapes and sew them to other bits that you’ve cut into other shapes until eventually you get something big enough to either give to your loudly protesting nieces and nephews at Christmas, or to hang on the wall. They’re not much use as bed coverings now that everyone has doonas. Needless to say, I have no interest in quilting and do not wish even to know why they are fat or what they are a quarter of.

You’ve also got your scrapbook and paper craft shops, a couple that are threads and wool, including one that was selling this:

Pre-felt! The possibilities!
Also shops specifically for your nanna to buy supplies to make nanna rugs,

Shops where Professor Umbrage bought her cross stitch kitten,

And sadly only a few bead shops, and even more sadly they were only selling cheap Chinese stuff. The one that was selling Swarovski and brand name stringing materials was doing so at a vastly higher price than I could get them at Fusion, so I didn’t bother. If I wanted cheap Chinese stuff, and it definitely has its place, I would go to I Love You Beads on Parramatta Road, then I could get cheap organza bags too.

I’m putting this one in to make my sister laugh.

Possibly they should have had the arrow up the other way, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

There was even a stall flogging needlework cruises. Needlework cruises. Surely they couldn’t get a whole boat load of embroiderers? I didn’t stop to ask.

I did love some of the cutesy stall names, like KimoYes ( selling kimono fabric), Punch with Judy, Picklemouse Corner, the Status Thimble, Crafty Frou Frou and Miss Rose, Sister Violet. Actually, those last two were the only ones I bought anything from. Some black and white stuff from the former,

And some outrageous trimming for the dream handbag I started making for myself about this time last year from the latter,

But eventually the crowd takes its toll on me. The mob that makes up the crowds at this kind of show is principally senior ladies with a good handful of teenage girl school groups. Neither group has any respect for personal space and after a couple of hours I have been jostled more than my system can tolerate and I must away for an hour or two of peace before picking up my little darlings from school. Now all I need is a few free days to get some serious crafting done. I might have to ignore my committee duties for a bit.

Yet Another Black and White Necklace

It’s a funny thing with committees. You just dip your toe in, help out with a stall at the fete here, offer to count the take for the raffle there. You think you can take it or leave it alone, but before you know it you’re on your third gig as Treasurer and no end in sight. It has to be said that it’s an excellent way to find out about an organisation, be it a school or a choir, and you meet the nicest people on committees. Utter nutters too, but you learn to spot those and develop a quick left dodge.

So I find myself on two school committees this year. Another funny thing is that I don’t think I’ve ever gone along to a committee meeting or talked to a committee member and volunteered for anything. I just find myself on an email list with a commitment to leave the bosom of my family every fourth Thursday night. Here’s a tip, if you really don’t want to be on a committee, and someone you know who is on one offers to buy you coffee or a drink, run screaming in the opposite direction. As soon as you agree to just pop along to Sarah’s place tomorrow night and just meet everyone, you are so gone.

There’s a cocktail party at the Horror’s school tonight, rained for the third year in a row into the hall. The president of the committee I’m on at this school just loves the school colours and has fairly firmly suggested that everyone on the “exec” as she’s jovially calling it wear black and white tonight and possibly forever more. There are two ways I could go. I could cop out somewhat by just wearing a black dress and trying to blend in with the crowd. Or alternatively I could join in enthusiastically and wear the white dress I bought on a whim from Dotti because it was forty bucks, sling on a black jacket and make a matching black and white necklace. Oh yeah.

You’d think I’d have run out of black and white inspiration after the end of last year’s efforts, but it just keeps coming. I’ve added a touch of orange, I believe that’s part of the livery colours but I’ve only seen it on stationery. For those who are interested, it’s Swarovski Red Magma.

And because the Horror is only in fourth grade, I’m going to be associated with this school for a long time. This isn’t the last of the black and white necklaces.

Christmas Earrings

I can see that there is a place in this world for battery operated earrings. Also earrings so cheaply made that they are actually designed to only last the couple of weeks until Christmas. But sometimes, you want something a little more classy to indicate that you’re not really Scrooge. Not all the time, anyway.

I’m putting these pictures up in a blatant attempt to sell some of them, or to give you some ideas if you’re an earring maker yourself. You’d think I’d go to the trouble of photographing them properly in this case, but I have a nasty cold and have to spend way too much time in the car ferrying around squabbling children rather than lying in bed while someone brings me mugs of ginger tea and applies cold compresses to my itching eyes to mess around with cameras and cables. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

These angels are a one off, because the Muffet pinched all my angel wings. If you’re friends with her, you’ll already have one. If you want this collector’s edition, it’s ten bucks.

Not strictly Christmas earrings, but whimsical enough for the season I rather think. These are also one offs (two offs?) as I haven’t any more teapot findings. I can remake them with different coloured tea, but if you want a rainbow of these you’ll have to wait until I do another order from the US. Fifteen dollars on base metal hooks.

Real pearl snowmen, with a Swarovski diamant√© collar in silver or gold on sterling or goldfilled hooks. Twenty dollars. Aren’t they cute? Yes I realise that snowmen are inappropriate for an Australian Christmas, but don’t get me started.

I made a whole lot of these a couple of years ago and am a bit over them, so if you’d like them in a different colour you’ll have to bring me coffee as well as handing over twenty five dollars. They’re quite fiddly.


I’m very fond of this pattern. I made the black and gold ones to go with my necklace of last night, they have a tiny garnet centre which doesn’t show up in the photo. Both of these little stars are the same pattern, just with slightly different sized beads. I think these should also be twenty five dollars, just name your colours.

My Christmas earrings of choice. Fifty dollars, they take ages. These are night blue and gold and I’m making them in a whole lot of colours. They’re big, but they’re light and I love them the most. Definitely not just for Christmas time.

There are a couple of other patterns that I do involving dangling leaves in festive colours, but they may have to wait for another day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put on dinner, bring in the washing, camouflage an oversized Christmas present, pick up the Moose from surfing and see if I can cough up a lung.

What am I going to wear?

Being the volunteer Treasurer for even a moderate sized not for profit organisation is often an invisible but very time consuming position. I’m a bit of an expert now on the super guarantee contribution for employers and what I don’t know about the Incorporation of Associations Act of 2009 really isn’t worth knowing. I’m also fairly familiar with all the ways an organisation such as ours can accept money and the ramifications and costs thereof, but where is any of that going to get me in my real life as a housewife? Nowhere at all, but you do occasionally get a very sweet perk like the one I’m going to tonight.

Tonight the University of Sydney farewells its beloved Chancellor, Marie Bashir, and I’m invited. Marie Bashir is an absolutely extraordinary, inspirational woman. Constantly cheerful, kind, really interested in the thousands of people she meets, funny, down to earth and possessed of boundless energy and enthusiasm. I’ve met her many times, but sadly each time I just stand there with my jaw hanging restfully down instead of engaging her in sparkling conversation. She’s the patron of our choir and has managed to come to all three of our concerts this year. She popped in the back door of our concert last weekend, startling our president who was waiting out the front for the big car with the flags and the aide de camp. She said “oh, I get sick of those aides hanging around all the time, so I thought I’d just drive myself”. The University is apparently having huge difficulty finding a replacement, but her husband has said he’d like to actually see her from time to time and not just on TV, so she’s agreed to slow it down a little.

I’m going to be leaving in about two hours, so no time to make any new jewellery. I’ve dug out of the wardrobe a black lacy Review dress that I pinched from my youngest sister some years ago and never returned. And I have just the necklace to go with it.

I actually made this for a charity auction at my daughter’s school, but then they annoyed me quite a lot, so I’ve kept it. I’ve made a few of these as commissions in different colours. It’s a pattern I found in a Bead and Button magazine a few years ago, it’s quite tricky to start, especially if you’re using a lot of colours, but once you’ve done a couple of points you can let your mind wander. It takes me weeks to make, but I haven’t made one in a while so I might have a look at what other of my formal outfits this pattern will go with. It’s really light and flexible, but it has a tendency to travel from the central if you turn your head a lot.

I really can’t wear the ankle brace. No amount of fur trim or jingle bells is going to make it any better, so I’ll have to wear flats and not trip over anything. Harder than it might sound, I’m relatively clumsy. I hope I don’t get punished by having to wear it for a few more weeks. Don’t tell my doctor!

Enough Black and White Jewellery – for the moment

I could just put up the photos of the final three, but I thought I should share some of the agonizing and carry on that goes on behind the scenes.

First, the music teacher. I was going to bestow upon her that black and white beaded bead on a black cord. But it looked a bit plain by itself, so I made a couple of smaller ones to go with it, and that’s all very nice, but then I realized this woman was much less involved in the Horror’s school life than his class teacher and would also probably cop a gift every year, so it was too fancy. Too fancy, I tell you. It has gone into the private collection for the moment. Here’s what she’s getting instead, and it will have to go in bubble wrap as that diamond shaped stone is actually stone and a little fragile. Perhaps she’ll break it, so she can get exactly the same next year.


Now for the Horror’s class teacher. For a while there she was going to get gingerbread men, as we haven’t actually seen her wear any jewellery. Then the Horror suggested that was possibly because no one had ever bought her any. Then we spotted her with a gold chain on, so jewellery was back on again. She had only been a casual appointment this year, so did we go and black and white? It may not be as useful to her as to everyone else. However, she does wear a lot of black, despite having more autumnal colouring, so she will get a herringbone spiral necklace, a pattern that has gone down rather well with teachers in the past.

It’s quite delicate, and will have a magnet clasp if I ever get around to finishing it. Those herringbone ropes are all middle.

Finally, the redoubtable Head of Year 7. She’s quite a flamboyant dresser, which is a shame because my stuff tends to be on the light and airy side. She should really be getting something from Six in a Row, but I can’t go around buying other people’s jewellery. I’ve gone with a star pendant which hasn’t turned out quite as I’d hoped. I usually use colours that are quite close together for it, using black and white makes it look rather pixelated. I’m happy with how it’s strung, I found a length of tubular mesh in the archives while digging around for black velvet ribbon, even though I knew velvet wasn’t quite right. I’ve done one in pink on a rosary chain coming out of two of the points, but that wouldn’t have been right for this teacher. I’ve also just sewn a bail onto the top point of a red and grey one, but that didn’t work at all. This works for me, I just have to figure out what clasp to use and I’m done.

Once I’ve finished that herringbone spiral, I can go back to decorating my ankle brace. I wonder how annoying little bells would be?

Black and White Jewellery

The Moose’s school wears its colours proudly. Parents wear black and white to Saturday sport, teachers wear black and white to school events, the president of the Junior School P&F seems to wear nothing else. I like it, it helps you feel more like part of a big happy family. Muffet’s school doesn’t have this going on at all, possibly because it’s difficult to wear red green and white without looking like it’s Christmas all year ’round. So I’ve got years and years of teachers presents sorted, who wouldn’t want some black and white jewellery?


I haven’t made this style of necklace for ages, not since I made one for a wedding. That one was a lot more densely packed with brown and cream pearls and crystals, and from memory had seven strands rather than the five seen here. Actually, I tell a lie, I made a three strand one for the Muffet to wear to her social, where she was the belle of the ball, naturally. It’s a very versatile style, especially considering that you can now get the wire in almost any colour. I really should make them more often. Yes, that is a bag of coconut it’s resting on, why do you ask?

Snuggling beside the coconut is a black and white beaded bead. I haven’t given up on them! That one is destined for the Horror’s music teacher, with whom he is very taken, especially as she shares his views on punctuality. I should really just string it on some black cord and forget about it, but I’ll bet I can’t. Maybe just a couple of small cylindrical beaded beads, one on either side. That won’t look like something that’ll end up on Regretsy, surely?

Pear shaped wasn’t the problem

I know you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seats wondering how the necklace turned out. What was I going to do with those giant beaded beads? Even I didn’t know.

This is how the thought process went. This teacher wears quite long necklaces. I know, I’ll make a pendant to dangle from the bottom of it and put the two round beads higher up. Because I have the pure and innocent mind of a child I didn’t see where that design was heading. It wasn’t until I’d almost finished the bottom dangle that I realized that there was a fundamental problem.

Or even

I just wasn’t going to be able to make that work. The Moose suggested I put a crescent underneath it and then it would look like a smiley face. My children are always full of helpful suggestions.

So with a wrench I abandoned the two beaded beads and just did a rosary chain to hang the pendant from. Now I have five of these things that I don’t know what to do with. I’m going back to stringing them individually on cord, in pairs they’re a bit… too… testing.


In case you were wondering, the pendant is adapted from another Gwen Fisher design, the netted bangle. That’s taken a load off your minds, hasn’t it. Having finished that ahead of schedule I now have time to go get the float for the Messiah concert on Sunday. You are coming to that, aren’t you? Sydney Town Hall, 3pm, Sunday 18th November? It will be awesome. What I really need is a necklace to wear…

Jewellery instead of chocolates

There I was thinking I had oodles of time to make the teachers’ presents. Christmas was in December last time I checked, giving teachers a token of my appreciation for not defenestrating my offspring at any time during the year could surely wait until the last week of term. “Oh, no”, the Muffet informs me yesterday. “I’d like to give my teacher her present at the dinner on Saturday”. As in the day after tomorrow.

I’m still not sure what the finished product is going to look like, but it is going to incorporate beaded beads designed by Gwen Fisher. I’ve been a fan of her work for years and was very excited to see one of her beaded beads appear in Beadwork magazine in April of this year. I’ve made a few in different colours, the instructions are excellent and the resulting bead is tight and symmetrical. But haven’t yet found a really satisfactory way of wearing them. I’ve taken to just stringing a few on satin cord and tying it on as a necklace, but that isn’t going to work for this job.


The one in the foreground is the finished bead, the one at the back is the guts of the next one. I was going to make pairs in the same colour but ran out of dark silver pearls. It will be character building for me to put something together that isn’t symmetrical. I did toy with the idea of going to the bead shop on Parramatta Road to get some more, but I know I’d walk out of there with a whole lot of gemstones I don’t have room for and really don’t intend using, I just like them because they’re pretty.

Well, how’s that, I appear to have written the first part of a two hander. I do plan to finish the necklace tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait until then to see how it turns out. Gripping, isn’t it?