Tips for Using Beads in Knitting

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


Using beads in knitting is a fun way to add some sparkle and shine to your work and turn an ordinary and otherwise simple item into a real showstopper.

Don’t be afraid to try knitting with beads! While I know we’ve all seen some tremendously intricate items covered in tiny beads, they can be added to a project of any difficulty level.

Blue Iridescent Plastic Beads Surrounding Heads-Up Penny

Photo via of earthfaire

Let me help you get started by showing you how to choose beads and suggesting a few fun projects!

Bead selection

Knitters generally use seed beads for their projects. These come in sizes 3, 6, 8 and 10. Unlike with knitting needles, as the number goes up, the size of the bead becomes smaller. You would most likely use a size 8 or 10 bead for lace projects and a size 3 or 6 bead for fingering to sport weight projects.

Beads are sold in sealed containers or as strung sets, so you will probably not be able to “try them on” before you buy them. It is still a good idea to bring your yarn with you to the store just in case you can open a container and check for a good bead/yarn fit. As with yarn, always buy more than you think you’ll need since you will often find a few irregular beads.

Some tips for knitting with beads:

  • Thin, single-ply yarns will break easily, so you will need to either be extremely careful when threading your yarn with beads, or use a bead that will fit easily over the yarn.
  • You will need something to spill your beads into. I use a kitchen container lid, but pie tins and jar lids work well, too.
  • Sit at a table or next to something sturdy. I wouldn’t suggest trying to thread your beads in the car, for example.
  • Dental floss threaders (used to floss around braces and other dental work) are the best for threading beads onto your yarn. Just place the yarn through the loop, thread beads onto floss threader and push the beads onto the yarn.
  • Count! Be sure to count the beads for your pattern carefully! There’s nothing worse than getting to the middle of a pattern that requires 500+ beads and realizing your didn’t put enough beads on for a specific section.

Ready to try knitting with beads? Here are some fun patterns to try.

Collage of Beaded Ribband

Ribband Pattern by Laura Nelkin

This beginner project by Craftsy instructor Laura Nelkin will make for a very versatile piece of jewelry. It can be worn as a necklace or wrapped as a cuff or bracelet. Using only 15 yards of fingering or laceweight yarn, this will make a great project to use up leftover yarn. This piece requires 472 size 6 (approximately 40 grams) seed beads. Get the pattern.

Close Up on Hand with Grey Knit Fingerless Gloves

Mica Mitts Pattern by Laura Nelkin

When you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the Mica Mitts Pattern will make a stunning project. Knit with less than 200 yards of fingering weight yarn, these mitts use only 132 (approximately 12 grams) of size 6 seed beads. Get the pattern.

Woman Modeling Blue Sweater, Trees in Background

Southern Skies Pattern by Bear Ears

When you’re ready for a real showstopper, try the Southern Skies shawl pattern by Craftsy member Bear Ears. This shawl is knit using strategically placed size 6 seed beads to show an accurate representation of the night sky from the South Pole. Get the pattern.

This is just the beginning! To learn many more ways to incorporate beads into your knitting projects, sign up for the Craftsy class Knitting With Beads with Laura Nelkin!

I’ve been itching to make a beaded necklace lately. What beaded project would you like to try?