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So Bead It, Just Bead It

So I was sitting on my stash, picking up skeins, chortling with avaricious glee, and letting them slip through my fingers back onto the pile (as one does), when I received an email from a reader who noticed we have some yarn in common! We both had acquired the National Park series yarn (only mine is in the pre-project stage (where, like 95% of my stash, it will likely stay), but hers is definitely in the post-project stage, and how pretty it is!)

It's a Reyna shawl made by Victoria Knitter's Guild member Anne, and she's certainly lavished some significant love upon it, including copious amounts of beading. And what a difference the beading makes. I'm going to quote her, because the shawl comes with a special story:

I altered the pattern by adding a bead at every K2tog and SSK* ... I bought the yarn earlier this year before we drove to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories in May/June and I knit this shawl while we were driving. The colour of the yarn as well as the beads were very much like the snow and ice we saw on the trip. So it’s travelled over 9,000 kms, survived 2 flat tires and fortunately didn’t get damaged when a rock hit the windshield so hard we had glass sprayed across the dash of our motor home.

So pretty and strong (who would think a shawl could be a good role model?) And now, unfortunately, I just want to put a bead on everything ... maybe even more than one bead. Luckily, I know how!

The first thing one must decide is what position you want your bead in. With a basically spherical bead, it doesn't matter so much, as it looks the same from any position. But if you have a longish skinny bead (think tiny miniature cucumber) it will definitely make a difference.

Let's assume the hole runs through the lengthy bit, as in the picture.


If you want your tiny miniature cucumber to be oriented horizontally in a finished garment knit ordinarily (i.e. not knit side-to-side, but knit bottom-up or top-down), you must pre-string your beads onto the yarn. This isn't that hard, but can get tedious depending how many beads you're going to use.


Insert your yarn into an actual needle thin enough to get through the bead (if you have a needle with hole wide enough for yarn but thin enough to get through a bead!), or, use a Dental Floss Threader which makes threading almost as simple as lying down, doing nothing. Really! Then drop all your beads onto the yarn. Hopefully you are using a solid yarn that can handle being ever-so-slightly abraded as you continually pull your working strand through the remaining beads.


Knit as usual, and when you get to a place where you want a bead, purl, regardless of what your pattern tells you to do. Slide the bead neck to that stitch, and purl again. (If you knit, your beads would rest on the purl bump ... at the back of your work. So we purl, and nobody notices, because they're too busy beholding the beads). Repeat as necessary.


If you want your cucumber bead standing on tippy-toes, then no pre-planning is involved, but you do need to have the world's tiniest crochet hook. I'm sure they're commercially available somewhere, but I was given mine by a kind lady at a local yarn shop (Wet Coast Wools) who took pity on me when she learned what I was trying to do.


Insert a bead on your vanishingly-small crochet hook. Knit as usual, and when you get to a place where you want a bead, knit (or purl, but knitting's slightly better for this), take that stitch off the needle, gently, use the crochet hook to tug on the stitch you just knit, and then push the bead off the crochet hook and over the stitch. Release the stitch and place back on the knitting needle. Repeat as necessary!

Once in place, beads will add a special sparkle to even Charcoal Grey Cowls (that you'd knit out of yarn someone else bought for you and asked you to make a garment from):

Bear in mind that you need beads with holes large enough to admit your yarn through when doubled, as regardless of whether you're pre-stringing or using a crochet hook, the yarn is always bent in a loop, and it's the loop that's passing through.

On The Needles

Coppe Hat by Kylie McDonnell-Wade (new this week, about half-way through. Quick win!)

Sophie's Universe crochet project (Part 10: Round 79)

GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (still adding the steek stiches while knitting from eventual armhole to neck, I'm about 80% done with the final chart of the torso piece--but there are still arms to be knit!)

Persian Dreams Blanket (row 31 of the fourth hexagon)

The second Double-Knit Vice Versa Scarf, about 3/4 of the way through


*K2tog and SSK = Knit 2 together, and slip slip knit, the "matching" decrease methods (one leans left, one leans right).

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