Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fun with buttons and beads

I had a Raveler friend visiting me from Beijing this weekend. Our plan was to go on a yarn and bead crawl. And did we!

We started yesterday afternoon by taking the Metro to the Dupaqiao station. From there, it is a short walk to Ruijin Er Lu, where there are about 6 yarn shops. I had visited three of them on my walk through the Former French Concession back in March. I had also gone back to a couple when I bought my mink yarn about a month ago.

We just looked yesteray. Then we continued to the Metro station at Shaanxi Nan Lu and went to YuYuan Garden. We had heard that there was a whole building of haberdashery/notions there. And we wanted to check it out.

It took us a while to find it. We wandered through a building that had lots of costume jewelry stores and another one where they make knotted decorations to order. I have to go back to both, but yesterday we were on a mission! We had to find the beads and buttons before the stores closed at 5 pm. We had lots of time but not if we took to browsing. We found a shop selling cross-stitch kits and they told us to go to Shanghai Tan "just across the street". A bit more asking got us to Shanghai Tan - which turned out to be a giant 4 story building. As we got close, we were excited because we saw street vendors with buttons.

We had hit the motherlode. This building has small shops - imagine streets of booths with various notions all inside a building. I didn't take photos as I was battling plantar fasciitis and that and our hunt took all my attention. We found lots of button booths and bought the buttons we needed.

I bought buttons for a pair of mittens I am going to make with the Romney I just finished spinning.
Then we found these lovely art deco buttons that we shared...
And I bought these monkey's fist buttons:
If these look familiar, Hiyahiya makes stitch markers with them. Which is exactly what was on my mind.

We didn't have time to explore all 4 stories of laces, zippers, cords, fringe, plastic fabrics with bling (used for cell phone covers and purses, I think), fur strips, wooden beads, sequins, fake gem stones, etc. We wanted beads!

We had heard of this shop just behind the building that was devoted to beads so we headed off to investigate. On the way we passed larger shops of beads and notions on the street and finally found the bead shop. Sadly, most of the beads were too tiny for knitting. The largest ones could be used for lace weight yarn but we didn't have any yarn to match and none of the colors jumped out at us as easily used colors. But now we knew where it was.

As we walked back to the Metro, I spotted a bead shop on the outside of the Shanghai Tan building. We popped in and found a few bags of beads we could use. But again, without specific yarn, we stuck to colors that would work with a variety of colors.
We split the big bags but this is equivalent to about 4 tubes of beads each.

By this time the stores were closing and my feet hurt badly so we headed home.

This morning we made stitch markers -
I had brought some beading filament from the US just for such purposes:
It is a bit fine. I need thicker monofilament for stitch markers but these are functional.
I put a length of the monofilament through the little loop on the monkey's fit buttons and melted the ends together. It took some trial and error to melt it cleanly on the gas stove, as I didn't have either candles or a lighter. We also experimented with the length of the monofilament. I will try them out and see if they are usable or if the loop is so thin that it doesn't work.

Then I pulled out some cord I had bought in the US to make knotted stitch markers. We tried and tried to make a jar sling knot. [I have since found some videos on it and will try again]. Giving up in frustration, we switched to figure-8 knots and had a bit of success.
I bought wildly colored variegated cord just to have a variety of colors to make the markers.
They are quite functional but I think they would work better for thicker yarn - just as I think the first set would work well for lace weight. We passed the ends through the gas flame to prevent them from fraying.

I can see having a lot of fun making these knotted markers and learning some knots along the way. The biggest challenge is controlling the size of the loop. We found that having the color change in the loop makes for more interesting knots although the cord didn't always cooperate.

After the stitch marker making, I pulled out the Hansen and we started spinning some Briar Rose BFL I had. My friend is a newbie spinner and she had fun spinning worsted, thin yarn. She did very well. I continued a bit after I got home in the evening.
This yarn will have very subtle colors. I am hoping to ply it with another lot that has some coordinating colors but I have to make sure the combination doesn't turn to mud. Based on her advice, I am planning a fingering weight yarn to make a Featherweight Cardi. It will be my first spinning for a garment so I am excited. I have 5.5 oz of one lot and 6 oz of the other so if the colors work out, I should have enough. Otherwise, I will ply each one to itself and maybe combine them into the cardi in some way.

This afternoon we went back to one of the yarn stores which was closed yesterday for some internal business - looked like inventory through the door. She bought some mink yarn and we both bought some sock yarn that she has used before. I bought a few balls that looked interesting in color. It is mostly wool (about 90%) and washes and wears well.

After that, we went our separate ways. She took off for the railway station to head back to Beijing and I came home to spin and blog!

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