Bead knitting is like regular knitting, except that it involves the use of beads for extra strength and added decoration. The techniques used are different from those in bead crochet, but similar projects can be created, such as jewelry, bags, purses, doilies and other decorative items. Any kinds of beads can be used, such as those made of plastic, ceramic or glass, as long as they are a size suitable for the yarn. They can be strung onto the yarn in advance or as one progresses with the beadwork.
There are basically four different techniques that can be used in bead knitting in order to position the beads in the desired location. Two techniques position the beads on one side of the fabric, and the other two allow the beads to be seen from both sides of the work. Depending on the technique and pattern, the beads can be positioned in every stitch, in every other stitch or scattered throughout the project to create unique designs.
A common technique is working the bead directly into the loop of the stitch. This allows for the beads to be worked close together and in every stitch, so that the yarn can be completely hidden by the beads. The other technique that places the beads off to one side is the slip stitch method. The beads are also strung in advance but are not worked directly into the stitch. Instead, the yarn with the bead is brought to the front, and the stitch is simply passed from one needle to the next without it being worked.
To incorporate the beads so they can be seen from both sides, one can simply work around the pre-strung beads, positioning them between the two stitches. The beads also can be placed directly onto the loop by using a small crochet hook to pull the loop through the hole of the bead. This technique requires that the beads are big enough to pass over two strands of the yarn, because the bead is placed directly over the loop of the stitch. The stitch is then passed onto the needle without being worked.
Bead knitting patterns can be found online and in pattern books available at the library or at craft stores. Knitting needles, yarn, beads and other bead knitting supplies can be purchased in local craft stores and online. The knitting needles used in bead knitting are regular knitting needles that are suitable for the project. Most projects require only a straight needle, but some projects might require a circular or a double-pointed needle.