Tips for New Beadweavers

May 7, 2008
 

Beading Daily reader Christine K. wrote, "I am a brand-new beginner now attempting to learn the off-loom stitches. Although I am generally skilled with crafts that use one's hands (e.g., I can both crochet and knit), my learning of beading stitches is SLOW. My major question now is: what is the main difference between right-angle weave stitch and peyote stitch? Also, when I try to work in peyote stitch, I find it difficult to make the beads lay correctly. After figuring out the main difference between peyote stitch and right-angle stitch, is the "trick" to making the beads lay correctly to just relax and continue to thread the beads as required by peyote/right-angle stitch?"

When I read this one I had to smile. I pictured my first run-in with peyote stitch: The first few rows looked like a tangled fisherman's net. And doing right-angle weave felt like driving down the wrong side of the road. It's amazing any of us beaders get past those first brushes with needle and thread!

How to "See" Beadwork

First off, I'll make a suggestion about how to "see" beadwork. This one's kind of subtle, but was helpful for me. Keep in mind that in beadweaving the focus is on the bead placement, not the thread path. The thread path is key, of course, but it's invisible and should stay that way. While knitting and crochet are all about the fuzz, beading is about the firmness of the glass. It's a more planar technique. So when you're beading, if you can imagine your job is to build the beads into a certain formation--your thread acting as the magical cement--then you might more easily imagine locking the beads into place. Seeing the beadwork as a sort of Lego exercise will help you understand where your need to put up the next wall or window. That may sound a little David Carradine, Grasshopper, but there it is.

Peyote Stitch

Right-Angle Weave

Photos from The Beader's Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell

Peyote Stitch vs Right-Angle Weave

In regard to peyote stitch vs right-angle weave, keep in mind that the shapes of these two stitches are very different. Peyote stitch produces a beaded fabric that looks like a brick wall; the beads sit side-by-side. Right-angle weave makes a fabric that looks like a series of little crosses; the beads sit at right angles to one another. The thread paths of these stitches are very different, too--in peyote stitch the path moves straight back and forth across the work; in right-angle weave the path moves back and forth, but by one little circle at a time.

Some basic stitch tips:

Counting Rows. When you string the first strand of beads for an even-count flat peyote-stitched project, keep in mind that these beads will make up your first two rows. Peyote stitch rows are counted on the diagonal, not along the side of the work. For right-angle weave, you can count the rows by counting the outside edge beads. Note that each little circle of beads that makes up the row is called a "unit" in most printed instructions.

Subsequent Rows. The third row in peyote stitch is a bear. If you can get past the third row, you're sailing. I've seen lots of clever techniques to make that third row, including passing another needle through the odd-numbered beads to separate them from the second-row ones. This will automatically reveal which are the "up beads" to work the third row. I've also seen someone put a little dab of Wite-Out on every-other bead to distinguish the rows and then scrape the stuff off after the work is established. You could also start the work by creating several false rows in alternating bead colors to differentiate them. Then, once you're rolling on the proper beads, remove those first couple false rows by sliding them off the tail thread.

For the second right-angle weave row, I think it helps to take a T pin or toothpick and poke it through the center of each first-row unit. This makes the work fall into formation, revealing the up beads very clearly.

Tension. Thread tension is really important for all the off-loom stitches. It's best to keep it tight as possible from the get-go, again making your job of forcing those little glass lovelies into formation. It may help to use a tension bead to start off (just remember to remove it!). I don't like extra steps, so I just use my fingers to keep the thread tight on those first few rows. If I keep the beads of the first several rows pinched tightly between my thumb and forefinger, it usually does the trick to keep the beads in place until I'm able to yank hard on the thread to tighten the beads into position.


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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Comments

on May 16, 2008 2:31 PM

Comments

I recently saw a cube bead made with peyote stitch and seed beads. I can do peyote stitch, but cannot figure out how to make the cube!!! Can anyone steer me in the direction of how? I think it is a beaded bead....

Comment by: Marilyn P | May 7, 2008

Thanks, this is what I have been hoping for. Now can we have the same for the brick stich and the ladder stitch. To me they look the same. Can you help

Comment by: Fe E. U | May 7, 2008

This was great! Thanks for the illustrated difference. Really explained it for me ( finally. I agree with Fe please do the same for brick stitch and ladder stitch.

Comment by: Leslie Y | May 7, 2008

Can you also please make the distinction between right angle weave and the same kind of weave, but using more than 4 beads per unit. In other words, is there a particular name for the stitch in general that uses any variable number of beads per unit?

Comment by: Allegra C | May 7, 2008

i am almost finished my jewelry repair,design course.i could use some advice on where to start with making jewelry items.. thanks. bren

Comment by: brenda b | May 7, 2008

Thank you for your comments on peyote stitch....at first I was totally intimidated by it...now I know if I will manage though the first few rows, it will actually look like it makes sense...but for all the beauty of this stitch and ease of it AFTER the first several rows, I still hesitate to do it...(since our move), I haven't located my "The Beader's Companion", which really makes sense out of anything!! Thanks for...giving me the "itch" (again) to PLAY again with this beautiful stitch! Regards!

Comment by: Carolyn M | May 7, 2008

I am also new to bead weaving and decided to start with the infamous peyote stitch. Like others, it seemed like I'd never "get it" until I discovered a site call Beaducation.com. This site offeres both purchased and FREE tutorials (one of which was peyote). It was like having an expert show me up close and personal, how to do it. And I FINALLY GOT IT. You can watch the videos over and over while you work and whenever you want. Its a wonderful tool and I highly recommend the site. Just an FYI...Patricia Williams, Charlotte, NC (Mousebelle@yahoo.com)

Comment by: Patricia W | May 10, 2008

Try using Fireline. I just tried it and couldn't believe the difference in the tension between that and Nymo or C-Lon beading thread. It just seems to make the beads stay in place so much better.

Comment by: Dawna M | May 10, 2008

Hi,

I have found that putting the first row of flat peyote beads on a "big eye" needle or a small gauge wire helpful in getting the first few rows of peyote flat work started. It really helps keep the beads tight. Linda

Comment by: Linda C | May 13, 2008

CherylS@66 wrote
on Jun 17, 2008 11:51 PM

Many times I see articles and projects on "peyote" stitch.  Please note, that when calling an item "peyote" it refers that the object will be used in a Native American Church in a ceremony.  If an item is not used in a sacred ceremony then it should be labeled as "gourd" stitch.  This sometimes hits a raw nerve in Native Americans who attend sacred ceremonies.  

Beth@221 wrote
on Sep 19, 2009 4:23 PM
I have read that you should start with a comfortable amout of thread, what does that mean? What if I run out of thread before my project is done? Finally, what is a stop bead? SOMEBODY, PLEASE HELP ME
JacqueB@2 wrote
on Jul 13, 2011 8:06 AM

I know this is a long time past, but I have felt squeamish about using the "Peyote" stitch because of its sacred connotations.  I am glad to learn that it can be called gourd stitch--I think I will try to learn this afterall as long as I put it in my mind that it is gourd stitch.  Sounds fun like that.

Jacque B.