Do You Speak Bead? See This Glossary of Must-Know Terms

My husband once overheard me talking to a friend about beading and he gave me the craziest, most confused look I’ve ever seen. Then I realized that it’s probably the same look I give him when he talks about computers!

glossary graphic

Peyote, frog stitch (ripppit, ripppit), QuadraLentil, SuperUno, culling, Rizo….the list of terms used by beaders can certainly feel like code words used in a secret language.

Have you ever felt this way when following instructions? If so, these must-know terms will help you when shopping for beads, taking workshops, and reading patterns.

Must-Know Terms

Cull your beads. Remove beads that are wider or skinnier than the average size bead—using consistently sized beads results in uniform beadwork. Keep the beads you removed because beads that are too thin or too wide can come in handy when filling gaps and when making gradual decreases and increases.

Pass through. To pass through means to pass through a bead a second time, moving the needle in the same direction as the way it was initially strung (Fig. 1).

Pass back through. To pass back through, move the needle in the opposite direction as the way it was initially strung (Fig. 2).

fig 1 and 2

Repeat. When the word repeat appears after a semicolon, repeat the instructions that precede it in that sentence only. For example, here you’ll work the entire sequence three times for a grand total of 6 stitches and 3A: “Work 2 stitches with 1A in each stitch; repeat twice.”

Repeat from *. Repeat the instructions, starting at the text that follows the *.

Row vs. round. Rows of peyote stitch are worked back and forth; rounds are worked in a circle.

Secure the thread and trim. Tie 1 or 2 knots around threads between nearby beads, weave through 3 to 4 beads, and trim the tail close to the beadwork with scissors or a thread burner.

Splitting the pairs. Work 1 bead between the 2 beads of a pair in the previous row/round (Fig. 3).

fig 3

Step up. Use a step up to prepare for the next row (or round). Unless otherwise directed, do this by passing through the first bead added in the current row/round.

Stitch. When directed to work a peyote stitch, string 1 bead and pass through the next up bead. The motion of stringing the bead you want to add and going through the next bead to lock the bead in place is considered 1 stitch.

Turnaround. Change your stitching direction without exposing the thread or deviating from the established thread path.

Up bead vs down bead. The top jagged end of a flat strip of peyote stitch consists of up beads; the bottom end is made of down beads. The very basic nature of peyote stitch is to string 1 bead and pass through the nearest up bead. The bead just added becomes the new up bead; the bead just exited is now a down bead.

Working thread vs tail thread. The working thread is the end with the needle, doing the work of stitching. The opposite end is the tail thread.

To Learn More

Be sure to check out our Glossary page for more commonly used terms, along with links to tutorials.

Plus, the Techniques department in each issue of Beadwork magazine features how-to information on popular beadweaving techniques.

Put your new knowledge to the test with our many tempting project downloads, books, and magazines. Plus, for today only, use coupon code 12DEALS40 and enjoy 40% off! Stay tuned for additional sales in our 12 Days of Deals promotions.

Have fun!

Melinda Barta

Editor, Beadwork magazine

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