1. Broken Beads
There are so many reasons that a broken bead is beyond infuriating. First of all, it usually happens while weaving in thread, which means that the break is miles away from where you’ve added the most recent stitches, and it would take ages to undo all of your work to remove the offending bead and replace it. With some techniques it’s okay to lose a bead here and there, but for most it’s super obvious that there’s a gap in the pattern. A broken bead can ruin hours and hours of work.
There's no "good" way to fix a broken bead like this.
The worst thing about broken beads is that they’re usually 100% our fault. We know that the bead holes are getting full because we can feel it as we try to pull the needle through to weave in a tail thread. And yet, we ignore that little voice telling us to put on a size 13 needle just to be safe, and instead try to force the needle until we hear the telltale crunch of exploding glass.
2. Kinky Peyote Thread
If you’ve worked with peyote stitch much, you may have noticed that it plays havoc with beading threads. Fireline is particularly susceptible to the twisting, kinky mess that results after so many rows of peyote. The thread closest to the beadwork gets twisted tighter and tighter with each new row, causing it to coil in on itself and making every stitch take longer than usual. The tighter your tension, the kinkier the thread gets.
At this point it's like trying to bead with straw.
I generally work with a wingspan of thread for every technique and project, but many years ago I started using no more than one arm’s length for nearly anything involving peyote stitch. Shorter lengths of thread don’t get as kinky to begin with, and it means less time until a fresh, untwisted thread is needed.
3. Surprise Bead Coatings
Has this ever happened to you? You’re browsing a bead shop online and spot a new bead color that you simply must have. You read the description carefully and everything seems great. You order the beads and wait for them to arrive, imagining all of the designs that you’ll make with them. The box arrives and you rip it open, only to discover that the color you liked so much is just a coating that is already starting to flake around the bead holes.
Do you really want to hurt me, coated beads?
Material quality is extremely important to me, and I always try to use the best beads in my designs. I intentionally avoid beads that aren’t going to stand up to the normal wear-and-tear of jewelry, and I rely a lot on product descriptions to know what I’m buying. It’s super annoying when essential details like color coatings are left out, especially because the colors are usually so awesome.
I drop things. Sometimes my hands just go on vacation from my brain and the next thing I know, there are beads (or coffee, or spaghetti sauce) everywhere. Sometimes it’s a container of recently decanted beads that I drop. Sometimes I drop something else into my workspace after setting up a project and there’s a bead explosion. Fortunately this usually only happens to beads in the vicinity of my bead tray, so most of the spill is contained within my workspace anyway. I can clean up some of the mess as I stitch, and scoop up the rest when a project is complete.
This is what happens when you drop your camera on a pile of beads.
The worst kinds of spills are those that turn a few lovely beads into a gigantic bead soup. Most beaders have experienced this at least once, and a lot of bead sellers have, too. We even have a name for the resulting mixture: broom beads. I had quite a few major bead spills before I started beadweaving full time, which is why I never, ever, ever, ever, store beads loose. Especially seed beads. They all stay in their little packets and tubes where they can’t cause any trouble.
This is what broom beads would look like - if I didn't keep my seed beads locked up tight.
5. Having to Start a New Thread With Only a Centimeter To Go
There’s no short quip that quite describes this pet peeve, yet it happens all the time. You’re weaving away, getting close the end of a piece of beadwork, and realize that your thread is going to be too short to finish. You’re going to have to cut a new thread, put on a stop bead, and weave it into place - all for just a centimeter or two of beadwork. And you can’t just cut a short piece of thread, oh no. You have to use a full length because if you try to gauge how much you need to finish, you’ll only come up short again and have to add ANOTHER thread.
Working exclusively with Fireline for so many years has made me very stingy with thread. Every time I have to toss a tail that’s not short enough to truly be garbage, but not long enough to be of any possible use, I cringe. Trying to make the most of expensive threads is a constant source of beading anxiety. But I love my Fireline, and in the end it’s worth it.
What are your biggest beading pet peeves?
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