Friday, January 4, 2013

about beads

There are two skeins of Handmaiden Sea Silk in my stash that I purchased with the intention to knit a Clapotis for a coworker. But after knitting two Clapotis last year I thought it was time to look at a different shawl pattern. And that's when I saw this Pampas pattern. It's designed for the yarn I have and it's gorgeous. Perfect, right? Okay, it's beaded and I've never done that, but how hard can that be?

Yeah... about that... Once I purchased the pattern and read the material list I discovered that the shawl involves a lot of cabling left and right, and uses 5000 size 8 seed beads, each bead individually incorporated with a size 12 (0.6mm) crochet hook.

  1. Where can I find that hook? 
  2. How time-consuming is the beading? 
  3. How irksome will it be to hook splitty silk yarn through a tiny bead hole?
  4. Can I use the size 6 seed beads I already have or must I buy the size 8 beads?
  5. How much weight will that many beads add to the shawl?
  6. Is it worth the extra money for sparkling metallic gold-lined crystal beads?
  7. Can I simultaneously juggle a cable needle, knitting needles, a crochet hook and some impossibly tiny beads while working with slippery, splitty silk yarn?
  8. What's the likelihood of me abandoning this project in frustration?

Time to swatch with some leftover yarn from the last Clapotis that I knit. Swatching isn't something I do often, but in this case it was a very good idea ...

  1. I tried four shops  - 2 yarn stores, 1 big-box craft store and a dollar store - but struck out on the hook. Jane lent me a size 11 in case that would be small enough for my swatch. (It was.) 
  2. Incorporating beads was easy using the method described here as "Hooking Beads as You Go", but still time-consuming ... particularly as I seem prone to dropping beads.
  3. The yarn is splitty but the holes in the beads are pretty big. This wasn't a problem.
  4. You can see from my swatch that size 8 beads (on the left) are much smaller than size 6 beads (on the right). Substituting is really NOT feasible. The 8s are subtle; the 6s are like boulders.
  5. Using the gram weight charts found here, 5000 size 8 seed beads would add about 5 oz to the shawl; 5000 size 6 seed beads would add about 15 oz!
  6. Sparkling metallic beads are definitely worth the extra dough based on my swatch. My size 8 beads vanish into the knitting; if they were metallic they'd catch the light.
  7. Can I juggle cabling, knitting and beading with this pattern and this yarn? Not very well.
  8. Am I likely to give up in frustration? Yes. In fact I was too frustrated to even finish a single pattern repeat in the swatch so there's my answer.

Maybe one day in my retirement I'll give this pattern a go, but for now, I think I'll just pick another (simpler) pattern. Gail (aka Nightsongs) looks pretty!


Anonymous said...

Yep ... time to abandon. Knitting is supposed to be fun, not frustrating.

Hope the new shawl works out a bit better.

Wanderingcatstudio said...


I know Michaels was carrying the smaller crochet hooks at one time. Mary Maxim has them as does Lens, but I know neither of those are close to you. The size isn't imperative, it just needs to be able to fit through your beads.

I love adding beads to shawls, but it does slow things down. I'd try something with fewer beads if you really want to give it ago. It's not so bad once you get the hang of it.

geeky Heather said...

What if you learned to cable without a cable needle? I did it, and after the first few terrifying times (TAKING NEEDLES OUT OF THE YARN, ON PURPOSE--GAHHHH!), it was fine. Is fine. I'll probably never use a cable needle again, in fact. I'm even doing Cookie A's double-twist cables without a cable needle.

Not that I'm going to argue with you too much...Gail's gorgeous, too. =)

Andria said...

It was a very good idea to knit a test swatch. I don't think I could handle all that either, maybe just beads, or just cables, but all!

cleancup said...

I'm going to echo Dee. Challenge is good, but only to the threshold of frustration; this is supposed to be your relaxing, "me" time, right?

Marie/Underground Crafter said...

My head almost exploded just trying to imagine the beading. Definitely a retirement project.

Unknown said...

My first beaded project was also a shawl using seasilk. I believe I got my tiny hook from an online shop, Earth Faire Beads. Google search seems to be down right now but you can give it a shot. I'd start with a less than 5000 bead project, if I were you!

Caffeine Girl said...

Wow, this must be a hard pattern. I've always thought you could knit anything!

Stefanie said...

Oh boy, what an involved pattern. My head would be spinning. Good call on your part for having another option.

Samantha said...

I've never knit with beads, but eventually, sometime in this lifetime, I plan to. Good luck to you.

Kim said...

Umm, yeah. Saw that coming in the first paragraph! And if you hadn't come to this conclusion, I was planning on organizing an intervention for you. ;) Now you will be able to enjoy your knitting!

WildflowerWool said...

Probably a good choice to change patterns. The new shawl is very pretty too.