Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beading Tutorial: Russian Spiral

Grape Vanilla Russian Spiral Rope

Few things are prettier than a beaded spiral, and of all the stitches in a beader’s repertoire, spirals are often the most satisfying. Spiral techniques provide us with easy and elegant ropes for necklaces or chunky ropes for bangles, in an endless variety of color and pattern.

One technique that gets far too little time in the spotlight is Russian spiral rope. It is a variation of tubular netting - and therefore tubular peyote stitch. The small compact rows give the stability of a peyote rope, with the flexibility and drape of a crochet one. By combining two bead sizes and small nets, you can create a beautiful rope of spiraling color that works up incredibly fast. Russian spiral is a great rope technique for Fireline lovers - the beadwork is very soft, even when using stiff threads.

To weave a Russian spiral rope:

Begin by choosing a palette that includes two similar bead sizes. Here we’re going to use two 11/o colors, and one 8/o color. You can go up or down a size, and even use accent beads like pearls or crystals for the larger beads, so long as they have a compact shape that works with the smaller base beads.

On a comfortable length of beading thread, pick up a repeating pattern of two 11/o and one 8/o four times. You can increase the number of sets for a wider rope, but this pattern will create a tight tube that is perfect for necklace chains.

Russian Spiral Tutorial How to Weave Russian Spiral

Stitch through all of the beads again to form a ring, and exit from an 11/o immediately following an 8/o. Pick up one 8/o and two 11/o. Unlike other spirals such as Cellini, if you are using multiple colors always pick up the same color that you will be stitching into, not the same color that you are exiting.

Stitch through the first 11/o bead after the next 8/o in the ring. Pull snug, and nudge the three new beads to the top of the ring. Don’t worry if the position isn’t perfect - the beadwork structure will start to form a tube naturally as you add more rounds.

Russian Spiral Rope Tutorial Russian Spiral Rope Step Up

Pick up one 8/o and two 11/o, and pass through the first 11/o in the next set. Pull snug. Continue around the ring. When you add the fourth and final set, pass through the first 11/o added in this round. Because this step-up ignores the original ring, it will reduce the number of sets in the tube by one, and convert the beadwork from even to odd-count. You will not need to step up again for the remainder of the rope.

The beadwork may look a little messy at this point. One more round will secure the tubular shape, but if you’re having trouble seeing which way is up, try securing a stop bead to your tail thread as a reminder.

Weaving a Russian Spiral Rope Three Color Russian Spiral Rope Pattern

Continue stitching, adding sets of three beads at a time, always stitching through the first 11/o bead of the set below, and adding colors in reverse. You can weave the first few rounds over a dowel if desired, but the tube comes together so quickly that it isn’t necessary. Within the first few rounds, you should be able to see the spiral pattern emerge.

Russian Spiral Tubular Netting Stitch

Pull snug after every stitch to create even tension. With Russian spiral, I like to leave my tail threads extra long, so that I can weave back through and snug up any loose spots. To finish the rope and secure the end of the tube, pick up one 8/o and just one 11/o in the final round. Stitch through all of the beads once or twice to secure the ring, and weave the remaining thread into the tube. Make sure to pass through both 11/o and 8/o beads as you weave, to securely anchor the tails.

Have you used Russian spiral stitch before? What bead size combination is your favorite?

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  1. Thanks for another wonderful tutorial Mortira. Love your color choices.

  2. Wonderful tutorial! Thanks for posting!

  3. My favorite stitch to make chains with

  4. I haven't tried this before, but I'd really like to now. I really enjoy tubular herringbone and would like to explore other spiral/tubular stitches.

  5. Love this, too. Thank you so much. Your tutorials are so well done always!

  6. Not met russian spiral before, must have a go sometime.

  7. bellissima questa collana ad aspirale russa , brava se ti va passa da me

  8. Finally, I have got it! I have tried several other tutorials but the results never looked right, I think your 'no step up' did the trick. Great tutorial, thank you.

  9. I am new to beading and have made this, it was easy to follow and looks great. Just one snag; I can't find how to add a clasp, can you help?

    1. Hi Rose! There are a few different ways to finish a rope like this. For example, you can use epoxy to attach a magnetic clasp, or string the entire rope on beading wire and use crimps. You can also go with a full beaded finish. This tutorial for herringbone rope clasps uses the same basic technique:

      Hope this helps!

  10. first, thank you for this tutorial, i am a complete beginning with spirals and peyote, but was able to follow your instructions perfectly. couple questions, would this work with all beads the same size or do they need to be 2 different sizes? also, how do you recommend finishing off the tube to just make a tubular necklace (i prefer toggles and while i would like to learn to make my own, i'd also like to be able to attach purchased toggles :) )
    thanks :)

    1. I've never seen or tried Russian spiral with all one bead size, but it might work. The shape and structure of the spirals would probably be altered, but since it's just a variation of netting, it is probably do-able.

      To make a necklace, you could string your tube onto beading wire and add bead caps and a clasp with crimps, add loops of seed beads to attach jump rings, or glue the ends into magnetic clasps. The following tutorial explains how to cap beaded tubes with round beads for adding a nice closure, which you could convert to work with your findings:

  11. Just found this tutorial of yours, and I'm so glad i did! Thank you for posting it! Someone told me i should try the Russian spiral rope. Almost all I found when I searched for a good tutorial back then was schemas in different languages and nothing as straight forward and easy to understand as this! I'll be trying it for sure! Thanks again, so very much! :)

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I hope that you enjoy the technique. It makes some really gorgeous ropes.

  12. I am new to beading and have made this, it was easy and looks great.. Thanks for this tutorial... :)

    1. You're welcome! I'm glad that you enjoyed the stitch. It's a lovely alternative to other ropes - I love that it incorporates different bead sizes so smoothly.


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