As I knit more and more, I really enjoy lace projects – especially ones with beads. But I’ve found that adding the beads can be a bit tedious. The first project I did, I tried to use a needle threader to add beads – disaster! They kept breaking. Then, I got a small steel crochet hook that would hold about 3-5 beads and that was my defacto menthod. But now, thanks to the mention of a great tool in a pattern I recently purchased, I know that the very best way to add beads to my knitting is to use a Fleegle Beader. I’m not affiliated with the tool in any way, but I absolutely love it.
What’s so awesome about the Fleegle Beader?
- You can use smaller-sized beads that size 6/0. With the medium-sized beader, you can use size 8/0 beads – which often come in a great variety.
- You can load a TON more beads up at a time that you could ever do with a crochet hook.
- It’s a really well-made product that doesn’t seem to bend out of shape. And its easy to use!
- Depending on your project, it makes it easy to take enough beads with you to do quite a bit of knitting, without worrying about them going everywhere.
- It comes with a handle little plastic tube that you can put it in when loaded and that fits nicely in your knitting bag.
- Best of all – you can use it with a Bead Spinner!! That’s an item that lets you load beads onto your Fleegle Beader in record time.
Watch this video to see how to use the device. Its slow as molasses, but worth the watch anyway. Fast forward to 2:15 if you want to watch it in action with the Bead Spinner.
The Fleegle Beader can be purchased here: The Gossamer Web on Etsy. It comes in 3 sizes: 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm or 1.3 mm. Note: The 1.3 mm is supposed to work with size 6/0 beads and up to Fingering Weight yarn, but I had difficulty with it – many of the beads wouldn’t go over the curve and I couldn’t put the beads on even lace weight yarn.
If you knit – especially if you knit lace – it’s really easy to miss a yarn over in the pattern. Luckily its also really easy to recover from a missed yarn over.
Scenario: you are knitting lace that the pattern calls for a yarn over between 2 other stitches (like k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk). You knit the pattern and then you turn and purl the reverse side. When you turn again and get ready to knit, you realize that you missed one of the yarn overs. Well, this is how you fix it.
Knit to the spot where the yarn over should be. If there is a yarn over there, it will look like this.
The yarn over stitch is circled in red.
Since you don’t have a yarn over, it will look like this instead.
The area in red is in between 2 stitches and its where we need to put the yarn over.
Insert your right needle up under the bottom bar (or strand) and over the top bar like this.
Go under the bottom bar and over the top bar.
Use your right needle to lift the bottom bar UP and over the top bar.
Lifting the bottom bar above the top bar.
Turn your needle so you can pick up what was previously the top bar, and lift it over what was previously the bottom bar. The top bar is on top again at this point. You have now made your yarn over – just move it to the left needle and continue working the pattern.
The difference between this picture and the last one is the twist.
Any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Newly finished lace shawl.
I love the items I make with lace yarn – they are incredibly versatile. I went to a Science Fiction convention last year in the hottest part of summer and my lace knitting was a my savior. When I was inside and got cold from the air conditioner, I could put the item around my shoulders and be the perfect temperature. And when I went outside, I could either wrap it around my waist and use the shawl as a belt, or stuff it in my bag and have it take up very little room. Plus, I felt so pretty in my lace!
I also absolutely LOVE to knit and crochet lace – especially in the summer when its too warm to have something heavy on my lap. I love working with the super fine yarn and I love to see how different the project looks after you block it from how it looked on the needles. Recently I finished a shawl I’ve been looking forward to working on for months: the Sheherazade Beaded Lace Shawl (details on my Ravelry page). I knit several lace shawls last year as well for my wedding, so I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at lace – enough so that I don’t even use lifelines any more.
A scrumptious alpaca lace yarn. I kept petting it until I finally got to knit with it.
Things I Learned to Make Lace Knitting Easier
- It is really helpful to have pictures of the finished the project. Sometimes I’m not sure if I missed a stitch or not but the project might just seem wrong. I can refer to the picture and see how the project is supposed to look and that often helps me sort it out. I especially like detailed pictures, so look for those when you pick out a project.
- The most common mistake I make is to leave out a yarn over. It’s very easy to do. Luckily, it’s also very easy to fix. So if your stitches don’t seem to be coming out right, check to see if you are missing a yarn over.
- I prefer to have very little color variation in my yarn when I work with lace. It makes it so much easier to see the pattern emerge.
- If you can’t decide which color beads to use, just pick one. I had a piece I was working on and I swatched it with 3 colors of beads. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best but what I didn’t realize is that meant I liked them all. I took a poll of my knitting group and they all voted for different ones. So, I decided that meant there was no wrong answer.
- Unless you are using lifelines, it is not a good idea to try to unravel lace by taking out the needles and pulling on the yarn. Because of all the yarn overs and decrease stitches, you will likely NOT be able to recover from this. Instead, tink back (or unknit) to the point where you made the mistake. I will do this even if I have to do multiple rows. However, if I’m near the beginning I’ll just pull the whole thing out and start over.
Do you like to knit lace? Crochet it? Let me know in the comments.
A while ago, I went to a fiber show and picked up 100 yards of hand spun fingering weight angora. I asked the seller what I could reasonably make with such a small quantity and she said fingerless mitts. But when I went online, all the patterns called for more than 100 yards. Plus, I really wanted to use up as much of the yarn as possible. So, I wrote my own pattern and shared it with a friend.
Then, in September, I went to another fiber show and got some more angora. I had several people ask me what I planned to make with it and express an interest in the pattern when I told them. So I have written the pattern and its on Ravelry. The pattern is very simple because Angora really blooms after you wear it a few times (gets fuzzier), so any really complex pattern would be lost.
What do you think of my fingerless mitts?
TARDIS scarf made with fingering (sock) weight yarn.
I was inspired to design this, my first for-sale pattern, when I found a really nice, free shawl pattern with TARDIS motifs. I was going to make that pattern because I had the perfect color yarn, but I didn’t have quite enough. I thought about making it 2 colors but ultimately decided I really wanted only one color. So I set about modifying that shawl pattern to make it just a scarf.
That’s when I decided that I really wanted to make the TARDIS very differently than what the shawl had. And the next thing you know I was searching for TARDIS pictures online and starting to piece together my own version. Because I hate color work and weaving in ends, I decided to use beads for the white touches. For a while I couldn’t get it exactly the way I wanted it – I think I unraveled that first TARDIS about 16 times. But eventually I realized this was intended to be my representation of the TARDIS, not an exact picture and that took a lot of the pressure off.
I’m really happy with the end result and looking forward to wearing it. The yarn is a wool/silk blend so it is super soft. It will be a pleasure to have this around my neck.
A stitch counter & a variety of markers. Note how some of the markers open and some do not.
As I mentioned in my last post, I really enjoy knitting socks. As I know you will, too, I thought I’d share with you the contents of my sock knitting kit. This is something that has evolved over the last year of knitting socks and now it has everything I need to knit socks most of the time.
First off, start with a bag which is made of cloth. I know, you’d think you want a knit or crocheted bag but the needles for socks are so small they will constantly stick out of anything that has holes. So I have a cloth drawstring bag (I got mine from Knit Picks) to hold all my sock materials. It’s big enough to hold 2 balls of sock yarn and 2 pairs of socks, but that’s only about 6″ x 10″ or so.
Obviously your kit then stats with the yarn, pattern and needles for your socks. After you have that, add:
- A tape measure
- A few colors of sock weight yarn in small amounts. This comes in handy whenever your pattern calls for scrap yarn (like for an afterthought heel).
- A small crochet hook. You can use this to help you pick up tiny dropped stitches. I like a C size, personally.
- At least one stitch marker. Almost every pair of socks wants you to mark the beginning of the row with a stitch marker. If you have a few (5 or so) you’ll be prepared for most patterns.
- A pencil to mark your pattern as needed.
- A pair of scissors which won’t stab you. You can do a pair of folding scissors, a pair with a sheath or a pair with rounded tips. Mine are on a cord so I can wear them around my neck.
- A row counter of some kind. I have a small one attached to the cord for my folding scissors. You can also use your phone to count stiches, in which case you can skip this.
- If you are knitting on DPNs, you may want a holder so that your stitches don’t come off the needles.
That’s it! If you build a kit with all those things, you’ll be prepared for almost any sock making contingency.
Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments what you keep in your sock making kit.
Knitting socks will make you a better knitter!
Ever since I knit my first pair of socks, I’ve almost constantly had a pair of socks on my needles. I resisted sock knitting for a really long time, partly because they look hard but mostly because I figured that was a lot of work for something that would only be on my feet and not seen very much. But now that I’ve knit a few pairs, I love to knit socks!
Reasons Socks are Great to Knit
- Knitting socks will make you a better knitter! Knitting socks is a great way to learn a variety of intermediate & advanced knitting techniques fairly easily. Sure you could knit a sweater, but that’s a big investment in time AND yarn if it doesn’t turn out well. With socks, you can learn to do short rows, increases, decreases, cables, ribbing, lace knitting… pretty much any technique. And its a lot less investment than a sweater.
- They are very portable. I can stick a pair of socks in my purse and take them with me anywhere. Most people I knit with have a small project as their “purse knitting” and socks make a great choice.
- They don’t take very long. I can usually finish a pair of socks in a few weeks if I work on them as my main project.
- Hand made socks are soooo comfortable.
- You can make them exactly like you want them – plain, fancy, lacy, striped, fuzzy, multicolored… whatever makes your perfect sock you can knit for yourself.
- They aren’t as hard as they look. And there are TONS of resources online to help you get started.
Please share your sock knitting experiences in the comments. Do you have a favorite yarn? Favorite sock designer? I’d love to hear about it.
Project Log: Supporter’s Socks
The completed socks – check out how nicely the striping worked out!
I’ve been continuing to knit socks since I completed my first pair and I get better at it all the time. I find socks are a great project for summer because they don’t heat you up. And they are wonderfully portable. Plus, everyone loves socks! You can even make them for the hard-to-knit-for people in your life!
So with that in mind, I decided to make a pair for my brother. He is all about brightly colored socks, so I got to work with some great, colorful yarn. The last thing I made for him was a crocheted sweater. It was at least 20 years ago, and the sleeves are 2 different lengths. He’s a sport, though – he still has it! Even though he never really wears sweaters. But because of that project, I decided that the most important thing about THESE socks is that they had to be the same length!
I made these socks from the toe-up. I’ve worked both kinds of socks, now and I like the toe-up for several reasons:
- You can try them on as you go.
- You can use up all your yarn if you wish (that’s hard to do with cuff-down socks).
- All the hard parts are closer to the beginning. By the time you get to the cuff, you can just cruise.
Pattern: Supporter’s Sock by Linda Parkhurst (free pattern on Ravelry.com). I really just used this pattern for the cuff/ribbing. It’s great for striped yarn and makes a really stretchy sock. Basically, whenever the color started to change in my yarn, I knit one row. Then, on the next row, I reversed the ribbing. So, if I started with k2, p2 then, after the knit row, I would do p2, k2. At the end of the cuff, I did an inch or so of 1×1 ribbing, and then I cast off with the tubular cast off (its the Kitchener stitch). I LOVED the result! Stretchy and very attractive!
Heel Pattern: Drop-in or afterthought heel. Instructions are here.
Toe Pattern: Judy’s Magic Cast On for Toe-Up Socks (video). Its super easy to do and looks fantastic!
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici Fingering Self Striping Sock Yarn in the Fizz colorway. I think it looks like Starburst candy. And it’s super soft and wonderful to work with.
Needle: Size 0 circular
- The afterthought heel is a great way to go whenever you are doing striped socks because it keeps the stripes looking great. Without this heel, you usually have a place at the front of the sock where the stripes are not right because of all the yarn you used for the heel. The instructions for this are here.
- I love using circular needles to make socks (the magic loop method). It is so much easier than DPNs!
- When you are doing an afterthought heel, be sure to make the cuff about 2 inches longer than you think it should be. Something about this method shortens your cuff. I thought they were the perfect length, but I finished them and and I wished the socks were a bit longer.
An afterthought heel is exactly what it sounds like – one that is done after the rest of the sock is completed. The entire sock is created from top to cuff (or vice versa) and a placeholder is put in for the heel. Then, after the rest of the sock is completed, the heel is inserted. Normally, in this case, the heel messes up the stripes on the front of the sock (see image). But with an afterthought heel, the striping is maintained perfectly and even the heel is striped.
This is an example of a sock done with self-striping yarn but without an afterthought heel. Notice how the dark purple stripes are not regular – the purple is really thin right opposite of the heel.
Here is a sock with an afterthought heel and self-striping yarn. Notice how the stripes in the front are even and uninterrupted?
How to Create an Afterthought Heel
- Knit your sock, either from the top-up or the cuff down.
Shows a sock with waste yarn in purple (right below the ribbing)
When you get to the part of the sock where you would normally put in the heel, knit the 1/2 of the sock with waste yarn. If you are using Magic Loop, you would knit one needle with waste yarn. If you are knitting with 5 DPNs, knit 2 needles with waste yarn. Simply drop your working yarn and start knitting with waste yarn, leaving a tail. Then, when you get to halfway around the sock, pick the working yarn back up again, leaving a bit of slack and cut the waste yarn.
- Knit a few more rows with stockinette stitch at the back, then change to your cuff pattern all the way around. Finish your cuff and cast off.
Use your needles to pick up the stitches along the waste yarn.
Pick up the stitches on both sides of your waste yarn. With Magic Loop, one side of the waste yarn is on one needle and the other on the other needle. You are going to knit these stitches in the round. The stitches (if they are stockinette) will form a “v”. Pick up the ONE of the 2 legs of the stitch. Generally if you have the work facing the same way it will be when you knit it, you want to pick up the right leg.
- Using a yarn needle, pick out the waste yarn, leaving the stitches on the needle. You can start from either end.
Using a needle, pick out the waste yarn.
Here’s what it looks like when the waste yarn is being removed.
- Start knitting the heel in the round. Knit 2 rows.
- Start decreasing. Using the decrease method of your choice, decrease 4 times on every other row just as you would a toe in cuff-down socks. Be especially carefulto keep your stitches tight between needles. This part is especially prone to laddering! On magic loop, I did as follows:
- Row 1: On each needle, k2tog, knit to last 2 stitches on needle, ssk.
- Row 2: knit all.
- When about 1/2 the stitches remain on the needles, start decreases 4 times on every row. Do this for 4 rows.
- Cast off using the Kitchener stitch (grafting).
And that’s it. You should finish with a heel that looks great, is comfortable, and has nice stripes in it to match the rest of your sock.
Let me know in the comments if you plan to give this a try!