All Tied Up In Knots: How to Deal With Knots In Your Beading Thread
After spending a Sunday afternoon last weekend teaching a fabulous group of women how to string and knot their own gemstone mala (prayer) beads, I started thinking about all the knots that I've had to undo in my many years of off-loom bead-weaving. Of course, trying to wiggle out a knot from a piece of nylon beading thread is much different than trying to loosen up a misplaced knot in a strand of nylon beading cord — I would have thought that loosening a misplaced knot from a piece of the thicker nylon beading cord would have been easier, but that wasn't always the case.
Of course, knots happen when you're bead-weaving. No matter what kind of beading thread you're using, you will at some point happen to find a knot in your thread. But don't fall to pieces! Before you get started on your next project, there are ways you can try to prevent knots in your beading thread.
Thread conditioner. The best way to prevent knots in my beading thread, I've found is to use thread conditioner, and don't be shy about it. Thread Heaven, a synthetic product that you can find at most local bead shops and online, is a good place to start. If you can find it, try using microcrystalline beeswax, which is usually sold in small cakes. (One of the advantages of keeping bees in our backyard is that I have a good supply of beeswax for my beading thread!)
Use a shorter thread. Sometimes, I find a knot in my thread is a clear sign that I'm just plain old using way too much beading thread. If my thread keeps knotting up over and over, even with liberal applications of thread conditioner, that tells me it's time to work this piece with a shorter thread. Unless your pattern or project specifically calls for a longer length of beading thread, don't use more than 5 feet of beading thread.
But if you still find yourself faced with a knot in your thread, there are a couple of ways you can handle it.
Loosen and remove the knot. Arm yourself with an extra beading needle, or a small jewelry awl. Place the knot on your bead board or padded work surface, and insert the needle or awl directly into the center of the knot. Give it a couple of wiggles to see if you can loosen the knot before trying to remove it with your fingers. Remember that when you're inserting your needle into the knot, you run the risk of splitting your thread, unless you're using a bonded fishing line-type thread. If you see those telltale fibers start to come apart, it's best to move on to Plan B, which is…
End your thread and move on! This is by far my favorite way to handle dealing with a knot in my beading thread. For me, it's much easier to just end my thread and start a new one. I don't like to continue stitching with a knot in my thread, mostly because as those knots tighten with every thread pass through a bead, they can actually weaken your beading thread and cause a break in your beadwork. It's just not worth it to me! As a sweet beading friend of mine (who might be Jill Wiseman) once said, thread is cheap. I'd rather use more thread to finish a showstopping piece of beadwork than continue working with a knot in my thread and risk having the whole thing fall apart.
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Do you have tips for dealing with knots in your beading thread? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your tips and advice with us!