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Learn It: Knitting with Beads

May 12, 2014

Knitting a gorgeous piece of lace with beads is akin to gilding the lily, but what's wrong with that?

The Purple Shawl, from New Vintage Lace
by Andrea Jurgrau

I took a class on knitting with beads, and it was much easier than I thought, and lots of fun. Adding the beads made the knitted piece so special.

Here's how you knit with beads, from the book New Vintage Lace, by Andrea Jurgrau.

Adding Beads

I add beads to many of my lace projects, mostly because I enjoy knitting with them and experimenting with different combinations of beads and yarn. In general, there are two ways to add beads to knitting-use a crochet hook to apply the bead directly on the stitch where it's needed or prestring the beads on your yarn and then move them into place between stitches as desired. The two techniques are not interchangeable.

Applying Beads with a Crochet Hook

This method allows precise placement of the bead in an individual stitch and is the method used for most of the projects in this book. Although it's easier to put the bead on the stitch before it is knitted, doing so can compromise the tension on that stitch.

Work to the stitch designated for bead placement, work the stitch as specified in the instruction, slip a bead onto the shaft of a crochet hook, remove the knitted stitch from the knitting needle, and lift the stitch just worked with the hook. (Figure 1). Slide the bead onto the stitch just worked, return that stitch to the left needle, adjust the tension, then slip that stitch onto the right knitting needle (Figure 2).


Prestringing the Beads onto Working Yarn

This method suspends the beads between two stitches or at a selvedge. It cannot be substituted for applying beads with a crochet hook.

Before casting on, use a large-eye needle or dental floss threader to string the required number of beads onto the yarn (Figure 1), pushing them down far enough to let you work with the yarn alone. Following the pattern (purl stitches shown here, slide a bead between two stitches as specified (Figure 2).


Keep in mind that friction is involved as you slide the beads into place as you work. The more beads that are prestrung, the more potential there is for damaging the yarn. I don't prestring more than 4' to 5' (1.2 to 1.5 meters) of beads, which requires a fair amount of patience to advance them without breaking the yarn.

—Andrea Jurgrau, from New Vintage Lace


Sunflower Shawl, from New Vintage Lace by Andrea Jurgrau

Adorn your knitting with beads; get your copy of New American Lace today!


P.S. Are you bead knitter? Share a tip with us, or your favorite beaded knit!

Featured Product

New Vintage Lace eBook

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Beautiful, wearable shawls, accessories, and a full-sized garment derived from vintage doily designs.


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M-E B.J. wrote
on May 17, 2014 11:27 AM

I have tried stringing the beads, very careful & lovely.

on May 12, 2014 11:14 AM

I'm not a bead knitter now, but with this temptation, I could convert!

gbs426 wrote
on May 12, 2014 10:15 AM

How do you know if the beads you are buying will work? I have tried a few times to buy beads at the chain craft store and then I can't find a needle that will pull the yarn through. This is never mentioned in instructions about knitting with beads.

on May 12, 2014 8:01 AM

When I string beads onto yarn, I use some glue.  I put a drop of glue on the end of the yarn, shape it with my fingers into a point, and let it dry.  Voila! a needle directly attached to the yarn.  

This technique is especially good for beads with small holes, where threading onto double yarn is a problem.