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Bead Crochet
Samples Part I
Beadwork August/September 2001
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My email pal, Bobbie Sumrada, sent me images of a few bags of bags from the past with a unique stitch.  She gave me some instructions on how to work the stitch but for some reason, I just could not get it. I put it to the side and decided one of these days I would try again.  About a year later my pal Tre’ brought over a how to book from the 1970’s, Jewelry and Accessory Designs, Yesterday & Today.  In it was a pattern for “Le Reticule”, a bead crocheted bag along with a photo of the bag.  I was very excited about the possibilities and begin working through the instructions.   The bag was worked with larger pearl coated 4mm beads however, I decided to try it with size 11/0 and Jean Stitch thread.  I was able to work the basic stitch and from it develop some samples.  The pattern was worked in the round, which makes it easier to build up the bead loops in stitches than in rows.  Once I had worked the stitch in the round, I tried it in rows and worked out a method that works for rows.   Since the stitch begins with a loop of beads and then that loop is crocheted down, attached at the loop end, I used the term “Swag Stitch” as a way to identify it in comparison to bead crocheted loops that hang loose.  Evelyn Haertig identifies antique beaded purses that have this appearance as “Swag Purses” in her book, More Beautiful Purses.  I believe this is a good descriptive name.

Application I - Antique Swag Purse
Application II - Beadwrangler Swag Purse

You can make bags and many more bead crochet creations with the swag appearance using this crochet stitch.  If you look at antique beaded bags that are knitted and have bead loops setting between sections of knitted thread, this crochet stitch gives you the same appearance.  Samples that are crocheted in rows can be turned to look horizontal instead of vertical.  My Swag Me bracelet pattern using this stitch is in the August/September 2001Beadwork issue along with my Swag samplers.  You will find my bracelet design makes yummy bracelets that are fun to make and make wonderful gifts.   I have made a beaded bag, a headdress, many necklaces, earrings, bracelets and long strand necklaces with this versatile stitch.  This is only the beginning of a Swag resurgence.

         Size 11/0 Czech seed beads, Red Copper Lined, Color 1,Copper Gray Lined, Color 2
         Japanese Delicas, Lined Wine AB, #061, Color 1, Transparent Brown Luster #122, Color 2
         YLI Jeans Stitch thread, Brown #4 , color 1 sample, and Cranberry #3, color 2 sample   (equivalent DMC Cebelia #30 or #12 Pearl Cotton)

         Medium sized twisted flexible wire needle
         Size 7/1.30mm to 9/1.40mm steel hook
         Sewing or embroidery needle

 Standard American Abbreviations
ch             chain stitch
sc             single crochet stitch
sl st         slip stitch
rep          repeat
st(s)       stitch(es)
T              turn
rep from *       repeat all stitches between one star to the next as many times as indicated.
A letter “b” is added to any stitch with beads included
                         Example:  bch-bead chain stitch and bsc-bead single crochet stitch.  bss is used for bead slip stitch.
The letters “blp” are added in parenthesis to any stitch that include more than one bead in that stitch
                        Example  1bsc (5blp) means a bead single crochet stitch and the beads added are worked in a loop of 5 beads.

Swag Stitch vs Bead Knitting
Beads crocheted with this stitch usually run vertical whereas in bead knitting the equivalent stitch usually runs horizontal.   The name “Swag” identifies this stitch from bead crocheted loops that hang loose.

 General Instructions
Bead Single Crochet:  Place the hook in the stitch.  Pull up a strung bead next to the hook, and put the yarn over the hook, pulling up a loop and capturing the bead,  Then put the yarn over again, bringing the hook through both loops on the hook to complete the sc stitch.

Bead Slip Stitch:  Place the hook in the stitch.  Pull up a strung bead next to the hook, and put the yarn over the hook and then bring the hook through both loops on the hook.

Bead Loop:  Follow the instructions for a single crochet or slip stitch, pulling many beads up on the hook instead of just one bead.

 Beads are added before you start to crochet. You can string beads directly from a twisted wire needle to crochet thread; the eye collapses as the beads pass through.   Pre-string approximately 1 yds of beads at a time.  When beginning and fastening off, leave 3” thread tails to stitch in or carry beginning thread.

 Block flat samples to prevent curling.  Set the iron for medium weight fabrics (polyester).  Lay the sample on a ironing board with the beads face down.  Place a damp cloth over the sample.  Set the hot iron on the cloth and gently press the iron a couple of times.  Remove the iron and cloth and let the sample dry.  Once it is dry, move the iron over the back side of each sample again to flatten the thread edges.

 Tips:  Keep bead loops taut when you yarnover behind them so there is not extra thread hanging between the beads on the loop and the piece you are working.  The number at the end of the rows/rounds is the total number of stitches/loops of beads in that row or round.

 Swag Stitch Chain Building (Rows/Rounds)
In these particular samples, a ch5 provides the height required to reach the 6th and 7th bead in a loop and is joined at the end of the round with the hook front to back so the chains do not show in front.  If your beads are smaller, you may need to make ch3 or ch4 instead of ch5.  The ch5 should set straight from the beginning point to the placement between the bead loop center.

Swag Stitch - Circular Flat worked in Rounds
(Czech on left, Delica on right)


General Instructions
Take hook under both stitch halves for round 2 and under the back half of the stitch for rounds 3 through 6.  Round 4:  Each ch of ch3 works into the previous ch, then connects to the next bead loop with a sl st.  Round 6:  Same as Round 4 however a bead is included in each ch for embellishment.

Swag Stitch Circular Flat Rounds

ch7 and join with sl st to form a ring. (7chs)
1 ch1. work 15 sc into the ring and join with a sl st (15 sts)
2 ch2. 2dc in each st around and join to beg top ch2.  Count ch2. (31sts)
3 ch1. *1bsc (12blp) in 1 st, 1sc in next st,* rep from * join with sl st to beg ch (15blps)
4 ch5. *1sc between 6th and 7th beads of bead loop, ch3* rep from * around, join with sl st to beg top ch5 with hook worked front to back (60sts)
5 ch1.*1bsc (12blp) in 1 st, 1sc in next st,* rep from * and join to beg ch (30blps)
6 ch5.*1sc between 6th and 7th beads of bead loop, 2bch *rep from *, join with sl st to beg top ch5 with hook worked front to back. (90sts)

Fasten off.  There should be two rounds of loop bead stitches in the piece. The last round should have 1 bead worked into each of the 2 chains between the looped stitches.

 Swag Stitch - Flat worked in Rows
(Czech on left, Delica on right)


 General Instructions
Take hook under back half of stitch in each row.

Swag Stitch Flat Rows

ch25 across, T, begin in 2nd ch from hook
1 *1bss (12blp) in 1 st, 1 sl st in next st,* rep from *, end with thread sl st.(24sts, 12 loops of beads
          between thread sl sts across)
2 ch5, T, with hook worked front to back, *1 sl st between 6th and 7th bead of bead loop, ch1,* rep from * end with ch1 (24sts) (After a sl st is completed between each bead loop center, a ch 1 is connected to that sl st.)
3 ch1, T, begin in 2nd ch from hook.  *1bss (12blp) in 1 st, 1 sl st in next st,* rep from *, end with sl st. (24sts)
4-8 rep rows 2 and 3, alternating, ending with rep of row 2.
Fasten off and stitch in loose thread.  There should be four rows of bead loops between five rows of thread stitches when counting beginning chains.  If you were making longer bead loops such as 24, you would need more chains, such as ch10 or ch12.  Experiment with long loops and short loops for the required number of chains to step up to the next bead loop center.

The ch1 between the bead loop stitches in the sample with rows keeps each row with the same number of bead loops.  If you want the row to increase with bead loops, make a ch2 or ch3 between each bead loop for an increase on the next row.  Working circular flat, increase by ch2 or ch3 to keep the piece flat.   Keeping a ch1 between the looped stitches in the round will form a circular shape. In rows or rounds, you can make one side of the loop longer than the other for a decrease and increase in width of the swag stitch.  Samples that are crocheted in rows can be turned to look horizontal instead of vertical.

Resources For Bead Crochet

Borin, Lydia F., Beadwrangler's Hands On Crochet with Beads and Fiber, ISBN 1-891302-01-9, $14.95, Hooty Owl Media, December, 1997

Durant, Judith and Campbell, Jean, The Beader's Companion, ISBN 1-883010-56-X, $19.95,Interweave Press, 1998

Cunningham, Jewelry and Accessory Designs, Yesterday & Today, The Royal-Craft Library, Cunningham Art Products, Inc., 1971 (out-of-print)

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