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Beauty and the Bead...Knitting, Actually.

Updated on October 24, 2014

Knitting was the Passion - and then Beaded Knitting was the Fashion

...and so my 'Beaded Knitting' AND 'Bead Knitting' journey began - and hasn't stopped...yet! Uh-oh, here's the first problem - what is the difference between bead and beaded knitting, I hear you ask? Well-ll perhaps it will help to tell you that the pictured Aqua creation is bead knitting, or knitting the beads onto the stitch itself. Beaded knitting is when the beads hang or drape between the knitting stitches, like in my red and black spectacle case coming up next - and also later in the set of photos that include a cream/brown and a purple tiny purse or amulet. These are examples of beaded knitting. Soon I will photograph a little lady figurine with a long skirt made of beautifully draping beaded knitting.

So far, fingers remain nimble enough; the grey matter under the silver thatch keeps turning at the desired speed limit; and the eyes still cope (with a little help from my friends - my magnifying embroidery spectacles, that perch, most granny-like, on the end of my nose for such delicate design and exquisite execution! Humility doesn't enter into the magnification process, sadly.) See the gorgeous spectacle case I made for those particular 'treasures' in the next section!

Now. With all that irritating and irrational information out of the way - let's pursue my history with this particular craft a little further as the journey continues.

Read on at your peril!

Only joking. I promise you will enjoy the pics, if not the story!

Just look at this first little beauty, and tell me it's not lovely! (This could be a good time to mention that the 'Beauty' part of the title of this lens refers to the products - NOT to their creator, whom I would simply give a 'Bewdy, Mate' type, or 'Bonzer' or some similar Down Under description.

A 'Brief' History of

...the Journey.

I came, I saw, I conquered. I've been dying to use that one somewhere. Here will do nicely - but I'll let you be the judge of that by the end of this lens.

Suffice it to say, my lifelong love of knitting and crochet just made the concept of learning beaded knitting a most interesting challenge to this somewhat knotted veteran knitwit. I did not say 'knit-twit', although, if the cap fits ...

I did buy some books and magazines to learn bead-weaving - but little success - the famed Peyote stitch, and Bead Netting, and Right Angle weaving, are just not my thing. I had some small success with a simple Bead Loom Kit, but still not really me, somehow.

Have you had a look at these links? Absolutely magnificent creations - but humiliatingly impossible for my temperament, for some reason. It's not a question of patience - you certainly need the never-ending variety when it comes to any type of beading - especially if you tip a container over. We just won't go there - OK?

BUT then, along the winding path of this journey, I saw the concept of beaded knitting - and I was hooked ... literally!

My bead knitting career was launched, and ever since, I have only stopped to supposedly rest eyes and fingers - until I turned to my computer and of course, Squidoo. Did I say rest? And now, here I am talking about it. Small wonder I'm an insomniac!

Now look at this red and black spec holder - my own personal beaded knitting 'specs case'. Don't you agree that I have found 'my' second best thing? (after writing, that is!)

Having created many beaded knitting items for gifts and for sale, I decided the time had come to 'house' my trusty specs in a special holder of their own - and I'm so glad I did. Just love the way the DMC thread colour changes from red to black, and back again. And we won't discuss how many swear words are woven in amongst those hundreds (or was that a thousand or more?) tiny seed beads! But for a few years now, I have had the joy of the feel of it - holding and playing with my treasure whilst I dream concepts and possibilities - in both craftwork and in writing.

PS: I guess there are those who would actually believe the title of this section. If you sincerely think I can write or tell anything at all...BRIEFLY...then you really don't know me at all.

'A Journey of 1,000 miles

...Begins with a Single Step'

Consider that first step is learning to knit.

You'll never regret it....trust me!

(Quote from Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher,

604 BC - 531 BC)

Close up and personal
Close up and personal

Ah-h-h, amazing, don't you think?

...but how on Earth are they made?

Well-ll-ll....it usually all begins with a visit to my local Spotlight store (don't know its equivalent around the world, but it's a store filled with materials and more materials, and almost all craft supplies and/or tools, and linen, and bath gear, and curtaining, even some rugs - and sewing machines - and just a few incidentals like yarns and needles and beads!). And at this store, I spy some beads that are just 'different' or 'interesting' or sometimes, just plain beautiful. OR, maybe it's a new shade of beading cotton or silky type beading thread that catches my fancy.

Perhaps I am inspired to combine something I see there, with beads or threads I already have at home. (And believe me, here at home I have a LOT of all of those - and yarns - and other crafty pursuits/hopefuls/wannabes).

Sometimes I choose an idea from a heap of graph patterns I have designed, or some adaptation of one of these. Other times I copy something I have already made - but with different thread and/or beads, it still becomes one of my proudly 'unique' items (And, just in case the word 'copy' caused alarm bells to ring - never fear -EVERYTHING is ALWAYS a 'one off')

And somewhere along the line, I experimented with crocheting with beads, and a whole new world of possibilities opened up. I still prefer beaded knitting, BUT it's nice to have choices.

Do you start to 'get it' about my insomnia? The cogs turn continuously - and LOUDLY - through.far too much of my body and Life! But shall we whinge about this when we study these delightful creations? I think not.

Meanwhile back at the 'Coal face'

...or the drawing board...whatever.

Because I'm a 'scrooge' (personally, I blame my Scottish ancestry) - I won't buy my seed beads (smallest) in 'hanks' already threaded onto the first beading cotton, ready for transfer, because they cost heaps more than loose in little packages. When I was just starting out, I wanted many different colours of beads. And so I have always bought all my beads loose in packets or containers, and threaded them myself. It's far too tedious a job for many, but I enjoy threading beads at my kitchenette table, whilst listening/semi-watching the TV in front of me, as I get into a nice rhythm of movement. I find it extremely relaxing and SO-o-o satisfying when I have a small container full of threaded beads, ready for action when I need them.

As this is not a tutorial, because I am not a teacher's armpit (don't think I'd want to be one, come to think of it!) - I will take some photos of my beading yarn and needles, and of course the beads themselves to show you this process - because (you know the drill) -

'a picture is worth a thousand words!' (Sounds good to me!)

***Oh yes...just in case you are unfamiliar with the term used in this title - If you work 'at the coal face', you deal with the real problems and issues, rather than just discussing them in a detached fashion. Hmm-mm-m..that sounds like the 'real McCoy' to me!

A Tutorial or two - ...well-ll-ll

Not sure if these would inspire - or cause you to expire, just at the thought of it all.

I have developed great skill at picking up the beads - WITH one of my trusty thinnest of thin beading needles - BUT, I have them in the plastic lid of the container that beads most often come in - and I tilt that lid so I'm picking them up against the little 'wall' , and I kind of 'ping' them onto the needle, one after the other - usually about 10 or 15 before I push them onto the cotton thread, with a flick of my middle finger.

I do have a bead tied in at the bottom end like the instructors do, but I don't do that amazing slipknot - I just take the needle off, fold the end of the thread over, leaving a circle about as big as two fingers together, and tie a knot. And that's where I poke the beading yarn through, double it back, and then slide the beads on. Fast as... Honestly.

See why I'm not making tutorials for a living? But I wish you could see a video of my fingers doing the 'beadwalk'.

Not too shabby for an old bird!

These are the Tools - ...of My Trade! (well, this particular one, anyway)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My Beading Needles (getting horribly bent, some of them - seen the inside of just a few beads in their life so far!).These are my finest and my largest bead knitting needles - and a WIP that has only just begun!Is it any wonder my strongest pair of magnifying specs are these 'end of your nose Granny-type'??Here are the 2 stages of loading the beads onto the yarn.  Stage 1 - threaded by thinnest bead needles onto regular sewing cotton.  Stage 2 - transferred onto the actual knitting yarn - ready to go - WHEN they have all been moved along the yarn.
My Beading Needles (getting horribly bent, some of them - seen the inside of just a few beads in their life so far!).
My Beading Needles (getting horribly bent, some of them - seen the inside of just a few beads in their life so far!).
These are my finest and my largest bead knitting needles - and a WIP that has only just begun!
These are my finest and my largest bead knitting needles - and a WIP that has only just begun!
Is it any wonder my strongest pair of magnifying specs are these 'end of your nose Granny-type'??
Is it any wonder my strongest pair of magnifying specs are these 'end of your nose Granny-type'??
Here are the 2 stages of loading the beads onto the yarn.  Stage 1 - threaded by thinnest bead needles onto regular sewing cotton.  Stage 2 - transferred onto the actual knitting yarn - ready to go - WHEN they have all been moved along the yarn.
Here are the 2 stages of loading the beads onto the yarn. Stage 1 - threaded by thinnest bead needles onto regular sewing cotton. Stage 2 - transferred onto the actual knitting yarn - ready to go - WHEN they have all been moved along the yarn.

A Disaster

...of monumental proportions

...happened when I was rounding up my needles for the photo shoot. My beloved split or 'big eye' needle (shown in the tutorials) has gone into hiding. I searched through EVERY WIP (Work in Progress) I have - but no luck! And peered down the side of my Lounge chair - and knelt down to peer under it, also. And in my vast Library. And in my Craft books (just in case I'd used it as a bookmark...only kidding! I didn't check the haystack...because not even my embroidery specs could help me there!

Do you have Murphy's Law all around the world - or is it specifically Australian, I wonder? In case you don't know it, it suggests that anything that can go wrong...WILL...at the worst possible moment! And some 'joker' added this small pearl of wisdom -

'Murphy was an optimist'

But why do I mention this, you ask? Because - Murphy's law says that at the very moment I come home from searching for and then spending the money to buy me a new 'you beaut' split needle - the old lost soul will turn up - in a completely mundane place, right in front of my nose, no doubt!

Grrr..rr! and Aarrgh! and a couple of other exclamations I'd best only think to myself!

NEWS FLASH!

It didn't show up immediately after I bought a new big eye needle, but it most definitely DID stab me in the finger sometime later. I was innocently probing the side pocket of a knitting carry-bag I often take with me on our driving holidays, because it sits nice and flat on the floor, and it's long and narrow, so it takes my longest knitting needles comfortably. Usually I carry only regular type knitting in it (amazingly enough), but I remember on a couple of occasions using it to take my current bead knitting projects.on holidays with me, for those insomniac nights. I had carefully tucked this special needle away in the pocket - for safety, and to protect against loss - but most importantly, so I would always know where it was.

Yes, well-ll-ll. Red-faced, but chortling with delight - now I have two to lose. And find again!

And here are JUST a FEW - ...of my Rainbow Collection of yarns

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The colour range is truly amazing, now including quite a few 'variegated' yarns in both silky-type and cotton.Love all these heavier cottons - seem suited to casual living.Another WIP - this has a flap and will probably have a feature bead on front, with a little crochet loop to hook over it.  Still in the 'think tank'.  Ah-ha, that's what the strange gurgling is - the grey matter agitating!Couldn't resist taking a photo of this one, too, because I think I chose well with this yarn/bead combination - and you can see the beads on the yarn, clearly, as well
The colour range is truly amazing, now including quite a few 'variegated' yarns in both silky-type and cotton.
The colour range is truly amazing, now including quite a few 'variegated' yarns in both silky-type and cotton.
Love all these heavier cottons - seem suited to casual living.
Love all these heavier cottons - seem suited to casual living.
Another WIP - this has a flap and will probably have a feature bead on front, with a little crochet loop to hook over it.  Still in the 'think tank'.  Ah-ha, that's what the strange gurgling is - the grey matter agitating!
Another WIP - this has a flap and will probably have a feature bead on front, with a little crochet loop to hook over it. Still in the 'think tank'. Ah-ha, that's what the strange gurgling is - the grey matter agitating!
Couldn't resist taking a photo of this one, too, because I think I chose well with this yarn/bead combination - and you can see the beads on the yarn, clearly, as well
Couldn't resist taking a photo of this one, too, because I think I chose well with this yarn/bead combination - and you can see the beads on the yarn, clearly, as well

There's Yarns that you tell

...and then there's yards of yarns of Great Beauty

You can see I have a lot of DMC crochet cotton, and silks (or at least silky texture - rayons or some such I would guess), and metallic yarn, and heavier cotton yarn. Some yarns are just particularly lovely to feel and work with - and I am a totally tactile person - ALWAYS touching things - and people too, as I talk to them. Out of control, basically.

And the colours are to die for. You can keep your chocaholicism, your shoe fetishes, your clothing or shopping addictions - I'm totally besotted with these gorgeous materials. I hang around in front of the DMC stand and ogle, and pick up and put down, and agonise over my choices, and wish I was 20 years younger with today's skills and creativity and experience. But of course, Life just doesn't 'pan' out like that, does it?

The newer range with their shade variations within one colour, or their gradual change through several colours, are a joy to work with. Sometimes, like in my embroidery specs case, the transition from red to black and back again created a magical pattern. Lovely to look at when I'm far away in thoughts and dreams.

Uh-oh! Lest We Forget - ...The BEADS!!!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Well, of course you don't think this is all of my 'stash', do you?  One day when my bead 'carousel' is tidy...(ha!), I'll take a photo and add it, so you can see just how bad this addiction REALLY is.Told you!  It really must have to do with my Scottish ancestry.Couldn't resist one more WIP - this time playing with patterns.  And I particularly love the beads - now to plan something special with them for the specs case, also.Ahh..h..h!  Are we feeling Green - or what?Earthy tones?And these are SO special - 'Cloisonne' beads with their flowers and gold embossed on the beads.  Oh-h-h!
Well, of course you don't think this is all of my 'stash', do you?  One day when my bead 'carousel' is tidy...(ha!), I'll take a photo and add it, so you can see just how bad this addiction REALLY is.
Well, of course you don't think this is all of my 'stash', do you? One day when my bead 'carousel' is tidy...(ha!), I'll take a photo and add it, so you can see just how bad this addiction REALLY is.
Told you!  It really must have to do with my Scottish ancestry.
Told you! It really must have to do with my Scottish ancestry.
Couldn't resist one more WIP - this time playing with patterns.  And I particularly love the beads - now to plan something special with them for the specs case, also.
Couldn't resist one more WIP - this time playing with patterns. And I particularly love the beads - now to plan something special with them for the specs case, also.
Ahh..h..h!  Are we feeling Green - or what?
Ahh..h..h! Are we feeling Green - or what?
Earthy tones?
Earthy tones?
And these are SO special - 'Cloisonne' beads with their flowers and gold embossed on the beads.  Oh-h-h!
And these are SO special - 'Cloisonne' beads with their flowers and gold embossed on the beads. Oh-h-h!

How Do I Love Thee, Beads?

...Let Me Count the Ways!

Well-ll-ll. Let's start with the bright little sweethearts above. All the shades of the rainbow in solid colours that combine beautifully with little specialty beads like butterflies, flowers, seashells, little teddy bears, hearts and diamonds. Admittedly, these 'specialty' beads haven't yet been used for beaded knitting - but over a hundred little girls' bracelets featuring them, grace many a small wrist.

I'm not exaggerating with this number. In school holidays, our local library always has different free activities for the children of our area. Twice I have taken my bracelet bead-making there so little girls (and some little boys, too) could make their own creations. The Library paid me a nominal amount per bracelet, and the kids just adored their chance to make something so pretty, and wear straight away - for free.

If time should ever permit (ha!), I'll give serious consideration to what I could create in bead knitting for children. See - I have dreams - day and night!

Then there are all the sparkly or iridescent type beads from the tiny seed beads you see in some of the containers, in every imaginable shade, through quite larger balls, and crystal or 'bicone' shapes. And some are solid 'sparklers', whilst others have glitter or special effects set deep inside them. Their size, and the size of the hole in the centre, dictate the size of needle to first thread them on, and the size of the eventual knitting needles.

And wooden beads - plain, in their natural colours; sometimes stained to various shades from natural to dark brown; sometimes varnished or painted; sometimes with embossed patterns, or patterns applied...who knows how? Just one of Life's little mysteries, I guess. The end result is fantastic.

And there are 'special interest' beads - a 'one off' effect to stand out as a centrepiece, or act as a fastener, maybe. See a few of those in the photos above? Ah-h-h! I love them - and dreaming how to use them is fun, too. Some end up on (or in) my 'regular' knitting of scarves, and other ladies' accessories, like the shoulder decoration of this Lavender Poncho., and maybe a few beaded additions to my Helmets and Hats story. I'm developing that thought - of adding a few decorative beaded elements to some of my previous creations.

Oh No! NOT another for the TO-DO list, surely? (Grandma Moses, move over...I may just be getting into my stride!)

Maybe you are feeling more casual? - ...a sampling of my 'laid-back' range

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chocolate Brown and Indian (?) looking wooden beadsBlack and White and makes me think of Aboriginal Dot Painting.Lavenders and Pinks and a pretty pattern I've used for rugs and scarves!
Chocolate Brown and Indian (?) looking wooden beads
Chocolate Brown and Indian (?) looking wooden beads
Black and White and makes me think of Aboriginal Dot Painting.
Black and White and makes me think of Aboriginal Dot Painting.
Lavenders and Pinks and a pretty pattern I've used for rugs and scarves!
Lavenders and Pinks and a pretty pattern I've used for rugs and scarves!

Or, maybe you want to keep your 'specs' safe? - ....fashionably??

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ohh-h-h, this one's gone now.  I added a mobile phone protector to match, and gave the set to a dear friend for her 70th birthday.
Ohh-h-h, this one's gone now.  I added a mobile phone protector to match, and gave the set to a dear friend for her 70th birthday.
Ohh-h-h, this one's gone now. I added a mobile phone protector to match, and gave the set to a dear friend for her 70th birthday.

Sometimes Matching Sets

...are the 'Go'

Try as I may, I cannot capture the beauty of this Pale Green, so you'll have to trust me on this one when I tell you that you would love it, even if you're not basically a 'green' lover. (Maybe I'll try photographing it on different coloured backgrounds - ah-h-h - back to the drawing board...AGAIN!!)

I have made these 'sets' a couple of times now, for the person who loves to co-ordinate their accessories. Maybe you are like this, too? Or maybe you're looking for that 'different' gift for someone special?

This threesome is made up of a 'Spectacles' case, a Cell phone/MP3...or4, or whatever else comes along, and a Keyring Holder to match.

I love co-ordinating all manner of things - and of course, you know, if you've looked at my regular-type knitting, EVERY single item I make is an original - unique - one of a kind. I promise you will never see the same thing anywhere else (unless we have some amazing 'clone' of me and my work out there somewhere!) (shudders!!!)

But wait...there's more! - ...SO much more, you just can't imagine!

Just gotta love what you're creating. And love will do it....every time!

This was a labour of love - for our daughter's birthday this year. There was a matching keyring holder that I made after I had taken the photo - never quite managed to capture that one, unfortunately. The small silver beads look so 'glam' for her to use going out at night. She loves it as she wears all silver jewellery. (Funny how a Mum notices small details like that??)

A Few Amulet Necklaces - ...and 'Purse' Brooches

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Purple Circle Necklace...and uh-oh...this one is crocheted, not knitted.Bronze 'n Cream "Purse' BroochPrettiest Pinks + 'Pearls' Amulet NecklacePassionate for Purple? 'Purse' Brooch'Sunburst' Necklace - uh-oh - another crocheted delight!Don't stop now...why not go visit my Madeit Shop?
The Purple Circle Necklace...and uh-oh...this one is crocheted, not knitted.
The Purple Circle Necklace...and uh-oh...this one is crocheted, not knitted.
Bronze 'n Cream "Purse' Brooch
Bronze 'n Cream "Purse' Brooch
Prettiest Pinks + 'Pearls' Amulet Necklace
Prettiest Pinks + 'Pearls' Amulet Necklace
Passionate for Purple? 'Purse' Brooch
Passionate for Purple? 'Purse' Brooch
'Sunburst' Necklace - uh-oh - another crocheted delight!Don't stop now...why not go visit my Madeit Shop?
'Sunburst' Necklace - uh-oh - another crocheted delight! Don't stop now...why not go visit my Madeit Shop?

In a word -

Super-cala-bead-a-licious-expi-alla-docious

The Amazing Beading Story - ...continues on Amazon

It may look as though I'm trying to send business elsewhere, encouraging anyone to do bead-knitting themselves - BUT, I don't think there will be a traffic jam getting to your local bead store.

It's a mighty patience demanding pastime, and really does require well developed knitting (and crochet) skills first. These seem to have been in short supply in recent years, but they say the trend is reversing, as the economy tightens. So who knows what the future holds?

IF you should find yourself tempted, be warned. You will curse and you will fume; there will be gnashing of teeth and probably some tears and tantrums - but when you see the finished article you will be SO proud of yourself. I know. I am!

Good luck - and remember to enjoy!!

IT'S ALL UP TO YOU....

Think you can

....or think you can't,

...either way, you're right!

(quote from Henry Ford

(of course, THE founder of the famous Ford Corporation

.....if he didn't get it right, who would?)

Please Don't Stop Reading Now

...while you're on a roll.

You could visit my 'Un-beadable' journal entry about this story

Or perhaps, if you are interested in my journey to this moment in my beaded knitting life, you could take a peek at my Ezine article -

Knit One, Bead One

Or you could check out what other lensmasters are writing about this and many other subjects -

SquiDirectory - A categorized Squidoo directory featuring an interesting variety of different subjects ranging from arts and literature, shopping, and eco friendly tips, to vehicles for sale, travel, and everything in between.

From me would be nice, but you may have to be just a little patient, because -

***Update 13/2/2012 - have closed my Madeit shop - but watch out for these items to reappear in my Etsy shop. Coming soon but in the meantime...why not give bead-knitting a try yourself?

If nothing more, I trust you have learned a new appreciation of an extemely old craft.

If you are from the USA, you will appreciate that some of the most beautiful beading in this world emanated from your fantastically creative and skilfull American Indians and the Eskimo peoples were right up there with the very best of beaders. What a joyous way to warm your hands (especially when there's no bead store in sight...)

If you are Australian...the Australian Aborigines taught much to the creative world around us.

And the UK? - well-ll-ll, just think of the ancient Celtic traditional weaving and beading....absolutely fantastic.

And as we look around the world, you would have a hard time finding a nationality that didn't embrace beading at some time in their history.

Please Tell Me - ...you Are Tempted to Buy Something!

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    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image

      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      I love your lens, and I am so impressed with your beautiful creations!

    • Jo11 profile image

      Jo11 5 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens, and your gorgeous beaded knits! Thank you for introducing me to this.. something I might try one of these days. Good luck with your Etsy shop - look forward to taking a look when it's up and running!

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 5 years ago

      You must have the patience of a saint, this is gorgeous bead work, and a superb lens. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Love this lens, I am a knitter, but I have never seen anything like this. I must try to do it.

      Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

    • Leilani-m profile image

      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      Beautiful work! I'm very impressed, I could never do something like that, I don't have that much patience :)

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      What beautiful bead work you do, Christine! I'm impressed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Every bead has a story and yours is pleasing to the eyes as well. :)

      Keep up the great work dear Christine. :)

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      Your work is lovely. I have a couple of beaded bag necklaces done by an artistic friend. They are a treasure.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very pretty lens, enjoyed my visit here tonight, earned a squidlike from this reader.