Friday, 9 December 2011

Batch bake beading

Well, it's the time of year when anyone with an ounce of craftiness is either sitting smug or in a tail spin. I'm referring to that subtle pressure to hand make lovely presents. The smugly smug gals started last January and are now happily doing artful giftwrapping. For the rest of us, life got in the way, or we spent the summer gardening, or like with me, didn't really think about it until the weather turned a bit nippy, which is honestly too late.... almost.
I often thought that it would be lovely to spend my spare time all year industriously making things, then book a booth at the local Christmas market. Having just walked around the one in Bath on this bitterly cold November day, I can honestly say that I'm not sure I could stand the chilly winds of commercial reality!
knitted and felted and waiting for beads
Anyhoo, it's batch bake beading time and although a bit eleventh hour here's a project that is definitely
do-able at the rate of beading up one an evening.

First get a ball of Wash+ Filz-it! felting yarn, and a 4pin knitting dolly. Knit yourself 20 -25cm (including the bit in the bobbin). Sew the ends together then felt it. I make several and put them in with a regular washing load. You can easily knit five or six in an evening.

Once dry your knitted bangle will have shrunk a bit.
Also the join may look a bit blobby but will disappear under the beading.

Now for the beady bit. I tend to use up oddments of beads, bags of weird sizes and cheap and cheerful's which may not be ideal for precision beading, but you know, you fell in love with the colour...

seven bead netting, three sets fit a treat
Work the netting around the knitting. I find three sets of seven beads fits well. You can use a bigger  or different coloured bead for the centre/intersection bead. Not sure about netting? there's a good tutorial here So keep beading and rather than stretching out the knitting, push it into the beading so that it is the beaded net which stretches over the knitting. I use a little wooden stick, or knitting needle, or blunt end of a biro.
Tweek the size at this stage if needed, by squishing up the knitting more or less to get the diameter you want. It will look a really weird shape until you've beaded right round.
Once the beaded tube ends meet up, zip them together and the bangle is suddenly perfectly circular and good to go.

One ball of yarn will make about 8 -10 bangles... and there are lots of lush colours to choose from.
Make a gift tag to explain that these bangles are a bit stretchy, can be rolled on, and hand washed too.
If you're feeling generous, tie two or three together with a pretty ribbon and hand them over. If not, pop one in one of those cute organza bags.

finished bangles... can I really bear to part with them!
I am a big fan of netted beadwork, it works up satisfyingly quickly. If you'd like to explore some new ways with netting, my book on CD Beadnet covers all sorts of shaped and hollow form netting, with lots of colourful projects. One of my favourites is the spiky 'Sea urchin' bangle, it's really easy to bead.

Sea urchin bangles in monochrome