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The Why Knot Necklace Story

Jeff wanted to make his mom a handmade gift for Mother’s Day, especially after seeing several shows on TV about how to make your own crafts. His mom and sister had taught him to weave with yarns but he wanted to make his mom something with beads. His mom had some broken jewelry with large beads and he wanted to put them into a new jewelry necklace for her, but how? He asked his sister, Margie, what to do.

"Well, you need to go see my beader friend, Jasmine. She knows all kinds of beading techniques." Margie made an appointment with Jasmine. She lived about an hour’s drive away. Margie took Jeff there and knocked on the door. When the door opened, there was this really oddball gal with 50 gazillion beads on and crystal things in her hair. Jeff began to have second thoughts, but Margie pushed him into the house. "I’ll pick you up in about four hours," Margie said and left before Jeff could escape.

Here he was stuck with this weird Jasmine gal. She had a bunch of crystals everywhere and drums, lots of drums between big baskets of beads. Jeff’s heart was beating pretty fast, he was only eight after all. Then Jasmine smiled and said, "How about a cola and some cookies before we start?"

This sounded pretty normal and when they went into the kitchen it looked pretty normal too. Maybe this would be OK after all. Jasmine sat and drank some stinky smelling tea while Jeff ate his cookies and drank the cola. The cookies were chocolate with cream in the middle; really good!

"Jeff, do you think I’m weird?" Jasmine asked.

Jeff looked at Jasmine and slowly shook his head yes; his face turned red.

"Well, I guess when you live your life a little different from the majority of people, you are considered weird. So maybe I am. But I’m a very happy weird," she laughed.

A little different? Ha! Jeff figured this was to make him feel better so he smiled.

Jasmine then asked, "Do you know what kind of necklace you want to make?"

Jeff thought about it and said, "Something easy to do but looks really awesome!"

"Ah yes, then you want to make a Why-Knot Necklace," Jasmine said.

"A why not necklace like n-o-t?" Jeff asked.

"Well, I actually think of it as why k-n-o-t, because you do not have to knot between the beads; you use seed beads or other smaller beads as spacers instead. Understand?, asked Jasmine.

Jeff nodded yes but he didn’t.

Jasmine said, "Now let me see the beads you brought with you. We’ll get a beadboard and lay them out first." Jeff pulled the beads out of his pocket and laid them out on the beadboard. Jasmine proceeded to show Jeff how to line up the beads. Then she went back into another room and brought in seed beads. She picked one color that looked harmonious with the beads. "These will be your spacer beads," said Jasmine.

Jeff began to wonder how long this was going to take, and then as if reading his mind, Jasmine said, "It will take about one and a half to two hours to make . That’s really not too long is it?"

"No! That’s great. You mean it will be all done? Finished?"

"It certainly will. You will have created a beautiful necklace to give to Joan," Jasmine said.

Jeff stared at Jasmine, "You know my mom?"

"Oh yes," said Jasmine, "I have known Joan for many years."

Jeff ‘s mouth dropped open and he tried to regain his composure. How could his mom have known this strange lady all this time and never told him. Mom was such a regular person; how could they be friends?

Jasmine smiled again and Jeff was sure she was reading his mind and blushed.

"Joan and I grew up together; my interest went to beads and Joan chose fiber. We share ideas and help each other in many ways. Now how do you like the way the beads look?" Jasmine asked.

Jeff looked at the long strand of beads and couldn’t see that it needed anything else. "It looks good to me but how do I put it together?"

"That’s next. We are going to string the beads on special flexible wire and then make a closure for it." The big beads were very old; some belonged to Joan’s Great, Great Grandmother. Jasmine had highlighted them with the seed beads and some 4mm glass beads. It was a dynamite combination.

Jasmine put a needle on the wire and showed Jeff how to string them. When he had them all strung, Jasmine said "Now comes the finishing part." She showed him how to use a crimp bead, add yarn and stitch a fiber bead on the end.

Jeff picked up the necklace and said, It’s all finished now isn’t it?"

"It needs one more part to really be a Why-Knot necklace," Jasmine said and showed Jeff how to make another piece on yarn with seed beads and hang the biggest bead left over from Joan’s necklace pieces. This big bead and yarn strand was then fastened onto the bigger necklace with a Lark’s head knot.

Jasmine sighed, "Now it’s finished. Joan can wear it with this large bead on the end or take it off, turn the necklace around and wear just the main necklace. Now you have an original Why-Knot Necklace."

Jeff was so happy and excited about making the necklace he couldn’t wait to give it to his mom, but there was still two hours to go before his sister came back. Margie had other errands to make before returning to get Jeff.

Jasmine said, "Jeff, let me tell you about the story of the Why-Knot Necklace while you wait for your sister."

Since Jeff really didn’t know what else to talk about this sounded like a fine idea to him. "OK."

So Jasmine made another cup of that smelly tea and gave Jeff some really yummy frozen CherryJack yogurt and began her story. "About five years ago I was teaching beading classes on a cruise line that would eventually arrive in Singapore."

Jeff interrupted. "Like in Asia?"

"Exactly. Singapore has a mix of diverse cultures, big white buildings and lots of great food. There are vendors selling "fake for real rubies" on street corners, restaurants where you eat your food on a giant banana palm and stores where you can purchase thick chains of gold jewelry too heavy to wear. There is a market area where you can buy expensive watches and jeans for a few bucks.

"On the ship I had to teach easy fast classes because the passengers wanted to do other things too. They all said they would buy special beads in Singapore and would I show them how to make a necklace that would only take a couple of hours. They also talked about how they all had charms and doodads they would love to wear but not all at the same time. I told them I would come up with a design by the time we left Singapore.

"I thought and thought about all the techniques I knew but I couldn’t come up with one that would work. I decided to relax and maybe an idea would come to me. When we arrived in Singapore I was still pondering the problem. I decided to go through one of the market areas and look for beads. Maybe inspiration would occur while on a bead search.

"I had gone through the whole market area and still no idea when I saw a small store with three question marks on it. That was all I could decipher of the store name. There were beads in the windows and a very enchanting necklace. It was just the design I needed. I went in and looked around. No one was there. I saw a small set of bells on a table and picked them up. Melodious sounds commenced and a very tiny lady appeared.

"She looked like a pixie to me and had volumes of clothing layered on top of each other. How could she wear so many clothes when it was 98 degrees outside? She looked up at me and spoke. Then she laughed and laughed; a giggly laugh. I didn’t understand a word, but I pointed to the necklace and she got it out of the window. She laughed again then pointed to herself and then to the necklace. I guessed she created the necklace. I motioned and indicated I wanted to make one. The little pixie pulled out some beads and cord, sat me down and we spent the afternoon making necklaces. Her laughter filled the shop. I wondered if she thought I was that humorous to her. I decided laughter is always good, even if it is at my expense. After I paid for my beads and cord I tried to ask her if the necklace had a name. I tried and tried to get the idea across. All she answered was "Winot, Winot!" It sounded like "Why Not" to me. Then I looked at my finished necklace and thought, "Why-Knot!" Of course; you do not have to put knots in this necklace, so why do it. I pointed to the necklace and said, "Why-Knot Why-Knot?" She smiled and nodded her head yes. Then she motioned me to wait. She ran out of the store across the street and brought back five of her pixie friends. They took one look at me and began to whoop and holler doubling over with laughter. By now I was sure the laughter was something about me. They stood there and laughed again as I said goodbye. I couldn’t help but give the little store pixie a big hug as a gesture of thanks before I left. Then all the rest of the pixies wanted a hug and again had a laughing attack. They waved goodbye between giggles as I walked away.

"I was so happy now that my design problem was solved. As soon as I got back to the ship I went to my room and looked in the mirror? Did I look funny ? I had on my giant black and fuchsia brimmed hat to keep out the sun, my fifteen or so beadacious bead necklaces hanging down my fuchsia blouse and pants, five or six leather totem dolls hanging from my hat and Nike tennis shoes for walking. No, there was really nothing strange about how I looked. This is the way I always dress.

Jeff began to snicker. "Jeff, what are you laughing about? Never mind. When we left Singapore my class began. I instructed the ladies on how to make the Why-Knot Necklace and they adored it. It was a hit! They made several small loops; each loop had one of their favorite beads or charms placed on it. Then they could choose which one they wanted to wear and put it on their main necklace or wear the necklace without any of the looped pieces. Since then I have experimented with new stringing material and put all my favorite charms and beads on loops to wear with my Why-Knot Necklaces."

Jeff pointed to the necklace Jasmine was wearing and said, "Is that an owl on the one you are wearing?"

"Why yes, Jeff. The owl represents the storyteller in all of us," Jasmine said.

Just then Jeff ‘s sister came to pick him up. He ran to show Margie the necklace and she was very impressed. Margie spoke to Jasmine and let Jeff thank her and they started to leave. They were halfway to the car when Jeff turned, ran back, hugged Jasmine and said, "I liked the Storyteller part best of all!" Then he ran out the door to the car. Jasmine watched them leave and rubbed her owl, "Yes," Jasmine murmured, "storytelling is the best part." - And that is the story of the Why-Knot Necklace by the Beadwrangler.

The Beadwrangler
Tampa. June 1997

To make your own Why-Knot necklace, check out Beadwrangler's Hands On Bead Stringing by Lydia F Borin. For more information about the book and how to order, visit Beadwrangler's Hands On Series.