How to Add Beads to Knitwear – A Free Tutorial
If you love lace knitting, you are bound to be familiar with the brilliant Norwegian-born designer Anniken Allis! We’re thrilled to reveal that Anniken has designed a shawl exclusively for us!
Anniken is a prolific designer who teaches knitting techniques all over the world. Ma Belle is a rectangular shawl that is created from one skein of Yarn Collective Portland Lace, which comes in ten delicious shades curated by designer Melanie Berg! It is worked here in The Magician (208), a beautiful rich purple and magenta semi-solid blend. It’s 100% merino wool, hand dyed in Peru. Ma Belle also has some beautiful beading added, which you can learn more about in Anniken’s video below, but this shawl looks just as beautiful without it!
We caught up with Anniken to ask her all about her knitting!
Hi Anniken, we just love your lace patterns – how did you learn to knit?
I don’t actually remember learning to knit. I grew up in Norway and knitting has always been very popular in Norway. My mum was always knitting and she says I just picked it up. She doesn’t remember teaching me either. I was very young when I learnt to knit and I knit a lot throughout my school years. At secondary school we were even allowed to knit in class if the teacher was just talking and we were just listening.
There are so many lace fans in the knitting world! What’s so exciting about the technique?
I grew up doing a lot of stranded colour work and hadn’t done any lace knitting until I started buying knitting magazines about 10-12 years ago. I was fascinated by the lace patterns I saw in the magazines and tried following some tutorials, but because the tutorials were based on English style knitting and I was a continental knitter, I struggled a bit – but once I got the hang of it, I found I really enjoyed it. I was given Jane Sowerby’s ‘Victorian Lace Today’ as a Christmas present when it was first published. I absolutely loved that book and found it so inspiring. It’s the book that got me hooked on lace knitting.
Lace knitting can seem intimidating if you haven’t tried it before but it’s really not as difficult as it looks. It looks very impressive and you can choose from very simple lace patterns and very complicated ones. So as a knitter you can easily choose a pattern suiting your skill level.
Shawls are very popular now, whether they’re lace shawls or simple garter stitch shawls and I think that’s because you don’t have to worry about getting the fit right. A shawl will always fit. You don’t have to be as strict about knitting to the exact tension and it’s easier to substitute yarns.
You are very passionate about your teaching – can you tell us about it?
I love teaching knitters new skills which gives them the confidence to try new things. Improving your confidence in your knitting and learning new skills, can also improve your confidence in other areas of your life. I believe that we can learn what we want to, it just takes practice. We’re fortunate these days because lots of yarn shops offer workshops and there are plenty of free tutorials online.
I love meeting knitters and in my workshops I get to teach knitters the techniques that I’m passionate about. Getting feedback from knitters who’ve taken my workshops is fantastic! And when they come back to other workshops wearing something they’ve knitted after taking one of my classes, it is wonderful! Whatever your age and experience level there is always more to learn – we never stop learning. I’ve had knitters in my workshops ranging in age from 20s to 90s and as we get older it does get more difficult to learn new things, but if you challenge yourself to keep learning new skills you will keep your mind young and active.
You have published so many fabulous patterns, and you’re constantly in knitting magazines! What has been your favourite pattern?
That’s a difficult question, it’s like choosing your favourite child. Most designs are my favourite while I work on them but I think my all time favourite is my Midnight Stole. I designed that quite early on in my design career and it is my most challenging pattern. It’s a stunning shawl and always gets lots of compliments when I display it at yarn festivals.
Do you have a favourite yarn or yarn manufacturer?
I have lots of favourite yarns I keep returning to, and designing for magazines means I get to work with new yarns all the time. I prefer natural fibres and especially for lace knitting, because acrylic just doesn’t block in the same way and your lace won’t look as defined as it will in a natural fibre.
My favourite yarns are those containing merino or Bluefaced Leicester wool, cashmere and silk. I also love Qiviut which comes from the musk ox. It’s an incredibly soft and luxurious fibre and very expensive.
I prefer finer yarns. I mainly work with 4ply and lace weight yarns. They are much better value for money than thicker yarns as you get much more yarn per skein. You can easily make a shawl from 100g of 4ply or lace weight yarn.
For knitters who are keen to start lace knitting, what are your top tips?
My top tip for lace knitting is to use stitch markers to section off pattern repeats. This helps you to keep your place in the pattern. If you have the wrong stitch count, you only need to count the stitches between each marker and you can then quickly work out which repeat the mistake is in.
I also recommend using lifelines. You thread a length of waste yarn through the stitches on your knitting needle, carry on knitting. If you make a mistake, pull your needle out, rip back to the lifeline and your stitches will be sitting on the length of waste yarn ready for you to slip them back on your needles. If you don’t make any mistakes, simply pull the lifeline out. Insert a lifeline at the start of a new repeat or as often as you like.
I also recommend that you learn to read your knitting and learn to knit from charts. Some people never get on with charts no matter how much they practise but for most of us, it’s only a matter of making yourself knit from charts and keep practising. Look at what’s happening when you knit various stitches, how does each stitch look. With practise you will eventually learn to recognise what various decreases look like and this will help you to avoid mistakes and fix mistakes. Once you can read your knitting, you can compare what’s on your needles to what’s on the chart and work out where mistakes are.
Remember it’s only knitting! I know making mistakes is upsetting but if it all goes wrong, you can rip it out and start again. Every time you make a mistake you will learn something. And if you have to re-knit something, you get more knitting from the same yarn, so it actually makes it better value for money. You should enjoy your knitting. Sometimes you will be in the mood for something easy and other times you want something challenging that will absorb your mind – so choose your project accordingly!
You’ll need one skein of Yarn Collective Portland Lace! Which shade will you choose?!
Anniken has created a video exclusively for us to show you how to add beads to the Ma Belle shawl:
Show us your shawls! We’d love to see your lace knits in the Community!
Last updated: August 3rd, 2017.