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Knitting With Beads

Our fascination with stringing objects on thread has been with us for a very long time: a shell-bead archaeological find, the earliest known to date, was uncovered in 2006 and is estimated to be nearly 100,000 years old. No wonder we seem to be inspired to try knitting with beads to make beautiful beaded knitting projects!

Knitting with Beads

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To add beads to your cast-on edge, you will need to pre-string them. For the long-tail cast-on, slide all the beads toward the tail end of the yarn. For the backward-loop cast-on, slide all the beads toward the ball of the yarn.

There are many variations for knitting with beads, but they all can be divided into two camps: you either add beads as you go, or you pre-string them before you start knitting. The two methods have distinct differences, and unless the pattern specifies which approach to use, you should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.

1. Insert hook through bead and pwise into next st on LH needle.2. Take st off LH needle to rest on crochet hook.3. Pull up st through bead hole.4. Place pulled through st back on LH needle.5. Option 1: Knit beaded st and continue to knit. Bead shows on WS as well.6. Option 2: Slip beaded st pwise with yarn in back and continue to knit. Bead is covered by strand on WS.

Place bead, slip same stitch (pBs): Using a fine steel crochet hook, insert hook through bead hole, place next st on crochet hook and pull up through bead, place st back on LH needle, removing hook, sl st pwise with yarn in front.

With this method, the beads will most commonly lie on a horizontal strand of yarn either in front, in back, or in between stitches. Some knitting techniques even manage to place a bead on either the right or left leg of a stitch, leaning slightly to the right or left, respectively. In that case the bead has to be small enough to fit through the stitch.

The easiest way to knit with pre-strung beads is to place them in between stitches. If you place a bead between two purl stitches, the bead will come to rest on the side facing you. If you place a bead between two knit stitches, the bead will end up on the side facing away from you. The latter method is commonly used when working garter-stitch beaded cuffs.

This was just a very quick overview of some common methods for knitting with beads, but I hope I was able to inspire you to give beads a try in one of your next projects. But be forewarned: beads are addictive!

I don't know about you, but I was a happy and contented knitter before I knew about beads. Many times I could be found following patterns word for word, knitting late into the night without hardly a thought of tweaking or fiddling with the thing. All that changed when I started to design my own knitting. Shortly after, beads came into my life, two events which I can never regard as coincidental.

Now I can't even think about knitting anything without wondering where I can manage to throw in some beads. I have been throroughly seduced by beads. I hope that by the end of this article, you will be hot and bothered too. Before long, bead stores will become potential treasure troves that call you in seductively and put all kinds of ideas into your head. Yes, beads are another addiction, but so what? Bead stashes don't take anything near the room that yarn stashes do!

Many knitters are intimidated by beads, thinking that they need to be expert knitters to even try, or that beads are super fiddly to use with yarn. This may be because they have seen those tiny, elaborately beaded vintage purses and other items that are indeed marvels of knitting expertise and probably intense eyestrain. But you don't need fine yarn and tiny beads to have sparkles in your knitting. You can put beads into anything you knit, once you find the right size bead to fit on your yarn.

Beads come in different sizes that will fit on different weight yarns. Seed beads, which are the most commonly used beads for knitting, are measured in numbers like 3, 6, 8, or 10. Size 6 (indicated like this: 6/0) will fit easily on fingering or sportweight yarn. The higher the number, the smaller the bead. The number relates to how many beads fit into a certain measured length.

When you go into a bead store, you will find that beads come in all types and sizes of containers, which will vary from store to store. Some stores sell beads in sealed packets or bags, some in vials that look like pill bottles, and some threaded on string and hung together in hanks.

To give you an idea of how many beads you are buying by weight, there are about 13,440 6/0 seed beads per kilogram (2.2 pounds for you non-metric folks), or 270 per 20 grams. Beads on hanks are usually sold by count, i.e. 50, 100, or 1,000 beads. So, if you are making a beaded shawl that calls for 1,500 6/0 beads, for example, you would need to buy about 120 grams of beads, or about 4-1/3 ounces.

I am giving you very rough estimates here, which brings me to an important point. Always buy more beads than you think you will need. Seed beads, at least the commonly found ones from Czechoslovakia, contain some irregularities and you can expect a few duds in every package. If you can find seed beads from Japan, they will be near perfect, but usually more expensive as well. beads as in most other things, you get what you pay for.

This is where the fun starts. There are two main methods, with lots of variations for each one. Basically, beads are either strung onto your yarn before you start knitting or hooked onto stitches with a crochet hook as you go. There are lots of variations for either method, and knitters can be opinionated about which is the "right" way. My feeling is that any way you can imagine beads going in, around, or onto yarn is a good way to try. Let's face it guys, we are still in the experimental stage of learning what is possible to do with beads and yarn. Knitting with beads is still very much in its infancy, and it is entirely possible to imagine ways to knit with beads that no one has ever thought of before!

To use it for threading beads onto yarn, pass the knitting yarn through the loop of the threader and pick up beads with the working end of the "needle". Then slide the beads over the loop and onto the yarn.

1) On the right side of the work, knit to the stitch where you are going to place the bead. 2) Bring your yarn to the front and slip the next stitch purlwise. 3) Slip a bead as close as possible to the right hand needle. 4) Bring your yarn to the back and continue knitting, leaving the bead in front of the slipped stitch.

My example uses knit stitches, but you could just as easily be purling, or for that matter, slipping the beads into place from the wrong side of your work. Slipped beads can lie in front (or in back) of a slipped stitch, sit between stitches, or be knitted into the legs of the stitches themselves. Your imagination is the only limit with this technique.

Hooking beads onto individual stitches "as you go" is an outstanding method for those who hate to take the time and trouble to string loads of beads onto yarn before starting to knit. It is also great for spontaneous or accent beading, and also for yarns that are too delicate for the punishing strain that results from carrying a heavy length of pre-strung beads on the yarn. Beads are hooked on with a crochet hook small enough to fit through the hole of your beads. I have written many of my beaded knitting patterns using this technique and it remains my personal favorite.

Hooking beads onto stitches with a small crochet hook does not require juggling skills, although it may seem that way the first few times you try it. Since this method is so easy to learn from watching a demonstration, and so difficult to learn from words, here is a blow-by-blow description of my hooking method as it has evolved through hooking thousands of beads:

1. String beads on and slide one between every two or three cast on stitches. I used this one in my design Variations on a Frill to add weight to the edges of this very open, lacy stole. You can try this with bind offs too, but it may look a little different. I am sure you can come up with many variations of this one if you play around with the possibilities.

2. Leave increasing (or decreasing) numbers of beads between select stitches across the row, creating swags of beads that can hang very attractively off the bottom edge of a piece. Many knitted beaded purses have been made with this technique, and I used it on my Beaded Drawstring Purse pattern.

You can also add beads to your knitting without knitting a stitch. A couple of possibilities are sewing beads onto your finished knitted items and attaching beaded fringe or tassels. This is great for beads that are too big or heavy to be knitted in, or beads that are too small for your yarn. Beads are wonderful embellishments in any form. Every item you make will be totally unique with the added magic of beads.

One online store, earthfaire, specializes in beads, yarn, patterns, and kits for beaded knitting. Ellen Sandin, owner, is constantly adding new items to her repertoire. A great place to start with beads, especially if you don't have a bead store in your vicinity. Earthfaire carries the finest Miyuki beads from Japan.

There are two benefits of adding beads to a project. The most obvious one is that beads look very pretty on knitted fabric, like dew drops on a spider web. We can also use them to make geometric designs similar to the ones we see on beautiful Lithuanian beaded wrist warmers.

It is possible to add beads to a knitting project in a number of ways. The most common way is to pre-string all beads you plan to use in this project on the working yarn and slide one bead down the yarn whenever you want to add a bead to the fabric.

The threading tool is very simple, and we can easily make it from a piece of any thin wire or fishing line. I usually use knitting wire in gauge 30, but any similar material in similar gauge will do. 041b061a72


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