The Artemisia Earrings project from Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance

Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance, our latest release in Lark Jewelry & Beading‘s Beadweaving Master Class series, contains 20 sumptuous jewelry projects inspired by classical architecture, mosaics, tiles, and jewelry. Maggie includes a section of instructions for a variety of beadweaving stitches–peyote, ladder, brick, square, herringbone, RAW, Nepal chain, St. Petersburg chain, backstitch–used in the projects, and she teaches how to combine the stitches.

To give you a taste of the book, click here to get a PDF of the Artemisia Earrings project, inspired by knot patterns in the marble floors of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Be sure to read our fascinating interview with Maggie, too!

Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance officially publishes in August, but it will release from our warehouse to stores and distributors in early July. Ask your bead store or bookstore to carry it, and then be sure to add to your library all the beautiful titles in the Beadweaving Master Class series:

Watch out in the next two months for our coverage of the releases of two other great new beading books from Lark Jewelry & Beading, the first one another Beadweaving Master Class essential title and the second a fantastic new release by the author of the best-selling and widely beloved Beading with Cabochons, Jamie Cloud Eakin:

Please let us know what you think about our beading books … and what you’d like to see us publish in the future! Learn more about Maggie Meister on her website, www.mmmbeads.com. And please find Lark Jewelry & Beading on Facebook.

Chris is a chicken keeper. Last year his backdoor neighbors became interested in chickens after reading Lark’s Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English. They asked Chris and his partner Skip if they wanted to join in establishing a flock of 9 hens and share the responsibilities and benefits (eggs) as a three family collective. Chris calls it their Coop Co-op. Now Chris & Skip scramble, ahem, to use the half a dozen or more eggs they collect every three days. The Craft Your Life team asked Chris to share his favorite egg recipe.


Poached egg with salad

Summer BLT salad with fried Hot Bath Eggs

This is more about a method than a recipe. In spring I made my first batch of Momofuku-inspired poached eggs and it was good. Momofuko is the name attached to chef David Chang’s three subtly different and unique New York restaurants and is the name of last year’s big bang cookbook, Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan. Last fall, a lot of buzz around the cookbook was focused on Chang’s unique method for poaching eggs inside their shells by slowly simmering in a hot water bath. The result is a sublimely textured egg—a velvety mass of eggy richness.

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Haven’t you heard? Just look at the flood of media coverage, and you’ll soon discover that chickens are making themselves at home in neighborhoods all across the country, embraced and lauded as good pets and a source for sustainable, nutritious food.

Our very own book Keeping Chickens, part of the Homemade Living series, offers up helpful guidance to those new to the backyard chicken experience. Packed with must-know details, inspiring photos, and even some delicious egg-centric recipes, it’s fast becoming one of the hottest go-to guides on the topic. In light of our bird-themed blogiversary, I thought it would be fun to check in with author, Ashley English, with some questions about her own flock and her experiences with the chickens book.

Q: How many chickens do you own now, and do you have plans to get more?

A: At present, I own 4 hens. I’m actively in the process of acquiring more. We’d like our flock to ultimately be at around 10-12 chickens. That way, we’re less likely to run out of eggs, which often happens now.

Q: I know it’s hard to choose, but what’s your favorite way to use your chickens’ eggs?

A: Oh, wow. It really is hard to choose! If forced to select a favorite, though, I’d probably have to say just simple scrambled eggs are my favorite way of using my flock’s eggs. We cook them “low and slow,” meaning that we whisk them together and then cook them slowly over low heat, while continuously stirring. This method makes the most delicious scrambled eggs: soft, pillowy and full of flavor.

Q: What do you most often hear from readers of your book, Keeping Chickens?

A: Folks often write asking how they can acquire chickens in their area. For such questions, I encourage people to seek out local backyard chicken-keeping clubs, scour the classifieds (both print and online; Craigslist is a great resource), and ask purveyors of locally sold fresh eggs if they have birds for sale or perhaps know someone who might.

Q: In hindsight is there anything you would do differently now that you’re a more experienced chicken momma?

A: I’d have fortified my coop against predators even further. My situation is somewhat unique, living back in a dense, undeveloped forest as I do. I thought I’d predator-proofed it adequately, but some very clever raccoons (or, a raccoon), discovered means of accessing the coop (via scaling the fencing). We’ve since turned it into “Chicken Fort Knox,” with barbed wire and a serious of coops within the coop. If I’d known at the onset just how wiley (and smart!) these raccoons could be, I’d have begun with a coop as well fortified as it currently is.

Q: Several years into owning chickens and a year and a half after the publication of your book, have there been any stand-out surprises for you in chicken ownership?

A: Nothing really stands out, aside from just how easy it is. After your coop is secure, it’s really just a matter of providing food and water, and staying on top of regular coop maintenance. The reward is a happy, clucking flock and fresh, nutritious, scrumptious eggs. It’s a win-win scenario for all parties!

For more wisdom from Ashley, check out these great blog posts she’s written on the topic of backyard chickens:

Design Sponge: Keeping Chickens

Small Measures: Chickening Out / Keeping Chickens Preview

Small Measure: An Ounce of Prevention / Winter Chicken Care

Small Measure: Stating the Obvious / Knowing Where Your Eggs Come From


With Maggie Meister’s first book, Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance, part of Lark Jewelry & Beading’s best-selling Beadweaving Master Class series, due to reach stores in the next few weeks, I asked this incredibly busy teacher and designer to take the time to answer a few questions about her work, her life, and the new book. Maggie teaches nationally and internationally, and her designs have been featured in virtually all leading bead magazines. She is one of the artists showcased in the inspiring gallery book, Masters: Beadweaving. Maggie lives with her family in Norfolk, Virginia.

Maggie, when did you start beading—and beadweaving—and why?

I started beading in 1993. My son’s kindergarten teacher was wearing a great pair of earrings and told me that she made them. It had never occurred to me that I could make jewelry myself.

I took some classes and liked it. When I tried seed beads, something immediately clicked, and I was hooked. I liked the colors of the beads and the rhythm of the stitches.

Maggie Meister


How much time do you spend beading? What does your beading space look like?


I bead about 7 to 10 hours a day, particularly when I’m getting ready for a show. I take breaks throughout the day to catch up on administrative tasks and work on my Beadventure trips to Italy.

My beading space? Maybe I should let my husband answer this one! He always says that I have my bead room—our sun room is my studio—and the rest of the house is the “bead annex.”

One of the tables in my studio is full of components that I am using for projects or plan to use for projects. I have cabinets full of beads and stones that I love.

The walls have mosaics, prints, and postcards of things I love and my framed piece of vintage beaded fringe that I found in Murano.


Rosette Earrings from Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance


In your new book, Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance, your inspirations are explicit: classical architecture, jewelry, mosaics, textiles, and motifs. What do you think it is—about you and about it—that draws you to the ancient world?

As far back as I can remember I’ve loved ancient history. Maybe it started when my parents would take us to museums when we were young. I don’t know, but the interest has always been there, and when we lived in Italy it really came alive for me. It opened doors for me while learning the history.

I love the ancient myths and the iconography of those myths incorporated into the art and architecture. I think I’ve always been drawn to mosaics and patterns in rugs. I love researching the history and stories behind pieces that I see.

I’m also interested in other periods of history and gradually working my way through them. What I find interesting is how the ancient motifs find their way into each period of history.

What design principles guide you?


The line! When I studied mosaics, I learned that the lines in the mosaic were so important. I think they’re also important in beadwork, whether it is the lines in a geometric pattern or building a three-dimensional component. When I see a piece that inspires me, I look at the lines and try to determine which stitch will give me the lines I need to make the shape.

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A Safari & Giveaway

June 28, 2011, 08:20 am  Posted by Lark

We’re quickly nearing the close of our Bird Love Blogiversary month, but it just didn’t seem right to wrap up the month of June without a bit of adventure and one last giveaway (details at the end of the post). So button up your khaki shirt, pull on your wide-brimmed canvas hat, and keep those binoculars handy. We’re going on a SAFARI, and you never know what we may find.


Now, very quietly, look through those bushes.

No—those bushes over there.

Do you see that?! (Shh! Whisper!) It’s a creature very rare in this geographical area.

A shy animal, usually content to travel alone. Prefers leafy shade.

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free project logo

Here’s one last project from me for our Blogiversary celebration and it’s one that’s near and dear to my heart. My son and his wife are having a baby in the New Year—my first grandchild—so I’m delighted to present this adorable birdie rattle project from Sweet Booties. Here are the instructions, and here’s the template – use it at 100%.

Make it for a special little person you love dearly. I will!


Etsy finds: Owls

June 25, 2011, 08:00 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

As we approach the end of the month I would like to turn our attention to one of the more regal birds, our feathered friend, the owl. Whether you associate owls with wisdom, Winnie the Pooh, or  PSAs from the National Forest Service, they hold a special place in the hearts and minds of all of us. They also proudly hold court and have a strong claw hold in the craft scene. This week’s etsy round-up is a collection of ten charming creations using the big-eyed bird as a central motif. Be sure to check out the larger images and links to the seller’s shops after the jump.

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Doodle Stitch Along – motif #4!

June 24, 2011, 15:02 pm  Posted by guestblogger

Hi! This is Aimee Ray again with another week of happy stitching! We’ve been stitching up a free embroidery pattern each week. Here is this week’s pattern, a cute duo of birds!

Download the bird motifs here.

If you’ve missed the first motifs, it’s easy to catch up. Here’s motif #1 and motif #2 and motif #3 if you missed them.

Be sure to show us what you’re stitching by posting your photos in our flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/doodlestitchalong/ And don’t forget to check back with us next week for some sweet apron instructions to put your stitched motifs to good use!


Free instructions from Jamie Cloud Eakin

June 24, 2011, 12:09 pm  Posted by Lark

Every Friday, I post a set of free project instructions.

Talk about prolific: Jamie Cloud Eakin produces an incredible amount of really elaborate beading. As her editor, I received more than 200 finished pieces to photograph for her upcoming book Dimensional Bead Embroidery—which releases October 4th—and I’m positive she sent me a curated selection rather than everything she currently had. Jamie, do you have a second home in which you store all your materials and all your finished work?!  ;)

Jamie Cloud Eakin

Jamie has previously authored two other books for us. Her first title was called Beading with Cabochons. Click here for free instructions for making this pretty Ruffle Bracelet, a project included in Bugle Bead Bonanza, one of many projects from her most recent book .


Needlearts Video Roundup: Free as a Bird

June 23, 2011, 22:17 pm  Posted by needlearts

Our blogiversary bird month is starting to wind down, but I wanted to slip in a little roundup of some free video tutorials before the avian fun is all over. Enjoy these six birdylicious projects from across the interwebs!

Adorable Owl Pincushions from Kris & Kim on The DIY Dish

Adorable Owl Pincushions from Kris & Kim on The DIY Dish

1. How to Make an Owl Pincushion

You can have a lot of fun with your fabric choices on these darling owls! Isn’t it nice how a lot of pincushions can double as adorable plushy gifts?

Pattern on The DIY Dish

YouTube user channel: theDIYdish

Website: thediydish.com

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