Sunday 28 February 2021

Heart necklace giveaway

Handmade lampwork glass red heart necklace by Laura Sparling

I'm going proper retro here with a blog-based giveaway. I've not done one of these for yonks!

The prize is one of my off-mandrel heart pendant necklaces in transparent bright red.

Handmade lampwork glass red heart necklace by Laura Sparling

The heart comes strung on an 18" sterling silver chain.

If you'd like to guarantee owning one of these necklaces, I do have a couple for sale in my shop.

Handmade lampwork glass red heart necklace by Laura Sparling

The giveaway is open to anyone anywhere in the world and all you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on this blog post. Please leave an actual name, or an Instagram username or a website/blog link in your comment - just something so that I can easily contact you if you're the winner. Don't worry if your blog comment doesn't show up right away; I have to manually approve comments (to avoid the dreaded spambots) so your comment will show up when I do that.

Only one entry per person, please.

On Sunday 7th March I'll draw a name at random from the comments and that person will be the winner of the necklace. I'll announce who that is here on my blog and I'll also contact them directly if I can.

Good luck!

Saturday 27 February 2021


Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm bead by Laura Sparling

You know how last post I said that when I go down to the shed I just see what happens beadwise? Well, yesterday's beads are a good illustration of that. I had no idea what colours I was going to work with so I just selected one of my favourite colour combinations – purple and orange – and I pulled a few stringers and just sat and made.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm bead by Laura Sparling

I ended up arranging and stacking dots which is one of my favourite lampworking things. Whenever I start one of these beads I never know how it's going to end up. I make it up as I go along and there is something very zen about watching the dots move as they fight for space on the surface of the bead. Circles push themselves into rounded rectangles, triangles and petal shapes, and dding more dots distorts them further still.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm bead by Laura Sparling

Before you know it, half an hour has slipped by and a very groovy looking bead has been born.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm bead by Laura Sparling

I also made a couple of beads that have raised bumps.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm beads by Laura Sparling

These are asymmetric and the first one I almost abandoned because I thought it was too asymmetric. I couldn't think how anyone would like it or want to use or wear it, but something stopped me from plunging it into the water jug and I made another unbalanced one and resolved to see what they would look like together.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm beads by Laura Sparling

I'm calling them the 'Odd Couple' because they work as a mismatched pair. On their own each one looks like a weird little alien spacecraft but together they look quite happy and harmonious.

Handmade lampwork glass big hole charm beads by Laura Sparling

The beads all have 4mm holes and they'll be available in my next shop update. I don't quite know when that will be but keep an eye on my Instagram or sign up to my mailing list and I'll let you know.

I was going to make more beads today but I decided to have a crochet day instead.

Crocheting a granny square

I'm two thirds of the way with the squares now. The best bit about making a blanket is when it reaches a considerable size and it starts acting all blankety while you're working on it. Cosy knees!

Friday 26 February 2021

A post in which I moan about everything

Handmade lampwork big hole beads by Laura Sparling

I don't know why I feel the urge to write a blog post but I do, so here I am.

Lockdown 3 continues to roll on and like many others I feel as miserable as sin. It doesn't matter how positive I try to be, I spend most of my days in an absolute fug of hopelessness. "The vaccines will sort it all out!", "We'll be back to normal soon!" and various other stuff like that fails to cheer me up because I fear for the future. I worry about all the lives that have been damaged by lockdowns; about the non-Covid health issues; about the lost jobs and businesses; about the way that human interaction has changed forever; about children's educations and their mental wellbeing; about the creeping authoritarianism that so many people seem to be welcoming with open arms. There will be no 'back to normal'. Normal is gone. It's very difficult to be hopeful and jolly when you accept that.


Maybe that's why I felt the urge to blog? Perhaps I felt that I just had to put that out into the world. Writing stuff down has always helped me to process my thoughts. We're supposed to be all Blitz Spirit about the virus, aren't we? Asking questions about the way it's all being handled can get you labelled a 'covidiot' or a 'covid denier' or an 'anti vaxxer', when in reality you are absolutely none of those things, so people just say nothing and quietly seethe and worry. We live in a world where we feel increasingly unable to voice our true opinions and concerns. Most of us fear being unfriended, unliked and cancelled. We have to subscribe to and parrot the narratives of the day in order to fit in and get ahead, but that's a whole other blog post for another time...


A friend who I've known since we were 14 recently sent me a gift voucher for Wool Warehouse and I decided to spend it on an Attic24 crochet 'Aria' blanket kit.

'Aria' crochet blanket in progress
It's getting there

I've not knitted or crocheted for about two years. The whole 'knitting is racist' thing in 2019 left me with more than a bad taste in my mouth and it resulted in me nuking my Ravelry account, unfollowing a whole host of knitting people, and shunning my needles and yarn. It absolutely marred knitting for me. The racist knitting thing was one of the first things that made me ask "What is happening here?" with regard to the 'culture war' and 'cancel culture' and when I delved into it and learned about the theory behind it, I began to understand why I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with 'woke' discourse in general. This piece about purity spirals was particularly interesting.

Anyway again.

It turned out Lindsay's thoughtful gift voucher was just the ticket for pulling me out of my yarncraft funk.

Nigel likes to help

I've been working on my blanket these past couple of weeks and last night I completed the 90th square out of the 144 it is made up of. It's not knitting but I'm thoroughly enjoying it and maybe I'll get back to the old two needle stuff soon.

And what news of beads?

Getting my arse in gear every day and finding the enthusiasm for beadmaking is hard. I'm not happy about this but I'm just accepting it as a standard response to the shitty pandemic and lockdowns. When I do get in the shed and if I am able to make beads, I make whatever I am able to make. I don't think about it and I just make whatever I feel like I want to make on the day. The past couple of days that has been big hole beads.

Handmade lampwork big hole beads by Laura Sparling

I'm not silver coring them because the physical effort required to do this does not work with my current elbow issues. Have I droned on about that here before? If not, long story short: In October I hurt my extensor tendons lifting a heavy crate awkwardly at the foodbank but I didn't do anything about it and carried on lifting and working and now I have some kind of long term tendonitis issue that won't go away. I've had steroid injections which kind of helped with the left arm, but the right one is still bad. I'm supposed to go back for another set of injections but meh, it didn't seem to do much last time so I'm dubious about another lot. I've got used to the pain, I think. Some days are better than others. I've found out what I can and can't do, adapted how I lift things, and I've accepted that sometimes my arm really hurts. I'm pretty sure I should have been sent for some kind of scan or X-ray to check it out properly but that never happened because of the old Covid bollocks. I had to wait four weeks for the steroid injections! So yeah, it's a crappy arm situation but... I just can't be bothered, really. I'm bored with it. And in case you're thinking "Well, crochet won't be helping!", oddly it has no effect on it. I think it's because of the way I hold my hook (overhand) and the way I crochet. My technique is 'wrong', from what I can gather. I taught myself how to crochet when I was about 11 and I've never changed the way I do it.

*another sigh*

It's all a bit shit, innit? For everyone, not just me. I honestly believe that anyone who is apparently flourishing during all of this, or is carrying on seemingly unaffected by it all, is either a liar or a sociopath.

Apologies for such a downer of a post. Like I say, sometimes I write to get stuff out of my head, and sometimes the place I do that is here. Just be grateful that you don't have access to the Notes app on my phone!