Fits and Starts

Last Thursday I had an ill fated trip to Romni Wools for white laceweight. I spent forever in the shop ripping up the shelves and by the end of it, I had a few other people in on the madness.  I needed just about 1200 metres of white laceweight for a shawl to match a dress, and you wouldn’t think that would be a thing that was hard to put your hands on, but it was like I’d gone into a yarn shop and asked for seven live lobsters. There was none.  Up and down the aisles we went. Up and down the ladder the nice lady went. We went into boxes, into bags… they vanished into backrooms, and I even scoured the basement, and if you live in Toronto you know that’s not a small step. There was ivory, there was eggshell, there was off-white.  There was cream, there was buff, some of it was  ecru… but not a single ball or skein of white, not true white.  I’d had a conversation the day before about how this project needs to be actually really white, so after a huge and frustrating search, I thanked everybody as sincerely as I could considering how pissed I was that I’d just spent a morning downtown for no good reason, and  then stomped down the street to the bead store,  and then got on the streetcar, dropping my last token in as I went.

Just a few minutes later, as I was sitting there thinking about how I’d maybe be able to find white at the Knitter’s Frolic this last weekend,  my phone went off in my pocket. I put down my knitting (Purless) and saw that I had a text from the person who had agreed with me on the need for a shawl that was true, bright white.   “FYI – dress not white, more of an off white or eggshell” it said, and I lost it. Romni had that! Lots of that! I could go back.

I stood up on the streetcar, then sat down again, then stood up, then sat down. That had been my last token, I didn’t have any change, I was on my way home and I (I reflected) needed to get a grip. Just because I was ready to start the thing didn’t mean it couldn’t wait a few days, I’d have a search at the Frolic, and if I couldn’t find anything there, I’d give up and go back to Romni (where I know now that they have it.)  It would give me time to finish Purless, and then I’d… be more ready than I was. (This was not true. I was completely ready, and yay verily so sick of knitting that purple thing,  but sometimes you have to think positively and make up a story for yourself when the planet wastes half of a perfectly good Thursday just to make you nuts.)

So, the weekend came, and I have finished Purless, and I did scour the market, and I hunted through every booth, and at the very last minute, and at the very last booth, after That Rachel H convinced me to go back in and look one more time.

beadsyarnstart 2016-05-03

Shelridge Yarns Laceweight – and the beads*, and now I can start.** A pretty white*** lace shawl, with 2500 silver lined beads.  Game on.

*And you know, I might not have bought enough. The pattern says I need 2500 beads, and the store said each one was 16 grams, and that seemed like a lot, but now I think that maybe there’s about 500 in each vial (and yeah, I sort of counted a little bit) and so I think I blew it, but I’m not sure because I lost interest in counting seed beads really, really quickly. There has to be a better way. They’re ridiculous.≠

**After the swatch dries. Too big a project to wing.

***Well. It’s not white. Eggshell. Natural. Cream.  Maybe buff. 

≠Also the process of counting them meant I spilled some and they went down the cool air return and now there’s no way to get them back. Too risky to count again.

92 thoughts on “Fits and Starts

  1. What a miserable experience! I am happy that you finally have the yarn needed. Please don’t count the beads again though. You will need all that are left! Happy knitting Stephanie!

  2. Glad you found the stuff at the Frolic, Steph. I spoke to you when you were still on the hunt.


  3. Knowing that it is time to do a project NOW is like a baby deciding it is time to be born…NOW!!


  4. I can tell I am a scientist because before I was done reading your footnote I thought about all the things I have in the lab that would let me count those beads in a jiffy. The key piece of equipment is a tally counter, like the thing they use to count people leaving the amusement park. And a dish with edges so they don’t roll away. Again.

    Weighing some of them should work too.

  5. Weigh 25 or 30 of the beads, if your scale is sensitive enough. Or count how many make a single gram. Then do the math. Counting the suckers is crazy-town in a hurry.

  6. Oh, the secrecy…I’m intrigued! Also, I heard a tip about putting double stick tape on the inside of a gutted CD case (has the lip, like Abigail suggested) and then pouring the beads on top. It’s sticky enough that you won’t lose any more while you’re working on the project, but not too hard to get them off, supposedly. That is assuming you are not pre-stringing. You’re not pre-stringing 2500 beads, right?

  7. That sure looks white to me! 🙂

    BTW – my “go to” source for beads (presuming those are 8/0 seed beads) says approx. 220 in 7.5 grams, so it sounds like you’re going to be short by more than 1 container. Of course, you could alter the beads on the item to fit the number you actually have. If it isn’t a secret, I’d love to know what pattern you are knitting….

    Are you sure you have enough yarn?

  8. Well, that put’s my knittering bad day in perspective haha! I’d much rather be struggling with my vest front than be faced with the prospect of THOUSANDS of beads *shudder*

  9. True white in any animal fiber is a rare thing indeed. I expect you and the Romni folk will have a good laugh over the whole thing–maybe after a bit of time has passed.

    Picture some future owner of your home a hundred years from now redoing the heating system and finding all these sparkly beads rolling out of where they’re working. Just picture that face. Ooh! Shiny! (We found a large landscaping blueprint folded up inside our walls when we were remodeling. And a very old superball.)

  10. I hope that whoever the lucky recipient is appreciates your efforts. I echo Mary Alyce. “Is one of the ladies getting married?”

  11. I have used that yarn in a lovely soft pink. Knits up beautifully, blocks well, and I have used it several times. 🙂
    Now I want to do a beaded project.

  12. Take the swatch and compare it to the other garment to make sure they match/coordinate. It can be very difficult to match or coordinate pure whites, to say nothing of the ecrus, ivories, off-whites, etc. You don’t want to knit a beaded shawl to find out it won’t do (unless you have a friend with a baby grand).

  13. When my niece got married, I actually crocheted 2 shawls…one in white, one off-white. The off-white one matched her dress (as expected…I started the white one before getting final dress info) and I won 1st place at the state fair with the white. You can see them on Ravelry: Beanswife’s flower power shawl and flower power shawl 2. However, only about half the # of meters you’re talking about, and many, many few stitches (and beads only on the last row.)

  14. Oh, man. What a frustrating day!

    And, you know? All the shades of white? They drive me crazy. Shades of white can stand out against each other more starkly than neon orange on forest green, and that’s just not right. Really, it’s just not right.

  15. Glass beads bounce when you pour them out. I like to line a baking Pyrex with a dishtowel. Also paper works, then makes retrieving them simple.

  16. Anything with 2500 beads is beyond anything I can imagine doing. Hope your project goes well from here on in.
    Oh, and I had to touch the woman. You are the woman for this project.

  17. What a day! If you do end up just a few beads short, you can duct tape a knee high stocking onto your vacuum hose. When you turn it on, the stocking gets sucked in and makes a net to capture spilled beads. If your hose is long enough you can snake it down your air vents and who knows what you’ll discover.

  18. I haven’t read all of the comments, but I just have to say stay away from silver lined beads. They sparkle, they dazzle and the stinkers turn black every single time. Silver lined means they are lined with silver and silver will tarnish. Better to go with a clear unlined bead. It won’t sparkle as much, but it will still sparkle next year and the year after that. I wouldn’t want to invest that much time making a shawl, just to have it turn to crap in a few months with dirty black little specks all over it. But hey, it’s your choice.

    • Hmm…I have silver lined beads that have been stored in the most inhumane of conditions for beads and they are still bright and shiny. Best bet is to check with the bead store on where they’re sourced from. I’ve had the best luck with Japanese and European-manufactured beads. You get what you pay for!

    • Really?! This really happened to you?? That’s awful….though I’m curious how it could happen, since the side of the silver lining that shows to us on the outside is bonded to the glass bead, so should be protected from air, no?? And do they really still use actual silver, or (as I’d assumed) just some shiny chemical stuff that looks silver to the human eyeball, and which might be impervious to all change over time? Maybe varies with manufacturer…?

  19. Weighing the beads is the “way” to go. Set a container with a bit of paper towel in the bottom (stops the bounce) on your scale and turn it on – so you set the tare. Add enough beads to the container to weigh 1 gr. counting as you add them. Pour in the rest of the beads to get a total weight. Then put your BGP’s on and do the math. Yes, I know it sounds like a long process, but you know it will take away some of the crazy. To get the beads back in the containers, get yourself a little funnel and add them by the spoonful, ’cause you know what will happen if you try to pour them. Doesn’t really bear thinking about, does it? Best of luck!
    Chris S in Canada

  20. If you ever need a true white use bedspread cotton! I had to do this for 3 wedding shawls for my daughters. My friends at my LYS all agreed that since it is used to make heirloom bedspreads it would certainly hold up in a shawl. They were beautiful and the color matched perfectly!

  21. This brings back memories of the shawl I knitted for my stepson’s bride. It took weeks of searching and many false starts before I finally found just the right ivory silk yarn. In the event the weather was unseasonably hot so the shawl went unworn, such is life, though I’m given to understand that it will see use at a christening in the not too distant future!

  22. Y’all have such great ideas. Here is another, lazy girl, one. Email the bead manufacturer/distributor and ask approximately how many beads are in a container. They almost certainly know and do not put it on the package because they pack by weight and do not want to be sued by someone if a package is a couple of beads short. I am so curious about what you are making…

  23. Wow, I cannot even fathom knitting with that many beads. I’m very curious as to the project and the recipient too. Do you have exciting news for us?

  24. I totally get it.
    A couple weeks ago a friend of mine had the exact same issue with trying to find true white lace yarn. She went through a ton of yarns. It makes sense–if you bleach natural fibers to get them really white, you kind of destroy the fiber. But lucky for you the recipient came to their senses LOL.

  25. Your posts always make me smile, or laugh, or today cringe at the very thought of knitting a laceweight shawl with 2500 seed beads. That would be enough to make me give up knitting.

  26. I’ve always thought that the Spirit colorway by Blue Moon Fibers would come in handy for this kind of project someday. All the different shades of white, to get at those subtle hues. The yarn you have looks beautiful, but it’s a backup to keep in mind. =)

  27. FYI, when it comes to the rinse and blocking – fabric softener will strip the silver lining right out of beads. Do not go down that road.

  28. Ooh, I can’t wait to see the finished shawl! I can already tell it’s very much going to be worth the madness.

  29. Is there even such a thing as “true white” with yarn? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Not like white paint.

    It’s all relative, right? I’ve that some fine art painters wish they could still use lead white, for a true brilliant whiteness that is unmatched by other pigments.

    As for yarn, you can bleach all the chromophores out, but I don’t think you can really create the reflectiveness of a true white. The sheen of silk might be the closest thing?

    I’m gonna go all out and say that there is no white yarn.

    It’s like … infinity. There’s no number that’s infinity, right? Infinity just means there’s always a bigger number out there. Something looks white enough at first glance, then you look more closely and you know that it could be whiter…

    In conclusion, color is crazy. And subjective. Glad you found a yarn that’s white enough!

  30. Count out 100 beads, weigh them, weigh all the beads, do the math…bingo, a more or less right count. Take a deep breath, a sip of coffee (or wine or good beer, after all it’s Canada) and relax, then knit a pretty. And, show us when the time is right.

    • I agree. Large numbers of beads are best counted by weight. Been down that crazy road before.
      Julie in San Diego

  31. Am I the only one who’s already waiting for the post where Stephanie is nearly finished the shawl and needs Four More Beads? The one where at 3 o’clock in the morning she dismantles the heating system? I’m sure it’s coming. Maybe next week, or the week after.

  32. I’ve been wanting to do a knitting with beads project, but I have no idea how to start. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of a Craftsy class (I think I saw one), but maybe I should just throw caution to the wind and dive right in.

  33. I feel like beads are the sort of thing where if you got a container that didn’t match you could mix all the beads up, and then the slightly differently ones would be spread out and it would be an effect rather than an accident, no?

  34. What a frustrating experience but I’m glad you got there in the end. It will be fun to watch the shawl progress–I’m a bit in awe of the white and shiny tiny beads. Best of luck!

  35. For my first knit project with seed beads, I searched the internet for ideas to avoid having to string all the beads beforehand and ended up using the floss threader method. It worked beautifully albeit a little slow till I got in rhythm.

  36. I was looking for 1200m of lace weight at the frolic as well. Found some beautiful orange at the Stitch Please booth. Absolutely love it! Glad you found what you needed too!

  37. From pale pink cashmere I was doing a lace shawl from Clara Parkes Wool book; the Tibetan Clouds (I think that’s the name) and my granddaughter found the beads. “What’s in here, grammameg?” and she opened it and the beads were everywhere, and down the heat vent…gone. Oh well, half the shawl had beads and half had…less beads. It was cashmere, who needs beads?

  38. Weigh the beads. Take 10 or 20 and weigh them, then weigh the rest. Divide the weight of the total by the weight of the 10 or 20 beads and the multiply by the number of beads.

  39. I’m with whoever suggested getting the swatch and garment together. And a definite bead re think and or count.

    It was the up and down on the ‘street car’ that gave me a good morning chuckle.

    Embrace the morning, you raided 2 yarn stores in a nearby locality and rode a street car. Sounds like awesome fun from where I am lying. Never assume these things will happen again.

  40. My thoughts today are not on the silliness that is our current news feed (trump) but on the people of Alberta Canada and the fire that is destroying the lives of the people of an entire city! Steph. What can we do to help?

    Barb R.

    • give to the Red Cross
      thought donations of “things” are well intentioned they are overwhelming and not helpful

  41. Take the screwdriver, open the cold air return, get vacuum cleaner to suck up the lost beads, replace cold air return, open vacuum bag (I know…but I reseal with duct tape) and voilà….you have the lost lovelies.

  42. I have the admit that when you feel the need to footnote your posts, it makes me silly amused. It is as if you are burying the part that says “oh yeah, there is more to the story…” Best way to use footnotes. The written form of comedic timing.

  43. Hmm Ihave silver lined beads and a pale blue wool waiting in the cue to become a lovely cowl…now I am quite worried about using them…

  44. May I recommend that you search for bead mats? They’re a sheet of foam-like stuff that you use to control the bounce of potentially errant beads. When I’m bead-weaving, I use one to line the tray where I set out all my bead selections. It’s saved many gray hairs and four-letter words.

    The shawl is going to be stunning!

  45. A piece of felt or especially a piece of one of those velour-like blankets work quite well for keeping beads in place. I agree with the weighing consensus, and I would hope that you could just nip downtown and get another vial or two since you just bought them. Best of luck with the project, hope the deadline* isn’t ridiculous.

    *We know there’s a deadline, and that it will be ridiculous even if it doesn’t seem so now. This is the sort of project where you can see that coming a mile away.

  46. I agree totally with the bead-mat suggestion, a sort-of velour-like fabric which will not only prevent the beads from bouncing when they’re poured out, but also keep them from rolling away. Also, it facilitates sorting and separating them. A good bead store should have this item! Also very useful is a metal triangle with raised edges you can use to pick up beads to count them or to sort or return them to their container. Neither of these items is expensive, and, even if you rarely use beads, are a Godsend. I’d never part with mine! BTW I have ‘older’ metal-lined seed beads and haven’t had any tarnishing/darkening issues.

  47. Do glad you found what you needed. Can’t wait to see it finished. It will be beautiful with those beads. Its stressing thing for sure!!

  48. Go buy another vial of beads. Maybe two. Otherwise you will definitely run short. Keep the receipt. You can return the two extra vials when you finish the shawl.

  49. Oh have I ever been there trying to find WHITE-white lace yarn. Its impossible to find in wool, even if it claims to be bleached white wool, it is still not white enough to be actually white against a white wedding dress. I had to give up on wool. I had to choose cotton, which actually comes in WHITE-white. Yes it’s beautiful still, but it sort of looks like a doily-type tablecloth instead of a wedding shawl. You are lucky you could go off-white after all.

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