Friday, June 01, 2012

Beading on the Knitting Machine

I've seen many patterns for beaded items made on the various knitting machines.  I had sort of passed them over, since I knew that beading while handknitting involves pre-stringing all the beads and I had no idea what would be involved with machine knitting and beading.  I had seen sketches of beads going over the heads of stitches, but just how does one do that?

When I went to the seminar, beading was one of the topics.  Eileen Montgomery has written many patterns for beaded items, so she was the perfect instructor!  And oh my, it is easy.  Really, you are basically slipping the bead over the head of the stitch.  But how?

She uses a 0.6mm crochet hook, and usually 4mm cube beads.  Michaels' sells 4mm cubes beads by Toho, but there weren't very many colours.   She usually uses a different brand, sold at a beadstore.  I'm scared to go into the bead store that is located way too close to my house.  I got some clear cubes by Toho, and a bag of assorted colours, round beads that looked like the holes were big enough for the 1mm hook, which was the smallest I could get.  I used blue beads from the assorted pack on the pale blue scarf for my sister in law.  I had no problem with the crochet hook and beads; the hard part was deciding how to fit the beads into the pattern.

I wanted to do more with beads, and thought the purple scarf I was doing at the club meeting would be a good option, since there were purple beads in the assorted pack.  However, I had two issues.  I thought there was just one shade of purple bead, but there turned out to be two different ones in the pack.  That's okay.  The other problem was that the yarn was quite a bit thicker, and I had difficulty getting it pulled through some of the beads.  At the beading, I just put those ones aside and tried a different bead.  But then I was running low on the purple beads by the time I got to the end.

I had just read a tip by a MKer who used dental flossers designed for people with braces, instead of a crochet hook.  I haven't seen them, but it sounded like a short length of floss, and a plastic tip.  He placed several beads at a time on it, then bent the tip into a hook shape.  For a tutorial on this, check out THIS blog.  I'm going to take a look for these flossers the next time I'm in the store.  Previously when I had tried HK beading, I had used floss to make a loop that pulled the yarn through the bead.   I wondered if I could do something like that.  I grabbed a bit of beading wire that Lucy had abandoned since it was kinked and tangled, and cut off about 8 inches.  I bent it in half.

  I slipped one end through the stitch on the needle, up to the bend, and slipped the stitch off.  Then I slid the bead over the two ends of the wire,

 and pulled the ends of the wire so the stitch (in the bend of the wire), is pulled through the bead.

 I pulled it through far enough to get enough of a loop to slip back on the needle.

 Some of the beads took a bit of muscle, but worked REALLY well. 

One good thing about this is that the yarn is contained by the wire, so textured yarns, or loosely plied yarns, are no trouble, like they were with trying to hook it all on an itsy bitsy crochet hook.  You can probably also use smaller holed beads, but not too small  :)  Expect to see more beaded items here!

If you don't have beading wire, you can try a twist tie, fishing line, or probably even dental floss.  The beading wire was stiff enough to poke through the stitch on the needle, but you could lift the stitch off with a transfer tool.  Lucy has these neat J shaped, doubled wire "needles" for using in the bead spinner.  You could snip open the top of the J  (not the scoop part) and use it too.  In fact, I think I'll pick up a pack the next time I'm at Michaels....


Cindy/KS said...

With the beaded shawls I have been hand knitting, I use a .5mm crochet hook by Tulip for putting the beads on after knitting the stitch is how you are describing that you are doing it with MK. I have used this method to work on yarn up to a sock yarn size. I have never tried either the wire or the dental floss.

Mom said...

You posted on our beading tutorial that this was a faster way to add beads to knitting than the floss method we used. This is actually exactly the same thing, using wire instead of floss. I prefer the floss, because I'd be afraid the wire could cut into the plies of some of the more delicate yarn. Anyway - glad this method is working for you!

TracyKM said...

It's a little different from your techinque since I'm not doing an extra step of threading the tail back through (which I'm pretty sure I would screw up and end up with a knot, LOL). I've never seen the flossers; are they open or joined at the end? I do have plans to snip open a J shaped beading needle to use it (the tips can be coated with some plasti-dip), as it will hold it's shape better than the beading wire. I will add your link to this post though, since I know the flosser idea is very popular!

mom said...

The floss is looped through in exactly the same way as the wire. Both ends through the bead. I showed threading the tail back through for clarity in the tutorial, so the reader could see where each end was, but you can put both ends through the bead at the same time just exactly how you did your wire, Same thing, just different materials.