Odd-Count vs Even-Count Peyote: What's the Difference?

What’s the big deal about flat odd-count vs flat even-count peyote stitch? As I see it, the hubbub pretty much boils down to this: even-count is simple; odd-count is complicated. How can one thing be so diametrically opposed to itself? Easy/hard; clear/confusing; straightforward/perplexing? After just returning from a week’s road trip through South Dakota with a couple of hormone-demented teenagers, I know such things are possible.

But I digress. . . . The crux of this stitch’s internal rivalry lies at the turnaround you need to make to begin a new row. When you’re working with an even number of beads in a row, the turnaround is natural. You come out the end bead and are instantly set up for the subsequent row.

When you’re working with an odd number of beads, you’re . . . ack! Seemingly up a creek. How do you attach that last bead?

Because of this reason, most beaders avoid odd-count peyote stitch. But there are definitely design situations in which you need to use odd-count, especially if you desire a “middle” bead in your work.

So, what to do? Well, for that third row’s last stitch, string a bead, knot the working and tail threads together, and pass back through the bead you just added. That sets you up for the next row.

The fourth row is no problem—fancy footwork not required.

There are several ways to deal with that fifth row (including doing hairpin turns through your beads), but my favorite way is to utilize the little loop of thread that connects the previous two rows. To make the last stitch, string a bead, pass your needle under that little loop, pass back through the last bead added, and you’re good to go for the next row.

If you’re new to this stitch and want to learn more, check out Jeanette Cook and Vicki Star’s Beading with Peyote Stitch. In my opinion, it remains one of the best no-nonsense books on the subject. It’s written by two of the grande dames of the beading world and has very clear graphics that show flat, tubular, circular, and shaping techniques. The gallery section displays some of the best bead artists using peyote stitch in a wide variety of ways. 

Do you have some good tips for peyote stitch turnarounds? Share them on the website!

NEW Free Peyote Stitch Pattern eBook: Our first free beadweaving pattern e-book features 5 peyote stitch projects, plus two full pages of step-by-step illustrated instructions on even- and odd-count peyote, and a sheet of peyote stitch graph paper for creating original jewelry designs. Download Peyote Stitch Projects with BeadingDaily: 5 Free Peyote Stitch Patterns

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work.

16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily.

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Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

12 thoughts on “Odd-Count vs Even-Count Peyote: What's the Difference?

  1. I’m one of those die-hard even count beaders. I recently bought a few patterns that are odd count and I’m just leaving off a row for now. My main gripe with odd count? In even count I can do 2 rows at a time (per B&B’s Oct ’07 article.) I can’t seem to see how that can be done with odd count. Peyote stitch is slow enough with doing 2 rows, don’t really want to make it even slower by doing 1 row at a time. In fact I’ve been doing it this way so long now that I don’t know how to follow a pattern without doing 2 rows!

  2. I just leave one of the edge stitches off the pattern until the end (so that my piece is stiched in even-count peyote). Then I brick stitch that last “row” to complete the design. Easy-peasy!

    The other methods for doing odd-count leave too much thread at the one side edge, which I don’t like.

  3. Odd count peyote is soooo easy if you use two needles. Pull the thread half way through your work then weave your first row up and back with the first needle. When you get to the odd end add a bead to the thread you are working with and pull it through. The second needle should be waiting coming out of the previous row, bring the second needle through last bead added (in the reverse direction of the first needle). Use the second needle to add the next two rows going up and down your work. When you get back to the odd end and do the same as above but with the oposite needles.

  4. I learned several methods for odd-count peyote and hated the way one edge ended up thicker than the other… until I discovered the ‘step-up/step-down’ method invented by Cynthia Rutledge – she wrote a wonderful Masterclass article in Beadwork in October 2006. It is pure genius and leaves you with a genuinely symmetrical strip with no thickening at one edge. Works for netting too!
    Yes, you have to do this one bead at a time… but sometimes it’s the process that’s more important than the result. I mostly choose to stitch peyote one bead at a time anyway as it gives me more control over the colours and bead sizes as well as the tension, and I find it more satisfying that way.

  5. There is NO BIG deal about odd count peyote. So you have an extra bead in there!? Big Whoop!? Go see the video from Laura McCabe on beaducation.com on how to do peyote. She is the MASTER as far as I’m concerned and she explains odd count beautifully! When a designer such as myself sets out to do a pattern, most of us like things matching up. I’ve designed over 89 patterns now, most being odd count. It makes for a nice finish on each end vs. those scraggly beads on the end on even count.

  6. I found myself strangely bereft yesterday when I realized there was another day until the Wednesday article. Oddly enough,when I opened the e-mail, the article was about a puzzle I had yesterday. Not knowing any better, i proceeded tomake a pair of earrings using odd count peyote. I solvedthe problem of theodd end by exiting the end up stitch and going back through the bead under it, then up and through the bead to be added. The stitch is secure and does not separate and there is noexcess thread on the outside. Pulled up with good tension, the thread slips between the beads and does not show, particularly if it is a good match to the beads.

  7. These are all really clever comments! I really liked the Laura McCabe video, thanks for suggesting it!! I never knew there were round seed beads and cylindrical seed beads. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cylindrical seed bead. I like the two needles idea too, though I had to read your comment 4 times to understand what you meant. Basically, you use both ends of the string rather than just one end. Clever! The brick stitch is also quite an idea for saving yourself headache. Before this, I only knew about the figure 8 method. It’s not a very good one because the beads get too stuffed with the string and no more string will go through them.

  8. Ok, I had a “DUH” moment reading this article. I don’t have any problem with odd count, but I never thought of just knotting the 2 threads together at the beginning. I always string a stop bead and make a loop around the thread holding the stop bead, then take off the bead and weave in the tail thread to secure it. Making a knot is a bunch easier. The small amount of extra thread doesn’t really bother me since I either use thread in a coordinating color or add edging that hides it.
    I will definitely have to go back and re-read those articles and watch the Laura McCabe video after reading all these posts!