Knitting with beads

By Coralie, in How to How to: knitting3 Comments

Recently I became really interested if not a little obsessed in knitting with beads. Having taken Laura Nelkin’s wonderful and packed with useful tip class, I just finished to block my Accola shawl! For me it’s really a great sense of accomplishment and perseverance, as the process wasn’t smooth going at all, and I nearly frogged everything for good at half of it.


It’s not the actual knitting or techniques used that were responsible for this. Laura’s class is really wonderful and she does a beautiful job at explaining everything to you so you can reproduce it easily. The pesky responsable were the BEADS!

So I decided to trust the shiny and beautiful blueish silver beads I found that matched my yarn.
Oh was I wrong! After knitting nearly the entire border of the shawl, I found that the paint inside the hole of the bead would wear off after a while. So my beautiful blue silver became a plain transparent bead without any shine or colour! Horror!

I had to start everything over and now I’m convinced that testing the beads you’re going to use is as essential than doing a swatch! ( What? Don’t tell me you don’t do swatches?!? 😉

So I put together a test to do before thinking of using your chosen beads on your knitting! If you think it’s not necessary, think about it. You’re going to spend a lot of time knitting your garment/shawl/insert whatever item your knitting, and if you find out after a few wash/wear or even knitting rows (!) that your beads are going to lose their shine or color, wouldn’t it be worth it to spend 10 minutes checking them beforehand?

Yarn and beads

What I do is string a few beads on my yarn and first slide them up and down a bit harshly! If the colour fades, go and find other beads. If not, continue testing by putting your string of yarn into a tepid bowl of water and let it soak for a while just as you would for blocking. Repeat the first test and see what happens then. You can also rub them with your fingers or a simple cloth to see if the paint on the bead will also resist water and natural wear.

If they pass the test, great, you can go ahead and cast on! Also keep in mind that it’s a good way to determine if your yarn will resist the wear and tear of the beads so it’s a win-win in my book!

Have you also had a similar experience knitting with beads?