Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mini Collar a Week Challenge

For many months now I’ve been saying that I have to use up some of my accent beads. Over the last couple of years I have amassed a pretty great collection of beads that I love and love to use, but I recently reached a point where I just didn’t know where to begin. I’ve long since passed the hoarding stage and am ready to see what my beads can do. I just never have an idea that I think is good enough. I’ve been taking beads out, trying them on different palettes, imagining what they can do, but never really getting down to making something with them. I’ve also been busy with tutorial projects and other pursuits, so I haven’t been concentrating on just making jewelry for fun. I decided it was time to do something about it.

Destash Challenge Mini Collar

I was looking through old photos for something or other when I started reminiscing about some of my favorite creative challenges. Although the Egyptian Gods challenge was by far the most rewarding for me, the early marathons like A Ring a Day and A Bracelet a Week were the ones that taught me the most overall. Like the Destash Challenge, they also helped me to stretch out my limits and use up things in my bead stash. I did try out a new challenge at the start of this year, but it fizzled out. I thought that I would end up going without for the rest of 2016, but a marvelous idea finally emerged.

Destash Challenge Mini Collar

For the remainder of 2016, or until I’ve used all of my small accent beads at least once, I’m going to make a mini collar every week. I chose mini collars because they stitch up quickly, and I’d really love to have a few more of them for my shop, which I’ve been neglecting lately. Although the chevron chain design that I use for them is pretty simple, there are lots of different ways to add patterns and highlight exciting beads. I can’t wait to start experimenting!

Blue Lime Mini Collar

To kick off the challenge I used a couple of old favorites – lime green and cobalt blue Indonesian glass spacers. In order to include these large-hole beads in the design, I ended up increasing the stitches quite a bit to make room for 8/o bumpers. The netting is roomier and the collar is much bigger overall than my usual designs. I’m really happy with results, because it means that I can take more chances with other accents as well. Plus I love the palette with rainbow patriot blue for the netting.

Next I’m going to try out some drops or magatamas, and perhaps a new pattern. Wish me luck!


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  1. Hi Mortira,
    Do you have any suggestions for maintaining tension when doing netting? I have made many of this style necklace (including my Daughter's wedding jewelry). But I struggle so much with keeping my tension even from one row to the next. It's maddening! Thanks.

    1. There are a few things you can try that might help.

      I definitely recommend using Fireline because it's very 'grippy' and makes tension a little easier. It helps to practice with it and develop that muscle memory, then working with soft threads is easier. You could also try increasing the size/diameter of thread that you use.

      A sturdy stop bead at the beginning of a project and with each new thread can help establish and maintain good tension. You could try stitching through stop beads twice or even three times to really lock it in and reduce slipping.

      As with any loose stitch, it's very important to snug everything up as you go. With stitches like RAW and chevron chain especially, I'm in the habit of tugging the thread snug before AND after every stitch. Basically any time you drop tension on the working thread, like when you pick up a new bead, you want to snug it back up again before continuing. It sounds tedious, but I don't even notice that I'm doing it anymore. It's just part of the weaving process now.

      I hope this helps!

    2. Thanks so much! I have recently discovered the joys of fire line! Wish I had tried it long ago. I think that will really help with tension. I guess there is just no substitute for slow and steady. 🙄

  2. I'm looking forward to seeing all your beautiful challenge pieces.

    1. Me, too! I'm super excited about all of the possibilities. Thanks for joining me on the journey!


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