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Ruffles & Curls

Dateline: 08/18/97

This week we are going to learn some techniques for making ruffles and spirals. First let's take a look at peyote ruffles.

Peyote Ruffles

I first learned to make these ruffles from Carol Wilcox Wells' book Creative Beadweaving (how did I ever live without this book?). The technique is simple. First you need a peyote base. This can be the edge of a piece of work you already have or you can start with 3 or 4 rows of peyote, either tubular or flat. Instead of beginning a new row by adding one bead, add two. Continue adding two beads in each space where you would normally add one until you reach the end of the row.

For each row after the first, add two beads in each space and go through the two beads you added in the previous row.

Basically what you are doing is increasing very, very fast. There is no room for so many beads so they start to ruffle up very quickly. I find that keeping the tension very tight makes keeping control of my work much easier. Here is a picture of what it looks like with 5 rows of flat peyote and 3 ruffle rows.


If you start with only a single strand of beads as a base and immediately begin adding two beads at a time you can make a cool corkscrew.

Just give it a little twist and it will naturally fall into a corkscrew shape. Here's what it looks like with yellow and red transparent 14s.

Netted Ruffles

You can also make netted ruffles, this method is sometimes called the Oglala Butterfly stitch. This is another one from Horace Goodhue's book Indian Bead-Weaving Patterns. To start, string on as many beads as it takes to make the length you need, making sure to use a multiple of three. You can tie it in a circle or not depending on what you need. Pick up three beads, skip two in the base row and go through the third. Continue to the end of the row in this manner. At the end of the row either turn and go up through two of the beads you just added (for flat) or go forward through two of the group of three just ahead (for circular). Your thread should be coming out of the "point" of the group of three. Now pick up 5 beads and go through the middle bead of the next group of three. Add five beads between each middle bead until you reach the end of the row. For the next row, add 7 beads between the middle beads of each group of five in the previous row.

Here's what it looks like around the neck of a bottle.

Peyote Spiral

And now for something really cool. My new, generous, and very patient friend Michelle Berteig taught me this technique just last night and I just had to share it with you all!

But first, let me tell you a little about the history of this stitch. The stitch was originally introduced to this country by Vicki Starr and Jeanette Cook who found the stitch in a Dutch book that was printed some 70 years ago. They deciphered the method from the pictures (all the text was in Dutch!) and began teaching the stitch. Pat Burley learned the stitch from Vicki Starr and proceeded to streamline the method.

The basic technique is not too difficult. For this example we will use six beads of one color and two beads of another to start. Pick up 6 red "core" beads and two lavender "spiral beads" and tie them in a circle. Go through the first of the red beads. Pick up one red bead and go through the second red bead in the base row. Pick up another red bead and go through the third red bead in the base row. Do this 3 more times until your thread is coming out of the last red bead. Now pick up one red bead and three lavender beads. Now thread your needle through the first red bead you added. Pull tight.

Additional rows are added in a manner similar to peyote, which is why this is called a peyote spiral. :-) Pick up a red bead and go through the second red bead you added in the previous row. Continue filling in each space with a red bead until your thread is coming out of the last red bead of the previous row. Then pick up 1 red bead and 4 lavender beads. Go through the first red bead of the previous row. Each subsequent row is the same, except you increase the number of spiral beads by one each time. When you reach a diameter that is pleasing to you, stop increasing the number of spiral beads and make each row the same until you reach the length you need. At the end, start decreasing the number of spiral beads by one in each row until you get back to two.

The exciting part comes in when you mix different colors and sizes in both the core and spiral portions of the work. Here are some pics of my first attempts at this stitch. What can I say, I was running out of time! (g) With some experimentation I'm sure you can come up with something spectacular.

For a much better example of what can be done with this stitch, take a look at this amazing necklace that Michelle made. You can also check out these clever patriotic earrings, also made by Michelle. The design for these earrings also has a history! Jerry Powell originally designed them with size 11° seed beads. Karren Guilliam converted the design to 14°s and Pat Burley altered the pattern to make the spiral flow more gracefully. Pat teaches these earrings at her shop, Burley's Beads & Crafts, in Banning California. Thanks for the info Pat!

Tip: Michelle says that an easy way to keep track of what you are doing when using multiple colors is to remember that you always add a bead that is the same size and color as the bead your thread is coming out of.

As always, you are invited to write to me at beadwork.guide@about.com with any questions or comments you may have. I'd love to hear from you!

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