I love knitting lace shawls. The process of knitting lace is all about patterns and the light, airy confection that results pleases me in many ways. In 2013 a friend let me put on a shawl she had made that had beads on it. I’d read about using beads in knitting, and seen photos on Ravelry.com, but hadn’t actually tried on anything with them. The way that the beads weighted the fabric was astonishing to me. I don’t think of beads as having much in the way of weight, and they don’t, but when added to a lace shawl the effect was dramatic. It changed the way the fabric draped and how it stayed on the body. The weight of the beads meant that gravity was helping to keep the shawl on and in place instead of trying to pull it off. Very interesting feeling, very safe and stable.
So that feeling stayed with me, and slowly an interest in knitting with beads took shape in me. So I tried a little scarf that had pre-strung beads. The resulting scarf was all right, and it is heavily beaded, quite heavy with them.
But really, what started to appeal to me was the idea of a beaded lace shawl. I knew that I could try to design my own, but to do that I’d have really needed to do what my friend had done. Knit an entire shawl as a test swatch, to figure out what stitch I liked, where to put beads, and where. With the work I’ve been doing being so detailed, I just didn’t feel like I wanted to spend all that time on a learning curve so I went to Ravelry and started to do some research for lace shawls that have beads. I looked and looked, wanting something not too big, as I had no idea whether I would like to make beaded lace. And the yarn I was thinking I’d use had just 449 yards. Anything I did needed to use less than that amount of yarn.
Here is the yarn:
It was spun from this fiber:
So I searched and browsed patterns, finding a number that looked very beautiful and used an amount of yarn in the range of this. I found that I kept gravitating to patterns by a particular designer who goes by the name of Boo Knits. Should you not be on Ravelry, you can also see some of her beautiful shawls and other designs here on Pinterest.
One shawl in particular kept coming to the top of my list. It’s called Sweet Dreams, and is a beautiful crescent shawl. While it is possible to make it longer and larger, the base design is for a shorter crescent that can be worn either as a shawl, or as a sort of scarf. I like both options, so decided that this was what I would try first. And here is the photo that I kept coming back to, over and over:
As I’m wont to do, I joined the Ravelry group for this designer and after I posted my introduction the lovely, friendly folks let me know that on July 4 they were going to do a Perfectly Purple Shawl Knit Along and that I was welcome to join in the fun. Well, my yarn is dark blue-purple, so that would qualify, and I’d never done a knit along of any sort, so… But Perfectly Purple? Hmmm, well, that got me to thinking. Because I had this fiber in my stash:
That is certainly perfectly purple in my book. But it was June 30 and the KAL (knit along) started July 4. So I started spinning, hoping to finish in time. And I did! Finished the plying on July 3, skeined, washed and hung it to dry hoping that it would be dry so I could cast on July 4. And it made it! So I started on time and ended up with this lovely confection.
One of these days I need more photos. I finished the knitting on July 19, not bad for a first time beading project. On this shawl I used transparent Miyuki 6/0 beads. When the light hits them just right it looks like rain or ice drops and are otherwise pretty invisible, which was my hope.
Since this had been so much fun, and I still had the first yarn, I decided to knit another one, this with all over lace instead of the stockinette section. I started that project on July 20, the next day, and completed it August 5. This time I used colored beads, instead of Miyuki I used Matsuto 6-452, Blue Metallic Iris, which other than size look just like Miyuki 452. the Matsuto are a bit smaller, and the center hole size doesn’t seem to be quite as consistent.
And here is how it turned out:
Since then I’ve made more shawls using Boo Knits patterns, but those are stories for another post.