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Separated by a Common Language

Bead Embroidered Circle Earrings. Candy 2-hole beads, seed beads, 3-cut beads, gold chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

While chatting to my little Thursday evening beading group, one of my Zoomer buddies pointed out she had been hiccupped by a mis-spelling in the pattern we were working on.

As a sideline I am pretending to be someone I am not yet i.e.. a bead pattern writer and teacher. (Got the gear, now got to get the mental goods to proceed in a forward direction …). And this means testing my written patterns with serious bead fairies. And as another aside – I have enough trouble getting the point across to my own American husband of over 25 years, imagine multiplying this disconnect 6 fold or more…? Writing beading instructions, or any instructions for that matter, takes guts.

Back to the discussion at hand: my bead fairy had hardly read through a sentence of the instructions before she hit upon the ‘spelling’ mistake which made her lose the thread.

I had written ‘specialised’ applique scissors under the Tools section.

Do you see the problem? I write in English. Not American. She got caught with the ‘S’ in specialised. The USA uses ‘Z’ in place of “S” and so it looks odd to the American eye. What is even more interesting is this lady is born Canadian. I suspect she is therefore sensitised (see the naughty ‘s’ in there?) to abnormalities in her adopted country. Just like I am. However, she brought up an excellent point.

The following observation is reputed to have been attributed to George Bernard Shaw (although nowhere in his writings has it been found) :-

“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

Not only do the two countries use many different spellings such as dropping the ‘U’ in colour, or flipping the ‘ER’ around as in ‘center‘, ‘ or ‘theater‘, but there are many, many idiosyncratic words and sayings which apply only to one country.

All the above to bring up the question – In what language should I write my bead patterns?

Much personal internal debate went on, along the lines of – But I’m primarily British so why shouldn’t I write in my own language? Or – yes, but you live in America (and have American citizenship) and you know how irritated you get if someone who does not use English/American as their first language won’t adapt to their adopted country. And what about – But then why do we, as Americans, bend over backwards to accommodate Spanish speaking, Korean speaking, Chinese speaking, every other kind of speaking population but dis the Brit?

I am inclined towards the following quote which lines up with my final decision:

“It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving himself airs.”

Bertrand Russell writing for The Saturday Evening Post

English is a different language. I am English, not Scottish, not Irish, not Welsh, not Cornish. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is just like the United States of America in that we are a disparate collection of states/kingdoms under one rule.

I am constantly aware my elocution and pronunciation, along with the particular phrases I grew up with, are an interest for those who meet me. It can get old when yet another checkout person asks me “Where are you from?” (they mix me up with Australian, New Zealanders, and South Africans). Or I get told they ‘lurve yer axet”. My response is usually – learned it from birth, would you like me to teach you?

These UK spellings, sayings etc. are intrinsic to my personality. They are part of me. And so I say:

ENJOY THE DIVERGENCE. ENJOY THE CHARACTER BEHIND THE WORDS. ENJOY THE HICCUP MOMENTS.

They give you a look into a different world and viewpoint. And into an original creator who enjoys offering you something slightly different. Not all bead patterns are made the same!

I am not giving myself airs – whatever you might think. I just speak English.

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Don’t Be Frightened of Fuchsia

Embroidered Beaded Heart Earrings - candy rose Czech glass beads, seed beads, and silver chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Ever noticed strange things going on when you work with pink beads? All sorts of pink beads. Dyed Fuchsia, Matte Magenta, Opaque Pink, Galvanized Rose etc.

Fire Mountain Gems has a useful chart of seed bead finishes and treatment durability. If you are completely dedicated to making jewelry for the ages and intend selling it to other folks then maybe avoid some of the less durable finishes.

But if you are making something yummy for yourself then it’s a shame to miss out on such gorgeous bright Purples, Pinks and Fuchsias. They are such happy colours.

I look at it the same way I look at handmade quilts. Dyed and printed fabric has the same issues – fading of certain colours. As the years of loving the quilt/bracelet go by you see the shifting, gentling shades. The artwork changes over the years and you can watch it and marvel at the new looks and how the colours work together.

There are quite a few of these fugitive colours in my stash. Some of them I use for my freeform sculptures. They get less handling and are usually not standing under UV rays which cause fading. But I wanted to use them in my jewelry.

I like bright coloured pretties. Must be something to do with getting older. When I was a young woman I might have been an artist but I hadn’t a clue how to dress myself. So I always resorted to beigey-type outfits knowing at least I didn’t look totally stupid. Until … a girlfriend remarked: “you are easy to find in a crowd, you are the one in beige”.

Erm…, not how I wanted to be remembered. (Not sure how I want to be remembered but definitely not BEIGE!).

Now those bright, bright pinks and blues call to me.

Yes, some of the finishes do chip but underneath the galvanised surface is a SILVER bead. Yes, silver. Or metallic anyway. And that’s pretty too. Not only do you have a fuchsia pink pair of earrings but there’s a silver sparkle in there, and a lovely pale pink from the dyed surfaces gentling into the night.

Now doesn’t that make you happy? Worth spending a little time on making something which gives a lift to the heart.

And is a fantastic way to use up those galvanised pinks, over dyed purples, and metal lined blues.

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Here We Go Again

A new decade, a new website.

From learning how to code a simple html website to uploading an e-Commerce WordPress site took 21 years and it has been an interesting ride. Like everyone else’s life, things happen, things change, things move on.

My interests have morphed from painting pictures in gouache, to stitching tiny pieces of fabric together, to weaving miniscule glass beads into sculpture and jewelry. Which is why my original blog is no more (actually, I accidentally deleted it while putting up this website so let’s not get too airy fairy). But… I did write a lot about quilts and now I want to write a lot about beads – so there, take that and like it!

I am working on retrieving some of the more interesting posts from 2012 onwards so they will slowly be added. Serves me right for being so eager beaver!

Till we meet again, I’m off to walk a poodle.

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Free Christmas Beading patterns

All Lit Up Earrings inspiration project by Fusion Beads

All Lit Up earrings from Fusion Beads. Very cute – done in fringe stitch, and pretty darn quickly too. I don’t care if it is Christmas or not – you can’t start too early with your holiday outfits and jewelry!

Candy Cane Boulevard bracelet by Fusion Beads.
Candy Cane Boulevard bracelet by Fusion Beads

And to match you could make this darling Candy Cane boulevard bracelet.

There are hundreds of free retired projects available at Fusion Beads. They are retired because Fusion no longer carries some of the supplies but they still want you to have a go. Click on the Free Instructions with Supply list line to the right of the image and you can download the free pdf.

Holly Wreath bracelet Inspiration Project from Fusion Beads.
Holly Wreath bracelet Inspiration Project from Fusion Beads

The Holly Wreath bracelet above is not retired as you can purchase the supplies. However, the pattern is still free. This elegant bracelet will probably take you from now until next Christmas to make but once done you’ll have it forever.

Beaded Christmas ornament by Sayila. Free beading pattern.
Beaded Christmas ornament by Sayila

I know it doesn’t look like it but I originally wrote this back in December 2013. This year (January 2020) I accidentally deleted my blog and am picking up the best of the posts and re-writing them. This pretty Christmas ornament pattern was available when I originally wrote the post but has since been removed. Fortunately for us all I managed to keep the images and the tutorial so you get to make this bauble after all. You can thank Sayila for the pattern.

Sayila Mini Project Decorated Christmas ornament
Sayila Mini Project Decorated Christmas ornament
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Little Owl Charm from Heather Kingsley-Heath

Beaded Owl - pattern by Heather Kingsley-Heath. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Some time ago I was invited by the Devine Ms M to join a local beading group. It’s HAYUGE fun and expands my knowledge and experience in all directions. And when I say all, I mean ‘all’. There’s nothing like a group of women of diverse ages and backgrounds to increase one’s awareness of the world, or of a particular subject.

The Divine Ms M generously gives us all a birthday gift when the moment arises. Last year she gave us our names woven into strips of peyote. I am ashamed to say mine is still ‘on the counter’, as one of my beading companions says. Right now I can spy it on my beading table awaiting its final metamorphosis into a piece of wearable jewelry.

This time around she found a pattern for the most yumalicious little owl pendant designed by Heather Kingsley-Heath. Each of us receives an owl stitched in our favorite colours as a birthday gift. When we saw the first one the rest of the group set up a cacophony of waaaahs. Translated: gimme, gimme, gimme, I WANT, I WANT. So embarrassing.  We loved the little owl.

And apparently I was the whiniest of them all. Oh dear!

But how could I not whine? It’s so cute.

If you want a little owl of your own, head over to Heather’s website and buy the kit. And maybe something else too – there’s a little bird pattern……

Free Owl beading pattern by Rizzo Antonietta.
Free Owl beading pattern by Rizzo Antonietta.

Here’s another little owl pattern if your single owl would like a companion. It’s a free step-by-step photo tutorial in pdf format, by Rizzo Antonietta. It is in Italian but the photos are pretty clear.

Peyote Path Meets a Brick Wall by Marilyn Earhart.
Peyote Path Meets a Brick Wall by Marilyn Earhart

And the Divine Ms M has a book out – Peyote Path Meets a Brick Wall.

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Talking of Hand Quilting

Which I was a few posts ago, I wanted to take this subject a bit further.

Hand quilting tutorials seem to be few and far between on the Internet. At least, those which teach the way I hand quilt. I wanted to offer a collection of links but apparently this is not going to happen.

Mary Stori has a great tutorial posted on Threads Magazine – Perfect your Hand Quilting. I probably like this tutorial because this is exactly how I hand quilt. She recommends the Jean Lyle needles, and the Roxanne thimble.

Another tutorial is a video made by Nancy Ellen. She uses the side of the thimble rather than the tip.

I have 2 Roxanne thimbles but found a lovely silver and garnet thimble at the International Quilt Festival. Made by T J Lane, it is personally fitted to my finger and very pretty.

T J Lane silver garnet thimble
T J Lane silver garnet thimble

This is my go to thimble as it is light but strong. It allows my finger nail to poke out at the tip.

It feels nice on my finger, and it is like a piece of jewelry.

My preference is to push the quilting needle using the side or base of the thimble and there are plenty of dimples to anchor the end while guiding it through the fabric. Balancing the end of the needle at a right angle to the fabric I gently push the tip through until I can feel it with the middle finger underneath. Then I swing back up, press the fabric down so it makes a little hill on top and push the needle through. Classic rocking style. Of course, I have a calloused finger tip after a while….

Detail of Royal Crustacean fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.
Detail of Royal Crustacean fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke.

This picture is a detail of Royal Crustacean – fractal art quilt. It is hand quilted using variegated quilting cotton which is my mostest favoritest type of thread. Space dyed or variegated thread gives you a lovely extra layer of design and colour on top of the piece.

The look and feel of the hand quilt stitch is unique. In response to my earlier post Barb wrote – “The feel, the texture and the absolute beauty of the hand to fabric art is not even closely comparable to the machine automated result.”

Hear, hear!

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Why I Hand Quilt

When I first joined a quilting Guild, back in 1997, I thought “these people are CURAYZE to spend thousands of hours making lines of tiny stitches. Just to hold some little bits of fabric together? OUT OF THEIR MINDS.”

Me and my sewing machine are perfectly capable of stitching fabric together. After all, I made my own clothes by machine for years while I lived in the West Indies, why stop now? So my first experimental quilts were machine quilted. Very simple straight lines.

Benedictus Nouvelles Variations 1 - quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.
Benedictus Nouvelles Variations 1

Here’s a close up of Benedictus’ Nouvelles Variations 1 with machine stitched quarter inch lines. And yes, there is no question I quilted and finished this piece very quickly.

Later I got carried away and learned how to machine stipple and meander and write cursive and make feathers……

Detail 2 Dock Over Moccasin Lake - quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.
Detail 2 Dock Over Moccasin Lake

This is a detail of the pictorial quilt Dock Over Moccasin Lake. I designed it at a Ruth McDowell workshop in Paducah. You can see the stippled quilting holding the piece together.

And it needed machine stitching.

Every single piece of this quilt is hand stitched together with a folded over seam. Try and hand quilt and you would have very sore fingers, miserable looking uneven stitches and a fairly lumpy quilt. It makes sense to use a sewing machine on such bulk.

Many art quilts today, and even traditional quilts, are machine stitched. Beautifully.

Silk by Hollis Chatelain
Silk by Hollis Chatelain

Look at this piece created by Hollis Chalelain.

Silk was awarded the 2012 Master Award for Thread Artistry at the IQF in Houston, Texas. This is all machine stitching. It’s quite magnificent. It makes a real statement for using a sewing machine as an art tool.

I did make several quilts using machine quilting. I even bought a short arm quilting frame so I could load and work on larger pieces.

That Perfect Stitch by Roxanne McElroy
That Perfect Stitch by Roxanne McElroy

But I was curious about this hand quilting business and decided to try it out. The guild members helped and a terrific book – That Perfect Stitch by Roxanne McElroy got me really rocking.

The look of the stitches is lovely, and best of all, making the stitches is calming and peaceful. In my world there is no comparison between hand and machine quilting. They are two different animals with different missions in life. If I could be a master machine quilter I would – but it didn’t take.

So I choose to be a master hand quilter and enjoy my beautiful thimbles and calloused fingertips. And now I hand stitch all the art quilts I create.

If you want to have your own copy of That Perfect Stitch by Roxanne McElroy you can get it from Amazon (if you make a purchase I get a little bit of a commission).

Roxanne is no longer with us but her daughter Dierdra McElroy has updated her mother’s book and you can get this from Amazon too (if you make a purchase I get a little bit of a commission): That Perfect Stitch: The Secrets of Fine Hand Quilting by Dierdra A McElroy.

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Beaded Penguin

Beaded penguin - free beading pattern.

When this pattern from Bead and Button showed up I couldn’t resist it. My mother loves penguins – she calls them ‘pingwings’. I made one for her birthday.

The finished beaded penguin is just over one inch high. It has a little tail which means it can be stood up. If you were feeling really silly you could make two and have a pair of ‘pingwing’ earrings. Or make one for a pendant.

They make up really quickly so you can have one finished in an evening.

As I am a quilter I had plenty of batting scraps to fill the body. Fill it firmly so the body stands up straight.

Beaded penguin - free beading pattern.
View 2 of beaded penguin

The instructions are free, they are well written – at least I understood them! And there are diagrams to go with the text. The pattern was designed by Robert Jackson.

Download your beaded penguin pattern from Bead and Button magazine. You do need to be a subscriber to the magazine to download this particular project.

Beaded penguin - free beading pattern.
View 3 of beaded penguin