I love knitting lace and I love knitting with beads but to date, I’ve only done two projects that combine both techniques, and both of those only have beads on the edge of the knitted piece.
Anniken Allis, a designer I’ve been following for some time now, has a new book on knitting lace with beads called Beaded Lace Knitting (what else!). It’s so inspiring to me, that I wanted to share it with you and what better way than to introduce you to the author, herself. I’ve asked Anniken everything I wanted to know about her wonderful collection and the techniques she uses for knitting lace and beads together. I hope you enjoy our talk and are as inspired as I’ve been.
DD: What inspired you to do a whole collection of lace plus beads?
AA: I’ve been obsessed with lace knitting since I taught myself to knit lace about 10 years ago. Over the last few years I became increasingly obsessed with adding beads to my lace patterns so when I was asked if I was interested in writing a book, a beaded lace book seemed the obvious choice. And there didn’t seem to be any books that specialised in Beaded Lace Knitting.
DD: What’s your favorite technique for adding beads to knitting?
AA: Definitely using the crochet hook method. Threading beads on to the yarn before you cast on and adding them with a crochet hook does give you a slightly different look. Adding the beads with a crochet hook gives me the look I want and it’s so much quicker and easier.
DD: What skill level do knitters need to be at before they try knitting with beads? Are there projects for all skill levels in your book?
AA: Any knitter who can cast on, bind off, knit, purl and follow a knitting pattern can knit lace with beads. I’ve tried to include projects for all skill levels. It’s more about attitude than skill level in my opinion. The patterns are divided into skill level 1, 2 and 3 depending on complexity and how many beads are included. Some patterns have thousands of beads and some just a handful. If you’re new to beaded lace knitting, start with a level 1 project. The projects can also be knitted without beads if preferred.
If you’re adventurous and willing to try new things, not frightened of making a mistake then you will be fine. If you make a mistake, just rip it out and try again (and read the instructions for putting in a lifeline first). It’s only yarn, you can re-use it.
DD: What kinds of beads do you use? What kind of yarn?
AA: The projects in the book mainly use seed beads, size 8 for lace weight yarns and size 6 for fingering weight yarns but I also use miracle beads for a few projects.
As I prefer to knit with finer yarns, the yarns in the book are all lace weight and fingering weight yarns. There is such a wide choice in these yarn categories from luxurious hand-dyed yarn to big yarn company yarn, that there is something to suit every taste and pocket.
Substituting yarn for shawls and accessories is easy as tension is not always essential, although a difference in tension will have an impact on the final size and the amount of yarn used.
DD: When knitting with seed beads, how can I know what size beads will fit on my yarn?
AA: As a general rule, I use size 8 for lace weight yarns and size 6 for fingering weight yarns. You need to be able to get two strands of yarn through the bead. The crochet hook also needs to be small enough to fit through the bead.
DD: Do you use any special tools for knitting with beads?
AA: I use crochet hooks, really tiny ones. I mainly use 0.75mm/US14 for fingering weight yarn and 0.50mm/US15 for lace weight yarn. But as long as your hook fits through the bead, that’s fine. You can also add beds using dental floss. The effect is the same as if you add them using the crochet hook method. I find the dental floss method slow and fiddly but there are plenty of online tutorials and videos showing how.
DD: I see you have a beaded lace yarn club. Can you tell us more about that? Does it use patterns from your book or are they different patterns? What yarns and beads are you featuring?
AA: This year I’ve been running a Beads & Lace Club and an Easy Lace Club. Both clubs last for 6 months and you get a parcel every other month. In each parcel you get a skein of yarn (fingering weight for the Easy Lace Club and lace weight for the Beads & Lace Club). You get a new pattern each month, which is exclusive to the club until the club period has finished. The pattern and the yarn has been chosen to work together. You also get the beads needed and an extra little treat each month. And for the Beads & Lace Club you get a crochet hook.
The Easy Lace Club is now closed for the rest of 2015 and the Beads & Lace Club will close this week. I’m still planning next year’s club but I’m thinking of doing something different next year. Sign up to my newsletter and you’ll be the first to know.
DD: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about that I didn’t ask?
AA: I’m running my first retreat this autumn. The topic is Mastering Lace Knitting and the weekend will aim to improve your lace knitting skills whatever your level you’re at. It’s being held 23-25 October in Cornwall, UK and I’m covering everything you need to know about lace knitting. The retreat will be a mix of lessons and working on a lace project with me available to help with any problems. And of course there’ll be tasty food and socialising with other knitters in a beautiful Cornish seaside town.
DD: Oh that’s fabulous! I have been holding retreats in Vermont and it’s so much fun. I wish you great success with that as well as with all of your other wonderful creative projects. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me and share your work with my blog readers.