Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Working with Japanese Delica Beads and Peyote Stitch

I've been making leather wrapped bracelets for awhile, then I moved into loomed bracelets, and now, I'm interested in making bracelets and earrings with Miyuki (the Japanese company name) delica beads. These are a tiny, tiny little barrel bead, a little cylinder. They have relatively large holes for such a tiny bead, so they can accommodate several passes of beading threads. They are high quality and uniformly made, which makes them wonderful for beading on a bracelet, or making earrings. They come in four sizes-- size 15/0, 11/0, 10/0, and 8/0.  It seems to me that the most common sizes used are 8/0's, 11/0's, and 15/0's. More than 70 of the size 11/0's fit on the head of a penny! Gonna need good lighting and good eyes to work with these! Might even need a magnifying light after awhile, we'll see....

I took a class on making a peyote stitch sea star pendant awhile back....I really loved it. We used regular seed beads at the time for this project, size 8/0 and 11/0. I made my sea star into a Christmas tree ornament by adding a little dangle and a pretty metallic silver ribbon. the ornament is done in peyote stitch, which is a method of stitching beads together, one by one, with a needle and thread, an off the loom stitch. The pattern of the beads in what way they lay, with one bead a little up, the next bead a little down, is called peyote stitch.  There is even count peyote, and odd count peyote stitch. You use it to make strips or flat pattern pieces like for bracelets or, you can make it into little tubes, like I did for my pen wrap.. Peyote stitch is used a lot in Native American bead work, which is something that really appeals to me.  This pen wrap pattern is from Out of the Flames designer, Lori, who has a shop by that name on Etsy. She has many many beautiful Native American patterns in her shop. The pen wrap was made flat, then stitched up like a zipper once the pattern was completed.

This sea star pattern was worked in peyote stitch in the round.

After having fun and frustration with the sea star, but definitely more fun, I decided to tackle the tiny delicas....Up came another class...A very pretty bracelet class called "Cotton Candy". This pattern was from a lady by the name of Fatima Menson-Potter. She used multicolored delica beads in a size 11 for the first few rounds, and then a very pretty pink for the main color, size 11/0. I liked it so much I chose the same color combo.
And here is my completed peyote stitch bracelet! I've sewn Swarovski pearls and drops onto the top in a diagonal back and forth direction on the surface to add some "bling".

How do you start peyote stitch? For this bracelet, I strung a whole bunch of delica beads on a piece of Fireline beading thread. A whole bunch, as in about 140. Then you thread a bead on your needle, and skip the first bead and pass your thread through the second bead. Skip the next bead, pass your thread through the following bead. I had to watch a lot of YouTube videos to remember how to do it. The first row or two is hard to hang onto, the beads are so small, but you get a little piece that looks like a set of zipper teeth once you have completed the second row.
From there, each "uppity" stitch gets the thread passed through so the up and down bumps pattern continues through the entire piece as you follow the color directions. What's really amazing is the fantastic patterns that evolve as you follow a color chart or a written chart to make the design.

Some people prefer following the color chart. I have terrible spatial and directionality problems so this way is not for me.

Some people prefer the written directions instead, (like the ones below). That would be me! What I do to keep myself on track and not lose my spot is to first put my pattern inside a clear, plastic page protector. Then I take a piece of hot pink highlighter tape (sometimes available in office supply stores, but I got mine at the local knitting shop) and put it under the line I am going to start working on.
Then I take a dry erase marker and divide the current row I'm working on--if it's a long one, into sections of four bead sequences at a time with a "tick" mark or vertical dividing line, so I only have to remember a bead sequence of 4 colors at any one time in the row. That way my brain only sees four color directions at at time. If I didn't have those dividing lines, every time I look away from the row pattern to pick up my beads, I would lose my spot. It took me a BUNCH of counting and recounting, going back and forth many many times before I hit on the system of "chunking" all this information into something I can keep track of and not lose my place. When I 'm ready for the next row, I peel the tape off the plastic sheet, move it to the next row, divide all the instructions into sections of four instructions at a time once again, then I'm ready to go again!

And the last amazing thing about peyote stitch, is that you have hand stitched each and every single one of these teeny tiny little beads to each other, which takes hours of work for a beginner, and not so many hours for an experienced stitcher. We're talking over a thousand beads! That first pen wrap at the top of the blog? One thousand, nine hundred thirty-two beads!

My first pen wrap took me about six hours to make. My second one took all day because 1) the pattern was much more difficult, 2) the beads were more transparent and close in color, 3) I didn't have very good lighting to see the differences between my colors, and 4) I kept associating the letter "B" with the color black when it was supposed to be SILVER!  Ar-r-r-r-r-g-g-g-g-g-h-h-h! But I persevered and got it done, and I'm actually going to make a third one! These are for sale in my Etsy shop, JeanBeanGifts.  Http:// The pens are couple with cute journals making a nice holiday gift for someone.

For anybody going to try to learn peyote stitch, I suggest watching a lot of YouTube videos first, then taking a class if you can possibly find one in your locality. I'm lucky in that we have a couple of bead stores in the Bradenton/Sarasota area with wonderful ladies who will help me if I get stuck. :-)  Needless to say, I support my local bead shops when I can instead of going on the internet. :-)

And what's my next project? Getting ready for fall....reducing some of my stash, making mini sweater ornaments for holiday tree decorating, making more cowls, and creating some jewelry---earrings to be exact. After looking at some high earring prices in some of the fancier clothing catalogs, I'm going to make some of my own!

What's in your stash?



  1. Here in California, we call the stick out beads "pokey outies" I have 3 large segmented cases of mostly Delica's. Several of these containers in each box are Swarovski's. Peyote is my favorite stitch. Was very disappointed to learn that Peyote is considered a beginning stitch.

  2. gee....I feel it might be an easy stitch to learn, but boy, can the patterns be difficult! Not to mention the small size and all thumbs some times!


  3. Yeah. I know . Just finished a 3 drop peyote bracelet. Think I'll put on some sparkles down the center tomorrow.

  4. Wow! These are gorgeous--you do beautiful work!!