Learn an Historic Bead Stitch: Netting

Netting is a stitch that holds a lot of history. While we aren’t sure of the origins of this type of bead weaving, we do have examples of ancient civilizations using beaded netting for personal use and daily wear. The cultures that had a knack for woven handiwork often expanded into using beads in their craft. Artifacts discovered at burial sites show that even the ancient Egyptians made beaded netting to cover mummies.

Human beings are creatures of innovation and invention. The simple yet impressive bead netting that ancient civilizations invented is the springboard for so many different variations of bead netting. We are still inventing new netted stitches today, inspired by the new shapes and styles of beads that have flooded the market in the last 20 years.

Explore regular netting, tubular netting, circular netting, basketweave, using netting as a base, and tons more in this Netting Bundle. There is so much knowledge packed into this pattern bundle. I have picked out the three basics: regular netting, tubular netting, and circular netting to break down for you here:

Regular Netting

This is the foundation stitch that all of the variations are based upon. This open-weave beading stitch creates a flexible, supple beaded fabric that can be used to create beaded jewelry in so many ways!

The Dimensions in Netting Cuff by Teresa Sullivan is a great example of how you can jazz up regular netting just by using hexagonal beads that sparkle and shine.

How to do the stitch:
String a base row of 13 beads. String 5 beads and pass back through the fifth bead from the end of the base row. String another 5 beads, skip 3 beads of the base row, and pass back through the next bead; repeat to the end of the row. To turn, pass back through the last 3 beads (one leg of the last net). String 5 beads, pass back through the center bead of the next net, and continue.

Tubular Netting

This was one of the first beaded ropes I ever learned how to do—and once I started making beaded ropes, I was hooked! I love how fast tubular netting works up. It’s a really approachable stitch for beginners. There are many applications for this stitch, from bangles to beaded beads.

The CoCo Chenille Bracelet by Nancy Cain uses tubular netting to form an exquisite-looking rope that works up fast, and is approachable even for a beginner.

How to do the stitch:
For tubular netting, string {1A and 1B} six times; pass through the beads again to form the foundation round. *String 1A, 1B, and 1A; skip 1B and pass through the following 1B in the previous round to form a “net.” Repeat from * twice, then step up for the next round by passing through the first 2 beads of this round. **String 1A, 1B, and 1A; pass through the middle bead of the nearest net in the previous round. Repeat from ** twice, then step up as before. Work each round the same way.

Circular Netting

This is the newest kind of netting to the bead scene, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a recent issue of Beadwork magazine without circular netting in at least one pattern. It’s the most logical stitch for using shaped beads to form pendants and components and to bezel a rivoli quickly.

The Autumn Sage Necklace by Agnieszka Watts uses a circular netting bezel and works out from the center to make the most of this versatile stitch.

How to do the stitch:
For circular netting, string {1A and 1B} six times; pass through the beads again to form a circle for the foundation round and pass through the next 1A. *String 1A, 1B, and 1A; skip 1 bead and pass through the following bead in the previous round to form a “net.” Repeat from * five times, then step up for the next round by passing through the first 2 beads of the first net. String 2A, 1B, and 2A; pass through the middle bead of the nearest net in the previous round. Repeat five times, then step up for the next round by passing through the first 3 beads of this round. Work each round the same way, increasing the number of A beads as necessary to keep the work flat, and stepping up by passing through the first half of the first net.

I think it’s fascinating to work on these modern-day netting projects and think about the artists who were doing the same thing eons ago. It’s a connection through history that imbues each piece with a little bit of magic.

Happy beading!
Meredith Steele
Technical Editor, Beadwork magazine


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