Monday, April 9, 2012

A Billion Beads

Okay, so it was only 6000 beads, not counting the ones that dropped on the floor, zoomed into my toothpaste tube, and bounced their way into cracks too small to be seen with the naked eye. I also found two of them inside the Marriage Fern, eleven huddled in fright near the vacuum cleaner, and one adventurous little guy swimming around in my coffee cup.

Disregarding the excessive beadiferousness this shawl entailed, the Nouveau Beaded Capelet  is a fabulous knit. The pattern is flawless, original, clever, and just plain stunning when completed, as you can see.

The shawl begins with a tassel on each of the seven scallops, which are knitted individually and then placed side by side on a long circular so the remainder of the shawl can be worked. Because the rows become shorter and shorter as you work towards the top, it never became boring; I had a difficult time putting it down to do other things.

Almost every yarnover has a bead, which creates graceful lines of glitter up the shawl.

The yarn, a green 50/50 merino/silk blend, will remain nameless. I found it in my stash and thought it would be perfect for this elegant project. I continued to think so, right up until I ran into the first of 14 knots in the 1250-yard skein. Worse, something--a cat perhaps--had clawed at parts of it, so there were lots of  sections that were fuzzy or sported a broken ply. By this time, I had finished the scallops, so I just gritted my teeth and Russian-joined every thirty yards or so. 

There were several further unpleasant surprises waiting at the finale though. The yarn was dyed in such a way that it produced hideous striping in dark and light green. The poor thing wasn't off the needles for ten minutes before it found itself floating in a pre-soak so I could overdye it. And--wait for it--the dyer hadn't bothered to fix the color, so her greens bled copiously into the presoak water. No amount of rinsing would remove the excess dye, which had the temerity to turn my fingernails green when I flipped the shawl over.

Gritting more teeth, I arranged the shawl in such a way that the scallops would soak in a dark turquoise dyebath for several hours, so the bottom of the shawl would be darker than the top. Then I flopped the upper section into the dyebath and cranked up the heat.

Aside from the fact that the color is now a pretty peacock green and the pattern itself is graceful, it feels incredible when worn--the weight of the beads makes it drape beautifully and it seems to be more a piece of jewelry than a garment.

I'm sure I'll be picking up beads for months, but the result is worth it.