L&L Book Club: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Week two of the L&L Book Club is underway and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how many knitters have joined us for our Shining Sequence Mittens MKAL. (You can catch week 1 here if you missed it.) I’ll talk more about the KAL’s progress in the project portion of this post, but I just want to say I’m really excited to find that so many other knitters love to make Christmas a year round event!

The Book

This week I technically read two stories, but one is really just a slightly overgrown poem. I listened to The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket. Even though it’s very short, I liked it a ton. It used his usual morose tone to tell a Christmas story from the perspective of a lump of coal that aspires to be an artist. I would highly recommend it as a fun, quick treat.

The other book I listened to was The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause by L. Frank Baum. Baum is best known, of course, for the Wizard of Oz, and this is the first time I read any of his non-Oz work. The story was wonderful. It had a very Narnia vibe to it. Although, the narrator on the audiobook was so annoying that it was hard to enjoy the book. At just 3.5 hours long, it was an easy and interesting story to listen to, but seriously… If I never have to hear that narrator do a child’s voice again, it will be too soon. So overall, I give it a 5 star review for the book, and a 2 star review for the audiobook. Next week I’m reading A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito.

The Project

I’m having a blast looking at everyone’s project pics on Ravelry now that the Shining Sequence MKAL is in full swing. The second clue published yesterday, and by the end of it your first mitten will be done except for the thumb! It’s worth noting that the thumb instructions will be included in clue four. If you downloaded the first clue, Ravelry should have informed you though a PM that the pattern was updated with the second portion. Or, you can go to your Ravelry library and it should show “update available” next to this pattern on your shelf. If you’re just joining us for the MKAL, downloading the current version on Ravelry will always give you all published clues. The pattern is free until the end of the MKAL, so enjoy!

This week I wanted to take some time out to talk about beads. I love beads. I think 90% of projects are improved by beads. Jac and I differ strongly on this, but I basically live by the motto:

Put a bead on it.

This project uses MANY beads. I’m not sorry. I mentioned in last week’s post that you could use duplicate stitches instead of beads if you are anti-bead. I’ll be discussing the knitty-gritty details and steps to using duplicate stitching next week. But this week, I want to talk all about beads!

There are two ways to knit beads into a project. You can sew them on at the end, I guess, but if you’re going to use beads, they should be knit in.

  1. Use a teeny, tiny crochet hook to add them directly to stitches.
  2. Pre-string the beads onto your yarn.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Using the crochet hook is probably easier. With this method, you have to really try to make the beading look sloppy. On the other hand, because your beads go on one at a time, it isn’t very portable. Pre-stringing can be a pain in the butt. There is more room for error and having your beads look uneven. That said, if done well you can sit your bead horizontally or vertically, and you can string all your beads at the start of the project so you don’t have to deal with loose beads on the go.

In the time before Mabel, I was a staunch supporter of the crochet hook method. Now that I’m living with a miniature overlord, who puts literally everything in her mouth, I’m team pre-string. Choose the method that makes you happy. It doesn’t make a lot of difference in the end. If you’ve never done beading, the crochet hook method is a nice introduction. If you’ve only done beading one way or the other, maybe take the opportunity to try something new. Weigh in on the comments if you have strong feelings about one version over the other.

So now that we’ve discussed the different ways to bead, let’s look at how to do it.

First, you need your materials. Knitting (obviously), some seed beads (0/6 and 0/8 tend to be best for fingering yarn), and a 0.9mm crochet hook -or- a nice length of thread for stringing. I find dental floss is perfect for pre-stringing, but for this tutorial I used some navy sewing thread so that it would be easy to see in the photos.

1. Crochet Hook Beading Method

2. Pre-Stringing Beading Method

So there you have it. Beads are now yours to control. Bwah ha ha ha!

~Megan-Anne

Put a bead on all the things!