I haven't tried knitting with beads, but crocheting -- is that close enough?
When crocheting with beads, I've only used wire (no yarn/thread and beads yet, heh).
If you wanted to try attacking wire knit/crochet, I'd suggest not going any heavier than 24g wire; I think 28 or 30 gauge would be good to learn on. As for the bead part, when you're stringing them recognizing that you'll be working backwards is good to remember; the last bead you string will be the first going into your work. It seems obvious enough, but I know I forgot that alot while stringing them.
I made this piece with 28g sterling silver wire, botswana agate, freshwater pearls and Czech glass. (I'm a beader before I am a knitter or crocheter, hence the fancy stuff I have laying around to play with.) I made it up in about 30 minutes or so... stringing the beads and securing them to the ring took longer than crocheting the ring itself.