Just Bead It!

This week we had the pleasure of welcoming Shirley from Swallow Hill Creations to our group. Shirley bought the company from the previous owners in October (roughly the same time Knit 1, Take 2 started) and met one of our members on the ferry shortly after. She was delighted to hear about our group and even more delighted to come by and do a quick workshop on beaded knitting. 

Both groups enjoyed her demonstration of beaded knitting and seeing her beautiful products. Bead knitting looks complicated however with a few tips, can be done fairly easily. The secret is in your preparation. Your yarn  must be strung with sufficient beads for the project before you start your knitting. This process may take some time depending on the number of beads you are going to be using in the pattern. Shirley has her husband do this part of the work for her! Once the beads are strung on the yarn, the only tricky part is to keep your work untangled. Shirley suggests using a small bowl to hold your work.

Shirley demonstrated a simple scarf pattern but the results were spectacular. The pattern created a simple mesh fabric with beads on every other row. While Shirley used a rayon for this scarf, you can use any fiber that is thin enough to allow you to string the beads. The beads that Swallow Hill carries come in three sizes – 6, 8, and 10. The number denotes how many beads you get to the inch – just like your swatch gauge – and the smaller the number, the larger the bead. Shirley also recommended using circular needles for your work as you can slide your stitches to the nylon in the center and not worry about losing them. 

When you’re ready to actually place a bead onto your work, slide it either onto the stitch or between them, depending on what the pattern calls for. The stitches themselves will hold the bead in place. This is why it is necessary to string the beads in the beginning. Since you are creating a series of inter-connected loops, it would be impossible to string beads once you have cast on your first row of stitches. Once you get the knack of working with the beads, you could use them anywhere in your knitting. You could have a project where the beads are the main focus or one where they are an accent on a neckline or sleeve cuff. 

Shirley also showed examples of using beaded knitting to create jewelery. She had a very clever necklace/bracelet combination that could make a necklace and bracelet or a long necklace. If you are interested in finding out more about beaded knitting and the endless possibilities with it, you can click on the link at the top of this post to go to the Swallow Hill website. The site is being re-designed and updated with new patterns in the very near future so be sure to check back often.

Yarn over and out.

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