Sunday, December 4, 2011

Knit a Necklace

Here's my knitted necklace.  I got this idea from a book cover I saw on a foreign site online; I didn't have the book, and I don't know how they made it.  I thought about it for while, thought it would be fun to figure it out, and came up with my own version.

You will need a small amount of thin yarn.  I have quite a lot of tiny balls of leftover self-striping and solid sock yarn because there is always a little bit left after I knit a pair of socks.  It's pretty, and I keep it, thinking one of these days I'll find a use for it.  I used 15 grams, about a half ounce, of a self-striping sock yarn for my necklace.  I made my necklace 36 beads long, or 30" long, a generous length.  When I wear it, it goes to the center of my breastbone.  
You will also need some kind of pretty thread or yarn to wind between the "beads."  I was going for a spacer-bead look, and I had this mylar gold colored run-along thread.  It was rather difficult to work with, but by the time I assembled my necklace, I was used to it.  Next time I do this, I think I'll go for something thicker and stronger.

You need something to fill the beads and made a bead shape.  I used marbles from Hobby Lobby (in the flower arranging section, $2.99 for two pounds of marbles.  You need to go with a neutral color, because the marbles will show through the knitting.  I purchased clear marbles.  The marbles are a little heavy.  You could reduce the weight of the necklace by using wooden or plastic beads.  My marbles are the typical size, about 5/8" or 15 mm.  I thought about stuffing the necklace with fiber fill instead, but the weight of the marbles does make it hang nicely.  I wasn't sure how I'd get the stuffing where I needed it, either.

One thing I would love to try is more than one size of bead and even some long beads.

My necklace was knitted on a Brother standard machine with the ribber.  I selected 7 needles in the middle of the bed on the main bed and 6 needles on the ribber.  Set to half pitch and the tightest tensions and did a zigzag row.  Hung a weight with a 7-weight hanger (this is only about 1" wide, and when it comes off the machine, the little tube is about 5/8" wide).  Set the machine for T4 and circular knitting.  Each bead is 11 rounds long, 22 rows on the row counter.  I had some self-striping yarn, but if you want to change colors yourself, change colors every 22 rows.  My self-striping yarn was quite lucky spacing for the project, as I got little 1" areas of a color, then black and white.  I had played with the number of needles and decided I liked the way 13 needles made the black and white areas form a diagonal design.

I did 36 "beads," 792 rows.  I had already knitted some samples to see what it would take to get a long enough necklace, and had realized that it gets shorter when you put the marbles in and finish it.  I constantly moved the weight up, and I kept an eye on the knitting to make sure the main bed needles were knitting off okay.  I quickly learned tht with steady weight on all the stitches, it knits off smoothly. The knitting went very quickly, but it will take you longer if you chang colors manually instead of using self-striping yarn.  You'd have ends to hide then, too.

When it was long enough, I took it off by cutting the thread, threading a needle, and running the thread through first the knit stitches and then the ribber (purl) stitches.  I knew I'd be drawing it up to close the tube later.

Now for the tedious part:  You gather the bottom of the tube with a needle.  Poke a marble in, slide it to the bottom.  Take the gold thread, thread the needle, run it through the stitches where the color changes above the marble, tighten it, wrap around and around (I used 2 strands and 12 wraps), then tie the thread, hide the ends, and cut the gold thread.  I used several back stitches to hide the ends.  As I mentioned earlier, my very thin cold thread was a pain, breaking frequently and curling if stretched.  Not sure I'll use it again for this purpose.

I poked in marbles one by one, used the gold thread to gather the tube above them, then wrapped with the gold thread.  When I got to the last marble (a few hours later), I gathered the stitches and used the beginning and ending yarn ends to sew the first and last "beads" together.  Then I did my usual winding with gold thread.

And here's a closeup.  I think this would make a charming gift, especially if the wearer is a knitter!  And, it was made from things I had on hand, except for the marbles.


  1. Thanks Diana! What a neat idea. I can't wait to try this.


  2. i dont have a machine... :/ is there anyway I can make it without?
    I would love to make because I think it is an addorable gift!

  3. Sure, using a small needle, maybe a size 3 and thin yarn, knit a tube. That's pretty much all there is to it...