Learn African Helix Stitch in 4 Steps!

Dec 17, 2008

Resolve to Learn African Helix Next Year

It’s a cliché and dorky tradition, but my husband and I light a candle and make resolutions on New Year’s Eve. We’re each allowed only one. And those amorphous “I’m going to eat healthier” or “I will strive to be a better person” type of resolutions won’t fly. What we come up with are more like personal action items. They have to be utterly simple: things we know we can and will do without being overwhelmed. For instance, one year mine was “make one new friend in the neighborhood”. That was pretty easy to accomplish. Joe’s was “run an Ironman race.” That one seemed ridiculously overwhelming to me, but my dear obsessive mate crossed it off his list, no problem.

I haven’t figured out what my one resolution will be this year. Beading Daily editor Michelle Mach asked me recently what I wanted to do in 2009 and I told her I wanted to teach more beading classes. But that’s really more of a professional goal than a personal resolution.

So, hmm . . . a personal resolution for 2009 . . . something to help me grow personally . . . Here are a few possibilities:

  • Do 10 pull-ups . . . in a row.
  • Count to 20 in Mandarin.
  • Learn 1 new beading stitch.

If learning new off-loom stitches is on your resolutions list, too, I’d highly suggest checking out Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher. Carol describes how to do 15 different off-loom stitches with numerous variations within each stitch like increases and decreases. She outlines the regulars like peyote and brick stitch, but also shows how to do lesser-used techniques like triangle weave, daisy chain, polygon ropes, scallop stitch, and bead crochet. To top it off, after each stitch how-to she presents several projects—63 in all. It’s really quite a book, and if you’re itching to learn lots about off-loom beadwork, buy Mastering Beadwork.

Carol describes one stitch that I learned a long time ago from Virginia Blakelock, but I can’t remember the last time I did it! It’s African Helix—a looped-thread rope technique. Want to re-learn it with me?

How to Do African Helix Stitch

You’ll need 2 size 11° seed bead colors (A and B), a needle, beading thread, and a pencil.

  1. Place the needle on the thread and string 3A and 1B four times, leaving a 3" tail. Tie a square knot to form a circle, pass through the beads again, and exit from 1B. Slip the ring over the pencil. It’s okay if there is a bit of space between the beads. If it helps you keep your place, tape the tail thread to the pencil.


  2. String 3A and 2B; pass the needle under the thread between the next 1B and following 3A. Repeat around the ring.


  3. To make the first loop of the next round, string 3A and 2B; pass the needle under the thread between the 3A and 2B of the first loop of the previous round; repeat around. 


  4. Repeat to the desired length. Work the last round with 3A and 1B in each stitch. Pass through all the beads of the last round again to secure.  

Oh, geez. Did I just cross “Learn 1 beading stitch” off my resolution list? Better move on to another resolution. Let’s see . . . yi, er, san, si, wu, liu, qi, ba, jiu, shi . . .

Do you have beady resolutions for 2009? Please share them on the website—we’d all love to see what you’re up to!


Ask Jean a question!  Want to know the different between half-hard and dead soft wire? Need help getting started with herringbone stitch?  Got a beading dilemma that is driving you crazy?  Submit a question for Jean. Responses to selected questions will be published in a future newsletter. Due to the volume of questions, personal replies are not possible. Thanks!--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor


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

ValerieA@6 wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 8:46 AM
"Mastering Beadwork" is one of the books I repeatedly reference. Great resource that belongs in every beaders library! This year I would like to find the courage to submit work for publication. A fearful step! ValerieAharoniBlogsHere VAharoni
Happibooker wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 9:50 AM
The African Helix looks really interesting and not too difficult so I think I'll give it a try. But my beading resolution is to get my beading area organized following a recent move. I yearn to get back to producing and playing around with my new acquisitions. CM Curtis
on Dec 17, 2008 11:39 AM
What a great post Jean! I have never been able to make it past February with any New Year's resolutions. A few years ago, when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, I gave up berating myself about this and instead have focused on the same two what I like to call "Life Resolutions": (1) to live a creative life, (2) to live without regrets. Now those might sound vague and seemingly unreachable, but they are not. Starting my own jewelry design business has satisfied both. I do not wish to look back in a decade at my next milestone birthday :-) and regret that I didn't try to do that which I love. In 2008 I added three accountable goals, (1) to be published, (2) to be more organized and (3) to have an online presence. Well, I have had my designs featured in a magazine 4x this year (5 if you count Stringing Winter 2008 which is not out yet!). I just started a blog about inspiring creativity in November and my website is in the works for early January. As for #2...Well, I guess 66% is better than nothing! And this year, I have made it a bit more specific...I will be published in a magazine, book or online blog at least once per month in 2009, I will continue to blog at least once per week and I WILL get organized. So far, I am off to a roaring start, with pieces committed to publication through June and a fledgling blog that already has diverse followers from as far away as the UK! (I'm still not sure about that whole organization thing, but I keep hoping!) I have never been one to try the seed bead stitching, but Jean, you make it look so easy! Perhaps I will add another goal to my list! Enjoy the day! Erin, Tesori Trovati Jewelry http://treasures-found.blogspot.com
Mortira wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 1:02 PM
Great tutorial! It's so much simpler than the one I've been using - which doesn't really explain the importance of doing the beadwork from top to bottom. Thanks!
on Dec 17, 2008 1:50 PM
If you are having trouble with the survey link, feel free to post your questions for Jean here. (Just know that she's not going to be able to answer them all here--we need to leave her some time to bead and write more great instructions!) She answer selected questions in future newsletters.
RuthD@19 wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 1:52 PM
I've made one necklace in African helix but had trouble with the outside ridge of beads not sitting nicely. I might have to give it a try again after looking at this. I have Carol Cypher's book and would definitely recommend it - as well as having very clear descriptions of how to do each stitch, her colour choices are fantastic. My beading related resolutions this year are: - Use up some of my stash instead of constantly running out and buying new beads - Finish at least two half-done projects instead of racing ahead to the next brilliant idea!
on Dec 17, 2008 2:07 PM
This is great. Getting a friend to make a Naga Necklace for me, when I have it will post a picture.
on Dec 17, 2008 4:03 PM
Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial and the inspiration to try this stitch.
Deepblu505 wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 4:10 PM
Really liked the tutorial. I am just starting to bead work and jewlry makeing. So I guess one of my resolutions will be to learn the basics and really get them down. From what I have seen here I am sure your web site will be very helpful.
RikkiB wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 9:37 AM
Thank you so much for the clear instructions. It looks like fun. I have recently gone GAGA over KUMIHIMO! Amanda's Design website features beautiful necklaces using strands of beads instead of yarn. I read the instructions in Sheilah Cleary's wonderful book Beading and Beyond Book 2, and I feel completely deflated - the set-up looks so complicated!!! I guess I should make learning this technique my new year's resolution. Seeing, however, how many projects I am now pursuing, I suppose I should resolve instead to finish one before starting another ........ nah.
RikkiB wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 9:38 AM
Thank you so much for the clear instructions. It looks like fun. I have recently gone GAGA over KUMIHIMO! Amanda's Design website features beautiful necklaces using strands of beads instead of yarn. I read the instructions in Sheilah Cleary's wonderful book Beading and Beyond Book 2, and I feel completely deflated - the set-up looks so complicated!!! I guess I should make learning this technique my new year's resolution. Seeing, however, how many projects I am now pursuing, I suppose I should resolve instead to finish one before starting another ........ nah.
on Dec 18, 2008 2:01 PM
Thanks for the "ultimate" in clear instructions. Also, thanks for the inspiration of a do-able resolution....2 in 1 actually...learning a new stitch by taking a new beading class...I love it. It's nice to have such a goal to look forward to. I enjoy your input in beading daily and would love to take a class from you! Happy Holidays!
Arachne54 wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 3:47 PM
I am resolving to use the supplies I already have on hand - if at all possible - before I order new. I am always seduced by new beads or findings or components and acquire them before using those I already have on hand. While I believe that it is important to have a broad range of items on hand to allow myself creative freedom, it IS possible to go overboard. ;-) Of course, beautiful stones are exempt from this resolution. LOL! Kate
Arachne54 wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 3:48 PM
Erin, thank you for sharing your "Life Resolutions": (1) to live a creative life, (2) to live without regrets" resolutions. They are beautiful and well worth being added to my list of resolutions. Kate
Ozzy wrote
on Dec 29, 2008 4:04 AM
Erin, thanks for a new stitch to learn. Ideas of useing it with other typs of beads are ticking over like mad in my brain. But first I MUST get my beads in order. New years resolution is going to be NO BEADING!! TILL I HAVE DONE ONE HOUR OF ORGANISE BEADS. Barbara
Jocille wrote
on Jul 6, 2009 10:48 AM
I would like to print out the African Helix Directions, but I don't want to print all the blogs. How can I do it? Is there a printer friendly version? Jocille
tecachoo wrote
on Aug 28, 2009 11:58 AM
ruthD- i love your resolutions! I also need to use up some more of my stash as well as finished up some half done projects. Its so much more satisfying than started some new to be left unwearable/unsellable or unshowable, you know? This stitch will actually help me to do as well! Thanks.
BeadinGiGi wrote
on Nov 10, 2009 7:36 PM
I would also like to be able to print the African Helix directions without blogs. I thought the problem was just me! I've never posted or been part of a network, so I guess I've just gotten a jump on next year's resolution to network and become more computer-savvy.
AnnM@94 wrote
on May 22, 2010 9:52 AM

Ill have to try this, I have tried this stitch in the past and have always failed miserably :)

martha ossa wrote
on Apr 19, 2011 3:58 PM

I like this stitch and now I looking for african polygon weave stitch.It's difficult to find any pattern and I want some help with that please.

Martha de Morales (Colombia.S.A)