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Beading on Sweater Knits

Threads Issue #211, Oct./Nov. 2020
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I’ve always loved the beaded sweaters that were popular in the 1950s. They were luxurious, elegant, and surely reserved for the most special of occasions. I saw them from time to time during my childhood. It seemed to me beyond glamorous to own and wear one of these exotic beauties. It wasn’t until I had grown up and acquired a few of these garments for myself that I was able to get a good look at how they were decorated. I realized that what seemed like a time-consuming and tedious job—applying each bead by hand—was not how the embellishment was done. The beading was worked with strings of beads rather than single beads attached individually. This technique reduces the time spent building each motif and makes it possible to create complex designs efficiently. Creating a lovely beaded sweater is quick and takes only basic embroidery skills.Pattern: China Doll Tee, Ravelry.com. You may want to try this technique on a swatch first before working on a garment. If you hand-knitted your sweater, knit a 6-inch-square swatch with the same yarn and gauge used for the sweater. If you are working with fabric yardage, use a piece of the fabric you’ll ultimately be beading on. This technique works with sweater-knit fabrics of many types and weights, but keep in mind that the beads’ weight adds stress to the fibers, so this may not be ideal for delicate knits or openwork fabrics. Beads and supporting materials Online bead shops carry the supplies you need for this technique. Craft stores, such as Michael’s or Joann Stores, may also carry the necessary items. Glass Beads High-quality glass beads are colored during the heating process while the glass is still in its liquid form. They retain their color through repeated washings and long wear. Low-quality glass…

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