Mixing beads with yarn, fiber or threads in multiple sizes and colors is a popular design style. Yarn can be used in hand weaving, crocheting and knitting techniques to make projects that range from clothing to jewelry. The only limit is the size of the bead hole, because the yarn being used must fit through the hole. Even buttons and pendants are being used to bejewel yarn projects.
Crocheting is usually the most forgiving and the easiest to learn of these techniques. Start by choosing a pattern for what you want to make, for example a necklace, bracelet or scarf. Then choose a yarn. For the uninitiated crotchetier, using a sport weight is good because the weight is large enough to make easy stitches and will still accommodate small beads. When buying beads, it is a good idea to follow the size chart below for bead sizes that fit different yarn types.
Choosing the Yarn
Yarn comes in many sizes. A good thing to remember when choosing a yarn for seed beads is the larger number size of seed bead, the smaller the hole. Besides the noted seed beads, other beads can be used but special attention must be paid to the bead's hole size. Make sure your bead isn't too snug on the yarn because it can abrade and fray it. Likewise, the bead shouldn't be too loose on the yarn, or it will lay funny in the finished piece. If a purchased bead is found to have a hole that is too small to fit onto the yarn chosen, it can always be used to make traditional jewelry that will match your crochet project.
Needle and Hook Size
Super-fine sock and baby yarns, #F silk thread
Light twisted beading needle, #13 crochet hook
Super-fine sock, fingering, baby yarns #FF silk thread
Light twisted beading needle, #11 crochet hook
6/0 or about 3mm
Fringe Beads by Miyuki Shoji of Japan
Fine lame, fingering and baby yarns, #FFF silk thread
Medium twisted beading needle, #10 crochet hook
Medium fingering, baby, lame, sport yarns, #FFF silk thread
Heavy twisted beading needle, #9 crochet hook
Medium-heavy worsted yarns, rayon, 20/10 silk
Wide-Eye Needle™ beading needle, #9 crochet Hook
Buying the Beads
How many beads should you buy for a design? As a rule, crocheting projects use more yarn than beads. A good way to estimate how many beads to buy for your project is to calculate the number of beads you plan on using in one row of the pattern, then determine the number of beaded rows in the whole project and multiply the number of beads in the first row by the number of beaded rows in the completed project. This is a very rough estimate, and always include extras for the beads that you will inevitably lose to duds, the cat, under couch cushions and the carpet.
Deciding on a Technique to Use
There are two schools of thought on how to incorporate beads into the design. Some prefer to pre-string the beads onto the yard and slide the beads up into the stitches as they go. Others choose to add the beads on individually or in between the stitches. There is no wrong way to add beads to crochet work. Whichever technique you choose is entirely up to your aesthetic preference and personal taste.
There is a slight difference between beaded crochet and bead crochet. Beaded crochet is when you first make a stitch and then slide in a bead so that it sits on top of the pattern. This is a good technique to use if you plan on combining a variety of stitches in one project, because you won't have to change the way you add the beads.
Bead crochet actually locks a bead in place between the stitches, making the bead sit straight within the pattern. This is a great way to add a clean pattern of beads to a geometrical design.
For you non-crotchetier designers out there, here is an easy alternative to bead crochet, just bead onto your crocheted pieces! Simply sew your choice of beads onto a crocheted piece to give the illusion of beaded crochet work. Customizing purchased pieces in this way is a great way to individualize your look with artistic flair.