I was recently invited to join in a knit-a-long of Andrea, by Sarah Hatton, a textured top designed in Rowan kidsilk haze or felted tweed.
The pattern is very versatile, including a long and short-sleeved version, as well as a choice between a lace or textured knit/purl stitch pattern for the fronts. Two of the French speakers in my knitting group had invited me to join their KAL, so it was a great opportunity for me to practice my French vocabulary of knitting, as well as to knit a great pattern with friends. Here is another photo of the pattern knitted in felted tweed, which shows off the design lines of the pattern with long sleeves:
This silhouette is really flattering for a tall, slender, flat-chested woman. This meant I needed to make a number of modifications for my middle-aged figure. Rather than let the lace pattern cut across my bust, I lowered the lace panels so that they started right after my waist:
Once I made this change, I realized that the seed-stitch pattern at the waist line could create a beautiful frame for my upper body, and I was inspired to adorn it with beads! I did this by threading 4mm Swarovski crystal Rowan beads onto my kidsilk haze yarn right after I knitted the waist, which completed the stockinette section of my cardigan.
Watch Jennie Atkinson, beading expert’s youtube tutorial on how to thread beads onto your yarn here:
For my edging, I created this seed stitch beading pattern:
Row 1: (knit, purl, knit, slip 1 w/bead) * repeat to end, knit
Row 2: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
Row 3: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
Row 4: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
Row 5: (knit, purl, knit, slip 1 w/bead) * repeat to end, knit
This “slip 1 w/ bead” stitch is usually described in patterns using the terminology “bead 1.” Jennie Atkinson and Martin Storey use this technique a lot in their beaded patterns, and you can watch Atkinson’s video tutorial on how to do it here:
My seed stitch/bead pattern created a line of beading every 3 stitches, separated by 4 rows. The beads line up with each other to create a lovely sparkle which separates the stockinette fabric from the lace fabric of my cardigan:
This beaded edging pattern was very easy to execute, as long as I pulled the slipped stitches that held the beads tightly across each knit stitch. As you can see, the beads really picked up the color of my yarn so they seem to match perfectly. The effect was so beautiful that I decided to also add beading to the neckline and edgings of my cardigan, which were executed in 7 rows of seed stitch. I used the following pattern for the beaded seed stitch of the neck and fronts:
Pick up stitches on right side.
WS Row 1: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
RS Row 2: (knit, slip 1 w/bead, knit, purl) * repeat to end, knit
WS Row 3: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
RS Row 4: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
WS Row 5: knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end RS Row 6 (knit, slip 1 w/bead, knit, purl) * repeat to end, knit
WS Row 7 knit, purl, knit purl (seed stitch pattern) * repeat to end
RS Row cast off
I did add one button and buttonhole in the center front, and I created a button by stringing several larger Swarovski crystal beads of the same color onto some thread so that the crystals of the button and trim would all match:
Note that if you are going to bead at the waist and neck and at the fronts of a cardigan, you have to plan your bead placement so that the beads of the edges match the beads at the waist and neck area. Here again is a close-up of the beading so you can see how these areas have to match:
The beads do draw in the edging and neckline a bit because of the slip-stitch pattern, but I liked that effect. I really feel that these little crystals added that je ne sais quoi this cardigan needed, and I just love it! I feel it is very versatile as well, and can be worn with jeans and a tank as well as the floral print skirt and top I put together for these photos. I think it is the dark teal color of the Peacock kidsilk haze yarn that prevents the cardigan from looking too fussy in spite of the beading and lace. I may make a short-sleeved version some day in charcoal-colored yarn as well.
Although the original design, with its empire waist, low neck, and button-up front is very charming, I feel that for those of us with more hour-glass figures, a V-neck shape is more flattering. To achieve a more hour-glass shape to the cardigan, I lowered all of the lace panels by several inches to sit just above my natural waist, raised the neckline by 1 ½ inches, and used just one large button at the waist to bring the cardigan in at my body’s narrowest point. Below the button, the cardigan flares out over the hips, as it is designed with an A-line shape. The V at the bust line above the waist also draws the eye up and down, de-emphasizing any bulk, and lengthening the torso.
This beading experiment has taught me a valuable lesson, which is that a beaded edging in seed stitch is both easy to execute and adds a fun touch of pizzazz! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and I foresee beads popping up in many more knits in future.