Sunday, 31 March 2013

Embroidered rizo flowers

I just had to share these little florals I did last night (an by night, I mean really night -- as in after midnight). It's an idea I've had for some time, probably since before I got these beads from Fru Pärla, but having prioritized other projects it wasn't until last night I acutally sat down and tried that little design idea of mine.

When I finished, I just had to share the result so I got the camera out today and took some quick snapshots. (A bit too quick in some cases -- sorry about the blurry quality in the top photo, but it was the best one I had...)


I'm rather pleased with how the different flowers turned out. Ok, using partially green beads on a green foundation wasn't that clever and emerald capri gold's not the most petal-like colour, but I just grabbed what I had closest to me -- and you can still see the flowers. It's not like they disappeared into the felt or anything. But try to imagine them in a solid, floral colour as they might look even better if I tried doing them in, say, purple or pink instead of "half green".

For the medium flower, I'm thinking of making a version with green beads in the outer circles, making it a flower with sepals or leaves around the petals.

That slightly wonky rizon on the left side of the small flower in the above photo is annoying: why didn't I see that before taking the photo? Anyway, if using it in jewellery, it's probably best to add a ring of seeds around the flower so the rizos are completely fixed in an upright position. They usually are, but can be flattened if the flower pushes against something, it snags on a loose thread or you put something on it. Not a probably if it's used in a wall hanging etc, but can be an issue in jewellery.

That's just a problem with the small flower, with the larger ones, the subsequent rows of beads keep each rizo in a fixed position.

By the way, this is a simple little design that'd I could whip up a how-to for pretty easily so if you want to see one here on the blog (and on my other blog), just let me know. ;-)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Happy Easter!

There won't be any daffodils outdoors for a long time, but my mom had a bouquet indoors that I got some photos of instead.

And perhaps a pic of the whole boquet? Unfortunately on a very busy table (which I tried to blur a bit with a failed attempted at soften focus -- well, perhaps the warm, hazy effect appeals to someone...)

Have a great weekend/holiday -- and fingers crossed we all soon get a real, warm spring and hosts of golden daffodils outdoors too!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Tin thread resources

Tin thread bracelets are a search query that keeps popping up in my blog stats. I've also received several e-mails about where to buy tin thread (or pewter thread if you prefer) as it's not readily available outside Scandinavia. So for some time I've been thinking about writing an article with resources concerning this type of jewellery. And why then not do it already today? I did and here it is -- all about tin thread in english.

What is tin thread?

Tin thread or pewter thread is a gimp, that is a core around which fiber or fine metal wire is wound. In this case it's a fine silver-tin wire spun around a cotton core. There are also gold-plated thread aswell as copper and enamelled copper threads available today.

Metal threads made like this were common throughout Europe since the Middle Ages, but mostly they were made using precious metal. In Scandinavia, where gold and silver threads were used, it seems like the Sami where the only ones making tin thread. Originally reindeer sinew was used as a core, but nowadays a textile core is used. While the threads can now be made with machines, some sami artisans still make their own tin thread by hand.

The thread come in different sizes and to make it complicated, the width measurement is often based on the thickness of the core, which determines the width of the finished thread, not the whole tin thread. If the thread is said to be 0,3 mm then it will in fact be about 0,7-0,8 mm. 0,35 mm tin thread is 0,9-1,0 mm thick and 0,4 mm thread is 1,05-1,15 mm in diameter.

What's the history behind sami tin thread bracelets?

Tin thread has been used in traditional Sami embroidery since at least the Middle Ages. Nowadays it's mostly used in bracelets and jewellery where tin thread braids are stitched onto reindeer hide. The jewellery is often called a traditional Sami handicraft, but isn't as old as the embroidery. It was most likely first made for the tourists that began to holiday in the northerns mountains around the early 1900's. In Sweden this type of jewellery, mostly bracelets, is made by non-Sami and Sami crafters alike.

Making these bracelets was popular when I was a kid (80's, early 90's). I also think it had a certain rise in popularity during the 70's as well, when all things traditional craft where in vogue, but I'm to young to know that for sure. Some years years ago tin thread braiding again became popular, but this time it was more about colours. Instead of just natural or dark brown or black dyed hides, craft stores began selling dyed and patterned strips of hide. And there was also a wide variety of colours in the threads, not just the traditional tin threads, but enamelled spun copper threads. The "tin thead bracelet trend" seem to be constantly evolving: a couple of years ago I noticed that the red, moss green, black and blue was gone from the craft chain catalogue I got. Instead there was silver and lilac hide -- lamb, not reindeer -- matched with the silver-grey tin thread. They pitched it as"folklore gone glam". And last year I could find bright, almost neon tin thread and hides as well as patterned reindeer hide. Of cause, there's still the more traditional dark brown and black reindeer hide too.

I do not know how many more years it will be trendy for crafters and hobbyist jewellery-makers to make these bracelets, but I do know that it never really seems to fall out of fashion: there are always a few people making these, especially in the North.

How do I make tin thread braided jewellery?

As far as I know there aren't many instructions in english for making tin thread bracelets. I have found three project in english at Not Only Quilts: Sami bracelet -- the tutorial, Simple Katarina bracelet och Macrame. Some years ago I did spot a US place that taught tin thread bracelet making, but I can't recall their name and don't know if they still do it.

As you can translate websites using Google Translate, instructions and tutorials in swedish can be useful too. You can find a couple of how-tos at e.g. Slöjd-Detaljer, YLE and Min Fritid. You can also make braided or knotted jewellery without the hide foundation -- see Med glimten i ögat and YLE.

Panduro Hobby have a free pdf pamphlet with how-tos in swedish, danish and norwegian here.

Books in swedish include Tenntrådsflätning by Maggie Alexandersson (Brevskolan) and Tenntrådsbroderier by Mona Callenberg (ICA Bokförlag). The latter is more about tin thread embroidery than about tin thread jewellery, though. Gällivare Textil have published a pamphlet called Gällivare Textils Mönsterbok för skinnsömnad och tenntrådsbroderi. And for those who learn best from watching others, Agnetas Allehanda have made instructional DVDs.

For some pure eye candy, my favourite place to go is Sarakka Design.

 Where can I buy tin thread?
Outside Scandinavia it appears to be tricky to find tin thread and tin thread jewellery supplies. You are really stuck with two options: ask your local craft store or bead shop to carry it -- or buy from a scandinavian seller.

A few places in Sweden, that I know deliver internationally, are Agnetas Allehanda (wellknown source for materials and courses), Kero and TNKreativt (formerly Luletråden). There are more places, I guess, both in Sweden and in the other Scandinavian countries, but these are the better known sources. Gällivare Textil is also a shop I've heard good things about, but I'm not sure if they deliver internationally. One shop that do offer international delivery, but which I doesn't know anything about is Sörbyns Tenntråd. I also think Slöjdmaterial i Luleå and (scroll to end of page) sells internationally, judging from the fact the websites are in english as well as swedish.

Then there's the chain where much of my own thread comes from, Panduro. It's a Danish chain of craft shops, based in Sweden nowadays, and they also have international websites, which you can find here.

These sellers all have supplies ranging from threads and reindeer hide to reindeer horn buttons and jewellery kits. Some of them also carry books or how-to pamphlets.

NB! Be prepared -- some shops charge a rather hefty shipping cost, especially if buying whole rolls as they are pretty bulky. It's probably best to contact the shop first to get an estimate if you are unsure about the costs. Remember that if you're outside the EU, you can deduct the moms (VAT/sales tax) off the retail prices (sometimes you can view the prices without moms directly and wholesale prices for businesses are always quoted without moms). That's 20 % off the listed retail price.


Well, not much flowers outdoors eventhough the winter aconites and snowdrops are showing up again as the snow keeps thawing. But there's at least some flowers indoors. Like this campanula.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Bead shop map updated -- yay me!

Guess what I finally managed to do today? I've updated the Swedish Bead Shop Map! Long overdue so it feels good to have it done. Sure, there are a few minor things I should do that I never did (update the info on each shop to not include their range unless it's a speciality store, check open hours), but that's not really important compared to what I managed to do: add new shops and remove those that have closed up.

And I've changed the markers. I think you can tell what kind of colours I like... Honestly, the colour scheme just happened: the orchid/mauve markers wher actually going to be green or turquoise to keep with our original palette, but the colours where just too similar. Amongst the colours left to use, this was the one I was the most drawn to.

You can find the map, which also include links to lists of swedish webshops, here.

By the way, I'm always interested in feedback from visitors who don't speak swedish as I do get a few of those. Is it a usable resource for non-swedes? What can be done to make the map easier to understand? (Save actually write the info on each shop in english -- sorry, it's a map mainly targeted at swedes and swedish will remain the language of the site.) Is there any additional information a foreign visitor to Sweden might like to have in order to prepare for their bead shopping here? Should I perhaps add a short vocabulary so you understand that at least one shop is wholesale (to the public) only as I'm unsure about whether Google Translate can translate the info boxes on the map? If you have a suggestion, tip or question, just let me know. In the comments or you can contact me privately through the contact page.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

Here's how I got those pawprints on the outside of an upstairs window. I wanted to take a few photos of the snowfall without getting the camera wet so I hung out through my bedroom window. That's when Uggi insisted he should get up on the window and as I was holding onto the camera, I couldn't stop him (when he digs hims claws into a window frame, he's hard to pull away with one hand). Which then prompted Jinja to get up there too...

I had to tilt the window inwards to make sure they wouldn't slip off. Which turned out to be very effective: when I put put the camera away I could tilt the window so much they had to come back in -- or slip slide back in. I'm really not going to let this become a habit!

This window is actually a good choice when you have window-climbing cats: with the other windows, which a side-hinged, some of the kitties -- like Jinja and now also Uggi -- like to jump up on top of the open window. Not a problem on the ground floor, but I don't like it when they do it upstairs.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Maneki's bead blog February recap

Ok, Janurary recap finished, now it's time to get through February too. And then next week, March will be the last month I do a monthly instead of (bi)weekly recap as I will have caught up by then.

In february I featured everything from new beads and children's jewellery sizes to pinwheel jewellery and cat hair beads.

Maneki's bead blog January recap

As perhaps some of you have noticed, I haven't done any recaps of what I've written over on my other blog this year. It wasn't intentional and at time I remembered, but had other things to do. The recaps are really just a way to lend a helping hand to anyone who doesn't speak swedish, but would be interested in the things I write about or link to at Manekis pärlblogg. As most of the tutorials and webpages I like to are in english, the language isn't necessarily a problem.

It's a little something I've been doing since december 2009. It's not perhaps my most popular blog feature, but sometimes it does generate a little traffic. And I like it so I'm not intending to give it up. So today I'll write two catch-up post: one recap for january and one for february. As usual I'm putting a break before the list so it won't take up too much space.

As usual I list the blog posts from newest to oldest with each headline being a link to the post in question. I may skip out-of-date contests, challenges and news in these recaps.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A sunset and a sparrow

Times flies (so much so that I missed Doctor Who this week too...) and so I didn't get around to edit the sunset pics from yesterday and today. I only have this one of the sun setting behind some trees.

And I have on of a Tree Sparrow (pilfink) that I found outside my bedroom window earlier today. They sometimes sit in the earler bush or on the barn roof just outside my window. It's especially nice summertime when I have the window open and hear more of their song.

I claim to never get any decent pics of birds. In this case I took the photo through the window in order not to scare away the birds and that window haven't been cleaned for ages. Just look at this:

Wait a minute, you might say, is that pawprints? On the outside of a upper floor window? Yes it is. I'll see if I can find the pics so I can show you how they ended up there and made a dirty window even dirtier. Though I guess the kitties consider it beautification...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Snow and snowdrops

It started to snow here again a few days ago. We didn't get that blizzard SMHI warned about, instead we got a couple of windy days with a little snow. And then today the snow increased (though it has just ceased and the the sun is shining through the snowclouds as I write this).

We got a little sun inbetween the clouds this afternoon so I took the opportunity to take a few pics of what the snowdrops look like now.  A bit different from the first photos I took...

To give you an idea of what i looks like today, here's a snapshot of the scenery today:

 It was still snowing when I took that.

I should perhaps add -- for those of you who don't know me or haven't followed me for very long -- that one reason I whine about spring is because that's when I get my first "guaranteed" income of the year as I'm a seasonal farm worker and it's first when the temperatures go up and the soil thaws that we can begin setting potatoes. So it's not just a longing for the wonderful beauty that is spring, it's also a purely financial longing for money.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

I don't really have any photos for today so you'll have to make due with these two that I took one night when Uggi tried to sleep. The end of his tail was standing right up while he was sleeping -- as you can see below -- and I just had to get a pic to show the sis.

Still messing about with my digital doodles...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Ah, to live between winter and spring

When I showed the first snowdrops and dared to tag the post spring (as well as winter), I knew there'd be a backlash. After all, March was already then colder than usual. It was just that the snow had melted, the birds sang, and the sunsets had spring colours. It was more about wanting spring than actually seeing it, even if the first signs were there.

This is what it looked like on Tuesday night. After one hour of snowfall -- there came more later.

It continued to snow throughout Wednesday (see below). Doesn't feel like spring anymore, now does it? Well, some of it melted today and the sky was sort of blue towards the evening so it doesn't feel like midwinter again. Just a slow spring.

I'm not saying I'm tired of snow. I just want some more green, sun and temperatures that aren't subzero. More of the first photo, less of the last (both taken midday). Is that too much to ask in mid-March?

Any recommendations for feed reader alternative?

I don't have a FB account, nor do I really hang on Twitter or Google+ despite having accounts there. No, my favourite social media is Pinterest and blogs. I subscribe to a huge number of blogs. Some because I enjoy reading them or look at the pictures, other beacuse they're great resources for my other blog. All in all, I like the free format blogs offer compared to, say, Twitter which is all about short sentences and no pics. Well, there are attached pics of cause, but no immediate visual appeal like with blogs and Pinterest. I might be old-fashioned, not wanting to be on places like Facebook and just focusing on blogs.

Daily, I depend on Google Reader, a free online feed reader, to keep up with the flow of blog posts and articles (it's not just blogs that have rss feeds). But now Google have decided to shut down their feed reader. Missed the news, but when logging on today there was a box saying Reader is to be closed down in July and would I like to learn more.

What to do? One can still hope they change their minds as I like the reader. But it's not likely, is it? It's business and business doesn't care about how I feel. Instead I need to find an alternative. A free, online rss feed reader. One that's easy to use and that I can rely on. Reliability is very important. Finding Google Reader via my Blogger dashboard, I never looked at the alternatives when starting to follow blogs so I have no idea what alternatives there are out there.

Perhaps I'll find a fab reader by summer (when Google Reader close down) and forget about ever using Google Reader, but right now it just feels like a huge task to find an alternative to rely on and then getting used to. And to move all my blog feeds to. I'm already feeling stressed, worrying that I'm going to lose blogs when moving to a new reader.

So... Anyone out there have a recommendation for another reader, a good place to go to instead of Google? I want a simple, easy-to-use reader that doesn't require having to download a software as I'm mostly using either my parents' computer or, on rare occasions, a laptop and can't install whatever I want (not that they'd notice, but still: I want an online service). And it needs to be free as I'm still poor. If it's easy to import all my blog feeds from Google Reader to the new service it'd be even better.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

What I got from Noemi

Finally, I've gotten around to taken a few photos of the bead soup I got from Noemi for the party in April. Curious about what I got? Well, let's go through the "loot".

In the first gift bag, I found this gorgeously coloured mix of silk ribbon, leather cord (which gave me a real urge for liquorice -- fortunately, I bought a bag when picking up the package from the local post agent), beads and two ceramic links. Those colours are just so me, don't you think? Mmmm, purple...

It also included these lovely, delicate copper components: a toggle clasp and three links with stamped words. I forgot to include them in the first pic, which would've made it easier to gauge the size of these petite pieces. When showing a close-up like this they risk looking big and chunky while in real life, they're so sweet and dainty. So pretty!

In the other organza bag, I found this mix of bronze-coloured components and beads with the big, heart-embellished lampwork bead as the pièce de résistance (see photo below). Again, you can find some of my favourite colours here: green. Especially the lampwork bead have captured some luscious green tones. Add to that the bronze/brass-coloured findings that I always enjoy.


So as you can see I got a fab, inspiring bead soup to work with. Now that the music blog hop is over, I'm going to just focus on this soup, hoping to create something worthy of this beautiful gift. I'm really looking forward to playing and creating with these components.

Thank you so much, Noemi, for the lovely bead soup!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

I've mentioned how big Uggi is, comparing him to petite one-and-a-half year old Jinja, but never shown him with her. So here they are. Side by side. Or one on top of the other to be precise.

Uggi likes to play with and attack Jinja. And Jinja? Well, she's not really as fond of it as he is (just look at her eyes!). She's not all all ok with those attacks from a playful Uggi without a playmate in his own age. As you can see below.

Don't worry, they stopped before the road (hopefully not just because I was standing there, yelling at them). And, yes, Jinja did manage to get away from Uggsi.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

March bead soup palette

March equals spring so for this month's palette I wanted to toss together some light, bright colours. From sober (the muted february palette) to sunny.

This is a really simple mix with a favourite of mine in the Swarovski range: padparadscha, which is a kind of pink peachy tone, as delicious and juicy as tropical fruit. It's also a great colour as it goes together with all the usual metal colours of jewellery findings, from silver to antiqued brass. For this particular mix, however, it'd be best to stick to shiny silver or gold to bring out the brightness and lightness of the beads.

And, by the way, the transparent topaz can be substituted with gold (plate) for those who prefer a more opaque and solid yellow hue.

Padparadscha is a versatile colour that suits many different palettes and seasons. For an autumn version, you can use an earthier green such as olivine or khaki and substitute e.g. light colorado topaz or lime for the yellow topaz.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

More digital doodles

These are two variations on the same theme (which appears to have been "spooky" -- not a planned theme, just something that grew out of playing with the photos). I've been layereing three or four of my own pictures, then tweaked the colours and brightness and added frames, creating two different pics.

Neither of them are perfect, but then again that's why I call it digital doodles and not digital artwork (well, I do call it art in the tags, but that's just because it's shorter). Looking at them today, though, I kind of like them. Made an oops with the second one as the frame got more grey in the corners than I would've wanted. Ideally it should've been white/invisible. Other than that, they're dark and weird and I like them -- despite that light "veil" on the right.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

First snowdrops

The other day I said we had no snowdrops and up until yesterday that was true. But when I looked to day, more snow had melted and both snowdrops and winter aconites (vintergäck) had started to bud and bloom. And as has become an annual tradition, the first snowdrops require a post and a note on how late or early they are this year. This year they were neither late nor early it seems. As you can see in the posts for 2012 (24/2), 2011 (15-16/3), 2010 (20/3) and 2009 (28/2).

It's really tricky to pick out the photos to post among the roughly 50 pics I saved. So it's ending up being a long post. Enjoy!


Mustn't forget the aconites either.The snowdrops tend to get all the attentions as they're so elegant and delicate, but the winter aconites are sunny signs of  seasons about to change that deserve some of the spotlight.

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