Reunited (and it feels so good)

Operation Refresh was a complete success! What a relief to get a break for a few days and see some people I adore, meet new people to adore, and acquire far too much fabulous yarn! I left home without a single bead project and while it seemed scary, it was the right decision. It meant I could truly relax and not stress about the beading I should be doing back at the hotel room. I’ll have to try that on vacations again in the future!

I definitely took the weekend at my own pace. Slept late, skipped a class (or two) because I felt like I’d rather be sleeping. I was able to snag my wonderful friend Marly Bird, who is a superstar knitting and crochet teacher, for dinner one night – a super special treat for me! I love my Marly. I splurged on some special yarns, including some Baby Alpaca that’s beyond soft – it’s like touching a cloud! And by Sunday I was ready to head back home to the fur kids and Mom and yes, even the beads.

So Monday I spent time ordering supplies (I do this several times a week these days to keep up) and then was able to stitch and finalize one more of the projects that must be done before I leave on Thursday for Toronto and BeadFX. Today I’m going to be at the office quite late, working on the other four that need to be done. One is just figuring out the colorway. The other three will be quickies, but they have required some new tools that have left me making several trips to the store to pick up as I figure it out. The good news is that I AM figuring it out, and this will all be good info to share with y’all on a future YouTube project.

I’m heading out for a workout at the gym with my trainer now (I’m so fancy) so I can keep up with all the bead ladies! I promise pretty pictures on the next post. Really. Pinky swear.

Arguing with the beads

I feel like I’ve spent the last 10 days arguing (and losing the argument) with my beads. It happens. You’re going along perfectly happy in your relationship, and suddenly you hit a snag, and for a while you can’t stand to be around each other. That’s where things are between me and the beads. We’re not breaking up for good, mind you. We took a lifetime vow long ago and we’ll stick to it. But we do need a little time apart so we can both breathe and get back to a better place.

So this weekend I’m cheating on the beads with yarn. Lots and lots of soft, fluffy, colorful, happy yarn. I’ll be in the Dallas area for three solid days at Stitches Texas, a knitting (and crochet) show – taking classes – and SHOPPING (I was looking at my credit card balances a few minutes ago, planning my limits *cough*) and spending time with knitting friends. And for the first time in probably 10 years, I did not bring a single beading project with me. I packed a Bead On It Board at the last minute which is kind of funny since I don’t have beads, thread, or needles with me…(shaking my head.)

I love the various projects I designed over the last few weeks – it’s been the colorways that have been fighting back and refusing to cooperate like a tired two-year-old. My hope is that by the time I return Sunday night, the beads and I both will have gotten over our temper tantrums and be back to partners like we should be.

In the meantime, expect some yarn porn photos coming to this space soon.

Is there still a place for blogging?

I miss blogging. There. I said it. I’ve thought about it for quite a while – usually when I have a good story to tell, or some cool news to impart. Sure I can do that on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – but for a story, nothing beats the format of a blog post.

And there’s a lot more of you out there to tell stories to now that the YouTube channel has taken off so well, and I find I have even more to share. Not only the personal stories about my family (many of them covered in fur) and the backstory of being a national beading teacher, but now I also have running an online bead store info to impart – for instance, sharing what new products we’ve added lately, and what our plans are for the future.

So let’s start meeting back here for a cup of coffee and catch-up a few times a week, shall we? I can’t wait.

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Super Bowl Sunday – at home

I have a lot of new readers and new beaders coming to my blog now thanks to the traffic on my YouTube channel. So Hi there! That also means I need to explain to the newbies what Tucson is. Yes, a city! But in February, Tucson turns into the biggest and best bead and gem shopping experience in the US. There are 40+ shows that run in the city – everything from shows specializing in high-end cut gemstones and jewelry to the shows with rough rock for the home and hobby cutter to cut themselves. Tents full of pearls and bead strands and findings and artisan materials. There are bead shows, strand shows, wholesale only shows, and an African Art Village show.

This is the first Super Bowl Sunday in 10 years that I’ve been at home. Normally by this time of year I’m in Tucson, with my booth all set up at the show, and missing the first half of the game. I’ve managed to see the second half (minus the half-time entertainment) most years by rushing back to my lodging after the show closes. But not this year.

I am still going to Tucson, but as a shopper and schmoozer instead of a vendor. It feels weird. I’m partially giddy at the thought of being free from my tethers at the booth. But I’m also a little freaked out at the trip being 100% expense and no income. After all these years of building a business it’s hard to turn off the “don’t spend a dime more than you have to” mentality.

My plans are to meet with various friends and acquaintances to network and talk about new and potential projects, to discover the coolest fresh products that are out there in the bead world, and to buy roughly a ton and a half of pearls for kits. Okay, maybe slightly less than that. But a lot. I’ve got a very long shopping list.

People sometimes ask me why I’d go to Tucson to shop when there are so many online options these days. My answer is that there is nothing like seeing it, fondling it, and picking out the exact strands you want in person. How many times do you order online and discover you’re disappointed with the quality, or color, or size of what arrives? (This is why it’s SO important to support your local bead stores and buy there. We count on them!) Now multiply that disappointment by 10x and you’ll get an idea of my dismay when I’ve purchased 50 strands of pearls and have them arrive scratched, or pitted, or badly dyed.

Being in person at Tucson also means I can talk to the vendors face-to-face and find out the stories behind their product. How it was created, what the production is like, what’s new, what’s selling best, and how I can get my hands on it the rest of the year.

So tonight I’ll be watching the football game from my comfy sofa at home but I’ll be working on fleshing out that shopping list as I do it. Tuesday I hit the road. Wednesday I arrive in Tucson. If I don’t see you there, I’ll see you back here as I report on what I find!

Challenges bring opportunities

You guys know me – I don’t sugar coat things. I try hard to be realistic about what it’s like being a designer and business owner and human being. I tell the good, the bad, and the ugly. And honestly, 2013 has been the embodiment of the Charles Dickens quote, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I had show income and class sign ups down significantly from prior years. But I also had some of the BEST classes and emotional (happy) conversations with students, customers, fans, and peers. And while I could have rolled over and dramatically thrown a toddler fit over the challenges of this year, instead I decided to act like an adult, analyze the situation, and figure out how I could

adapt.

As a result of the adaptations

I’ve put in motion, I’m so excited for 2014 that I feel like bouncing up and down on the sofa as I write

this. The biggest and most visible, of course, is the YouTube channel, which is taking off like a rocket. There have been so many pairs of Whirlygig Earrings  made and posted on Facebook, I think everyone must have a pair by now!

Linda Hanssen made these Whirlygig Earrings!

Linda Hanssen made these Whirlygig Earrings!

I’m having a blast dreaming up content, filming the segments, and turning a whole new set of peeps into beadweavers! While the content so far has been pretty beginner-based, I will also start adding some more intermediate to advanced options.

I’m on a video roll, as I just got back from very chilly Colorado, where I visited the Interweave offices and spent a few days filming two video classes which will be released in 2014. One is my Kumihimo with Beads class, and the other is Beaded Ropes, with me covering five different types of beaded ropes and variations of those five. I got to wear false eyelashes for the first time – having your own makeup artist doesn’t suck. 🙂 1487991_10202115763550832_563548871_o

And now I’m home for two solid months. My own bed. My own fur babies. Yippee! On the agenda is lots of napping, lots of designing, a little filming for YouTube, lots of new products put up on the website for sale, completion of the garage purge, and more napping. I’ll end 2013 with 78 nights in strange beds. Which is actually down from 2012, so that’s a nice trend.

I can’t wait for more. This job? I love it. You guys?? I love you. Now, let’s bead!

 

 

First YouTube Project Releasing!

Hi Beaders!

I have never been as excited about my job as I have been the last two months. Between being able to roll out a whole new website design with a spiffy new shopping cart system that makes my life and your shopping experience about a bazillion times better, I’ve also been conjyoutube graphicuring up this whole new YouTube Channel for beaders!

Here’s how it works:

I’ll be posting a brand new video every Wednesday. Yes. Every. Single. Wednesday. Rain? Hail? Sleet? Sloth? Doesn’t matter. There’s gonna be a video. Yes, I’m nuts – but you figured that out a long time ago. What will the videos be? Well….

  • Basic Beadweaving Techniques
  • Tips, tricks, info about materials, tools, patterns, resources
  • Interviews and beader-at-the-show glimpses of my travels to the best bead shows in the country (and internationally!)
  • Free projects
  • Project Companion Videos

Let me talk for a second about that last one…

I discovered this great concept when I stumbled onto it via a knitting pattern I purchased from Very Pink Knits. When I purchased her Learn to Knit a Sweater pattern, not only did it come with the usual written pattern via PDF (or e-Book) but it also had links in the pattern to videos on YouTube. And in those videos, she demonstrated exactly what she was talking about in the pattern! I thought it was absolutely genius to marry the two mediums into a perfect way to learn a new project.

You know how no matter how good the instructions and illustrations or photos are in a pattern, sometimes you really wish you could see it being done? Well, now you can! It’s like having me demo the steps right there with you!

The Project Companion Videos are not meant to be stand-alone videos. You will still need the instructions for the details. I’ll have those instructions available for purchase on my new website, along with optional kits that include the materials too. I think this is a huge added value to the instructions and kits, and I can’t wait to keep building that content!

Last week I launched the channel with the first three Technique videos. Today, I’m releasing the first Project Companion Video for my beloved Sleek Bracelet. Sleek Bracelet

I hope you will check it all out – the new website, the YouTube Channel, and the Sleek Bracelet. I feel like I’m giving birth to a bunch of 10lb babies all at once. But the pain is worth it. I’m a very proud Mama.

PS, Winston sez it ain’t a blog post until there’s a fur baby photo too. So here you go – the gratuitous cute doggies picture.

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Cha-cha-changes!

There’s always room for improvement in any business, and this one is no exception. I’m addicted to lovely, beautiful organization, but ironically haven’t ever really had the time to implement it. Things happen so fast around here that Mom and I are always throwing together a system that works in the moment, but might not be the best for the long term.

So it’s finally time to slow down a bit and uncomplicate my life a little bit. That’s the focus word I have finally chosen for 2013. What does it mean to me? Well, it means I have to stop pretending I’m some super human being who can do more than I say I can. I’ve had to make some hard choices in the last few weeks about postponing some big events in my life so that the quality will be the best it can be instead of me just rushing through it to hit a deadline. Making those choices was emotionally very difficult, but now that I’m on the other side of the decision, I see blue skies, sunshine, and the opportunity to build an even better and stronger business with stronger designs, more internal organization and structure, and a less frantic Jill.

Two of those changes are going to be happening in the next few months and I’m so excited (and a little terrified.) On Tuesday, Mom and I are going to start pulling every last little thing out of our infamous Bead Room so that we can sort, purge, catagorize, organize, and put it back in. Seriously – do you have any idea how much time I spend looking for stuff? It’s STOOPID how much time I waste doing that! But when you keep bringing new things in the room and a specific place never gets established for it, well, you’re asking for this kind of chaos. Yes, there will be plenty of photos to share as we go through it. I’m hoping the whole process won’t take more than a week.

The other big thing I did today was hire a website designer. As you know, Mom has been my magnificent webmaster all these years, and she will continue to be the main worker bee behind it. But we want to add all sorts of products to the site (3 & 4mm crystals, chatons, rose montees, more kumihimo stuff….) and we really need a better shopping cart system to do it. A whole site revamp is due too. And I don’t want Mom to spend any more long hours than she already does slaving away for me on all that! So if all goes according to plan, I should have it all ready to go by mid to late May. So excited! More on that as it progresses too….

And of course, there’s more Beadwork Designer of the Year stuff to design….more work on the second book to be done….more teaching projects to be worked up… But in the midst of it all, Mom and I will be taking a vacation!  A cruise is in our immediate future, along with excursions to swim with the dolphins, play with the monkeys, and take an airboat ride! 

So hang around…it’s gonna be a really cool Spring season around here!

Crankies

Mom mentioned today that I’ve been cranky for a while now. Dang. I was  hoping I’d been hiding it better than I obviously have been. Even so, I do think a little cranky is way better than the deep depression I am usually overwhelmed with in December/January. I’ve had a few days here and there with the blues, but overall it’s been nothing at all like years in the past and I’m very grateful for that.

While I love taking a break from the traveling life for a while, the truth of the matter is that I’m such a hermit at home that it gets ridiculous. I don’t leave the house for two weeks at a time. Seriously. Which I love, but it also means a LOT of together time for Mom and me and that’s where my crankies come in. I have only recently figured out how much I love silence a good part of the day. Isn’t it funny that it’s taken me to this point in my life to figure that out??? Where have I BEEN?? So the interruptions from the dogs and the staff start to get me – um – cranky – though no fault of their own. It’s my problem and I

Can I put a crystal on that?

I’ve been bit by the bug. We all know that I’m a crystal slut. After all, one of Poppy’s middle names is AB2X. Need I say more? But my newest fun is gluing flat back Swarovski stones on things. Basically anything that doesn’t move away fast enough is at risk. So far I’ve crystallized my iPhone case and a piece of wall art. Actually, strike that. I’ve started both those projects and finished neither. Now THAT sounds like me, doesn’t it???

And yet I’m looking around the house with a new eye towards covering all the surfaces in crystals. What’s next??? The fan blades on my bedroom ceiling fan would be cool. So would the edges of the shelves on my Elfa desk. But what if I got tired of it?? I guess I could buy more shelves if that happened. Hm.

And what an expensive little hobby I picked up! Sheesh! But really – I love sparkles.

I’m totally excited that Mom’s been working bit by bit on reorganizing our bead room. She took out the corner desk I used to have in there which is giving us more wall space for book shelves. Now the entire room will be ringed in them. And the best part is that we realized that we will have space in the middle of the room to put the bead storage case that’s been sitting in our garage for two years. YEE HAW! Photos as it starts coming together. Heck, I may even do a little video for y’all!

Back to the grind with me for the remainder of the night. I’m behind on writing instructions so I’ve got to concentrate. It’s hard with these sparkly beads everywhere, though.

Procrastination perfected

Things I found to do instead of writing the two sets of instructions due by morning:

  • Ate the leftover baked cauliflower from dinner
  • Caught up on my blog reader – which had 272 posts
  • Discovered I enjoy Baazar magazine now as long as I don’t think I’ll be able to purchase anything in there
  • Checked Facebook 33 times
  • Played Solitaire until I win at least one game. Okay, two.
  • Contemplated yet again a  more vegetarian diet and starting yoga
  • Chased Winston and his Bear Bear
  • Did a load of laundry. Oh, okay – at this moment in time I’ve only thought about doing that load. But I’m gonna. Really. 
  • Made a list of the Christmas gifts I have purchased to make sure I’m really done buying.
  • Started this blog post
  • And then, and only then…I finally buckled down and started writing