How To

Step-by-step tutorial: Beaded knitting

20th December 2012


Step-by-step tutorial: Beaded knitting

One of the easiest ways to add a bit of glamour to your knitting is beading, so we asked Debbie Tomkies to show us how it’s done.

Beads may be added by threading them onto the yarn, integrating into the fabric as you knit, by knitting them in using a carrying thread alongside the main yarn or stitching them on afterwards. Which one you use will depend on the size of the bead, the type of yarn, how frequently beads will occur in the pattern and how much patience you have!

Prestringing is where beads are threaded onto the yarn before knitting begins, and this is the method we usually recommend. When working with one colour and type of bead this is a quick and simple process. However, if you are working with several colours, this requires careful planning beforehand as the order in which the beads are threaded is crucial to success. Often a chart is provided showing where to place your beads, rather like a colourwork, cable or lace chart – in fact, this can be incorporated into a chart with other techniques, as you’ll see when if you knit the Glacier hat pattern from Issue 16 of Knit Now (pictured above).

Threading beads onto your yarn (“Prestringing”)

Using a normal sewing thread and a beading needle, pass the thread twice through the needle, leaving a loop of thread for the yarn. Pass the yarn through the loop in the thread then place beads onto the beading needle, sliding them onto the sewing thread then over and onto the yarn.

Now you can knit with your beads. There are several ways of knitting with prestrung beads, but these are two of my favourites:

Slipped stitch method – bead sits horizontally in front of the stitch

1. When your pattern tells you to place a bead, slide it up along the yarn, bring the working yarn forward (as if to purl), then slip the next stitch purlwise.

2. Hold the bead at the front of the work, keeping it to the fabric and the RH needle. If the next stitch is knit, take the yarn to the back of the work and knit as normal. For a purl stitch, leave the yarn at the front and purl as normal. The bead is now fixed in place and should be sitting vertically on a ‘floating’ thread over the slipped stitch.

3. The bead sits on a strand of yarn that floats across the front of the work. The bead is prominent and clearly visible from the front, and doesn’t show from the back.

Between threads – bead sits vertically between two stitches

1. When your pattern tells you to place a bead, slide it up along the yarn, holding it close to the RH needle, then work the next stitch as normal, pushing the bead forward with the LH finger if necessary.

2. The bead sits securely on the thread between the stitch just worked and the previous stitch.

Using this method, the bead may not be as prominent as with the slipped stitch method but can be useful for fine reversible fabrics where it may be desirable to see part of the bead on the reverse.

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