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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading
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