Monday, September 27, 2010

Beading..Peyote Stitch Basics

Beading.. Peyote Stitch Basics
by Eleanor Romanowicz (Egor),
Phoenix, AZ

Peyote stitch is the best known of the off-loom beading techniques. In Native American tradition it was used to make religious and ceremonial items associated with peyote rituals.

It is a versatile stitch that can produce a variety of forms. As flat peyote stitch it can be used for bracelets, belts, straps, headbands, earrings, and sewn to form pouches or bags. Tubular peyote is used to form ropes that an stand alone as necklaces or hat bands. Tubular can also be used to cover objects, such as bottles, feather quills, crystal points and even embellish larger beads. When tubular peyote stitch is done on a larger number of beads, it can form amulets, pouches or even larger bags. All of these forms can be created using either an odd or even number of beads. Peyote stitch can also be used for creating textures or embellishments by utilizing techniques such as two-drop, flower clusters, ruffles, curls and spirals, in which each row worked contains only half of the total number of beads in the width of the piece and the following row fills in the spaces formed by the previous row. The grid one designs on for peyote, is thus a 'brick' type grid. It reflects the shifted position of the alternate rows.

Because of the interlocking stepped grid/stitch, using beads of consistent size is critical for the look of the finished project. It also explains why Japanese Delica and Antique beads have become so popular. These beads tend to be consistent in size and since they are tubes rather than round beads, the holes are more consistent and larger which facilitates the necessity to pass the thread and needle through each bead numerous times.

As with many woven crafts, the tension of the thread is critical to the texture of the piece. This is especially true for the first four rows of peyote stitch, since you are establishing the steps of the stitch and the beginning of your design. The foundation row of flat peyote starts as a simple strand of beads equal to the total width of the item with a stop bead at the far end to prevent the beads from sliding off the end of the thread.

This stop bead is usually a larger size or at least a distinctly different color so that it is not worked into the piece by error. The end of the thread is tied around this bead to keep it in place. This bead is removed and the thread end is secured and tucked in after the first rows are completed.

**The illustration below shows you an alternate colored setup row of beading. No stop bead is shown.

The next row of beads is now added by placing one bead between every other bead of the foundation row. When you place a bead between every other bead of the foundation row, you will be displacing the bead that was strung in that position downward. The result of this displacement is that when you get to the end of this row or round, your piece will look as if you have 3 rows in place. If this seems confusing, take some beads and string a foundation row on yarn or thread. (Sometimes a first try or two is best done with larger beads and threads that are easier to handle and hold on to). Now add the second row with beads of a different color than those chosen for the foundation row and watch that your foundation row becomes 2 separate rows of the same color as the new beads displace them.

**The illustration below shows you a second row of 'alternating' colors being added which is a second approach you can take to working with color.

Now, designing in peyote. It is practically impossible to design peyote on a normal straight grid, thus designers always look for special peyote graph paper. With Stitch Painter Gold and the Plug-in Bead Module, one simply chooses a peyote grid, sets up the proportion of the grid (according to the bread proportion), and begins. A second thing to consider when designing a peyote project is whether you are working with and odd or even number of beads. As far as turning the work at the end of flat peyote rows, it is always simpler to use an even number of beads since you will always come out o the last bead at the end of each row. Then all you have to do for the nest row is puck up on bead and go through the nest bead sitting up from the previous row. Sounds simple enough.

The problem is, if you want to do a symmetrical pattern that has to be centered, it can't be done. Why? Because you are working on an even number of beads in each direction, so that you will always have an extra bead at one side. The problem with working with an odd number of beads is that at the end of every other row you will add on the last bead and have no where to secure it in order to get to the next row.

This turn can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on your teacher, but I would describe two of the most popular methods that I have come across over the years. One is to run your needle under the loop formed by the threads at the end of the last tow rows and then go back through the last bead of the row you just finished and continue on as if this was and even row.

The second method is to place that last bead at the end of the row and run your thread down into the end bead of the previous row. Then weave your thread in a figure 8 pattern through the beads of two previous rows so that you re-emerhe from the last bead of the previous row and then go back through the bead that needs to be secured. Continue the row as above. I know that this is a lot of words and sounds confusing, but try doing it with those practice beads and yarn and it should become clearer.

One last note about designing flat peyote stitch with an odd number of beads: Since this number cannot be divided evenly, remember that on one row you will be working on an odd number of beads, but on the next the bead count will be even. Therefore, in order for that symmetrical pattern to be centered, the center bead must be placed on a row that contains an odd number of beads.

Before you start any major project you may want to make some practice samples and keep them so you have a reference when you are planning the layout of your next project. Also when you're doing the exercises to see how the first tow rows become three, or are checking out how to turn a corner or end a row. remember that you may see things more clearly if you change your bead color from row to row.

I hope that this will serve as a basic introduction to peyote stitch and maybe answer some questions so that you might feel more confident in using those unusual grids.



Vicki Star of Beady Eyed Women Enterprises (one of our beta testers) designed this 'bat' Amulet Pouch using Stitch Painter. The Stitch Painter graph is to the right of the finished Amulet Pouch.

Tip:When you have more than one application open on a Mac you can move between open application by pressing the Command Key and pressing the tab key while the Command key remains depressed. You will see a rectangular box appear on your screen with the name of the open programs running in the background. Each time you press the tab key, you will swap into the next program.

Blog Special: Beader's Bundle $225.00 Sale 263.00 Regular price. The bundle includes Stitch Painter Gold, The Full color Import Module (which allows you to scan in color graphics and reduce there color and place them on the grid) The Bead Module (which gives you the ability to shift the grid for Peyote and Commanche Stitch) and a Stitch Painter Lesson Book (PDF, which helps you learn the basics of Stitch Painter very quickly). To order please call 858-259-1698 Mon - Thurs 9:30 to 4:00 PST.

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