Knitting with Beads

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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