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How to Read an Odd-Count Peyote Stitch Pattern Chart

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Once you understand the mechanics of odd-count flat peyote stitch, you're ready to tackle a pattern chart.

Beading pattern charts are graphs containing colored squares, where each square represents one bead in the pattern. Odd-count peyote stitch charts, not surprisingly, contain an odd number of vertical columns. Having an odd number of columns means that you can stitch evenly shaped, centered motifs.

For this tutorial, we'll use my free Spiders and Pumpkins chart as an example pattern. You'll see that the first few rows of an odd count peyote stitch pattern are the trickiest.

1. Decide Where to Begin

The Top Row of the Example Pattern
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

You can begin reading a peyote stitch pattern at either end, or somewhere in the middle. With odd-count peyote patterns, however, you generally need to begin with a row that starts and ends with a protruding bead. If neither end of your pattern looks this way, I recommend that you draw in one additional row on the top or bottom, and start there.

The example pattern is a repeating pattern, which means that only one end begins with the proper alignment of beads. In this case, that's the top row (click on the photo for a larger view). Therefore, we'll read this pattern from the top down.

(It is possible to begin with a row that starts and ends with a non-protruding bead, but that requires that you cut the first three rows short by one column, and then make an increase at the end of the fourth row. That's a lot more more difficult, especially when you're trying to follow a pattern.)

FAQ: So, why would you ever want to begin in the middle of the pattern? It's usually because you're trying to reduce the number of times you need to end an old thread and begin a new one. If you begin in the middle, you can leave a very long thread tail when you start. Later, you can return to that tail and use it to continue stitching the pattern in the opposite direction.

2. Pick Up the Beads for the First Two Rows

The First Two Rows of Beads
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

After preparing your needle and thread, you'll need to pick up all of the beads for the first two rows, in the order they appear on the chart. Read the pattern from left to right.

As a personal preference, I like to read patterns from the bottom up; so in this photo, I have turned the printed pattern upside down. I also like to use a sticky note to help keep my place.

3. Stitch the Third Row

The Third Row of Beads Stitched
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

Reading from right to left, pick up each bead for the third row, one bead at a time, and stitch it in place.

In the third row, it's important to go slowly and keep your beadwork from twisting. For example, the first black bead I stitched in the example pattern wanted to flip down, making it look as though it were in the first row; but in order for the pattern to be correct, it needs to be in the third row.

When you get to the end of the third row, pass back through the very first bead in the first row, and weave through the beadwork to make a turn. Bring the the needle back out through the last bead in the third row. (The black line in the bottom photo on the left illustrates this thread path.)

4. Keep on Stitching

First Several Rows of Peyote Stitch Completed
© Chris Franchetti Michaels

As you stitch the fourth row, keep a close eye on your beadwork to make sure that it doesn't twist (as I described in Step 3). If it does, simply untwist it with your fingers before stitching the next bead.

After the fourth row, your beadwork should hold its alignment on its own. Continue reading the pattern back and forth, one row at a time. As usual with odd count peyote stitch, you need to make a turn at the end of every other row to reposition the thread. (Disregard that step if you decide to use the alternative turn method.)

In the photo on the left, I've just finished stitching the fourth and fifth rows of the example pattern.

Still have questions about this technique? Stop by the Beadwork forum and write them up in a post!

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