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Beading Tips and Advice

Tips and Advice On Our Patterns

If You Get Stuck On A Pattern

When I write a ThreadABead pattern I will never expect you to do something I haven’t already explained. I try to go into detail and provide lots images and diagrams to help. However sometimes even with the best will in the world my explanations will never be good enough and there will always be someone who gets stuck or misunderstands. So what should you do if you are stuck on a ThreadABead design?

Firstly re-read the pattern, go back a couple of steps and make sure you beaded those steps right. Make sure your beadwork matches the picture in the pattern the step before, if it doesn't undo the beadwork until it does match a photo in a previous step.

Next think if it is asking for a technique that has already been explained in earlier steps of the pattern and you have just forgotten or missed it.

Then check out our learning section to see if an example or further explanation has been given, I have tried to cover as many common problems as I can.

And if you are still puzzled contact us, we can help. But please give us as much information as you can. I get so frustrated when someone reaches out to me with a one line email. Sometimes the help I provide can take up quite a lot of my time and when I get an email like this and they haven't bothered to tell me what pattern they are on, which step they are at or even what it is they feel is going wrong, I find it very unfair.

So, let us know the pattern, page and step you are on and give us as much information as you can. The more information we have the more we can help. A picture also can be invaluable, I am not clairvoyant and some of your explanations are head scratchers but on seeing a photo I can usually spot any problems quite quickly. I can mark any corrections needed on your photo and send it back, alerting you to the problem and getting you back on track.

Common Problems Encountered

Sometimes I just wish I was sitting with you as you are beading, telling you if I notice you doing something wrong. Life is not that easy and I know that if the pattern is going wrong things will get very frustrating all because of a tiny mistake or misunderstanding. I do not want you to be frustrated beading my patterns.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that are made:

Not Reading The Pattern

Or maybe you did read it and not understand. In my patterns I give lots of photos and images to guide you, if something is not matching the images, the pattern or the row STOP!

I feel so bad when I have seen beadwork where a mistake was made many rows back and the design does not match the pattern, and hasn't for many many rows. There is nothing that can be done but redo all that work.

I always say in beading if something feels wrong it usually is, so stop and check.

Not Stepping Up At The End Of The Row Correctly

This is something that happens with Round Peyote a lot. In fact I don't know what the heck some of you are doing, I have seen some weird and wonderful things - but they are all related to not stepping up correctly 😊 When you have placed the last bead of a row in round peyote there will be no more gaps to add beads, and the bead in the next gap will be the first bead you added in row (or if the row starts on a gap it will be that gap, but you have read our Peyote Section and you already know how to deal with this). In round peyote you always go into this first bead which "steps you up". If at the end of the row you are not at the first bead, something has gone wrong.

Not Knowing Which Beads You Added on Row

This does improve with practice, I am so used to beading I rarely think about it - but if you are a newbie it pays to be cautious, it will save you hours of frustration. Remember we are only concerned with the previous row, if the bead is not on the previous row ignore it (unless the pattern is telling you differently).

If you are unsure which bead is which on the row, before you add the next row just take another look at the row you have just beaded and compare it to the pattern. Make sure you can identify each bead you have just added against the pattern. If you are still unsure then loosen the thread and give the beads a little wiggle, if it is on the current row there will be a little bit of give. Don't proceed until you are sure!!

Using Foibles From Other Designers

All designers are different, we all have different ways of doing things, even thinking about things. For you, the user it can be frustrating so in advance I will apologise, sorry!

In ThreadABead patterns I never assume knowledge, if I am not telling you to do something DON'T do it! The amount of times I have had ladies doing things my pattern is not telling them to do, because they are used to doing it elsewhere. Think of it as a style of Simon says, if Lynsey doesn't say, don't do it!

Not Familiar With Our Instruction Style

The fact that all designers work and create patterns in different ways I think can be an advantage, just look at all the different forms of beading and designs there are out there. If we were all working in the same regimented way it is possible that we wouldn't discover new ways of doing things.

In fact some designs may not be possible to be written up in one way, designers sometimes have to get creative in explaining a process you know 😊

In my defence, over the years I have tried to create the simplest detailed instructions that I can to the best of my ability. I fully acknowledge that patterns from over a decade ago are not as nicely written up as my patterns today, and my style has changed. I have also improved, learning many new skills over the years, not to mention the software that is now available. Experience has also shown me how to explain things in the best way I can - the less questions I get the better and I am pleased to say I don't get many questions on my patterns. Not that I mind answering questions!

As a result of me following my path to be the best designer I can, creating the best instructions I can, I have developed a unique, innovative style. Some beaders absolutely love this style and tell me so. Actually as a beader myself I am quite a fan of following this style of instruction too (not writing it!). However to a seasoned beader not used to me, it can sometimes flummox them. I always think its advisable to read through a pattern before you start beading to get a feel for what you will be beading first, but then give it a try! I had one lady who was quite cross with me and my instructions, but I answered her concerns and encouraged her to give them a go .... and you know what... she emailed me to say how much she loved them afterwards. Sometimes change can initially seem quite scary but actually isn't.


Have you even been in conversation with someone and you say a word or phrase they have never heard before? Think of the poor bead designer, writing patterns that can be sold in many countries. Sometimes this scenario does happen, terminology that me and my fellow UK beaders have no problem with others can not even hazard a guess what it means! And you don't know this until you use it.

So onto the most common things I am asked:

Next but one

I have been asked this quite a few times by US beaders, but not all! I think there are some areas of America where it is common others not.

This phrase means the one after the next one. You can have next but two, three, four etc … but lets not go there - I only ever say one in my patterns!

Arm length

I normally say this when referring to thread. All I am saying is I want you to use a length of thread that suits your…. well…. arm length, i.e. use a piece of thread you can easily pull through without getting in a tangle.

Beaders come up with all manner of weird and wonderful ways to devise this. One even asked how long my arm was! So how should you do this….

Hold your spool of thread by your body and pull the thread until your arm is fully extending (maybe ask the husband to duck, I have almost knocked mine out a few times!). That’s it. When I say 2.5 arms length, do it 2 and a half times (for the half extend arm half way). My recommendation is the best amount of thread for you to work with. I estimate this to ensure that you don’t waste thread and you have the longest lengths of thread to work with.

It may be you don’t want to work with a length of thread this long, don’t worry just make it shorter, we won’t tut at you for doing that - its just a guide 😊

Following a PDF pattern on a iPad/tablet computer

As much as technology evolves sometimes its always nicer to have a paper copy to follow along to I find. However that is not always possible and by using a tablet you can save on printing and papers costs.

If you are going to be following a pattern using your tablet computer I highly recommend downloading the app KnitCompanion. Not only can you highlight each row of the PDF file (horizontally and vertically), you can make notes on the project. It is also so quick to jump between pages and even better it remembers where you are on which page when you go back to it.

Since downloading this app I don't know how I ever managed without it. If you like to follow along to patterns on your iPad (or like me, not so much but occasionaly need to) I encourage you to give it a try, it is well worth a look.