How to Add Beads to Knitting as You Go

Gather Your Beading Materials

Depending on your knitting project, you will need a variety of supplies to thread your beads correctly. For specific patterns, look on the label for materials needed. A list of suggestions for getting started is as follows:

  • Choose the right size knitting needle, so your beads fit appropriately over the needle. 
  • Get a 1mm crochet hook or use thin dental floss.
  • Use yarn and beads specific to your project. Pick the shape of the bead by understanding the texture and width of your yarn. Ensure your bead and yarn are the right fit, keeping in mind that bigger beads tend to not work well with thinner yarn while little beads often do not work with heavier yarn. Test a thread of bead on the yarn before starting your project to make sure it will work.
  • Consider using graph paper to visualize threading and crocheting placements. Typically, patterns will include instructions for what beads to thread. Without a pattern, plan ahead of time to ensure your design looks flawless.
  • Look at the various crochet patterns for your beads and needles, from accessories to gifts, for inspiration on design, color and more.

Put Your Bead on the Crochet Hook

Bead on a crochet hook
The Spruce / Sarah E. White

The first step to knitting with beads without pre-stringing is to start your knitting project and knit as far as you want to go before placing any beads.

When you're ready to put a bead in place, you'll need your knitting project, the beads you want to use and a crochet hook small enough to hold the bead you're using as mentioned in the materials list.

For the pony beads illustrated in the photos, a size B crochet hook was used. It is recommended to use a crochet hook that is smaller for tinier beads. Utilize a crochet hook conversion chart to measure correctly and view available sizes.

To prepare the bead for being placed on the knitting, slide it onto the crochet hook. You may need to use your fingers to get it on there.

Catch the Knit Stitch

Hooking the knit stitch
The Spruce / Sarah E. White

When you are at the point of the knitting stitch where you want the bead to sit, hook the stitch with your crochet hook that has the bead on it, as illustrated.

If your yarn is too slippery, pinch the stitch at its base, so it does not drop.

Place the Bead

Sliding the bead onto the stitch
The Spruce / Sarah E. White

Next, slide the stitch off the knitting needle and bring the bead on the crochet hook up and over the stitch, so that the bead is surrounding the stitch, which is securely hooked onto the crochet hook.

Add more yarn as necessary to place the bead appropriately.

Put the Stitch on the Needle

Stitch and bead back on needle
The Spruce / Sarah E. White

Now, use the crochet hook to help you put the stitch, now being choked by the bead, onto the right-hand knitting needle.

Do not try to knit the stitch.

The stitch should have enough stretch in it to allow you to place it over the needle even though the bead is taking up some of the stitch's space.

Finish the Project

Finished beading knitting
The Spruce / Sarah E. White

Now that you have placed your bead continue to work across the row, adding beads where you want.

You can place beads deliberately throughout a project or a section of a project, or place them randomly.

On the wrong side of the work, you will work the stitch with the bead on it the same way you would work a stitch without a bead on it. Note that in the case of the example in the photo, that would mean purling it.

Repeat the steps as noted above to add as many beads as you like to your project.