Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Problems update

Houdini has been caught and relocated, it took a couple of days to catch him - he's obviously wary of going down green tunnels in search of jam after it was such an effort to get out the last two times!

My marver has been affixed to my torch by my ever-wonderful DH, who has pointed out to me that the "socket" I referred to in my last blog entry was in fact a circular spanner. In shame, I have therefore cancelled my membership of the honorary-bloke club.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sue World ... join us!

Carlisle Mini CC torch marverI've had another "wish I wasn't a girl" moment today. For the last couple of weeks, I have been attempting to apply handmade murrini to my bead surfaces but these tiny scraps of prettiness (from Lori and Kim's Etsy shop), ideally need preheating - they stick much better then and it saves much swearing when the murrini falls off your bead. Once I get the hang of applying murrini, the big plan is for me to make my own.

The ideal thing to pre-heat murrini is a torch-mounted marver so I bought one (see pic). It duly arrived last week and this morning, I have been attempting to attach it to my Carlisle Mini CC torch. All I have to do is undo a nut on the torch, put the hole in the marver over the thread and do up the nut ... easy! The marver is then close enough to the heat generated by the torch to get to an ideal murrini warming temperature.

I locate a spanner of the right dimensions (pat on the back), but there's not really room for it to undo the nut. In a burst of inspiration (some kind of guy gene kicking in I think), I realise that what I need is the corresponding sized socket and this too is found (at this point, I start to think about growing a moustache). Anyway, can I undo this blimmin' nut .... NO, I can't (sigh).

Then I get cross with myself about wishing I wasn't a girl cos actually I pretty much like it 98% of the time. The problem is these people who invent nuts, taps and suchlike that cannot be undone by the average female. I am not a weak, feeble person - I hardly ever resort to man-power for undoing jars - my trick is an elastic band round the top and then the extra grip usually allows me to undo them. I can wire a plug, change lightbulbs, top up the oil and washers in my car (in the days when I had one) I am a capable person - I should be able to do this. I decided that there really should be a law which prohibits the doing up of nuts to an impossibly difficult degree, furthermore, it would be deemed to be sexist behaviour and subject to the Sexual Discrimination Laws along with an unlimited fine for offenders.

When I got thinking about it, actually, I could invent several new laws in an alternative world whereby all nuts could be undone by myself ...

In Sue World, all clothes would be made of fabrics that never need ironing.

In Sue World, all mice would be housetrained and use litter trays.

In Sue World, grass would mow itself.

In Sue World, dust is abolished. We don't need it and what's it for, anyway? I remember learning about dust at school - all I can remember about it is that a tiny proportion of it is shedded cells of skin ... yeurghhhh! Any duster manufacturers would be compensated and given training in producing alternative products.

In Sue World, hair would grow to the length you wanted to minimise haircuts, and then start growing again as soon as you wanted to wear it longer.

Last but by no means least, in fact after the nut tightening law, this would be the most important one - in Sue World, the BBC would NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES cancel the Sunday re-run of Merlin due to the Formula 1 racing, causing me to miss my weekend Anthony Head fix.

Please do feel free to suggest any other laws that you think could be considered for inclusion in the Sue World Charter!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Red stripes jewellery

Here are some photographs of the red stripes jewellery I promised. You will undoubtedly have noticed that I haven't used the red carnelian beads yet. They're quite big beads actually and whilst I think they will work for a future pair of earrings for ladies who like big earrings, I decided they were definitely wrong for a bracelet. The black round beads I have used instead are onyx with a lovely smooth shine to them.
Red stripes long earringsRed stripes braceletRed stripes drop earrings
I think the carnelian beads will be great for a bold, large beaded necklace - there's a particular bead cap that I want for what I have in mind. I'm going to have to order some in so it might be a week or two before you get to see it. I will make the earrings to match at the same time, in the meantime, there are three matching pairs of earrings to go with the bracelet. You can see them all, and in a larger photograph, on the Lampwork > Lampwork jewellery page of the Sooz Jewels website.

Aquamarine and teal striped lampwork beadI did some experiments with different colours of these beads yesterday - the black and white one works well, as does a purple one but this is my favourite - the glass colour is a mixture of transparent aquamarine and dark teal over white. I shall definitely be making some of these next week.

There are a few other new things on the website too so don't forget to have a click about for them - or better still, come to my stall on the Art & Craft Market on Trinity Street in Cambridge and see them "in person" tomorrow - have a great weekend everyone!

More mouscapades

Humane mousetrap with hole chewed through itHmmm, I'm not sure if it's the same one (I haven't got a look of it yet), but when I got up this morning, this was the state of the humane mousetrap. The hole it has chewed through the trap is really small, I'm amazed even a teeny mouse would be able to fit through it. I guess it must've been in there a while, must've got caught just after we went to bed and so it had plenty of time to get out. Fortunately, I bought two of the traps so I got some more jam out, set the second one and then checked back on it every half hour so it wouldn't chew through that one as well.

Missy the Manchester Terrier doing a bit of mouse releasingI was merrily making jewellery (I love my job!) when I heard a commotion in the kitchen and this was the scene that greeted me ... Missy must've heard the mouse clunking around in the trap and decided to let it out, bless her. Manchester Terriers were bred for ratting in years gone by, really she shouldn't have had much trouble catching a mouse. I suppose she's not really been trained but you'd think there'd be some kind of instinct .... anyway, we are now onto attempt three in 24 hours to catch the mouse I have nick-named Houdini.

We think we found the hole where they have been getting in yesterday. There is a pipe which must've used to be the escape for a former tenant's washing machine or something. We've temporarily stuffed it up with newspaper until the landlord's handyman can do something more permanent. So hopefully we shouldn't get any more furry visitors after this one has been relocated.

I'll be back shortly with some pictures of the jewellery I've been making this week.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Carnelian stripes

I have been experimenting with red a lot lately. My red bubble beads have been popular this summer. Red was really in fashion for weddings 3-4 years ago and customers were complaining that they couldn't find any red jewellery then so I always make sure I have a selection as the shops still don't seem to have caught on - I'm always happy to fill a gap in the market! I bought these lovely carnelian beads and the prototype lampwork beads I have been making are specifically to go with them.

Red and black striped lampwork beadsFinally, I'm happy with these stripey red ones. The carnelian beads are quite large and so I thought they need something with a bold design to go with them. I cleaned these last night and after seeing how well they go, I have made a batch today; I'm looking forward to combining them into some new jewellery tomorrow.

We discovered another mouse in the house a couple of days ago. Yesterday, I dusted off the humane mouse trap and laced it with seedless raspberry jam. Sure enough, s/he couldn't resist! You're supposed to let them out a couples of miles or so away so they don't try to get back into the house but as DH was out working all day, I had to use the furthest end of the garden to let the mouse out. I did consider taking Missy for an impromptu walk but thought it might be a bit stressful for the mouse in my pocket as it would take 10 minutes or so to get far enough away, allowing for all the sniffs and messages that Missy has to leave for any other doggies. Anyway, I have set the trap again today just in case s/he finds her way back.

Here are some photos of the release ...
Mouse release-is this the way outIs this the way out??
Mouse release-ah, that's betterThis looks more likely ....
Mouse release-byeeeeeI'll be back ..........!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Etched Bombay Sapphire recycled glass

I've just added three new recycled items to the Lampwork > Recycled Blue page of my website. I tried etching some of the beads made from recycled Bombay Sapphire bottles and I was really pleased with how pretty they turned out. The matt finish is really soft and lets the core of the bead shows through like a little bulb is lighting it up from inside.

There is also a pair of earrings made with pearls on the page I link to above and a bracelet to match.

Monday, 14 September 2009


I've been rediscovering knitting recently. Laura inspired me over on her Beads by Laura blog to get my needles out of the loft with her lovely hand knitted socks. Over the past few months, I have knitted several pairs myself- here are a colourful selection drying in the breezy weather we're having at the moment, along with some jeans! (It's not you, the dryer is leaning a bit ..!) Hand knitted socks drying on the washing lineI've been a knitter ever since I was tiny - my mum taught me to knit not long after I started school. My auntie Vi taught me to crochet and I continued both for years and years but once I married and had been working for a few years, I gradually stopped. Before the latest sock bonanza, my last big project way back in the 1980s was an heirloom "wedding ring" shetland shawl. They're called wedding ring shawls because the lace knitting is so fine, the shawl - even though it was several feet across - will pass through a wedding ring. It was knitted in really fine shetland wool called "cobweb" which gives you an idea of how delicate the yarn was - way finer than the 4-ply I most often use for socks.

Anyway, the shawl was finished shortly after I got married, I entered it into a craft competition. I have been desperately trying to find the photograph I took of it with my 2nd prize card but I can't find it - I'm sure it will turn up at some point. Unfortunately, I cannot take another photograph because the shawl itself got lost when we moved out of our flat in London. I can still see the box in my mind's eye, it was a box which a radio had come in and the shawl was so lightweight, the box felt empty. I have an awful feeling one of us threw it away ... (not saying which one but it wasn't me!)

Every time we move house, I am hopeful that it will turn up but as we've moved 5 times since then, I'm pretty certain it is gone forever as well as the original pattern which I can't find either. Ever since then, I have been promising myself to knit another wedding ring shawl but never got round to it ... until now.

Shetland wedding ring stole in black cobweb yarnI have tracked down a supplier for the yarn, Jamieson & Smith, and bought a book on heirloom shetland patterns. I've designed a stole myself from the motifs and patterns in it. Here is a photograph of the pattern that dominates it, there is a big central diamond with various motifs in it - I have only just started that bit. All around the edge, there will be a border, knitted separately added a row at a time so there's quite a bit of work involved. As you can see, it's black this time instead of white - I think I'm more likely to wear it as an evening stole if it's black.

I'm hugely enjoying knitting it - I need a very good light because the yarn is so dark but unpicking errors is a nightmare. The first time I tried just unravelling 3 rows and picking up the stitches again - that was a mistake - it took so long and didn't go right at all - I ended up having to start all over again! The last couple of times I found errors, informed with my previous experience, I now undo it stitch-by-painstaking-stitch and it takes 20 minutes to unpick a single row. There are over 100 stitches in the row, the bit that I've photographed has a pattern repeat every 16 stitches and 20 rows. I have put in a white stitch marker (which you might be able to just make out in the photograph) after each pattern repeat. Mostly that keeps my knitting accurate because if I have an incorrect number of stitches after each pattern repeat, then I know I've done something wrong virtually immediately rather than finding out at the end of the row.

It is now about 30 inches long but I spotted another mistake a couple of weeks ago - this time six or seven rows down ... part of me was saying "don't unpick it, just leave it - it's quirky, it's handmade, no-one will ever notice" but another bit of my brain was screaming - "NO NO NO, it's wrong and it'll annoy you forever". When I discovered the mistake, I put it aside whilst I knitted a pair of socks for my dad. I just picked it up again today and I have decided yes, I must rectify the error so after bead cleaning this evening, that's what I'll be doing!

Friday, 11 September 2009

My clairvoyant sister

Red Mist lampwork handmade crystal earringsThis is so weird. I have been making jewellery for my stall this morning, out of beads made earlier in the week. I made a big batch of my charity Red Mist beads. I've made a new bracelet, three pairs of earrings, a couple of pendants. I had one matching pair of beads left over and I was just thinking to myself "What shall I do with these?" and then my mobile phone alerted me to a new text message:
Hi Sue. I was just looking at yr red mist crystal earrings. I just bought red and black dress so they'd be perfect! Any chance of you bringing a pair tomor? XX

It was from my sister (the one that doesn't make jewellery). The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I rang her back straight away to tell her. Isn't that strange? It isn't the first time odd things happen around her! My mum and dad won't play Pictionary against us as they think we have an unfair advantage - one time I just drew a line and Sandy said "Worm" - which was the correct word. I hadn't even drawn the worm, the straight line was to represent the ground under which I was going to draw it.

So I was delighted to tell her that I'd be able to bring a pair of earrings with me for her. I have finished knitting Dad's socks. :-) We are meeting up round mum and dad's for dinner after the market tomorrow to celebrate his birthday today. (It's OK, dad doesn't have internet access so I haven't ruined the surprise!)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Hoax virus alerts

A bit of a moan today, please can people STOP sending me virus alerts thinking they are doing me a favour. 99% of these e-mails are hoaxes and are themselves viruses by the fact that everyone who gets them sends them on to all their contacts and it just clogs up everyones' mailboxes for no reason. If an e-mail asks you to "read and forward" just ignore (or at least take me off your mailing list if you're going to keep sending them!)

The latest staying a huge new virus will destroy the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept is just an old chestnut reworked.

If you use the latest internet browsing software, get a firewall and keep an anti-virus package updated, you should have very few problems. My first rule of survival on-line is to never click on links in e-mails unless they are directly from (not on behalf of) someone you know well.

However, I don't mind getting funny read and pass it on (as long as they're only text with .jpgs). This is the latest one from one of my sisters which made me giggle:
Last night, my husband and I were sitting in the living room, and I said to him, 'I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.' He got up, unplugged the computer, and threw out my wine!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Best household invention ever

Sponge wash up in packagingWashing up has been very difficult in my house for the last few days. I ran out of these Sponge wash ups for the first time in a very long time. All I could find in the cupboard under the sink was a J-cloth which tried manfully to cope but the non-scratch scourer on one side of the wash ups makes quick work of anything that is beginning to get the idea of sticking around. Plus I find the shape of it very ergonomic to use.

Welcome back, my little spongey friends - I was getting more than a little peeved that the washing up was taking twice as long as normal. I get very impatient when knitting, dog walking or University Challenge on the telly is beckoning. We have a competition every Monday night during UC to see who gets most answers right, I got thrashed 9-4 by DH last night.

What is your favourite household item (don't say a dishwasher ... else I'll get jealous - I don't have room for one in this house).

Latest tin

Scented candle in a tin with a peacock feather designI bought this tin when I was in Cambridge on Saturday from a shop called Breeze on Trinity Street. As soon as I saw it I had to have it to keep stuff in, I really like the peacock feather design. The trouble is, it's got a blimmin' scented candle in it so I have to use all that up before I can stash things in it (as you can see, I've already made a start!)

Methinks there may have to be some dotty beads in these colours pretty soon!