Do you remember my futile bead hunt just after Xmas? Well, since then, I've been doing some more research. You see, I do have one beaded project on my list of "to dos" for which I even have the materials ripening away in my stash (the delicious but, unfortunately, now discontinued Jaeger Cashmina yarn and Jaeger beads) to knit Lily Chin's Patagonian Night Sky Scarf below.
I think I may have developed a penchant for hoarding though because my innards tell me that what I really want, in fact need, is a stash of beads of different sizes, colours, types, etc, so that whenever I get the urge to beadily embellish, I can just very smugly and, with an impressive air of nonchalance, open my ornate box (yet to be acquired) of beads (there will probably be beautiful vintage buttons in there, too) and select some to meet my fancy!
So, with this plan in mind, the first thing to do was to find out exactly what is what in the way of beads for knitting. Sue, (that is Sue of the Curly Extravaganza Scarf creation), very kindly let me have her Bead Merchant catalogue on loan so that I could see the full array of beady delights that are available. She also sent me a few beads as samples. Both she and Yvonne also suggested more London beady boudoirs to visit when I make my next visit to Ells & Farrier. So I got all organised and compiled the following list to add to my 'Beads for Knitting' folder.
London Shops to Visit
Ells and Farrier , 20 Beak Street, London W1 (near Libertys);
The Bead Shop, Tower Street (over towards Covent Garden);
Buffy's Beads, top floor of Kingly Court (off Carnaby Street) - also sells pearls and more precious stones!
The Bead Merchant
Earth Faire (a US based company)
G J Beads
Heartstrings (another US based company)
I thought that Heartstrings seemed a good site for knitting with beads and I also liked the look of the Earth Faire site because, although some of the beads were obviously for other uses, there appeared to be a good selection that would be suitable for knitting and a good choice of kits for beaded knitting projects, too. So I sent an email to Earth Faire enquiring which types and sizes of beads would be most suitable for which sorts of yarn. I didn't really expect to get more than a brief answer and, then, not necessarily for a while so I was pleasantly surprised when Ellen of Earth Faire answered very promptly and very fully.
I learned from Ellen that there are some general rules of thumb which might help and one of these is that the larger the number of the bead size, the smaller the bead.
The size 11/0 beads as well as other small ones like the 3.4mm drop beads and the pressed glass beads from the Czech Republic (the leaves, the daggers and the larger drop beads) will fit on thread (perle cotton, silk serica, fine braid and tapestry braid) as well as most lace weight yarns. These are small and/or their holes are small.
The size 8/0 beads (round or triangles) will work well on lace weight and up to fingering/sock weight yarns.
The size 6/0 beads will also work on these thinner yarns but are best on sport weight, dk weight and some light worsted weights. The same is true of Earth Faire's Megatamas and most of the 4x4 Cubes, though some of the Cube beads they carry (the ones from Toho) have larger holes and will work on even heavier worsted yarns.
The size 5/0 beads (round or triangles) will work on up to these worsted yarns as well.
They also have a small amount of size 3/0 beads which will work on heavy worsted and some chunkier yarns.
Lots of really useful information here. I was well impressed! Ellen also told me that she could let me have a small sample pack to "play" with as she realises that, in her words, "purchase on the internet requires a little extra help sometimes and we want you to enjoy the process and have fun with the beads."
Well, I wrote back thanking Ellen and saying I would very much appreciate a small sample pack and got these in the post just over a week later.
From left to right and top to bottom there are:
Size 06 Crystals;
Noir-lined aqua Megatamas;
3.4mm heather mix Drops;
4x4 salt & pepper mix Cubes;
Size 05 evergreen mix Triangles;
Size 08 dark peach lined Crystals;
Size 08 cobalt Beads;
12x7mm Wavy Leaves mix.
There is even a loop to help thread the beads onto the yarn included which you can also see in the photo above. I'm well pleased with this little lot and the incredibly helpful service from Ellen at Earth Faire. After the Knitting Olympics I'll have more time to have a play and order some beads to start off my cache and, perhaps, also one of the kits.