Stringing Beads 101
Stringing Beads 101
Adding beads to your knit, crochet and embroidery projects can bring sparkle and mystery, and a sense of awe that you were able to create such a thing of beauty and get that tiny little bead to sit exactly where it is supposed to. There is a way to string the beads and then sew them on after a project is made, but where's the adventure in that? That's way too easy, and not what us fearless handcrafters want to tackle. Nah, not us. We want the joy of having created our masterpieces with delicacy and zeal, all while successfully slipping at least 2 pieces of string, cord or twine ... something ... into a space the size of a pin head ... kinda reminds me of this quote from funny lady, Carol Burnett:
Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and
forcing it over your head.
Having done that 5 times, I agree, and, since we're brave enough to attempt that, let's get started and navigate the world of If The Shoe Fits, Less is More, and Does Size Matter? No worries, that'll all make sense, I promise.
A few caveats as you shop for materials: (1) make sure your beads have an opening large enough to string them easily, (2) be sure the needle, once threaded, can easily pass through the hole in the beads, and (3) try not to prick your fingers, 'cause there's no Prince Charming in this tale. There is, however, such a thing as a bead needle, but, for me, that is not as important a factor as what, and how much of that what, you are attempting to get through your beads:
A needle specifically made for beading won't help
if your cord is 3mm and the bead opening is 15/0.
So, let's get to it, and then I'll explain a bit of the history of seed beads, but just enough to pique your interest, not bore you to tears. I've put together a list of materials you'll need and you can click either the links in the list or the images.
But first: as you can see, I took the plunge, people, and I must confess, it does feel odd ... but here goes nothing: I've now become an affiliate for a few companies and I'd like to share my favorite tools and materials. Yay!!! In doing so, some links on this page are affiliate links, which means I earn money if you buy through my links. Each product I recommend has been used by me and is what I use to this day, and are products and materials I love and trust. Seriously. And with that, off we go!!!
Seed Beads 6/0 Czech Translucent Iris
Lion Brand Yarn 550 - Pound of Love - Hunter Green
SINGER 00276 Assorted Hand Needles in Compact, 25-Count
SINGER 150-yard All Purpose Polyester Thread, 1- Pack, White
Although it's not necessary, feel free to grab a bowl or flat basket to put your beads in, or just rest them on your work surface, they don't roll much :) ... I would link to one of my own such bowls, but they're not ready to post!
So now let's Get 'er DUN. This tut is coming directly (modified to be less specific) from our Pattern Eartha Beaded Fingerless Mitts, Vegan, which mitts are also available through our store: Eartha Beaded Fingerless Mitts, and it never hurts to reread something you've written to make sure it remains relevant and you don't really need to get a new pair of glasses because the old ones work just fine.
Here's a link to a download that I created this past April: AWBM Stringing Beads 101. I was trying to find the imagery for this post and suddenly I came upon this half-finished file there it was, a half-finished, perfectly modified download, nearly ready to upload. I can't help but wonder what pulled me in another direction, but that's exactly why I need to stop doing 5 things at once, and thinking of another 3 things I could do at the same time. We'll talk more about that another day; and now, a word from our sponsor:
You’re probably wondering: “Did she lose her mind, make a mistake, and leave struckthrough text in the middle of her lovely blog?” Well, yes, she kinda did, but that’s to not only keep her accountable, but also to nudge her in the direction of not reinventing the wheel, not doing too much, and not overthinking it, or everything does not have to go in one post. If she simply publishes this blog post, there’s no need to also include a link to a .pdf document, saying the same thing, right? But you gotta love her, she is trying …
Adding Beads to Your Knit and Crochet Projects
There are several ways to string beads. One is to knit or crochet to the point you want to add a bead, use a crochet hook to place them onto individual stitches, continue your stitch pattern, then repeat for the next bead, and so on. If you're a crocheter, no problem, you already have crochet hooks. If you're a knitter, you need one more tool in your arsenal; however, you probably already have a small crochet hook for those emergencies called "drop stitches."
Anyway, here's another method that I like to use, called the stringing method.
Prestring your beads:
Thread a sewing needle with about 7.0 in (17.78 cm) of thread and tie both ends together, to form a loop.
Slip the end of the working yarn through the loop and use the tip of the needle to add beads.
Slip each bead onto the working yarn. Leave 1 or 2 halfway down so the working yarn doesn't slip out of the threaded loop.
- Push the beads down slowly as you knit or crochet, until the row or round they are needed, to avoid causing undue stress to the yarn;
- Push the beads in sets of 10, with some space in between each set. That ensures each group is easier to count; and
- String a few extra beads just in case you miscounted, the beads break, or the yarn breaks and the beads go rolling under the couch!!!
See? Now wasn't that simply easy ... or easily simple, however you want to look at it? it wasn't as hard as it was thought to be ... again, here's my pal, Freddy:
In relation to the seemingly vague references above, If the Shoe Fits means everything has to come together to fit: the material you're stringing with, the beads it's being strung onto and the needle used to do the stringing, as well as remembering that the smaller the number, the larger the hole, e.g., Less is More ... Sizing is coming right up, but first ...
A word about beads, seed beads in particular.
A very brief word, if I may, regarding my thoughts on how much information is prevalent and running rampant throughout, well, everywhere. Years ago I used to ponder the fact that I could never find 1 to 3 definitive books on ANY topic. Not the ones I researched. I have at least 7 to 10 books on a given topic because I could not narrow it down. Book 1 had marvelous thoughts on This, That & The Other, while Book 2 only talked about This, and then broke down into much greater detail regarding Whatchamacallits and Doohickies. Books 3 and 4 touched a bit on That & The Other, then moved on to Thingamagigs and Whatsits. I think Book 5 circled back to This & That, completely bypassed The Other and after that I was lost.
You get my point? I have long wished I could find just a few books with, collectively, all that I want, and then I wouldn't have to have so many additional books on a subject, with none as comprehensive as I wished, but each having something the other didn't so I had to have them all, just to get a full picture.
So saying, I won't bore you with This, That or The Other when it comes to seed beads. I won't reinvent that wheel, but I can give you the highlights of what you need for this tut, and all you really need to know you learned in kindergarten anyway ... oops, that's another post. I meant to say that you must be cautious of the size of the bead and whether the material you are working with (i.e., thread, yarn, cord, etc.) will fit through it without a struggle.
I've often found that I can get 1 macrame cord through the hole in a wooden bead, then I spend 10 minutes tugging, sweating and dang near cursing trying to get a second cord through that same bead. I've use augers to try to widen the hole and promptly broken the beads, so while that has never worked for me, you might find it highly successful. I try to pray before ordering or actually going into a store to look for beads and hoping they have a clear package, but you still never know about all of the beads and if they are all truly usable. Especially when we're talking about teensy, tiny little seed beads, and that's only If The Shoe Fits ...
a tool with a helical bit for boring holes in wood.
- a tool with a large helical bit for boring holes in the ground.
Size Does Matter
Type Bead Size (Approximately)
Say What, Now?
The way the size is written is, for example: "11/0" and it is read "eleven aught" ... not sure why, but I'm sure someone oughta know by now. Curiously, when I look up the word "aught" so I can give you the pronunciation, I find nothing in relation to bead sizes!!! Then, I find conflicting information on several sites, where "aught" is pronounced "oh" and "When pronounced, people most often say the aught as zero, so eleven aught is pronounced eleven-oh (as in zero)," and so on. Confusing, to say the least. It ought to make more sense.
Combined with the fact that, of course, no two manufacturers make the same size seed beads: so Czech 11/0 seed beads are not the exact same size as Japanese Miyuki 11/0 seed beads. Who knew!!! Well, we all should if we're going to be buying seed beads.
What I found fascinating is that I didn't see consecutive numbers in the bead size charts I found. For instance, they all tended to start with 6/0 and end with 15/0, and they are 6/0, 8/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0, 13/0 and 15/0. What happened to 7/0, 9/0 and 14/0? Where's the love? Seems like someone just randomly decided to make beads in particular sizes and, since these classifications are based on 1 inch, and how many beads fit into 1 inch, that someone must have decided they didn't like the numbers 7, 9 and 14, and then, miraculously, passed that bias on to every other manufacturer. That has to be it, because it doesn't make a bit of sense otherwise.
None. At. All.
I would show you images of an inch and different bead sizes, etc., but everything I researched was inconsistent and I'd hate to compound our confusion even more. Yes, I too, find my head spinning because it's just so unnecessarily complicated.
What is standard, as of the 21st Century, is that there is no standard in bead sizes as they are now manufactured by machine and every manufacturer has their own manufacturing process. Ah, ha!!! If you have 11/0 beads from two manufacturers, chances are they are different sizes. Not saying they definitely are, but chances are, it'll be cloudy with a chance of rain. In other words, buy what you need from 1 manufacturer if you need your project to be precisely measured, or, be free to be you and me and buy what you want from wherever you want—or, if you can—make your own, cause “No one puts Baby in a corner!"
And Last, but not Least
I want to reiterate what I noted above, that I've joined a few affiliate programs (not like anyone noticed, eh?), and here's my disclaimer, along with some valuable and helpful guidelines for navigating my future blogs:
Thank you for your continued support.
P.S. If there's any content you'd like us to include or a comment you'd like to share, by all means, feel free to comment in the comment section below (we're sensitive, so please be kind), and if you want our recipe for sourdough bread, and we can say is "no comment" but thank you ever so much for stopping by!!!
This is the third thing, and I will admit it with no shame: this post was supposed to go live last week, on Wednesday, July 3 before the holiday, but I was caught between (1) a rock and my Thoroughly Exhausting 9-5 (actually 8-5, but who's counting?) job, (2) my need to reinvent the wheel—I thought I'd discussed not doing that above, but CLEARLY, I don't listen well—and (3) after I began construction on my new wheel, I realized I didn't have time to complete it by last Wednesday afternoon and I didn't touch the project again until the 5th, whereupon I took NEW (why?) screenshots of the steps above (here you see I have a modest 3, last week I had 10 ... sigh ...) so, after realizing I didn't have the files I'd worked on last week at home (read: my flash drive was no longer recognized by my iMac and I had to start from scratch (and gave up my lunch hour for the umpteenth time), I decided to clean both my studio and my bedroom as they are currently interchangeable and that's not how it's supposed to be, and told myself I'd finish this post on Monday, ready to post on Tuesday, July 9 (because we all know I can't post it on an EVEN day, come on, now.
I'm working on it, people
... for real ...
P.P.S. I also wanted to say my youngest daughter said "it would be cute" to make a game out of the cleaning portion of my weekend, and post a Before picture of the mess on my bed, and have a "Find The _[name of item in the photo]_" game, so my loyal readers could play. This is something like what I'd like to do, to have y'all help hold me accountable; I mean, see that I'm holding myself accountable, but I would be horrified to let you see the huge mound of "stuff" that I pulled out of my closet, off the bookcase and the overflow of yarn that makes me feel kinda like this:
AWBM Blog Post #11, Stringing Beads 101
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