The Test Block and a Tutorial

Since there is no knitting time up front anymore, and I cannot do any regular work, this is a good time to blog.

So, first, the River City is hot. No, more like HAWT. At 11:04 a.m., as I am typing, it is 95 degrees, with a heat index of 102. Needless to say, even though today is technically my next scheduled run, it is not happening today. I will start week 6 tomorrow evening during the cold snap (mid-90s tomorrow) at the local park, where I can run after 5pm and in the shade. It is miserable outside, which makes it a perfect day to stay inside during lunch and knit.

So, one of the things I love about lace is that it is that until it is blocked, it really is a little bit of a mystery as to how it will turn out. You can stretch it, pull it, and hold it open to see the design, but really, until it takes it’s lukewarm bath and is pinned within an inch of its life, it is a mystery.

I love this mystery and I love the surprise ending (Surprise! That shapeless and lumpy thing is actually beautiful!). However, there are times when the shapeless and lumpy thing you are knitting is SO mysterious that you wonder if it is possible for it to really turn out.

This honestly looked like a complete wreck to me.
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This is the Peacock and Leaves scarf a week ago. Its colors were beautiful and it was fun as anything to knit, but look at it. No matter how much I stretched, pulled, or squinted, I just couldn’t see it turning out very well. Not all yarns work great with all patterns. Some lace should only be done in a light colored yarn. I was growing more and more concerned as I went along, so I decided to “skip ahead” to the end. I did a test block to make sure that this wasn’t a disaster in the making.
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That is without a flash so the colors are truer.
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Now with flash. The colors are brighter than in reality, but you can see the pattern better. The top inch is new knitting since the test block, and therefore looks like nothing.
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That is it in the tiny bit of natural light I could score here at work. Nice, eh? That is pretty close to its actual color too. The beads show up quite nicely in the picture too.

I wish I could say I planned the yarn to make that nice color progression because then I would look like a genius. However, I am simply not that smart nor talented enough with the spinning wheel, just very, very lucky, and also deeply concerned that the large ball I have waiting at home will not continue this nice progression. It does not have to match or repeat; I just want the color to shift throughout the scarf like it has already done. We will see. I am prepared for the heartbreak to come if it does not. I am about a third of the way through the scarf.

Since my post about nupps and beads, I have gotten several hits from people looking for instructions on how to replace nupps with beads. Here is a pictorial demonstration. You will need the beads of your choice and a very tiny stainless steel crochet hook. Mine is 1mm or a 12 in US sizes. (I prefer millimeters because a millimeter is a millimeter, where a 12 can mean just about anything.)

Slide your bead onto the crochet hook and set it aside.
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When you come to the point on your chart where you are supposed to increase a single stitch into 3/5/7/however many stitches, ignore that, and simply knit that stitch, and go no farther. Very carefully, without jerking the knitting around, slide that stitch off the right hand needle, and pinch it between your thumb and forefinger in your left hand so the stitch cannot be dropped. Take the crochet hook in your right hand and hook the pinched stitch and carefully slide the bead down the shank of the hook, and very gently pull the loop through the bead.
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Then, gently, slide the beaded stitch back onto the right hand needle. You will need to give this particular stitch a little more yarn than usual.
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Once it is back on the needle, continue to knit as directed. On the reverse side, purl the beaded stitch as you would any other stitch, ignoring the directions to purl the 3/5/7/etc. stitches together. Just remember that stitch will be a bit tight, so approach it carefully.

This is not nearly as tricky a maneuver as it sounds. The real trick is not dropping the beaded stitch or accidently sliding any of the other stitches off the needles while you are working. Still pictures are not the best demonstration of this method, so you could search YouTube for a video demonstration. I cannot access it at work to find an appropriate video.

Special note about beading your knitting. The crochet hook beading method DOES NOT work on yarn overs. If you want beads to hang between your yarn overs (like in the Shipwreck Shawl), you have to thread your beads directly onto your yarn before knitting it.

Also, you will want to go back over your beaded stitches later and slide the beads up the loop. When you purl the beaded stitch, in order to have room to work the needle into the stitch, you will force the bead down the loop as your purl, and that can make the beaded stitch look a little sloppy and loose since you did have to give it a little more yarn. Simply sliding the bead back up the loop will hide that “looseness”

So, I hope this helps those people who came looking for directions on how to replace a nupp with a bead. Happy beading!

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