Friday, 6 December 2013

Bead, Book, Bounce: I Can Herringbone by Melissa Grakowsky

I Can Herringbone by Melissa Grakowsky was November's choice of book for review and make, over on Operation Tackle That Bead Stash, my fave group on Facebook.

I had just purchased this book, while I was pre-ordering another title... you know the 'People who bought this....' who am I to argue with 'People'? I've always rather liked Herringbone or Ndebele stitch, and had admired Melissa's work for a while, especially her gorgeous masks... I was easily persuaded!

The shorter than usual deadline for this challenge caught me napping however, and I was shocked to find I had only a couple of days to make something and review the book...this is by way of an apology if you find the following rather thin.

I chose to make the Fern earrings, the final project in the 'Flat Herringbone' section, because it appealed to my botanist side and also looked satisfyingly complex. The detailed instructions made it much quicker to make than I thought possible, I began over my breakfast, and had made the first side of a fern by the time it came to leave for work. I finished it off in an hour this evening since I had other commitments yesterday. Initially I misunderstood the written instructions and joined the pinnae too far up, losing the flexibility, but looking at the photo clarified things. The diagrams are very clear too, as might be expected since Melissa is a go-to graphics expert for other bead designers.

Here is the one earring I have completed and I shall be making its pair shortly. The beads used are matte champagne duracoat 11s and 15s and bronze 11s and 8s. I didn't have rondelles in the right colour but the 4mm matte gold firepolished were a good substitute, and I mixed it up with some matte gold 6s too

I have a few more projects lined up to make from this book. Although the title suggests it is aimed at beginners, and it is indeed a stitch primer for many variations of the stitch, there is plenty to interest more advanced beaders too. If you haven't tackled herringbone stitch in your beadwork, or if you wish to expand your capabilities, this is a great book for the shelf.

Edited as we were given a month's grace:

Here is the next piece I decided to make, the Transcription Bracelet. Just the title appealed to my Molecular Biologist alter ego. I had to buy some 10mm pearls, fortunately my LBS owner had been on a buying trip and had an inexpensive selection of Chinese glass pearls to choose from. I picked Purple for the pearls and stuck with gold and metallic raspberry for the seed beads. I found the tension harder to keep consistent for this, as it twists as you work. Keeping a good grip was a little difficult and every now and then I'd lose my needle! I substituted slightly smaller drop beads by accident, so the size 6s stand a little prouder than in the illustrations. There was a small error in the instructions for adding the pearls so I followed the diagram instead. I did find the 15s which were supposed to secure the pearls in the curves could slip through the tube of herringbone unless I was careful to cross a thread. I didn't quite finish, as the bezeled Rivoli for the clasp is a little slack: I may substitute a button instead. There is the other fern earring so you can see I did complete a pair too!

Please visit the OTTBS blog for links and pictures from other group members.


  1. Thanks so much for joining in with Bead, Book & Bounce Catherine! I'm so pleased that the extra month gave you the opportunity to finish your earrings (it certainly gave me the time to finish that final strip of tubular herringbone!)

    I love the beautifully rich colours that you chose for your bracelet - and hope that you'll manage to finish that (and show it off) soon. It looks so regal!

  2. The earrings look great Catherine, so detailed, and I love the colours you've made the bracelet! Well done for doing something! I ran out of time this month!

  3. Hi Catherine! Thanks for the shout out on my blog! I'm really glad to have participated in this! The earrings you made are gorgeous! And the colors! I think I'm in love! Lol

  4. Catherine, great choice on projects. I love the unusual shaped earrings but the bracelet is absolutely the top. Please post a picture of it when you finish. Have a nice weekend. Ana

  5. Thank you all very much I hope we can do lots of these challenges, it is a shame to have such lovely books and not make something.