by Kris | 3 responses | January 6, 2012
These rings are pretty, surprisingly quick to make, and a great way to learn peyote beadwork stitch if you’ve never tried it before. There’s no bead loom or other specialty gear involved here. Just some beads, a needle and thread.
Materials and Equipment:
- Delica Glass Seed Beads – Delicas are perfect little cylinders and lack the rounded edge that other kinds of seed beads have. You can use any size 11 or smaller seed bead for this, but I like the Delicas for the crisp finish they give.
- Beading Needles – My all time favorites are John James size 12 needles. Whatever you get, make sure they’re thin and buy a few, they’re fragile and you’ll probably break one.
- Beading Thread – This is a brand called Nymo, and the size is OO. Nylon monofilament thread is my first choice. Ordinary sewing thread really won’t work for this – it frays over bead edges more easily and doesn’t last as long.
- A Pattern Sheet – Download the FULL COLOR PATTERN here, or the GREYSCALE PATTERN here!
If you’re working at a table you’re good to just pour out beads like this, but if you’re working on a lap tray it’s wise to keep your beads in some small, shallow bowls or a similar container.
I use my thread doubled, so I cut a moderately long strand, thread the needle, then even up the ends. Don’t worry if the thread isn’t long enough to finish the ring – adding a new thread is explained below.
Temporarily use one of your beads as a “knot.” String the bead, push it most of the way to the end of the thread. Put the needle through it again, the same direction as the first time, being careful not to “split your threads,” which means that the needle goes through other threads. That will make it very difficult to remove this when you’re done.
String the first row of beads by color. Follow the chart below – start at #1, end at #12.
Now you need to turn for the next row. String on bead #13 from the chart below. Then slide the needle through bead #11 from the last row.
Pull the thread down until everything is snug and neatly in place.
Add bead #14, and then go back through bead #9.
Continue on this way – add #15, go through #7; add # 16, go through #5; add #17, go through #3; add #18 and go through #1. This is the end of your row and you’re ready to turn again. Take some time to make sure everything is pulled up neatly and there are no loops of thread between the beads or any other problems.
As before, turn by adding the first bead of the next row. String on bead #19, then go through #18.
Continue on this way until the end. Add #20, go through #17; add #21, go through #16; add #22, go through #15; add #23, go through #14; add #24, go through #13.
Carry on this way, being careful to pick up the right bead for each stitch.
Keep adding rows until your thread is uncomfortably short.
Leave as much thread as possible attached to your work when you cut it.
Cut a new thread, thread the needle and even up the ends.
Tie a square knot to join the threads. If you have trouble with the knot coming undone, try giving the threads an extra twist when you make the second half of the knot (the “top,” in the image linked here.) Continue to work as before, but be careful to ease the knot through the first few beads. It will settle into shape so that it should go through them easily after a few. If some tails stick out at the end of a row you can trim them once the ring is finished. One of the advantages of using Delica beads is that they have really large holes for their size, making it relatively easy to work in knots.
Keep beading until the strip is long enough to wrap around the widest part of the finger you want to wear it on. Work to the end of a pattern repeat. You’ll want the last row you do to match up to the first one when you turn this strip into a cylinder. All of the patterns on the download have the repeat indicated by a line that underlines one repeat.
In the picture above you can see how the pieces interlock to form one continuous zig-zag of purple beads. Curve your work around like that so that you’re ready to sew it closed.
Stitch this up the way you’ve stitched every row. Where you would normally add a bead, stitch through a bead from the other end of the strip. Stitch through parallel bead from the beginning of the strip.
Then through the next bead on the end of the strip.
Continue stitching back and forth to “zip together” the ends of the work.
At the bottom of the row you’ll have a gap between two beads that needs to be handled.
Stitch up through that last bead, being careful not to tangle up the threads from starting the work. You can remove your “knot” bead at this point, if it hasn’t fallen off already.
At this point you need to finish in the threads as securely as possible for maximum wear. I generally weave through a few rows following the same thread pattern as before – just like adding a row but without actually adding any beads.
After working through a few rows up and down you can also do a few rows on the diagonal. The more you weave thread ends in the more likely your ring is to last. When you’re done weaving in threads trim off any tails and you’re done!
Bonus tip! It can be difficult to find beading thread in lots of colors, and it can be annoying to have all that thread around. When I use white thread on a darker colored bead there is a high contrast edge. To minimize this, I use a bit of Sharpie in a matching color on the threads. Then they blend in with the rest of the ring and disappear.
On the left, white thread. On the right, thread that has been colored with permanent ink.
Make up a bunch of rings to match everything you have! The pattern download includes graph paper for designing your own. Make sure you design patterns with an even number of rows (these have 12), because odd-count peyote stitch is an entirely different technique!
Because of the crazy popularity of this project I’m working on a bracelet tutorial that uses odd-count peyote. It should be up next week – connect with one of our social medias (top of the right hand column) if you want to be sure not to miss it! -Kris