How to: Spin a beaded yarn


Good morning! Today, I thought I’d explain how I spin beaded yarns, since I tend to get a ton of questions about it. I guess some knitters add beads to their pieces after they are finished, using tiny crochet hooks. That sounds really hard. And while my way is probably just as time-consuming, it does make it easier on the knitter.

The order I've been trying to fill forever, this time with the right beads.

First, I spin two bobbins full of singles. These are the singles I intend to ply together to make the finished yarn. Most yarn is at least 2-ply, since singles by themselves are not balanced (they twist up as you work with them).

In addition to the usual spinning, I string 10-15 feet of embroidery thread with tiny seed beads. The entire length of the thread has to pass through the beads as you ply, so I find it easiest to string 2-3 feet lengths onto different spools of thread. Then, I just cut the thread and tie onto a new spool when I run out of beads.

I thread a bunch of beads on a bunch of different spools.

Then I hold the thread and my two singles in my left hand. The tension on each strand is controlled by one of my fingers. The seed beads are wrangled by my thumb and first finger. As I ply, I allow a bead to be taken into the yarn every five or so inches.

A spinner's hands are skilled indeed, to juggle all that.

It’s kind of hard to explain any better than that, so I made a short video. Watching it, I have to say, I’m rather impressed myself 😛

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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12 Responses to How to: Spin a beaded yarn

  1. Jacque says:

    Great demonstration!

  2. Thanks! I love watching people spin. Even myself, it seems.

  3. Pingback: Studded snows | Cliff House Alpacas

  4. starproms says:

    Fabulous! You really explained that well. It looks really hard to do to get it right because you are doing three things at once. Now I want to try it but I can imagine just what a pickle I could get into at first!
    Great video and the sound was perfect too. Thank you.

    • It does require a ton of concentration. It’s almost like every finger needs to operate independently! But spinning and plying both require coordination too, so I bet it’s not too much harder than what you already do.

      • starproms says:

        I’m ok if I get into a rhythm with the plying, but if the singles get twisty, I get panicky and the tension is apt to go wrong. I find the plying goes on longer than the spinning and it makes my shoulders ache!

  5. Kate says:

    Thank you so much, your demonstration was very clear and I now know exactly what I need to do!

  6. Annette Daykin says:

    fab video.. I have wanted to add beads to my hand spun wool just didn’t know how ..now I do lol .THANK YOU. regards Annette . Turriff Aberdeenshire Scotland

    • You’re welcome Annette! So sorry that it took me so long to respond. We’ve been very quiet here on the blog for too long. Just the usual crafting and ranching as an excuse, but we’re back.

  7. Annette Daykin says:

    can you tell me what size the little beads are ? many thanks Annette

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