Knitting vs. beading

If you regularly read this blog, you know I love knitting and crocheting.  I’ve also done weaving, macrame, and gimp-ing, and I sewed my wedding dress myself, which says I’m an all-around crafts person, right?  Well, maybe.  Or not.

Last Friday, I went looking for a tube bar clasp for a cuff (bracelet) that I want to knit.  When I couldn’t find it in any crafts store, I tried a beading shop.  It was a beautiful shop, its walls lined with tubes of beads in a lavish array of colors, arranged by shape and size.  And yes, there was the clasp.  But there were also lots of women sitting around a table beading some amazing pieces – necklaces, rings, belt buckles.

Naturally, I asked questions about their work.  Naturally, the owner showed me the beaded cuff she was making.  Naturally, I had to try.

She led me to the wall with little tubes of square beads.  I picked a color I liked.  Actually, I picked three different colors – six tubes in all, since each bracelet requires two tubes.  I mean, these beads were too gorgeous to resist, and beading was a snap, right?

Wrong.  The shop owner spent an hour with me, getting me started, letting me take over, showing me how to correct mistakes.  And correct mistakes.  And correct mistakes.  But I loved the way it was looking.  So I purchased all my supplies, along with the tube bar clasp I’d gone in for in the first place, and I headed home.

What happened when I got there wasn’t her fault.  She was a wonderful teacher.  But I kept making mistakes and correcting them, kept making mistakes and correcting them.  I probably spent as much time correcting as beading, but still I liked how this cuff was coming.  Mid-day Saturday, when I was two inches into what would be a seven-inch cuff and thinking about what clasp I would use, I went back to the shop.  Well, there weren’t many clasp options – and the one I liked best really had to be added at the start – and putting her now-finished cuff around my wrist, I realized that it was really too wide and that mine should be not 11 beads per row but 9.

So I started my own cuff all over again, this time working the first row directly onto the clasp.  I’ve been working on the bracelet now all week and, though I don’t like the flare at the clasp (see photo), I thought I was getting better and better at the beading.  Then I made a mistake I couldn’t correct.  I spent an hour at it, I swear.  The last straw?  After cutting the thread to just pull out the beads past my mistake, I couldn’t re-thread the needle.  Could.  Not.  Rethread.  The.  Needle.  It has a teeny little eye, and the thread is worked double.  I even raced out and bought a needle-threader, but those double strands ruined the threader.  I tried it with a second threader (there are three in the pack).  Same thing.  Gone.

Right about now, I’m thinking that beading may not be my thing.  There are too many tiny parts and too many threads to keep straight.  You can’t cuddle with beads like you can with a skein of yarn.  You can’t watch tv while you bead.  You can’t relax into the rhythm like you can with knitting, and as for softness, a beaded cuff can’t compare to a cashmere gloves.

Can anyone out there encourage me to stick with it?  At what point does one throw in the towel and focus on what she does do well?

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  1. melissa on August 23, 2012 at 5:23 am

    Okay, firstly I think that looks wonderful!! Such intricate work! Looking at the picture makes me say, keep going! You have to finish it because it’s beautiful!!

    That said, I TOTALLY get it … I actually gave up fine work like cross-stitch when I had kids, because I find I can’t just pick up where I left off, and with knitting, if I even do half a row, it’s progress and I know exactly where I left off. I don’t need a decent window of time to make progress and there are no fiddly bits to chase after. And I agree with the rhythm and softness. So while I so admire other people’s amazing crafting, I stick to what I can handle 🙂

    Also, could you PLEASE post a photo of your wedding dress? How amazing to have made your own. Just makes it even extra special!

  2. Margaret on August 23, 2012 at 6:07 am

    The bracelet looks beautiful. I think that you should stick with it. I am sure your first knitting project does not look anything like your knitting projects now after many years of experience. I imagine, like knitting and/or any other craft you need to practice, practice, practice.

    When I used to be addicted to counted cross stitch; I used to put a little dab of clear nail polish on the end of the thread and once it dried it would make it easier to thread through the eye of the needle.

    When you get discouraged with the bracelet walk away from the project and knit. I do this whenever I am crafting and feel defeated or overwhelmed with the lack of progress or discouraged with the results. Always remember that little train in the children’s book….I think I can, I think I can.

  3. Barbara Delinsky on August 23, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Clear nail polish? What a great idea, Margaret. And you’re both right. Sticking with it is key.

  4. Deb on August 23, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I don’t bead jewelry but ornaments. It took me several ‘practice’ ones to get the hang of it along with a few frustrating moments & mistakes. Now with practice I have it down to a science, as they say, & can complete one in several hours as opposed to days when first started. It is relaxing to me & I seem to find the time on weekends at night when everyone else in the house is tucked in for the night! The finished product is always the most rewarding even though you may have encountered frustration & mistakes along the way! Good luck, keep going & enjoy!

  5. Angela Moore on August 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Haven’t tried that in a very long time. I can certainly understand the frustration. Until I got a set of knitting looms, I couldn’t knit without getting horribly aggravated and ripping things loose. I’d drop a stitch, and not remember how to fix it, or not notice until I’d gone so far past the mistake etc… Hang in there, I’m sure if you can master all those other crafts, you’ll master this one too.

  6. Lyn on August 28, 2012 at 8:28 am

    What a brave woman you are, I make jewellry but don’t do beading to many tiny bits for my liking. But I am sure you will master it in no time, like you have mastered other crafts
    Craft is frustrating at times but worth the reward in the end
    Good luck I know you will do it and do it well

  7. Audrey on August 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I have done bead work, but nothing as intricate as what you started with. But you didn’t pick up knitting needles the first time and make a sweater with cables, did you? (Please say you weren’t that good at the beginning.). And you started with a big project. I crochet. And I agree with you on the comfort level. I recently got into “good” yarn, and its opened up new doors. I love the bamboo, and all the wools and blends in so many colors. Favorite time is waiting til the first of the month to see what Lorna’s Laces color of the month is going to be. But I already have so much yarn, I will have to live to 120 to use it all. I make my little girl fingerless gloves, and she thinks they are so hot, but lately she has been wearing just one, she thinks its cool. My little fashionista.

  8. Jean on October 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Would love to see you post a pic of the wedding dress Barbara!!! Do you dare? Lol.

    • Barbara Delinsky on October 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Oh, I dare, Jean. I just have to dig out a picture, then scan it in. It was a long time ago!.

  9. Judi Gepkens on October 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm


    I’ve read all your books and love them. I’d like to recommend a book for you to read if I may???? “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman.

    Enjoy, Judi Gepkens

  10. Barbara Delinsky on October 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    On your recommendation, I just ordered it, Judi! Thanks so much!

  11. Charlotte on February 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Since you like knitting here is a book suggestion for you
    “Friday Night Knitting Club” author Kate Jacobs

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