Category Archives: Beads

ScrapHappy May 2022

We’re solidly in the middle of autumn in Cape Town, but we still get to enjoy some beautiful sunny days with just a hint of cold when you’re in shadow. Nights and early mornings are much cooler of course, but the winter rains haven’t set in yet. The poppies and nasturtiums in my garden are sending out their first little leaves but they’re going to have to put up with a lot of wet before they see spring!

At the Spier Craft Art market, the ground is fairly thick with autumn leaves. Below the top level of the leaves, the soil is damp. Boots are needed, despite the sun. Boots, tights, scarves, and a new furry leopard print hoodie to keep out any surprise nasty cold winds.

Love my new jacket. Nothing like fake fur!

Anyway, enough of the weather, back to ScrapHappy. Many of the crafters work with beads. It’s easy to lose a few when you’re making things – and there was once a memorable occasion when Bongani accidentally tipped over a 2-litre box of black beads that he was using for a wire elephant.

The scavenger in me can’t help but give in to the temptation to scratch around on the ground for beads. Yesterday the pickings were particularly good, and at one point I was on my knees with a stick getting at lower-level beads that must have been tramped into the soil over many years of markets. I felt like a forensic anthropologist or archaeologist or whatever you call those clever people in crime fiction.

Once washed, the beads are good to go. I turned them into three memory bangles last night, and the only rule is that there are no rules – whatever gets picked up gets used, in no particular order. I noticed that there were more white beads than any other colour then I realised that this is most likely because they are easier to spot than darker colours.

There are a few plastic letter beads in there. I didn’t find a J for Jill so I get to decide what a letter may stand for. See the G? Today that stands for Grumpy. Grumpy because some twerp was in such a hurry to get in and out of the supermarket last week that she grabbed decaffeinated coffee instead of the real thing. How is decaf even coffee? It isn’t, is the answer. It’s ground-up brown stuff and doesn’t count in my book. Never again!

fabric and yarn beads: update

I made another three-strand wrap-around necklace with my straw beads and rather like the effect of making them a bit chubbier and more shapely! I used some pink and purple DK acrylic yarn for the first layer of wrapping, which fattens them up nicely, then just a few strands of lime green embroidery cotton on top.

Just thought I’d share because I see there have been a lot of visits to my etsy store, so I added these pics to the tutorial as well :) In case you haven’t gotten around to looking yet, the listing is here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1115954156/tutorial-necklace-with-handmade-fabric

Yes, I know, this is a bit of flagrant self-promotion, but you gotta try your best, right?

fabric bead necklace : make it yourself!

I’ve been quiet on social media lately, trying to cut down on the amount of time on which my brain is exposed to the world’s hogwash. It’s not all hogwash, I know, but I get sidetracked very easily so I try to stick to crochet pages and news sites (and have limited the latter to precisely two, because my view is that it’s almost impossible to tell who is telling the truth these days anyway). It’s all just become overwhelming and I’m sick of it.

I’ve been spending my creative time on fabric beads and crocheting another Granny Go Round jersey, and trying to get back into my books in the evenings instead of too much netflix or britbox (although I have to say I’m hooked right now on The Bay – those west Lancashire accents take me right back! I love them).

And I’ve also spent some time writing up a tutorial on making fabric beads from straws and using them in a necklace. It’s available on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1115954156 and is priced at US$4 (the equivalent of South African R65). My friend Kathryn proofed it for me and made some very useful suggestions. I make these beads all the time now and find it both enjoyable and relaxing, and of course it’s a brilliant stashbuster for fabric scraps as well as threads.

I’d be delighted if you took a look :)

Bead me up, Scotty

Fabric beads. It’s a thing. I hadn’t even heard of the concept until a friend recently said she was thinking of running an online workshop on how to make them. My brain lit up like the Blackpool illuminations, and I hit the glorious mazes of pinterest and instagram to find out what I’d been missing.

I’d recently tried making fabric-covered wooden beads but absolutely hated the process — too fiddly, I wasn’t in a glue mood, and didn’t like the messy end result. Experiment aborted.

beads 1

But the stitchy-type beads – ah, much more my style. I found some soft thick black fabric, cut a piece roughly 14cm by 6cm, rolled it up like a seasoned pot smoker*, stitched the edges neatly into place, then wrapped it with some burgundy cord, glittery ribbon and little gold beads. Stitched all that into place as I went, using black thread,

beads 5

beads 4

beads 3

I made three and they didn’t take very long. A most enjoyable process, potential to use up scraps and all sorts of odds-and-ends, and I think the possibilities are endless. I think I’ll turn these into something that will go round my neck. Any other suggestions?

* Fyi  I don’t smoke dope, but that may change as our Level 3 Lockdown continues…. Just saying.

DIY bead tassel

I love tassels. You can make them out of pretty much anything you have lying around, and they can be as fancy or simple as you like.  I made a black and white one this morning for Jane, who is coming round later today to pick it up.

Finished!

Finished!

What you need for one tassel:

1. one large bead with a big hole (this will be the tassel head)

2. a selection of beads in various sizes and shapes

3. a 16cm length of soft cord (you can use ribbon if you prefer)

4. a sharp needle with a narrow eye (I used a #7 crewel needle)

5. strong thread (I used Gutermann topstitching thread)

6. scissors

Beads and cord

What you do:

1.  Cut a short length of thread and fold it over the cord.

100_7373

2. Push the thread up through your big bead and pull it out at the top, the cord with it.

100_7376

3. Pull the cord up until the loop is about as big as you want it. Leave approx 1.5 cm of cord stub sticking out of the bottom

100_7377

4. Thread your needle and knot the end. Run it through the stub and wrap the cord round it a couple of times to make it really secure.

100_7379

100_7380

5. Trim the stub if it’s got a bit fluffy.

100_7381

6. Make the first length of beads: thread them on (in the order of your choice), using a little seed bead as the last one.

100_7383

100_7385

7. Skipping the last bead, take your needle and thread back up through all the other beads back to where you started.

100_7386

100_7388

It will look something like this:

100_7389

8. Make a couple of stitches through the stub to secure the thread nicely, then start a second length of beads.

100_7390

9. Add as many lengths of beads as you like (depending on whether you want your tassel to be slender or chubby), and vary each length slightly.

100_7392

10. When you’re happy with how it looks, secure the thread tightly in the stub and carefully trim off any messy bits.  I also like to dab on a bit of clear nail polish or fabric glue, just to make extra sure the thread won’t ever loosen. Push the head down firmly and knot the cord if you wish.

100_7409

And that’s it! If anything is unclear, please let me know.

To give you some more ideas, here are some of the tassels currently in my home:

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they're on the key to the linen cupboard

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they’re on the key to the linen cupboard

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

And if you don’t have the materials to make your own tassel, or if you want someone else to have the fun of making one, I’ve finally got around to making up more kits for bead tassel keyrings and listing them on etsy again.

Back soon x