Beadism cosies and punch-card

Beadism is the third pattern in the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 eBook. Its name is a portmanteau of Beads + Minimalism as the design uses beads placed as notes on a “grid” of knit, and the tune they play – Music For A Found Harmonium by Simon Jeffes/Penguin Cafe Orchestra – is inspired, in part, by Minimalist music.

clockwise from top left: knitted and beaded tablet/book cosy; music box; knitted and beaded smartphone cosy; punch-card poking out of music box and featuring the same musical notes that are beaded onto the cosies

Beadism features instructions for two beaded, knitted cosies: one is the shape and size for protecting a smartphone, while the other is the perfect size for housing a small tablet or an A5 notebook (perhaps your KNITSONIK Bullet Journal). Because of the exacting relationship between the number of stitches involved in either size, and the pattern of the musical notes of Music For A Found Harmonium, this pattern comes with detailed notes on changing size through changing gauge. You’ll find enabling gauge tables that allow you to get a very precise stitch and round count, in order to fit your cosy to your smartphone, tablet, or book. Many thanks to Miranda Shelley for testing out these different gauges and allowing us to see and trust that they are all achievable and produce a pleasing fabric! Each of the swatches shown below features the exact same number of stitches and rounds, but varying the needle size has enabled several widths and heights to be achieved.

Miranda Shelley's gauge swatch tests for Beadism arranged from highest to lowest stitch and round counts, from left to right

The starting point for this design was the glowy pine green yarn in the Yarnadelic Yarn range: Harmonium (song for a). Of all the yarns in the collection, this one was the easiest one to transpose for music box. The sheet music is readily available online, and very happily – at the start of this process, at Unravel 2020, I dowloaded it, transposed it for music box, and turned up at the John Arbon Textiles stand with my componium and Music For A Found Harmonium on a punch-card.

But turning what I’d found on the punch-card into something I could knit took considerably longer!

punch-card showing Music For A Found Harmonium

My preferred medium of STRANDED COLOURWORK was not suitable, as the gaps between the “notes” in this music are quite long – especially in the bass line) and this would result in very long and annoying strands. I really like beading with a crochet hook and realised the joy of this is that you can place beads wherever you like! With this in mind I decided to pick out two yarn shades – one to represent the 10 lower notes on the 20-note componium punch-card, and one to represent the 10 higher notes on the 20-note componium punch-card. I was thinking in terms of bass and melody – an idea I then echoed with taking two different shades of bead; one with which to depict the bouncing bass notes, and one with which to depict the melody.

beads and yarns used for Beadism

Then, in a totally literal way, I plotted the notes of the music directly onto the grid of the knitted fabric, transferring them from the punch-card into a knitting chart. The notes travel from left to right and from top to bottom around each cosy.

Beadism cosies shown with punch-card

As for all the videos created for Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 in Teachable, I painted the punch-card with apposite shades of watercolour paint to emphasise the shapes of the musical notes. I hope that in these photos you can see the relationship clearly between where the notes appear on the punch-card and where they appear in the knitting – and that you can see they are exactly the same.

Beadism cosy and punch-card side by side

Beadism cosies shown with punch-card

Music box, punch-card and beaded cosies

Music box punch-card for Music For A Found Harmonium laying over beaded knitting, depicting the shapes of the notes

One of my favourite things about this design is that if you are able to figure out how to make Music For A Found Harmonium your ringtone, you can enjoy perfectly matching your KNIT with your SONIK.

Faith Makawa wears headphones and consults her smartphone screen; beside her on the sofa are a music box and her smartphone cosy (Beadism)

Keypunch operator working for IBM in the 1950s

I really wanted to have at least one item in the collection that would speak to digital technology in some way, as the smartphones and tablets we use today have evolved out of the punch-card technology of early computing – itself inspired by the punch-card technology of weaving.

A card puncher, an integral part of the tabulation system used by the United States Census Bureau to compile

A black and white photo of a hand taking a punch-card and placing it inside an envelope on the interior back page of. book

An early photo of a weaving worker managing the punch-cards in a loom

Faith sites with her smartphone, looking into it; at her side are the Beadism cosy, which rests on the music box, from whose mechanism comes the Music For A Found Harmonium punch-card

Faith Makawa holds her smartphone, though is clearly listening on her headphones to the music playing through them

There is a thread that runs through the loom with its punch-cards, the early punch-card technology of mechanical music, the punch-cards used with knitting machines and computers, and the ones we’ve used for Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1. I like that, by using yarn and textiles with this project, we’ve brought the loop full circle.

With the launch of Beadism come the next few prompts in our PAL:


More on those soon!

2 thoughts on “Beadism

  1. I was introduced to the joys of beading in a workshop with the delightful Laura Nelkin at a knitting camp last summer in Maine. She took all the fear I had of doing it out of the process. I’m happy to see this uncomplicated project to practice my emerging skills.

    1. Ooh thanks for sharing Laura’s lovely work! Isn’t it a lovely way to add a bit of sparkle to our knits? This was only my second beaded knitting project so it’s definitely an uncomplicated one!

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