Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beads, Beads and More Beads!


Don’t you just love beads!  I could spend hours in a bead shop, adding to my stash.  So many colors, so many canvases, so little time.  Where to begin….with the basics, I guess.

Beads come in several sizes.  In needlepoint, a number 11 is the most commonly used seed bead.   There are other specialty beads, such as bugle beads, which are long cylinder like beads.  Larger completely round beads are also used by some needlepointers.  All are great and serve their purposes nicely.

A good needle is essential.  I like the Sundance Beads beading needles.  The hardest part of beading is threading the needle!

Customers are always asking what kind of thread do you use for beading.  Truthfully, I must admit, I use lots of different threads.  I like The Collection’s Braided Bead Thread, available through your LNS.   Sundance Beads makes wonderful beading thread in a large variety of colors to go along with their extensive line of beads.  I also use invisible sewing thread from JoAnn’s, as well as embroidery floss.

The thread you choose can have an effect on the color of your bead.  For instance, if you are using a translucent bead and want the color to remain unchanged, use a thread that is clear in color.  If you want to intensify the color of the translucent bead, match the thread to the bead color.  If you want to alter the color of the bead slightly, play with the color of the thread.  For example, if you are using a translucent yellow bead and you want it to appear slightly peachy, choose a peach toned thread.  It will give you beads just a hint of color.  This is fun just to play around with and see what happens, you might like what you try.

How to keep beads from ending up all over the chair while you bead…..that’s a different story.  I have used the tacky bob and the sticky side of tape.  Another choice is from The Collection called the EZ Beader (the round wood item in the first picture).  It is a nice piece of wood with a sticky top to hold your beads and magnets on the bottom to attach it to the canvas you are working on.  I have a customer that took felt and glued it to the inside of jar lids,  inventive, inexpensive and effective. Others prefer a small bowl with the beads in it.  To each her own.   Me, I love toys, so the EZ Beader is my best friend when it comes to holding beads.

Now you are ready to start beading.  I always knot the end of my doubled beading thread and bury it in some nearby stitching.  I like to try different stitches when I bead, however, the basic way to bead  is tent stitching.  Nandra Hotchkiss and Cassandra Prescott of Sundance Beads wrote a wonderful little book called Sundance Beads, How To and Why Knot!   It is available through your LNS.  It is a book filled with helpful hints, bead descriptions and great stitches for beading.

The above picture is from Sundance Beads How To and Why Knot! book and it illustrates how to bead using tent stitch.  The beads will lay on the same slant as your stitch.  To get your bead to lay vertically, I come up through the bottom right hole, add my bead and go down directly above the hole I came up in, crossing a horizontally thread.  Then, I come up in the hole directly to the left of where I came up the first time, this time I go through the bead and then back down directly above that hole, again, crossing a horizontally line.

Another technique in beading is basketweave beading.  This gives your beads a vertical direction on the threads that lay horizontally and a horizontal direction on the threads that lay vertically.  It is a wonderfully cool look for objects like hearts, circles, packages and lots of other things.  Don Lynch of Associated Talents uses this technique and has great directions on the Associated Talents website –  You can see the technique on the hearts on the canvas and the directions are on page 2.

One of my favorite ways to bead a large area, is to use skip tent stitch , filling in the empty holes created by the stitch with beads.  It is easier than stitching every hole and the beads look lovely laying in nice, neat rows.

The other question I am frequently asked is how secure are beads on needlepoint.  If beads are secured properly, they will be fine.  I have several of my great-grandmother’s beaded evening bags.  She didn’t just look at them, she used them.  Now, I don’t really use them, I mean wouldn’t I look ridiculous showing up on the lacrosse field or at a field hockey game with a beaded evening bag.  But, one day, I will use them.

There are several ways to secure beads to your canvas.  The first way is to stitch them twice.  Yes, twice, not just with doubled thread.  After attaching the bead, go back and repeat your stitch, going through the bead a second time.

The second way is called “lassoing.”  This technique is done by attaching the bead with your doubled thread (always double your thread).  When you have completed your stitch to attach the bead, come up through the canvas again at the same starting hole, split your threads and lay them around the bead and then go down through the canvas again.  This creates a lasso stitch around your bead on top of the canvas.

Another way of securing beads and also creating a line or curving line, is to tent stitch your beads.   After you have a few beads in a row, come back up through the first starting hole, go through a few (3) beads or so and then go back down through the canvas.  Repeat this process every 3-5 beads or so.  You can get the illusion of curved lines using this technique. 

Beads make great embellishments to canvases and can be used on most canvases if secured properly.  They can add interest, dimension and depth to a canvas bringing elements to life and adding texture.  You can experiment with other stitches and beads, you may find one you like.  The idea is to experiment with something new, you don’t learn unless you try something.

So grab some beads, a good needle, ample light and in my case a strong pair of reading glasses, and try it for yourself.

Happy Stitching!



Santa Beards I love…..


Hello Everyone –
I am sorry that I have had writer’s block, a busy life and lots of belts to paint lately.  I promise that I am going to get much better about giving this blog the attention I should.

First, I want to thank Jane at Chilly Hollow Needlepoint for mentioning me in her blog.  I was surprised and shocked and oh so flattered and thrilled all at the same time.  I must admit, I am not intimidated by finishing or painting and certainly not teaching people, but for some reason, writing doesn’t come as easily to me.  I guess that is because I love the interaction with people and the conversation that ensues.  However, I am going to get much better about blogging on a  more regular basis 🙂

Ok, now onto the topic of Santa and his beard. 

The face of a Santa and his beard are important in any needlepoint piece because they bring life to the Santa.  A well painted face is worth every penny!  A friend of mine always taught me to stitch the Santa’s face first, because then he is real.  The beard on the other hand can wait.  I often do the beard last so that the threads don’t get rolled in my scroll and the threads flattened.

Everyone is always asking for stitches for a beard, mostly because if you stitch Christmas pieces, chances are you run out of ideas for a beard stitch.   The simple long random split stitch in burmilana is always an old stand by of mine.   I like the brightness of the white burmilana for a beard.

Some other great stitches to use for beards are :

French Knots on a Stick

French knots on a stick are easy and quick.  I start about 4 or 5 threads from the bottom and bring my thread up, then go down to the bottom of the beard and wrap my needle for a knot and plunge at the bottom of the beard.  I continue this process laying in rows of knots, making sure my last row has long stitches at reach from the top of the beard down to that row.

French Knots

French Knots are a great choice as well, especially when done in different fibers.  For this piece, there was so much sparkle in the brim of the glass, so I chose Vineyard Silk in bright white.  It has just the shine I was looking for but no sparkle.

A play on Bargello

For this Santa, there was such a vertical feel to the coat, so I wanted to do a horizontal stitch for the beard.  This is a play on a bargello stitch, unfortunately, the name escapes me at this moment.   I like the way it neutralizes the vertical feel of the piece.    Whisper is the thread used for this one, just fuzzy enough.

Some other stitches to consider would be Double Brick, Double Hungarian, Double Hungarian Ground, Horizontal Parisian, Long Upright Cross and many more.    When you are trying to figure out which to choose, look at the canvas from a slight distance and see what the movement of the piece is – diagonal, vertical or horizontal, then choose a stitch that changes the direction from the most prominent feel of the piece.  It may not always work, but it will make you think outside of your box for a bit. 

 That’s all for now, until next time….

 Happy Stitching,