Monday, June 3, 2013

Notes and Tips on Beaded Crochet

bead crochet necklace - ClearlyHelenaThis here is an example of the use of beaded crochet rope (in the First Love Bead Crochet Necklace).

On this page are various notes, tips, and suggestion about crocheting with beads (aka bead crochet).  This page will grow as I come across or think of new things. So though this page may start off small and short, be assured that I will collect more bead crochet notes here as time goes on.

I am assuming that you already know how to bead crochet and even how to make beaded crochet ropes so the crochets notes and tips here will be used solely as reminders or supplements to pre-existing crochet knowledge.

Level of Skill Needed for Beaded Crochet

Beaded crochet is actually very simple in the sense that it usually uses no complicated stitches but relies mostly on the very basic crochet stitches (like chain, single crochet, slip stitch etc).

However I would still suggest that the level of expertise should be intermediate to advance.  That is only because as you learn to bead crochet, unless the feel of the crochet hook in your hands is like second nature, you might find having to deal with beads at the same time as trying to cope with an unfamiliar crochet hook a bit too arduous.  But once you are familiar with using the crochet hook so much so that you don't even have to think of your hand and finger positioning, then taking up crocheting with beads will just be adding to a comfortable competence in crocheting.

Beaded Crochet Rope

How to Start a Beaded Crochet Rope

You can start a bead crochet rope with either

  • a ring of joined chain stitches (un-beaded) and then work in the beads from thereonin or
  • a ring of joined bead chain.  That means that the beads are already on in the very first foundation row.  
I use both starting methods.

Tip: refer to Crochet Stitches and Beaded Crochet Stitches for glossary on types of crochet stitches.

Stitches for the Body of the Bead Crochet Rope

The two photos below show the standard bead crochet rope.  This is how I first learnt to bead crochet a rope.  It is created by using slip stitches.  You can see that the thread used is virtually invisible.
Beaded Crochet Rope with Slip Stitch - ClearlyHelena
Beaded Crochet Rope with Slip Stitch

Beaded Crochet Rope with Slip Stitch
Beaded Crochet Rope with Slip Stitch

Very important - especially if using the slip-stitch method and using fine yarn.  (I usually like using from between threads with 0.5 to 0.7mm thickness).  For that, I normally use a Clover crochet hook, size #3 (which is about 1.3 - 1.4mm).  The important bit is always have on hand the smallest crochet hook in your arsenal on the ready.  For me, that is Clover crochet hook #12 (which is about 0.6mm).  I don't mean have the fine hook ready in your box somewhere - but have it ready ON HAND, right where you are working.  Because it is very easy to drop a stitch when you are working beaded crochet ropes (as you want pretty firm tension) and if you drop a stitch, it literally seems to disappear.  And you will want a much finer hook (than your working hook) on the spot to have a good chance of hooking into the dropped stich to rescue it.
bead crochet - tips

However I (accidentally) found myself doing the body of the bead crochet rope in SC (single crochet).  And in that instance, you can see the thread - which is not a bad thing because having the thread showing can become an integral part of the design.
Beaded Crochet Rope with Single Crochet stitch
Beaded Crochet Rope with Single Crochet stitch

How to Calculate Number of Beads Needed for your Bead Crochet Rope?

This is my rule of thumb but it seems to work pretty well.

  1. Determine the length you want your finished crochet rope to be.  E.g. 20cm (200mm)
  2. What are the sizes of the beads you will be using?
    a) all 2mm or
    b) mixed - e.g. 2mm and 4mm (per row)

    For 2a) all 2mm, => 200mm/2mm = 100 rows, viz you will be looking to have about 100 circular rows to achieve your desired length.
  3. How many beads per row have you decided on?  E.g. 4 beads per (circular) row.
    Therefore you will need 100 rows x 4 = 400 beads needed in total
  4. Personally I always add a few more rows in the calculation as a buffer in case I want it longer later or in case the calculations come up a bit short to achieve the desired finish length.
    So add about 10 rows - which is 4 (beads per row) x 10 = 40 additional beads.
    viz. I will then thread about 440 beads onto my crochet thread before beginning to bead crochet the rope.
What about 2b)  - mixed types of beads?
Say I decide to have 4 beads per row made up of [2mm - 4mm - 2mm - 2mm]
To determine the average 'height' per row, calculate the average (over those 4 beads):
(2+4+2+2)mm / 4 = 10/4 = 2.5 mm (ave. height per row)
So to get 200mm (desired finished lenght): 200/2.5 = 80 rows.
Which mean you will need 80 of each bead (threaded in the above [2mm - 4mm - 2mm - 2mm] sequence to get the desired (finished) length of 200mm.
As before, it would be prudent to calculate for an additional 10 rows at least for a buffer in case the finished length comes up short.

Tassels and Loop for a Lariat

Bead Crochet Lariat Necklace
the two ends of a bead crochet rope
This is just a tip and not an essential for the making of a bead crochet rope lariat.
If your crochet lariat is to have tassels at one end, with a loop at the other (as shown), then it is advantageous to make use of the inherent form of the bead crochet loop.

You can see from the photo that the 'starting tip' of the bead crochet rope is tighter where else the 'ending tip' is looser.

This looser tip is ideal for adding the tassles. You can use it so that you tassles seem to flow out from the beads at the tip.  Thread long strong beading thread, sew and attach (invisibily) to body of crochet rope, pick up beads to your desired length of tassel, use turning bead, then work back along the beads on tassel till your reach body of crochet rope, secure.  Carry on to next tassle.

The tighter 'starting end' of bead crochet rope will then be where you will work in your loop.
(See more details in Bead Crochet Rope Lariat Necklaces.)