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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The cherry crop was disappointing this year, so when I saw some lovely cherries at Whole Foods, I went nuts and bought almost two pounds. Casting around for a way to use some of them, I settled up on a Cherry Clafouti--something that I have somehow never baked.
I looked at Julia Child's recipe but decided to try the one from The Food of France by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell. Their recipe calls for the traditional method of not pitting the cherries to give the dish an added almond flavor.
The clafouti baked up beautifully and is one of those typically French desserts that uses perfectly ripe fruit surrounded by a simple pudding-like cake. Unfortunately, it was not a big hit; it was a little too simple and eating around the cherry pits is distracting. The second time I served it I reheated the slices and garnished with a bit of whipped cream. That was an improvement.
My advice to other bakers is to used Julia Child's recipe and pit the cherries; the pits don't add anything. Don't be put off by the tablespoon of vanilla, it's the right amount for the dessert.

Monday, August 23, 2010


One of my objectives at Bead and Button was to find a clasp for a Turkish Flat Bead Crochet necklace that I made using two different sizes of beads. When I taught the Turkish Flat Bead Crochet technique to Moncie Williams, a former employee, she played with using different beads for top and bottom . When Julia Gerlach at Bead and Button wondered what would happen if I tried different-sized beads with the Turkish Flat Bead Crochet technique, I had to experiment myself.
I walked through over two-thirds of the shopping area at Bead and Button without finding a clasp that excited me and then I came across the Mad About Beads booth. I immediately fell in love with the ceramic clasps made by Saralee Rhoads and found the hand-shaped clasp (shown above) that seemed to be made for my necklace. To see more of Saralee's work, visit

Here is the finished necklace. Using two sizes of beads allowed me to make a 24" necklace with a gentle curve so that it fits nicely around the neck. Now to go find other bead combinations.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I am busy designing an embellished closure for on the Turkish Loops Bracelet class in November, but I took a few minutes to play with some beads that I bought at Bead and Button an some new threads that I ordered.
On the left are some purple matte bugles and some seed beads that look like terra cotta pottery crocheted with C-Lon micro cord in the Turkish Loop pattern. The middle sample is crocheted with pinch beads, seed beads, and the new C-Lon Fine Weight cord. This cord is advertised as being suitable for Swarovski crystals or size 8/0 seed beads and smaller. It was too small to go through the purple bugle beads doubled but the holes on those beads were small. It went through the seed beads fine. The sample on the right is done with the new spiral bugle beads, seed beads, and Tuff-Cord #2, a 3-ply, twisted, bonded cord made from long nylon filaments. The bugles have cuts on their surface that make them very sparkly.

Here is a shot of all 3 threads together for size comparison. Top to bottom: C-Lon fine weight cord, Tuff-Cord #2, and the C-Lon micro cord I have been using. I don't mind the micro cord, but a lot of bead crocheters find it too thin to work with easily. For projects where you need support, I like the Tuff-Cord #2. The C-Lon fine weight cord would also be good for projects that need support but its size might be a problem if you are using seed beads with small holes.

Here is how the Tuff-Cord comes packaged. I
bought both nylon cords from She is a macrame artist who carries a variety of threads.

My other discovery was courtesy of Janet Rosenberg. She and her husband Robert sell crochet hooks with cherry wood handles made by Robert. Now I have heard repeatedly that the hooks with large handles are easier on wrists, but I hadn't bothered to try any. Since I crochet holding my hook in the "pencil" grip, I figured that hooks with bigger handles would get in my way. Boy was I wrong! It turns out that the wood handle of the size 10 steel hook rests comfortably between my thumb and finger to make bead crocheting less painful and I didn't even have to learn to crochet another way. I am a convert. Robert also makes beautiful cherry wood looms. To see their looms and crochet hook handles, visit I have also discovered that the other advantage to having a hook with a large handle is that it doesn't get lost as easily.

Crochet hook with Robert's cherry wood handle.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Last week I managed to bead myself into and out of a corner. A few years ago, I was playing with the Russian Spiral Stitch and made these cute little wreaths. If you aren't familiar with the stitch, here is a tutorial:
Inspired by my class with Marcia DeCoster at Bead and Button and Laura McCabe's book "Embellished Beadweaving," I came up with a different decoration for the green wreath. Every way that I attempted to fasten the decoration to the wreath was so tortuous that I couldn't ask students to follow them. I was about to tear out my hair!
Here is the new decoration with a band that was to wrap around the Russian Spiral. That didn't work either, but it might make a cute ring.
Finally, I think I have a way to add the new decoration to the wreath. I am so relieved!