If you are new to beadwork you may wonder how to start, and if there are any tricks to making it easier. We hope we can point you in the right direction so that you will very quickly enjoy beading and be proud of your creations.
There are lots of established stitches and our kits will teach you them, as well as providing you with a lovely (and exclusive) design. The stitches all produce slightly different results, whether it is the pattern the beads make or the way the beadwork moves when it is finished. Every Bead Merchant Kit introduces a different stitch, or technique to your repertoire. They are all easy to follow, fun to do and give great pride, satisfaction and admiration to the maker and wearer.
Firstly read through the instructions to get an idea of how your particular pattern works, then check that you understand which shape/colour bead in your kit relates to the instructions.
Look at the thread path in the diagrams. The most important thing to be aware of is which way your needle should be going through the bead to get it to form the pattern or stitch desired, so once you have started constantly check that your needle and thread are in the same place and following the same directions as in the diagrams.
The thread we provide in our kits (Nymo) is a parallel-fibre nylon, which is slightly flattened in shape. If you are having difficulty threading it, snip the end off sharp and straight and try again. If most of the thread has got through the needle, leaving some fibres, you can pull the rest through - it should not concertina up against the eye. (You may want to think about a craft light - such as the Ott Light - it will make a lot of difference if you can see what you are doing!)
Unlike other needles a beading needle has a long, narrow eye so that it can pass through the beads. The Nymo and the beading needles are made to go together, and you should be able to thread them fairly easily. Your needle will bend after a while and look like a banana, that is quite normal, and sometimes useful! It may also snap if you are tense - so relax!
Tip a few of your working beads onto a bead mat if you have one or into a shallow container in the order that you will be working with them, and follow the instructions provided in the kit.
You will get the hang of how to hold your thread and work to achieve an even tension. Try holding the work between your forefinger and thumb, and wrap the working thread over the forefinger, holding it down with the middle finger after each stitch.
Be careful not to pierce the already worked thread with your needle. If you keep the tension even and put the needle through the top of the bead hole (holding your work as already described) the problem will be minimised.
Some beaders like to use a thread conditioner (such as Thread Heaven) to ease and protect their thread and prevent knots. It is a personal choice. The two most useful times are if you are using bugles (long beads with sharp edges), and when the thread is nearing the end of the bobbin and is full of those kinks that like to turn into knots.
If, when working, you feel a knot forming, immediately loosen and remove it. Do not think it will go away if you ignore it, or disappear if you pull it tight - it will probably only get worse! A very useful tool to invest in is fine surgical tweezers that will help you remove knots and save your sanity!
Don't wait until the last minute to add a new thread. It's much easier to attach or weave in if there is plenty of thread to work with. In most cases you can lay the two threads together (tails together) and tie an overhand knot leaving substantial tails (if you do not leave a long tail it can work loose). Then just carry on beading and when you have finished your piece weave the tails into the beadwork and cut (using very sharp and fine scissors). If a knot would get in the way (e.g. in Brick Stitch) you will need instead to weave in a new thread, doubling backwards and forwards until the thread holds and then carry on beading. (When you have finished your piece weave all these end tails into the beadwork and cut.) Sometimes you may like the added security of tying a few little half hitches here and there with your beginning or ending tails onto the established beadwork. This would be useful on more open stitches such as Netting or Right Angle Weave.
To place an overhand knot where you require it place your needle (or tweezers if you have them) into the centre of the knot before you pull it tight and run the point to where you need it. Remove the needle and pull gently.
When you have finished the piece weave and knot your thread back for as many times as you feel necessary, moving away from the knot by around an inch, and then cut - it's a scary moment! You may like to use a Thread Zapper on the tail of your thread to seal it - and also use it to burn off any thread "whiskers" that may have occurred.
Lastly, a word about bead quality: In most instances the better the quality of the beads the better will be the quality of the beadwork. We think the Miyuki beads that we supply are the very best available bead and we only supply our instructions with our beads. That way we know you have the right components to make your chosen pattern and that you will be proud of your finished item.