Why shouldn’t fine crystals be worn every day? The Stardust Mitts Kit is the perfect combination of beautiful Rowan yarn and twinkly Swarovski crystal beads. The pretty little crystals are tucked into the cables and add sparkle without being too much. Don’t save them for special occasions—these are perfect for adding a bit of sparkle to every day!
You already know that crystals—and especially Swarovski crystals—are a cut above plain old regular glass. But why?
Glass is made by melting silica, the main ingredient in sand. This can occur naturally when lightening strikes sand, and the result is called fulgurite. But fulgurite is quite ugly, just a metallic blue-grey colored lumpy thing.
The first man-made glass was likely made in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. and—no surprise to knitters like us—the first glass item created was probably beads! Metals are found in nature as ores, metal mixed with silica and other impurities. When ancient metal workers heated the ores to remove the pure metal the leftover hot silica formed glass. The little glass bits were pretty and shiny—but not clear. Transparent glass came much later, around 300 A.D.
Through the next few centuries glass making ebbed and flowed as some cultures perfected the art while others seemed to have lost interest and then rediscovered it.
In 1674 Englishman George Ravenscroft added lead oxide to molten glass forming what we today call lead crystal. The lead increased the “working period” of the glass, making it easier to work with, and also made the glass not just transparent but a striking, gorgeous crystal clear.
Lead crystal is actually a form of glass and not technically a crystal in the scientific sense, but it has always been called lead crystal because the crystal-like brilliance and sparkle outshines ordinary glass. (Natural rock crystal is pretty but extremely brittle and difficult to work with.)
Within a few years glasshouses were producing glass and lead crystal all over Europe. It was so popular in Europe that England imposed a glass tax in 1746. It worked as an income tax, since the wealthy purchased more glass than lower classes. The glass tax was repealed in 1845, and just as tax-free glass was becoming affordable for the masses the 1851 London Great Exposition was held in the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was a built of cast iron and large sheets of cheap but strong glass that created astonishing clear walls and ceilings the likes of which had never been seen.
Daniel Swarovski was born in 1862, the son of a glass cutter, and became an apprentice at an early age learning to cut glass by hand. In 1892 he patented an electric cutting machine that allowed lead crystal to be cut precisely. Even the slightest bit of unevenness diminishes the sparkle of lead crystal, and his new cutting machine produced crystals with perfect facets for an incredible, sparkling brilliance that just wasn’t possible with hand-cut lead crystal glass. At the same time, he continuously refined his crystal formula to create greater and greater clarity. Now run by the fifth generation Swarovski family, the exact formula of a Swarovski crystal is still a closely guarded secret today.
During World War I Swarovski used his expertise with precision cutting to help the war effort, and a branch of the company continued in the same direction after the war. In 1935 Daniel’s son Wilhelm, an amateur astronomer, produced a prototype pair of binoculars, and today Swarovski Optik designs binoculars, hunting rifle scopes, and photography equipment.
Since then Swarovski has added a lighting division, road safety division (Ever wonder why the road stripes are so bright? They’ve got crystals embedded that reflect the light from your car’s headlights), and a division that manufactures sawing and drilling tools. But, of course, my favorite is their partnership with Rowan yarns to produce the Shine Collection, combining Rowan’s finest yarns with Swarovski crystals designed for knitting and crocheting beadwork.
And that’s why Swarovski crystals truly are not just a cut above the rest, but a precision cut above the rest!
Happy Knitting (and beading!) . . . . Scout
The new Rowan/Swarovski Shine Triangular Scarf is a simple triangle shape. Sounds ordinary enough . . . but there’s nothing ordinary about this triangle!
Beautiful Swarovski crystals add their shine to a simple, all-over lace pattern knit in the extraordinary Rowan Kidsilk Haze yarn. This cloud-like blend of super kid mohair and silk is one of the most luxurious in Rowan’s collection, and Rowan is known for luxury. So yes, this triangle kicks “ordinary” in the butt.
And for those of you new to bead knitting, we’ve done much of the work for you. The crystals come pre-packaged in the quantity you’ll need, and we’ve put them in kits with just the right amount of yarn and the free pattern to boot. Just pick the colorway of your dreams, and we’ll get the kit out to you pronto for just $32. Not a bad price for a little bit of heaven!
Bonus: The Triangular Scarf pattern is FREE!
The shimmering colorways to choose from are:
When you order the Triangular Scarf Kit you will receive an electronic download of the pattern FREE!
Happy Knitting . . . . Amy