February 2008: Knitting with Beads
There are many ways to incorporate beads into our knitting and the following examples only show a few of them. At the end of this you will find references as to where to find out more about using them.
The first type I am going to show is prestrung beads worked into the knitted piece. If you are following a pattern, the approximate number of beads needed will be listed in the pattern. If you are just playing or making up your design as you go, a good rule of thumb to follow is to string more than you think you will need because once you start knitting it is hard to add more.
For stringing small beads (or any size for that matter) a great and inexpensive tool to have on hand is the dental floss threader. You can see one in the photo here being used to thread beads. They are available in the dental department of any drugstore.
Once the beads are in place you either follow the instructions on your pattern (as for the beaded bracelet below - pattern by Lucy Neatby) or you knit a few rows to stabilize the work and begin adding beads as you wish, as in the cellphone holder project you see here. To knit a bead in place this way, you knit up to where you wish to insert a bead, slide a bead up next to the last stitch worked.
Once the next stitch is knitted, the bead becomes anchored on the horizontal bar between the stitches. It is important to note that the bead shows not on the side of the work you are knitting on but on the opposite, thus you always knit in the beads from the wrong side row.
Also the beads are only on that side of the fabric so this works well for a scarf or anything that you don't want beads on the wrong side of (i.e. against your skin, i-pod, cellphone etc.).
Lucy Neatby's Diamond Beaded Bracelet is a good pattern to learn a lot of the techniques you need to know for this type of beading, not to mention you end up with a pretty nice piece of jewellery! (Kits available at the shop)
Another method for adding beads that allows you to put them in wherever and whever it fancies you, is to thread them onto an individual stitch. Using a fine piece of wire, slip the stitch off the left hand needle, loop the wire through the top of the stitch loop, bring the 2 ends of the wire together and thread the bead onto the wire.
Slide the bead down the wire and right onto the stitch. You can now put aside the wire and put the stitch back onto the left needle (with the bead "choking" the throat of the stitch below the needle) and knit it as usual.
You will have a bead in place that shows on both sides of your piece of knitting.
A great place to buy beads locally is The Java Bead, located at 724 King St. Plaza in Bridgewater, NS. 902-543-9191. firstname.lastname@example.org
Two good references for finding out more about using beads are the Lucy Neatby Teaching DVD series (beading is covered in Gems#4) and the Knitter's Handbook.