Thursday, December 17, 2009

Serendipity Strikes

I was sitting here yesterday, working on one knitting project and quietly musing to myself in the back of my mind about several more that are waiting in the wings. This has always been a favorite imaginative pass-time for me, because I am fascinated by the endless permutations of patterns and textures and colors. Who wouldn't be, right? And the addition of beads into my world this past summer has brought a whole new element of sparkle into the already heady mix.

Well... One thought led to another, and before long I found myself casting about on Ravelry for triangle shawl patterns and on Earthfaire for possible bead pairings to go with my luscious Gracie's Lace Cranberry Crush. It was just a casual search at first, really more of a fact-finding mission than anything else. (Click on this photo and/or the one above to get a closer look, especially if you did not see my earlier post about this delicious blend of70% extra fine merino wool, 15% silk, and 15% cashmere.)

And then it happened. Twice!!

First I rediscovered Sivia Harding's magnificent Harbour Lights Shawl. It's *exactly* the sort of thing that I had in mind. I wanted something triangular for ease of wear, as well as the possibility of experimenting with a faroese-style design. I think that Sivia's choice of lace patterns — evocative of candlelight or a glowing fireplace — will really show off the yummy warm tones of the yarn to best advantage. The original calls for about 800 yards of a fingering-weight yarn, so I will have to fiddle with the number of pattern repeats for my finer gauge, but with a little TLC & careful calculations, my 965 yards should be plenty. I am 99% sure that this is The One. So exciting!!

Then came the question of beads. Sivia Harding's designs almost always include at least a few beads (she explains why in this often-cited Knitty Editorial), and Harbour Lights is no exception. I was not sure at first that I even wanted to add beads to the multi-colored yarn. It's so hard to find just the right match and balance of hues...

But when I first purchased the yarn, just as a speculative exercise I asked Ellen at Earthfaire for some recommendations, and she sent me several bead choices in the 8/0 size, ranging from transparent topaz to olive green to a raspberry pink-lavender. Yesterday I went back to those options and started looking around again. Harbour Lights calls for 6/0 beads (albeit with a heavier yarn), and I was reasonably sure that I wanted the larger size even with the lace-weight. I was seriously considering a possible purchase -- plain silver-lined dark topaz -- and comparing various items already in my bead stash to the images in my head, when all of a sudden I happened to place one of my existing containers of silver-lined dark topaz AB next to the Cranberry Crush.

>> SHAZZAM!!! <<

It was a PERFECT match. Every color in the yarn is in these beads and vice versa.

This is 100% counter-intuitive. With a multi-colored yarn, normally the best approach would be to pick *one* of the colors for the beads, because what are the odds of finding just the right blend? All of Ellen's recommendations followed this pattern. So I was completely blown away. Was, am, and will be... I strongly suggest that you click on the image below, to get a closer look at the genuine DEPTH of this match. I deliberately took the picture in relatively low-light conditions, so that the colors in the beads (rather than their sparkle) would dominate.

To appreciate the full impact of this stunning revelation, you have to understand two things: (a) that I bought these beads quite a while ago, on spec, simply because I thought they were interesting, and (b) that I had been in a bit of a quandary ever since, not knowing what color yarn to choose to go with them. The beads were purchased completely independently of the yarn, in other words, and have been sorely in need of just the right match!! I sincerely doubted that I would find something anytime soon, either, because of the range of colors reflected in their shiny surface.

So to run across such a perfect blend more or less at random like this is *SERENDIPITY* in the truest and most astonishing sense. I am still waiting for the reality to sink in, and I have to wonder how long it will be before I cave in and do a test swatch or two so that I can pick my needles and really get started — although I would like to finish my Parisian Ostritch stole first. Less than 2 pattern repeats (& some intense beadwork) to go on that before the end...

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