The Tuesday Night Beading Club: In Circles
The Singing Quilt was not just Queen’s Heights swankiest arts and quilting shop; it was also the go-to place to learn the fine art of jewelry-making each and every Tuesday evening. Melody Light made her elegantly cozy little store the hub for those who appreciated the wonder and grace of pretty things as she taught residents the fine science of creating art with precision, but always with an eye for detail and quality.
This evening’s lesson would be perfecting the techniques of the right angle weave. Some of the ladies in the group grasped the stitch immediately, but as the first lesson quickly veered into the nostalgia of over-eating from the cake buffet table at Melody’s childhood birthday parties, not everyone could retain what they learned. Worse, Magnus Lyme, who normally was quick to pick up stitches, took it upon herself to play Monsters and Queens with Melody’s young daughters Queena and Birdie when the girls became sulky, but became sulky herself when her own attempts at making a right angle weave necklace at home turned into a heap of tangled, wayward crystals. The group agreed to try it again several weeks later after they had finished their first set of lessons.
The long hand-made pine table in the middle of the shop was filled with beads and crystals as each of the ladies placed their beading mats in front of them and began to thread their fishing line. Anne Susse, who sat at the head of the table, looked at Melody as she was going from student to student to make certain everyone was ready for the first step.
“Hope I get this thing this time. My last right angle weave necklace fell apart during our city’s budget meeting,” sighed Anne.
“Did you manage to pick up all your crystals?” asked Alma Montgomery as she took her hairclip and pulled back her long straight blonde hair and held it in place.
“It’s not like they are some invaluable, finite resource, but I just had to get the last one. All those pretty, shiny things are mine, mine, mine!”
Svetlana Orli giggled. “My vacuum cleaner has been making much more noise since I took up this new hobby.”
“But you are always so precise with your technique. I can’t imagine you losing a bead,” said Fern Green, the group’s latest member. “And at least you seem to know what you’re doing with this stitch.”
Flora nodded as she looked at her younger sister. “I went back home and showed Fern, but could not remember how to do this thing at all for the second row. We both had some strange things going on with our necklaces.”
“My necklace could have looked like a failed Avant-garde brooch,” sighed Magnus sadly.
Anne then spoke in a childishly sardonic voice. “It was way worse than fail. I saw it when you brought it here the other day. ‘Oh, Melody! My necklace is all messy! Save it before it dies!’”
“Hush you, you big meany,” snapped Magnus in a mock angry tone to a guffawing Anne. “My necklace was the most dreadful thing I have ever made.”
Elah Ganet smiled. “Right angle weave is not that complicated. It is not rocket science.”
“It’s much harder than that,” said Flora.
“You and Svetlana are the only two who got the hang of that one,” said Alma. “I took my piece home and then couldn’t start a new one for the life of me.”
Melody brought over her portable white board and took out a marker as she began to draw a diagram. “This isn’t hard, ladies. The first step is to pick up four beads or crystals and circle around through all four beads plus the first bead twice. Got that?”
Everyone took four beads or crystals and managed the first step without a single problem.
“So far, so good,” said Elah.
“Good,” said Melody optimistically. “Now pick up three beads or crystals and go through the bead you just exited in step one – plus two beads in the new circle.”
“Yes, that much I understand,” said Alma.
“Me, too,” said Anne.
“Now keep repeating the second step until you reach the desired length.”
There was no difficulty with the final instruction.
“Gracious, this is simple enough,” said Magnus as she admired her single row necklace in beige bicone Austrian crystals. “It is very tasteful and elegant.”
“Now we are going to do a second row,” said Melody. “Remember, this was the part that was tricky; so let’s do this one step at a time.”
However, the second part of the instructions brought greater confusion than before.
“How dreadful,” said Magnus sadly. “My necklace has turned into an appalling Avant-garde brooch again.”
“How did you even manage to do that?” asked Anne as she frowned at her own necklace. “Although mine doesn’t look much better than yours, even if it is flatter.”
“Phooey,” said Alma as she looked at her knotted fishing line. “I understood this stitch better the first time.”
Fern picked up her lop-sided necklace and showed it to her sister. “Mine’s all wonky.”
“Just like mine,” said Flora.
Elah looked at her necklace and shook her head. “I thought I got this stitch – now even mine looks as strange as everyone else’s! Please tell me your necklace survived, Svetlana.”
But Svetlana frowned. “I am repeatedly making the same mistake and have to undo it. I keep forgetting to change direction.”
“Oh dear,” said Melody. “We never had a problem like this before. Let’s take it from the top.”
“I do not know what end is top,” said Magnus as she dangled her tangled heap. “Mine is too messy to know which way is up or down.”
Amid the animated confusion, Melody went from student to student, straightening each necklace as she explained where the beader went wrong. Just as she untangled the last necklace, her young daughters Queena and Birdie ran into the shop and giggled.
“Ta da!” said Queena as she opened her arms and beamed.
“Ta da!” blushed Birdie as she curtsied regally.
“Ta da, you two,” said Anne as she tousled Queena’s hair.
“What are you doing?” asked Queena as she got up on her tip toes and looked over Anne’s shoulders.
“I am trying to make a right angle weave necklace.”
“Is Auntie Annie confused?” asked Birdie.
“Yes, she is.”
“Maybe I can help!” chirped Queena happily.
“I think you two are a little young to do this,” said their mother Melody.
“Awww!” said the girls in united defiance. “No fair!”
“I can do it! I’m a big girl now!” said Queena who pouted.
Melody shook her head, then went to the back room, where she returned with a large big eye needle and a bag of big and colourful acrylic beads and placed them on the table. “All right, smarty pants, let’s see what you can do.”
“My sister Queena is so smart! She can do everything!” said Birdie adoringly.
Queena looked at the sample necklace on the table. “Circles!” she cooed.
Melody began to explain to her daughter the first steps, and as the girl took the plastic beads in her tiny hands, quickly made the first row of the necklace.
“I did it!” said Queena.
“Now let’s see you do the next row – that is the one that trips up everyone here.”
Queena studied the sample intensely as she began to string the large beads, breathing heavily as she focussed her clear blue eyes, but within minutes, she strung the necklace flawlessly.
“I did it! I did it! Ta da!” cheered a triumphant Queena.
“My sister is the smartest girl in the whole world!”
“Great,” sighed Anne as she smiled. “The four year old catches on before I do.”
“Yay!” cheered Queena and Birdie as they jumped up and down, clapping their tiny hands before spinning themselves dizzy.
“Of course,” said Svetlana as she sweetly looked at the two girls. “If anyone knows how to go around in circles, it’s children.”
As the outside world began to bid good night to the sun, the lightness and cheer shone brightly inside the tiny little shop known as the Singing Quilt where the warmth of laughter, chatter, and goodness beamed sweetly inside as everyone began to understand the stitch of the circles and each beader left the shop with a beautiful crystal necklace they made on their own.