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Knit one, pearl one

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I think the first thing I ever knitted was a copy of some pieces of a knitted Santa Claus that my mother made for me. While I was playing with him after Christmas, my interest was awakened for the first time – about his beard and how it was made and “Are you going to show me how, mom?”

And so my passion for knitting was born – with a Santa Claus beard! Why the passion persists and develops after the first gnarled and holey attempts, not to mention the frustrations of knitting too tight and the countless pitfalls, cannot be understood. But for some of us it gels and sticks like super glue – for which every dedicated knitter is eternally grateful.

My knitting career probably went relatively slowly – until our three children arrived and their needs accelerated my knitting performance to an unprecedented level. And not only the output had to be accelerated, but also the completion times – children to do Keep growing – usually faster than you can predict.

A few years before our family expanded, I taught myself to crochet at a time in my life when I had many quiet evenings when we lived in the country and had little and often no TV reception. I remember it was a tedious and extremely frustrating affair, but I was determined. I had seen so many attractive and beautiful items that my mother made in particular. At that time we lived in another state of Australia, more than a thousand miles away – otherwise my loving mother would have been a very willing teacher.

The interesting result of my “autodidact from books” approach was that I knew all the key names and could read a pattern – while my mother could study and experiment an actual pattern and figure out how to duplicate it – without a pattern. Reading ability. Together we have formed an impressive team that is able to do a lot of complicated crochet work.

And so life rolled on, and somewhere as part of the restocking of the empty nest after the ‘chicks’ cleared it, I discovered pearls … and a new passion. A friend made some exquisite creations in some of the oldest pearl stitches known – ladder and brick and square stitch, peyote and ndebele … even the names are tricky!

Oh-h-h, I wanted to do that so much. I invested in some great pearl books to teach myself again – after all, I had mastered crocheting this way – and learned many complex knitting pattern variations in the same way. And this time my friend was there to physically demonstrate the subtleties to me. Don’t worry, I thought. Well … I thought wrong.

I tried. I really tried again and again. For some strange reason, I was always in deep frustration and annoyance with these beautiful pearl stitches. Just when I was feeling my lowest creative low tide, my friend showed me another pearl project she was working on – a pearl knitted brooch in the shape of a tiny wallet. Here was something I could embrace with my love of knitting.

Despite what can only be called “anorexic” knitting needles (imagine the thickness of a darning needle!) – AND the questionable joy of threading countless pearls on normal cotton thread first – and then transferring them to the actual pearl thread. Now there is only the questionable “pleasure” of moving them along this thread for miles! (Well, it seemed, especially at first glance). Despite all this preparation, before the first stitches could start, I was hopelessly addicted.

In an alarmingly short period of time (which has actually been over for a few years now), my pearl stock has grown so that it almost matches my yarn supply (and remember that this includes mine) Pearl yarn Stash, as well as my existing, huge “normal” type Knitting yarn Hideout … it’s a worry!). Fortunately, pearls take up less space than yarn. Well, they should … the problem is that they have to be seen and found and separated, and kept in a variety of clear plastic containers. You guessed it, there is still a “hiding place” in it.

Round stackable containers come in various sizes; clear plastic boxes with 5 stacks of 5 interconnected containers; others consist of individual compartments with a single lid; and bigger stacks for some of my really big wooden beads. All of these containers are now housed in an ex-library carousel, which makes locating and accessing them a pleasure – while allowing for serious considerations. This is a must for a dreamer like me.

My “stock” is such a drop in the bucket when you think of the endless variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles of pearls that exist. And most of me are human-made, plus some wood and metal – oh yes, and a few gems. It makes me dizzy when I try to imagine how many varieties exist in museums and private collections today, even from the past.

The first project I did was a small wallet brooch like my friend’s – the only pattern I had at the time. It was a bit of a challenge in the beginning, and progress seemed painfully slow for an experienced knitter. All Counting – also of stitches and pearls – and constantly moving a large number of pearls along the yarn seemed SO tedious. The saving grace was the beauty of this pearl creation – and the realization that I was able to produce such a treasure. In the course of my learning curve, many new perspectives opened up for me when I researched and experimented with the extraordinary selection of pearls and yarns.

So far, unexpected skills have developed – such as creating your own diagram patterns for pearl projects – and developing your own variations of the more traditional themes. The tiny beaded brooch has evolved into a glasses case and then into a cell phone case (or cell phone case), a key ring holder and a USB clip-on identifier. And I make matching sets of all or some of them.

This craft gives great joy to the Creator – but I must not mislead you with “pink glasses”. Frankly, there is fear too … a lot of it indeed! You don’t want to know what vocabulary I use when I’m under the table to find fallen pearls … nor would you believe how many of these little creatures might roll and how many tiny seed beads fit into the joints of polished planks . I have already told you about the joys of moving pearls along the length of the yarn and how often this has to be done. Can you imagine how often large loops of pearl yarn are wrapped around each other in a bizarre hug? Devilish, I say.

It rarely happens that I want to be at a different age or stage in my life when I accept the depths and strengths that have shaped the experience. But – It is difficult to see how I can accomplish everything I dream and imagine. It can be both a blessing and a curse to have such a fruitful “what if?” Brain, constantly imagining something else or maybe a variation on an old topic. It is certainly a major cause of my chronic insomnia.

To be honest, it’s just a curse until I look at my creations again – and then I know for sure that I don’t want my dreams or skills to be different.


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