Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Jug

When I was out at Madrona I saw an uncommonly large amount of jaw-dropping knitting, including a glittering heap of works by Betsy Hershberg. If perchance you haven't heard of Betsy yet, you will. She's got a book coming out from XRX, with the working title Betsy Beads: Creative Approaches for Knitters.

Betsy's thing is beading. She does things to yarn and beads that make me gasp like a codfish on a treadmill. After my talk on antique patterns, she took a shine (you should pardon the expression) to one of the sample pieces–the 1840s Pence Jug I translated for the Winter 2008 issue of Knitty. Would I mind, she asked, if she took a whack at beading it?

Would I mind? Of course I wouldn't mind. I just asked her to please drop me a line and let me know how it went.

She did, and she did. I'll let her tell you:
As a lover of all things knitted with fine yarns, very (very!) small needles AND teeny, tiny beads, I told you that creating a bead knitted version of this little ditty had instantaneously taken over my knitter's brain.

Additionally, I've recently been focused on creating three dimensional knitted components for my own work designing bead knitted jewelry. So I was off to the races.
Here's a side-by-side of the original (knit with fingering-weight yarns in the colors called for in the original pattern) with Betsy's...version? No. Adaptation? No.

With Betsy's transfiguration of the Pence Jug.

Plain and Fancy

And a solo shot, larger, so you can really see what's going on.

Betsy's Transfiguration of the Pence Jug

Betsy continues:
If you're interested in the technical aspects of this project, it is worked on 0000 double pointed needles with half strands (3 threads) of two colors of DMC metallic embroidery floss and approximately 600 Size 11ยบ Miyuki glass Delica beads. The finished jug is all of 2" high and 1 1/2" wide. In other words, I expect the men in the white coats to come take me away at any moment.

It is important to understand that when knitting 3-D objects, using needles that would otherwise be considered too small for a given fiber is the way to go. It is the very dense gauge created with this needle/fiber combination that creates the stiffness that helps these objects hold their shape.

For the sake of full disclosure, working at this gauge and scale can be tough on the eyes and on the fingers, especially when working the K2tog's on top of a bead in the row below. It's also probably not a great a idea to use black fiber (as I did) for your first attempt at this kind of work. But it was soooo much fun! I just might have to tackle that knitted orange some day...

In other words, the second of those photos is a little more than twice as high as the actual object. Did you just break a sweat? Because I did.

How hard does a fellow have to beg to get you to do the orange, Betsy? Come on. You know you wanna.

More Summer Fun

I'm teaching at Sock Summit 2011, July 28-31 in Portland, Oregon. No, I can't quite believe it, either. I mean, I'm right there on the list of teachers, but I still can't quite believe it.


KarenJ said...

Short comment because there really are no words. Can any one find superlatives for incredible, amazing, gorgeous, breathtaking? Two inches? OOOO needles?

And congratulations on Sock Summit. We all expected to see you there.

duckgirlterri said...

Your garter stitch class is sounding like a lot of fun!!

sandi said...

That Betsy is one amazing woman/artist/bead fiend.

anne marie in philly said...

you better believe it, because you have arrived! you are a respected member of the knitting community! and it could not have happened to a better person! congrats, friend! smooches!

roxie said...

Franklin at the sock summit in Portland? Garter stitch? Oh crap! Where's my checkbook and how fast can I register?

joan said...

Betsy's beading? Amazing. And you, at Sock Summit! Of course, I'm hoping for your photography class which I missed at Madrona. Can't wait until July!

Alwen said...

Wow. I love her and want to marry her.

(My husband is going to be so surprised.)

Sharripie said...

Ooh, is it a photo class at Sock Summit? I've been checking the site nearly every day for two weeks now, hoping the class list was up.

Vanessa said...

Well, color me impressed. That just blew my mind. Love it!

Riin said...

Two inches high?! The mind boggles...

twinsetellen said...

Looking forward to seeing you at SS11, and hoping to get in one of your classes!

Teri S. said...

OMG. That is all.

Cara said...


JelliDonut said...

Holy @*&#! Congrats on Sock Summit. I'm crossing all my appendages, hoping to get into some classes.

Anonymous, too said...

Congratulations on becoming a Sock Summit teacher! I half-expected you to be doing a course on men's boot socks, but the ones you are teaching sound waaayyy better.

However, good luck on keeping Dolores out of the bar and Harry from being hugged until felting! (We'll want full news coverage of what happens to them there....)

The beaded pence jug is an astounding example of technique. Anyone who can make something like that with three strands of embroidery floss and a set of hat pins deserves some kind of award. Maybe from some academy. . ."and the winner for best knitted object in a feature film is. . . ."

Merry Karma said...

Wow! That is really incredible. I don't know if I am equal to the task of knitting anything like that little jug...

Congrats on being selected to teach at Sock Summit 2011. I can't wait to see everyone there!

Yvonne said...

Me - blown away.

Seanna Lea said...

I have size 0000 needles, but they haven't gotten so much usage. I will have to try my own hand at this, because I really do have all of these materials in my craft room.

Bonnie said...

Dear beaded heavens, that's incredible. I don't even own any needles that are smaller than U.S. 0, and I rarely use those. AMAZING.

Michelle said...

I didn't even know there WERE such things as 0000 needles. I'm right there next to your codfish, gaping in amazement. Just... WOW.

Pam Sykes (aka Pretty Knitty) said...

Beautiful Beading, Betsy! And congrats, Franklin. . .I wish I didn't live on the other side of the country as Sock Summit 2011, so that I could be there to cheer you on!

Unknown said...

Wow - Thanks everyone! Great credit and thanks also to Franklin for his inspiring work in researching and translating these vintage patterns, making them accessible to contemporary knitters - even the slightly crazy ones like me. He WILL be receiving a bead knitted Victorian orange at some point, along with my gratitude. :-)

Eileen said...


I do beadwork, but nothing like that! (Mostly 20s style beaded headpieces.) Some day I'll knit a real beaded evening bag. (At least that's what I tell myself.)

The original "adaptation" isn't so shabby either. =^.,^=

Wish I could go to the Sock Summit. At least I can read about it afterward.

JoAnn said...

Really, I hope this ends up in a museum someday. Miniatures just blow my skirt up!

Sandy said...

Yay! Franklin at Sock Summit! I hope I can get in one of your classes before they book up!

lotsawool said...

Wow...that makes my crocheted thread snowflakes look like...nevermind.

Just wow!

SallyT said...

Knitters never cease to amaze me.

Hope you have fun at Sock Summit. Wish I could be there!

Yarn Dependent Me said...


Hhem hem hem, they call me magpie for a reason?

Anonymous said...

Amazing work. It makes me think of the Pearly Kings (and I mean that in the best possible way)!

Rabbitch said...

That vase is crazy (and I do believe we can all agree that I am intimately acquainted with the crazy, no?). It's also very impressive.

As for Sock Summit, I'll see you there. This time I promise to wear pants.

ucuz tatil said...

so greaatt!!

Mo said...

Seriously questioning Betsy's sanity.
Is she currently incarcerated? Recovering from a malady tht would keep her bed-ridden?
Did she do it on a crazy dare?
Thinking about 0000 needles and beads just hurts.

Denise said...

Jesus H. Christ, Franklin, why do I read your blog?! I already have enough knitting projects for 3lifetimes! The pence jug has been on my list for a long time, but now I gotta do it NOW! In metallic thread(that is gonna be a major strain on the tendons)and with little beads. My 0000's are seriously my favorite needles, so always happy to find an excuse to use them for something besides piercing ears. I love everything you do! Am so glad you're a knitter!

Patti said...

I knit a beaded purse using siz 0 needles and about a million beads, and it was FUN! and I loved the finished product -- it sparkled! I have a hankering to do something tiny and beaded again, but size 0000? and beads that small... I don't think I could even SEE beads that small. can't wait to see her lovely new book.

Karen said...

Unbelievable work on the lovely little vase. I would have collapsed in a puddle of tears.
Congratulations on Sock Summit. What fun!

Katherine said...

I thought knitting with 0s was bad! That's a beautiful jug - a work of art.
I'm so excited about you teaching at SS11 - I'm hoping to get into the tessellation class. It will be great to meet you!

Liz said...

That's amazing. Insane, and amazing. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited that I got into your photography class at Sock Summit. See you in July!

Evelyn said...

The two of you have done the Victorians proud!

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I've been checking the site nearly every day for two weeks now, hoping the class list was up.
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Emlak Haberleri

sohbet said...

good supers sohbet

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Jane said...

Hello, I found your blog post for the knitted orange with this jug and have tried knitting it (the orange) but have a query with the pattern. After knitting the first 20 rounds to where it says "Increases are complete" I can't see how the next section would be decreasing for the other half of the orange. "Next Round [M1, k4, sk2p, k3, kfb]" There is an increase of 2 stitches here and a decrease of 2 stitches, leaving a status quo. Is this correct, or should there be some k2tog or something similar rather than the increases?