designed by Nancy VanDerPuy
Learn the bead knitting technique of plaited knitting
The beaded purse you knit today will become tomorrow’s family
©2008 Kalmbach Publishing Co. This material may not be
reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.
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P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P PK K K K K2Y0 K K K K K K K K K K
K2Y0 K KK K K2Y0 K K K K K K K K K K K2Y0 K K K KK2Y0 K K K K K K
K2Y0P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
Beaded purseA museum collection of antique bead-knitted purses
sparked my interest in learning how they were made. Purse-making
techniques have not changed much in the past few hundred years,
even though I now use a computer to create my patterns. My favorite
beaded purses feature scenes with castles and houses, elements I
incorporate into my designs.
stepbystepStringing the beads Cut 80 pieces of paper ½ in.
(1.3 cm) square. Pierce each piece in the center with
a beading needle. Set the squares aside. Attach a Big Eye
needle to the end of a ball of Perle Cotton thread. Unwind 10 yd.
(9.1 m) of thread
from the ball. Following the pattern shown below, pick up each
row of beads beginning with row 80 in the upper-right corner of the
pattern. Pick up a square of paper
between each row. Pick up rows 80–41 on the first ball of
thread, following the direc-tion of the arrows. There are no beads
in rows 72–70. Push the beads toward the ball of thread. Wrap the
ball of thread in a dry washcloth. Wind the beaded thread around
the cloth to prevent it from tangling as you knit. Repeat step 2
with the second ball of thread, picking up rows 40–1, beginning on
the right edge of the pattern.
Bead knitting With the ball strung with beads for rows 1–40,
cast on (Knitting Basics, p. 65) 54 stitches, leaving a 2-ft. (61
cm) tail. For each row, you will stitch two selvage stitches
without beads, 50 stitches with beads, and two selvage stitches
without beads. Purl one row in plaited knitting (Plaited
Knitting) without beads. Knit two stitches in plaited knitting
(Plaited Knitting) without beads. Knit 50 stitches in plaited
knitting with beads (row 1 of the pattern). Knit two stitches in
plaited knitting without beads. Purl two stitches in plaited
knitting without beads. Purl 50 stitches in plaited knitting with
beads. Purl two stitches in plaited knitting without beads.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 through row 69. Tie the tails of the first and
second balls of prestrung beads together with an overhand knot
(Basics) after row 40. The beads will be offset by one bead at the
end of each row.
Nancy VanDerPuy is known for her exper-tise on the subject of
beaded purses. Nancy lives in Sheboygan, Wis., in the U.S.
 Purl row 70 in standard purl (Knitting Basics) with-out
beads. Knit row 71 in standard knitting (Knitting Basics)
without beads as follows: Knit six, knit two stitches together, and
yarn over (Knitting Basics). Repeat five times. Knit six to
complete the row. Purl row 72 in standard purl without beads.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 to complete rows 73–80 in plaited knitting.
Bind off (Knitting Basics) all the stitches. Set the panel
aside. Make a second bead-knitted panel.
Assembly Thread the tails from each panel onto a tapestry
needle, and sew the side and bottom edges of the panels together
with a mattress stitch (Knitting Basics). To add a row of
inter-locked-loop fringe to the bottom of the purse, add a
comfortable length of beading thread in the bead-work (Basics), and
exit a bot-tom edge purl stitch. Pick up 50 seed beads. Sew through
the next purl stitch. Repeat across the bottom of the purse,
looping the row of beads through the previous loop (photo a) before
sewing through the next purl stitch. End the thread (Basics), and
trim. To add a row of picot stitches to the top edge of the
purse, add a comfortable length of beading thread in the beadwork,
and exit an 110 at the top corner of the purse. Pick up three 110s,
and sew through the next 110. Repeat around the top of the purse
(photo b). End the thread, and trim. You may choose to insert a
lining in your purse. Cut
two pieces of lining fabric ½ in. (1.3 cm) larger than the purse
on all sides. Leaving a ½-in. (1.3 cm) seam allowance, sew the two
pieces together along the side edges and bottom. Trim seams to
1⁄8–1⁄4 in. (3–6 mm). With the wrong side of the lining facing out,
insert the lining into the purse. Fold the top edge of the fabric
down below the rows without beads. Pin, and sew the lining in place
(photo c). Cut a 24-in. (61 cm) piece of silk cord for a
draw-string. Feed the cord through one of the two center-back
eyelets. Continue around the eyelet row, zigzagging through the
openings (photo d). Pull the drawstring tight, and tie an overhand
knot 8 in. (20 cm) from the purse. Slide an accent bead over both
ends of the cord, and tie another overhand knot. Trim the cord 1
in. (2.5 cm) from the accent bead. w
Bead knitting uses a technique called plaited knitting that
twists each stitch and holds the beads in place on the stitch. The
beads will all be on the same side of the panel. For this project,
you will stitch alternating rows of knit and purl to work a
Plaited bead knit stitchInsert the right-hand needle through the
back leg of the next stitch on the left needle with the right-hand
needle pointed away from you. Slide a bead to within ½ in. (1.3 cm)
of the needles (figure 1). Loop the thread around the right-hand
needle from front to back, sliding the bead between the two needles
(figure 2). Using your left forefinger, position the bead between
needles on the beaded side. Complete the stitch, moving the loop
from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle. The beads will
face you as you knit a row (figure 3).
Plaited bead purl stitchInsert the right-hand needle through the
front leg of the next stitch on the left-hand needle. Slide a bead
to within ½ in. (1.3 cm) of the needles (figure 4). Loop the thread
around the right-hand needle from back to front, forcing the bead
between the two needles (figure 5). Using your left thumb, position
the bead between the needles on the beaded side. Complete the
stitch, moving the loop from the left-hand needle to the right-hand
nee-dle. The beads will face away from you as you purl a row.
FIGURE 1 FIGURE 2 FIGURE 3
FIGURE 5FIGURE 4
Knitting BasicsCasting on (CO)
Make a loop with the thread, leaving a 12-in. (30 cm)
tail.Insert the needle into the loop as shown. Tighten the loop
around the needle. This counts as your first stitch.
Hold the needle with the first stitch in your left hand, keeping
the tail in front of the needle and the working thread in back of
the needle. Hold the empty needle in your
right hand, and slide its tip through the stitch on the
left-hand needle from the front of the stitch to the back. The
needles will form an X, with the right-hand needle behind the
Hold the crossed needles between your left thumb and forefinger.
Using your right hand, wrap the working thread coun-terclockwise
around the tip of the right-hand needle. Pull the tip of the
right-hand needle down and through the stitch, pulling the new loop
through. Gently stretch the loop on the right-hand needle.
Working from left to right, slide the tip of the left needle
through the loop on the right needle as shown. Slide the right-hand
needle out of the loop, leaving two loops on the left-hand needle.
Pull gently to tighten the second stitch. Continue until you have
cast on the required number of stitches.
Knit stitch (K)
Knit stitch (K)
Hold the needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand,
with the first stitch (the last cast-on stitch) about 1 in. (2.5
cm) from the needle tip. Slide the tip of the right-hand needle
into the first stitch, forming an X with the nee-dles. Wrap the
working thread around the tip of the right-hand needle as
Slide the right-hand needle and its loop down through the middle
of the stitch.
Slide the stitch off the left needle, creating a loop on the
right needle. Repeat until all of the stitches have been knit off
the left needle.
Purl stitch (P)
With the yarn in front of the left-hand needle, slide the tip of
the right-hand needle from right to left through the first stitch.
The needles will form an X, with the right needle in front.
Wrap the yarn counterclock-wise around the tip of the right-hand
Slide the right-hand needle from front to back through the
center of the stitch.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Knitters use a variety of knitting methods, and
other sources may include instructions for plaited or twisted
stockinet stitch that differ from those described in this story.
For this project, it is important to study the instructions for
bead knitting and follow the stitching directions. You may need to
adapt the method you usually use to produce the desired result.
Practice the plaited knitting technique without beads to refine
your skills. – Lynne
MATERIALSpurse (with fringe) 4½ x 63⁄4 in. (11.4 x 17.1 cm) •
accent bead for drawstring• 110 seed beads in 12 colors: off-white,
dark red, medium blue, pink, light green, medium green, dark green,
light brown, medium brown, black, white, maize• 2 balls size 8
Perle Cotton thread• beading thread, size D• 2 ft. (61 cm) silk
cord• knitting needles, size 0000• Big Eye needle• beading needles,
#10• tapestry needle• beading mat• scrap paper for row markers• 2
washcloths• lining fabric (optional)
Pull the loop off the left-hand needle, creating a loop on the
right-hand needle. Repeat until the row is completed.
Before knitting a stitch, bring the yarn over the top and to the
front of the right-hand needle (this leaves an extra loop on the
needle). Knit the next stitch.
Binding off (BO)Place the needle with your stitches on it in
your left hand and the empty needle in your right. Knit two
stitches onto the right-hand needle.
Slide the tip of the left-hand needle into the outer stitch,
pull it up and over the inner stitch, and drop it off the
This leaves one loop on the right-hand needle. To continue, knit
another stitch onto the right-hand needle and repeat step 1.
When you reach the last stitch on the left-hand needle, knit it
onto the right-hand needle and repeat step 1. One loop remains on
the needle. Cut the thread, remove the loop, pass the thread
through the loop, and tighten.
Weaving in tailsOnce all stitches have been bound off, the
thread tails need to be woven in. Thread each tail onto a tapestry
needle, and weave it in and out of stitches on the wrong side of
the beadwork. Trim the excess thread.
Lay the knit panels next to each other with the right side
facing up. Thread a tapestry needle on a length of thread twice as
long as the seam to be stitched. On one panel, insert the needle
under the horizontal thread between the first and second stitch,
leaving a 6-in. (15 cm) tail. Insert the needle under the
parallel horizontal bar on the other beadwork panel, and snug up
Work back and forth between the two beadwork panels, connecting
a few rows at a time. Gently pull the thread in the direction of
the seam. Snug up the panels until the seam lays flat. Connect the
top and bottom corners. Secure the working thread and tails by
weaving them through the beadwork, and trim.
DESIGNER’S NOTE: This advanced knitting project uses size 0000
knitting needles, size 8 Perle Cotton thread, and 110 seed beads.
If this is your first bead-knitting project, practice the stitches
using size 1 needles, thin cotton or acrylic yarn, and 60 seed
Knitting beaded purses was popular during the Victorian era. For
this project, I took my inspiration from the two purses shown here.
The upper bead-knitted purse was made during the 1850s. It may have
been used for a memorial or funeral, as it shows a woman sitting on
a bench beside a tombstone. The other purse was made by Elisa V.
Caldwell around 1832 and depicts a village scene.
Photos of antique purses used with permission. Purse with image
of woman: From the collection of Paula Higgins as pictured in A
Passion for Purses by Lori Blaser and Paula Higgins. Purse with
village scene: Kathy Burch, Tri-State Antiques, Canonsburg, Pa., in