Wednesday 19 December 2012

Yorkie and the Midnight Garden!

A couple of weeks ago the Midnight Garden had a visitor.  Of course I couldn't show you on the blog at the time because of the contest, but as he proved to be quite a popular character on my Facebook page, I thought I would share his story with you today and also ask him if he would kindly make a return visit to pick the lucky winner of the giveaway!

So that was Yorkie's first experience of the Midnight Garden, but I have a feeling that some kind of magical spell was cast on him that night and that now he will be a regular visitor.  He was only too glad to come back into the garden to pick the winner of The Bead Shop Manchester giveaway.  Mr. and Mrs. Prickles oversaw  the proceedings to make sure that everything was done fairly and a small group of onlookers huddled in the corner, waiting with baited breath to learn the name of the winner ...

 And the winner is ...

Iha Vahlberg Orre of Sweden!  Congratulations Iha - your beautiful beads will soon be winging their way to you!  A big thank you to everyone who entered the contest and of course special thanks to Yorkie too!


Tuesday 4 December 2012

A Midnight Garden themed giveaway!

I have some exciting news!  In conjunction with The Bead Shop (Manchester) I am running an easy to enter contest to win a fabulous hand picked selection of beads and it is open to international entrants!  All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning this stunning prize, is answer two simple questions and leave a comment on this entry of my blog, along with your name and a valid email address (or some way for me to contact you) to enable me to contact the lucky winner to arrange delivery of the prize.  If you have been following my blog you will know that for some time now I have been working on what I call my 'Midnight Garden' collection - using a very limited colour palette of beads I have been creating a themed body of work with a fairy tale feel to it.  I have a mental image of a secret walled garden bathed in the light of the full moon at midnight, all overgrown with twisting vines and leaves, full of night blooming flowers and mystical creatures, where magical things happen if you are fortunate enough to witness them.  One of the key pieces (shown below) is called 'Gateway to the Garden' and it represents an ancient arched entrance to the garden with an old gnarled tree curving round the door and lots of leaves and long grasses growing up the wall.  I have worked around a piece of labradorite and if you look very closely through the archway I am convinced that you can see the fairies dancing in the moonlight within the garden.

I was thrilled when The Bead Shop (Manchester) first contacted me to discuss the possibility of us doing some work together and we decided to start by doing something a little different.  I have carefully filled my shopping cart with the beads that I would love to incorporate in my Midnight Garden (shown below) but instead of them being delivered to me, we will be giving these beads away to one lucky winner to enable them to create their own imaginative piece.  The prize includes a delicious mix of Miyuki Delicas and Duracoat seed beads in midnight greys and silvers, lots of shadowy grey Swarovski crystal pearls, some super sparkly Swarovski crystals including an incredibly twinkly star pendant and a selection of whimsical charms that fit in perfectly with my theme.  It would be lovely if the winner decided to show me what they make with this wonderful selection of beads, but there is absolutely no pressure to do this!

So how do you enter this exciting giveaway?  It's very simple - leave the correct answers to both of the following questions as a comment on this blog entry along with your name and a valid email address (or some way for me to contact you):

  1. In what year was The Bead Shop (Manchester) established?
  2. How many different beading patterns do I sell directly from my website?

The closing date is the 18th of December and after that date I will put all correct answers into a hat and the lucky winner will be notified by me and then contacted by The Bead Shop (Manchester) to arrange delivery of the prize.

Make sure you tell your friends about this fun giveaway so that they can be in with a chance of winning this Midnight Garden themed prize.  Good luck everyone!


Thursday 22 November 2012

Stepping Stones ...

I am sure you are all tired of me telling you how much my life has changed since I discovered beads - but it's true, things have evolved both personally and professionally and there are even more changes afoot.  Although change is scary, I do like to keep moving forward and this is especially true where my beadwork is concerned, but sometimes I like to pause, take a breath and glance over my shoulder at the path behind me and an email I received this week reminded me to do just that.  It was actually an email from Interweave with news of a big sale they are having, but as I looked at my old patterns that they still sell, I saw that OK, I am working in different coloured beads nowadays, I am incorporating different materials, I am experimenting with different stitches and my photography has certainly improved - but I noticed that my style of beadwork hasn't really changed at all.  As you know, I am completely immersed in the Midnight Garden at the moment and I understand that some of you are disappointed that I simply have not had time to write the patterns for some of the garden's 'inhabitants', but I thought perhaps now might be a good time to remind you that there are already lots of my patterns available to purchase from various sources and many of these will provide the stepping stones to the kind of work I am currently creating, such as these Olive Earrings from Interweave.

So first of all, let me tell you about the Interweave sale - if you visit this page of my website and click on any of the project titles, it will take you to the Interweave store and if you purchase any of the patterns via that page, after you 'Add to cart' you will see a box with the words 'Coupon Code' - be sure to enter HOLIDAYTHANKS into that box and a further 20% will be deducted - but please note that this sale ends on Monday November the 26th.

Many of my patterns that were published in Bead magazine are still available to purchase too, so if you want to make your very own Maid Marian's Quiver for example (as shown above) just follow this link and it will take you to a selection of my patterns in their on-line store.

The patterns I have had published with Bead & Button magazine are also still available, so if you would like to make yourself a Double Dragon, follow this link to view my patterns that are available to purchase and download from them. 

And finally, don't forget that I also sell a selection of patterns from this page of my website so if you want to make your own Core Beaded Beads, Popper Flowers, Rivoli Daisies etc. - just follow the links and your new beading pattern/s will be with you within minutes.  There are new patterns in the pipeline but this is generally a slow process (especially where books and magazines are involved) and so I am hoping that you will find something in the links above that will interest you until I am able to share new work.

Yours evolvingly;

Sunday 11 November 2012

Coming out of hibernation ...

Well, here I am, slowly nosing my way out of hibernation, stretching, sniffing the air and gradually adjusting to Life After Mum.  I am picking up my needle and thread again, accepting all sorts of beady offers and blowing the cobwebs off the Midnight Garden - I am back in business!  Mr. and Mrs. Prickles have also come out of a long sleep in order to lend their support to York Beads who had to close for a whole week following hurricane Sandy due to a complete loss of power.  Mr. and Mrs. P. owe their very existence to York, as without them, there would have been no beautiful dagger beads to adorn them and then they would have looked like very different creatures indeed - have you ever heard of the naked mole rat?

When I was a 'hobby beader', if I had read the term 'wholesale' I would have immediately switched off, thinking that I would not be eligible to buy from them - but I have learnt that actually, York sell 'wholesale to the public' which means you do not need to be a business or have to do anything complicated or scary.  True they do have a minimum purchase amount, but that is only $100 (currently around £63/79Eur/97AUD) and as we all know, it is not hard to spend that kind of money and more on those must have beads, and there is nothing to stop you getting together with a group of friends to organise a bulk order.  So if you want to get your beady paws on some of the most innovative Czech beads around (such as the dagger beads, spike beads or the new gumdrop beads) go to the York Beads website, click on 'Sign In Here' and 'Apply For An Account' and if you have any difficulties, feel free to email them via the 'Contact us' page.  Oh and right now they have a very attractive sale on of 10% off all items with free flat rate domestic shipping and an international shipping rate of only $16.95.

So that's all from me and Mr. and Mrs. P. for now, but we will be back soon with news of new designs, tutorials and published projects, so if you don't want to miss anything, make sure you either click on the 'Follow by Email' button located on the top right of my blog or click 'like' on my Facebook page.

Bye for now!


Saturday 29 September 2012

Goodbye Mum!

Sadly, Mum left us on Monday the 24th of September, but thanks to the fantastic support of the hospice, district nurses and carers, she was able to spend her final days peacefully at home, just as she had wished.  I used to call Mum my 'Rose Fairy' because with her beautiful blonde hair, soft pink skin and sparkly blue eyes she reminded me so much of Cicely Mary Barker's 'Rose Fairy' and she was happiest spending time pottering about in her garden tending to her collection of gorgeous roses.  I will miss Mum enormously but I am comforted by the belief that she will be watching me and cheering me on as I continue on my beady travels through life. Mum was my number one fan when it came to my beadwork and although I used to cringe with embarrassment when she would whip a magazine out of her handbag to show anyone who would stop and look at my latest published design, or thrust her wrist at a passing stranger to show them her bracelet saying 'Look, my daughter made that!' - I was of course very glad to be able to give her something to be proud of.  In the early days, I was lucky enough to share a table at several local craft fairs with Mum, she with her wonderful knitted creations alongside me and my beadwork and later, as things grew and I attended bigger fairs, she would help me out by setting up my display, talking to customers and carefully packaging sold items and of course helping to calm my nerves and bolster my confidence.

Mum was always coming up with ideas for new beadwork designs for me too and she was a constant source of inspiration - had it not been for Mum and her battles with cancer, I would never have designed my Awareness Ribbon Pins or the Pilgrims Cross both of which helped to raise a substantial amount of money for various charities.

There is so much more I could say about My Mum, but I think that you get the picture and although I have many photographs of her, I think that the one below is my favourite because it shows her 'under my wing' and captures the obvious love that flowed between us.

Mum and I used to speak about what might happen after this life and we thought that perhaps we may become flower fairies with important jobs to do.  Mum decided that she was going to wear a gown of softest velvety purple petunia with a fluffy bumblebee hat and she was going to dance through the sky painting sunsets and THAT is the image I am going to keep in my head forever.

Goodbye Mum.


Friday 31 August 2012

Gumdrops Galore!

Being a freelance designer sometimes means that I am asked to create designs using new types of beads or beading products that hit the market - and that is just what happened with the new Czech Gumdrop Beads designed by Perry Bookstein of York Beads.  These pressed glass beads have softly rounded tops and a flat base with a hole running from side to side near the base.  They come in a tempting array of approximately 15 colours with mouthwatering names like 'Magic Raspberry' and 'Peach Melba' - but of course, as I am currently immersed in moonlight I had to choose something that would fit into the Midnight Garden and so I chose 'Silver Bullet' and 'Orion'.  I thought it would be good to show that these new beads can be incorporated into designs as simple or as complicated as you want them to be and so first I made a straightforward pair of 'Galactic Gumdrops' earrings ...

For my next trick I wanted to create something a little more intricate and as the gumdrops vaguely reminded me of acorns (probably due to my recent trip to Sherwood Forest!) I thought I would try to make the kind of nuttily leafy bracelet that you would expect to find in my beaded garden.  So I bezelled the bottom of each gumdrop to make it look like the cup of an acorn and brick stitched some little oak leaves.  Next I wove everything together in a pleasing cluster and tied the bracelet with a soft grey ribbon to give me 'From Midnight Oaks Magic Acorns Grow' ...

 Bye for now!


Wednesday 15 August 2012

Deruta The Travelling Bracelet!

Have you read about The Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Bracelets project created by Sig Wynne-Evans?  While recovering from an operation, Sig had the idea of creating 10 bracelets and as she wove she thought only good positive thoughts before sending them out into the world.  Each gorgeous bracelet went to a different destination and the idea is that each recipient will spend a week with 'their' bracelet, absorbing some of the energy the bracelet has already picked up while adding some of their own.  They will then pass it on to a person of their choice who will also spend a week with the bracelet and so on.  Can you imagine the places these bracelets are going to go, the sights they will be shown and the adventures they will have?  Can't you already feel the special power that these bracelets will hold?  This project has apparently received a mixed response, but personally I think that this is a fantastic idea and so when my friend Maureen asked if she could pass bracelet number 7 (Deruta) on to me, I accepted enthusiastically and couldn't wait for the post to arrive.  Here is my report of my week with Deruta:

"When my lovely friend Maureen first contacted me to see if I would like to spend a week with Deruta, I jumped at the chance!  To be honest, this couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I had recently found out that Mum has cancer which has spread too far to be treated and when I read Sig’s blog and learned about her experiences and the philosophy behind the travelling bracelets, I really wanted to be a part of this and I also wanted to slide the bracelet onto Mum’s wrist so that she could feel the love that had gone into it.  I live 250 miles away from my parents and when Deruta arrived I had just returned home for a little break after spending 3 weeks with Mum at her home and in her local hospice and so I thought I would show Deruta some of our local sights before returning to help care for Mum.  I opened the box, marvelled at Deruta’s beauty, slipped her on and off we went!

This region has a rich history and although (even after 23 years of living here!) I am technically a foreigner in these parts, I feel a strong bond with this area - especially Sherwood Forest which, as legend has it, was the home of Robin Hood and Maid Marian.  My husband Simon and I often go for long walks in these ancient woodlands and we are occasionally lucky enough to spot a deer or a hare or a buzzard and there is always a feeling of quiet magic about this area which seems to bring us both a sense of peace – and so of course I really wanted Deruta to soak up some of this atmosphere!

After our walk in the woods, we stopped off for a cup of tea and a piece of cake in the pretty little village of Edwinstowe.  Robin and Marian were supposedly married in the local church and there is a beautiful bronze sculpture of Robin proposing to Marian in the centre of the village and so I popped Deruta onto Marian’s slender wrist for a few minutes so that they could connect.

After that it was back to work and the next few days went in a whirl of writing instructions, drawing diagrams and taking photos as Deruta sat quietly by my side.  Mum’s faith is very important to her and when she found out about her illness she asked me to make her a little beaded cross to help her through the difficult times ahead.  After having spent some time in the hospice with Mum and beginning to understand the work that they do, I thought that I would write up the pattern for the cross and donate the proceeds to the hospice to help them with their important work.  Those few days may not have been very exciting for Deruta, but I am sure that she absorbed some of my positive energy as I focused on my goal.

Towards the end of the week it was time for the trip back to Mum’s house (she is now out of the hospice and being cared for at home) and as this is where I grew up, I took Deruta for a little walk along the country lanes to imbue her with the natural beauty and the timeless tranquillity of Romney Marsh.

On the last day of my special time with Deruta I slipped her onto Mum’s wrist.  Mum and I held hands, closed our eyes and concentrated on sending Deruta energy, experience, kindness and love.

Deruta is now preparing for the next leg of her journey and I look forward to reading about her travels around the world.  I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Maureen for filling Deruta with such positive and happy thoughts before passing her on to me and an extra special ‘thank you’ to Sig both for the beautiful beadwork and for turning her wonderful idea into a reality."

As you can see, I had a great time with Sig's travelling bracelet and I also enjoyed pondering about who she would like to visit next and where in the world she might like to go - keep a close eye on Sig's traveling bracelet blog to see what Deruta gets up to next ...


Wednesday 8 August 2012

Pilgrims Cross!

Following on from my previous post at the end of June, I can tell you that the reason I had to postpone or cancel so many beady engagements is that my lovely Mum has cancer and it has spread too far to be treated.  Mum would like to be able to end her days at home - in her garden, surrounded by flowers and holding my hand.  Friends and family are all doing their best to make it that way but at one point at the beginning of July the pain became intolerable and Mum had to go into the Pilgrims Hospice .  Up until then, I had no experience of hospices and I had no idea of the wonderful work they do - they worked hard to get Mum's pain under control and to make her comfortable while respecting her wishes and they continually supported the family, patiently explaining the situation to us and answering numerous questions.  Some nights I slept in a chair by Mum's side and the staff would tip-toe in and out to check on us, sometimes using a torch rather than switching on the electric light so that they didn't disturb us.  Often I couldn't sleep and I padded down the corridors in my slippers to make a cup of tea or to spend a few minutes watching the rabbits nibbling in the garden in the moonlight - those quiet times, seeing things, hearing things - that's when I understood the work of the hospice and the angels that work/volunteer there.  After a 2 week stay Mum went back to her beloved house and garden and the hospice arranged for a hospital bed to be delivered to the house together with all the medical paraphernalia she requires and she is still there now, with nurses and personal care staff popping in throughout the day to make sure that she is as comfortable as possible.  Mum's faith is important to her and when she first found out about her illness she asked me to make her a little beaded cross so that when times got tough, she could either look at it or hold it in her hand.  I did this gladly and as soon as I understood the work of the hospice I decided that I would make the pattern for the cross available and donate 100% of the proceeds to the hospice.

I am telling you my story, but I am very much aware that it is my story and that everyone has their own stories.  I have spent my time designing this cross and writing this pattern because I want to donate something to the hospice that has done so much to help us - but if you buy this pattern you are free to raise money for the charity of your choice.  Make as many of these simple little crosses as you wish - sell them, donate them, auction them and use the money you raise for whatever purpose you see fit.  All I ask is that you do not copy this pattern, do not share it and do not teach it because every penny I manage to raise from the sale of this pattern will be going to help the Pilgrims Hospice continue their amazing work.

The pattern for the Pilgrims Cross is available to purchase HERE

Thank you;

Kerrie ♥

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Into each garden some rain must fall ...

Of course I have corrupted a line from Longfellow's 'The Rainy Day' in the title of my post today, but it perfectly expresses my feelings.  Due to family illness the Midnight Garden exhibition has had to be cancelled - but that does not mean an end to the Midnight Garden!  Unexpected and disappointing things happen.  In my real life garden a cheeky little mouse has made a tasty meal of my baby carrots and voracious slugs and snails have made short work of my runner beans - I was looking forward to eating those homegrown vegetables myself, but it was not meant to be this year and it does not mean I will not plant new ones.  The walls of the Midnight Garden are still firm,  the twisting twirling leaves and vines are still thriving and the owls, hedgehogs and turtles are still watchful and waiting for a time when new creatures will join them.  The garden was already beginning to take on a life of its own and new ideas were starting to take shape, so perhaps this change of direction was always on the cards - the gardener just wasn't aware of it!

So, although I cannot go through with the physical exhibition in September, I will continue with my personal colour challenge (albeit at a slower pace), I will still be the caretaker of the Midnight Garden and I will carry on with my freelance work.  Talking of which - I have just managed to complete a couple of new Thorn Flower bracelets in different colourways!  These will join the existing bracelet at the York Beads booth at Bead Fest in Philadelphia from August the 17th to the 19th.  And don't forget that you can purchase the pattern for the Thorn Flowers via this page of my website!


To round off today's post I would like to thank everybody for the wonderful support the garden has received so far.  I would also like to reassure you that although my work will no longer be displayed at Stitchncraft in September, I will still be working hard on creating this body of work and I will of course keep you updated with all news on my blog or Facebook page.

Bye for now!


Thursday 14 June 2012

From the office to the garden!

I used to have a normal 9 to 5 job - it paid the bills but it made me miserable and every day I would gaze out of the window longing to be on the other side.  So now I work from home and nearly every day is different.  Some days I work from 7am until 11pm and weekends are very often cancelled to enable me to meet a deadline, but other days I can skip off into the sunshine and go and talk to the trees.  Some days I spend quietly beading, lost in my own thoughts and not talking to a single person until Simon comes home.  Other days are a flurry of non-stop calls and emails with my mind whirring as all sorts of possibilities and ideas unfold - a far cry from my old life and most days I can hardly believe the transformation.  The last few weeks have been particularly surreal and as I made the collage below I had to pinch myself to check that I really was looking at pictures of NanC Meinhardt and Marcia DeCoster holding my work at the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee.

Of course I wasn't at the show in person, only Midnight Garland and The Thorns got to travel and to meet all those amazing beady people while basking in the limelight.  I stayed at home, quietly tending to the Midnight Garden and gradually four flower pins with four different petal shapes and four different centres, bloomed from my fingers ...

 Bye for now!


Wednesday 30 May 2012

Hedgehogs in the garden!

Well here I am ... already 8 months into my beady experiment of using one colour of beads for a whole year to create a themed body of work - Midnight Garden.  I am quite pleased with the meandering route the garden is taking with lots of twists and turns and the occasional unexpected but welcome nocturnal visitor.  So I was very happy when Perry at York Beads sent me some dagger beads because when I saw them my first thought was 'hedgehogs' - and really, what self-respecting rambling midnight moonlight garden would be complete without a couple of magical hedgehogs snuffling around the place?  And so here we have Mr & Mrs Prickles - she is a little smaller with a lovely shiny body and a playful twinkle in her eyes and he is larger and sort of dull (and a bit camera shy!) but he's solid and dependable and I think you can tell that they are very much in love ♥ ♥

Bye for now!



Monday 21 May 2012

Midnight Garland!

After my last post about the new Thorn Flowers, I thought that my work with 'spike beads' was done and that in true butterfly style I could flit on to another shape, another bead, another flower.  But then Perry at York Beads offered to display a couple of pieces of my spike bead work at his booth at the Bead & Button show in June and it seemed like a wasted opportunity to just send what I had already created and so another idea started to form.  After ten days and many hours of making lots of intricate heart shaped leaves, some twisty vine and a few thorn flowers and thorn flower buds - Midnight Garland is ready to be packaged up and sent off on her travels.

And if you were hoping for a Midnight Garden story:  Deep within the Midnight Garden an insignificant looking vine appears.  As the moon waxes the stem begins to grow, small tendrils sprout and uncoil into tiny heart shaped leaves that twist and creep along the ground.  Little buds start to form and as they swell the petals begin to part showing glimpses of an inner light.  The Midnight Garland grows and grows, climbing and spreading throughout the garden, gathering strength until gradually the petals unfurl revealing the centre - and at that special midnight full moon moment the powerful silver spikes point moonwards ...

Bye for now!


Thursday 3 May 2012

Thorn Flowers in the garden!

Things are still growing very nicely in the Midnight Garden but I have to be honest with you and admit that I have no real garden plan mapped out.  Beyond knowing that everything in my beaded garden has to be in shades of grey with a few sparkling glints and highlights, I have no idea what might spring up next.  And perhaps that is just the way it should be?  After all, if you ever find yourself wandering around a real (or fantasy!) garden at midnight with the silvery full moon high in the sky, you never know what you might see or hear next, whether real or imagined - a glimpse of this, a hint of that, a rustle of leaves, the beat of swooping wings, the blink of an eye in the shadows ...

I am not too concerned about the lack of a plan because my garden is not a formal one, it's a wild garden where anything could happen - perhaps a reflection of life.  So when Perry at York Beads contacted me out of the blue and we started talking about his new 'spike beads', I knew that I would easily be able to make room for them in my garden without being tempted away from my chosen colour scheme.  These spikes come in a wide range of delectable colours and finishes and as my grey beads have a beautiful AB finish with hints of lilac and turquoise and gold, I decided to make several different pieces with the same grey beads but using different coloured spikes.

The spike beads can look quite threatening on their own, so I wanted to tame them a little while still allowing them to shine and I thought that giving them petals would be the perfect thing.

From a distance, these Thorn Flowers look quite innocent, but when you get a little closer you can see the warning sign!  They remind me of some of the flowers from the nightshade family - all of which look perfectly harmless despite some of them being deadly!

If you would like to create some of your own Thorn Flowers, the pattern is now available from my website.

Bye for now!