Routine Log #2

The day before yesterday (Thursday the 29th), I timed myself at work. It’s taking me a bit over two hours to create one 6″ long beaded micro-macramé bracelet strap…which seems overly long. 6″ is 12.5 repeats of my pattern, which ends up averaging around 10 minutes for one repeat.

There has to be something else getting factored into this: my main suspect would be setup and prep work, together taking at least 15 minutes. Setup is the most annoying thing out of all of this: from stretching the cord, to cutting and prepping the ends, to tying it onto a waste bundle in such a way that I can tug hard on the anchored end, and remove the mounting by tugging on the other. I have only just realized that I can slip a looped cord over the end of the waste bundle instead of trying to thread it behind and then to the front…not to mention, how much use a crochet hook is, when trying to mount a cord to the waste bundle.

Either that, or I’m just working at a relaxed pace (which is keeping me from having too many errors: I’ve only caught myself with one, recently). I also need to acknowledge that my hands haven’t yet fully toughened, so I am still dealing with a little bit of sensitivity with each knot (not to mention when stretching the material).

It is probably possible to reduce that time by pre-stringing some of my beads…at least, if I pre-string them accurately. I’m not sure how it will work out, however; I’ve never done it before, and I know that beads tend to get tangled up with (or explode off of) long lines of thread. As I’m thinking about it, I’d only really be able to make this work on the outer two lines. But that’s something. I also suppose that I’m only working with about 18″ at a time, which is…kind of a blessing, I guess. The center two lines are used as carrier cords, while the middle two lines are actively involved with knotting between the outer and inner cords.

I was at work on Thursday the 29th for about four and a half to five hours — during which I was directly involved in making two bracelets. (There was more time spent at work during which I was not making those bracelets.) They aren’t yet complete; I put off the construction of the clasps until the 30th. I suspected that I would need materials I hadn’t yet obtained: I was right to wait. Now, I have those materials…but still haven’t yet finished the bracelets, due to prioritizing self-care.

That, and I’m still a little edgy about fastidiousness: viruses on surfaces eventually die without a host. While I had been more fastidious about quarantining anything new to come into the house before the vaccine, I have been feeling safer. Then, boom, Delta; and now, apparently, we’re dealing with dementia risk as well as risk of death (although I did read that breakthrough symptomatic COVID cases only happen to about 1% of people with both doses of the vaccines [that require it]).

Today is the 31st (for a few more hours), and I know I have issues with paranoia even when we’re not having pandemics. In addition to physical self-care, there’s emotional self-care, too. I don’t think I can be really chastised all that much for not being eager to consider new beads as, “safe,” too soon; especially when dealing with them could be considered entirely unnecessary. But with a mind like mine, I have to employ a balancing act between being overly cautious and having a false sense of security.

I do know at this point, however…the next couple of things I’ll obtain are things I don’t immediately need. If I can wait five days from the time they were packed and sent (which should only be a one-day quarantine after getting them), I hope to be OK. For that matter, everything currently on my craft table should be safe by Monday — but I should check (and organize) my records. That would be a good project for tomorrow.

The older coronavirus, at least, would stop being viable at around 5 days, maximum (IIRC). I’m not as concerned about the packaging (which can be thrown out), so much as what’s inside. Of course, dry heat roasting inside a mailbox is probably not so great for viruses, either…

Anyhow…I’ve realized it takes about 15 minutes to ream out a set of two horn beads to have approximately 1/16″ holes…which isn’t too bad, considering how long it takes without a rotary tool! (If I felt confident estimating the diameter of the opening in millimeters, I would — but it’s just very clearly 1/16″, when I look at a ruler. Google says that’s about 1.6 mm.)

I have the beads for the clasps separated out at this point, though I recalled last night that I have some extra-large seed beads. Looking at my records, these are size 1/0 (“one-aught”) in mixed colors. Unfortunately, there are no pink beads in the lot (I found this upon retrieving them)…which is what I’m looking for. I might be able to use some of the turquoise-shade ones, though. (I’ve wondered if greens and blues are easier to make, in glass…)

I’ve been working further, on sizing. Four days ago, I made a bracelet way too (way too!) small for my wrist, maybe too small for a fourteen-year-old’s wrist. I’m still not entirely certain of all that went wrong there, besides making the strap much too short (which I would have known, had I compared it to the aborted bracelet I made on the 23rd [which was also too short] — in which I cut the wrong cord — that was two hours of work!). Yes, I need to be more careful about absent-mindedness encouraged by being too eager to finish.

Would that mean the drawstrings on the clasp would have to be ultra-long, to compensate? In any case, they were. I’m used to the drawstrings being 1.25″ to 1.5″ each; these were…way longer, closer to 3″ or possibly more; it’s too upsetting to get up and measure right now. Was it the fault of having the clasp beads in too long a sequence, as well (1″)?

I’ve realized that I need to make the bracelet expandable to 8″ just to fit over my own hand (regardless of what portion of that is the drawstrings), and that this outer diameter will differ depending on the sizes of others’ hands. Given that I’m not aiming exclusively for a cisgender women’s market, I’ll have to take this into consideration, going forward.

That is…maybe I shouldn’t cut off the drawstrings prematurely. I’m also going to try and factor 0.5″ of ease (at least) into all my subsequent bracelets. They can be worn on a wrist larger than they’re designed for, but they don’t look…perfect, that way.

Yeah, “perfect is the enemy of good.” I know.

It’s better for the bracelets to be a little loose, but hold together; than it is for them to be snug and still pulled apart at the closure. For that matter, it’s better for the slides to be knotted firmly, but not tightly; than it is for them to be knotted loosely. The latter results in the bracelet opening up when worn, as it tends to travel up the arm (especially with frequent hand-washing).

I have improvised a way to keep the knots tight where I need them to be, and marginally looser along the slide closures. I haven’t recorded how I did it yet (in archive form), but that’s largely because I’ve only used this finishing technique three times, so far…and two of those (from the 29th) aren’t fully complete at this point. (Drawing this out is another good project for tomorrow; then on Monday, I can finish these bracelets with a clear head.)

However…it’s interesting to see my ideas evolving along the basis of time; experimenting and seeing what works, and if it doesn’t work perfectly, trying something else. Incremental growth! (Not quite the same as, “Maximum effort!” but you get me.)

The thought of that, leads me to a mystery point…of why knots lock together sometimes, but not when what is perceived to be the same movement is repeated elsewhere. This happened on the pink/purple/turquoise bracelet I worked on (I only have one poor quality photo so far, apologies). On one half of the bracelet, the termination locked cleanly together; you can’t really even tell I made a reef knot (I’m using the term “reef knot” [in which there are no center cords to knot over] to differentiate the concept from “square knot” [which I’m usually knotting around other cords]. So far as I know, this is a novel use of the term). Did the first half of that reef knot turn into a half-hitch? Then the second turned into a half-hitch on the other cord?

That is, did my tatting skills come in to allow me to “flip” the knots by altering tension, which enabled the knots to “hide” within the macramé? I sincerely don’t know, at this point.

Maybe I should try the movement on its own. It has been a really long time since I’ve tatted…but I remember enough to know that the properties of a flipped knot are not the same as a locked one. That knowledge could come in useful, down the line. Of course, there’s also the question of whether half of a reef knot is in fact the same thing (or marginally close to the same thing) as a half-hitch.

Trying to repeat what happened the first time, was basically unsuccessful the next three times I tried it. The first time I did it, I got a relatively clean leaf or heart shape with a point. The second through fourth times I did it, it wasn’t as attractive, although the reef knot was balanced. As for whether two half-hitches on alternate cords will hold; it doesn’t matter, because this occurs right before getting into the slide closure, and they’re knotted off fairly strongly before that happens. They’re also knotted off all along their length, so they’re not going anywhere.

I just wish I knew what happened, so I could replicate it. I should get the chance to study and observe again in later manifestations. Of course, that also means that either I finish what I started a few days ago, or I remove them completely so I can use the macramé board for other projects. I do have a half-size board, but I’m not sure it will be good for extended work with my present setup…the full-size board is useful for the fact that it can lean against a tabletop while resting on my lap. I’m not sure that will be the case with the half-size one…and I do know at this point that with macramé, ergonomics matter.

The other thing that has been notable, over — say — the last half-week: I’ve been learning about color schemes and the benefit of mixing colors, as versus matching them. A majority of the work I have been doing with seed beads (and other glass) recently has dealt with color combinations. I think this is…a full enough update for tonight, though. Maybe once I can get a bunch of this stuff finished and photographed, I’ll be able to explain the color dynamics angle, more intelligently…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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