Ladder stitch is a simple, beginner-level beadweaving stitch. The single-needle version involves weaving through each bead twice, using the same needle, in opposite directions. It's a pretty easy stitch to learn, and a convenient method for creating the initial row (or "base row") of brick stitch and herringbone stitch.
However, single-needle ladder stitch often results in beads that lie at slight angles to one another. With two-needle ladder stitch (also called double-needle ladder stitch), it's much easier to achieve straight alignment with your "rung" beads. Here's how it works.
1. Thread Your Needles
In this tutorial, we'll create the most basic style of ladder: a row of single beads. The example uses size 8/0 Miyuki round seed beads, size D nylon beading thread, and two size 10 beading needles.
After preparing a length of thread, string on two needles: one on either end of the thread. Fold back a tail of about six inches of thread behind both needles.
2. Examine the Two-Needle Ladder Stitch Diagram
Before you get started, take a look at the two-needle ladder stitch diagram on the left. (Click the image for a larger view.) The black line represents the left half of the thread, and the brown line represents the right half of the thread.
Notice that both threads (that is, both halves of the same thread, each with a needle attached) pass through each bead twice (after the first bead), in opposite directions.
3. Pick Up the First Two Beads
Using either needle, pick up the first two beads, and slide them down to the center of the thread. These will become the first two rungs in the ladder.
4. Make the First Ladder Stitch
You now need to stack those first two beads side-to-side. Do this by passing one of the needles back through the bead that is farthest away from that needle.
5. Pull Both Threads Taut
Gently pull both ends of the thread taut at the same time. This should pull the first two beads into alignment.
6. Stitch theThird Bead
Use one of the needles to pick up a third bead. Then, use the opposite needle to pass back through that bead.
Tip: Just like with two-needle right-angle weave, you may need to experiment here to discover an approach that feels comfortable to you. For example, you may find it easiest to use the needle in your non-dominant hand to pick up the bead, and the needle in your dominant hand to pass back through it. It may feel a little slow-going at first, but before long you'll speed up.
7. Pull Both Ends of the Thread Taut Again
This step is the same as Step 5, but we now have a ladder with three rungs.
8. Continue Stitching Ladder Stitch
Repeat Steps 6 and 7 to your desired length of ladder stitch.
Although ladder stitch is typically used to stitch a single row of beadwork, you can mix it up by stitching more than one bead within each stitch, or creating a more open ladder by adding beads between rungs.