Isolation Beading Challenge Progress

Hey, everybody! I hope you are all well and holding up. I just wanted to pop in and chat about my progress on the Isolation Beading Challenge that I issued last month.

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I didn’t think i had made much progress, but this is actually pretty good! I definitely started with the easy ones at the bottom. I placed at order at Beaded Bliss to stock up on those leather clasps I love and get some needed beads. I also wrote brief, positive reviews for all my local bead stores using Google reviews (it only took five minutes – let me know if you need help finding where to do this!).

Posting photos to social media has been easy because that’s something that I do all the time anyway. You can check out the hashtag on Instagram to see my and other folks’ posts for the challenge! You can search for the hashtag on Facebook too!

The first one I’ve only partially marked. I did finish the bracelet (including the clasp), but it’s for a new pattern I want to write, so I’m not going to REALLY consider it done until the pattern is finished and posted.

But! The one that’s been taking up most of my time is #3 Finally Do that Pattern You’ve Been Saving! I really, really wanted to take this opportunity to dig through my pile of books and do a design from one of them. I ended picking this pattern from this Kelly Wiese book.

She chose this really soft iridescent lavender because Kelly Wiese always picks the prettiest and classiest colors. I loved the look of it, but decided to lean into my favorite palette of Picasso colors.

What do you think? I laid out all of my Picasso 11/0’s into rainbow order and tried to get a sort of tie-dye ombre effect. It’s a little louder than I anticipated – usually the Picasso finish leans a little more earth tone than rainbow, but I still like the overall color scheme a lot.

It was a really interesting technique that she used, almost like a blend of chevron stitch and daisy chain? I highly recommend this book of hers (and pretty much anything she writes). Her style is really different from mine, but it always inspires me and I think her patterns are easy to read and learn from.

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I really never do lariats or fringe and this dainty style of chain was definitely outside my comfort zone. But that’s what made it so fun! The last thing on the list for me (besides finishing that pattern) is to revisit and unknown or unloved stitch and I just can’t figure out what to work on. I don’t really have a stitch that I hate and I’ve at least tried most of them. Maybe I could try Peyote with a Twist again or give Ogalala stitch or Dutch spirals a try… I haven’t made up my mind yet!

Have any of you made any progress on the Isolation Beading Challenge?

 

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Isolation Beading: An Update and a Challenge

Hey, friends. I sincerely hope you are all doing well and that those of you who can are staying safe and staying home as much as possible. Everything is weird and stressful and confusing right now, especially in our crafting community where so many are extra vulnerable to COVID-19.

As for me and my family, we’re doing alright. My husband is able to work from home and has been lucky enough to maintain his day job doing IT for a non-profit. He just finished a tour with his band on March 13th (the day before Ohio announced restrictions on gatherings) and his office decided to go ahead and preemptively put him in self-isolation since he had been travelling. The whole office is working from home now, but he’s been isolated for two weeks now and hasn’t shown any symptoms, which is a huge relief since he has asthma. He’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. I just wish his music room was bigger, especially now that it’s his office.

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My work situation is a little more complicated. I work for an online bead shop called Beads Direct USA. Since we’re an online business that exclusively sells through shipping, we’ve been allowed to remain open under Ohio’s stay-in-place order. We’re a very small company (the owner, Lizelle, and I are the only full time workers and then we have two part-timers when we’re fully staffed), but Liz is a very caring and responsible boss who wants to keep us all safe. For right now, that looks like me getting up as early as I can (5am, most days) to get into the office and ship all your orders before the mailman arrives and then going home early. Liz is working from home as much as possible and then coming in in the afternoons when she needs to so that none of us are in the office at the same time. It’s a tricky balance between staying safe and socially responsible, while still getting everyone their beads while they’re stuck at home.

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So that’s my life right now. Early mornings, a dark commute, an empty office, an exhausted husband, a confused cat, a quiet dinner, and an early bedtime.

Oh, and I did buzz my head! I was planning on waiting until summer, but I can get into the office earlier if I don’t have to worry about my hair. I like it. My sunglasses won’t stay on my head any more and my ears are cold, but you can finally see my conch piercing and I shaved (ha) a full hour off my morning routine. I can’t stop petting it.

So, that’s my life right now. Not as confined as many, but that low hum of anxiety makes the normal routine of work feel fraught and tense. I miss my coworkers and my friends. I miss my Wednesday nights at my local bead shop and my beloved beading ladies. I’m worried for all of them and for their livelihoods. I know that I’m so lucky to have my job and that my family is still healthy. But I do feel a deep mourning for my “normal” life and I’m sure you do too.


So, I want to issue a challenge. Something to do while all our lives are disrupted and a list we can check off to feel more in control (at least, that’s how my brain works). There’s no real deadline since it’s likely that all our different states and locations are going to come in and out of quarantine recommendations at different paces. There are no prizes or penalties. But I really love a checklist in a time of stress, so here we go!

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I wanted to make a mix of beading motivation and community support for all our local bead shops that have been forced to either go online or close completely for an unpredictable amount of time. We can all do our best support them both with direct financial support (for those of us who can) and with recommendations, positive reviews, and a little free advertising wherever we can. My job at Beads Direct USA has been online only since 2013, but I’m also deeply connected to Beaded Bliss, where I go to bead on Wednesdays nights and often teach. She’s very newly on Etsy and orders from her Etsy shop increase the odds that she’ll be able to open her doors back up when she’s allowed to do so. I’m sure many brick and mortar bead shops are in similar positions. And even those of us who don’t have the extra funds right now could still take the time to recommend our favorite shop on Facebook or leave a positive Google review.

So, who wants to join me on this special little challenge? If you do, use #isolationbeadingchallenge on Facebook and Instagram so I can see what you make! Let’s reach out for a little connection with each while we’re separated.

I’ll be thinking of you all. Stay safe. <3

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Orchid and Opal YouTube Collab!

Hello, everybody! In case you missed it on my other social media platforms, I wanted to make sure to post about something really exciting that happened last month!

 

Gina from Orchid and Opal Jewelry and Beads reached out to me to do a collaboration. She has a fantastic channel that features a lot of bead box reviews, design ideas, tutorials, and general beady goodness and she really wanted to do a guest pattern showcase for my Double Split Ring bracelet.

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Gina is a very talented beader and has such a sparkling presence in her videos and I was so excited to team up with her to make my pattern available to a new audience. If you’ve ever wanted one of my patterns to have a video tutorial – your dreams have come true!

I just wanted to make sure that no one missed it, since Gina put so much work into this video. Her fans have been so kind and supportive (I’ve actually been going in and reading the comments when I need a little ego boost, because her fans are SO SWEET) and I am really excited to have found this great new source of beady content.

I would really recommend subscribing to her channel so you don’t miss any videos. I will be sure to let you know if we collaborate again. It was such a pleasure to work with her. <3

I’m pretty new to the YouTube beading community (besides the big-hitters like Jill Wiseman and Bronze Pony). Do you guys have any smaller channels I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

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2020 Pattern Review – Cup Blossom Pendant!

Just got a quickie for you all today – February has just completely slipped through my fingers.

I wanted to get back to work revisiting and updating my patterns (after this, I think I only have four or five left!). One of my early, early patterns that I wrote and put up on Etsy was my Cup Blossom Pendant tutorial. I actually developed it while brainstorming ideas for bridesmaid necklaces for a college friend. It’s a vaguely 3D flower made by embellishing a base of 8mm rounds with seed beads and bicones.

It’s a pretty easy pattern, so I don’t think the actual instructions needed much updating. I made four new samples (I already had the purple and green one finished) so that I could take a new cover photo and voila! I think it looks nicely spruced up. It is a beginner’s tutorial and a little short, so I also bumped it down to $4.00.

Hope you guys are having a good month! Happy beading!

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The Beading Community on Instagram

Hey, friends!

I wanted to pop in here really quickly to ask y’all something. Are you guys on Instagram?

Because I am actually very new to Instagram! I didn’t actually have a smartphone until 2018, so most of my twenties went by with limited social media access. You can use Twitter and Instagram on a laptop, but the interface is a little clunky and you really can’t do much on Instagram if you aren’t using the app (like, you can’t post pictures at all, for example). So I’ve only very recently gotten to explore using Instagram for beading and, guys? It’s really awesome!

So, I started with creating a specific account for my beading and Etsy stuff (I have a personal account, but like Facebook, that’s only friends and family – I like to keep my beading interactions separate). So, if you do decide to get on Instagram, you can follow me at my Wescott.Jewelry Instagram page.

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I post the same sorts of things that you would see on my Facebook page – in progress pics, finished jewelry, news about sales etc. I even had a giveaway when I hit 1,000 followers. I’ve been amazed at how quickly I’ve made friends and how fun posting there can be. If you guys remember the really fun bead swap I did last summer with Danielle Wickes? Our friendship blossomed pretty much entirely on Instagram.

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I also just recently took over management of the Beads Direct USA Instagram account – if you don’t know, that’s the online bead shop where I work. I spoke about it quite a bit recently when I wrote a post explaining why I don’t/can’t sell kits. My boss, Lizelle Hards (you may know her from the Beads Direct USA YouTube channel) has the had the account for a long time, but hasn’t been super comfortable using it, so she recently handed me the login and told me to go to town.

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Surprisingly, it’s been a really different experience from running both my personal account and my Wescott Jewelry account, because the focus is more specifically on the beads. I get to really spend time thinking about which products to highlight and how to best photograph them. What are the key features to tell people about? What’s the best lighting for each finish? Which tags should I use? I’m still learning, but I’m trying to post every day or so and it’s been a really fun experience.

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Speaking of tags! I really think that Instagram’s tagging system is one of the things that makes it so well suited to crafting and following your interests. Sure, you can follow individual people (like Danielle) or even follow online bead magazines that will introduce you to new accounts and articles (like A Beaded Life) and that will denfintiely fill your feed with amazing designs and inspiration. But I think that following tags has been my favorite part of my Instagram journey. You can follow topics the same way that you can follow people.

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These are just some of the hashtags that I follow – #handmadejewelry, #beadweaving, #beadwork, #beadingtutorials, #beadweavingpatterns and so on and so forth. By following the tags, I get a steady stream of content that has used those tags, even if I don’t actually follow the accounts posting them. It gives me the opportunity to see more branches of the community and to come into contact with accounts I didn’t know about and may want to start following. If I’m feeling inspired to try macrame again, for example, I can checkout the #macramejewelry tag and find an endless list of inspiration, even if the accounts I follow don’t generally post macrame.

Anyway, I don’t know if this post will be super useful – I am certainly not the first person to tell you that Instagram is fun. But I just wanted to make sure you guys knew that there was this giant flourishing beading community that you could discover and participate in. I really didn’t realize until recently how much joy and what a supportive community was waiting in the same app where I used to only post pictures of Bridget.

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Not that she isn’t worth her own account, for sure. <3

Anyway, if you’re already on Instagram, feel free to ignore my ramblings. But if you’ve been curious or never realized that there were beaders on there, I encourage you to give it a try. I’m always ecstatic to find a new healthy beading community to join. It’s a real joy to share the love and creativity of other artists and this platform is well suited to it.

Back to your regularly scheduled bead-y content next week. <3

Oh! And if you are on Insta already or decide to make an account, drop your account name in the comments so I can follow you!

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Beading for Fun!

Hey, guys! I’ve been battling a pretty nasty cold this past week, so I’ll keep this short. But I’ve worked up a few pieces this month that I wanted to share. Since I’ve given myself more time to finish up my pattern reviews and updates, I was able to spend this month working on random pieces just for fun, whenever inspiration hit me.

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My first experiment was wanting to use this Beadslide clasp. They usually work best for loom work (or square stitch, I guess) because of which direction the slide is facing. But! I managed to start off with square stitch, transition to herringbone, and then back to square stitch at the other end. It worked out pretty well! It’s all 8/0’s in flat herringbone, with 11/0’s for the turn arounds. Pretty standard stuff, but I really enjoyed it.

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Then, I was kicking around Instagram (didya know I have an Insta account now?) and I saw that Danielle Wickes posted this SUPER CUTE tutorial for fan-earrings using herringbone and some really cute TierraCast ends. If you wanna give it a try, her tutorial is here and super easy to follow.

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I didn’t have any 2.5mm  Fire-Polished crystals or 8/0 triangles, but I did have some hex cut 8/0’s and those worked just fine. It was really easy to whip up and I think I might make more!

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Lastly, I’ve had thes Cymbal Elements ends for a long time now and wanted to work on something simple for them. That herringbone piece reminded me of how quickly pieces made in 8/0’s work up, haha, so I did some odd-count peyote with Montana Picasso 8/0’s with little dots of silver. I wanted to add a simple slide clasp to the end, but naturally, I have every single color except one that matches the bracelet ends! I’ll have to pick some up so I can finish the bracelet.

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It’s been really lovely to just putter around and work on pieces as I feel inspired, instead of grinding through pattern reviews or new designs as quickly as possible. I really like the pieces I made and was excited to share them with you. Not too shabby for being sick and lazy!

How’s your beading going so far in 2020?

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2020 New Years Resolutions

 

Happy New Years to my darling beading friends! Every year I pop by list my new Beady Resolutions for the year. If you wanna check out past years, you can select “Yearly Resolutions” in the Categories drop down menu over on the right. I’ve been doing this every year since 2016, if you can believe it!


First, how did I do on my 2019 hopes and dreams?

  1. Read and Review 125 Books on Goodreads – A+

    I went above and beyond for this one. I actually had to up my goal to 135 books because I was blazing through them so quickly. And even then, I surpassed my goal and ended up at 142. My page count was actually quite a bit lower than the last few years, though. It’s definitely because I read a WHOLE LOT of children’s lit and comics this year. I decided to re-read a bunch of books that I loved as a kid and those short, but satisfying reads really gave my reading an energy boost this year.

    As always, you can see what I’m currently reading by checking out my little Goodreads widget in the bottom right of my blog. And if you wanna see some cool stats on what I read this year, you can see all that here!2020books 

     

     

  2. Write 2 Blog Posts Every Month (and Finish Clasp Wars Series) – A

    I also feel like I completed this resolution. Two blog posts a month feels like a pretty good pace for me. I don’t think I’d be able to muster the content or motivation to post more frequently, but twice a month helps me feel like the blog is still active and a good place to jot down my beady thoughts. And! I did finish my Clasp Wars series! You can find all of those posts by selecting “Clasp Wars Info Series” in the Categories drop down menu over on the right side of my blog.

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  3. Remake and Evaluate Each of my Original Patterns – C

    So, I definitely did this one all year, but I ran out of time before finishing them all. Turns out that 37 patterns and counting is a bit much to review in detail in one year. I think I have about six left and my plan is to finish that process up this year. Mostly, the ones I have left need new cover photos, which means making multiple samples, which did slow me down. But I’m mostly done!

  1. Actually Do my Expense Reports EVERY MONTH – A+

    I finally did this! I still have to do December’s data entry, but December only ended two days ago, so I’m not worried about it. It’s going to be such a gift to myself come tax time in April. All my paperwork will already be filled out with every receipt logged. I’m so pleased with myself.

  2. Engage More in Bead-Related Social Media – B

    I did pretty well on this! I’ve been really active on my Wescott Jewelry Instagram and my Wescott Jewelry Facebook hasn’t been toooooo neglected. I should have posted more in the various beading Facebook groups I’m in, but I still feel like I engaged more this year than in years previous and that’s what I wanted!


2020 Goals

  1. Read and Review 135 Books on Goodreads

  2. Write Two Blog Posts a Month

  3. Finish Remaking and Evaluating Each of my Original Patterns

  4. Actually Do Your Expense Reports EVERY Month

  5. Don’t Procrastinate on Etsy Listings!

  6. Make at Least One Kumihimo, Embroidery, and Macrame Piece

  7. Do at Least Two Challenges, Swaps, or Collabs of Some Kind


 

For 2020, I mostly want to continue the good habits I’ve developed. My first four goals are basically just keeping up with my routines. I still want to read and review lots of books. I want to write on my blog regularly, keep up with my paperwork, and finish up the pattern review I started this past year.

Beyond that, I want to experiment more with my beading. I’ve been SO focused on my own patterns this year that I didn’t get to do a lot of playing. I want to make sure beading stays fun and fresh and inspiring, so this year I want to make sure I participate in challenges or swaps and that I don’t forget to use techniques other than off-loom beadweaving.

And I have been procrastinating SO much on actually listing my finished jewelry on Etsy. I need to be better about that. It’s piling up around my ears.

What about y’all? Any big dreams for 2020? Whether it’s specific resolutions or general vibes you want to carry into this new year, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! <3

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December Pattern Review – 2019

Hi, folks!

So, you may have noticed that my last pattern review was back in September. Where did October and November go, you may ask? Well, I wish I knew! The end of the year really got away from me. One of my goals for 2019 was to review and update each of my beadweaving patterns, but I have 37 patterns available right now and that was just too much to ask. I’m not giving up on it, though! I’m going carry right on into 2020 and continue reviewing my patterns.

But for now, here are the ones I have done since September!

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The first one I wanted to revisit was my Daybreak Pattern! It’s actually one of my favorites, even though it’s not one of my best sellers. This one uses some pretty soft plums with light pink, bronze, and matte navy seed beads. The pearls are leftovers from my Cordelia Necklace pattern, so you may notice the similar color scheme, haha.

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I also really like using single units from that bracelet pattern to make earrings, so the pair above were made in olive and light yellow to match these gorgeous ceramic leaves by Fire and Fibers. I’m so in love with her components. They are always consistently beautiful, lightweight, and glossy. I’m so lucky that she comes to bead shows in my city.

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After that, I made these earrings using my Diadem Bracelet pattern with some of my favorite reflective dagger beads. I really love Silky beads, which is why so many of my patterns use them, so these are always fun to make.

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Lastly, I worked up a new sample for my Sextet Bracelet pattern. This one is a chocolate/cherry/wine kind of color combo that I super love. It just looks and feels induglent, doesn’t it? My stash of 6mm Fire-Polished crystals seems eeeeendless, so I’m always happy to make more of these.

Stay tuned in the next day or two and I’ll do my big yearly round up of my New Years Resolutions from last year and my new ones for 2020.

Happy New Years, my lovelies!

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“Do You Sell Kits?”

Hello, friends! I recently realized that one of the questions I get asked most frequently after I share a photo of a new piece or pattern somewhere is “Do you sell kits?”. And while the simple answer is “No, I don’t, but thanks for asking!”, I wanted to explain a little more about why I don’t and offer a few alternatives that I have.

First off, I don’t sell kits because I can’t sell beads. I sell finished jewelry and PDF’s of my beading patterns, but selling beads would actually be against my work contract. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I work for Beads Direct USA as my day job and if I sold beads, I would be in direct competition with my employer, which is a big no-no.

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I adore my job at Beads Direct USA. A large part of my day is packaging beads and keeping these shelves organized and inventory updated. I pull orders for shipping and add new stock as we expand. It’s a great set of tasks for someone who enjoys organizing like me!

Beyond that, though, I really don’t want to sell beads. It’s what I do all day at the office and it’s a LOT of work. I wouldn’t be able to offer competitive pricing and it would take so much extra work (I already have a full time job and running my Etsy functions as a part-time job beyond that already). I don’t use kits myself and the idea of spending my evenings counting out beads and putting together little bundles that I would then have to keep in stock and ship is just not something I’m interested in.

But! That does not mean that you’re completely on your own if you’re looking for kits of my patterns. I don’t make them or sell them myself, but there are still some options!

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Here’s a printed version of my Princess Cordelia pattern at Beaded Bliss

If you’re local to the Cincinnati/Dayton area, a great option would be to visit Beaded Bliss or Bead Stash. I don’t allow anyone else to sell the digital versions of my patterns, but both Cathy and Carole sell printed versions in their shops. If you want to get the pattern and the beads in one place, that’s probably the easiest way to do it! Cathy and Carole both have amazing tastes in color, so even if they don’t have the exact beads that I used, they should be able to help you select something pretty. Cathy even has a few kits made up for a few of my patterns (mainly the St Petersburg Ombre and Tiptoe Chain).

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This is the kit display at Beaded Bliss – you can see my St Petersburg Ombre cuff on the right!

If you don’t live locally, you still have some options online! Cathy has recently taken parts of Beaded Bliss online through her Etsy shop and she now has the St Petersburg Ombre bead pack available. It’s not a full kit because you still need to get the pattern from me (she links to my Etsy listing for the pattern in the descriptions box), but it’s the perfect way to get the same colors I used without having to buy 8 or  9 separate tubes of seed beads. It’s not really a “kit”, since it doesn’t include the clasp, fireline, or my pattern, but if you need the seed beads, it’s really a super great bargain.

I have a similar deal worked out with Claire Lee of Supply Emporium. Again, I don’t allow anyone to sell my patterns digitally, but Claire has gorgeous color sense and a huge selection of beads available, so she makes bead packs that you can buy to go with some of my patterns. You can see a bunch of the options here. You can grab the pattern from me and then have Claire select your beads for you!

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These are 11/0 Miyuki combo packs from Beads Direct USA. MI-11-CMD13 (left) was made after my Sunset Ombre Ruched Tila bracelet became popular. And MI-11-CMD9 (right) is a gorgeous gradient of metallic iris colors.

One more option to consider is the gorgeous selection of Miyuki combo packs that we offer at Beads Direct USA. Liz (the owner) and I work really hard to come up with interesting combinations of Miyuki beads that look lovely together and that we can package up and offer at a discount. We offer all sorts of bulk packs, assorted mixes, and coordinated combinations, but my favorite section in the whole shop is our section of Miyuki 11/0 combo packs.

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MI-11-CMD4 (left) is a soft mix of matte pastel shades and MI-11-CMD18 (right) is a gradient of silver-lined AB beads in shades of blue and green.

The 11/0 combo packs are great for patterns that require several colors of beads or look particularly pretty with an ombre gradient (like my Ruched Tila, St Petersburg Ombre, Stash Worm, or Tiptoe Chain bracelets). Sometimes you need the color inspiration for a project more than you need a “kit” and these combo packs are PERFECT for that. Liz and I carefully curate each mix ourselves and we’re so proud to offer them up as little sample color palettes for you to experiment with.

So, even though I don’t sell kits, I do my very best to work with my local bead shops and some trusted friends and colleagues online to make the beads I use easy to find and obtain. Personally, picking out new colors is my absolute favorite part of beading and I don’t quite understand the impulse to copy someone else’s. But I am so flattered when people love the colors I chose and now every pattern I put out has the colors I used listed at the end. Some of my old ones are available here on this blog and if you can’t find the bead info anywhere, you can always email me and I’ll do my best to get that color info for you.

I hope you all can forgive me for not making kits and check out some of these fabulous bead shops that sell kits, packs, and combos and give their shelves a little love. I’m so lucky to have the cooperation of so many small business that serve our beading community. Happy beading and happy bead shopping!

 

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Holiday Sale Time!

Happy almost-Turkey-Day to my celebrating friends!

My big holiday sale begins today and will run until Dec 3rd!

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20% off Patterns!

25% off Jewelry!

30% off Clearance!

All orders over $35 ship for free!

No coupon code needed – all sales are already applied.

I hope you guess enjoy some good shopping this week and even better family time. The holidays can get a bit commercialized and crass, but it’s also a great time of year to support small business and makers of all sorts. <3

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