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The Beadwrangler

Beadwrangler's
Tips & Techniques
on
Crochet

 

...building on the instructions contained in
Beadwrangler's Hands On Crochet with Beads and Fiber
.
Return to beadcrochet dot com

Note:   Standard American Crochet Terms are used for all Tips & Techniques


wpe1.jpg (947 bytes) Interchangeable Art - One focal bead can be used in more than one jewelry piece.  Lea Zinke, professional beadmaker, made me a beautiful glass vase in lavenders and greens.  The vase can be worn with the necklace single to make it longer, or doubled to raise the vase up higher.  The necklace here is doubled.  I made the necklace using a double chain from my Royal Gem kit  instructions.  

I am also making a rope with size 15/0 Japanese beads and when finished, I will be able to wear Lea's vase on this rope too.  The rope I am making has part of the strands on a hair roller and also the necklace with Lea's bead on it.  I will put a clasp on the rope so I can put the vase on an off, and I can also make knots in the rope when I want for another look.

Hair Rollers See Tips & Techniques, Bead Stringing techniques for complete information.  Here is an example of a hair roller attached to a clay vase I made and to the working thread.  The vase has a raku finish and the rope is worked around one handle and then will be attached at the other handle end.

The Perfect Necklace Closure   I crocheted a necklace with gray silver lined beads using my Swag stitch and when I was finished, I could not decide what kind of closure to use.  Every finding I tried did not look right.  I went to a bead show recently and found a unique sterling closure, about 3" across.  It was from an estate sale.  The piece is an oval shape, like an elongated ring and a silver bead closes the piece.  It fit perfectly on my necklace.  The necklace is a choker and the silver finding is the centerpiece much like a focal bead.  When you make a rope or necklace and can't decide on the closure, put it away and eventually you will come across the perfect closure.  I used SoftFlex wire through the necklace and attached to one end of the clasp finding.


In the past I crocheted many sample ropes with bulges where I connected them together. I have come up with new techniques for invisible seams.  Here are a few techniques to help make an invisible join: When you begin your rope, pull up just the number of beads for a round, keep them up close to your fingers where you are working.  After you crochet these beads, pull up another group and crochet them.  If you remember to pull up only the beads you need for each round, you will have the same number of beads in the last round which will make the rope even along the edge.  When you pull up a number of beads continuously and do not keep a count, you may end out with the last round being uneven and that will make it more difficult to make a seamless join.  For example, if you are working 5 beads in the round, pull up 5 beads at a time, always, and you will end out with the last round setting even.  When you finish with a rope that was bead slip stitched or bead single crocheted in the second yarnover, the last round of beads set up differently than the rest of the rope and are difficult to stitch down for a seamless finish.  Use thin sewing thread that matches your crochet thread.  Stitched into the fastened off edge using a thin sewing or sharps needle, then bring the needle towards the inside of the tubular rope, around the thread that goes through the bead and take the needle back into the fiber.  You are making a loop around the thread that holds the bead which actually flips the bead over so it sets like the rest of the beads in all the rounds.  Sewing thread will not bulk up like thicker crochet thread.


 

I am currently writing a new bead crochet book. During my experimentation, I found a new stitch technique for bead crochet ropes. I say new, however, it could always have been used in the past and the technique lost over time. I use a single crochet stitch, however, it does have an appearance closer to the peyote look when working bead slip stitch. If you make the stitch loose by using a larger hook, the rope looks closer to a peyote formation. If you use a smaller hook and the rope is tight, the stitch looks very uniform and does not have the peyote appearance. It does not look exactly like other bead single crochet stitch placement. I made a rope of 11/0 gold seed beads and used a size #12/1.00mm hook for a real snug fit. I used a size #9/1.40mm for the turquoise 6/0 beads and worked a small sample. I used Jean Stitch thread for both. Take a look at both the rope and rope sample. Just like the bead slip stitch, the beads of the current round set upright and when you stitch the last round with the first round, it takes a little extra work to make a invisible closure.

 

Lariats are one of my great loves. I made one with 3mm cut pearl beads. Cut pearl beads is a more recent idea for pearls and brings out all the pearl highlights. I found these beautiful blue-gray cut pearls on one of my bead hunts at the Down the Street Bead Show. I crocheted them using my new stitch technique and they came out lovely. I added bead loops on the end using some of the 3mm and some 2mm pearls. This lariat is 82 long including the loops at the end. The unique stitch shows up very well with larger beads.

necklace-brown-on-brown

Knot That Rope
A few knots in a thick rope will add a new look to the piece.  This rope is worked with 9 beads in the round, working 1 size 8/0 bead and 8 size 11/0 beads.  After making a neck length I liked, I added a button and loop closure.  After trying it out with several blouses, I decided the rope was longer than I wanted it so I just made a loop with the rope forming a simple knot.  Three seemed to make the length perfect.   Use 3, 5 or 7 as a number for knots in a rope.  Odd numbers seem to be more attractive than even unless you are adding larger beads between the knots and the crochet.   If you want to make knots in a long rope, leave several inches between each group of knots so the rope will not get too heavy.  Too many knots and not enough rope length will not look as good as knots between rope length.  Of course, it takes much longer to make more rope length to make the knots.  This rope is round with 9 beads in the round because of the different size beads involved.  If the rope were all one size bead, it would most likely smunch down into a lozenge shape.  My rope is worked in a pattern of warm peach and brown beads.


Rope Patterns
For rope patterns, use bead loom weaving graphs for small strips, often found in Native American beading books for headbands and belts.  Weaver's Patterns for multiple shaft looms will also work.  Use their small sample strips and string row by row.   Also knitting graphs can work if you can find thin strips that will match up when you make it circular or copy the graph, then cut off part of it to make a thinner piece and check the two edges to see how it will look joined.  Stay with patterns that are 5 through 11 beads around.  Depending on the number of beads in the round, some will remain round and others flatten out.  I found that 9 beads in the round, example, the rope in my Heirloom Tassel kit, flattens out for a different look.  Your best bet is to make a 3" sample to be sure of the shape of your final rope. If you are making a choker, you can use a wider graph.


Color Combinations for Beadwork Using Size 6/0 Beads using Ropes as Examples

necklace-combo

I have experimented with many color combinations of beads for ropes and other beadwork.  It is best to make a small sample before beginning a long rope project to make sure the bead colors will work together.  You would actually be making a short bead when making a tube sample.  To make a sample rope bead for a size 6/0 rope, ch5 and join with a slip stitch.  Then work 1 slip stitch in each chain around.  The slip stitch is the first round.  For all the rest of the rounds, put the hook in back half of the next stitch for a single crochet, pull up a bead, yarnover behind the bead, pull up a loop.  Two loops are on the hook now, yarnover again and finish the single crochet stitch.  Continue for about 15 rounds and then fasten off.  Use a sewing needle to stitch in the loose thread at each end.  The first few rounds will not be enough to see if the color will work or not, working at least 15 rounds will easily form a mixture of bead colors so you can decide if it will work or not.  If you have trouble working a bead in the first yarnover, then make the first yarnover as in single crochet, then pull up a bead and yarnover behind it for finishing the single crochet.  For rope samples, work all your samples using either method.  If your sample is not what you want, save it to compare with the samples you do like.  You will learn more about color by keeping the good and the bad samples.  You can string all the bead combinations you liked on a piece of yarn.  Add to it as you make more color combinations.  Make a list of which bead colors you used in each bead so you will not have to guess next time.  Use this information for picking colors for any project you are planning.

I made several ropes of 6/0 beads, 5 in the round, and was surprised to find out how much heavier one rope would be than another even though they were the same length.  Some beads are heavier than others so a rope worked with more heavy beads than light weight should not be extremely long compared to a choice of mostly light weight beads for a longer rope.   The red rope is shorter than the black and amber rope but feels heavier because the beads used are heavier.

I usually combine 3 to 7 different colors of size 6/0 beads to make a pleasing color combination for a rope.

Here are some examples.  I am using my bead number from 7echoes so you can refer to those beads individually and see how they work together.  I will add more color combinations for 6/0 and eventually have color combinations for size 8/0 beads for ropes too.  If you want to view the 6/0 colors to see each color individually, write the color numbers down before clicking on 7echoes. The Amber with Black combo is one of my favorites. I wear that rope over and over because it goes so well with a lot of my clothing and I always have people wanting to check it out close-up. The Blue Jean Gold glows beneath the beads.

Ropes by Color Combinations

Rope Sample

Main Bead Color

Jean Stitch
Thread

Bead Color #'s

rope6-red

Bright Red

Red

209, 405, 437

rope6-amethyst

Dk Purple

Orchid

405, 502, 507, 511,
532, 909, 917

rope6-topaz

Amber w/Black

Blue Jean
Gold

252, 261, 281, 906

rope6-grey

Gray Pearl w/Blue

Gray

628, 904, 909, 930

rope6-green

Med Green w/Aqua

Green

628, 644, 645, 655,
718, 721, 731

The red rope is a beautiful combinations of strong reds and a lined beads that adds contrast to the overall look of the rope.  The purple rope has neutral highlights in neutrals, which enhance the purple beads.  The Amber rope is spectacular with the black beads here and there, peeking out of the bright Blue Jean Gold Stitch thread that literally glows.  The green rope is a beautiful combinations of green, aqua and blue and when combined have a dynamic effect.  The gray pearl rope is cool in appearance with grays and blues.   I used Orchid Jean Stitch because I did not have the Gray color available at the time in Jean Stitch.  The Gray Jean Stitch is the best choice.

The amber, black and purple rope is my favorite. It works with many of my outfits and I always a receive complements when I wear it. I do believe the effect would be lost without the Blue Jean Gold thread.

Thread color can make the difference on whether you have a gorgeous rope or just a so-so rope.

Click here to view the size 6/0 seed bead order page at 7 Echoes


A Rope of Neutral Colors
Size 8/0 make beautiful ropes.  I worked a rope with 7 beads in the round and used gray shades and black beads for the color combination.  Most of the beads are matted and have a unique feel to them because of the matting. 

Mixed Bead Shapes for Ropes
Freshwater Pearls, small gemstone chips and small beads make beautiful ropes.  I made a long rope of small Labradorite chips, 3mm freshwater button pearls, size 9/0 2 cut vintage beads and a size 11/0 bead.  I worked them 4 in the round which formed a spiral shape.  This rope is about 70" long, lightweight and can also be combined with another rope to form an interesting hanging belt or unique rope.  You will find the instructions to make a rope like this in my free workshops, the Pecos Rope.    You can even use bugles in place of the gemstone chips in a rope.

Ropes
Ropes are a joy to create and a connection to the past.  For each bead size, a different number of beads in the round will create exquisite ropes and earrings.  I use YLI Jean Stitch, a polyester thread for 6/0, 8/0, 11/0 and Delica beads.  If I am including a wider open expanse of fiber showing, which keeps the bead weight lighter, then I sometimes use silk thread.   An example would be a crocheted braid and then rounds of bead crochet embellishment added.  A silk braid would look stunning with bead enhancement.  I do not use silk for ropes that are composed of all beads and heavily weighted pieces. Ropes will look different depending on what size thread and number of rounds for each bead type.  The smaller the number of beads in the round and the thicker the thread, results in the beads being pushed outward and the thread showing.  Larger number of beads in the round will tend to keep even thick thread from showing.  Thinner thread with beads in a smaller number in the round will result with only the beads showing.   I use a size 1.40mm (American 9) for most my ropes in size 6/0, 8/0, 9/0cut, 11/0 beads.  I use a .75mm (American 14) for size 12/0 through 16/0 beads.  I use a size 15 and 16 hook for size 18/0 through 24/0 beads.  As you experiment you will find which hook size works best for you with each bead size.   I will add more bead sizes and number of rounds as I experiment.

6/0 beads - You do not want too many in the round or the rope weight will overwhelm you.  Five beads in the round makes a beautiful rope.  My favorite length is 54" which weighs about 118 to 120 grams.  Add another 15 grams for hoop earrings with 3 beads in the round for approximately `18 to 20 rounds before joining.  Jean Stitch will not show with 6/0 worked 5 in the round because the beads are so much larger compared to the thread.  It will show with 3 beads in the round and the rope will be loose in comparison to a more compact rope with 5 in the round.  Sometimes we want that looser appearance with only a few beads in the round and more thread showing.
8/0 - Beads work well with 7 in the round.  Again, too many beads in the round will result in a heavy rope.  I use Jean Stitch thread.
11/0 beads -Makes a nice firm rope with 10 beads in the round; 9 in the round and the rope tends to flatten out instead of becoming circular, looking more like a lozenge.  I use Jean Stitch thread.  If you want a thinner rope, the thread will show unless you go to a thinner thread or use smaller hooks.
Delicas - Use the same rounds and thread as the 11/0.  If you want a very thin rope work 5 in the round, use thin polyester thread, equivalent to silk twist, approx. 100wt.  The beads will set very close together and the fiber will not show.
13/0 and 14/0 - Use thin polyester thread with 5, 8 and 10 in the round.  While using the same thin thread as that for Delicas, it will be more difficult to work because the beads are smaller, which makes the holes to get your hook into smaller.  Use Jean Stitch thread when you are working more beads in the round, such as 12, 14 or 16.

Your First Ropes  Use light colored thread, not dark, so you can see the stitches.  Use larger size beads that contrast to the thread and do not blend in with the thread.  String a yard or two of beads and then work them 12 or 14 in the round so you can see what you are doing.  You can experiment by making large beads.  Make one rope with 10 rounds adding the bead in the first yarnover of a single crochet, fasten off and stitch in the thread.  Then make a second rope of 10 rounds adding the bead in the second yarnover of a single crochet, fasten off and stitch in the thread.  Make a third rope of 10 rounds adding the bead in slip stitches and fasten off.  Keep these as examples for basic ropes.  With a single crochet you have two positions the bead can set in standard crochet.  With a slip stitch, the beads will only set in one position.  I advise trying these techniques for your first ropes.

When you begin your first rope, make the chains and join them with a slip stitch.  Then work one round of slip stitches before adding beads in the next round.  This will give you a tiny fiber piece to hold onto when you start adding beads.  Many of my students start with a satin rattail cord or other type fiber cord, work their chains and join with the cord in the middle.  After they have about 10 rounds worked, they pull out the cord and continue.  Just keep that cord in your crochet supplies ready for the next rope beginning.  Make sure it is a contrasting color to the thread you are using.    Also, make the same beads with different size hooks, a smaller hook will pull the beads closer together and larger hook will make larger loops and more thread will show.  This will help you decide which hook works best for you and which way you prefer the ropes and beaded beads to look.  I like some ropes to not show any fiber and in other cases I like the thread to show and want a looser rope.

Another way to make a rope is work one round of beads with standard crochet, then for the next and all consecutive rounds, take the hook under the thread to the right of each bead in the previous round, in other words, take the hook under the thread that is coming out of the bead on the right side of the bead.  More thread will show in this type of crochet but it gives you a different appearance.  This technique is not standard crochet but has been around for many years and is not a new stitch.  You are still working a single crochet stitch.  There is more than one way to start the first bead round before beginning the consecutive rounds hooking the thread to the side of the bead, this is just one example.

Bead Crochet and Long Bead Strands
See the Bead Stringing section, Luxurious Long Bead Strands Added To and Between Beading for the basics of stringing and preparing the strands.   Instead of beading, you would add the strands to bead crochet pieces.  I have made an absolutely smashing necklace with long strands of beads between sections of bead crochet.  Everyone goes bananas about it.  A bead spinner is going to save you hours of hand stringing.  Depending on the strand lengths, I either measure them to keep them even or count the beads to make sure each strand is the same unless I want them staggered.  This necklace was a challenge since I did not know how I was going to work each section until I did it.  My next experiment will be with long strands and beading, another new challenge.  Here is the necklace I made, smashing eh?  You can change it around and wear it in many different positions.   You will see other beadcrochet stitch techniques included in the necklace, those will be discussed in the future.

Single Crochet or Slip Stitch a Rope?
You can do either, I prefer single crochet for several reasons.  It is a stronger stitch.  If for some reason the rope eventually has a loose strand, the single crochet stitches will stay locked in much easier than the slip stitches.  Slip stitches can easily start coming apart if a strand comes loose.  Slip stitches are more difficult for beginners to control.  A stitch comes loose while you are working and before you know it all the beads you just crocheted for an hour are on one long strand on the floor.  That can be very disappointing.  Single crochet stitches are easier to see when working a rope.  When using single crochet, the beads can be positioned to look different depending on which yarnover you set them in.  With slip stitch, you can only position them one way because you are only making one yarnover.

Slip stitches bring the beads closer together and less thread shows.  Many of my ropes are crocheted with single crochet and people think they are slip stitched.  Depending on how you place the beads, thread thickness and steel hook size used, your beads can be close without thread showing when using single crochet stitches.

Slip Stitch Working The Thread at the Side of each Bead Hole

This is not standard crochet since you have to have beads in order to work the stitches.  Using this technique makes the beads line up like peyote bead stitch and they set very close together.  For this technique you do not work in the front half, back half or both stitch halves after you make bead chains and join them to form a circle.  The hook is placed to the right or left (depending on whether you are right-handed or left-handed), underneath the thread coming out of the first bead for slip stitch.   The bead is then pushed over the hook, placing the hook to the other side of the bead.  A bead from the working thread is pulled up and a yarnover completed, pulling the hook through both loops on the hook.  When working a rope, this is the repeat stitch.  If you are going to try this example, try large beads, thick thread and big hook first because the beads of the last previous row tend to get in the way and make it confusing for beginners to complete.  After practicing until you are very fluid with the technique, then go to smaller beads and thinner thread.  Judith Bertoglio-Giffin gave me tips about this stitch and it took me a while to get comfortable working it.  I, too, used bigger beads, size 6/0 and 8/0 to learn. I still do not like working this technique for smaller beads such as 11/0.  I prefer bead single crochet for most my work, but find this technique a good addition to bead crochet experimentation.   Judith has written a new books, Bead Crochet Ropes, which includes step-by-step illustrations, instructions and patterns for ropes.  Check Surfing with Sylvia on beadwrangler.com for a look at Judith's website.

I use single crochet for most my bead crocheted ropes.  Sometimes I also add beads in double and half double crochet stitches for ropes. Occasionally I use slip stitches when it makes a difference in the overall look.  Take a look at Aqua Sensations.  I started with Japanese cube beads in the round.  I tried to single crochet them but they just would not settle in the way I wanted them to, so I tried slip stitches.  They jumped right into place, who knows why.  I figured when I got to the 11/0 Czech beads, I could switch to single crochet - Not!  When I began the single crochet stitches with the 11/0 beads, they did not look right next to the cubes, so back to slip stitches.  It took me three times as long to do it with slip stitches versus single crochet.  This is slip stitch in the back half of the stitch, not to the right of the bead holes which is another type of slip stitch.

Slip stitches with beads are much harder on your hands and wrists than single crochet with beads because you are repeating one step in a stitch rather than two.  Two stitches gives your wrists a break from one repetitious movement.  Then when I got to the gemstone chips, oh yes, I was able to work single crochet.  I made the knots in the 11/0 rope portion as I crocheted.  Each new section of different size beads was worked on as I worked in the round.   The gemstone chip beads were made separately and then slipped onto bead crochet rope, then stitched to the rope to keep them from slipping.  Even the long section with gemstone chips has a complete bead crochet rope inside because I wanted it to feel like the rope texture was inside.  This was a unique rope to work and I was pleased with the final appearance.

Regarding  American terms "single crochet" and "slip stitch,"  These two stitches are more frequently used than any other stitch in USA bead magazine projects and bead classes/workshops for bead crochet.  I wish all bead magazines and instructors would use standard crochet terminology and not confuse those new to crochet.  If you are going to teach a class or write a how to project in a magazine, read a few basic how to crochet books first and check the terms.  The Crochet Guild of America, www.crochet.org can give you guidance if you ask.  Going through the CGOA tutorial and my bead crochet lessons will also be  helpful!  Crochet terminology you were given when someone taught you a few basic crochet stitches may not be standard crochet terms.  Also, if you are using American(USA) crochet terms in a project, do not just pop in a note about another country's terminology; you will  just confuse people.  If you are going to include statements about crochet terminology from another country, list them at the top of the page before you begin the project.  List each USA stitch term and then indicate what it is called in the other country.  In the USA the stitch we call a "single crochet" is identified as a "double crochet" in the United Kingdom (U.K.).  USA terminology for the "slip stitch" is identified in U.K. terminology as both a "slip stitch" and a "single crochet" stitch depending on the publication.  And last, please, please do not tell people the only way they can crochet a rope is using a slip stitch (USA term) because it just isn't true.   There are several books with crochet terminology equivalents for various countries.  Every instructor/project designer using crochet as their subject should know crochet terminology and abbreviations in addition to how to work the basic stitches.  Yes, this is a pet peeve for me.  Wouldn't it be great if we could all use the same terminology for the same stitches?

Rope Shapes with Single Crochet and Slip Stitch
You can put the hook through the front half of the stitch, back half of the stitch or under both stitch halves.  Through the front half will make the rope appear flatter, through the back half will make the rope more round and soft, under both stitch halves will make the rope round more stiff. 

"Swag" Stitch - An old Stitch Resurfaces
This stitch has been used at least since the 1880's and probably as early as 1860.  I will have more information in my next update.   My samplers for Beadwork Magazine Aug/Sep 2001 issue has the how-to instructions for this stitch in rounds and in rows. There is a Swag Me Bracelet project in that same issue.  I now have those samplers up on my Beadwork Sampler pages.  I also have a note about a correction to the bracelet project.  You will need to get that Beadwork Magazine issue for the bracelet instructions.  It is one of the most exciting versatile stitches I have found in a long time.  Here is a bag I made using this stitch.  The bag weighs 600 grams, lots of 11/0 beads, and I designed it to look like a bag from the 1880's time period. 

Easy return to Inside Purses

Easy return to Inside Crochet

Just Hanging Around (or Two Monkeys On a String)Monkies
A few years back I purchased Kate Coburn bead crochet books, two of which were Tubes (ropes).   I went through them and found many helpful ideas and tips.  Then I put them on my crochet bookshelf and did not get back to them.  I went on with my experimenting of bead crochet until I saw the article in Beadwork Magazine about Carol Wilcox Wells' new book that would be primarily beading but would include some bead crocheted ropes.   There were three photos of Carol's ropes.  All where quite lovely and Carol's use of color and choice of accent beads were a joy.  The spiral technique of the rope shape reminded me of Kate's ropes.  So I went back and looked at the tube books again and found the spiral ropes.  I sat down and made several samples from her instructions and then went on to make more adding or deleting beads in different sections.  It was a lot of fun and I finally decided to make a long rope that would spiral.  I picked different size beads including a 4mm cut beads and began.  When I had the rope close to finished, I decided I wanted to do something that would make the rope stand out so I attached a strand of beads already on SoftFlex wire with two carved monkeys attached to it.  I finished the rope with the monkey strand attached.  Then the monkeys needed some flowers, so I added something that kind of looked like pineapples or flowering plants, and I was happy with it.   The whole piece is bead crochet with the exception of the bead strung necklace with the monkeys on it.  The spiral technique probably developed in the 1920's, but it was Kate's instructions that led me the way.  Check my Book Center for Kate's book review and where to order them or you can order them through your local bead store.  Carol's new book should be out early next year.

Crocheting With Elastic for Bracelets and Necklaces
Today you will find many colored elastics on the market and at your local craft store and some yarn stores.  I use Rainbow Elastic for certain types of bead crocheted bracelets and necklaces so they will go right over my wrist or neck without a clasp and still fit where I want them to.   I use primarily 1mm elastic because I can also bead crochet with as small as size 11/0 beads on this size elastic.  Chain the number of chains to fit comfortable around your wrist and still be able to take it across and over your hand.   I have a 6" wrist (oh, if only the rest of me were equally small) and the average wrist is about 7 1/2".  I ch76 , T, and then work 1sc in each chain back down for 75 sts.  Leave a 5" tail on the loose thread and fastened off thread for stitching together at the end.  If the bracelet is wide enough around the whole in the center should allow a Weaving/Stole 5# needle or tapestry needle to bring the elastic through.  If you are working a bracelet that is only 5 beads around, you may have to prepare the elastic first and work around it as you crochet.   If you are working in only 3 beads around, you will only have room to bring the elastic through without crocheting it,  For some of my bracelets, I have chained and not made sc stitches back.  In other cases I have strung single or doubled elastic depending on the type bracelet and space I have to work in.  I have some bracelets that have open areas and these are especially lovely with the colored elastic through so the elastic blends in with the crochet thread and beads.

Adding Crochet to Needlework
If you are adding bead or fiber crochet to your needlework, you can look at a close up of my crochet worked onto a mini quilt that becomes a purse. This purse is in the centerfold of the book. How did I start? Fiber artist Teresa Barrett handed me two mini quilts that had all the edges tucked inside and the edges stitched closed. I wanted the fish to be looking sideways so I turned the pieces into the shape of a diamond. This is harder to put together than a square piece. Next I prepared the two pieces for crochet using my techniques on page 56. Then I strung my beads onto thread and began around the edges with rounds of all beads until I had about 5 rounds, then I began to crochet with more fiber and pulled up a bead only now and then. I used rings at the top of the purse to hang the strap. Adding rings are on page 58. Then I strung size 11 matte rainbow green seed beads on Soft Flex wire, size .014, until I felt the length was adequate for my hand to go through it. Then I added a crimp bead on the end. Next I put a glass frog over the crimp bead and decorated the end with fiber. Use the instructions in Beadwrangler's Hands On Bead Stringing for decorating and finishing the crimp bead.

Next I went to the bottom of the purse below the quilted fish and decided to add branch coral as embellishment. This is basically a stitchery technique. You would thread your needle, one that will go through the perforated holes of the coral, and put a knot in the end of the thread. Then sew back and forth through the fabric until the thread is taut. Then make loops of thread around the edge until it is thick like mesh. Next string on one coral branch and go back into the fiber and out again. Continue around until the bottom of the purse is decorated and tie off. The combination of beads and fiber working together in a piece brings great texture and beauty to the piece rather than being all fiber or all beads.   You can use sharps or quilting needles with beading or sewing thread to add the coral pieces. Then I made a Why-Knot necklace to hang my mini quilt purse when I did not want to wear it on my wrist. Easy to make Why Knot necklaces can be found in Beadwrangler's Hands On Bead Stringing also.

Sequins Added to Crochet
String on sequins the same as you would seed beads.  Then when you are ready to add a sequin, make a ch1, pull up a sequin and then continue as usual.  Depending on the sequin size, you may have to make ch2 before adding the sequin.  This keeps the sequins from bulging on a piece. 

Fiber Crocheted Beads
You can make freeform fiber beads and match them to your latest creation.  Whether you use thin thread or thick yarn, you can make easy beads using basic crochet stitches.  None of them have to be the same length or size.  Some can be fat and others thin.  If you are working with thin thread, it will take longer to make one bead compared to thick yarn that makes up in minutes.  You can knot between the beads using a chain stitched fiber.  You can space them between glass beads with large holes or make bead crochet beads and place between them.

Which is the First Stitch When Crocheting in the Round? - "Very Important"
When you are working in the round, the easiest way to know which is the first stitch in a round is to count from the hook.  After completing a round of chains stitches and joining, go back to the hook and count from the hook forward to the beginning stitch in that round.  You do not count the loop on the hook.  If you chained 12 and when you count from the hook, you find you have 13 chains, it is very likely you are counting where you joined and you did not add another chain.  Put your hook in the 12th chain from the hook and begin.  When I first started crocheting, I would make the number of chains indicated  and join.  Then I would count from the beginning chain and end out with one more chain than required.  So I would take that extra chain out and begin again.   Then I would end out missing a stitch I needed.  I finally realized I was counting part of the joined chains.  By counting from the hook to the front, you will always know which stitch to begin working.  Obviously, if you should have 12 stitches and you count 20, you did add too many to begin.  When working in continuous rounds to make the same number of stitches in a spiral such as 12, no matter what stitch your hook is in, you should be able to count from the hook around and count 12 stitches.  When I am crocheting a bead rope, I stop every so often and count the stitches in the round to make sure I did not miss a stitch and leave off a bead or add one, ending out with a thinner or thicker rope than planned.

Stitch Finding Tool
One of my customers recently emailed me a tip for those having a problem finding each stitch hole when working in the round. Carol said she could not see the chains to work my Sedona rope kit and was also having problems picking up the correct placement of the stitch when she did see it. She was about to give up when she got an idea; she tried a 5 #4 U.S. double-pointed knitting needle. She stuck the needle into the center of the joined stitches forming the rope hole and worked off the tip of the needle. She could move the needle up as her work progressed and see every stitch clearly. With this little tool, she no longer has problems finding the stitch. I also had another viewer email me that she used a bamboo stick for the same purpose and it worked for her. Using a tool to see the stitches may slow you down a little, however, it seems to work. Eventually, after making many ropes, it will come natural for you to work the stitches and no longer need to use one of these tools.

Crocheted Beaded Beads
You can make a bead crocheted tube over a plastic bead to form a beaded bead.  Look for plastic beads that are tubular and are rounded or squared off on each end.  You can usually find plastic beads in a variety of  lengths at craft stores and thrift shops.  At thrift shops and flea markets you will often find necklaces made of plastic beads that can be used for crocheted beaded beads.  Make sure the plastic beads are about 1/2" around or wider and 1" to 1 1/2" long for your first experiment.  It  is easier to cover a wider and longer bead than a thinner and shorter bead.  It is also easier to cover a tubular bead than a round bead.   Try to find three to five beads that match.  You can add these crocheted beads to bead stringing such as necklace or work crochet on the ends of each crocheted bead to work them into a rope.  These beads look best combined with strung beadwork because it offers another texture to the strung beadwork.

Make the number of chains required to fit around the middle of the plastic bead when joined with a slip stitch.  Then work bead single crochet stitches in a spiral to the end of the bead.  Now half of the plastic bead is covered.   Push the crocheted piece up to the other end of the bead and continue working the stitches until the tubular portion is covered.  Do not work over the lip or end of the bead with bead crochet.  Begin single crochet stitches without beads, decreasing in each round until you are close to the plastic bead hole and then fasten off.  Use a needle to stitch the fastened off end into the stitches enough times the thread will not come back out before cutting off the excess.

I found a necklace at a thrift store that had five plastic beads 1" long and 1/2" diameter each.  These beads had a slight bend to them.   They were straight enough to keep the stitches all the same but when  finished, the bend added to the overall look of the bead.  I used Czech size 11/0 beads and Jean Stitch thread and worked 12 beads around for 15 rounds.  When finished, the bead looked exquisite.  It is a rigid bead on the inside and a soft fabric on the outside.  These plastic beads have a white pearlized permanent finish.

When choosing plastic beads, remember the color of the bead will show through the little spaces between the crocheted fiber.  Do not use beads that have a coating that will chip off.  Either use beads with a finish that is a permanent part of the bead or clean off the coating first.  After you wear the beads for a while, the coating could slowly peel off and leave an unattractive finish on part of the bead.  Usually a soft light color is the best choice for plastic beads you want to cover.  If you want to experiment, you can try a plastic beads that is bright red, orange, yellow or chartreuse and cover it with a color that will reflect the bright color to give a glowing lantern effect.  This type experiment usually requires making a few samples to see how the color underneath will work with the beads and thread on top.   I highly recommend plastic instead of glass for beads.  Glass beads are heavy and bead crochet on top, using glass beads and thread, will add to the weight.   Plastic beads are very light and even with the bead crochet, the bead will still feel pretty light when finished.

Note:  If you have a difficult time working around the plastic bead, you can take the bead crocheted piece off the plastic bead and work the rounds until you have the length required.  Then slip it back on before starting the decreases.

You can also work bead loops on these type beads.  Try a couple of rounds of bead loops between single beads crocheted in round for interesting beads.  You can also mix bead sizes, such as 11/0, 12/0 and 14/0 for a different look.  Drop beads and other shapes can also be added.  Try a round of drop beads on each end of the bead before you start the thread decreases.  It will look like the bead has a skirt on each end.

Send me an image of your finished bead and I will put it up on this page.   Also, you can work round with thread stitches in part of it and work beading in those spaces with smaller beads for a contrasting appearance.    Ok, pull out all those plastic beads you put away when you became a bead snob and decided to only work with glass gemstones and let's have some fun!  The fact is most of us bead snobs can't let go of any type bead so we still have a stash of old plastic beads somewhere.  Here is a look at the plastic bead undressed and dressed with bead crochet that I made.

Beading and Crochet Together?
Adding beading to crochet is very easy in some instances and in others, it takes a little more preparation. If you have a thicker fiber piece you are working and want to add beading to the edge, you will have to crochet one row or round of thinner fiber before you add beads. Beading can be added with beading thread directly onto the thinner fiber. Use YLI Jean Stitch thread, DMC#12, or other thin fiber. You can add brick stitch or any other beading for several rows or rounds, then crochet another row/round with the thin fiber onto the beading thread and continue crocheting with thicker yarn. Be sure and have doubled thread through the beading row/round that crochet will be attached to.

Adding beading to bead crochet is very easy. Make sure you double your beading thread and knot the end. Then take the needle through the bead crocheted piece and make sure the thread is taut and will not fall out. Then work the needle to a bead that is crocheted on the piece, string on a few beads, and take the needle through the bead on the crocheted piece and out. String more beads and take the needle through another bead that is crocheted on a piece. If you have a piece with size 6/0 or 8/0 bead crocheted on a piece, string on 11/0 beads and take them between the larger beads. This will give your piece a whole new look. This is just one easy way to add beading to bead crochet.

Carrying Loose Thread When Crocheting With Beads
When you begin your first chains for crochet, you will have a loose thread.  When you fasten off to add more beads, you will have loose thread to contend with.  It is tiresome to stitch in all the loose threads after crocheting, so I have started carrying my loose thread when crocheting with beads just as I do with all fiber pieces. 

When you are ready to add beads in a piece, put the hook in the next stitch for a bead single crochet, then put the loose thread over the top of the hook.   Pull up a bead from the working thread, yo behind it, pull up a loop and take the hook under the loose thread.  The loose thread is now between the hook and the working thread.  Yo again to complete a single crochet stitch and the loose thread is captured.  Keep the loose thread up over the hook as you work.  The only thread you will have to stitch in is the ending  loose thread after fastening off the last time.  Think of all the hours saved since  you do not have to stitch in all that loose thread.  The only place where you may not want to carry the thread is in thin bead chains where it may show too much.  In some instances you may not want to carry the thread such as ropes with thin fiber.  Carrying the thread may make the piece bulge out.  In those instances, it is better to stitch the loose thread through the piece so it does not bulk up along the outside.

There is more than one method to carry the thread and the above instructions is one of them.

Cabochons over Fiber
Some of my loveliest loom woven pieces have cabochons added.   Cabochons can be added using stitching and crochet techniques with thread only or include beads.  Glass cabochons that are partially transparent and have some sparkly dichroic included are spectacular over yarns.  The fiber underneath will show through and give added highlights to the cabochon.  Your local glassmaker can supply you with a variety of shapes and sizes.  Don't forget gemstone cabochons also; moonstone, citrine, opal and other gemstones that include transparent areas will enhance your fiber.   Your local lapidary shop can help you.  If you can find someone locally, you can take your fibers and match them to cabochons or rough gemstone/glass material that can be made into cabochons.

"No Go" Leftovers - What to do?
I have gobs of leftover beadwork pieces from prototypes and designs that just were no gos for my finished item. They are pretty pieces but none are finished. I used to cut up the beaded pieces for the beads but not anymore. I find these little leftover jewels can be combined and worked into a completely different creation. Using no gos can result in some of your finest designer pieces. Taking parts of this and that to put together makes a different part of your brain wake up and take part in the design effort.  Make a miniature quilt with beading, crochet, knitting and other crafts by combining all the little samples you have made together into one piece, maybe a wall-hanging.

I have a rope that had been sitting around for about a year; I just did not know what I wanted to do with it. Then I found a bead crocheted scrunchie sitting around too in my no go pile. I put them together and then found a red glass heart that matches the beads. I wrapped the scrunchie around one end of the rope, added the heart and it is beginning to take shape. It is still sitting on my work table, but will soon be a finished piece. I take tiny bead crocheted bags I made and am now incorporating them into ropes as beads. If you take unrelated pieces and put them together, you can began to visualize something new. Add beading to the crochet, thats fun too.

Crocheting with Wire
I tried a variety of materials and found crocheting with wire to be hard on my hands and wrists. If you use a thinner wire, 28-32 gauge or smaller, the wire tends to collapse in the item you have made. If you use a thicker wire, 24-26 gauge, it is extremely difficult to manipulate the wire with a crochet hook. I am not one to give up so I found another way to still have crochet and wire together. I weave wire by hand or on a bead loom, crochet with fiber and then work the wire into the crochet piece. You can come up with some really unique pieces this way. Some of the new wire colors are just delicious. There are now beautiful blue/green and purple wires in 28 gauge that you can easily manipulate with your fingers. You will need wire cutters to cut the wire and some fine sanding paper, 400 or 600 grit to smooth the cut edges or use a small file. You can stick small fresh water pearls or size 8/0 seed beads onto the wire before you work it into the crochet fiber. I will soon have an image of an example for you to view with my regular website updates.


Crochet Hooks for Beads and Fibers
I have been receiving many questions about crochet hooks from new crocheters. One crochet hook is not always used for only one fiber thickness or type. If you are making an item and following instructions for a pattern and it states to use a specific size hook to make the sample for gauge, you may find you need a size smaller or larger hook to create the sample with the correct measurements because we all crochet differently.

I wanted to make a blouse pattern with pineapple motifs from a 1970s magazine. The pattern called for fine silky fingering yarn. Huh? I purchased a variety of what one would assume to be fingering yarn today but when I tried to make a sample with that type yarn, it was way too huge, even when I went to a smaller hook. I finally found thinner yarn and used a smaller hook to make a sample that measures the same gauge for the pineapple motif. The blouse is not finished yet, but it is looking great.

I crochet about what I call medium, not too tight and not too loose. Another crocheter might use a completely different size hook to work the pattern and get the gauge perfectly with the listed yarn.

For my bead crochet kits, a gauge is not that important other than knowing how many beads per inch if it is a rope. I use #12/1.00mm to #9/1.40mm steel crochet hooks as average size for bead crochet with size 11/0, 6/0 and 8/0 beads. Larger or smaller size hooks may be what you need depending on how you crochet.

I finished a huge rope, 6 feet long, in size 6/0 beads, for an exhibit at the Art Centre in Chicago. I quickly found using a smaller hook was tiring to my hands, so I switched to a 1.65mm and found it much easier to work the 6/0 beads. I am making links that fit into each other. My links have been measuring 5" to 5 " to 5 " long on different days. I am using the same number of beads in each link. The bead sizes are uniform so the length difference is in how I crochet, some days I crochet more loose and others more tight. Maybe it is by mood; tired - crochet loose, uptight - crochet tight, who knows. This difference is not noticeable in the links but could be if I were working a different type project.   Each chain link is 50 rounds, with 5 size 6/0 beads in each round.  The links are worked in groups, one placed around the previous  for a grouping, then the links are reshaped and another group begins.  This chain is made like chains of ancient times with 18K gold wire in 18 gauge and thinner found in Egyptian pyramids.  The look is the same except it is bead crocheted and over 6 foot long instead of metal work and 30" to 40" long.  This chain has called the Egyptian Chain, Etruscan Chain and many other names of identification.   It was an exciting challenge to make this chain and it duplicate the look of the precious metal chains.  You will often find these type chains handmade today with sterling wire.  There is more than one method of making these chains so they have a different appearance when finished.  I made one back in 1974 and used it as a guide to make the crocheted one in the year 2000.   Maybe this would be a good project to do in smaller beads like 14/0 and silk twist.  That could be a challenge.  They could also be worked with size 11/0 beads but would be a larger rope. Here is the finished rope, it is a little longer than 6 foot.  My rope was included in the Audacious Bead 2002 exhibit at the Bead Museum in Washington, DC.

Easy return to Inside Crochet

You can use many size hooks when crocheting freeform. You might have a yarn you want small loops in one part of the project and big fat ones in another. Try using 5 to 7 different crochet hooks on the same fiber. Work various stitches with each crochet hook size. Look at how different the fiber looks with the change of a crochet hook size..

Try a size 0.5mm or 0.4mm steel crochet hook to add buttons to crochet. These tiny hooks will go right through the button shank, let you crochet into the fiber and back into the button. You will need to use thinner fiber through the button so the hook can grasp the fiber. I find those little hooks very handy as tools on my worktable.

I keep a complete set of steel crochet hooks with me at all times so I am ready for any experiment I want. I recently received Skacel Addi Turbo hooks that are a dream in sizes 2mm through 6mm. They have a steel hook and plastic grip that is much more comfortable to the hands than the aluminum ones. The 6mm is about the largest size I need for most my crocheting. Most of the time I work with thinner yarns and worked them in with my bead crochet and other beadwork.  My one complaint is the hooks attached to some of the plastic grips have popped off and I have had to glue them in for permanency. I also use a complete set of Boye aluminum hooks in addition to my steel hooks.

I also have a complete set of aluminum Boye hooks in addition to their steel hooks.  You never know which hook you are going to want to use for which project.

Experimentation and making samples is the best way for you to learn how the hook sizes work for you and their versatility.

Stole/Weaving and Doll Needles
The stole/weaving needles are 5" long, have a blunt end like tapestry needles and are very strong. The doll needles are the same length but thinner and sharp on the ends. I use them for some types of weaving, especially smaller projects but also to string on my crocheted beads. Crocheted beads made of beads and fiber cannot be strung directly onto SoftFlex wire or yarn. These long needles can easily hold the SoftFlex or yarn while you run it up through a crocheted bead.   If it is a very short bead, you can use a long tapestry needle instead. I also use them to make braids/needle weaving.  Use them to pull elastic thread through strung beads or ropes for bracelets.   I always have a few of them on my worktable as multiple purpose tools.

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