Spiral herringbone is a deceptively simple technique, once you get the first few stitches down, and it always looks amazing when you have a finished rope. It works with beads of almost any shape or size, and can be used with many different patterns of color.
To stitch a twisted Ndebele rope:
Start by making a two-bead ladder. Pick up 4 seed beads on a comfortable length of beading thread, and slide them down until you have an 8 inch tail. Stitch up through the first 2 beads again and pull tight. Pass down through the next 2 beads.
Pick up 2 beads, and chase your thread by stitching down through the previous two beads again. Pull snug to form a 3rd stack of 2 beads next to the others. Stitch up through the 2 beads just added and pull tight.
Repeat this process, adding two beads at a time and stitching them onto the ladder, until it reaches the desired length. You must have an even number of bead stacks to make a herringbone rope.
To stitch the ladder into a tube, bring the needle up through the first bead stack, then down through the last one added. Secure the thread by weaving through the ladder a few more times, and exit in the opposite direction of the tail thread.
Pick up 2 seed beads, and stitch down through the top bead of the adjacent bead stack, to the left of where your thread is exiting. Pull tight until the new beads are sitting side-by-side on top of the ladder.
Stitch up through the top bead in the next bead stack to the left. Continue adding 2 beads at a time all the way around the ladder ring. After adding the final pair, stitch up through the top 2 beads of the next bead stack to step up.
Add another row of herringbone stitches in this round. When you add the final pair of beads, stitch up through 3 beads in the next stack to step up, instead of two. This change will begin the twist.
Add more rounds of tubular herringbone, and remember to stitch up through 3 beads at the end of each round. You will start to see the spiral take hold after several rounds, and it will be more obvious as the rope gets longer.
Alternating bead colors for each pair or rows really makes the twist stand out, as you can see the rows wrapping around each other. This technique looks great in palettes that remind us of spirals, like red, white and green for candy canes.
What’s your favorite way to use twisted herringbone?
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