How do you spin beads into yarn? (Part 2)

Part 1 of How do you spin beads into yarn? elicited a few emailed questions. Since more than Rhonna (thanks so much for the questions!) may want to know, here is more information on spinning beads into yarn.

What thread have you used?

I've used regular sewing thread, quilting thread (which is a little stronger), rayon, silk thread, and polyester thread. I think the 100% cotton thread snaps the easiest, and tend to like the silk the most (though it is harder to find -- my local Sew & Vac shop had it, Joanne's and Wal*Mart didn't). None will felt, but I do tend to rough up the skeins a bit so the wool at least grabs onto the yarn a bit more to help everything stick together. But be careful about "whapping" the yarn on the counter if your beads are breakable (luckily I thought about that and haven't done it!)

Do you lose beads if the thread breaks?

The Winter 2003 Spin-Off article talked about tieing the beads in place, so that if your thread did snap, only the bead where it snapped might be lost. Also (my own opinion) if you ply the yarn, then the plying action will help hold the beads in place should the thread or the yarn be cut.

How many beads are enough?

I went overkill on my bead acquisition because I was worried about having enough beads -- I had 1 package plain seed beads, 1 package mixed colors, and one strand of semiprecious stones for some yarn; I ended up with way over half of each left over, 75 yards of hard-won yarn (chalked up to learning!), and beads way too close together on the finished yarn -- the skein weighs a ton! I had beads about every 6-4 inches.

Not bad maybe for an edging on something, but as an overall effect, I'd probably put a bead every foot or so for a scarf, every yard or so for a sweater. And I'd seriously consider beading just one ply rather than both -- so I know where my beads will end up.

What size beads do you recommend?

I'm not an expert on bead sizes so I can't say what size I'd recommend, but there appear to be two common sizes, one easy to thread onto a DK yarn and one onto finer yarns. The outside diameter of such beads also varies -- the larger hole is in a larger bead. I like the small beads, unless I'm going for a particular effect with the big ones.

How washable are beads?

I have to admit, I plan to make most of my beaded yarns into spot-clean-only items to be safe. A poster on spindlers said that some beads will bleed color if washed, especially the ones with silver lining the hole. Those that are semiprecious stones are not dyed, so going that route would ensure the beads would not leach color. But the turquoise-and-copper yarn I plan to spin will be treated with kid gloves, just to be safe!

If you have questions on spinning bead yarns, please contact me or post a comment on this blog entry. Thanks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

shew! am i glad you posted this! i am in a swap where the fiber is sent to you and you spin everything in the box, beads were inclded. being a new spinner (since january-ish) i had no idea what to do with the beads!

do you have to add any extra twist in plying to keep the bead in its place?
i spun the fiber and planned to ply with the thread and the beads.