Tuesday, April 25, 2006

an anti pattern

Beaded i-cord jewellery is great for using up bits of leftover yarn and can be made out of most anything. It works as braclet or necklace (depending on length), is really easy and knit up super-quick.

They can look elegant or punkish, whatever you like, and the finished pieces tend to have a luxurious weight and density to them. Best of all they are fun to fiddle with.

This isn't really a pattern, it a formula for producing the appearance of chaos, where you choose some of your own rules and never work an even set of repeats. This means many things - you produce a sublimely individual piece of art and it makes for an entertaining knit. Plus it doesn'’t matter one bit if you mess up.

  • One of those ends of a ball of wool that are too big to through away but too small to do much with. You can use about any yarn. My personal favourite is darkly coloured 4ply mercanized cotton. I found i-cording Kild Silk Haze painful and wouldn't wish it on anyone.

  • Two dpns suitable for the weight of yarn you have. I prefer a reasonably tight gage for elegance and strength, the beads loosen it anyway. You don't want it too tight though, or it can get fiddly. For example I use a 2.5mm or 2.75mm for 4ply cotton.

  • Assorted beads with holes big enough for your yarn to go through.

  • I recommend spherical beads because of the way the yarn wraps round them, but have used square and oval ones successfully. The quantity depends on the concentration of beads you want and how long a piece you want to work.

  • Needle or "threader" (beading needle)

Choices over yarn and beads (quantity, type and weight of both) affect each other, so don't choose them seporately. For example, a bracelet made out of loads of really heavy beads might need to be done with something strong like cotton.


First find your yarn, then choose your beads. I put them in a bowl and stir around a bit to check the mix looks nice together.

Thread your beads onto the yarn. Remember the order you thread the beads onto the yarn will be the reverse order you work them. Make up some sort of pattern if it is meaningful to you or just do it randomly. Personally I like to make the appearance of chaos, but work to your own aesthetic.

I find starting and ending with the smaller beads looks good, plus it's easier to work the smaller beads so probably a good idea to end with a few of them.


Cast on three stitches and work in i-cord till it measures 12cm/ 5inches (enough so you can use these ends to fasten it together). Then start to work beads in.

The tips below might be useful, but go with what feels right because it will depend on the beads, yarn and look you are going for.

Work till you've run out of yarn/ patience/ beads. Make sure you finish with 12cm/ 5inches of plain non-beaded i-cord.

How to i-cord - After casting on, knit your sts from one needle to the other. Then move these sts down the needle to the other side (i.e DO NOT TURN YOUR WORK) and knit them onto the first needle. Repeat this until desired length, remembering that you are always working the right side and not to turn your work.

How work beads - Put the needle into the first stitch as if to knit, then bring a bead right up to the needles and knit the stitch to lock the bead into the knitting.

Other tips
  • If working a bead into the middle stitch, do so with a purl. This is done in the same way as you bead a knit stitch.

  • I sometimes purl side stitches too, depending on size of beads below.

  • I tend only to add one or two beads in each row, and to do a row of plain knitting between beaded ones.

  • It is sometimes easier to twist the stitches (i.e. knit through back loop) if there was a bead in the row below, especailly if it has been purled.

When finished wrap around your neck or wrist, fastening by knotting the i-cord ends (a safety pin will be more secure with some yarns though, plus it hits punk aesthetic buttons).


kerrie said...

oooooh, must try this very soon. Thanks for the tips.

amy said...

such a lovely idea. so easy, perfect presents.

jess said...

Thanks so much for the tips, I've been looking for an easy knitting with beads project

Laura said...

Thanks for the tutorial - can't wait to try it out!

Mary said...

Great idea! I'm itching to try it this weekend. Thanks for the guidance.

Cheryl said...

What a great idea! I'm going to have to try this too as I'm a bead addict first then knitter!

darthlaurie said...

You are my hero!!!! I've been looking for something like this for months!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!

The Purloined Letter said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Anonymous said...

i just made this - about 5 minutes ago - and i LOVE it!! it is so funky. I'll definitely make some to give as birthday gifts. ahhh thankyou for posting this brilliant anti-pattern :-D

Darcy said...

I think I may use this to make straps for a bag I am working on!

Grace said...

Hi I think this is really pretty but I do not understand your instructions... could u do another tutorial with more pictures showing individual steps?

Alice said...

sorry, dont have time now - maybe in the furture.

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