It seems almost impossible that I had crocheted for over forty-six years with only using beads a time or two. I had embellished with beads hear and there. I had even embellished with things such as charms, sequins, metallic threads, etc. But, for some reason, I just didn’t do much beading. Textures, through various pattern stitches, threads, yarns and combinations is what had held my interest and challenged me to find interesting things to do with my crocheting.
Well, recently all that has changed. Yes, I’ve come out of the “ignorance” closet and latched onto this ‘new-to-me’ craze which started with my tatting arts. Suddenly, I have glass beads, semi-precious stone beads, faceted beads and interestingly shaped beads. Who knew there were beads that are shaped like little bottles that even have a stopper and can hold small amounts of perfumes or other oils? Certainly not me. And, I’m sure I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
So, now you may ask, how do I use beading in my crochet? Is there such a thing as too many beads? How do I decide what type of bead? What size? What shape? What materials? Yes, yes, lots of questions! But, I assure you there are simple answers. And, each artist will have their own way of answering each question.
You may chose to simply follow patterns that others have designed and go with their style and their colors. After all, it’s by mimicking others that we first learned how to talk and walk, right? And, it’s by following the experience of others that we can also ‘ingrain’ in ourselves a natural flow for bead working.
One of the more important things to consider, with beads, is how to attach them and how many or what size to use. With attaching, there are a number of methods, but the two prominent ways of adding beads is to either pre-string your yarn/thread or to add the beads as you go.
The advantage of pre-stringing beads is that you handle them all at the start and then you put your spare beads away. One disadvantage is if you’ve not added enough beads, you can’t add more later without breaking the yarn/thread and then having to contend with a knot to hide later. Another disadvantage is that you may have overlooked a bead that is far less than perfect and it needs to be removed from your work. Of course, glass beads can be easily crushed with a pair of needle nosed pliers, but some beads are not so simple; such as the metal or plastic beads. Then there’s the problem of having one less bead than is needed. But, of course, the easy remedy to this is to make sure you string extra beads “just in case”.
To crochet as you go offers a multitude of advantages. With this method you can put what color/size/shape of bead you want in precisely the exact position you want it to be. You can crochet in a design just by placing your colored beads in a pattern to create a beaded picture and, if you pick up a bad bead, it can be tossed in the trash and replaced with another as you go. The disadvantage of this is that adding as you go slows down the crochet progress to a considerably slow rate if you’re adding small beads with a tiny center. It’s difficult to keep from splitting yarn/thread plies using this method.
My advice would be to try both ways, Learn the different looks that can be accomplished by using each way of adding beads. You’ll soon discover there are advantages of each way and each way leaves a totally different look. Once you’re more comfortable with working crochet beading you’ll come to learn which way you’ll need to go to accomplish the ‘look’ that you desire. There may even be times when using both methods in the same project can be beneficial to ‘bling up’ your items.
Regardless of which method you use to add beads into your crochet, it’s my belief that once you start with beads you’ll want to do more with not only beads, but other types of embellishments as well.