Monday, May 26, 2014

Beads and Beading: In the Land of Counterpane

I was playing with beads recently; home, sick in bed.

I felt like the small boy in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Land of Counterpane.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

I have forgotten so many things in my lifetime; most of them completely trivial, some of them probably quite important … but this poem has stuck with me from the days when Little Golden Books reigned supreme.

They were not sophisticated beads; not special or even particularly beautiful, but those cheapie glass and plastic beads that my young-uns used to string into tawdry baubles on rainy Saturday afternoons.

It’s amazing what remains stashed away in my sewing room …

Over a series of sore-and-sorry days, tucked up with comfy pillows, a talking book and a sleepy puppy, I frittered away my convalescence stringing beads and working them into crochet creations.

Cheap and cheerful!
And super-easy to do. It would be a snap to teach crafty-minded kids to whip these up with their busy fingers.

Even as a relative grown-up I find it’s a maddeningly addictive pastime. It would be fun to collect lots of random interesting beads or found objects, shells or seeds even, and work them into stringy, beady bespoke trinkets.

I've been brave enough to wear both of these beady things to work. They seem to go with almost anything!

I still haven't made much of a dent in the big tin of glass beads and pearls. More fodder for those lazy-bed days that come around every so often.


Ball of coloured crochet cotton
Crochet hook (whatever gauge you like)
Assorted beads
Wool or tapestry needle.

Begin by threading your needle straight from the ball, and commence stringing beads. Once you have a good number of beads threaded (say, around 100 or so), make a slip knot about 15cm from the cut end of your thread.

Using the crochet hook, commence making a chain of single-crochet (SC) stitches, and work for about 10-15cm. Slide a bead up the thread until it meets the last crochet stitch that you made. Extend that chain stitch over the bead and draw the thread into the stitch so that the bead is locked in. Work another five SC, then slide the next bead up as before and continue in the same manner until you have the length that you want. Finish your string of beads with 10-15cm SC to match beginning of work.

(I hope that all makes sense!?)

I worked several rows of single crochet stitches into the ends of my necklace and added a jump ring and alligator closure. You could just join the two ends with a slip stitch and a knot if you would just like to keep it simple.


  1. Hello. Sorry to read that you've been unwell. But you clearly put your convalescence to good use ... such pretty things you've made.

    1. Hello Annie; and thank you re the beads. I am, thankfully, back on my feet, though finding life ever so much faster that I would like. Not that it's that fast, I would just prefer it to be snail-paced! Sorry to read about your accident; though enforced rest is sometimes welcome, despite the pain. Love to you. xxx


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