Thursday, December 8, 2011

First Few Rows of Flat Peyote Stitch

Just as I was wondering what I should write about next, Amber came up with a question in a Comment on one of my other blogs about the Peyote stitch: 
"I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to keep track of the beads in the first couple of rows. My beads always slip around and I end up threading through the wrong beads. I use a toilet paper roll to keep them straight with tubular peyote but can't figure out what to do with flat. Any help would be greatly appreciated."  
I do have suggestions!  I have two different methods that could help.  So this is for you, Amber.
Before I talk about the two methods I recommend for starting the Flat Peyote stitch, I'd like to point out that anyone who is not familiar with the flat, even-count Peyote stitch really should practice making the swatches I talk about in my earlier tutorials.  Start with Tutorial:  Beadweaving the Peyote Stitch.  It will be easiest to learn if you make those practice swatches with 6/0 beads.

What I'm talking about here is how to work the first few rows in a real project, where you're probably using smaller beads.

I've gathered 3 different colors of beads for Method 1 and a piece of wire for Method 2.  I'm using 6/0 round beads because they're large and easy to photograph.  I 'll also need a #10 or #12 beading needle and some thread.  I recommend Fireline because it won't slip around like nylon thread will.
I think that the easiest way to start a Flat Peyote project is to use 3 different colors--a separate color for each of the first 3 rows.  Well, I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying, "But what if I don't want to use different colors?"  Trust me!  Use 3 different colors for the first 3 rows.  Make your third row the color (or pattern of colors) that you want  all of your work to be, then continue stitching rows in that same color (or pattern of colors).  The first two rows are only temporary--the third row will become the real first row of your piece. 

The pink Stop Bead is on the left.  Green beads are the Temporary Row 1 and red beads are the Temporary Row 2.  As you'll remember from my Peyote tutorials, I'm right-handed, so I stitch from right to left.  This piece has been turned in preparation for starting Temporary Row 3 (which will eventually become Row 1).
Blue beads make up Temporary Row 3 as well as the remainder of this piece.  This is the start of Temporary Row 3, which is stitched into Temporary Row 2, the red row.  That means that I pick up a blue bead and run the needle through a red bead.  Repeat as many times as it takes to complete this row.
Temporary Row 3 is complete.  Try to keep the beads snug and don't forget to turn the piece to begin Temporary Row 4.
Temporary Row 4 is complete.  At this point, your beads may look messy.  Just try to keep them snug.  Smaller beads, especially cylinder beads, will fit together better and look much neater.

Temporary Row 5 is complete.

Temporary Row 6 is complete.

Temporary Row 7 is complete.  I now have enough rows so that I can remove the Temporary Rows 1 & 2.  Carefully remove the  Stop Bead at the beginning of your first row and pull out red and green beads from the first two rows--the colors that you don't want in your work. Replace the Stop Bead if it feels like you still need it, but you probably won't.

You can see that the pink Stop Bead, the green beads from Temporary Row 1, and the red beads from Temporary Row 2 have all been removed.  This leaves 5 complete rows of blue beads.

There are now 9 rows of blue beads.  Oops, there's a defective bead in this piece.  Make sure you check your beads so you don't end up something like this in your work.

In this case you may use the same color beads in all your rows.  In addition to your stitching needle, you'll either need a piece of wire that will fit through your beads or an extra long unthreaded needle.  I've used a piece of copper wire. 
Beware--that same wire that will help you keep the rows separated can also get your thread wrapped around it as you stitch.

Here I've picked up a red Stop Bead and then the first two rows of beads for my piece.  Then I turned my piece in preparation for the next step, because I work from right to left.
I've run my wire through the Row 1 Beads.  This isolates them from the Row 2 beads, making it easier to see which beads are in Row 2, which are called the "up" beads.

Now pick up a bead and run the needle through the first "up" bead in Row 2.  Repeat this until you complete the row.  Turn your work in preparation for stitching the next row. 

Continue stitching rows  until you have enough work to hold onto comfortably.  Then slide the needle or wire out of Row 1.

Try both methods and see which one you prefer.
If anyone else knows another way to make it easy to begin the Flat Peyote stitch, we'd love to hear about it.
One more thing.  I mentioned above that Fireline won't slip around like nylon thread will.  Fireline is great for bead weaving because it "grips" and doesn't slip.  Personally, I don't like to use nylon thread for bead weaving because it slips and makes it hard to snug up the beads.
On the other hand, if I'm making fringe, nylon is my thread of choice.  It is much more supple and won't stiffen up like Fireline will.


  1. Thank you so much for your help. Running the extra long needle through helped me out so much, I'm finally able to do flat peyote. (This is my very first piece from a pattern.) So far, I'm on row 22. Thanks a million.

  2. You're welcome, Amber. I'm so happy that I could help.

  3. Oh my goodness - the wire technique is ingenious! I'm Tweeting this today for readers.

    If anyone still has trouble after trying that, another alternative is to pick up some Quick Start cards. I recently did a write-up on how they work here:

    Linda, do you ever post in the Beadwork forum? Please consider stopping by from time to time.


  4. Chris, I can't take full credit for the wire technique. I've read in several different places that a needle helps to separate the first two rows, but the needle always seemed to slip out of the beads while I was stitching. The longer wire was my solution.

    Thanks for sharing your Quick Start Card information with us. That looks like a great tool!

    I have stopped by the Beadwork forum a few times, but have never posted there. I'll have to remember to go there more frequently!

  5. Thanks for the tips Linda. Especially about the thread. I am really enjoying these tutorials. Peace

  6. It's great to know that my tutorials are helping people, Ruth!

  7. My question is, If I flat peyote about five rows, is there a way to keep this piece to use on other peyote items? Can this 'holder' be reused without cutting threads?

  8. I don't see why not, Susan. As long as your "holder" is the same number of beads wide as the new project, it shouldn't be a problem. You do have to cut a length of thread before you start stringing your beads onto the "holder." I'd take a piece of cardboard and wrap the remaining thread around it so that the thread won't tangle--or an embroidery floss bobbin would work really well.