Monday, October 19, 2009

Scarcely No. 8 and 20 gauge Kumi

After a summer of trying to get quilting projects done, I decided to start working on my kumi projects again.  

As I may have noted before, started out I using cotton embroidery floss to make most of my braids.  However, I have collected several nice colors of silk and some lovely bamboo threads, so I thought I'd gear up to work with them by switching to perle cotton.

Now, I first worked with perle cotton when I moved to the marudai, and I didn't like it because it had a twist.   However, it turns out that THAT was no. 5 perle. After a couple people on the kumi2 mailinglist recommended No. 8 (which, like larger numbers of wire, is thinner), I thought I'd try that. It is still twisted, but you can use multiple threads to give an appearance similar to kumihimo silk (although not nearly as thin as that!)

The fun thing is that compared to embroidery floss, No. 8 perle works up fast because the scale is so much larger. When I talk about 3-4 strands of embroidery floss, I mean, you take the 6-strand length apart and use 4 of of's TEENSY!  On the other hand, four strands of No. 8 perle cotton I can see without my glasses, thus making any problems with the braid really obvious early on.

The big problem for me about No. 8, at least in my neck of the woods, is that it seems to come in white, ecru, off-white, eggshell, light tan, light ecru... well, you get it, not many colors at all.   When I came across some in actually non-white colors unexpectedly, I bought all I could, which included red, blue and black (and white, but no ecru :>)

But other than playing with No. 8 perle (which someone described as "shimmery" but I didn't get that effect) I started noodling around with some 20 gauge copper wire.

I've wanted to play with kumi and wire, but I had so many more projects I wanted to try first that I never actually gave it a shot. When I found some pre-cut  scrap wire, I decided to try a very simple 4 strand braid.

Unbeknownst to me (at that point), very thin wire is recommended for kumi with wire, and then it behaves a bit like thread. Using a bigger wire, means that I did not need the Marudai OR the disk/plate. This is okay if you're only using 4 strands, but I think I'd like some references if I work with more strands.

For my next experiment, I have cut 8 strands 22g colored copper wire, but I still need to contemplate how to kumi without the disk or marudai but still with some reference.

More later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life Gets You When You Can Least Handle It

Well, I apologise for not keeping up my blog. It's been more effort to paint my life in a positive light that I could handle for a while. Yes, it's true. Life has been bad...and not-so-good.

One to of the "bad" spots is the death of my Aunt Madge. She was who I always wished I could grow up to be. Smart, compassionate, full of faith and energy, world-traveller. She was who my family always turned to when we felt overwhelmed with medical stuff since she had been a career Navy nurse. She died of cancer last month.

Towards the end I was trying to write her every week since the cancer was pressing on her diaphragm and it made talking on the phone difficult. So even though *I* wanted to hear *her*, it was all I could do to make sure she had something not depressing to think about come in the mail every week or so. I felt helpless, and in the end, I knew that was all I could do, so I kept writing.

There, not here.

I lost hours on my PCA job, so even though the PCAs in MA got a raise, it translated to a wage cut for me. I've had a hard time cutting my living expenses (there's literally nothing left to cut), so I tried to throw myself into cutting other stuff from my life.

The good part of that is that I've been able to finish a bunch of quilting projects, like the Jane Stickle quilt with the double sized blocks called "Bright New Day" (at the top of the post), the Arrowhead Quilt (which ended up as a surprise gift for my brother, and Pasta e Faglioli (below, which went to my mother.)

Oh course, more bad news is that now Blue Cross/Blue Shield has raised my monthly premium, I have to apply to the state to get coverage...I simply cannot find $60 more per month to pay them.

This means, of course, officially admitting that I am poor, a blow to my ego. However, the bright spot is that my memory is so bad that I suspect I will soon forget that I am poor again and go on as before, scrimping and saving and thinking fond thoughts of solidarity with people living through the Great Depression.

Just so you don't think I have been one huge quivering mass of pitiful these past six months, one of the good things that has happened is that I have taken over my guild's web site (a good challenge always makes me feel less pathetic...or should I say apathetic.)  I spent the summer redesigning and recoding it, and it's been up at full tilt for the past month or so. I moved it from its old host to one with more "bells and whistles" so, I hope I can implement some of those starting in the new year.

As for the jewelry, we did well on our Spring Sale, but I haven't been able to put my mind and hands together to create much new stuff. I am hoping to photograph some of the pieces I made just before and after the Spring Sale and put them on our site and on etsy, but my creativity in photographing the pieces has been languishing. I have a couple of nice copper kumihimo bracelets, and a new assortment of silk and ribbon kumihimo necklaces, but nothing earth-shattering.

So, that's my last half-year. I will try and update my blog more often, but the problem with Depression is that Prozac really only takes the edges off, and sometimes you find yourself just hiding under the covers for the day.