A couple weeks ago, a Beading Daily reader suggested that I show how to do a no-ladder stitch herringbone stitch starts. Great idea, Shaolingrrl!
Why love a no-ladder stitch start? Well, when you begin herringbone stitch this way, you have little to no distortion in your subsequent stitches, so that beautiful chevron pattern that the beads make emerges beautifully. With a ladder-stitched start, no matter what your tension, you're going to have some pattern distortion.
Let's dive in! There are a couple ways to do this technique:
The first is the traditional way...in the United States, we all learned this
technique from Virginia Blackelock, who described the technique in her
book, Those Bad, Bad Beads. It takes a little planning, but is very effective. The only downside is that you'll end up with half-columns on the edges of your work, but you can also use those to your advantage in certain designs.
Rows 1 and 2: Use 2 colors of beads (A and B). Add a tension bead to the end of a comfortable length of thread. String 1A, 2B, 2A, 2B, 2A, 2B, 1A for a total of 12 beads (Fig. 1, black thread). Note: You will want to always have a multiple of 4 beads for this kind of start.
Row 3: String 1B; pass back through the last A exited and the next A of the previous row. String 2B and pass through the following 2A of the previous row; repeat. String 1B and 1A; pass back through the last B added and the next B added in this row (Fig. 1, red thread). Pull the tail thread to tighten the beadwork along the bottom row.
Row 4: String 2A and pass down through the next B of Row 3 and up through the following B; repeat. String 1A and 1B; pass back through the A just strung and up through the second-to-last A (Fig. 2).
Rows 5 and on: Repeat Row 4 to the desired length.
This technique is described beautifully in Melinda Barta's book, Mastering Herringbone Stitch. It's a little easier to control and it produces neat, clean, 2-stack columns.
Rows 1 and 2: Use 2 colors of beads (A and B). Add a tension bead to the end of a
comfortable length of thread. String 1B, 2A, 2B, 2A, 2B, 2A, and 1B for a
total of 12 beads. Square-stitch the last B strung and the second-to-last B together. Loop the thread around the square stitch to form a turnaround and pass back through the last 1B/1A added (Fig. 3). Note: As with the first technique, you will want to always have a multiple of 4 beads with this kind of start.
Row 3: String 2B, pass down through the next A of the previous row and up through the following A; repeat twice. Pass down through the corner B, then square-stitch the first 2B together to tighten. Pass through the B/A/B beads along the edge of the beadwork (Fig. 4).
Rows 4 and on: Work across in regular flat herringbone stitch to the desired length.
Have you tried these 2 no-ladder starts? Do you have other ways you like to begin herringbone stitch? Please share your tips with your fellow beaders on the Inside Beadwork!
Senior Editor, Beadwork magazine