After people get the hang of loom knitting beanies and scarves, the desire to expand their knowledge of different techniques grows. In social media, I see questions for all sorts of things. Among them are How do I knit with beads? Do I need to string the beads first? Can I add beads as I go?
Different people have different methods for attaching beads to their loom knit projects. Today I will demonstrate 3 different ways to attach beads. Other people may have other methods.
Let’s start with beads and go from there!
What kind of beads do I need to use?
You can use any kind of bead that you can fit your yarn though. Most people I have seen in loom knitting tend to use pony beads. Those are the larger plastic beads found in the kids crafts that have really large holes. But you are not limited to those alone. While you will need to use beads with larger holes on thicker yarn, you might actually be surprised what beads you can use when I show you how I thread them onto the yarn.
Do I need to use a beading needle to thread the beads on the yarn?
I have made jewelry for years now. I have used all sorts of beading needles. One of my favorites is the needle that is made of twisted wire with an eye that will collapse shut after being threaded. Very inexpensive to buy. But not always the best when threading yarn through beads. And as for the tapestry needles used to weave in the ends, those are always too big for beads unless you are using pony beads.
What do I use then if not a beading needle?
Dental floss. WHAT?? Yes. I like to use dental floss to thread my beads on the yarn. I would like to mention that I use dental floss straight from the container that is unused… I am all for recycling, but reusing dental floss is a bit much for me.
What kind of dental floss?
I prefer using the unflavored waxed dental floss. No need to have mint flavored yarn. And the dye they use on the flavored floss might stain the yarn. Not sure. But don’t want to chance it.
I like waxed because it makes it easier for ends of the floss to stick together and go through the hole of the bead.
What if I only have unwaxed floss?
You can use unwaxed if you have some beeswax or beading thread conditioner that you can coat the ends of the floss. But if you have the thread conditioner, you might happen to have beading thread which you can use in the place of the floss. Like using the floss because it’s a bit easier to work with. Especially if it’s waxed.
But waxed dental floss is very inexpensive and therefore not a struggle to afford.
How do I add the beads? Before or as I go? Do both methods look the same? Or different?
The way the beads look on the finished piece will definitely vary with the way the beads are added. Let’s talk about each way and see how the beads look when the work is finished.
Adding Beads Before Starting
The easiest way would be to string all the beads you will need before starting to knit.
You will need to make sure you have enough or more than you will need. If not, you will need to cut the yarn, add more beads, and join the new yarn leaving you will extra ends to weave in later.
Also if you are using more than 1 color bead and are wanting to create a pattern with the color, you will need to make sure they are strung on the yarn in the order that you will need them so that the first one you will need will be last one you will string onto the yarn and the last you will will need will be the first you will string onto the yarn.
How to thread the beads on the yarn
First remove a piece of floss from the spool about 10″ to 12″ long so that when folded in half you have about 6″ of floss to work with.
Run the 2 ends of the floss between your fingers so they will stick together.
Thread the end of the floss through the bead.
Gently pull the yarn through the bead.
Continue stringing the beads onto the yarn until all the beads you will need are on the working yarn. As I have mentioned already, having more than you need is always better than not having enough. Just keep the beads pushed down the yarn.
If the end of the floss starts to fray, just trim it or replace with a new piece.
Start your knitting with the end of the yarn. Keep pushing the beads on down the yarn until you need them.
When you are ready to use a bead, put it in between the 2 pegs where you want it to go.
Work the next stitch leaving the bead between the pegs.
This method is great when you want to place a bead between every stitch.
With this method, you need to remember that the yarn will run through the hole of the bead horizontally with only 1 strand of yarn through the bead.
If you are using all knits, the beads will try to hide behind the stitches.
The beads will be more prominent when worked with purls stitches on either side of the bead instead of knits.
It’s good to keep that in mind when adding beads to your work.
Adding Beads As You Go
This method is great when you don’t really know how many beads you will need because you are just winging it by placing beads randomly or just don’t want to count them out. No judgement on that last one… Nope. Been there. Done that.
First thing to remember about both of these methods is that when beads are added as you go, the stitch itself will run through the bead vertically with both strands of the stitch, not horizontally with only 1 strand like the previous method.
When adding a bead onto the stitch, you will need to first draw up the the new stitch like working a true knit stitch.
Completely remove the old stitch from the peg and run the dental floss through the new loop.
String the bead onto the floss and then onto the loop.
Tighten up the loop after getting the bead down behind the peg and place the loop onto the peg itself.
Bead is now on the peg with the new stitch.
This method will leave a “hole” on each side of the bead since the stitch itself is sort of cinched through the hole of the bead.
Therefore, I would not recommend using this method on every stitch. But at least skipping a stitch between each bead.
With the second method of adding beads as you go, draw up a new stitch but unlike Method 1 do not remove the stitch from the peg.
As before, run the floss through the loop and run the bead onto the loop.
But this time the bead will be in front of the peg.
Place the new loop onto the peg after tightening up the loop so there is not any slack.
Remember to not take the old loop off the peg so that there are 2 loops on the peg with the bead in front of the peg.
Continue with the rest of the row.
On the next row when the peg with the bead is ready to be worked, PURL that stitch so the the bead will be to the front of the work.
If you knit the stitch, the bead will be at the back of the work.
There may be a tiny gap at the top and bottom of the bead, but with this method the bead will sit nicely in front of the fabric.
Like I said before, different people have different ways to add beads to embellish their knits. I hope any of these ways will help when you decide to use beads with your loom knitting projects as well.