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Written for the Christmas mini-issue of Snippets zine, originally published here.

Glitzy Knitting: Add a Bit of Sparkle to Your Latest Knitting Project

With the silly season fast approaching, and winter gloom set to follow close behind, why not take the opportunity to add a bit of sparkle and fun to your knitting projects.

It seems that every-time you turn around these days there’s a wider range of wool colours and variations available, up to and including wool with just a dash of sparkle through it to break up the monotony of those dull grey days. If you’re feeling adventurous you can always try some fancy lacework in one of the finer – 4 and 5 ply are quite common – metallic yarns. Or add a pattern to an otherwise plain scarf using the intarsia technique and a graph, that sparkling snowflake will look like it took far more effort than it actually did. Alternately, take another ball of fine wool in the same ply and a complementary colour; wind them together to create a unique effect while keeping things nice and simple.

Bead knitting itself is a marvellously flexible technique, suitable to all sorts of knitters. There are intricate, delicate purses replete with tiny beads that require lots of patience, skill and practice at one end and there are simple additions using a few beads to add a bit of highlight to otherwise plain scarves at the other. Important things to remember are to start simple and to match bead size to wool weights. If you’re buying beads for a project – or digging through the stash of beads in that box at the bottom of your craft drawer – make sure you take along some of the yarn you plan on using for the project, better to find out in the shop that those gorgeous glass beads you’ve fallen in love with won’t thread than discovering half way through the project.

There are at least three different popular methods of bead knitting but beads can be added to your project without you having to knit a stitch. Beaded tassels and fringes are a great way to use beads too big or small for bead knitting; large, colourful wooden beads make a cheery addition to cosy knitted or crocheted blankets. A few delicate beads can be added to a plain jumper to create a unique detail, in much the same way, as you would add a piece of embroidery.

Embroidery in its own right can be used to brighten up your projects and can be a fun way to combine crafts. Expert status is not essential for this as the simplest of stars or a few letters can give your project a personal touch, especially if its intended as a present. Whether you prefer to embroider straight onto the project or embroider a patch to add to the project separately the possibilities are numerous. For example, if cross-stitch is your thing, pin a piece of aida to the item you wish to embellish, stitch your chosen pattern through both layers – an embroidery hoop may come in handy here, to avoid the fabric of the item or the stitching becoming rumpled. Once the pattern is completed, pull the threads of the aida out gently until only the stitching remains on the finished item.

Combining several of your crafty hobbies together can make for interesting results, not always successful but certainly fun, so experimentation is the key. Also if you are only confident in one craft, or don’t want to learn a new one, you can always ask a friend proficient in another to collaborate with you. After all half the fun of craft projects is sharing them.

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