Now that we’ve covered all of the essential basics of working with peyote stitch, we’re moving on to some of the more exciting variations available for this versatile stitch. We’ve already tried out circular peyote by working skip-a-bead-add-a-bead in the round, so the next logical step is to go 3-D with the marvelously meditative tubular peyote.
Basic tubular peyote looks a lot like tubular bead crochet, and can provide some wonderful ropes for necklaces and bracelets. When worked in a single size of seed bead, the structure of tubular peyote stitch falls somewhere between bead crochet and tubular herringbone. It isn’t as supple and as crochet, but it is more flexible than herringbone. One downside is that the larger your tube is – or the more beads you start with – the more prone it is to buckling or collapsing along the tube. This is why many tubular peyote projects are worked over a form such as silk cord or latex tubing.
If you’re already familiar with the basics of peyote stitch, tubular peyote should be an easy transition. The key to getting started with this technique is not to worry too much about how your first few rows look. If you start out a little wobbly, you can always remove those stitches and reveal the cleaner beadwork within. Like with circular peyote, I recommend using size 11/o seed beads, and working without a stop-bead to get even tension. In the example piece, I’m using size 8/o seed beads for clarity, but you’ll find that size 11/o beads grip the thread a lot better and make it easier to get the stitch going.
You may want to have a dowel, knitting needle, or other form to stitch with. It’s not necessary, but if you find yourself crushing the beadwork while pulling new stitches taught, it can help protect the tube. A mandrel also makes it easy to keep the tail thread out of the way while you work. Once you’ve stitched about an inch of beadwork, it should be safe to continue without a form.
Basic Tubular Peyote Stitch:
1. On about 1 yard, or one arm’s length of thread, pick up an even number of seed beads. For a beginner rope, 8-12 beads is ideal.
2. Slide the beads down to the end, and stitch through all of them again. Pull snug to form a ring, leaving at least a 6 inch (15 cm) tail. Pass through 2 or more beads to secure the ring.
3. Pick up 1 seed bead. Skipping the next bead in the ring, stitch through the following bead and pull snug. Repeat all the way around the ring. You will add half as many beads as you picked up in step 1.
Do not try to force the beads into a tube shape just yet. Keep the tension loose so the first round will look just like a circular peyote start.
4. At the end of the round, you will need to step up. Skip a bead, add a bead, then follow through the first bead picked up in this round and pull snug.
5. Pick up 1 seed bead, and stitch through the following raised bead – the 2nd bead added in the previous round. Repeat for the rest of the round and step up.
6. At the end of the round, you can pull the thread snug to cinch up the beadwork and form the start of the tube. You can slide the ring onto your mandrel or dowel here if desired, making sure that the tail thread is pointing towards you. Turn the beadwork on the form as you work to add each new bead.
7. Continue adding 1 bead at a time, stitching onto the raised beads as usual. The beads will now rest evenly and the tube will continue to build. Step up at the end of each round. Weave in your threads once the beadwork has reached the desired length.
Even-count tubular peyote is ideal if you want to include any type of pattern or a spiral design in your rope. If you’re working with a single color or a mixture and aren’t concerned about pattern, you can also work odd-count tubular peyote. The best thing about this variation is that there is no step-up. You simply add 1 bead at a time continuously for as long as you wish. To make an odd-count tube, just string an odd number of beads in step 1, then add one bead at a time with peyote stitch until finished.
Odd Count Tubular Peyote Start
One easy way to enhance the structural integrity of tubular peyote is to work with at least two bead sizes. This creates a simple spiral and makes the tube much stronger by providing a balance in pressure points. Even if the beadwork does kink, it will be hidden within the spiral.
For our practice project, we’ll be working with spiral peyote in 2 bead sizes to make a bangle. This is a great design to make if you want to play with adding patterns to tubular peyote. Though the pattern here is very simple, you’ll be able to see the changes in the beadwork very clearly as the bead sizes reshape the tube. I’ve used size 15/o and 11/o seed beads, but you can also use size 11/o and 8/o. You’ll need at least one color of each size. I’ve used 2 colors (A and B) in the smaller size to help accentuate the spiral even more, and an 11/o mix (color C).
Spiral Peyote Bangle:
1. On a yard or one arm’s length of thread, pick up 2 color A beads, 4 B, 2 A, and 8 C. Slide all of the beads down to the end and stitch through them to form a ring, leaving about a 6 inch (15 cm) tail.
2. Pass through the 1st 2 A beads again. It is very important to start your beadwork here to establish a continuous pattern. Once the beadwork is complete, the opposite end will match up to the starting rows so that they can be zipped.
3. Pick up 1 color A. Skipping the next color B in the ring, stitch through the following B and pull snug.
4. Pick up 1 color B. Skip 1 B in the ring, and stitch through the following B.
5. Add 1 more B with peyote stitch, followed by 1 A. You will always add the same bead size or color as the one that your thread is exiting.
6. Add 4 C with peyote stitch, and step up through 2 A to finish the round.
7. For the remaining rounds, add 1 A, 2 B, 1 A, and 4 C. Cinch up the beadwork into a tube and place it over a mandrel if desired. Continue weaving until you have a spiral tube that is at least 8 inches long. Do not try to bend or curve the tube before you have reached the desired length.
8. To add new thread when needed, drop the working thread after stepping up. Secure a new thread in the beadwork and exit from the same bead as the previous thread. Park the new thread, then weave in the old thread before continuing as usual.
9. Thread a needle on the tail thread from step 1 and weave it in (or weave it a few rows away from the edge and park it for now if desired). Gently bend the beadwork and bring both ends of the tube together until the pattern matches up.
10. Using the working thread from the fresh end of the tube, stitch through the adjacent up bead at the opposite end to begin zipping up the beadwork.
11. Weave back and forth across the join, zipping the up beads together with peyote stitch. Pull snug after each stitch. Because there are so many different bead sizes and colors at work, it can be easy to lose your place and stitch through the wrong bead. Working carefully, one bead at a time, and always look for a bead that looks less ‘attached’ than those around it. This will be your next up bead.
12. When you reach the end of the round, you should have a seamless join. Check over the area carefully to be sure that the beads were zipped up correctly. It should be impossible to tell where the spiral ends or begins.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of tubular peyote, there are some very fun variations to try. One of the lesser-known spins on the peyote tube is the Dutch spiral, which adds a large increase to the rounds that turns into a fringe-like bridge.
Dutch Spiral Tube
One of the most popular styles of tubular/spiral peyote is the Cellini spiral. We’ll be practicing this technique in an upcoming Master Class lesson, but if you want to give it a go right away, the classic recipe to start a Cellini spiral is: 6 size 11/o, 4 size 8/o, 2 size 6/o, and 4 size 8/o. Remember to stitch through the first 2 size 11/o beads to begin the first round.
Cellini Spiral Bangle
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