Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Torn Between Two Loves

Dateline: Emerald Hills, 1/30/08

Is it possible to have committed relationships with two crafts at the same time? While not exactly neglecting my first love, knitting, lately I've been more excited by my new love, beading. It was actually my first love that introduced me to my new one. It all started when I took a Beaded Shawlette class from Judy Pascale at Stitches West a few years ago. I fell in love with Judy's design and with her technique of adding beads to the knitting with a crochet hook, and I immediately started to make a Beaded Shawlette. I eventually made 4 of them, keeping one for myself and giving the others to my mother (for her 80th birthday), my sister-in-law Mary Beth, and my friend Dianne. Many of my friends in the South Bay Knitters group started making Beaded Shawlettes also; we put in a group order with Caravan Beads in Maine and had a shawlette party at my house.

So my obsession with beads began. After several more beaded knitting projects, including the River Rock Scarf (pictured) from the book No Sheep for You, it occurred to me that there were other things that I could do with beads, and I started taking bead weaving classes at local bead stores last fall. In my knitting, I used only size 6 seed beads. I found out that size 6 are relatively large seed beads, and that sizes 8 and 11 are more commonly used in bead weaving. (The higher the number, the smaller the bead.)

In learning to bead, I've been able to use my knitting experience as I've found a lot of similarities between the two crafts. There are similar issues of design, color choice, gauge, and suitability of particular beads for a specific project. Beaders, like knitters, have stash, and organize UFO nights to work on their unfinished projects. But there are also some differences I've found between beading and knitting.

Stash size: So far, my bead stash fits in about 5 small plastic boxes and one drawer in my yarn room. I wish I could say the same for my yarn stash!

Project-oriented classes: All of the beading classes that I've taken have been built around a specific project, rather than a technique or design principle. In class you at least start, and sometimes even finish, a project. I love classes like that! They exist in knitting but are much less common.

Project length: Most beading projects take only a few hours to a few days to complete. Gratification is faster, and I get to start new projects more often.

Multitasking: I do almost all of my knitting while watching television. Most of my evenings are spent in front of the TV, knitting (or crocheting). I'm not proud of watching so much TV, but I rationalize it by thinking that I'm accomplishing something productive at the same time. When I come to a difficult part of the pattern, I pause the Tivo while I think it through, then go back to my program. I can't bead and watch TV at the same time, however. There are all those loose beads and other supplies, requiring me to sit at a table, and I have to pay closer attention to what I'm doing. But beading is great for listening to music or podcasts.

Fortunately, retirement has given me a lot of time to work on both beading and knitting. Instead of having to choose between my two loves, I will continue to be a bigamist as far as crafts are concerned.

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