Odd-Count vs Even-Count Peyote: What's the Difference?

What’s the big deal about flat odd-count vs flat even-count peyote stitch? As I see it, the hubbub pretty much boils down to this: even-count is simple; odd-count is complicated. How can one thing be so diametrically opposed to itself? Easy/hard; clear/confusing; straightforward/perplexing? After just returning from a week’s road trip through South Dakota with a couple of hormone-demented teenagers, I know such things are possible.

But I digress. . . . The crux of this stitch’s internal rivalry lies at the turnaround you need to make to begin a new row. When you’re working with an even number of beads in a row, the turnaround is natural. You come out the end bead and are instantly set up for the subsequent row.

When you’re working with an odd number of beads, you’re . . . ack! Seemingly up a creek. How do you attach that last bead?

Because of this reason, most beaders avoid odd-count peyote stitch. But there are definitely design situations in which you need to use odd-count, especially if you desire a “middle” bead in your work.

So, what to do? Well, for that third row’s last stitch, string a bead, knot the working and tail threads together, and pass back through the bead you just added. That sets you up for the next row.

The fourth row is no problem—fancy footwork not required.

There are several ways to deal with that fifth row (including doing hairpin turns through your beads), but my favorite way is to utilize the little loop of thread that connects the previous two rows. To make the last stitch, string a bead, pass your needle under that little loop, pass back through the last bead added, and you’re good to go for the next row.

If you’re new to this stitch and want to learn more, check out Jeanette Cook and Vicki Star’s Beading with Peyote Stitch. In my opinion, it remains one of the best no-nonsense books on the subject. It’s written by two of the grande dames of the beading world and has very clear graphics that show flat, tubular, circular, and shaping techniques. The gallery section displays some of the best bead artists using peyote stitch in a wide variety of ways. 

Do you have some good tips for peyote stitch turnarounds? Share them on the website!

NEW Free Peyote Stitch Pattern eBook: Our first free beadweaving pattern e-book features 5 peyote stitch projects, plus two full pages of step-by-step illustrated instructions on even- and odd-count peyote, and a sheet of peyote stitch graph paper for creating original jewelry designs. Download Peyote Stitch Projects with BeadingDaily: 5 Free Peyote Stitch Patterns

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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