Exercise Your Gray Matter with Off-Loom Beadwork
“Pass through 5B; *square-stitch 1E to 3B. Weave through 7B; add 3B picots to the next 2B and the following 2B. Repeat from * fifteen times.”
Am I speaking another language here? Yes; Beaderese. Does it give you a headache to read? Of course. Want to know why? The synapses in your brain are getting the workout of their lives!
I have a soft spot for off-loom beadwork not only because I love the results, but also because designing and writing directions for it keep my brain active. It’s like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, but with a creative twist. Plus, I get more than just a messed-up piece of newsprint to show for it.
I find there are lots of people who love beads but are afraid to do off-loom work, though. They worry about having trouble with working such little beads (why not try substituting size 8s or 6s for the little ones?), figuring out directions (take a class instead!), or sometimes it’s just about putting in the time (p.s.--not all beadwoven projects take 20 hours…). I like to tell those folks to try it before they knock it. Adding off-loom stitching to your beading repertoire, even though you might only occasionally use it, opens a world of design possibilities for your jewelry-making.
If you’re game and want to learn, try a subscription to Step by Step Beads magazine. I was just paging through the July/August issue and the pages are filled with beginner-friendly and very fashionable projects. The cover, for instance, features the Aloha Bracelet by Cher Lash. It’s a netted number that could easily be completed in a half hour, even by a beginner. Other summery projects include Pat Wexelbat’s Silver Waters Necklace, a double-needle right-angle weave project that doesn’t even require needles, and a mostly-strung necklace called Blue Opal Reef by Julia Watt that includes just enough branch fringe to keep things interesting.
Brainteaser Fun: Learn Bead Speak with This Free Crossword Puzzle
As I mentioned, I feel off-loom beadwork isn’t just beautiful, it keeps your brain active, so if you haven’t yet, give it a try! In the meantime, keep taking vitamins B and C, eating blueberries and walnuts, and give this beadwork-themed crossword puzzle a whirl while sitting on a sunny beach someplace this summer.