Let me show you....
|notice, only 2 rows of lily of the valley? 3 would have put this over 5 lbs|
|you can almost see the pale shine of the different colored antique beads hidden in the leaves|
Yeah, can't really see where I was going? Let me show you on white.
|now THAT is my vision|
|on white and cream|
This ended up using over 250 freshwater pearls. Also hundreds of antique glass beads that glimmer and gleam with subtle, diamond like flashes of color. Being a complete twit, I managed to strain the muscles in my forearms from the sheer weight of the added beads. On the other hand, the weight of this is not uncomfortable to wear, and you will know immediately if you drop it for any reason.
I love this shawl. I imagined this over a pure white dress, and lovely skin. This, for me, is the quintessential wedding shawl. It's pretty, it's sturdy, well-made, and opulent without being over-showy. This is made to grace many generations of lovely and well loved brides. As long as it's taken care of, your great-granddaughter could share it with her great-granddaughter.
I would love to make another. The freshwater pearls have luster, color, and beautiful natural shapes. The antique beads bring understated beauty and a wonderful history. According to the woman who sold them to me, these were extra beads from her grandmother's wedding dress and veil. The marriage these were purchased for lasted for over 50 very happy years. The beads, to me, represent a something old with a history of contentment. So, they are well suited for a new and happy beginning.
What's not to love?
I did get asked whether the weight of the pearls would stretch out the shawl. Before I was willing to accept this as a finished object, I blocked it and put it on my dress form to hang for 5 days. This is an old seamstress' trick. Before hemming something that is cut on a bias, it's good to hang the object from a hanger for 24 hours to allow the fabric to settle out. Then you can be reasonably sure the hem will not wander.
After 5 days, I took the shawl down and re-measured it. It had not stretched at all. I believe (although I do not have firm proof) that the act of blocking is what set the size. I did a hard block, not a severe block, and went to the comfortable edge of what the merino's natural stretch combined with the silk content's lack of stretch would allow. The only thing that I can forsee as an issue is that the pearls could block creases into the finished fabric if the shawl were to get wet. On the other hand, they could be easily steam blocked out, so I'm confident this will last for many years to come.