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Beaded Shawls Part II - The Hard Way, with the La Dolce Vita Shawl

In Part I of this series, I showed you how you can bead your shawls the super-lazy way, using pre-beaded yarns like Rowan Kidsilk Glamour.  But as I love extremes, I wanted to show you how you could bead a shawl enough to kill you, stitch by stitch.

I wanted to make the shiniest, beadiest, bling-est shawl on the planet for my dearest friend from grad school to celebrate her marriage.  I wanted it to be so heavy with Swarovski crystals, that a simple movement would whip people merciless with sparkling, beaded majesty, forcing them to stop and say, “Wow, what a was that!”  In essence, I wanted her to be noticed for the shiny wonder she has always been for me, inside.  (Love you, Xina).

What attracted me about this shawl were the unusual symmetrical motifs, reminiscent of Arabian or even Thai patterns.  The border is beaded in the pattern…


So I took a piece of the chart that looked like this:

And added beads like this, everywhere:

Weight was going to be an issue, as I really wanted to bead the bead-jeezus out of this.  Luckily, I found some very plasticky pearls that were incredibly light and came in bags of thousands.  I used an entire bag.

You can see how I had to puncture the paint to use these little guys!  I was worried about that, but they came out beautifully.

I like to pile as many beads on my crochet hook as possible.  It really speeds things up.  Don't even think about stringing beads onto yarn for a project like this, you will find yourself in the insane asylum, quick.

The border got the heavyweight Swarovski crystals.  These guys were serious:

For the bulk of the border, I alternated between a baby pink circular crystal and a rose bicone crystal.

NOTE: All crystals are not made alike.  If your crochet hook does not fit through a bead, whereas it does for most of the others, STOP.  Do not force it!  A good result is having the glass shatter in your hands and make a dangerous mess.  A bad, very very bad result, is that your yarn gets sliced by the irregular glass inside of the bead.  Yes, this happened.  Several times.  My only hope was the Russian join, and a lot of spit- splicing.  Nightmare!  So: buy more crystals than you need and don't even touch a bead that seems irregular.  I know, I know, they're expensive!  My beads cost more than my yarn!

Speaking of the yarn, this is Zephyr Laceweight Wool-Silk by Fiddlesticks Knitting.  I was lucky enough to visit my friend in St-Louis where she picked out a color I would have never guessed, frosting pink!  It really suits her.  :)

The yarn was initially disappointing.  The silk is more raw than 'silky', and I felt like it had a bit of a hippie look.  That was NOT what I wanted for a wedding shawl.  But blocking evened it out, and it beautifully benefitted from the drape of the silk with the fuzzy warmth of the wool.

Knitting photography is an art in our little family.  I always know that if we can play with the camera part of things, we're all more likely to have fun.  We have a little studio where B. plays his double bass for fun, almost always at night.  A little visit in the day proved worthy.

We played a lot with stringing the shawl along a wire all around the room:

A new challenge has been playing with bokeh -- highlighting the aesthetic qualities of the blurry part of an image.  After a glance at this photo:

...we realized that I could become a part of my work.

I bestowed this gift upon Xina during her bachelorette beach weekend in St-Pete's Beach, Florida.  I had never done anything like that in my life -- going to the beach with a bunch of lovely ladies.  I wish now that I could do it every year, and for way more than a weekend.  sigh.

This pattern is amazing.  It's actually not that complicated, even if you decide to bead every other stitch, like always-have-to-overdo-it me.  There are large runs of stockinette, and then you dependably reach a fun and interesting motif to play with.  The purl rows are rest rows, mostly.

The crochet bind-off confused me at the end, but I somehow managed.  I couldn't tell you what I did, though, it was a blur of finishing in time.

It's killer hard giving something like this away, but it was worth it to see her smile!  


  1. What a masterpiece, and such a loving gesture to GIVE IT AWAY! The pink is unexpected but just gorgeous in this lacy shawl.


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