Introduction to Spiral Stitch
By Corene Painter
Are you ready to expand your beading skills and to take that first step toward the rest of your beading life? Well then, you are ready to learn the spiral stitch! OK, I know learning beading stitches can be intimidating; however, the spiral stitch, also known as the spiral rope, is a stitch that is great for beginner stitchers and is adaptable enough that it keeps experienced beaders coming back for more. I fell in love with this stitch the first time I tried it.
The first stitch I ever learned was the peyote stitch, which I really took to because I could create the loomed look without the loom. Then, I took up the chevron stitch, which was a challenge and still challenges me to this day. Then, the spiral stitch came along. I found this stitch even easier to learn, and it had an amazing texture that changed with the style, size or shape of seed bead you used.
Now, unlike other stitches I had learned in the past, the spiral stitch wasn't a stitch that is tied to any historical information that I could find. I have always been drawn to stitches because of their histories -- the peyote stitch is a Native American stitch, while the chevron stitch is African. The idea that something I am learning has been used by past generations for containers, rites of passage or as a symbol of importance is intriguing to me. However, the spiral stitch is not one of those stitches. Instead, the spiral stitch is a modern stitch that has become popular with beaders because of its beauty and ease.
|Here I have used size 08 seed beads for my core, while using size 08 drop seed beads mixed into the spiral.
|Here I have used all size 11 seed beads to create a delicate spiral rope that would work well as a chain for a pendant.
|I have even seen bugle beads used in spiral stitches. These elongated beads really impart an unusual look to the spiral stitch.
The spiral stitch can look different just from the size of beads you use. Playing with different bead styles and threads is one way to make the spiral stitch your very own. I have even seen beaders use brightly colored Nymo thread so that the thread between the beads will give a pop of color when the beads move. I have also seen beaders use beads so tiny that the stitches almost look like rope.
Let's Talk Materials
For the free project in this month's newsletter, we will be using just a few simple beading materials and tools:
- Size 08 seed beads
- Nymo thread
- Big-eye needle
I think that size 08 seed beads are the perfect size beads for learning this stitch. This size seed bead is a manageable size for beginners to work with, and yet it's still small enough to give your beading an intricate look. However, if you find this size bead too small to work with, you can move up to size 06 seed beads.
While on the subject of seed beads, I have to say that in my years of beading experience, I've found that not all seed beads are great for stitching. I recommend using Japanese Miyuki seed beads because of their uniformity in size and brilliance, and their variety of color. But at the same time, I must admit that this is a personal preference. I have seen beautiful spiral stitches created from Czech seed beads, which can be more rounded in shape than the Japanese Miyuki seed bead. This is a very forgiving stitch if there is a little variety between the shapes of your seed beads; it will simply add to the texture of your finished piece.
For the clasp, I recommend using your favorite style and color of clasp. However, try to stay away from toggle clasps and clasps that end with jump rings. Unless you add a narrow length at the end and beginning of your spiral-stitch piece, a toggle clasp will not have the room it needs to clasp properly. The problem with jump rings is that they have very small slits in them that thin beading threads such as FireLine (which was originally sold as fishing line) or Nymo, and the thread may eventually slip through.
I have used a white Nymo thread in the free project merely because it photographs better than FireLine. I like using FireLine on stitched pieces because of its strength and thinness; it practically disappears into a stitch! Erica has shared some more information about selecting threads in this month's newsletter under the How to Choose... tab.
Now, about needles: If you are using a smaller seed bead or doing a stitch that you pass through beads over and over again, you will need to use a small needle. Starting out, I recommend using a big-eye needle. I prefer these needles to others because the eye of the needle is, well, for a lack of a better term, big. The eye of this needle runs almost from top to bottom. This makes it very easy to thread. I also enjoy using big-eye needles because they are flexible. You can gently bend the needle to suit your needs. Keep in mind that these needles can break when you bend them, so have a few extra on hand before bending.
Any sharp scissor will work for cutting either Nymo or FireLine.
OK, are you ready to start stitching? Now remember this, the trick to mastering the spiral stitch, like other stitches, is to sit back and relax. Keep in mind that the beginning stitches can sometimes be difficult, but once you have relaxed and gotten the first few sets of stitches out of the way, you can really start to enjoy your new skill. I hope you come to love stitching as much as I do!