How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern

Start with an easy peyote stitch pattern, like Geometric Gemstones by Anna Neff.

How to Read a Peyote Stitch Pattern: It's Easier Than You Think!

Do you love those gorgeous peyote stitch patterns for flat peyote but find yourself confused when it comes to actually reading them and stitching them up? You're not alone – when I asked a question on the Beading Daily Facebook page recently about how beaders keep track of where they are in a peyote stitch pattern, I found more and more comments from beaders who were struggling with how to read those peyote stitch patterns in the first place!

One of the reasons why I learned how to do beadwork was because I wanted to learn how to make peyote stitch amulet bags. (Remember those?!) And some of my favorite amulet bag patterns used a peyote stitch pattern or graph. Once I learned how to do flat peyote stitch, learning how to read those charted patterns was a whole new learning experience, and one that I find many beaders struggle with when they get started with peyote stitch.

Before You Get Started: Know Your Peyote Stitch Thread Path

I think the key to being able to read a peyote stitch graph is that you have to be very familiar with the mechanics of peyote stitch. Know the ins and outs of flat peyote in all its various forms before you try reading a peyote stitch pattern. If you are comfortable with and understand the thread path for flat peyote stitch, you can use that to make reading a peyote stitch pattern that much easier.

Remember that when you are working in flat peyote stitch, the first set of beads that you pick up will make up the first two rows. The first row of beads that you add after that will actually be your third row.

In this graph, I've colored each of the first four rows a different color. Row 1 is purple; Row 2 is green; Row 3 is blue; and Row 4 is yellow. This also gives you an idea of how to count your rows in flat peyote stitch: since each row is offset from the others, your counting should zig-zag back and forth. The thread path for flat peyote stitch creates a series of "up" beads that will stick out a little bit from the beads in the previous row. These are the beads that you stitch into when adding beads in each new row.

If you were to start stitching this as a peyote stitch pattern, you would pick up your first two rows of beads as they are numbered on the graph. Note that you're alternating between purple and green beads for your first two rows. The first bead that you add for Row 3 will be a blue bead, and you'll be stitching into that last green bead (number 20 on the graph) that you picked up as part of that first set. Adding those blue beads for Row 3 will create a set of "up" beads across the row.

Direction is very important when you're reading a peyote stitch pattern as well. If you start on the left side of the pattern and work your way to the right, you'll be working from right to left back across the pattern as you add the next row. If you're not going to finish the entire pattern in one session, it helps to mark the pattern on the side that you finished your last row so you know where to start when you're ready to start beading again!

Don't feel like you have to start working peyote stitch with a complicated pattern right from the beginning, either. Start with something simple that uses just a few colors and then work your way up to a more complex pattern!

Do you still need a little help with peyote stitch? Then you might want to check out Peyote Stitch – Basics and Beyond with Melinda Barta. If you already know a little bit about peyote stitch, it's a great way to enhance your skills. Beginners can find all the instruction they need to get started with peyote stitch basics, too. Because it's a digital download, there's no waiting for delivery through the mail: you can download this video onto your desktop or laptop computer and start learning peyote stitch today! If you're a bead lover, chances are that you already have all the necessary beads and materials to get started learning peyote stitch and all of its lovely variations. Check out Peyote Stitch – Basics and Beyond and find out why peyote stitch is so popular with beaders and bead lovers!

Do you have tips for beginners who are learning how to read peyote stitch patterns? Share your tips and advice here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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