Friday, September 21, 2012

Tutorial: Graduated Herringbone ‘Bobble’ Rope

Have you ever been completely smitten with shaped seed beads, only to find yourself at a loss when it comes to using them? One of my favorite techniques for combining a variety of seed bead sizes and shapes is tubular herringbone weave. Not only can you use up a lot of beads at once, but the possibilities for color and pattern combinations are endless!

This technique, which I like to call ‘herringbone bobbles’ uses at least two seed bead sizes, or as many as you can come up with. The only restriction is that the beads need to gradually change in size. You can begin as small as you like, although for the best durability, I recommend going no smaller than standard size 11/o Delicas. While 15/o round seed beads could fit into a sequence nicely, the smallest sections of a graduated herringbone rope bear the most pressure and wear, and cylinder beads provide a lot of compact strength.

Graduated Herringbone Bobble Rope Necklace

When choosing your beads and pattern, look carefully at the sizes to determine the best sequence for increasing and decreasing your rope. I like variations of: Delicas - 11/o rounds - 10/o rounds or 11/o triangles - 8/o rounds or hex cuts - 6/o rounds - 4 mm cubes - 4/o rounds or E beads. When in doubt, try stitching a few rows to see how it looks - you can always remove stitches if you don’t like the shape of the beadwork. Combining Czech and Japanese seed beads will give you the widest range of bead sizes.

Ideal Tubular Herringbone Seed Bead Sequence

To Make a Herringbone Bobble Rope:

Begin by weaving a regular tubular herringbone base. Using your smallest beads, create a two-bead ladder with an even number of stitches. Eight columns is an ideal size for this technique. Ladder stitch the ends of the strip together, and weave through a few columns to secure the ring. Exit from the opposite side from your tail thread.

Two-bead Ladder Stitch Securing a Ladder Stitch Ring Tubular Herringbone Rope Start

Pick up two small beads, and stitch down through the adjacent bead in the previous round. Pull snug, and stitch up through the next bead in the base. Continue all around the ring, and step up through 2 beads to begin the next round.

Add several more rounds of tubular herringbone with this bead size, until you have a comfortable base to work with. Make it as long or as short as you like before adding the first increase. If you’re making a necklace, consider where you would like the first ‘bobble’ to appear.

Tubular Herringbone Weave Tutorial Increasing Tubular Herringbone Rope Herringbone Bobble Rope Tutorial

Move up to the next bead size in your pattern, and add 2 or more rows of tubular herringbone. If you will be using more than 3 bead sizes in your rope, giving the smallest bead sizes at least 2 rows each is ideal, to give the larger, roomier rows a strong base.

Continue adding new rows of tubular herringbone, gradually increasing bead sizes as you go. The more variety of beads you have, the more elongated your bobbles will be, especially if you use the same bead for more than one row.

Weaving a Strong Herringbone Base Herringbone Bobble Rope Tutorial Transition Bead Sizes with Double Rows

Doubling up on rows can also help make smoother transitions from one bead size to another, just like in spiral peyote. For a strong but flexible rope, ease into larger size jumps by adding lots of transition rows.

Adding Cube Beads to Tubular Herringbone Reinforce with Dummy Herringbone Stitch Herringbone Bobble with Large E Beads

Bigger beads can change the structure of the rope - really big bobbles can be squishy in the middle. Make sure to use strong, even tension as you increase your bead sizes. When you have reached the largest bead size in a sequence - or if your stitches feel like they’re starting to roam - reinforce the row by repeating the herringbone stitches all the way around, without picking up any beads. This dummy stitch will tighten things up before the decrease begins, and add strength to the finished design. I like to keep my tails extra long, so that I can go back and reinforce any loose areas once the rope is finished. Reinforcing sharp-edged rows like cubes and hex-cuts is a good idea, too!

One Completed Herringbone Bobble Increasing and Decreasing Herringbone Rope Herringbone Rope with Pinch Bicones

To decrease, add new rows of tubular herringbone, but move down in bead size. You can use the same pattern as the increasing rows, or change it up a little for a more freeform look. You don’t have to go all the way up or down the size scale, either. Moving back and forth in short sections of the bead sequence works, too, as long as you don’t jump sizes too much.

Small accent beads can also be added to the rope, provided they are similar in size to the adjacent seed beads. Try crystals, druks, daggers, or even bugles! When you’re ready to finish the rope, decrease all the way back down to the smallest bead size, and stitch a few rows. Dummy stitch the last row to the previous one, and weave in your tails to add strength.

Autumn Yellow Bobble Bracelet

Do you like to weave with shaped seed beads? What’s your favorite style?

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  1. I really love this technique and need to give it a try sometime. Thanks for the great photos and tips!

  2. This is really great. Thank you so much. I'm wanting to go pull beads right now!!!

  3. WOW! wonderful blog! I found you from Kashmira's blog, and now am your newest follower!

  4. Thank you. Wonderful tutorial. I love this look!!!

  5. Love new ideas defiantly going to try this technic out. Thing of using Xmas colours red, green and white xx

  6. Утренний свет Я хочу купить вашу продукцию из бисера красивые Tsttaan, что вы показать мне об этом, и если вы позволите цену всему и как можно быстрее

    1. Hi Anita! You can find finished jewelry and beading tutorials at and

  7. I absolutely love this bracelet and can't wait until I learn enough about herringbone stitch to actually make it... lol... I have only been beading for a few months and there is still so much to learn, keeping tension proper on just one size bead is my biggest challenge at the moment, never mind adding the other sizes to it. I love your tutorials and they have been such an inspiration to me as well as making the process easier to follow. Keep up the great articles. Your work is beautiful.

    1. Thank you! It is a lot of fun to make. I agree that tubular herringbone can be a tad tricky when you're still getting your bearings in beadweaving. I remember thinking it was unbearable difficult, until I finally got around to starting with a two-bead ladder. That really makes a big difference for that first row.

      Keep stitching, practicing and experimenting with your favorite stitches. Before long you'll forget all about struggling and you won't be able to keep up with your ideas!


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