After I posted this, I knuckled down and got to work on Mikkey's "Venus" amulet bag. The first few rows were a complete nightmare. I had trouble reading the pattern - there are so many rows, and the peyote stitch creates half-step rows to make things worse. I remembered a magnet board I used when I did cross stitch many years ago. I dug that out, and it made life so much easier! By late Saturday night, I'd reached this point:
I always work a little faster when facial features start appearing - the piece starts to come alive for me then. This is where I am with it right now:
There's been a great deal of experimentation with my work environment during this project. The intricate pattern requires total involvement: body and brain. Any less, and mistakes start to happen, which means the household swear jar gets an infusion of quarters.
I've tried silence, but then I talk out loud to myself as I count the bead sequence for each row - very wearing. I found my mind wandering every couple of rows and I'd go get a snack, walk to the mailbox, read some email, not really wanting to go back to work.
Next I tried some instrumental music and found it works for this setting. My favorite: Ottmar Liebert and his Luna Negra band. Here's a little sample of his phenomenal classical guitar work:
It's a pleasant background, and surprisingly, the repetitive nature of it keeps me focused. Then, every four or five rows, my back and shoulders cramp up and my brain freezes. I switch over to some Billy Idol. It gives me a chance to get up and dance around my studio like a crazy person. Ahhh, now I'm loosened up and can get back to work. BUT, before I can get up, I need to leave all sorts of notes to myself reminding me of where I am in the project. If I don't, I get hopelessly lost.
I'm very nearly done with the main cylinder of the bag. Once that's done, I need to go to my local bead emporium for some lessons on the next step. The pattern designer assumed a great deal of knowledge on the part of the beader - just a reminder for me that I've overstepped my skill level this time.