Thursday, December 02, 2004

Knitting With Beads According To Someone Who Has No Clue How To Knit With Beads

As promised, for what's it's worth here are some of my notes on how I knit the beaded sock in yesterday’s post.

Keep in mind that I’d only knit with beads once before I attempted this pattern, so I probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

First, I had the forethought to check my yarn for knots before I strung the beads. If I’d encountered a knot before I’d knit all the beads into the sock, it would have been necessary to restring all the beads that hadn’t yet been placed. Clearly, not an amusing or desired turn of events. So, first bit of advice: check for knots.

Next I strung all the beads by using some sewing thread as a “jumper” of sorts. I believe there are several sites on the Web that describe how to do this. It is necessary unless you have a needle with an eye small enough to pass through the beads. Don’t ask me what size beads I used, ‘cause I don’t know. I brought my yarn to a local bead store and bought the beads recommended by the clerk because (1) they fit through the yarn, (2) they were washable, and (3) I liked the color. I can tell you that the yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport yarn. It’s one of my favorite, all-purpose wool yarns and it comes in lots and lots of colors. I decided not to use sock/fingering weight yarn because the pattern calls for a cast-on of 60 stitches. I knew the gauge with sock yarn would have been far too loose for my taste, but I was too lazy to either (1) recalculate the number of beads I’d need or (2) thread and place even more beads than called for in the pattern. So, I took the easy way out and used heavier yarn.

Next, I decided that I didn’t like the plain ribbing in the pattern so I worked a baby cable rib instead. It’s not a “real” cable, you simply knit into the second stitch on the needle before knitting into the first stitch and slide both off at the same time. It’s what Nancy Bush calls a “traveling stitch.”

I originally intended to place the beads using a slip stitch method. In other words, when you get to the spot where a bead should be placed, you move the yarn to the front of your work, slide the bead into place on the yarn, slip the next stitch (which is now obscured by the bead which sits horizontally on the yarn). After placing the bead, knit the next stitch. My slip-method plan, however was foiled by the fact that on four of the pattern rows, there is one bead placed directly next to another bead. Hmmmm . . . how could I place a bead by slipping it into place, then place the next one in the same way without working an “anchor” stitch in between. I was stumped. I’ve since thought that perhaps it’s possible to slide two beads into place, then slip two stitches before continuing knitting. Is there any brave knitter out there willing to try my hypothesis???

In any event, because it didn’t appear that the slip stitch method would work, I used an extremely convoluted method described in Donna Kooler’s book, “The Encyclopedia of Knitting.” I believe she refers to it as the masochist “purled” method. In short, you place the bead by knitting it in the row before it’s needed; essentially “setting it up” to be placed in the appropriate row. When you work the row in which the bead appears, the bead is sitting there waiting for you. If you purl the stitch, you can move the bead into place with your finger. Trust me, this actually works although it takes some trial and error. The only flaw with this method is that on some
rows, it is necessary to “set up” the beads for the next row while simultaneously placing the beads that have already been set up in the row before. Not for the beading faint of heart or anyone with school age children who actually expect help with their homework (not that I’m speaking from experience). I did realize after I’d knit my sock that this problem could be eliminated by knitting a plain row between the beaded rows. Duh. Oh, I should probably also add that the flaw in the "purled" approach is that it is impossible to place two beads on top of each other using this method. Hence, I cut out one of the rounds; I think it was one of the middle rounds.

In short, I had fun knitting this sock. It looks impressive and now that I know better I’m sure I could knit it more quickly and enjoy it more. But, I’ve shared all my tips with you so you won’t have as steep a learning curve as I did. And, of course, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Oh yeah, and while I have your attention, I want to let you know that I have a special, humdinger surprise post tomorrow. I’m having a contest and you can enter if you come back tomorrow and read all about it.

Now go forth and knit beaded socks.

Who's linking here?

Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.