Saturday, May 26, 2012

You get what you pay for ... mostly

This past week I relearned that I get what I pay for, and sometimes paying for convenience back fires, and I end up taking the long road to do something properly. This seems to be a lesson that I have to relearn every so often, in  a wide range of situations. This post is mostly about me relearning that not all beads are nice to use, that even when I say I will set a project aside and deal with those with more urgent deadlines sometimes I don't, and that cats still want to sit just on paper - especially if you are reading something from it.

This time I relearned about bead quality. Next weekend I am teaching at Handmade, two classes, a beginners learn to knit class, and a more advanced class for those who can already knit introducing the use of beads in knitting. I've worked my samples, showing three ways to add beads, and had a project all planned - with hand outs and instructions - but I didn't have a lovely new unused project to show and tell how great beads can look. So I dug out my bead collection and set about knitting a beaded wrister, but none of the beads I had at hand were the right size. I wanted to use fingering alpaca, in soft black and grey but all the beads I had at home were too small - no problem I thought, there is a bead shop in town, I'll just head there and buy some that are the right size. So I did, the choice wasn't great, and the beads were not strung. That alone should have alerted me that the beads were not the best. This was what I found, size 6, orange glass and pink lined glass. In the shop they looked fine, back at home they looked awful, each was a different size and shape, and many were misshapen. That was last weekend,

This weekend I headed up to Oamaru, Enterprise Beads and bought some lovely even and perfectly matched beads, in size 8. Size 8 is a better size for sock yarn and wristers to my eyes. Compared to the first purchase these were not only nicer, there was much more choice - they were strung. Beads being strung on a thread is a simple thing but one that proves that each has a working hole, something not all beads can boast. And even better the beads were cheaper ... much much cheaper.  I bought white because for teaching I wanted drama, clear definition and a nice strong effect against the black alpaca yarn.
The only problem with making decisions in a well stocked bead shop is that it is easy to decide to buy other things. So three strings of these lovely black- grey and silver mix beads came home, as well as these lovely mixed pastel ones. I told myself that I didn't want to be caught out again without size 6 beads in the house.
The other bit of prep for the class was to locate some vintage fine crochet hooks, English size 4, and smaller. I had two already and some that were size 3. I found the size three a little big to pull yarn through the size 8 beads and began to worry that my students may not have all found hooks to bring. The local 'designer' opp-shop has a fantastic store where they clean, and sort and display all the best of what they have, and when I asked the staff pointed me towards a wee set of drawers holding dozens of crochet hooks. I found seven in the sizes I wanted, 4 size fours, one size 5, one 5.5 and one 6. Two even came with little metal caps to keep the hooks safe. One is a little bent at the non-working end, the rest had very light touches of rust - but a light rub with fine 0000 steel wool cleaned them up beautifully. Each is now smooth and ready to go - and at the grand sum of $1 each I am happy.
And while I was dithering around trying to work with beads that were not right, I kept knitting on the Clarie cardigan. I've finished the short rows that shape the neckline and for now the knitting is straight back and forward with raglan increases. This might be a useful cardigan, soft grey, and with a touch of crochet lace around the neck line but it is otherwise plain as plain can be - there is nothing but stocking stitch until I get to the cuffs and hem - and those are a long way from the neck. I'm working on 2.75mm needles, so this might take a while.

As a smaller child little cub was terrified of animals, dogs that bounce still make her stiffen and clutch the hand of a nearby adult. We can't explain why she reacts like this, and nor can she, as far as we know no animal has ever even hinted it might like to have a taste. And she has been around a lot of cats and dogs and other animals in safe ways - her fear seems to be deep and primal rather than learned - and we are working with it. That being said over the past four years she has become more and more accepting of our cat, and the cats of others. To the point she will now let a cat sit on her, or beside her, and she will pick up a kitten if it is small. This is great, because she used to edge out of the room nervously complaining the cat, any cat, was trying to 'get-her'. Yesterday was another first in her accepting animals, Yo-yo sat on her music as little cub practiced ukelele. I loved explaining that sitting on paper, especially paper that you were reading or using was an age old cat trick. Little cub accepted that and went on to improvising a tune of her own rather than reading the music.

This week is a tad frantic, Bear is away Monday and I'm away Friday to Sunday, but now I have beads and hooks - well I'm all set.
Take care
na Stella


Suzanne said...

Alas, bead quality is not determined by 'strung' versus tubes or plastic bags. You can get stuck with totally crap merchandise in either format. Provenance determines quality more than presentation. For example, Japanese beads are, for the most part, very regular in shape and size; they are generally packaged in tubes and baggies. They are also more expensive. There are plenty of inexpensive and regular strung beads of Czech origin, but there are also irregular ones. The same can be said of French beads. Vintage beads are the most variable of all. Close scrutiny of the product by the buyer prior to purchase is the only way to be sure of quality.

Was Yo-yo humming along with the ukelele?

elizabeth said...

That's such a pretty picture of your daughter and the cat! Love the story, too.