Having a new job means I once again have the cash to do some things I want to do, so I decided to learn to make jewelry and to improve my knitting skills.

We have a very nice little beading shop over in Lakewood Ranch called Knot Awl Beads. The selection is large, the classes are varied and employees are helpful. The quality of the tools used to make the jewelry is better than over at Michaels or JoAnn, but I have no problem going to these stores to buy beads going forward.  I’d originally bought some sparkly beads at Michaels because they go perfectly with a new outfit I’d bought for job-hunting and figured that this earring-making business was easy.  I tried and I tried, but I could not make a satisfactory earring out of the beads.  So I made arrangements with Knot Awl Beads and last night I went over there for  my first jewelry making lesson, a 1 1/2 hour class on “wire-wrapping.” This is the most basic jewelry class that allows one to turn a bead (or several beads) into earrings or a pendant.  We started with copper wire because of how soft it is, but the earrings I got to take home with me are in sterling silver.

Here they are (click on the picture to make it larger and see more detail):

I’m pretty proud of them and am wearing them now.

After class, I came home and took up the cheap tools I’d bought at Michaels in an attempt to turn the sparkly beads into a presentable pair of earrings.  I think I succeeded:

No, they’re not perfect (they’re not even as good as the earrings I made in class) but I felt completely comfortable wearing them to church this morning with the matching outfit.

Earlier in the day, I spoke with the ladies at A Good Yarn about improving my knitting skills.  They have a very extensive list of classes, but since I have a specific item I want to make, I said I’d prefer a private lesson.  I want to make the Lily camisole from Louet with Euroflax yarn in cream.  I have already knitted a shawl with the black yarn, and love that it’s machine washable.

I’m also making  cross stitched/beaded Christmas ornaments for 2 friends.  I plan to give 3 ornaments to each friend, and am working on the last of the 6.  This one should be done later in the week (they have each taken about a week to stitch), and then I will back all of them with felt, wrap them up and mail them off.  I bought felt squares for about 30 cents each from Hancock Fabrics, and will cut each one to fit the ornaments and will glue them to the back with fabric glue.

Here are the 5 ornaments I’ve completed (except for the felt backing) so far:

I like these a lot and hope that the recipients do, too.  I also bought a couple of kits to make for our tree here.  But those won’t even be started until I get these out of the house.  It’s likely that I won’t even do them until next year’s tree.

The “Fine China” piece has obviously been put aside for the duration, but I’m about 3/4 of the way through.  I’ll post a picture when it’s done.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find a framer at a reasonable price (or a frame-it-yourself place) and get that out of the way. Of course, this means my reading time has been cut back, but I’ll work it out.