Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The BadCat Bead Primer

Here is an update on my current "swatch." I am using 2/48 Merino and 8/0 Beads.I thought I would bring in the New Year with a long discussion of beads and lace knitting. I am going to discuss choosing materials to place beads onto you lace knitting using a crochet hook. If you look back to this post, you will see my step-by-step directions for doing this.

People often ask “What beads should I get?” and “What size hook should I get?” and most often “How big a tube of beads should I get?” These questions appear quite straightforward, but the reality is that they don’t have easy answers. To understand how to arrive at an answer to any of these questions, we must look at the variables. This discussion is in no way exhaustive and is just meant to open the subject up for thought.

I suggest you begin your beaded lace knitting using Japanese seed beads. They are uniform in size, shape and (importantly) hole. They also have larger and smoother holes. Gorgeous seed beads are available from other places, but I suggest you save those for later. I have a large selection of beads from all over the world, but I usually choose the Japanese beads when I am knitting lace. The following brands are readily available as both round beads and cylinder beads. I prefer knitting with round beads and bead-weaving with cylinders.

Here is an assortment of beads from my collection.

Japanese Seed Beads: Available brands
Miyuki in various sizes and finishes
Cylinders: Delicas
Matsuno in various sizes and finishes
Cylinders: Dyna-mites
Toho in various sizes and finishes
Cylinders: Treasures and Aikos
Mill Hill in various sizes and finishes
Cylinders: Magnificas

Seed beads come in a variety of sizes and “cuts.” The larger the number the smaller the bead! This is not a complete list…
Japanese Bead Sizes:
6/0=3.7-4mm (E beads)
3/0=5.5mm (E beads)

Round holes and square holes
Silver lined and gilt lined
Opaque and transparent
Matt, Ceylon, opal, abalone
Many other choices of color and finish
Avoid color lined beads and dyed beads, because very few are wash-fast, and they might bleed onto your yarn. When in doubt, make a swatch and wash it. Most dyed beads are marked as such when you buy them.

“So how many beads should I get?”
Remember that every brand is different and these figures are very variable. Also note that the tube sizes are not always uniform. The best way to get beads is by weight and not tube, but you won’t always have a choice.
Beads per gram?
11/0 about 120 per gram
15/0 about 250 per gram
Delicas (12/0) about 200 per gram
6 inch tube about 30 grams of beads

Beads per six inch tube?
11/0 about 3000
8/0 about 1100
6/0 about 310

Beads per three inch tube?
15/0 about 3500

Beads per 10 gram tube?
Delicas about 1900

These links will find you beads (and they are just a few to start your quest):
Please feel free to leave your favorite bead source website in the comments section.

What size crochet hook for what size bead?
Now we get into an even cloudier area. The bottom line is that the hook must fit through the beads you want to use and must be able to pull the yarn (which will be doubled) back through the bead. If you can do that, you have the right hook.

This is an assortment of my hooks, some from church sales without visible markings.

Steel Hook Comparisons
I use a US13 or 14 for anything from 8/0 to larger. I have a Prims brand 14 that fits through a Delica and a Miyuki 11/0. The size of both the beads (by brand) and the hooks (by brand) is so variable that there are no hard and fast rules if you’re working with smaller beads. Get the smallest hook you can find and try it with the beads before committing to the project.

These links will find you a hook:
US 14 (Inox) 0.6mm hook:
US 14 and 16 (Addi) 0.75 and 0.6mm hooks:
US 14 (Clover) 0.5mm:
US 16 (0.4mm) from Lacis (along with other options 0.4-and up):

Here is a little piece of my finer-weight stash. This is a lovely selection of both cob-web and lace weight yarns in fine wools, silk blends, and cashmere, each yarn perfect for beads.

As I said previously, the yarn must fit doubled through the hole of your bead. It should fit without a fight, or you will come to hate your project. I suggest you use a smooth yarn, but a “furry” yarn (like kid-mohair or cashmere) are fine. Stay away from textured yarns. When in doubt, swatch before you make a commitment.

There are many patterns available for you to practice using beads. I have several beaded patterns, for free and for a modest fee. Check my Ravelry pattern store for these options: The Hecate Stole, The Saigon Scarf and The Veil of Isis. The beaded Diamond Scarf uses a different technique, where you pre-string your beads. Here is a picture of Hecate that really shows off her beads. Until next time, keep on knitting in the New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Thanks to all of you who played my Holiday Contest game. I send out a few small gifts to all. First, I'll share the recipe for this wonderful Gingerbread Tree. We were given a set of cookie cutters, to make a stack of cookies that looks like a tree, and my BadKitten wanted to give it a try. We used this recipe, plus some homemade butter cream frosting and it was too good for words. So good that we ate it all in one sitting...shocking.
Second, I am going to send a pattern to everyone who sent me a cool website. I call this design The WallFlower Scarf. I haven't released it yet, but I have used it for workshops. It is a fun knit and I hope you all enjoy it. I don't have an email address on several of you, so if you left me a comment for the contest and I didn't send you your pattern, please contact me to let me know your email address!

Third, I am going to send The Party Pooper sheep to Teeboc, who shared the website that I liked the most. I admit that the choice was very hard to make, because you all sent me the coolest stuff. It came down to the fiber "graffiti" and the web-repair service. I needed help from my family to break the tie. Take a look at these links!

Susanna sent me these great links:
Guys in sheep hats, and look for the single ram...LOL
The Tartan Sheep - quite the dye job!
SheepScape – One of BadKitten's faves, because of the interactive elements.

Kate in Massachusetts sent me this blog link:
This is a wonderful site with great fiber photos form all over, some very famous.

Teeboc in Wyoming sent me this way-cool link of fiber "graffiti."

Gjabouri sent me another amazing link, to someone who "repairs" spider webs! I added the second link back to the original artist.
Gjabouri also sent me this link to Spool art. The interesting thing is that one of the Mona Lisa pieces is at The Museum of Art and Design right now, and my SIL saw it yesterday! I added a second link back to other works.

Finally, Andrea sent me a selection of cool links:
Finally, I snuck away for a few minutes to cast-on a treat. I am still swatching for a larger design, and I got my hands on some 2/48 Merino from Habu, in a fantastic color. I have one ounce, which is almost 800 yards. What to do with 800 yards of very fine Merino? A swatch that will be a scarf, eh? I should have put something in the picture for size reference. To give you a clue, the knitting needles are US0 and the crochet hook is a 13. The beads are Japanese 8s. Isn't the color fine?
I'll be back with more fine knitting soon. Until then, knit on to the New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The BadCat Second Annual Holiday Contest!

It has been some time since I put up a "regular" post, so please bear with me while I catch up (only slightly!) I finished several new things in the past few weeks, which I can't share yet, but here is what I am working on now. I am spinning and swatching. These are skeins of lace-weight, drying on the radiator. I am going to cast-on tomorrow...
Here is one of three swatches. I liked the center on this one, but the rest didn't thrill me. I have heavily modified it.
Here you can see the fiber and spindle I have been using. The solid colored fiber is some merino/silk I had in my stash. The spindle is a Tom Forrester.
The dyed fiber was a gift I won on Spindlicity and is also merino and silk, but I think has more silk than the other fiber.
This is where the fiber came from and it is delicious.

So about this year's contest...
I have a brand-new Party Pooper, just waiting to go out into the world. If you would like to win him, here is the plan:
Leave me a link (in the comments) to the most amazing, fiber related pictures you can find on the web. They don't have to be brand new. They just have to be cool. If you live in the USA and I like your link the best, I will send you the party pooper. If you live far away, and the postage is wonky, I will send you a PDF pattern instead! Here you can see some pictures that my brother-in-law Ken sent me, to start us out. Be sure you leave your email address with your comment. If you are a "no-reply" blogger I will not be able to contact you, even if you post my favorite link!
These are Telephone Sheep designed by Jean-Luc Cornec. I love them...

Happy holidays, and knit on!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Traveling Shawl Does Manhatten...

I am the New York knitter for the Traveling Shawl Project. For those of you not familiar with this project, go check out this blog! If you have some extra change looking for a good cause, consider making a donation to Passionately Pink on the Traveling Shawl blog. You can support breast cancer research AND buy a chance to win this lovely shawl after she has been to every state for some knitting! The design is by Kay Meadors, as is the project. Go check it out! I got the shawl yesterday, just after returning from my trip. I wanted nothing more than to sit and knit, so the timing was perfect. I knit my assigned rows right away.
Today, I took The Shawl with me to the city. That would be THE City. We checked out the public transportation.
We checked out the architecture, and the holiday lights. We liked what we saw.
We were at 42nd Street, outside Grand Central. It was crowded!
The Shawl relaxed while I bought us our train tickets. She looked lovely.
We checked the train board and then we checked the laser light show on the ceiling.
Then we caught the 5:59 up the Hudson. The Shawl managed to scarf her own seat (I just crack myself up sometimes.)
We enjoyed the lights as we passed 125th Street...
And finally, we enjoyed a fabulous Margarita at my favorite bar. I am not sure I was a good influence, but I think I showed The Shawl a pretty good time. The bartender was certainly intrigued...
I will pack her off tomorrow morning, priority mail, to her next knitter. Adieu, and fond farewell.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Autumn in New York, with time to spare before Winter!

I am totally thrilled to share this amazing array of Autumn (or AINY as Kim dubbed it on my list.) The following knitters used a variety of yarns (and some beads) for their shawls, and each one is unique. They were kind enough to share their details, along with these gorgeous photographs. I feel honored that all of you joined me on this project and so impressed with your work. Thank-you! And now, without further ado, and in no special order, I present AINY.
Knit by Tasha
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock
Yardage: 600 m plus a little more
Modifications: NONE
Comments : This has been a great project!

Knit by Susie Jordan
Yarn: Elann,com Pure Alpaca Fina, color Café au Lait,
approx 3 ½ skeins (640 yds)
size 6 needles
no modifications
Comments: Loved it!

Knit by Rita Miller
Yarn : KnitPicks Palette in Autumn Heather
Yardage used: 716.1 yards
Modifications: Chart C done 2 times, Chart D done 3 times.
Since this was a solid yarn, I used opal-lined glass E beads with the "Bead charts."
Comments: Lovely pattern and pretty easy to knit.
Knit by Michele
Blog: http//
Just wanted to thank you for sharing your design with me. I used the same yarn & colorway S245 as you, but I followed the beaded chart - 6/0 Crystal AB glass beads. You were right to advised against hooking beads while using Noro! (Not fun.) I had 12 yards left and my shawl ended up being 58"x27" using US5 Addis Lace Needles.
I love the resulting shawl and will be wearing it today!
Knit by Mary Rose
Yarn:Yarn Tree House Melody
Yardage used:approx 560 yards of Melody
Modifications: None - your pattern was good enough for me :)
Comments: This was a ton of fun to knit. It was neat really interesting to see the pattern "morph" from one stitch to the next through the charts.
Also knit by Mary Rose (we call her "Needles on Fire")
Yarn : Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo
used: approx 680 yards of Bamboo
Modifications: None - your pattern was good enough for me :)
Comments: This was a ton of fun to knit. It was neat really interesting to see the pattern "morph" from one stitch to the next through the charts
Knit by Lara Downey (note the second version almost complete...)
Yarn: Yarn Place Adiago (main picture) / Yarn Treehouse Melody (unblocked blob to the right!)Yardage used: #1 = ~765 yards / #2 = ~605 yards
Modifications: #1 knit two repeats for Chart D (total) / #2 knit with no repeats
Comments : A fun knit!
Knit by Karen Gass
Yarn: Elann Baby Lace Merino
Yardage used: About 550 yds, but yarn was doubled, so 1100 yds
Modifications: I didn’t make any.
Comments: I didn’t notice the section repeat on Chart E, so it’s a bit smaller than it should be. I will be making it again, with repeats to make it larger, I loved making it. It was easy and just looks fabulous! :)
Knit by Colleen Archbold
Blog :
Yarn: Noro Kureyon sock, colour 149
Needles: 4.5mm
Yardage used: approx 776 yds (710m)
Modifications: I worked an extra repeat in chart D and 4 extra rows of chart E before the garter stitch rows.
Comments: I found this quite an easy knit, good for relaxing. Thank you Andrea for a lovely pattern and creating such a supportive and happy group to knit with :)
I love the shawl, and have received good comments!
Unblocked size: 29" x 58"
Blocked size: 35" x 70"
Knit by Jean Le Beau
Yarn: YarnTreehouse Melody Y21
Yardage: 864 yds
Modifications: 1 Extra repeat each of Charts C & D
Comments Finished Width ;72” Depth 36”
I had 49’left out of 4 balls of Melody That is it on the left side of the picture.
Knit by Cheryl Coville
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock #S84 with 4mm needle (US6)
Yardage: just under 600 meters (2 skeins)
Finished size: 57 inches by 30.5 inches (4 stitches to the inch) blocked
Comments: The cast-off was a new-to-me technique which I will definitely use again. It gives a lovely finished look to the edge and I got lucky with the colour repeat.
You can see more pictures of AINY on Raverly, so take a look!

Once again, I can't thank all of you enough! I am traveling next week, but I'll be back after that with some new tidbits to share. Until then, keep knitting!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Autumn in New York, take five!

Here she is! This version is the original, using 2 balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock. If you follow the "Autumn in New York" label you will find full instructions, including finished dimensions. Here is the final chart.

In a nut shell, you make one ridge of garter stitch by knitting one row and knitting the return row too. The only trick is that I want you to include a yarn-over after the edge, before and after the center stitch, and before the final edge on the one right side row only. The chart is pretty meaningless, but I was trying to stick to the familiar format to keep things clear for everyone.

Above is just the wrap-up. This is how I cast-off, and it looks nice with the one ridge of garter. Your edge should not have any significant curling with this treatment, and any that you do have should block out easily. Speaking of which:

Following, I included an assortment of blocking shots with notes, so you can see what I did.

A very happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am not cooking on Thursday, but I am having an after-party so I can cook, on Friday. I might be back with some food fun then.

Finally, I would love to see your pictures of this project in this and other yarns, so send them on over to me and be sure to include the yarn you used, any pattern modifications and your finished dimensions. I will put another post up for this project once I get your photos! Meow...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Autumn in New York, take four!

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, so we approach the final motif on this November project. New York City is surrounded by water. I work in Northern Manhattan, very near the Hudson River, and I live about ten miles north. I can see the Hudson from my bedroom. It seemed right to surround our shawl with water, if you will. Chart E is the first motif with "movement." The previous motifs had the decrease pair closely with the increase. This motif has the increases grouped together and the decreases grouped together, which causes the fabric to undulate. The stripes of color take on a gentle scallop, which gives nice movement to the border and allows for those scallops along the edges.

I knit through Chart E once for my shawl. If you have enough yarn and would like your shawl to be larger, I suggest you return to Chart D and make another repeat of the recommended rows.

Thanks to all who participated in my chart discussion, both here and at my Yahoo group. I continue to look for ways to upgrade the quality of my blog and its contents. I plan to experiment with different chart formats in the future.

I will return with one more post on this project by Monday evening. That post will include the cast-off directions, some blocking instructions and of course a cheesecake shot! Until then, knit on!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Autumn in New York, take three!

My friend Sandra, fellow New Yorker and someone knitting along with us, asked me if we were doing some leaves next. No, just chain-link fence... This got me to thinking about New York and the motifs I chose to incorporate into this design. There are plenty of trees in New York City, and they are all lovely colors right now, yet I selected what you see above. While I continue to ponder the significance of my choices and my complex relationship with New York City, you all can continue knitting...

I repeat the "row repeat" twice on Chart D before moving on. The Chart D row repeat is the place I suggest you enlarge your shawl, if you like. Go back and check my yarn usage and finished size before you decide on adding a repeat.

The rows are getting longer, so this could possibly keep you busy for a chunk of the next week. I'll be back with a huge post before Thanksgiving. Until then, knit on.