Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bead-It-Forward assembly night at Kalmbach #2

Two weeks ago I blogged about the Bead-It-Forward project and the assembly night held at Kalmbach.  If you missed that, I highly recommend clicking here and reading that post before continuing on.  If you don't, you'll get mighty confused, because I'm not going to repeat the vast majority of what I said last time.

This time I have a lot more pictures of other items that will be available for sale or auction at the Bead&Button Show.

Here are a few quilts that are in process:

Last time I mentioned there were shadow boxes but didn't show you any.  I made sure to take pictures of some of them for you.  I had to shoot them at an angle because the overhead lights wanted to be in the pictures, too. 

Here are some frames with four squares stitched to form a bigger picture:

Here's that cute crab close up:

I worked on ornaments again and was able to complete four this time:

Remember, these Bead-It-Forward pieces will be available at the Bead&Button Show, either during the Bead Social auction or at a special booth in the foyer outside the Marketplace.  All proceeds go to breast cancer research, a subject near and dear to my heart - quite a number of my family members have had breast cancer.

Also, last year I had an intraductal papilloma (or intramural papilla, as spell check would have me type) in my left breast removed.  There was never a fear it was cancer, although it could have eventually have turned cancerous.  I think.  It was all really hard to understand.  There were many mammograms, an ultrasound, a very uncomfortable X-ray (there are tables with holes in the middle, and all the X-ray stuff happens underneath), two markers were put in (one in the wrong place with ultrasounds and one with my boob in a table hole), and finally the surgery.  All of that for essentially a wart-like thing.

If supporting the Bead-It-Forward project can help any of that get easier to deal with for everyone, we all should pitch in then donate our own squares next year.  Next year's theme is Animals: "Wild about finding a cure".  You can read more about submission guidelines here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guitar pick earrings

Today's project is following up on yesterday's mini poker chip earrings.  If you missed it, click that link back there to get caught up.  There's even a video showing you how to make the earrings.  Remember that I'm a jewelry designer and not a film maker.  :)

Yesterday's project was practice for making very simple earrings using guitar picks that my husband and I got at an Adam Ant concert last summer.  I've loved Adam Ant since the Strip album came out (1983 - oh, goodness... that was over 30 years ago!).  This was my second time seeing him in concert.  I determined that I'm too old to go to concerts now.  :D  It was SO loud, and there was very limited seating.  We sat on the floor on a low step for a long time, then Steve went on a mission to find me a chair.  He was able to get a chair a little bit after that, and we were both much happier.  Still going deaf, but happier.

Anyway.  Here's one of the picks:

My goal was to drill a small hole at the top and to hang it from an earring wire.  I didn't want anything fancier than that.

After I did all the work yesterday with Steve's pin vise, I told him it was difficult on my fingers and that my thumb actually got numb from all the turning and turning.  He brought up a hand drill with a crank that would be easier on my hands.  Here it is next to one of the pin vises I showed in yesterday's video:

That part that says "Fiskars" is the crank.  I asked where it came from, and he said he found it in my old house in the drawer with my other tools.  I don't remember buying it, so its origins are a mystery.  It's probably Dave's, an ex-boyfriend who lived with me for a few years.  Don't tell him I have it, though.  He might want it back.  Wait - he has the Dremel tool and all the attachments, so I think he won't miss this little tool.  (If he hasn't after more than a decade, it's probably safe.)

Because this tool was untested, I drilled a hole in another poker chip:

It slipped a little until the hole got started, but I was able to get a good idea of how the tool worked.  I then took a deep breath and drilled one of the guitar picks (I drilled the first one yesterday with the small pin vise):

Whew!  It worked, and the hole is in pretty much the same place as the first pick.  That always makes me nervous, especially when the pieces are irreplaceable.

Here are the final earrings:

I said to Steve, "He looks so mean."  Steve replied, "Well, he had a hole drilled into his head.  That would make anyone mad."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mini poker chip earrings

Last August, Steve and I went to an Adam Ant concert at the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee.  We wanted to get a souvenir, but we didn't want to spend a lot of money, nor did we need another T-shirt.  The guitar picks were well within our price range, so we bought two so I could make earrings.

Since they're solid plastic, the way to make earrings out of them is to drill holes in them.  I've been putting that off because I was nervous that I was going to crack the picks.  I was going to get some plain picks so I could practice, but I never got around to doing that.

Today I remembered that I had some mini poker chips, which should be a good test.  I don't know where these came from, but it was probably my mother's basement.  That's where I've found all sorts of neat things like mini Rummikub tiles, old wooden checkers, and antique dominoes.

I used Steve's pin vise (a very small hand-held drill) with a small drill bit to make the holes, then I used the Groovy Looping pliers I've talked about (my review can be found here) to hang the chips from earring wires.  To add a little bling, I added a 6mm blue crystal and a 4mm red crystal to each earring to reflect the other poker chip colors.

If you'd like to see exactly how to do it, I made a video for you!  This was done in one take, and I have to warn you that my hands are a little big sometimes.  They also look dry.  I should use some lotion.

For those of you who will be skipping the video, here's a picture of the earrings:

Tomorrow I'll show you the Adam Ant guitar pick earrings.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two-holed lavender checkerboard earrings

I'm taking a little break from stitching after finally finishing the triangle bracelet (which will henceforth be called "Dino-spine" since no one has come forth with any better names).  In looking for something to make today, I came across some two-holed lavender checkerboard beads I got from... yeah, I don't know.  I have so many beads with unknown origins.  Slowly but surely I'm using them up.

I put one headpin in each hole and twisted the headpins all the way up the length.  I then did a partial wrapped loop because the headpins were too hard to really do a good wrapped loop.  I should have used softer ones, but Steve was cooking dinner, and I didn't have a lot of time.  Actually, dinner is about ready, so I'm just going to show you the earrings so (for once) I can be done before Steve starts eating without me.  :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

First Communion card

One of Steve's relatives (a daughter of a cousin) is about to have her first Communion.  We wanted to send her a card, but neither of us is Catholic or knows much about the first Communion traditions or rituals.

Fortunately I had a cross in one of my Cricut cartridges, so I cut a layered cross and put it on a lacy-punched background:

(Steve assures me that the right side is punched straight and that it looks slanted because of perspective.)

For the inside, I wanted to use a stamp from the Stampin' Up! Elegant Greetings set on a white background that we could also write on.  However, when I put the rubber on the wooden block years ago, I put it on crooked.  Argh.  After a number of attempts at stamping it straight, I stamped it on a smaller piece of paper and ripped the edges.  Steve had suggested trimming after stamping, but I couldn't figure out how to do that.  He then suggested ripping the edges, and I thought that was a marvelous idea.

I also wanted to give her a little cross pendant I got from somewhere at some point in time.  I don't know its origins.  I thought this little girl would give it a good home.  I attached it with a bit of wire, and she can easily take it off and put it on a pendant.

I swirled her name to protect her privacy.  :)

It's going in the mail on Monday, and I hope she likes it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The triangle bracelet is finished!

Huzzah and hooray!  I have finally, finally finished the "possible something"/"triangle bracelet".  If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here, here, here, and here (those links are in chronological order).  As you can see, this bracelet took a long time.  Part of it was because I was designing it, and part of it was that it's a time-consuming bracelet to make.

Here's how it turned out:

The purple side is a bit darker in that picture than it really is.

There are fifteen double-sided triangles in that bracelet.  It's a bit larger than what an average person would need because of my mutantly-large wrists.  I don't always do it, but I frequently make the first one of a new design big enough to fit me so I can see how it feels and make sure everything works okay.

Let's take a look at it on one of my mutantly-large wrists:

The triangles stick up nicely:

Stretching the curve out causes a natural zigzag that adds an interesting look to the piece.

Here's the clasp end:

It works just fine!  Whew!  The clasp is a mighty important part of any bracelet.

So, all that's left is to choose a name and write up the tutorial.  I have gone around and around trying to come up with a name.  Technically, they're little triangular prisms.  They also look like pyramids or spikes from a dinosaur's spine.  Steve threw out "Dino Spine", and that's the best I've heard so far.  He also suggested "Prism Break", but that's being used by a company that helps people opt out of global surveillance.  I don't want to mess with them.  "Pyramid Row"?  "Circle of triangle prisms"?  A friend suggested I look up words in other languages, but that's not working for me, either.  "Dreiecksprismen"?  (That's "Triangular prisms" in German.)  Help me out here, folks.  Please give me your thoughts in the comments section or by e-mailing me at  Thanks!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wishy Fishy bracelet and earrings

I am this close to being done with that triangle bracelet.  Do you see how close together my fingers are?  I am at the same place I was last night, but I have figured out the clasp attachment.  There was a lot of discussion, tearing apart, and experimenting.  All that's left is to stitch half a triangle on one side and two or three more on the other, and it's done.  Tomorrow.  It will be done tomorrow.  Of course, as I'm writing this it's technically tomorrow, so that gives me some leeway.  :D

But that doesn't give me a topic for tonight.  Fortunately I had some new beads that were just begging to be used.

I love when bead stores give you a free gift with purchase.  It could be a whole goody bag or just a tube of beads.  It doesn't matter.  It's nice to get something for free, but it's also a good way to experiment with beads you may not have thought to buy on your own.

One of the free tubes of beads I got from Knot Just Beads a few years ago were "Beads the leaf outta me":

They're pretty, but I'm fond of buying single-color, single-shape, single-size beads.  Not only are these different sizes, shapes, and colors, but the holes aren't even in the same places.  Some of the holes are front to back, some are left to right, and some are top to bottom.  It's chaos!  Oh - there are also yellow and brown beads in here, too.  ::shudder::  I don't buy many yellow and brown beads.  Steve loves yellows and browns and those sorts of colors, but I love purples (big surprise there), blues, pinks, and greens.  Mostly purple, though.  :)

Somehow I ended up with a few tubes of these leaves.  Oh - I just looked it up.  She gave them away in different goody bags for events I went to.  The upshot was that I had a lot of these leaves and needed to do something with them.

I played around with them and the spiral stitch and ended up with my "Falling Leaves" design:

This design teaches spiral and how to adapt the spirally bits (that's the technical term) based on what kind and size of leaf you have.  You can easily adapt it for different types of leaves or other beads.  (If you'd like to purchase this tutorial, send $7 through PayPal to with the note "Falling Leaves tutorial", and I'll e-mail it to you!)

Since I had such great success with the leaves, I'm more comfortable with bead mixes like this.

The most recent giveaway that Knot Just Beads had was on Good Friday.  Since eating fish is a big Catholic tradition on the Fridays during Lent, Kim had a "Fish Special": a free tube of "Wishy Fishy" beads with purchase:

Since the fishies are on my usual purple background, you know I took advantage of this fish special.  Each tube had one large fish and quite a number of small ones.  I picked through the tubes and found this one with a yellow-green large fish that I thought was cute.

At this time I'm not planning a new design for the fish (I have my hands full right now with unwritten tutorials), but I wanted to do something special with them.

The first thing I did was make a pair of earrings that kind of look like they're on the line:

The blue beads are meant to be bubbles, and the silver bugles are the fishing line.

As I was making the earrings I had an idea for the bracelet.  I was going to put it off, but I knew that tomorrow I'd be working on the triangle bracelet, and I need to get back to knitting the baby pullover I'm testing.  I also didn't want to wait because I wasn't sure if what I wanted to do was going to work.

I wanted to simulate air bubbles coming up from the mouths of the fish (I have no idea what the possessive plural of "fish" is - fishes'?).  I also wanted to use a more conventional technique than stitching or working with wire like I did the last few days (the wrapped-loop necklace and bracelet).

I grabbed beading wire (the kind used for regular stringing), crimp beads, and my Xuron 4 in 1 Crimper.  I cut a piece of wire about 12 inches so I'd have plenty to work with.  Although I did have enough, I would have felt more comfortable with another 3 inches or so.  I got twitchy for the last two fish.

Here's the final bracelet:

Between each fish is a loop of seed beads.  I strung three small seed beads and one bigger one.  Holding the first two small beads tight against the fish, I looped the wire around and went through the second one again.  Once that was tight, I added one more small seed bead before adding the next fish.  Now that I'm looking at it again, the bubbles could be coming out of either end of the fish.  Oops!  Do fish fart?  Next time I'll add a few more seed beads before the next fish.

The bubbles like to move around, but when the piece is worn, for the most part they stick up like they're floating to the surface.

I think it's super cute.

Here's a zoomed out shot of the bracelet:

(There's nothing like using a piece of wire to put a bracelet on and seeing your pudgy hand in pictures to make you want to eat rice cakes for every meal.)

I have enough fish left over to make a necklace, but I'm not sure this technique would work for a necklace.  I may have to break out the needle and thread and make one using the same technique as with the leaves.

Have you done any experimenting with free-with-purchase beads?  I'd love to see what you've come up with!  Send a picture or three to, and I'll blog about it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Might as well finish the set (purple wrapped loop necklace)

Monday I made earrings.  Yesterday I made a matching bracelet.  Today when I was contemplating what I would do, I had two options: try to finish the triangle bracelet or make the necklace that matched the earrings and bracelet.  Since I haven't quite figured out how to attach the clasp for the triangle bracelet (it really needs a name) and still have at least 4 more triangles to make, I decided to make the necklace.  Once I'm finished blogging, I'll get to work on designing the clasp mechanism so hopefully I can show you a finished bracelet tomorrow.

If you recall from yesterday, I had nine of those purple glass beads left.  There were five cylinders, three round ones, and one teardrop.  I couldn't be completely symmetrical with that count, but if I pretended that the teardrop was round, I could.  A teeny bit of asymmetry is nice every once in a while.  I found some small round beads that matched really well.  They're something between pink and purple and are transparent enough to blend in with the larger beads.

Yesterday I created the bracelet by starting with the clasp ends and working toward the center.  For the necklace, I knew what I wanted the middle bead to be, so I worked out from the center.  I interspersed a few of the small rounds between the bigger beads but remembered my mission was to use all of those purple glass beads.

Here's how it looked after a few segments:

My necklace beading board is still missing, but my trusty ruler worked just fine for what I was doing.  I centered the bead at the 8.5" mark because I wanted the necklace to be around 17" before I added the clasp so the finished necklace would be around 18". 

Here's the entire finished necklace:

Here's a closeup of the middle bit on a lighter background:

Okay - now that those beads are used up, I'm going to go work on the triangle bracelet.  Sawtooth?  No, I just looked at sawtooth images.  The bracelet doesn't have that kind of slant.  It's more like a zigzagging zigzag.  Anyone have any ideas?  Leave a comment here, please!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Purple wrapped loop bracelet

Today's project is a bracelet to match yesterday's Purple trio earrings.

Yesterday I talked about dangling a string of the glass beads from wrapped loops.  I decided instead to cluster the beads on different lengths of headpins.  For today's bracelet I decided to follow that original plan.

Using the bracelet beading board I've talked about before, I made a few units and set them down to measure:

The last time I used the bracelet beading board was for the pink cube bracelet I donated to the Cinderella project.  I started in the middle for that bracelet and added beads to either side of the center bead.

For this bracelet, I decided to work from the outside in.  That way I could see what the length was with the clasp on and evaluate what I was going to do next with every unit added to each side.  My first attempt was just under 7", which seemed a little short to me.  I cut apart one unit, remade it, and added one more unit with the slightly smaller round bead:

The bracelet is a bit over 7.5" now, which should be a good length for sale.

Here's a closer look at the finished bracelet:

I should mention that I used the Groovy looping pliers to make the wrapped loops.  As I mentioned in my review, they are great to work with!

I talk a lot here about using up my old beads.  I was hoping there would be enough of these beads to make a matching necklace, but I only have 9 left.  I could make another bracelet (strung instead of with wrapped loops like this one), or I could take some other beads and make a necklace in the same style as this bracelet.  I think I'm going to make a necklace.  Even though I will put the pieces out for sale separately (instead of as a complete set), I like starting out with the option for someone to purchase all three pieces.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Purple trio earrings

Today was another rough day - I've had a really bad headache that just won't go away.  It's a little bit better than earlier, so I have hopes that in a few days I'll be my "normal" self again.

Instead of my usual "I feel like crap so I'm breaking out the One Step Looper for quick earrings", I decided to make some slightly more advanced earrings using wrapped loops.

Years and years ago I picked up these pretty purple glass beads with dainty roses in them.  They came in three shapes:

At first I had wanted to stack them with the cylinder on the bottom, the round one in the middle, and the teardrop on top.  I could do a wrapped loop for the bottom one, but the headpins I have aren't long enough for me to do wrapped loops on either end for the top and middle beads.  Instead of grabbing wire, I opted to stagger the lengths of the headpins:

That picture is a little dark, isn't it?  That was the best of about 15 pictures.  Argh.

I used 11/0 seed beads to add some color and to make sure that the longest headpins would be the same length and the medium-length headpins would be the same length.  If I had tried to eyeball it, the lengths would have been all over the place.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

This Easter Egg looks better

Happy Easter!

We had an eventful day today.  We went out to dinner with my mother and stepfather (John) at a nice, high-end restaurant.  Dinner was pleasant, but when we got to the car we found this:

The car on the right - the one perfectly within the yellow lines - is John's.  Let's look at that from the front, shall we?

Thank goodness for iPhone cameras, huh?

The restaurant called the police and finally found the owner.  She came out and said, "I don't remember doing anything like that.  What time did you get here?" like John would have somehow wedged his car up on hers then crawled through the passenger side to get out.  She maintained that she couldn't have done that without noticing (duh) and kept trying to figure out if she arrived before we did.  Anyway, the officer said it definitely looks like the woman was at fault, but she couldn't issue a citation because it happened on private property.  Ugh.  Information was exchanged, and insurance companies will be contacted.

The damage isn't extensive, but it's the principle of the thing.  Even if she hadn't noticed the hit, wouldn't she have noticed that she was way crooked and over the line as she walked behind her car to get to the restaurant?  I guess it's good she was dim - if she had just moved her car, we wouldn't have known what happened.

Now onto to a happier, if much shorter, topic...

After yesterday's debacle, I decided to stitch an Easter Egg I knew would look a lot better:

This is from my Tubed Key Holiday collection.  If I'd have thought about it, I could have stitched it yesterday so I could have worn it today.  Oh, well.  Now I have it for next year, or maybe I'll put it up for sale on Etsy when the time is right.

If you're interested in any of my Tubed Key tutorials (holiday or not) or kits, all of the information can be found here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Conceptual Easter egg

Happy day before Easter!  When I was trying to decide what to blog about (because I haven't finished the triangle bracelet yet), I wondered if I could come up with something Easter related.

I thought an Easter egg might be possible, so I started digging through my Super Duos.  I thought if I made Polka Dot beaded beads with cream on the ends and pastel blue in the middle, it might look like a partially dyed egg.  I started stitching, and with just the blue it didn't really look like an egg.  I added a stripe of purple and finished it up, and...

Hmm.  No.  Maybe if it was turned and on a different background?

Still no.  Steve said, "If you know it's an Easter egg, it looks like an Easter egg, but otherwise it doesn't."

I've left the thread on there because I'm not sure if I'm going to cut it apart or hang it from an earring wire.

One thing I learned is that using Delicas on the ends makes the openings too small to put a headpin through.

What do you think?  Post a comment here and tell me if it does or doesn't look like an Easter egg.  Its fate rests it your hands.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: "New" Fireline

When I first started stitching my friends told me that I should use fishing line - it's much stronger and easier to work with than beading thread for most applications.  At the time, the only fishing line I knew about was that clear stuff that's hard to knot - monofilament.  I bought some and stitched a spiral necklace using only seed beads with it.  It was a little hard to work with, but the resulting spiral had some body and firmness to it that I liked.

It didn't take long for me to find out that my friends were talking about a different fishing line, and I didn't let on that I had misunderstood.  Until now, that is.  I hope they don't tease me too badly.

The fishing line they were talking about was Fireline, which is made by Berkley.  The most common colors are Crystal (white) and Smoke (black).  I was hooked (no, I really didn't mean to make a fishing pun) from the first time I stitched with it.  Beading thread likes to fall out of my needle, and the resultant stitching doesn't feel very tight to me.  Fireline gave my pieces a nice firmness (without being too firm like the monofilament was), and I could tug on it really hard and not worry about it breaking.

Fireline is so strong that it dulls ordinary scissors, so I've recommended using Xuron's 9180 High Durability "Fireline" Scissors (you can see my review of them here).

I like Fireline so much I include it in all of my kits, and I have sold the Fireline Scissors at shows and online (I only have two left, but if you'd like order, e-mail me at, and I'll order more!)

So life was blissfully happy until the Fireline started disappearing off of the shelves.  There was a nervous ripple around the beading community.  Then the rumors started that there was a new formula that was coming out.  Shortly after beaders got their hands on it, the chatter was about how the fisherpeople (we can't assume they're all men, you know) loved it, but the beaders hated it.  Today I tried to quickly find something online to support either the happy fisherpeople claim or the sad beader claim, but I was unsuccessful.  There is probably something somewhere, but I didn't want to spend the entire day looking.  I have enough problems with time slipping away from me as it is.

With all that in mind, I am going to give you my review.  Please keep in mind that this is my opinion and shouldn't be quoted as gospel.  I have worked with the new Fireline (6 lb. test) extensively for a few weeks.  Most of the time was with Smoke, but I have used Crystal a few times.

The first thing I noticed is that they changed the packaging.  The old spools were in boxes, and the new ones are sealed up like batteries:

I am happy with this decision.  I once bought some Fireline at Walmart, and if I hadn't glanced at the box's open window, I would have come home with some very thin monofilament.  It looked like someone had swapped the spools out and bought Fireline at monofilament prices.  The sticker had even been removed from the spool.  I brought the box and spool to an employee and requested it be removed from the shelf, but a few months later it was still up there.  I took the spool halfway out of the box and just laid it on the shelf in hopes that someone would notice it.

The next thing I noticed is that the spools are smaller:

On the surface this would seem to be a good thing - less waste and all that - but I liked to snap the spool into the cover of my beading Caboodle.  It kept it out of the way until I needed it.  The new one is much too small to do that.  Maybe I could rig something with magnets or Velcro, or (more likely) I can just deal with it.  People with the neat spool storage boxes (like this one) will have a lot of extra room inside.

Now onto the Fireline itself.  As I mentioned, most of my testing was with the Smoke color.  I do have a few thoughts about the Crystal color that I will share, but there will be no pictures.  I tried taking pictures with the Crystal, but I couldn't get a good enough contrast.

Right away the Fireline feels different.  The Crystal feels more twisted or bumpy, and the Smoke doesn't feel as smooth.  Here is a strand of the old and a strand of the new Smoke Fireline:

There is a bit of a twist to the old, but the twist in the new is more pronounced.  It also doesn't look quite as tightly twisted as the old.

At first when I started working with it I didn't notice a change.  I had to rip out some stitching, and I didn't see a problem.  However, I started having problems threading my needle.  I'd take the needle out to either weave in an end or to take something apart, and the end of the thread frayed a lot sooner than I'd have expected.

Today I did a test.  I took a needle and each piece of Fireline and threaded it and took the needle off five times.  I wasn't gentle with either the old or the new.  With the new, I started having trouble with the end fraying from the second threading.  That doesn't always happen - sometimes it slips right through, but once it starts fraying, the only recourse you have is to snip off probably 1/2" of the end and try it again.

It wasn't just the end that was frayed, though:

Do you see all the little hairs on the new one?  There's one on the old and a bunch on the new.  I started worrying about my beadwork and looked at the thread I have coming out of my triangle bracelet.  It's a relatively new thread, but it's been through one whole triangle unit, so it should show some signs of wear if normal beading would cause that.  The only spot that showed a problem was where the needle had been:

Other than that, I didn't see any loose hairs or anything else disturbing.

Fraying can also occur when ripping stitching out.  I've had a number of instances where I didn't have any problems, but it did happen one time with a new thread:

I had done a small amount of beadwork, realized I had screwed up, and I had to take it all apart.  I snipped an inch or so past this point in the thread and started up again.  This time I did it correctly (thank goodness).

I did the threading-needle test on the Crystal Fireline, too, and that seemed to fare better.  I didn't have any problems getting the needle threaded (maybe my aim was more accurate this time), and I didn't see much fraying, even though I was pretty rough on it.

So, is the new Fireline as good as the old Fireline?

Please send your hate mail to Steve - this was his idea

(I did beat that poor thread up pretty bad for that joke - you shouldn't have to worry about it fraying that much with normal beading practices.)

Even though the new Fireline isn't as good as the old one, I am not going to abandon ship.  I still like it a lot more than regular beading thread.  With the triangle bracelet I've been working on, I have pulled really hard on the thread on a number of occasions, and it hasn't snapped, so it seems as strong as before.

The big thing is the fraying.  My recommendations are:
  • Use shorter threads.  I'm not saying to use a foot at a time, but if you're like me and use two or more "wingspans" of thread because you hate adding new thread, you'll be putting undue stress on the thread as you're pulling it through lots and lots of beads lots and lots of times.
  • Don't reposition the needle too much.  This is going to be tough for me  - I start with a long thread and move the needle closer to the end as I go.  But we saw what that does to the thread, so it's probably best to work with a shorter tail.
  • If you have to rip out a lot of stitching, check the thread for frays.  It might be a good idea to check it from time to time anyway for big projects.  If the thread is frayed, weave it in and add a new piece that's free from frays.
Yes, this all sucks, but for those of us who love Fireline and nothing else, this is better than the alternative.  We can hope that one day they'll fix the problems, and we'll be in heaven again.