Archive for the ‘Pearls & Beads’ Category

Nothing makes me happier…

Than spending time around fabric!  I started my day today in Shenzhen at the fabric mart on the 5th floor of LoWo Commercial City.   It’s really dangerous to turn me loose in a place like that.  I walk around and touch every fabric that catches my eye.  There are so many beautiful fabrics.  I was looking for my drapy linen and found it…in two colors no less!   And then there were the impulse buys.

Green Purple distored building printBesides being incredible colors, this fabric reminded me of a Monet painting.  It is cotton/silk so has a beautiful hand and drape.




Primary Color StripeAnd then there is this primary color stripe.  The vibrancy of the stripes is great and the color hues they matched together are perfect.  I can see a summer dress made out of this or a nice tunic and skirt.


 Fortunately common sense prevailed and I got myself out of there before I needed to buy a suitcase to pack home all of my yard goods.  The way I figure, if I leave some fabric for next time, it gives me a reason to go back and find other surprises lurking in those tightly packed stalls!

I was up at the YWCA yesterday and got a picture of the table runner.

Table Runner

The reason I was at the Y yesterday was to talk about the sewing classes.  I knew people were interested in sewing, however, the number of people interested has taken me by surprise.  The first two courses are full and have been for nearly a week!  We have added more day courses and, for those who work, have added evening sessions.  We are in the process of formalizing the new dates.  There are people already on the waiting list for the new classes so if you, or someone you know, is interested, have them call the Y immediately and get their name on the waiting list.  If the next classes follow suit of the first, they will be full nearly as soon as they go on-line.

Last Friday was our first gathering of Baubles and Knots.  Great group of people and we all had a joyous time talking and catching up.  I finished a shell pearl necklace which I thoroughly love.

DSCN0451These are large pill shape pearls in the colors of brown, bronze and dark green.  They go perfectly with so many things that I have. 




Because of a scheduling conflict, the next meeting of Baubles and Knots will be changed from 30 September to 5 October.  The B&K page has been updated and an e-mail will be sent a week prior.  But why not mark your calendar now!

I’m nearly feeling like I am getting on top of my To Do list.  I finished the Sewing Basics curriculum last weekend and it turned out to be quite a weighty document.  I’m in the process of creating the Intro to Sewing curriculum.  Fortunately, I have all of the Knotting Basics information complete so have put knotting on the back burner for the moment. 

But not too far back!  I have come up with a list of private classes that I’d like to offer this autumn.  I have attempted to come up with some new projects and concepts for the experienced knotters as well as basic classes for the beginners.   I am nearly ready to publish the class list; however, I’m going to wait a few more days  to make sure that I don’t over extend myself.  So stay tuned.  As soon as I have classes organized, I’ll send you all an e-mail so you can see what interests.

Time to go and do some more paper shuffling at my desk!  Have a great week everyone!


Sometimes you can be just too busy…

I just realized that the past 2 weeks posts have had the theme of simplicity.  Funny that.  Starting a new business has thrown me into the thick of getting everything ready.  And me having perfectionist tendencies, I cannot do things only good enough.  No, I need to go above and beyond.   But, I would have it no other way.  I have been spending nearly every waking hour working on my businesses of knotting and sewing; planning, organizing, gathering information, writing class curriculum, getting handouts and show-and-tell items ready, etc.  And then there are the classes that I have started teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, it is all very fun and exciting and I am thrilled with what I am doing; however, time does have a way of slipping away without me realizing it. 

This past week, as I was working on new knot samples and getting a couple sewing projects completed, I glanced at the counter in my craft room and noticed a plastic bin sitting there nearly buried by everything that I had on top of it and gathering dust.  It is the bin that I keep my pearls in.  All the lovely pearls that I have gotten over the past few months  are in this bin, carefully labeled and some with design idea sketches.  I stopped what I was doing,  put the bin on the table and emptied it out.  I had forgotten about some of the pearl in that bin.

 I set aside one project that I have wanted to do since I first learned pearl stringing and, I believe, were the first pearls that I purchasedConcept.  This is going to be a four strand necklace with “stripes” of white pearls.  The main body of the necklace will be maroon.  I am thinking that 5 stripes will give good balance.  I finally have a board large enough to lay this out .






Pearl StringsThen there are these strings of the most amazing soft olive green chevron drilled sticks.  I am going to pair these pearls with knots.







Pearl StringAnd finally this string of gold and bronze round pearls.  The iridescence on this string is incredible.  The pearls are so beautiful that simplicity is key in this necklace.  Straight forward pearl knotting is all that I’m going to do with a nice gold clasp. 


I have promised myself that within everything else, I do need to take time for me and the other things that I enjoy doing.  I am going to do one project a week that is just for me.  Whether it is pearl stringing, cooking or making a dress that does not have the intention of being a project for a class.  We all need to maintain ourselves within the busy lives that we live.  We must never forget to connect to our essence and what makes our soul sing.  Simplicity in life, getting back to basics, taking care of oneself…whatever you want to call it, we all need to take time to do it.

I have all of my class displays at the YWCA complete now.  I finished the table runner and took it up on Friday.  The space that I claimed for this display is not all that large and I was having trouble packing the runner in there, but finally made it look nice.  I was happy with my display, locked the cabinet and then headed down to Central.  Halfway down the hill, a thought stuck me…I forgot to take a photo of the runner.  Silly me.  So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks really great…or take a trip up to the Y and have a look.  Just so I can give you some idea of what I’ve been working on, I mocked up a runner with the extra fabric that I had.Fabric Mock-Up

I used an off-white Chinese brocade fabric with a delicate gold embroidery for the center panel and then this gold knobby silk for the sides and back.  I then tied up a Chinese knot combination for the center with a tassel at each end.  

This past week, I found myself in Sheung Wan with a bit of extra time so allowed myself the luxury of going to one of my favorite “clothing outlet” stores to do a bit of “bin diving”.  This store has bins out front that has everything that they want to get rid of.  They have three bins that are marked HK$5, HK$10 and HK$20.  The vast majority of what is in these bins is hideous; however, I have found a few jems…a Liz Claibourne unlined jacket, a Ralph Lauren pair of linen pants.  So, it pays to do a bit of digging.  I was in the $20 bin and found this brown fabric poking out from the bottom.  I gave a tug and out came a dress.  I held it up and granted it did not have great “hanger appeal” but there was something about it that struck me.  The neckline was quite wide and the overly large collar was cut on the cross grain.  There was no size tag so I did a quick assessment of it and me and decided that it was probably about the right size.  And for HK$20, I really did not have to worry about breaking the bank.  When I got it home, I put it straight into the washing machine to release it of all the HK grime that it collected and get the massive wrinkles relaxed out of it. 

Full DressWhen I put it on, I was amazed at how it looked.  The neckline is fabulous; very wide with the back collar standing up.  The style is great too.  The only thing, the color is just not me.  That milk chocolate color and me just do not get along well. 

Having remembered that there were other dresses the same in the bin, I made a second trip to Sheung Wan and found the exact same size dress.  So now I am the proud owner of two of the same size dresses.  Why you ask?  Well, one is going to be used for a pattern.  At HK$20, I cannot purchase a Neck Viewpaper pattern so I am going to use the second dress as a pattern.   Having the luxury of taking a garment apart and have your pattern pieces there is much easier than taking a pattern from a completed garment.  The first thing I did was mark each individual fabric piece with an identifying name.  This will allow me to match up left and right side pattern pieces to see if they are the same or if they are unique.  Next, its out with the seam ripper and a few hours of very tedious seam ripping.  Every stitch needs to come out to get the dressDSCN0431 back to the point at which it started its life…just a pile of cut fabric pieces.  I’ll keep my progress with this project on the blog so you can follow along.

Happy week everyone!

I’ve found a computer…

Here I sit in my husband’s and my office in New Zealand and have reliable (albeit still slow)  internet access!  Since my last post on Monday, I have not yet been able to get logged back on at home.  Pathetic!!

Anyway…its good to be “home” here in NZ.  Home is a relative concept isn’t it?  David and I have always felt that our true home is where ever we are regardless of physical location.  To us, home is a feeling, a connection, rather than a place.  Which is actually a good thing because we have many places we call home.

Speaking of home, we in Hong Kong sent off another good friend with warm hugs and well wishes.  D’Arcy left for her home in Scotland early last week and the next chapter in the life of the IWOM.  We all that are doing Chinese knotting owe D’Arcy a huge thanks for learning this art and passing it on.  She strived for perfection, shared her passion and ended up being friends with many of us.  And I personally need to give D’Arcy a huge thanks for opening up that which resided in me for so many years.  I give my pledge to continue to pursue this art, to keep pushing the boundries, and sharing it with all who desire the knowledge.   D’Arcy, you will be missed, but you are just an e-mail away!  To keep up to date on the life of the IWOM, her blog address is in the sidebar of my blog.

No pictures of the NZ country side as of yet to share.  The garden is looking pretty nestled in for winter with our -2 to 2 degree C night temperatures.  No spectacular sunrises  (yes, I have been getting up for the sunrises even though my body is telling me I want to be sleeping at that time in the morning).  Actually, one of the main reasons for getting up so early is to go outside and listen to the birds wake up with the sun.  The birdlife here is amazing!  It all starts with the Tui’s a bit before dawn.  They sit at the tops of the trees and call to one another across the valley.   Then the other birds join in over the next hour to build to a chorus at dawn that is quite beautiful.  This has to be one of my favorite things to do while in NZ.  It has even  been a bit too cold to go for a walk on the beach.  My favorite place in the house has been the coffee table in the family room which is positioned only a few feet away from the fire!  

In honor of NZ and another member of our HK feline family, I’d like to present Bugs.   He was the first cat that we homed in New Zealand and is now 10 years old.  He was born in the scrap wood pile while we were building our house.  I tempted him into the house overa  few days with a can of tuna fish.  To this day, he loves tuna!  He is an incredibly loving animal and connects with you by looking square into your eyes and holding a stare.  Unfortunately, none of you who come into my home will probably see him as he is quite a shy boy and goes to his favorite hiding spot on a shelf behind a row of magazine boxes.   Bugs

My friend Angela, here in NZ, is trying her hand at making glass beads.  She gave me these gorgeous green and black ones.  Each one is different in design but all the same color.  I get them out periodically to just “be” with them to see what inspiration comes up.  I want to do something special with them.Angela's beads

Purple Lime Green Necklace completeMy lime green and purple creation finally completed itself.  As I was working on it, it took many different directions.  I ended up making it asymetrical with the burnt jade barrel on the left side and a few silver metal beads on the bottom and right to balance things out.  The two knots onPurple Lime Green necklae close up either side of the barrel are the peaceful cloud knot.  The main body of the necklace is a knot that I do not have a name for.  I have seen it on finished items quite a bit.  It looks easy enough but when I first tried it, I failed miserably.  After a bit more thinking and some time, I finally perfected it.  For lack of a better name (and until I have a chance to get together with my Chinese friend Anna to get a transation), I am going to call this the Cat Tail Knot.  It is a very simple 4 cord wrap knot.  The difficult part is that you have to have good finger dexterity to manage the cords and I find my knuckles do get a bit tired after knotting up a yard of this.   It is a very nice looking knot and makes a great base necklace to add pendants or bails on to.  It lends itself wonderfully to two colors. 

I’m feeling like I should have a class and just teach these basic cord type knots because there are so many that are very useful.  The flat knot, twist knot, snake knot, phoenix tail knot, cat tail knot and a few others that do not have names yet!   Let me know if you’d be interested in this.

And that brings me to the end of this weeks post.  Thank you for the few days grace period in locating a reliable computer.  I’ll plan ahead for next week.  I intend on staying warm this week in the cold NZ winter; staying close to my fire with many cups of hot tea.

I am sitting here at my old desk in the office and looking at my old bulletin board.  There is a quote I put up many, many years ago.  I liked it then and I still like it.  Your thought for the week… 

When you change the way you look at things; The things you look at change!

Everyone take care…until next week.

Where am I? Hung Hom or Bangkok?

Granted it has been nearly a decade since I spent time in Bangkok and at Chatuchek Market; believe me, things do change!  At that time, I was not that into making jewellery so was not paying  attention to beads and the like.  There was the odd stall that had a few ready made items, but nothing special that I particularly needed to look at.  Now, oh my gosh!!!  I’m not kidding when I say Hung Hom or Bangkok.  There are so many stalls with strings and strings of beads, pearls, stones; they are hanging, on counter tops, in bags, in display cases…everywhere!  And the ready made jewellery shops go on forever!  I was not looking for beads on this trip so did nto spend any time really looking at much; however, I did wonder past a stall that had pearls in a case.  I looked at a string that was probably 6-7mm and they had a price of 2500baht (about HK$590).  I could tell by looking through the case that they were no where near the quality that we can get in Hong Kong for much, much less. 


I did break down and get this piece as inspiration and did pay too much for it I might add.  I wondered by a stall and was stopped in my tracks by this necklace and many others the woman had hanging on the walls.  She  hand made them all and was working on one when I stopped.  This piece is made with wrapped wire to create this beautiful cascade effect.  The wire is then wrapped with a very thin satin ribbon.  Absolutely amazing.  The other stalls were not very keen on picture taking so I had to study a few pieces quite well and then step around the corner to take notes.  The ready made jewellery was very interesting and I have a few good ideas that I’ll be able to modify and use concepts from.

And while I’m on the subject of price, none of the vendors will bargain any more at Chatuchek.  It was quite disappointing.  I am quite a good bargainer and enjoy the game that is played when trying to purchase something.  This time, the vendor stated the price, maybe knocked 50baht off and then if you wanted to bargain further, they said no and turned around!

with flash

What I was really looking for at Chatuchek was  a Thai Spirit House…which I found!  I am very pleased with this and as soon as I get a high wooden plant stand, it will reside in an honored place in the living room.  The young woman at the shop where we found this was, surprisingly, willing to bargain and we finally got it for the price we wanted to pay.  But she needed to make a call to Mom first to check it out.  Instead of being the classic long and narrow spirit house, this one has four equal sides with four entrances which means I need four sets of temple dogs to guard each entrance!

 As David and I were sitting at A’s in Chatuchek (a great watering hole that has been in the market for a very long time) having a fresh lime soda, he nudged me and pointed to a table of 4 women saying, “See those women over there?”.  “Yes”, I replied.  “Well, one of them is a client of mine from Hong Kong”.  You know it’s a small world when you run into someone you know from home while on holiday.

I am still working with my stock of burnt jade and other stone pendants.  The knot of choice for the past week has been the Phoenix Tail knot.  I like the texture it creates.  It can be a solid color for impact or two color which softens it a bit.  Unfortunately I did not get the purple/lime green creation completed that I mentioned last week.  It is taking shape, however, and should be featured here soon.  Below are two examples of what I have knotted in the past week.DSCN0291DSCN0292

Here is a close-up of the Phoenix Tail knot…

Phoenix Tail Examples

I am happy to report that my photo quality will be getting better in the near future.  David heard from a friend that you can purchase mini light boxes in Sham Shui Po for a few hundred HK$’s.  It is his mission now to locate and buy me one of these light boxes.  This will eliminate the need for a bright sunny day for me to take good photos. 

In addition to knot tying, I will be starting private tuition in sewing towards the end of July.  I can tailor make (no pun intended!) a program to suit your needs whether it be starting from threading the machine; wanting to know how to design, pattern and create home furnishings; or project work  such as making a dress.  If you have a sewing machine that is gathering dust, let’s put it to good use!

I’m away for my summer holiday on 4 July to New Zealand.  While away, I intend on keeping up with my regular Monday posts; except for maybe 20 July as that will be a travel day for me.  Nothing will be blooming in the garden for me to take a photo of but winter  in NZ is great for sunrises.  I’ll see what type of nature I can capture for my next couple posts. 

A suggestion for the week…try something new.  Is there something you’ve always wanted to try/do?  Have a go!  You might pleasantly surprise yourself by how talented you are!!    All the best…

My weekly post

I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog over the past week.  I hope you have enjoyed what I’ve done so far and continue to.  Remember, if there is anything you want to ask, request a certain class or just want to check in, e-mail me at

I have updated the photos of the pan chang bail now so they are much easier to see.  Yes, this means that I have a new camera, have figured out how to use it, have successfully downloaded my photos onto the computer and know how to insert them into the blog.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the past week!

The title of my post today is a lead in to what my plans are for the blog.  Since I have so much to get accomplished prior teaching my various classes, I need to schedule my time carefully.  Intially, I will be doing one posting to my blog each week by the end of the day on Monday.  It will most likely be all-encompassing as I’ll add information about new projects I’m working on, classes, things I’ve picked up on my travels and the like. 

Before I get into a few projects I’ve been working on, I want to introduce you to one member of my pride of mini-lions.

DSCN0007This is Porsche.  This is her favorite spot to be when I’m in the craft room working.  From her perch, she can keep a close eye on what I’m doing and if anything hits the floor whether it be a bead or some cord, she considers it hers and is on it before I can pick it up.

Regarding classes, I have had to move the Tassel class on 2 July as David just informed me that we are leaving for New Zealand a few days earliler than I had planned.  I have rescheduled it for 23 July.  I also have a few other new classes to schedule in and I think I’m going to wait until the summer is over as everyone seems to be incredibly busy for the next few months.  That said, if you are here in HK and looking for something to do, please do get ahold of me and I’m always happy to add something in.  I’m away from 1-18 July and then here for the remainder of the summer. 

On the Knot Lesson page, I have put the class outlines in alphabetic order for ease of finding one that you are interested in.  I am also starting to add photos to a few to give you a visual of what the class will entail.

maroon with black bead on butterfly candleTo take the pan chang bail one step farther, I did up this one with a great glass bead I’ve had for ages and then knotted a string of pearls from Jamila.  I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out and have received quite a few compliments on it over the past week.





Close Up Angle ViewAnother project I put together is this Chinese Brocade fabric and chinese knot evening bag.  I made this for a very dear friend who is leaving HK shortly.  Chinese Knots are so very versatile and can be used for any number of projects.  I will be doing a lot more of the fabric/knot projects to show you the possibilities.

Well, that’s me for the week.  Until next time…

With all the talk of bails…

or is it bales?   I checked with the woman-in-the-know yesterday and found out the proper spelling is bail.  This is a piece, normally made of metal, that allows you to hang a pendant from a ready made necklace.  Or you work  the bail into a necklace and can then have  it permanently in place. Some bails have a snap opening to allow for changing pendants, others have only a loop where you attach your pendant with a jump ring.   I was playing around the other night wondering how I could make a bail out of Chinese Knots.  This is the first design I came up with. 

Top View





Side View

What I did here was start with a button knot where the cords come out one end (we have got to come up with a snazzy name for this wee knot!) and when I tightened it, I left a loop at the top; this is where your pendant can be attached with a jump ring.  Or if you want something more permanent, you can had the pendant before making the button knot.  Next I did a 6 row pan chang and tightened down all the loops.  I tucked the ends into the body of the knot and secured them with a small drop of glue.  Finally, I did a flat knot with tassel cord and inserted it through the pan chang.  I tied and then sealed the ends together and then tucked the ends back into the knot.  And there you have it.  The only thing is that there is an awful lot of “ends” being tucked into the pan chang at that one point so next I may try to put the button knot at one of the corners, instead of starting with this at the top, so the loose ends of the knot and the flat knot loop will be tucked in at different points. 

There are any number of knots that would be applicable to this concept.  And with all the cord colors that are available you could have a rainbow of  bails to thread over your pearl and/or bead necklaces.  Give it a go!