Friday, May 21, 2010

Twisty-twisty tale

We're going to keep the mystery of the stamped clay discs for a little while longer, as I may be in need of a tube of Delicas before I can work on them some more.

In the most recent Bead & Button magazine there's an article, Layered Ladders, which is a modified ladder stitch and right-angle weave project which causes a really nice curvy piece.  I decided this was a perfect style to go with that coral crocheted sweater I showed you the other day.  It has a nice open neckline, and I didn't like anything I already had with it.

Last week I was at my friend Susan's house, and she had a tube of coral seed beads that seemed like it would match pretty well, and she didn't have a use for them.  So we sat down to figure out this new stitch.  The instructions were a little hard to decipher at first (there's a lot of backwards and forwards and at-an-angles), and after I figured it out I had a little difficulty getting the twists to form. The instructions say to use beads of different sizes to create the spiral, with the smaller beads on the inside.  It took a number of tries to get the piece to twist, but I didn't like how any of them looked.

I finally decided to use some irregularly-shaped white beads that I had used on a black and white twisted herringbone necklace.  You can see that on the Expand Your Horizons page on the Loose Bead Society website.  I'm not terribly fond of the beads, but I always wear the sweater with a white tank top underneath, and I thought the coral and white beads would go well together.

Lo and behold!  I got a twist!  The first few inches twisted nicely, but then it flattened out.  I figured it was due to the irregular nature of the white beads and started thinking of what I could do to make it more consistent.  In playing with the necklace, it seemed that if the white beads were "forced" to sit together nicely, the spiral would be tighter.  So I took another length of Fireline and started stitching just the rows of white beads together - kinda how they tape your little toe to the next toe when you break it.

Well, that worked like a charm.  I had to keep doing this every so often so I could test the length.  In the following picture you can see the fixed part at the top and the loosy-goosy part at the bottom:

Now, the loosy-goosy wouldn't be too bad if the white beads didn't look all cattywampus.  Here's a close-up shot:

In the top half you can see how I threaded the rows together.  I went around rows 1 and 2 a few times, then rows 2 and 3 a few times, etc...  That made everyone sit nicely, and due to the shape of the beads, the spiral tightened up.  I did not try to sew them together as I was stitching new rows - I used a separate thread to make sure that the main structure wasn't compromised.  Yeah - that's why I did that.  It wasn't at all because I couldn't think through how to do it while I was adding new beads.  Nope.  Not that at all.

When I was talking to Steve about this adaptation and asked if he thought it would work, he said, "All I understood was 'thread' and 'twisty-twisty'."  He was no help but was very encouraging.

Let me tell you... working on twisty pieces is very difficult.  The thread gets caught in the spiral, I had 2 or 3 dangly threads at a time, so they got all tangled, and measuring was near impossible.  So I kept stitching until I ran out of usable white beads and hoped that it would be long enough.

Voila!  It's a perfect length, it's very comfortable, and I think it goes quite nicely with the sweater.  That look in my eyes is the dazed-stitcher look that everyone gets at the end of a long project (and it's well after midnight).

I sure hope you really didn't want those coral beads back, Susan!  I damn near used them all!  If this necklace wasn't twisty-twisty, it'd probably be 3 times its length.


  1. That's my daughter - full of determination and drive until she gets it right. Way to go, Traci! Looks very pretty.