Tips for New Beadweavers
Beading Daily reader Christine K. wrote, "I am a brand-new beginner now attempting to learn the off-loom stitches. Although I am generally skilled with crafts that use one's hands (e.g., I can both crochet and knit), my learning of beading stitches is SLOW. My major question now is: what is the main difference between right-angle weave stitch and peyote stitch? Also, when I try to work in peyote stitch, I find it difficult to make the beads lay correctly. After figuring out the main difference between peyote stitch and right-angle stitch, is the "trick" to making the beads lay correctly to just relax and continue to thread the beads as required by peyote/right-angle stitch?"
When I read this one I had to smile. I pictured my first run-in with peyote stitch: The first few rows looked like a tangled fisherman's net. And doing right-angle weave felt like driving down the wrong side of the road. It's amazing any of us beaders get past those first brushes with needle and thread!
How to "See" Beadwork
First off, I'll make a suggestion about how to "see" beadwork. This one's kind of subtle, but was helpful for me. Keep in mind that in beadweaving the focus is on the bead placement, not the thread path. The thread path is key, of course, but it's invisible and should stay that way. While knitting and crochet are all about the fuzz, beading is about the firmness of the glass. It's a more planar technique. So when you're beading, if you can imagine your job is to build the beads into a certain formation–your thread acting as the magical cement–then you might more easily imagine locking the beads into place. Seeing the beadwork as a sort of Lego exercise will help you understand where your need to put up the next wall or window. That may sound a little David Carradine, Grasshopper, but there it is.
Photos from The Beader's Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell
Peyote Stitch vs Right-Angle Weave
In regard to peyote stitch vs right-angle weave, keep in mind that the shapes of these two stitches are very different. Peyote stitch produces a beaded fabric that looks like a brick wall; the beads sit side-by-side. Right-angle weave makes a fabric that looks like a series of little crosses; the beads sit at right angles to one another. The thread paths of these stitches are very different, too–in peyote stitch the path moves straight back and forth across the work; in right-angle weave the path moves back and forth, but by one little circle at a time.
Some basic stitch tips:
Counting Rows. When you string the first strand of beads for an even-count flat peyote-stitched project, keep in mind that these beads will make up your first two rows. Peyote stitch rows are counted on the diagonal, not along the side of the work. For right-angle weave, you can count the rows by counting the outside edge beads. Note that each little circle of beads that makes up the row is called a "unit" in most printed instructions.
Subsequent Rows. The third row in peyote stitch is a bear. If you can get past the third row, you're sailing. I've seen lots of clever techniques to make that third row, including passing another needle through the odd-numbered beads to separate them from the second-row ones. This will automatically reveal which are the "up beads" to work the third row. I've also seen someone put a little dab of Wite-Out on every-other bead to distinguish the rows and then scrape the stuff off after the work is established. You could also start the work by creating several false rows in alternating bead colors to differentiate them. Then, once you're rolling on the proper beads, remove those first couple false rows by sliding them off the tail thread.
For the second right-angle weave row, I think it helps to take a T pin or toothpick and poke it through the center of each first-row unit. This makes the work fall into formation, revealing the up beads very clearly.
Tension. Thread tension is really important for all the off-loom stitches. It's best to keep it tight as possible from the get-go, again making your job of forcing those little glass lovelies into formation. It may help to use a tension bead to start off (just remember to remove it!). I don't like extra steps, so I just use my fingers to keep the thread tight on those first few rows. If I keep the beads of the first several rows pinched tightly between my thumb and forefinger, it usually does the trick to keep the beads in place until I'm able to yank hard on the thread to tighten the beads into position.
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!