Tag Archives: beads

cutting cords

In my mid-30s, I resigned from a well-paying but highly stressful middle-management position with an internationally-recognised tertiary institution – to open a needlecraft shop! I bought and renovated a little cottage in Rosebank and had the business (which was called Threads) for seven years. While I will never ever even consider having a shop again (for reasons too numerous to go into here), I don’t regret the decision I made at the time. I learnt about bookkeeping, how to think out of the box, how to handle stupid and/or rude people in a way that didn’t release toxins into my system, and about never giving up – until the writing really was on the wall in bright green neon letters (when it was no longer about giving up but about being realistic and doing the necessary). I didn’t learn how to get rich or how to achieve a healthy balance between work and family life, but, hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One of the things I did was organise workshops – cross-stitch for children in the school holidays (gak!), freestyle embroidery, tassel-making, beading, etc. I’d run the kiddies’ workshops myself but found a few lovely people who were experts in beading/ crewel work/ fabric painting, etc., to run courses from my shop, thereby bringing in more customers. I learnt about tassel-making from a wonderful textile artist called Marie (I can’t remember her surname now) and one of the tricks in her bag of wonders was a cord-winder. Traditional passementerie required one to make one’s own cord for wrapping the head, and since I had got bitten big-time by the tassel bug, I had to find a winder for myself.

Above is one of the first tassels I made, which I found at the back of a dusty box in the garage marked “kitchen stuff”. As you can see, the cord wrapped around the head is coming loose, but the idea is to show you how essential it is to have a cord winder for making cords of different widths and in specific colours.

I believe it’s not difficult for a handy person to make a cord winder from some kind of rotating piece of simple machinery and four cup hooks, but that person isn’t me. There was a company in the UK at that time that manufactured the winder pictured above, and of course that was the one I had to have. 23 years ago it wasn’t as easy to order things from other parts of the world to South Africa as it is today, so Plan B was to ask my then sister-in-law (who lives in London) to order one for me and bring it with her on her next visit to Cape Town. Her visits were frequent and regular, and within six weeks I had my new baby. I seem to remember that it was priced around 30 quid but Elaine generously refused to let me reimburse her.

Many hundreds of tassels were made until my enthusiasm ran out. I had a retired neighbour who had a lathe and he would make wooden tassel heads for me in shapes I liked. Here are some that I still have left over.

Where is this post going? you’re wondering. Does it have a point or is the crazy old bat just meandering around lost in her craftmaking memories?

The point is that, since I’ve started making fabric beads for my own necklaces, the idea of using handmade wrapped cord keeps popping up in my head. Here’s experiment #1:

I used some fuzzy blue yarn, some orange bamboo cotton and a novelty pompom yarn with greys, oranges and creams. I bound off the ends and turned them into tassels with beads. I did this when I should have been doing household chores like washing-up, vacuuming the rug and scrubbing the shower tiles. Over 24 hours later and those things remain unattended to….

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.

desperately seeking…followers

You know how I sometimes make really weird things, or attack a garment with random embellishments? Just because, you know, I can?

reworked jacket    green

Well, all those one-of-a-kind bits of kookiness are now going to be featured on instagram under Nice_piece_of_work. There are currently two garnished jackets on show, but more oddities will follow soon. Prices are in South African Rand (ZAR). Postage costs will have to be discussed privately. I imagine the postage to anywhere outside of my part of the world at the tip of Africa will be prohibitive, so it may only be the South African hippies who I’ll ever hear from. Which is fine – I love you guys, all twelve of you.

PS. I only have 17 followers so far. I realise this is Not Exactly Big Time, so I’m not too proud to ask you to follow me… xxx

 

FO: beaded boho scarf

Finished object: ta da! Started here and very pleased with the result :-)  Decided to get fancy with some multicoloured beads to go with the whole vibrant boho look, as well.

scarf-4

scarf-1

I threaded the beads on and crocheted them into the last row on the two shorter sides, then added a slightly bigger red sputnik glass bead on both corners. Cape Town gets windy in winter, you know!- don’t want my scarf getting blown off….

scarf-2

pixie hats

A while back I made a pixie hat:
blue pixie 1

It came with me to a lot of markets but no-one liked it enough to buy it. Until last Saturday, when a woman came along, grabbed it, stuck on her sister’s head and said Right, this is yours. And could I please order one for my son?  I’ve just finished his:

new pixie 2         new pixie 3 new pixie 5

Despite all the things I crochet from patterns, this is my favourite thing of all – to just make something up as I go along, changing colours and thicknesses, adding in a row of popcorns here and there, and doing some wiggly beady bits on the top to finish it off.  This way, nothing can ever turn out wrong !!!