OK, I’ve been knitting for over 50 years. It utterly amazes me to say that, but it’s so. I started knitting in high school and by the time I left for college I had made intarsia, fair isle, lace and texture sweaters and explored lots of other techniques as well. I also did quite a lot of Irish crochet – the lacy kind with flowers or shamrocks in the center of squares. So I haven’t really been able to find new things to work on every year since. But just recently I have embarked on something that I don’t remember doing before – including beads in my knitting. I’ve only completed two projects so far.
First was the pair of cuffs that I made and gave to Hazel. I got a pattern by Sivia Harding called Aquitaine. I picked it partly because I knew Sivia as one of the gurus of knitting with beads and partly because it used just about the amount of yarn I had in colors that went with the only beads I had. I didn’t have enough beads to put them in all the places called for in the pattern, but I like how it came out anyhow. Here’s a picture of Hazel showing them off:
Her graceful young hands (with nail polish, no less!) look so good in these. This was a fun pattern to work with. There are some beads you put on the edge, then the vertical columns are done by stringing beads in advance. The others are added in by crochet hook (or dental floss – see below). The beads are oriented differently in the two techniques, so it’s really good to have a chance to try them both out in a first pattern. I do recommend this pattern as a starting point in beading.
In fact, I had enough fun with this pattern that I ordered more beads quite rapidly. The beads I used on Aquitaine were size 6 – they are quite large. They should work fine on sport to (I’d guess) worsted weight, but did seem a bit heavy on the fingering weight yarn (kabam!) that I used. So I looked around for some smaller beads. The next common size appears to be size 8. They are quite a bit smaller and work great on fingering weight yarn. I ordered three colors to match the three colors in some yarn I was knitting a pair of socks in and knew I’d have some leftovers of. I also ordered a couple of size 7 beads, which are quite rare. They are in some odd shapes but pretty colors, and I haven’t tried them out yet. I did use my three colors of size 8 beads though, in a top for a member of my doll collection. She’s 16 inches tall, and I had enough yarn to make her a pretty top. Here’s how it came out:
I like the effect of using coordinating beads with each of the colors of yarn. I think this size bead is lovely and am generally pleased with this top. Oh, yes – the dental floss. I read some more about how to insert a single bead and came across a reference to beading using some special floss which has a stiff end, then a section that’s thicker and springy, then some more-or-less normal floss. It’s called Super Floss, by Oral B. And this happened to be one of the products I’d got samples of from my dentist’s office – for use with my bridge. Most people would not have this stuff lying around, but I was really glad to try it out and I think it works great!
I’ve really enjoyed my exploration of knitting with beads and I definitely plan to do some more. What other new things can I try out? I don’t really know. We’ll see if I come up with anything.