Friday, June 08, 2007

Knitting and beading - some experiments

I am experimenting with another necklace. A couple of years ago I did an experimental piece of beaded knitting - just fourteen stitches, and some strung beads. The silver and purple beads had been strung on red crochet cotton to a pattern which had been designed for a crochet rope, but for some reason it just didn't want to be crocheted. That knitting experiment worked out well - there was a kind of design in the necklace, but nothing really recognisable. I knitted the fourteen stitches back and forth, and the long strip kinda curled in on itself. I sewed on a clasp and a necklace was born. It was lovely, and I gave it to a good friend. I liked it so much I made another exactly the same, and kept it. Every time I wear it someone comments on it.

I've been thinking about more bead knitting, and bought a couple of how-to books by Julia Pretl.

I bought some rayon thread to experiment with, and strung alternating black and
white 2-cut beads. They have a lovely sparkle to them. The black ones were left over from a project - a long crochet lariat rope which I wear a lot. The white/rainbow ones I bought in Hastings, Nebraska, on our last visit there. I wanted to knit in the round, so I bought some 1.25 mm double pointed needles from Crochet Australia. The plan was to knit a tube of 11 stitches with the beads alternating in a checkerboard pattern.

Well, knitting on those tiny needles in the round just proved impossible. They were too slippery, there were too few stitches, nothing seemed to go right. I persevered for quite a while, and
didn't like the result. The beads wouldn't stay on the right side despite using the beaded knitting stitch - what Julia Pretl calls the Eastern stitch (needle through the back of the knit stitch, yarn over and around clockwise, bead up and through). The needles kept slipping out of their stitches. I am more patient and persistent than most people, but this was too much.

Next I tried Julia Pretl's double sided knitting. I've done that for a hem in wool before, so I know what to do. Knit, then slip, so you are knitting a tube, but on two needles.

That didn't work either. The slipped stitch made the whole thing too tight to push the bead through. My temper began to fray and I thought I would try one more thing before giving up on knitting and using the beaded crochet technique to make them into a rope.

I took up a pair of knobbed 1.25 needles, cast on 14 stitches and started the usual knit one row (bead knitting) purl one row. I am very happy with this. The way the beads slant in opposite directions, the way they catch the light. Yes, this will work. The piece is beginning to curl over on itself, which will make a nice necklace.

What a learning experience, but frustrating.

I have some lovely silk (thank you daughter, for that birthday present...) for my next project, and some black/red/white cross stitch charted patterns. I have plenty of black and white 2-cuts and might buy some red ones, or another highlight colour. I have nebulous plans to create a patterned knitted silk beaded evening bag with a crochet rope handle. I wonder if I could do THAT in the round, with more stitches and double pointed needles? Hmmm, might do some more experimenting. Knitting in the round might not give the same back and forth slant to the beads.... I wonder..... stay tuned.


  1. Fascinating. You are very patient! I would have flung the work across the room, I think. Looking fprward to seeing the results.

  2. Anonymous3:30 PM

    You describe exactly the problems I've been having. I also have Julia Pretel's book, and have Alice Korach's video, plus Mary Thomas plus Lily Chin and a couple of older ones.

    I can get the flat bead knitting using size 8-0 beads to work out following the sample patterns in Julia's book, but when I try to make a small shaped bag knitting circular I just make a mess.

    I'm having trouble getting the increases to work. I can do OK straight but add in the increases and I just make a mess. I can't tell you how many times I've ripped it all out.

    I look forward to seeing your project!