Friday, 31 July 2009

Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques

I love Amazon. I am crazy about this website even though it eats up loads of my money. This week two more books got purchased and delivered, through no fault of my own...kinda.

Anyway, I want to tell you about The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques. I saw this book in the store the other day and thumped through it. It looked interesting but I wasn't prepared to spend £13 on it. The same day, I browsed Amazon decided to check the price on the book: £6.11! Even with the shipping it is £5 cheaper!!!

The book came yesterday and I have just finished reading it. It is truly great!

The authors, Sara Withers and Stephanie Burnham, go through all the basic techniques that use beads of any kind. From paper embroidery, through knotting, wire knitting and loom beading, to beadweaving. Each page contains clear images and easy descriptions, accompanied by pictures of finised projects - for inspiration!

At the end of the book, there is also a chapter with beaded works of arts. Makes me wanna grab my loom and never stop working :)

I love the book for the variety of techniques it offers, easy-to-follow instructions and the great images. If you are looking for advanced projects in one of the techniques this is probably not the book for you. However if you are just looking to start with beading and jewellery making - that is a perfect publication.

Full title: The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide, with an Inspirational Gallery of Finished Works
Author: Sara Withers and Stephanie Burnham
Published by: Search Press
ISBN: 978-1-84448-047-0
Pages: 160
Language: English The Encyclopedia of Beading Techniques

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Crochet beading: How-To

This weekend I was working more on crochet beading. It is a great technique and can result in beautiful jewelery. However, at the beginning it can also be quite frustrating. I decided to pass on what I learned, so you can hopefully be spared the frustration and go on straight to the fun!

1. Making the chart

In crochet beading, in order to introduce any complicated design, you have to start with a chart. Once you know the trick, making the chart is not difficult.

- Draw 6, 7 or 8 squares, line below line. Each line has to be shifted half a square to the right. Color the squares creating your chosen pattern.

- Start stringing beads from left to right and from bottom to top. String each line from left to right.

- Remember that the first beads you string will be the last you crochet.

- Repeat the pattern as many times as needed.

2. Coun
ting beads

It can be daunting to count the beads you are stringing. Depending on the size of the beads, a bracelet can count between 700 and 1000 beads. And longer robes can be even more difficult. Luckily, there is a very simple solution to this problem. Every 10, 50 or 100 beads (intervals depend on you) string a small piece of paper with the number of beads on it. This way you will be able to control the amount of beads and, once the stringing is finished, you can easily remove the markers.

to be continued...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Beaded Crochet Bracelet

Over the weekend I discovered that one of the big bookstores in London is about to close down. To get rid of the stock, the bookstore offered 50% sale on ALL books. When I reached the place on Saturday morning the shelves were already half-past-empty. Luckily for me (and unluckily for my wallet) the craft section still had some interesting titles. And one of them was Beaded Crochet Designs by Ann Benson. I thumbed through the pages and, since I had some beads lying around, I decided to try out the pattern for beaded crochet bracelet.

The beginning was very frustrating and the beads just really didn't want to fall into places.

Then, things started working a bit better.

But once the bracelet was finished I realized, I butchered the seam up.

Luckily, I managed to unravel the problematic part and redo the seam. And voila! a seamless bracelet was created:

Conclusion: I love this technique, it makes for a beautiful, summery jewelery! You can see more pictures in my etsy shop.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

My first crochet tutorial

Someone asked me today to help them with crocheting triangles. And this was exactly the push I needed. I was thinking about writing some tutorials up and when I started to write the directions for a crocheted triangle, I thought to myself: Hang on, you might as well do it right!

So here it is, my first tutorial. By all means do have a look and let me know if anything needs improvement.

3 Frugal Tips

As you might have read in one of my earlier posts, I embarked on the challenge of turning my life more frugal. So far I had some mishaps. I bought too many Belgian waffles and chocolate while in Belgium and had to throw away some curry, that I had forgotten to put in the fridge the night before. But there were also some successes: reduced food wastage, saved up money, repaired (and not thrown away) sandals.

Here are three tips that I found immensely helpful so far:

1. Plan your menu

Sit down once a week and plan what you are going to eat the following week. This gives you several advantages over the usual chaotic eating. First of all, you buy only the products that you need so you throw away less. Second of all, you don't need to shop every day which limits the temptations, transportation costs and you have more time for yourself. And thirdly, if you plan in advance where to shop you will be able to hunt for sales, offers and discounted goods and in general compare prices more effectively.

2. Don't let the marketers get to you

I don't think there is anyone in the Western World who doesn't know that marketers use incredible amount of mind traps to seduce the customer and sell the product. And we all know that not all of these techniques are designed to sell you the best value for money.
The first step to deal with the problem is to learn what tricks there are. Type "supermarket tricks" in google and you will get a list of articles and blog posts about sneaky marketing practices, along with a list of ways to avoid the traps.

My favorite tip so far was to look "outside the box" or at least outside the eye level. If you have a look below or above the usual eye-level, you will find products that are of the same or better quality only cheaper. This is so, because the big brands are able to pay the shop for a good shelf spot - and the bigger the brand, the higher the price.

3. Cool down your boiler

This tip only works for those of you who have boilers or water heaters at home and can regulate the temperature.

First, do a small experiment for me. Let the hottest water from your tab run for a moment. Now put your hand under the stream - hurts? Can you actually use water that is that hot? I bet good money that you can't.
We don't actually need the boiling water in our tabs and that means that we waste the energy that the boiler uses to heat it up to this point. Especially now, during summer, hot showers are not something you are really looking for in the mornings.
If you lower max temperature on your boiler, you will end up with lower bills and less wasted energy. You save your money and the environment. How cool is that?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Organic scarf

Thanks to the John Lewis sale I was able to buy a lot of beautiful naturally dyed organic cotton. My idea was to crochet a large shawl for which I had already found a pattern. But after reading Yoola's article and doing a quick analyzes of my shop I decided to produce several organic summer scarves - thanks to the sale I can sell them really cheap.

The pattern I used for the first two of the scarves is lacy but it also has regularly placed bobbles which gives it tick texture. I tested the prototype scarf on my trip to Belgium and the result is very good. The color fits summer outfits very well and the scarf can be worn loosely to act as an accessory or can be closely wrapped around the neck to protect you from cold summer evenings.

I will post the scarf on etsy very soon.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Earrings on Etsy

Yesterday, I read this great article from Yoola of Etsy's posted on Handmade Marketing. Yoola is writing on how she was wondering what to do to improve her sales. Her exposure was great - blogs, treasuries, hearts, showcases and articles - yet she wasn't selling too many items. She analyzed her shop and came up with three ideas to improve her situation.

So, after reading the article I started wondering what I could do to improve my business. Granted, I do not have as much exposure as Yoola has but still there are quite a few people hearting my items and following my on Twitter and yet I have only sold one set of blue doilies. I looked at my shop long and hard yesterday night and I came up with one idea!

I need cheaper items!

Easier said than done. To keep my shop profitable I cannot lower the prices of my craft. The prices are set due to the high quality materials I'm using and the amount of time it takes to create any of the items. So what to do? I collected my wits about me and decided to work on a line of crocheted jewelery - the new earrings you can now see in my Etsy Shop are smaller than my other creations and therefore require less material and less time to create. This allows me to lower the price considerably and will hopefully attract business.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Creative process

I got this new crochet book 201 crochet motifs, blocks, projects and ideas and it looks nice and shiny. But to make absolutely sure that it in fact is nice and shiny I have started to crochet one of the patterns - lace summer scarf.

The picture above shows parts of the scarf in "creative chaos"... waiting to be connected. Then comes the finishing part.

So far I can say that the pattern has some flaws but once I'm done with the entire project I will write a full review of the book and post it on hook books so don't forget to check back.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009



Go frugal

Frugality is the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal. (

Frugality - recently the word kept coming back to me again and again. First, I read this inspiring book by Kath Kelly How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day. I picked it up in the bookstore on an impulse and couldn't put it down until I was done. And then a friend of mine posted on his blog his own experience of frugality. And this made me think: can I do it? Me? The compulsive shopper? The person who has no savings and loves sitting in cafes, restaurants and cinemas? Can I go frugal?

Luckily for me, the circumstances are favorable for a more economical life. What with the economy failing, moving to DK and planning our wedding. Saving some money is the right choice. And so I started thinking what can I do, to go frugal:

1. First of all the food. We don't have a garden so no homegrown veggies but we can definitely reduce our waste. With more planning, we can buy only as much products as we actually need and throw away less. We have also started to bake our own bread (cheaper and taster) and drink tap water instead of buying sodas, tea, coffee or juices (cheaper and healthier). Plus we will cut down on take aways and going out and have friends over more often instead.

2. It's summer so instead of going to cinemas or clubs, we can have pick-nicks in the parks and join some free events. There is plenty ads on the Internet.

3. I will also read all the books that I bought and haven't read yet. There are quiet a few so I don't have to spend money on new ones any time soon.

4. Mending and re-doing my clothes is quiet an obvious way of saving up. I like doing it anyway!

So, I am going frugal. Stay tuned for updates and maybe some tips on how to.