I sometimes get asked how to add beads to one of my designs. Though I’ve always loved the look of beads on knitting, I abhorred the thought of stringing all those beads
onto the yarn before starting. Once I discovered the crochet hook method, I started adding beads to all sorts of things. The most important thing is to match the bead size to the crochet hook and yarn. When adding beads to lace projects I usually use a size 13 steel crochet hook—this was my grandmother's hook
, and the only way I'm parting with it is when you pry it from my cold, dead hands—and number 8 seed beads. Here’s how it’s done: beads are attached one at a time to the knitting with a crochet hook as you reach each place the beads will go. Knit up to the stitch—the one where a bead is indicated—but don't knit that stitch yet. Put a bead on the small crochet hook. Use the hook to slip the left stitch off the needle. Slide bead over end of hook and onto yarn. Return yarn to left needle without twisting the stitch. Now you’re ready to knit the beaded stitch. Depending on the beads, I have room on the shaft of my crochet hook to pick up five or six beads. They'll sit there nicely on the hook until I'm ready for them, making the chore of picking up beads not something that I have to do each time I need to place one in my knitting.
I have a friend who loves adding beads with her Bead Aid, and another who pre-strings a bunch of beads onto some fine craft wire, then uses that longer wire the same way as a bead aid, and other knitters use dental floss (get the white stuff). I've tried a number of methods, and so far I've gone back to Grandma's size 13 hook every time. Your mileage may vary.
I've been introduced to another tool that can be used for adding beads to your knitting. I haven't used it yet, but I think it's worth sharing about anyway. This new thing is called the Beadle Needle, or the Verna-X Beadle Needle. Laura Nelkin has a nice little video that shows how to use it. Some LYSs will have it by now, plus I've seen it for sale on various sites around the Internet. I think I'm going to have to pick up one or two of these, and give them a try.