Friday, October 29, 2010

Beading Tutorials: Twisted Tubular Herringbone

Harvest Moon Pendant with Herringbone Rope

Everyone loves a spiral. Spirals are the most common and alluring shapes in nature, found in everything from seashells to our own DNA. Even the shape and flow of human made spiral patterns are very organic, and we are instinctively drawn to them, as if they stir up some ancient memory of our natural heritage.

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:

Ladder Stitch Tutorial

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.

How to Stitch a Two Bead Ladder

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.

A Seed Bead Ladder for Herringbone Weave

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.

Connecting the Ends of a Bead Ladder

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.

Tubular Herringbone Tutorial

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.

Tubular Ndebele Weave Tutorial

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.

Twisted Herringbone Tutorial

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.

Twisted Herringbone Rope

What’s your favorite way to use twisted herringbone?

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


  1. How very cool! Thanks so much for sharing! now I'll have to think of where I can use this in my art work!!

  2. You're very welcome! The cool thing about twisted herringbone is how easy it is to add, but it makes a big difference in the look of a rope.

  3. Thank you again Mortira. I was up at 1 am tonight and thought I'll bead a little to shed time and this tut came so in handy. I own a couple of beading books but none has so simple-to-follow tutorial as yours. (Please write a beading book...:-) I don't like the looks of flat herringbone too much but tubular looks - to my eyes - wonderful. I love the neat rows and how quick and easy it comes together. THank you from Sanni

  4. Thanks, Susanne! I'm glad that you enjoyed the tutorial. I would certainly love to work on a beading book one day!

  5. I just want to thank you for this tutorial..... I have went through about 5 different ones and could not do it! quite frustrating.... Ran across this one and it all just clicked!!!! Made my first herringbone twist necklace!! so excited

    1. Thank you, Leigh! I'm so glad that the tutorial worked for you. This is one of my absolute favorite stitches for necklaces. It creates a wonderful base for all kinds of designs.


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