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

Sep 3, 2008

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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Elahnah wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 1:36 PM

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!

BethM@3 wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 1:58 PM

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.

slkania wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 2:04 PM

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.

Nemeton wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 2:19 PM

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.

JulieS@19 wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 2:27 PM

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.  

Kathryn Tyre wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 3:41 PM

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.

AllegraC2 wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 10:59 PM

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.

Jsmaz wrote
on Sep 3, 2008 11:32 PM

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!

MichelleB@65 wrote
on Sep 4, 2008 11:09 AM

I hope more and more tips come in as I need any and all help in trying to master odd count. Great ideas so far!

on Nov 22, 2008 4:06 AM
Multumesc pentru frumoasele proiecte. I am a romanien lady and I can not whrite in english but I thank you.
mary@5 wrote
on Nov 24, 2010 11:19 AM

honestly i was not abt to try d odd peyote until i saw this one by jean. tanx a lot.

mary@5 wrote
on Nov 24, 2010 11:19 AM

honestly i was not abt to try d odd peyote until i saw this one by jean. tanx a lot.