Note to Self 3 – Beading Popularity

Well, you know last week my sister and I attended the first annual summer gathering for the members of the OCC (Ontario Crafts Council). It was held at the president’s farm on the Niagara Escarpment.  I learned how easy bead making looks when a professional glass bead maker does it.

Well, you know I learned more than that. The glass makers are in a bit of a down turn in their market. Those marvellous people who use a torch or a blast furnace and various kilns to make the gorgeous vases and glasses and such are losing their market.

Well, you know I am rewriting a rule of physics, ‘what goes down must go up again.’ Like a bouncing ball. Once the States elect a new president and he reassures his country that good things are coming, luxury goods will begin to climb again in popularity.

Well, for some reason, which I don’t know, while the glass making industry in general is flagging, the bead making industry is growing.  I don’t understand: these beads are made of glass. They don’t stand alone but in synergy they join other beads to make something better than the separate parts.

Well, you know I am sorry about the drop in sales in the hand made glass industry.  At the same time, I am very happy that the beading industry is still healthy.

That’s what I think.   …Helene


Niki.Tasha – Lesson 7 – Peyote Stitch

Peyote Lesson 7 - Art Deco Design

Peyote Lesson 7 - Art Deco Design

There are many good books that can give you the instructions of the Peyote Stitch.  My favourite is a small, spiral bound book by Judith Durant & Jean Campbell:  ‘The Beader’sCompanion” , printed by Interweave Press, Inc. ISBN 1-883010-56-X.  Here is a link to where you can pick up this great little book and at a reasonable cost to yourself. .  There is also the ‘New Beader’s Companion’ at this same site.

In this and the next lesson, Niki, I will give you 2 different ways to start the peyote stitch tube:  the generally accepted way and then my way.  You can try both and decide for yourself which you prefer; you may even make a 3rd method which would be the Niki.Tasha way.

1. Cut a length of thread 2 yards long.  Thread your needle and pull both needle and thread through the Thread Heaven® or beeswax a couple of times.  Then, stretch the thread as you run the needle and thread through one hand several times.  Believe me, this really helps cut down the kinks and knots as you are stitching.

2. Put 1 bead on the thread a tail of about 12 inches from the end and run the needle through the bead a 2nd time.  This is the ‘stop bead’ which will help keep all your beads on the thread.

3. String 84 beads on the thread.   Check and double check your count.  This tube is an even number peyote pattern and these 84 beads make the first 2 rows.  The beads must be held loosely on the thread.  The slack will be taken up in the next step.

NOTE:  You must ensure the beads have lots of room because they will shift as you add the next row.  Calculating how much space to give these beads comes with practice and I admit I have never been able to figure out just how much slack is needed.

4. Run your needle through the 1st two beads, from right to left, beside the stop bead to create a tube.  … If you are right handed, Niki, you will be working from right to left.  But, if you are a leftie like me, your needle and ‘working thread’ will move from left to right.  …  Add a bead on your needle, skip a bead on your tube and run your needle through the next bead.   Add another  bead on your needle and skip a bead, and run the needle through the next bead.  Continue in this way, adding a bead and running your working thread through every 2nd bead, until you return to the beginning.   Slip your needle through the first 2 beads of the row just finished. 

Niki, you may now remove the stop bead if you wish:  I prefer to keep it because it will indicate the beginning and ending of the original row.  That helps when working your pattern.  It also acts as a weight on that 12 inches of tail thread which helps keep it out of the way of your working thread.

5.  You have now recognized that the Peyote technique is an offset pattern.  Following either of the 2 patterns offered on the last post, only 1 portion of the design has been graphed.  It is up to you whether or not you repeat the design on the backside.  Your stress level will be lower if you work the back in one solid colour.  Once you get the hang of things, you can add a 2nd full design on the backside or mix things up any way you like.

Ending and Beginning a Working Thread:

6.  Don’t work your design until you have run out of thread.  Allow at least 4 inches of working thread to use in ending the thread.  Run your needle through beads, one at a time, in a downward diagonal line.  Every 3 beads run the needle through the bead immediately above the bead your needle has just exited.  One at a time again, run the needle through another 2 or 3 beads.  Double back as before until a) you run out of working thread, or b) you are satisfied that the thread will not work its way loose. 

NOTE:  Some beaders add a discreet knot or 2 during their finishing a thread.  A small dab of glue is added by some beaderswith steady hands.  I have had great success with my method without the knots and the glue (my hands shake too much).

7.  Your 2nd and all other threads need not be nearly as long as the first one.  I like to use a thread 3 ft in length.  Leaving a tail of about 3 inches long, run the needle through your beads in an upward diagonal manner exactly the way you did to finish a thread.  You will double back several times and check to ensure the thread is not going to work its way free … tug on the working thread.  Bring your needle up in the exact same spot as where you ended.

8.  Continue working until you run out of pattern.  The last row must be even all around – don’t end in the middle of the row.  If you have lots of thread left in your needle, don’t end and cut the thread off.  Jump to Lesson 8 – Bottom’s Up.

6.  The designs I listed in Lesson 6 have no colour notations.  It is your choice what colours to use.  As mentioned, if you add your favourite colour as the basic, you will enjoy the process a whole lot more.  Keep a balance of bright shiny beads and flat matte beads.  The play of light on the different bead finishes adds to the design.  But, a little goes a long way. 

I hope you enjoy your first project, Niki.


Tubular Peyote Stitch:  A technique in which a hollow tube is created by adding a bead in the space between 2 beads of the previous round.

Stop Bead:  A bead through which the needle passes twice  to keep all the beads on the thread.  After the first 3 rows it acts as a weight to help identify  and keep the long tail away from the working thread.

Working Thread:  The thread going from a bead and through the eye of the needle.  It becomes evident once some beads are added.  ‘Working Thread’ becomes a helpful shorter term when describing complicated needle movement.

Copyright © 2008 Helene Turnbull.  All rights reserved.  No part of this work covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproducted or used in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems – without written permission of the author.

Niki.Tasha – Lesson 3 – Needles

Needles!  I have so much to say!

Once upon a time needles were an important part of a housemaker’s kit.  They were hard to come by then and were housed in elaborate needlecases; sometimes made of silver or gold and sometimes of wood and whalebone.  A valuable gift for  a sailor to give the sweetheart he left on shore was a needlecase with etching, called scrimshaw, and made of the ivory of the whale. 

The Japanese silk embroideries use special needles to hold the silks as they are used to embellish, for example,  an obi.  These needles were handmade by a Master in Japan.  This work 10 years ago were in danger of disappearing when the aging Master died:  there were no apprentices.  At least, that is what I was told.

Needles are made commercially with steel wire which is extruded through numerous machines until the wire is of the desired diameter.  Next it gets cut into lengths of the different sized needles determined by its end use; eg. quilting, hand sewing, embroidery, beading to name a few.  A hole is stamped out at one end and the other end is made into a point.  The needle is ready for packaging and it’s time for you to decide what needles will work best for you and your beading.

There are blunt needles of different thickness and length that are used by needlepointers.  The higher the number identifying the needle size, the smaller the needle is.  An 18 needle is used for needlepoint canvas with very large holes, while a 26 needle is fine and used for petitpoint, a very delicate silk ‘canvas’.

There are differing sizes of needle for surface embroidery like crewel work which are sharp.

And there are needles for quilting which are also sharp.

There are long needles made of flimsy twisted wire and a wide eye.  They are very easy to thread but are a poor choice when multiple passes through the same bead are required.  You could use this style of needle when you are picking up many beads.  Similarly there are long needles made with extruded steel.

For beading, as for any sewing,  the size of needle is determined by its ability to pass multiple times through a single bead AND open a large enough hole through the other strands already inside the bead so the thread may pass through WITHOUT tugging or forcing or breaking the bead.

Like the women in olden times, we find a needle and use it almost exclusively for everything.  For my petitpoint embroideries (1,600 stitches to the square inch)  I like a quilter’s No. 12 needle.  I make my own personal adjustments:  my petitpoint and my beading require small, blunt needles so I round off the sharp point with a few passes on a special stone I have.  What makes this stone ‘special’ is that it comes from the beaches of Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada:  it has been worn smooth by the ocean’s waves.  I picked it up prior to a beading class I was teaching and I dulled the points off the needles I was to use in that class.  I brought it with me when I moved back home, 3,000 miles away.

I keep my  No.12 quilting needles in its own needlecase to keep it separate from my many other sizes of needles.

Now, the larger the eye of the needle, the larger the thread can be.  It is the eye of the needle that opens a hole in the fabric large enough for the thread to pass through.  The thread could be thick wool or fine silk.  And the fabric can be linen canvas or beads being sewn together.

Niki, when you visit a sewing store, take a look at the needles for sale and you will see the many different needles; one for each special use you might need.  You will have to find your own favourite needle; but, for now get a short and fine needle with a small eye:  your beading supplier would be able to guide you.

I have given you a couple of choices for Canadian bead shops:  the people at both shops are wonderfully helpful and both shops ship internationally.


© 2008 HelenE Turnbull

All rights reserved.  No part of this lesson may be produced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mecanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an additional storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of Savoir Vivre.

Lesson 1 – July 11 08

Hiya, Niki.  Welcome to your first lesson.  I need you to tell m:

1. What is your motivation to learn beading? 

2. Do you have a style in mind?  For example, beading on fabric, jewellery making, making a fabric with beads, something else not mentioned?

3. What tools do you have?

I will offer choices of equipment once I learn what you don’t have.

Niki, let’s get down to work.

In Beading …Helene

We Blog: costume vs. fashion jewelry

scan0002.jpgWhat makes a successful blog? 

You need a theme:  beads of all kinds.  

Is that all?  No.

You need variations on the theme.

That’s not enough!  What do you need to make a successful blog? 

You need an opinion.  

Just one opinion?  That won’t make a successful blog. 

You need a whole lot of opinions. 

But how do you get a whole lot of opinions on a theme and its variations?

You ask.  Just ask.

This blog’s theme is beads and its variations will play out in future days.  You have an opinion.  Share it with everybody.  Your opinion might even be a variation on the theme.

Here comes a question:  and you thought you were done with questions.   How do you define costume jewelry and how does that differ from fashion jewelry?