Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) writes some wonderfully funny and touching essays about knitting, especially about the connection between people who knit and the past and future. She talks about the items you knit as being your legacy, your gift to the future, and how important that is to her. (Mind, while she does this, you both laugh hysterically and cry, she’s Good.)
And that got me to thinking about our legacy as beaders. So here’s my story.
My mother-in-law’s Great Aunt Margee was evidently quite The Young Thing in the 1920’s, and she saved her favorite necklace for over 70 years. My mother-in-law brought it to me a couple of years ago, saying “What can we do with this?” It was a six-foot long strand of crystal beads knotted on silk, broken in several places, the silk stained and yellow with age. So I soaked it in warm soapy water and started to clean up the beads. Beads? Those puppies were antique Swarovski 8mm crystal AB rounds! They are a slightly different shape than the new ones, but once they got cleaned up they showed their true colors.
I felt like I’d just won the lottery! I couldn’t keep that kind of thing to myself, I had to share. So I made bracelets and earrings for every female family member, and still had a lot of beads left. They’re sitting nice and safe in the stash, in a nice box to keep them from getting mixed up with ordinary beads. Mostly because they aren’t really “my beads.” They’re family beads.
This summer, a friend of the family is getting married in Virginia. We’ve decided that the bride needs Aunt Margee earrings, so I’ll make them and we’ll give them to her and tell her the story of the Roaring 20’s Swarovski necklace and how she is now a part of a very select group, the Keepers of Aunt Margee’s Crystals. One small thing to bind us together.
Because, unlike yarn, good beads can be used over and over, years or even decades later, and they will still look good. And they carry our memories with them.