Attaching Beads to Crochet Work

Attaching Beads to Crochet Work
Usually, at some point in a tatter’s life, they get to the point in their skill level where they want a change. This initially will incorporate various new stitches/techniques/designs. But, invariably, it will generally amount to embellishment. The easiest and, in my humble opinion, most elegant way to accomplish this is through beads. Beads can accent, dress up, or become the center of attention when added to your craft. They can become the trim on wedding lace, the drop accent for a piece of jewelry or headdress or just enough ‘umph’ to set off a tatted yoke or collar. Although beads generally replace picots, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

If you’ve not yet considered, or seriously contemplated, the possibilities; let me see if I can tempt you into stepping over the line into beaded tatting. With this article I’ll discuss a few of the most common methods of adding beads to your work. I will start with what I consider to be the easiest and most common way that most beginners ‘beaders’ start off. But, this is NOT to say that you should start with the first one on the list. I will also discuss some of the pros and cons of some of these methods. This will help you to determine what will work best with the particular design you’ll be working with.

Crochet Hook:
Shuttle Method: Depending on the size of your beads-or more importantly, the size of your bead hole-typically, a size #14 or #16 crochet hook is used. After inserting the tip of the hook through the bead hole you’ll grab your tatting thread with the hook and draw it back through the center of your bead. Next, insert the shuttle through the center of the loop you’ve just created from the bead center. Thus, you’ve locked the bead onto your work. Simply slide the bead into position and snug up the thread.
Needle Method: First and foremost, make sure that you have beads that will slide over the needle size you’ll be working with. For needle tatting, you simply place the bead on your needle at the desired place and continue tatting. Easy, right? But, for another affect, you can use the crochet hook method and then slide your needle through the loop created by drawing the thread through the bead center. This makes the bead stand out more and really highlights the beads on the edge of your work.

Needle Threader:
Both Methods: This is very similar to using the crochet hook method. But, if you don’t have the smaller steel crochet hook this method works great. It’s a little slower but, does the job. The great thing about the needle threaded is that the small flexible wire will fit through the center of any bead; including seed beads. Simply insert the threaded wire into the center of the bead. Pick up a section of the tatting thread and pinch it in half. Thread this through the needle threaded. Then, pull it back through the bead with the needle threader. Last, put this new loop over your shuttle or needle and the bead is attached.

Beading Wire: Can also be used for pre-threading.
Both Methods: One way to use the beading needle incorporates the same ideas as those afore mentioned. The only different is that the beading needle (being a long piece of wire that is folded in half and open on one end) is placed on the tatting thread and then the open end is threaded through the bead. The beading needle is also great for the tiny little seed beads and one of my personal favorites. Continue to attach the beads as previous mentioned.

Beading Needle: Used for pre-threading.
Both Methods: The beads are threaded onto the ball thread. Thus, as you work, you slide the beads along the thread where and when you want to place them in your work. They will actually leave a space between your ds’s, as you work, and then when the ds’s are pushed together will pop the beads up.

Pre-threading is not generally done with tatting because there’s less security in the bead placement. But, that’s not to say that it isn’t done. In fact, it is.

Beads usually replace picots so are generally expected to stand out a bit beyond most of the tatted work but, with pre-threading, it’s more prominent and in my opinion, not as neat since the beads are not as snug up to your project as with using the other methods. But, if you wish to use this method for lace (as in around the trim of a dress or skirt) where the beads would hang down, this would be the perfect (and quickest) method to use.

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