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Friday, January 6, 2012


If you love to crochet and are looking for an easy and exciting way to add new dimension to your work, beaded crochet might be just the answer.

Whether you prefer to crochet little niceties to give your home that warm, personal, cared-for look that only homemade items can give, or clothing and accessories to dress up your wardrobe and express your own unique taste and preferences, beadwork offers something for you. You can add beads to doilies, place mats, edgings, sweaters, purses, or jewelry – to name just a few – using your own designs or adapting pre-printed simple easy crochet patterns.

As with most patterns, it is best to get started on a small scale. That way you can keep the extra equipment and new tricks you will have to learn to a minimum. Then explore, using new materials, tools and techniques as you get more comfortable with what you have learned so far.

If you will be working with something small, such as seed beads or a larger bead with a small hole, you will need to acquire some beading needles and a needle threader. You will also need a small tapestry needle for weaving in the ends when finishing.

Now we will explore some threading tips. Threading small beads can be difficult if the thread is too heavy for the needle. Here is a trick to help you. First, you will need a spool of fine sewing thread. Second, lay the end of your beading thread over an 8 inch to 10 inch length of the sewing thread and tie two overhand knots tightly around the beading thread with the sewing thread. Third, thread one end of the sewing thread into the beading needle and string your beads over the sewing thread and down onto the beading thread.

As to your choice of beading thread, you have many options, depending on the size of beads you have chosen. You can use a size 8 pearl cotton or size 20 or 30 crochet cotton for small seed beads up to a size 3 cotton crochet for large wooden beads. Depending upon the technique you are using and whether or not the crochet stitches will be highly visible in the design, you may want to work with some of the lovely metallics available

Now it is time to talk about how to string beads. It is helpful, and highly recommended, to have a compartmentalized dish or a fishing tackle box or any other container with compartments, would work fine. These will be needed to hold all the different colors and sizes of the beads with which you will be working with. With just a little practice you can dip your beading needle down into the desired compartment, skim the needle lightly just under the surface, and thread a number of beads at the same time, adding or subtracting beds as needed.

It is important to keep in mind that your beads are always strung backwards. Begin stringing with the last color you will use and work back to the first color. If you make a mistake somewhere along the line because the kids are having a quarrel or the dog wants to be let out (or in), don’t panic. Just snip the thread right alongside the offending bead, slip it off, and if necessary, slip on the correct color. Then proceed to join in the tread as you would normally join it in. Pause long enough to tie an over knot on the wrong side (WS) of your work where the new and old threads meet, and work over the ends, for a few inches. This will avoid the tedious job of weaving in all of the ends after completion.

Now the fun begins!! Head on out to your favorite hobby shop or a craft shop or just settle down comfortably into an easy chair with a mail order catalog and a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate (or a cool glass of lemonade if the temperatures are soaring). Then you will want to let your imagination run wild in the bead department.

There is an almost infinite number of beads available in just about any size, color or shape you can think of. Imagination and sometimes the pocketbook are all that might limit you. However, beautiful beads can be found in any price range, and by combining the right sizes, shapes, and colors, you can create something just as eye-pleasing and fun to make with inexpensive beads as with beads that are more pricey.

Now we will explore the different ways of adding beads to your work using the basic stitches: ch, (chain stitch) sc, (single crochet) hdc, (half-double crochet) dc, (double crochet) and tr. (triple crochet). It all starts by simply sliding the desired bead up to your hook and then proceeding to work the chosen stitch. For example, to work a beaded ch (bch) (beaded chain), slide the bead right up against your hook and ch 1 (chain 1).

For a beaded sc (beaded crochet), insert your hook into the desired st. (stitch), yo (yarn over), draw up a lp (loop), slide the bead up against the hook and complete the sc in the usual manner. For a beaded hdc, (beaded half-double crochet), work the hdc in the usual manner until there are 3 loops on the hook, slide the bead up against the hook and complete your hdc.

On a dc, beads can be added at almost any or all stages of the st (stitch). You can do a *yo, insert the hook into the desired st, yo and draw up a loop, slide the bead up against the hook, then proceed to work loops off as usual; or you can work from * to *, do a yo, and draw through 2 loops on hook, then slide another bead up against the hook, and complete the dc. as usual. This results in a 2 beaded dc. A third option is the work the dc in the usual manner with no beads until two loops before the final yarn over (yo) rem on the hook, slide the bead up against the hook and complete the dc (double crochet).

The same principles apply to the tr (triple crochet). Experiment so you can see how each method looks, and then decide which you prefer based on the effect you want to achieve. Also make a note that, as a general rule, beads are added on WS (wrong side) rows because they have a tendency to settle on the side of the work that is away from you.

While working with beads and learning how to use them in crocheting, you will see how beads can add pizzazz to your work without a lot of fuss or expense.

I hope you will find that beading is fun and relaxing.

Happy beading…

Create More, Spend Less

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