Bedeck! Bedazzle! It's Bead Crochet!

In the Winter 2013 issue of Interweave Crochet, you'll find Doris Chan's Lady Mary Skirt, a lovely swirl of beaded lace perfect for all seasons. In her lovely swag trim, Doris uses a clever method of adding beads that will make your crochet life initially more complicated, then ultimately very delightful. Intrigued? Read on.

A popular method of crocheting with beads involves stringing all the beads (plus a few "safety" beads in case of breakage) onto the yarn before beginning the beaded portion. This is a fine method for sturdy yarn involving just a few beads. However, when you start playing around with HUNDREDS of beads on a fine silk/wool blend, that way lies madness. If you survive the stringing of the beads, you will then have to contend with potential yarn breakage from the weight of the beads, as well as stitch distortion from, yes again, the weight of the beads.

Enter Doris' "hoisting" method. In this method, each bead threaded onto the yarn at the point that it is needed. Easy-peasy. It does involve a bit of hook juggling, but once you get into the swing of things, you will be a happy crocheter. 

So gather up these things:

a hook suitable to crochet the yarn
a handful of seed beads (not those itty-bitty ones — 6 or E are the beading-term sizes)
a steel hook small enough to fit through the hole in the middle of the bead

The swatch here is from the swag trim of the Lady Mary Skirt. If you're working on this, dive right in with the swag. You'll note that I have a bit of swatch already worked, so you can appreciate the nestled beads on the previous rows. But you go ahead and start following these directions from the get-go. Here the stitch-making hook is poised after the first leggy stitch of a right-leaning shell and is ready for a bead to be attached.

(If you're just practicing the beading method, crochet a base of about ten stitches and just work double-crochets, attaching the beads at the top between the stitches.)

Remove the larger hook, leaving the loop free. Now, grab your steel hook. Thread the bead onto the wee slender neck (you may have to try a few hooks before you find the optimal size), then insert it into the loop.
And here's the intricate part, a two-handed job: Grasp the loop with the hook. Pinch the top of the loop between your left thumb and forefinger and position your right thumb above the bead (for left-handers, reverse this position). Slide the bead down the steel hook.
And ease it over the yarn loop and hook end.
And, finally, onto the yarn.
Voila! The bead is on the yarn! Remove the steel hook and put the loop back on the larger hook.
Repeat across the right-leaning shell.
For the left-leaning shell, you position the beads before the leggy stitch, rather than after. This feels a little funny the first time you do it, like the bead isn't really secure. But just carry on as above and all will be good. Here's the bead after the initial chain 4.

After that initial chain 4, you're putting the beads on after the stitch and it doesn't feel as odd. 


The larger hook is a Kollage square crochet hook. I am a pencil-gripper and I find it quite delightful. Knife-grippers will have to try it and report back.

The steel hook is a vintage paper-covered hook from England, given to me by my friend Julia of Aberrant Crochet. Julia knows more about crochet hooks than almost anyone else I know.


And there you have it! Once you've hoisted a few beads, the process becomes easier. I found it helpful to work at a table to keep the beads and hooks from rolling away.

Happy beading and crocheting!


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