Must-Know Terms for Bead Weaving Herringbone Stitch
Many of the most popular bead weaving techniques share the same language when it comes to how to achieve the stitch patterns, but some have slightly different explanations. Herringbone stitch (fig. 1) is a good example of this and in order to properly welcome it into your studio, what follows here is a list of must-know terms to help you master the stitch.
Column, also referred to as a “stack,” “ladder,” or “spine,” is a vertical two-bead-wide line of angled beads that forms after working several rows/rounds of herringbone stitch.
Conditioned vs waxed thread. Conditioned thread is lightly coated with a synthetic thread conditioner, usually Thread Heaven (in the little blue box). Waxed thread is treated with beeswax or microcrystalline wax.
Cull your beads. Remove beads that are wider or skinnier than the average-size bead—using consistently sized beads results in uniform beadwork.
To pass through means to pass through a bead a second time, moving the needle (or wire) in the same direction as the first pass (fig. 2).
To pass back through, move the needle (or wire) in the opposite direction as the first pass (fig. 3).
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: “Work 1 herringbone stitch with 2A and 1 herringbone stitch with 2B; repeat twice.”
Repeat from *. Repeat the instructions, starting at the text that immediately follows the *.
Repeat the thread path to reinforce. Retrace the previous thread path to strengthen the row/ round/loop (fig. 4). You may need to weave through beads and work a turnaround before you are in position to retrace the thread path.
Row vs round. Rows of herringbone 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 or 4 beads, and trim the tail close to the beadwork with scissors or a thread burner.
Step up. Use a step-up to prepare for the next row (or round). Unless otherwise directed, do this by exiting the first bead added in the current row/round.
Stitch. When directed to work a herringbone stitch, string 2 beads, pass through the next bead of the current column, and up through the first bead of the next column. This entire sequence is considered 1 stitch.
String 1A (or 1B, 1C, etc.). Use a needle to pick up one of the beads designated A (or B, C, etc.) in the materials list and slide it onto the thread.
String (1A and 2B) three times. Repeat the entire sequence inside the brackets three times. In this example, the strand would begin with 1A, 2B, 1A, 2B, etc. (not 3A and 6B).
Turnaround. Change the direction of beading without exposing the thread or deviating from the established thread path.
Weave through beads. Pass your needle through beads until you exit the bead indicated in the pattern. Take the path that leaves no exposed threads and don’t make any moves that might tweak the beadwork by pulling a bead in an undesired direction (fig. 5).
Working thread. The working thread is the end with the needle, doing the work of stitching. The opposite end is the tail thread.
To dig even deeper into herringbone stitch and go from beginner to expert, grab a copy of Mastering Herringbone Stitch. You’ll learn these terms and countless tips and tricks. Plus, you’ll have the step-by-step stitch instructions for a variety of beautiful inspiring projects.
Note: The project shown in the header image is Rolling in the Deep by Jill Wiseman.
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