I’m Learning Bead Crochet!

As a child, I saw my great grandmother crocheting. She’d stopped by the time I was in middle school, because her failing hands and eyes wouldn’t allow her to work with the fine thread and small hooks she loved. She was nuts about crochet, though, and now her crocheted doilies, blankets, and potholders are family treasures.

Once, as a teenager, I was looking through my great grandmother’s drawer of costume jewelry and found rope after rope of beads made into tubes. I had no idea at the time, but they were tubular bead crochet ropes she’d made. I wasn’t into knitting or crochet yet, so I gave them little thought—until last December, when the subject of tubular bead crochet up at work. I remembered those necklaces in my great grandmother’s drawer, and lo and behold, they were crocheted! Here’s one of those necklaces:

In one of our December editorial meetings for Beadwork, Katie Wall’s bead crochet bangles came up. We needed someone to demonstrate the technique for a video. I can crochet, and no one else on our editorial team knew how to do bead crochet, so I meekly volunteered to try to learn it.

I watched some videos, read a book that Jewelry Stringing’s Editor Debbie Blair lent me about bead crochet, and worked with a friend to get the hang of the technique. Eventually, with about a million restarts and a number of profanities, I was able to make this short spiral using size 8⁰ beads:

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I was riding the high of having finished my first piece of tubular bead crochet when I decided to try making a tube using drops. That was a mistake. The drops were an odd size, and they didn’t click into place to make a firm tube like round beads do. I managed to finish the tube, though, and it does look pretty cool:

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Barb Switzer, our fantastic associate editor, learned bead crochet so she could film a how-to video for Katie Wall’s Diamondback Bangles. I helped in the studio the day of filming, and Barb gave me the extra size 8⁰ and 11⁰ beads for the bangle. I swore up and down that I’d never try bead crochet again, but about a month later, there I was, stringing the size 8⁰ beads to make a Diamondback Bangle. I played around with the colors, then “screwed my courage to the sticking place and [resolved] to not fail” (Macbeth). I ended up with this bangle:

Now I’m working on another bangle using size 11⁰ beads. I’m getting the hang of working with 11⁰s by making a spiral before I start on a Diamondback Bangle in size 11⁰ beads. This is what I have so far:

Bead crochet is notorious for its difficulty, but actually learning it feels great. I really think that watching Barb make the bangles as the video was filmed helped a lot. Barb explains all the ways that she’s messed up bead crochet, and she demonstrates how to avoid those errors as she makes a Diamondback Bangle. Katie’s bangles get so many compliments, and pretty much everyone who’s seen them now wants one. So join Barb as she teaches tubular bead crochet in Beadwork Magazine Project Workshop: Diamondback Bangle by Katie Wall, or buy the kit and crochet along with me. Diamondback

Anna Harvilla, Assistant Editor, Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing magazines

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