Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beaded Knitting

So now that my gift has been given I can finally write a post about my frustration the process of knitting with beads for the first time.

I had wanted to try knitting with beads for a long time, but had never really found the right project.  Then I came across the Sojur Falls Scarf by Jamie Roe.  It looked so light and airy and just right for my mom.  I set about finding the right yarn, knowing I needed that before finding the beads to ensure I got the right color.  I ended up using Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere in tapestry blue.  I had used this yarn before and found it very soft and I liked working with it.

Once the yarn arrived I had to find 6/0 beads in the right shade.  Off to Micheal's I went.  Now, I will say that my choice of beads was part of what complicated this project and made it more time consuming.  In the original pattern all the beads are the same color.  I couldn't find enough beads in one color that went well with the yarn, but what I did find were a couple of tri-colored assortment packs of blue beads and I thought it would be neat to use them. (That was the first mistake.)  I had intended to randomize the beads throughout the scarf.

Notice I said intended. . . that is not what happened. 

I accidentally created a pattern of the beads and decided that I liked it so much I would keep going. (This was the second mistake.)  To make things easier, I spent an hour hand separating/sorting all the beads into different compartments in my bead organizer so that I could quickly (ha ha) grab the right color.

There is nothing quick about stringing tiny little beads onto stitches.

When I started out I was using a very small crochet hook to string the beads.  I would push the bead up on the hook, grab the stitch off the needle, slide the bead down the hook and onto the live stitch, and finally put the stitch back on the left needle and knit it.  This was working OK, but because the hook was much smaller than the yarn it kept splitting the stitch and it really slowed me down.

I decided I need to use a different method, more like the one recommended in the pattern.  I took a small bit of beading wire and bent it in half so that I could loop it through the live stitch and then slide the bead down over the closed wire and onto the stitch.  This dramatically sped things up.  However, the fact that I had to pay attention to what color bead I was grabbing each time still kept the pace slower than it could have been. (I also have to say that there are at least two places where I used the wrong color.  I didn't realize it until several rows later and I was not about to knit back to that spot to change the color.  No one will even notice.)

The other aspect of this project that kept me from finishing it quicker was I really couldn't take the project with me to either knit in the car or knit while visiting.  With the way I had chosen to bead the project, I couldn't have all my supplies in the car without risking spilling the beads everywhere (I shutter, even now, to think about the possibility of having to find them all).  As for knitting while visiting, I also didn't think it would be very polite to whip out all the supplies while chatting and start working; it just isn't the same as having a small discrete project you don't have to look at. This limited the time I could spend knitting to weekday evenings once the kids were in bed.  Not a lot of time at all.  If I hadn't taken some extra time off work before Christmas, I wouldn't have been able to get this project done in time.

All of that being said, I would still knit with beads again with two considerations:

1. I would not knit a beaded project on a deadline.  The deadline took some of the enjoyment out of the project.

2. I would not over complicate the project by trying to add an additional pattern to the bead color.

Of course, knowing myself, I don't know how realistic it is to think that I will not do exactly those two things again. 

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