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August 22, 2014

Separation Anxiety



Pardon me while I take time out for a little, woe-is-me self pity party.  My daughter left for college (in Colorado, in case you didn't get that from the photo) and now I have an empty next.  Yes, it sounds all cliche, but that was when it was about someone else.  Now that it's about me, it's different, because let's face it, we humans are basically a self centered lot.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity getting her ready.  In the middle of all that, she took time to donate to Locks of Love.  This is her (on the left) when she graduated three months ago.  See how long her hair was?



She was able to donate and still have hair that is past her shoulders.  The new shorter length should be much easier, which will be great for a busy student. This is her and her roommate in their dorm room.  Swanky, huh?

  
After getting her all settled in, we made the long drive home.  To an empty house.  Today I found one of her socks left behind in the dryer.  *sigh*  THIS should not make a grown woman cry.




August 18, 2014

It's GIVEAWAY Time!

Giveaway:  Micro Macrame bracelet made by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Recently, Marta from Shanti Free Bird contacted me about giving away one of my micro macrame bracelets on her blog.  I usually have to say "no" to these requests (or I'd go broke!) but after spending some time reading her blog, I could not resist.  She is such an interesting person and leads such a fascinating life!  I am in awe (and a bit jealous, I must admit).

I challenge you to read a few of her posts like this one:  Bundi Festival in India and not be inspired and enchanted by her enthusiasm.  I mean seriously:

Shanti Free Bird - camel in the Sahara

She's ridden a camel in the Sahara and gone boating on the canals of Amsterdam:

Shanti Free Bird - canals of Amsterdam

Shanti Free Bird - biking in Laos

She's gone biking through Laos and traveled to Asia.  Alone!  She says people are more likely to approach you when you are by yourself, so you are never really alone.  This is her at a wedding in India demonstrating that theory:

Shanti Free Bird - wedding in India

Her sense of adventure is exhilarating and intoxicating!  I'll be following along on her blog, waiting for her next trip and I hope you'll join me.

Meanwhile, she is sponsoring a giveaway of one of my micro macrame bracelets.  You can find all the details here on her blog.  And just in case you've gotten sidetracked with me, dreaming of foreign places, and have forgotten which bracelet is being given away, I'll leave you with a reminder:

Giveaway:  Micro Macrame bracelet made by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Good luck and happy travels!


August 13, 2014

A Contest, Artisan Beads and Micro Macrame - What's Not to Love!

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey featuring ceramic beads by Karen Totten.

Artisan Component Marketplace is a group of very talented artisans who gather on Facebook to buy and sell their handcrafted components.  The range of talent there is amazing and several of my favorite bead makers are there.  The group recently sponsored a contest requiring only the use of components made by one of the members.  I love to work with art beads anyway, so this seemed a convenient excuse to buy more use some.

Ceramic bird bead set by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.

I started with this Enchanted Woodland Bird set by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.  She described it as "A ceramic bird bead set in an palette of mossy woodland colors. These beads made me think of a hike in a forest shaded by tall pine trees, full of mystery and magic!"  If the photo hadn't lured me in, the description just might have. 

Another group to which I belong, Color Combo Challenge, features inspiration color palettes and it has really helped me to expand and think of colors in combinations I normally wouldn't consider.  This palette from Design Seeds really appealed to me and seemed to fit Karen's bead set well.

Color Palette by Design Seeds.
Photo from http://design-seeds.com/
 
Are you seeing how this could come together beautifully?  I certainly could.  I've really been trying to expand my micro macrame knotting lately with trying out new ideas.  I wanted a fairly simple rope for these beads, and what I came up with looks much like kumihimo, but my version is just done with half knots.  

Micro Macrame knotted rope by Knot Just Macrame.

Matches the palette?  Check.  Matches the beads?  Check.  Then I was digging around looking for a bail to hang the beads from the cord and couldn't find just the right thing.  Everything I had looked to "fussy" for the look I wanted and somewhere in the midst of this it dawned on me that I could probably knot something that would work.  

Knotted micro macrame rope and bail necklace with ceramic artisan beads.
 
I knotted a piece, then folded it over the rope, threaded the beads on the remaining cords, put a few square knots under the last bead to hold everything in place and left a few cords for a swishy little tail at the end.  Simple and effective, I think.

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

I wanted the wearer to be able to adjust the length of this necklace, so I added some caps to the ends of the rope and a bit of chain on either end.  This piece can be worn shorter so the beads fall in the hollow of the throat and nestle in a neckline, or longer to fit on the outside of a collar or sweater.  

I think this piece turned out beautifully and what's more, the judges from the Artisan Component Marketplace thought so, too.  I won First Place and a gift certificate to spend in my favorite component maker's store!  And you KNOW how I love to shop for more beads!  There are so many talented artists in that group, I am having a terrible time trying to decide which one to chose.

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame featuring ceramic beads by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.

August 5, 2014

Matubo Beads and Micro Macrame

Seed bead size comparison, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0

Have you tried out the new Matubo seed beads yet?  They are 7/0 beads, falling in between the 6/0 and 8/0 seed bead sizes.  In the photo, the first beads (on the left) are 6/0 beads from Miyuki (146FR if you love the color).  The beads in the middle are Matubo beads in Blue Picasso and on the right are 8/0 beads in metallic bronze.  Even though the overall size (outer dimensions) falls squarely between the others, the hole size is closer to that in the larger 6/0 beads.

Bead size comparison

The secret to these little wonders is the manufacturing method.  Matubo beads are made by pressing rather than then traditional method of cutting glass tubes into pieces.  The pressing method has several advantages:  it produces much more uniformly sized and shaped beads, the holes can be larger in comparison to the bead (thinner walls) and the holes have smoother edges.  Those things may not seem like a big deal, but they're really great for micro macrame.  The larger hole size is really nice, especially if you are knotting with the thicker Tex 400 cord.  I've found I can get two cords through the Matubos.

I started out putting them in a pattern I've made quite a lot.  I really love the finish on these beads.

Matubo beads in Micro Macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey

Then I thought I'd experiment a little.

Original micro macrame bracelet designed by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

In this pattern, I used them in the center of each little shape as well as in between the rows and along both edges.  The shiny little beads in the lacy loops are 11/0, just to give you another size comparison.

Original micro macrame bracelet designed by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

All in all, I like these new beads.  I always like choices, and having a new size and new colors and finishes is great! 

Two micro macrame bracelets from Knot Just Macrame


July 31, 2014

The Little Mermaid in Micro Macrame

Free form micro macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey with lamp work focal by Laurie Ament.

You're probably saying to yourself, "Hey, wait a minute!  I don't see any mermaid!"  Well, this is not one of those literal pieces, this is one of those artsy pieces where you have to squint and stand back a ways to truly appreciate it (kidding, just kidding - you won't find a mermaid even if you do that, although I would find it amusing). 

The folks over at the Art Bead Scene Blog sponsor a challenge every month wherein they chooose an image for inspiraiton and challenge you to use an art bead in some way in the creation of a piece.  They define art beads as "a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist.  Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist."  I love art beads of all kinds and I have lots of favorite artisans.  If you've been following my blog for long, you've probably seen some pieces sure to inspire envy.

  The inspiration piece for July is The Little Mermaid by Edmund Dulac:

The Little Mermaid by Edmund Dulac

I'm always drawn to sea themes and I love this piece because it isn't the stereotypical sea theme.  It has a dark twist to it (not the skull and skeleton).  Everything is broken and twisted and jumbled.  It's chaotic and it has lots of muted color.  I had a bead by lamp work artist Laurie Ament of Isinglass Design that I thought would work perfectly for this project.  Laurie actually made this bead and asked me to make a free form micro macrame piece with it for her.  I got some of her beautiful beads in exchange for doing this, so it was win-win!  She makes all kinds of great pieces like fish and turtles and shells and seahorses... and I could go on and on, but it might be best if you just pop over to her shop and take a peek for yourself and I'll get on with the story.  This is the bead Laurie sent:

Lamp work glass bead by Laurie Ament of Isinglass Designs.

It's different on the other side:

Lamp work glass bead by Laurie Ament of Isinglass Designs.

See what I mean about this piece fitting the inspiration piece?  It just has that feel to it and has lots of the colors from the illustration.  I tried setting the bead in black first and it wasn't right so I cut it apart.  Then I tried big patches of the colors pulled from the bead and it wasn't right either.  It was way too busy and completely overshadowed the bead, so I cut that apart, too.  I finally resorted to a very neutral gold color.  It's not a color I work with very often and it feels slightly uncomfortable, which I think works when you're aiming for chaotic.  I just started randomly knotting and got this far before I felt like giving up:

Free form macrame knotting work in progress.
 
My friend, Lindsay (she's brilliant, by the way - check her work out here) convinced me to keep going.  She suggested I add little bits of color, so I went  back to the drawing macrame board.

Free form macrame knotting work in progress.

Well, now it's starting to feel like something.  Of course, I'm not sure what it is starting to feel like, but something!  So I plugged on and ended up with this:

Free form macrame knotting.

and this:

Free form macrame knotting.

And this:

Free form micro macrame bracelet by Knot Just Macrame with lamp work focal by Laurie Ament.

And this:

Free form macrame knotting with tube bar slide clasp closure.

I just love it when a plan comes together.  This one was a challenge for me in many ways.  The colors were not my old standby, comfortable colors and I'm very much a straight line, symmetrical kind of person.  Free form is hard for me.  I have to work hard to make it look like I didn't work hard!  I do free form once in a while (you can see some examples here and here if you're interested), but it doesn't come easily.  

Anyway, with Laurie's bead and Mr. Dulac's illustration for inspiration, it all gelled.  I swear I even see a swirl of tentacles, the sweeping fan of a shell and little bits of the tangled sail and mast in the knotting.  Maybe even some of the stringy seaweed floating in the deep currents.  Are you with me?

Macrame cuff inspired by The Little Mermaid by Edward Dulac.






July 28, 2014

It's a Micro Macrame Wrap, Matey

Nautical Micro Macrame wrap bracelet by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio makes some really fun beads - I have some of her scarabs and trilobites (two of my favorite geeky subjects) as well as some seashells.  Recently I purchased a set with a sailboat bead and some coordinating rounds and I wanted to run with the nautical theme.  

Nautical Micro Macrame wrap bracelet by Sherri Stokey.

I started out with a variation of the leafy micro macrame pattern I've been working with quite a lot lately and added some tiny seed beads at the ends of the rows.  I kind of like the way the beads outline the shapes.  

Ceramic beads by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio.

After putting in a large red bead (also from Diana), I added a section of spiral knotting with some deep navy blue and red along with the medium blue I used in the first part.  Next came Diana's sailboat bead.  Two more of her beads and a little starfish dangle below the bead add a little movement to the piece.  

Knotted micro macrame bracelet by Knot Just Macrame.

The next section has two lamp work beads from Carolyn Conley of Beads by CC Designs
 in the shape of shells.  They are so pretty and  different than any of the glass work shell beads I've ever seen.  The red round bead is a match for the one I used earlier.

I'm rather proud of the last bit of knotting on this bracelet.  I wanted something in keeping with the nautical theme and for some reason the little pennants came to mind.  The little triangle shapes I ended up with seem to mimic that fairly well!

Knotted micro macrame bracelet by Knot Just Macrame with art beads by Suburban Girl Studio.

Did you notice the knotted rope clasp?  My friend Cory Tompkins made that for me just specifically for this piece!  The rest of it is just too special to end it with a boring clasp and when I asked her to come up with something, she made this!  I love it and I paired it with a simple brass hook to secure the bracelet.  

After all that, you know what the best part is?  Not only is this an awesome wrap bracelet, but it makes a pretty legit necklace, too!

Knotted micro macrame necklace in asymmetrical design.


July 22, 2014

Enjoying Summer

summer in the grass

Ahhh...I've been relaxing and destressing and enjoying summer.  And smiling so hard you should be able to hear it.

summer in the grass

summer in the grass

The only thing more magical than summer is summer through the eyes of a child.

childish wonder