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Part of my goal with this blog is pushing myself to expand my crafting boundaries by learning new crafts or techniques within those crafts. The Spring 2016 issue of Crochet! magazine (put out by Annie’s) had an article about learning bead crochet. I was very interested in the technique, so it went on the top of my new technique list.
Choosing your beads
After my experiences, the most important part of bead crochet to me is to pick the right sized beads for your yarn. It can be a little hard and intimidating choose the right beads from all the beads available (there are LOTS). If you get too confused, I’d look to a jewelry or beading website for help. Fire Mountain Gems is where I got my beads. They have lots of helpful articles on their website.
One of the two projects I did used Shawl in a Ball yarn, which is inconsistent in thickness. In this case, I’d go with a bead that fits the yarn at the thickest point. One tip I read was to pick beads that aren’t snug to the yarn or they’ll rub the yarn too much and break it. So it’s better to have beads that are a little too loose than beads that are too tight. Plus, if the beads are too small for the yarn you’ll have a very hard time stringing them on the yarn.
The Bead Crochet Technique
Bead crochet can be done a couple of different ways. One way is to start with all your beads already strung on your yarn, moving the bead into your stitch as you go along. This way has more work up front but less as you actually work up your piece. However, you have to make sure you accurately estimate how many beads you’ll need.
The other way is to put the beads onto the yarn as you go along. This way lets you jump straight in and get crocheting, even if takes more work as you go along. You actually need two hooks for this method because you need a smaller, often steel, hook to thread the beads onto the yarn. I found it can get tedious to constantly switch hooks, but once I hit a rhythm I stopped noticing as much.
Masika Beaded Scarf
This pattern came after the article in the magazine. I like that they introduce a new technique or stitch and then give you a pattern or two to try it. I liked the look of the pattern and it seemed straightforward enough. The yarn seemed a little expensive, so I decided to use Vicki Howell’s Cotton(ish) yarn in Grey T-Shirt. I bought two balls but ended up only using one. For beads, I bought three boxes of 6/0 triangle seed beads from Fire Mountain Gems.
The pattern is pretty easy to memorize. It’s worked across the shorter dimension. My final cowl is about a foot shorter in circumference than what the pattern said it would be. It works out since I’m shorter and I don’t like my cowls hanging down too far.
As I said, the pattern calls for a skein of Shawl in a Ball yarn. I bought gold 6/0 seed beads. They only worked on the thinner parts of the yarn. When the yarn got thicker the beads were a little too small for the yarn. That made them very hard to put on. I didn’t like that the beads didn’t show up against the yarn, but they would provide some sparkle under lights.
I got frustrated with the beading struggle and a little hurried at the end. As a result, I didn’t put beads around the border like the pattern called for.
Have you tried bead crochet? What was your experience?