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Knitting with Beads

May 2, 2012
Make tweed with beads! From Pop Knitting by Britt-Marie Christoffersson

Fabulous knitwear designer Britt-Marie Christoffersson's book Pop Knitting is full of fantastic (and fantastical!) ideas for color knitting. She also includes interesting knitted shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, strips, rectangles, and even birds. Such fun and so inspiring!

Britt talks about one of my personal favorite ways to dress up knitting (and add color): knitting with beads. Beaded knitting can be formal or not, depending on what sort of beads and yarn you use and the knitwear design you're working with. I took a class last summer from lovely and talented designer Sivia Harding, who specializes in beaded knitting. The pattern is a precious set of beaded baby booties. I have one done and this post topic made me dig it out and cast on the second bootie.

Britt-Marie specializes in color knitting, but she recognizes the role beading can play in adding color and texture to a plain knitted piece. Here's Britt to tell you more:

A number of decades after its previous popularity, the tradition of knitting with beads has recently been revived. Mostly knitters have made beaded wrist warmers. I real­ized that sweaters could be beautifully embellished with beads and that the beads could be combined with simple surface patterns.

To knit with beads, you first have to string the beads onto the yarn. Beads are positioned on the wrong side. The beads are placed between two stitches and, since the yarn strand lies on the right side, the beads also lie on the right side. So that the beads don't slide out of position, they have to be bordered with purl stitches, as seen from the right side.

For a different way to create texture and color, thread beads onto your yarn and add them into your fabric as you are working. After working a stitch, pull the bead up close to your needle so that it becomes trapped on the fabric between stitches.

An almost tweed-like look (as in the yellow swatch above) can be created by placing a large number of beads in a variety of colors close together in a regular pattern. In this swatch, the beads are worked into a row of reverse stockinette on a stockinette stitch fabric.

—Britt-Marie Christoffersson, Pop Knitting

I learned to knit with beads by stringing them onto the yarn before knitting, which works great. But in Sivia's class I learned to place a bead on a stitch before knitting it. She places the bead on a tiny tiny crochet hook, places a stitch on the hook and holds the stitch tight against the hook. Then she uses a little flicking motion to flip the bead onto the base of the stitch. Then the stitch is knitted with the bead in place. The stitches with the beads at the bases are a little taller than the other stitches, but doesn't really matter on the finished product. Pretty slick, I thought.

Here are some more beaded knitting examples to whet your appetite:

Beaded knitting swatches from Pop Knitting by Britt-Marie Christoffersson
Super cool, huh? Get your copy of Pop Knitting today—it's on sale in the Knitting Daily Shop!


P.S. Do you have any tips for knitting with beads? Share them in the comments!

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on May 8, 2012 4:06 PM

Hi All!

Sorry I didn't name the pattern. It's Blossom Dearies by Sivia Harding. If you haven't tried one of Sivia's patterns, you should. She's a fabulous designer and she almost always features beads. Plus she's one of the most gracious and kind people I've ever met.

Here's the Ravelry link for the booties:


EvelynV@3 wrote
on May 7, 2012 7:45 AM

You can easily add beads to the cuff of any knit bootie pattern as follows:

1. Use the crochet hook method to place beads on a RS row every 2, 3, 4, or 5 st at or near the top of the cuff. Repeat if desired on RS rows only,

2. Prestring beads on yarn. Pick up sts at the cuff. Working in garter st, on a WS row, bring up a bead every 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th st (beads will be on the RS). Repeat bead row if desired on WS rows only. Bind off loosely.

3. Prestring beads on yarn. Pick up sts at the cuff. Working in stockinette st, on a RS row, add a bead every other st as described in my post below. Alternate bead placement in subsequent RS rows. Finish with several rows of garter stitch, then bind off loosely.

VirginiaS@28 wrote
on May 6, 2012 10:23 AM

Is there a chance that the pattern for the beaded bootie could be offered.  A nice small project to intoduce someone to beaded knitting.  Also would make an elegant baby gift for that special baby.

on May 6, 2012 9:38 AM

And when I think that I made a sweater at the beginning of the 80s (last century, huh?) and SEWED the beads on after it was finished.... Mamma mia.... I only learnt about threading beads onto yarn a few years ago.... I like the crochet hook idea plus the dental floss one - will try them out!! Many thanks for the tips!

EvelynV@3 wrote
on May 6, 2012 5:41 AM

My favorite method for small projects such as bracelets & necklaces is pre-stringing size 6 glass beads on DK weight or sock/lace weight yarn and placing the beads on the RS side of stockinette stitch as follows:

  Worked over 3 sts:

  (RS) k1, yfd, bring up bead, slip next st purlwise, yarn back, k1.

  (WS) p3.

MY newly published "Knit Beaded Jewelry" pattern uses this technique to make elegant yet easy-to-make bracelets and necklaces. There are 3 charted bead patterns. The simplest one uses only 28 beads and can be knit in 1/2 hour with 6yds of DK weight yarn and size 5 needles. These are quick, inexpensive gifts!

Pattern available on Ravelry, Craftsy, and

on May 2, 2012 8:34 PM

Hi Kathleen,

I have tried both stringing the beads first... a mess if you get a tangle in the yarn and crocheting the beads on... which I find more effective when you want to add them to a pattern as I did with my Icelandic Shawl.... So beautiful..... but heck either way is fab... knitting with beads ROCKS!

Bhenderson15 wrote
on May 2, 2012 8:27 PM

I was tauaght the crochet method of adding beads anywhere I want them.  I use it most frequently on childrens hats.  The little bags of them buttons (spiders, etc for halloween), eggs for Easter, etc. are added anywhere on the hat after the edging and before the decreases.  Kids love them!

Betty H.

on May 2, 2012 12:06 PM

A friend showed me an even easier method than placing a bead with a crochet hook.  Buy some dental floss with a hard end.  Thread the hard end through a bead, through the stitch to be beaded and through the bead.  Hold the floss taut and push the bead onto the stitch, then put stitch on left hand needle, remove floss and knit.

RenaLu wrote
on May 2, 2012 11:55 AM

I have knitted socks with beads using both methods. Pre-stringing takes a while and you have to make sure you have enough beads. You can't add more unless you cut your yarn. Nobody wants more ends to tuck.You are also constantly pushing the beads along the yarn. I found the other method, using a small  crochet hook to add beads where wanted, was easier and I think it went a lot faster, also.

Dita Basu wrote
on May 2, 2012 11:44 AM

Thank you for this post on knitting with beads, Kathleen..  I love to knit with beads.  I have tried knitting with yarn and also knitting with wire to make jewelry.  You make take a look in my online store at

I use your technique, like stringing them all first into the yarn or wire and then knit.  I want to know the adding bead with the crochet hook as you go but I have not tried that.  To be honest I did not quite understand it.  In Knit One Bead Too, author Judith Durant has shown this technique too. But I did not get it!

Another book that really got me hooked into knitting with beads is Knitted Beaded Jewelry by Ruth Herring. I'll check out the book  you have mentioned.  Dita.

Milagros369 wrote
on May 2, 2012 10:55 AM

Kathleen, what is the beaded baby booties pattern that you are using?

Thanks! ~ Rev. Cynthia

zooshane wrote
on May 2, 2012 8:54 AM

Dear Kathleen:  Be sure and show us the booties when they are done!!!