Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carol's Needleworks

Today I stopped in at Carol's Needleworks, in Bridgeville Pa.  A bit out of my way, but I have been wanting to check it out for a while now.  It is a small store, but has a nice selection of yarn, notions and patterns.  The store is neat and organized.  I also had the pleasure of being waited on by Carol herself.  Carol is absolutely lovely!  Probably one of the nicest people I have ever met.  I was greeted by her as soon as I walked in, which is not something you always get upon entering a store these days.  Whenever I go to a yarn store, I always ask if they carry any Lorna's Laces; I've been lusting over Helen's Lace for quite some time, but really didn't want to shell out the bucks before fondling it to make sure I felt it was worth the money.  (For the record, no store I have been in has ever had Helen's Lace, and Carol was the only one who ever offered to order some for me.)  Carol does not carry any Lorna's, but when I told her what I was interested in, she pulled out a color/sample card which had a few strands.  Honestly, it wasn't quite as nice as it looks in the pictures on Jimmy Beans.... sorry.  I was glad I hadn't decided to buy any!  She also suggested a similar yarn by Abstract Fiber called Hepburn, which is 1,000 yards of exquisite merino and silk (80 and 20%, respectively).  The color.... Tequila Sunrise.  How could I resist?  I had to get it.  I also fell in love with Audrey from Schaefer Yarn.  The color I chose is called The Brontes, after the Bronte sisters of course.  Audrey is a scrumptious blend of 50% merino, 50% cultivated silk.  I cannot wait to get this stuff on my needles!!  And, to satisfy my chunky yarn cravings I have been having, I picked up a nice hank of Elaine, also from Schaefer.  Elaine is 99% merino, 1% nylon.  I am not sure what the color is called, that tag must have fallen off.  I don't care what it's name is -- it is fabulous!

If you are in the area, I do highly recommend stopping in at Carol's Needleworks. She definitely knows her stuff, is extremely nice and eager to please all of her customers.  Excellent customer service!  Below are some pictures of the shop, the yarn I got, and one of Carol herself.  She let me take the picture since she was having a good hair day!  Again, very nice lady and I can't wait to see her again!

Here is where you can find Carol's Needleworks:

429 Washington Avenue
Bridgeville, PA 15017

Friday, November 18, 2011

Knitting With Beads

I have long loved adding beads to my knitting.  I have two small beaded bags that I use for going out, just for money, phone, etc. when I don't want to carry a larger bag; I also have a couple of scarves with beads.

If you have never tried knitting with beads, I hope this will encourage you to do so!  It isn't as hard as you may think.

Beads come in many sizes, shapes, colors, and are made from different types of materials.  You can find them in craft stores such as Joannes and Michaels; your local yarn store may even carry beads.  There are also plenty of places online to find beads.

One thing to consider when choosing your beads, is whether or not they will fit onto the yarn you want to use.  If you are in love with a particular bead, but your yarn is too thick to fit through the hole, you can use a thinner yarn to put the beads on, and knit with both strands.  Choose a complimentary color, or a contrasting color - the choice is yours.  If you only want a few beads here and there, sewing them on afterward is also an option.  Something else you may want to consider is how much weight the beads will add to your finished item.  Using lots of big, glass beads for example may make your scarf uncomfortable to wear.

There are probably as many ways to add beads to your knitting as there are knitters.  The most common is stringing the beads onto your yarn before you begin knitting, or adding the beads one at a time as you go along with a crochet hook.  The second method is the one I prefer.   My problems with stringing the beads on beforehand are:  A) If the yarn is a fine, thin yarn the weight of the beads may break the yarn  B) The moving of beads up and down the yarn can cause a bit of fuzziness or pills on the yarn.  If you are using a fine, delicate yarn and prefer to pre-string your beads, just do a few at a time.  When you run out of beads, break the yarn, add more beads, and continue.  This will also leave you with extra ends to weave in, which can be a pain.

As I said, I prefer adding the beads one at a time with a crochet hook.  This method is the fastest and easiest for me, and the beads appear equally well on both sides of the fabric.  There is no worry that a bead may be stubborn and want to show itself on the wrong side of your fabric!  To add beads this way, you will need a crochet hook that is small enough to fit through the hole in your bead.  I use a US Size 11 hook, which is teeny tiny.  Since it is so small, it tends to snag on thicker yarns sometimes as you pull the yarn through the bead.  If that happens, all you have to do is pull the rest of the plies through the bead, and it will be fine once the stitch is back on the needle and you have knit it.