Last time we talked about where beads are born and bead shapes and sizes. This week we'll talk about bead colors and finishes and how to pick a bead that will work with whatever weight yarn you are using. We're going to focus on Czech and Japanese seed beads since they are the ones most commonly used in fiber work.
bead colors and finishes
Seed beads come in lots of colors and finishes. Japanese Seed beads come in about 350 colors with 15 different types of finishes. Czech seed beads come in over 2,000 colors with more than 18 different finishes, but exactly what is a finish? A finish is a coating, plating, tumbling, painting, or galvanizing that changes the appearances of a bead. It can be applied to the surface, in the hole, or a combination of both. Some finishes can be combined to create even more looks.
A matte finish is an example of tumbling which removes the shiny surface of the bead leaving a rough finish and soft appearance.
A color-lined finish is one in which paint or, in some cases, metal is put in the hole of a bead.
Here is a handy chart showing the most common finshes on seed beads.
How to match beads with your fiber
This is actually the easiest part. The first consideration is what size bead you will need for your project. Bead size is generally determined by yarn size. Here is a sizing chart showing which seed bead sizes will fit on which yarn.
We have tried all of these combinations and know that they work. There are beads which fit on bulky and super bulky, but they are a topic for another blog entry. We haven't talked about 11Â° seed beads here. They are smaller than 8Â° seed beads and will only fit lace weight yarn. They can be used with larger yarn, however they need to be sewn on afterwards or incorporated using a carry-along method.
The next consideration is what color beads to put with your yarn. In fact, "What color beads go with this yarn?" is one of the most common questions we get asked. There are many sites online which explain color theory, (This one is very easy to read and understand) but, ultimately, the choice of what colors look good together is a personal one.
Some people prefer things to match and blend together. They may want the beads to just add a little sparkle. Sometimes people want the beads to compliment the yarn without standing out at all. Others want a lot of bling. They want the beads to sparkle and shine and be a central part of the design. That's why we have such a large selection of beads.
All of that said, there are a few tips we can offer to help make choosing easier:
1) Always bring a sample of the yarn you are trying to match. Don't rely on memory when it comes to colors.
2) If you have any doubts about whether or not a bead will fit on your yarn, try it. You can always ask us to try it at the booth or send us a snippet of yarn and we will try it and let you know how it fits.
3) Make sure the lighting is good when matching the beads and yarn. If you need to, ask to take the beads to a spot with better lighting.
4) If you purchase beads online, make sure that you return them if they don't match your yarn.
5) Trust yourself. If you like the way something looks that's really all that matters.
If you have any questions about fiber and beads that we haven't covered in these 2 posts, please let us know and we'll do our best to answer them.
where beads are born
We can all agree that knitting with beads adds sparkle and pop to any knitting, crochet, or jewelry project. Confusion comes in when we wonder which bead to choose for what project. There are so many different kinds of beads out there! So let's try to examine what kinds of beads there are and how they relate to each other and our work.
Japanese beads range from delicate hand crafted beads for jewelry made from glass or porcelain to mass produced seed beads and buttons which are used in both jewelry and fiber work.
Lots of countries make beads. Among the foremost in the world are the Czech Republic, Japan, and Italy.
Let's start with Italy. Most of the beads produced in Italy are meant for use in jewelry. They are famous for their millefiori (literally million flower) beads which boast intricate designs.
Beads from the Czech Republic fall into three main types: Pressed glass beads which are used for jewelry and clothing embellishment, handmade lamp work beads which are mainly used in jewelry, and seed beads which are used in jewelry, clothing, and fiber work.
seed bead shapes and sizes
Seed beads, both Czech and Japanese, come in many shapes and sizes. They can be round, which are often referred to as rocaille beads, cylindrical, tubular, rectangular, or even triangular just to name a few of the shapes!
When it comes to sizing, there are two different sizes that affect how a bead looks and works with fiber.
The first is external diameter which is the distance around the outside of the bead. Here is where things get tricky. Both Czech and Japanese beads use a system which measures how many beads, lined up with the holes facing up will fit in one inch. This means that 6 size 6° or 6/0 (both are actually pronounced six aught but are often said as six oh or simply size six) will fit in one inch. Using this concept, a 6° bead is larger than an 8° one and smaller than a 4° bead.
The second size is the internal diameter or the size of the hole. This is much harder to quantify because these sizes have never been standardized, and there are a lot of assumptions as well as misinformation about the differences between Czech and Japanese beads. So, let's look at the diameters of the two seed bead sizes most commonly used in fiber work: 6° and 8°.
What does this mean for fiber work? In short it means that a Czech 6° will fit the same size yarn as a Japanese 8°. The important difference between these two beads is that a Czech 6° is a bigger (on the outside) than a Japanese 8° which means that on larger yarn, the Czech bead will be more easily seen than the Japanese bead. If you are working with a heavier weight yarn, having the beads become an integral part of the design will be easier if you are using Czech beads. Conversely, if you want the beads to be very subtle in the design, you would want to use a Japanese bead.
How does this affect which size bead you should chose with your yarn? We will answer that question more fully in the next part of this article, but for now we will note that Czech 6° seed beads will fit anything up to and including a squishy worsted weight yarn and Japanese 8° seed beads will fit anything up to and including a squishy worsted weight yarn.
That's all for this week. Next week we'll talk about bead colors and finishes and how to pick a bead that will work with whatever weight yarn you are using.
If you've been to the booth, you've seen the wonderful things we carry and you have probably met the Bead Biz Baby - our son Daxton! Unlike his older brothers, he loves coming to shows and seeing friends both new and old. If you've been to our booth over the past 3 years, then you've watched him grow.
Daxton turned 3 this weekend and we thought you might enjoy seeing how much he's grown over the past 3 years.
We're just a couple of bead chicks who found fiber and came over to the dark side. It's OK though, we brought cookies :)
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