Knit shawls and wraps are great projects because they're usually relatively simple shapes and they make great gifts because they don't have to be a particular size to fit.
But sometimes shawl patterns can feel a little plain. One easy way to jazz up wraps and shawls is through the addition of beads, as Scarlet Taylor illustrates in her book Knit with Beads: Stunning Shawls & Wraps.
Stunning Shawls & Wraps covers a broad range of methods for working beads into knit fabric, most of which involve prestringing the beads onto the yarn. There's advice for working a bead in Garter Stitch or into a purl stitch, working with slip stitches and yarn overs and working the bead as you knit or purl a stitch.
There's also advice on adding beads as you knit with the help of a crochet hook and stitching beads to already knit fabric after the fact.
The descriptions of these techniques are certainly worth the price of admission, making this book a useful reference for designing your own projects that include beads.
In addition to the descriptions and photographs illustrating each of the beading techniques, there are also 15 patterns for wraps and shawls that allow you to practice the techniques.
There's a basic triangular shawl with beads scattered throughout, a double-breasted cape where beads are just used in the trim, and a shrug with beads worked into the picot edging.
A poncho uses beads in a southwestern motif, while a shrug uses beads in a mock cable pattern to form the collar. Another poncho uses a bead to help form a butterfly stitch sort of pattern.
Some of my favorite projects in the book include the one pictured on the cover, the Shimmering Shawlette, which actually uses sequins rather than beads; the Spring Morning Shawl, an airy number with beads in the yarn overs; the Enchanted Shawl, a completely simple rectangle jazzed up with beads both knit in and sewn on later, as well as a cool woven fringe; and the aforementioned Nautical Shrug, worked in the round with a panel of beaded mock cables.
The book ably shows many different ways that beads can be used in knitting projects and provides a nice range of options (three beginner patterns, seven easy and five intermediate) despite the limited range of shawls and wraps.
If you're someone who already loves wraps, you'll enjoy these ideas for making them a little fancier. And if you already like beading your knitting, you might find some new techniques here.
Publication date: July 2007.