Book Review

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  Knitting with Beads: 30 Beautiful Sweaters, Scarves, Hats & Gloves
By Jane Davis
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Although beads have holes in the center intended for string, and yarn qualifies as string, the harmonious pairing of the two has been a long time coming.

Our first forays into beaded knitting normally entailed fine string or wire and superfine seed beads manipulated into jewelry, bags, and other bead-heavy accessories.

Jane Davis takes beaded knitting to the next level of sophistication, showing fine examples of how beads of all sizes and yarns of all sizes can be paired for beautiful results.

Under the Covers
Davis divides the book into two distinct categories: sewing beads onto finished knitwear for embellishment, and stringing the beads onto your yarn and knitting them in as you go.

She further classifies the first section into patterns with beaded embroidery, fringe, and applique, and the second section into patterns that use beads over slip stitch, beaded knitting, and bead knitting (two different techniques with nearly identical names).

A third section—Pulling It All Together—shows how both beaded embellishments and in-line bead knitting can be used together in the same project.

Not for Beginners
Right from the beginning, Davis explains that this book is not intended for beginners. Some patterns involve cables, others require Fair Isle and lace.

You don't need a Ph.D in knitting to try the patterns, however: If you're comfortable with the basics of these techniques, you'll do just fine.

The first section involves a great deal of standalone beadwork. If you're not familiar with bead techniques or written diagrams, you'll need to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with them before you begin.

Fortunately Davis provides some hand-holding with an in-depth explanation of what you should know before you venture into the bead store (which can be an overwhelming territory if you've never been in one before).

From Basic to Bold
The beadwork in Davis' book runs the gamut from faint and subtle to bold and brassy. Perhaps my favorite project is a cable hat (knit flat and seamed) where each cable crossover is marked by a few tiny seed beads, giving the effect of a fine dusting of snow.

In another project, Davis goes further by using colored beads to highlight the yarn colorwork in a Fair Isle vest. And in yet another project, she relies entirely on colored beads to create a floral panel on an otherwise monochromatic sweater.

The Yarns
Davis never mentions any specific yarn brands in the patterns. I found myself missing this, if only because Davis used gorgeous yarns for the sample garments, and I'd love to know what they were.

The patterns aren't uniform in their yarn requirement details. In some cases, Davis will give you the overall yardage needed, but in other cases she will specify a certain number of skeins of yarn, each of which holds X number of yards. We all know that yardage per skein varies almost as much as yarn itself.

For me, it would've been far better simply to specify the total required yardage throughout and avoid any mention of skeins.

A Perfect Start
If you'd like to start with wire-based bead knitting, you may want to check out Nancie Wiseman's book Knitting with Wire.

But if you like the idea of using beads in plush knitted garments, this book is a perfect starting point—not only for its patterns but also for the helpful beading basics and guidance that Davis gives throughout.

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