Adding beads to knitting makes for really beautiful finished objects. For instance, just look at WittyKnitty's wedding shawl above. There's two distinct ways of doing it - prethreading the beads onto the yarn
before you start, as our Party Lace Scarf
does, or adding them to individual stitches as you work.
The second technique means you can dive straight into the knitting. One way of doing it involves a teeny-tiny crochet hook, one both small enough to fit through the bead and large enough to hook the yarn. There's no doubt this can be fiddly, and there's always a certain number of beads in a packet with a hole just too small for the hook. So we're terribly happy to report that there's another way to bead your stitches, and we've got a tutorial for you!
There's a type of dental floss on the market called Super Floss. It was previously available in North America only, but now it's in Ireland too, costing just a couple of euro. Its special feature is that it comes precut into 30cm lengths, and both ends are handily stiffened.
When you have your strand of floss (and our small packet contains fifty strands), start by threading on one bead. In the picture below, you can see how the stiffened end helps. The floss essentially becomes its own beading needle.
Tie a quick knot around this first bead with one end of the floss so the beads can't fall off. From now on, we'll call this end the knotted end, and the other end the free end. Thread on some more beads from the free end. You don't have to thread a lot at a time - you can always add some more as you go. Then knit across your row until you reach the stitch you want to place a bead on. You can see the beads waiting their turn in the background of this picture.
Take up the strand of beaded floss and move the last bead that you threaded - the furthest one from the knotted end - up towards the free end, close to the knitting.
Poke the free end of the floss through the stitch. The stiffening makes this easy.
With the bead close to the knitting, take up the free end of the floss...
...and pass it back up through your bead in the other direction.
Now you can slip the stitch off the needle (the floss is holding it so it can't drop)...
...and move the bead down from the floss onto the stitch.
Pop the stitch back up onto the left hand needle and pull the floss out gently.
Then you just work the stitch as usual, and the bead stays firmly put.
And that's it. We find it far handier than the crochet hook method, with less risk of catching only part of the yarn and less wastage of beads.
Dental floss. It's not just for teeth!