Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bead Crochet Tutorial

Tubular Bead Crochet
Some Tips to Get You Started

Gaye Townley

Suitable for Beginners

Tubular Bead Crochet Tutorial
If you can crochet already with normal yarn, you shouldn’t have too much trouble adapting to crocheting with beads.  If you have never crocheted at all then I suggest you head off to You-tube and watch a few vids that will teach you the basics of how to handle the yarn and hook, to make something!  Get yourself some 4 ply sock yarn and a 3.25 hook (Clover Amour is best) and play until you are comfortable holding the yarn and making stitches.

So, now for the tubular bead crochet rope.  Again there are some excellent videos on how to do this, and I totally recommend that you watch them to see it in action dynamically.  I watched them and tried to do it but I just couldn’t get the hang of it at all.  But there are better ones available these days.

After about ten goes at trying and giving up, my friend Marnie gave me a couple of clues and the rest I worked out for myself.   I’ve tried to break down the steps here to make it a bit easier to start a rope if you are getting confused.

I always use a mandrel to support the beadwork.  It makes it so much easier to see where to put the hook, gives me something firm to hold onto instead of a wriggly, awkward rope, and makes it easier to keep a check that I have not missed a stitch or added an extra one.

There are some key details to keep in mind that I will show you -  how you put the hook into the loop containing the bead from the row before – where that bead must sit in relation to the hook, and the path of the thread as you pull it up over the beads and bring another bead down prior to the yarn over.  If you get that bit right you will be off and running and it will be easy-peasy. 

You will need:

Beads.  I suggest you use size 8 seed beads – Japanese or Czech.  For your first rope select 6 different colours and arrange them in neat piles on your bead mat. You will need up to 100 beads of each colour to make a rope suitable for a bracelet (600 beads will give you a rope of about 21 cm).  Alternatively, you could use 3mm druks/rounds/fake pearls 90-100 each of 6 colours.

Yarn/Thread.  It has to be strong and with a twist.  Sewing cotton won’t do, neither will fireline or nymo.   Best to start with a good quality crochet cotton such as DMC in size 8, 10 or 12 (later on you might like to try bootmakers strong polyester thread in size 20, or if you end up crocheting size 15s you might need upholstery thread or size 40).

Needle.  Get yourself a Big Eye Needle – about 11-12 cms long.  It is incredibly easy to thread and nice and flexible for picking up the beads.  Alternatively you can use a crewel needle or tapestry needle – it will have to be thin enough to go through your beads easily.

Crochet hook.  The best hook I have used is a Clover Amour 2mm.  It slides under those loops better than the others.  Alternatively, use a steel crochet hook around 2 mm.

Knitting needle.  This will be the mandrel.  For 6 in the round, size 8 seed beads I suggest about a 3 mm double pointed steel knitting needle.  You can nearly always find these in charity shops like Vinnies.  For 3mm round beads you might need a 4 mm needle.

Pick up the beads in order 1-6.  Over and over, and over again until they are all on the yarn.  This will take a while.  Nice and rhythmical, very zen etc.  Don’t make a mistake!

You can take the Big Eye Needle off now.   Now for the fiddly bit!

Starting the Rope
There are a few ways to start this off.  There are already tutorials out there suggesting that you make a ladder stitch tube with six stitches in the round, and several rounds high, say 2-3 cm long.  If you leave a bit of slack in the stitches in the top row you can get your crochet hook under them and build your rope of it.  The nice part of this technique is that you can use it time and again, if you always want the same number of stitches in the round.

A few years ago I started doing mine this way:

Firstly cast on a few stitches, as if you are knitting. Any method works so long as they are nice and firm. This will help anchor your beadwork on the mandrel so it won’t fall out in the first few fiddly rows, and stop the beads sliding round and round so you won’t need to pull your hair out quite as much.

Then you need to stick your crochet hook through the upper loop and yarn over, pull the yarn through both loops on the hook, pull tight. Then do 1 or 2 plain chain stitches, pulling quite tight.

Then pull down a bead close to the hook, yarn over and pull the yarn through both loops on the hook, so that the bead is captured by the chain stitch. 

Repeat this with the next 5 beads – gives a total of 6 beaded chain stitches i.e. one of each colour. They should look like this:

Now - looking down on the end of the mandrel – twirl it clockwise so these beaded chains wrap around the mandrel

Then you need to stick your hook through the loop with the first beaded chain.
But not just any old how!
Align from the inside of the circle/tube towards the outer.  Hold your hook in a knife grip and face the actual hook to the floor.  Choose the part of the loop closest to you so that the bead is on the side away from you.  This is crucial!  Flick that bead over there to the far side of the loop and the hook, if it isn’t already there.  Got it?  Okay.  Should look like this:

Slide the next bead down close to the hook, yarn over, pull the yarn through both loops.   Should look something like this:

Pull it firm. Phew! You have joined it into a tube. Now for the rest of the ultra fiddly first row.

Push your hook through the next beaded chain loop. Make sure that bead is pushed across toward the rear/right side/ away from you. Like this:
Notice the working yarn position, coming out behind all the beadwork.

Pull the yarn up and over the beadwork toward you, so that it is sitting across the space between the bead you previously added and the bead on the loop that your hook is in (again this is crucial, and the misalignment at this point is why most people end up with a rickety mess of beads that make no sense).

Then pull a new bead down close to the hook – it will be the same colour as the one on the loop your hook is in.

Yarn over. Pull yarn through both loops on the hook.

Voila! Second stitch done.

Stick your hook in the next loop in the same way. Remember to push the bead over to the back/right/away from you.
Pull the yarn up over and towards you, between the last beaded stitch and the bead on the loop you have your hook in.
Pull another bead down close to the hook.
Yarn over. Pull yarn through both loops on the hook.

Keep repeating until you run out of beads, or the rope is as long as you need.
You will need to gently push all the strung beads further along the yarn as you work.  Be gentle!  You don’t want to break the yarn. 

You can keep the string of unworked beads on a bead mat in front of you or you can put it all in a lunch box or bowl so you can take your project elsewhere to work on.  It will take you quite a few hours to do your first rope!  If the beads try to tangle – don’t yank on the strand!  Put it up on a table, get your magnifying glass and gently prise the knots apart.  If you use a yarn that is not too thin for the holes in the beads, then I don’t find that I get many tangles.

To finish off - just push the hook into the next loop in the same way as before, yarn over and pull both loops on the hook – i.e. a plain slip-stitch with no bead.  Repeat that all the way around, and then slip stitch into the first plain stitch of the round.  Then you can cut the thread and pull the cut-end through the loop and pull tight.

You need this last beadless row to make the last row of beads sit properly.  You can see in the photo below how the last row sits differently – the beads are at right angles to the previously worked rows.  That little trick of how you stick your hook in the side of the loop closest to you, and push the bead away from you to the back/right, is when this change in orientation happens.

As you work the rope just keep moving the mandrel upwards so it always sticks out the working end. 

Those cast-on stitches at the beginning are easily undone. The rope will be quite flexible.  The yarn and stitches will be mostly hidden in the tube, but you will get a glimpse of the yarn colour between the beads.  You can use this as a design feature.  The thicker your yarn, the more it will be obvious.  But if the yarn is too thin to fill up the bead holes then the beads will not sit as nicely and the rope will look a bit untidy.

There are internet sites that discuss how to join the ends together seamlessly if that is what you would like. 
If you want to put on a clasp, I would not use the crochet yarn to make that join.  Sew the ends of the yarn down into the tube.  Find some fireline or Nymo and anchor it a couple of cm back from the end by sewing through the stitches.  Bring the thread up through the tube and add on beadcaps or whatever you want on the end such as a loop to attach a clasp to it.  Or you could sew the clasp directly to the rope.

Here is the method with a single colour, and bigger beads. Put the hook through the next loop with a bead on it. Make sure to slide the bead across to the far side of the loop, so the hook is between you and the bead. The easiest way is to hold the hook in a knife grip with the hook turned downwards and aim at the bit of yarn on your side of the loop (I know the photo has the tip of the hook facing you but that is wrong, okay, I should have composed the photo better, lol).
Now pull the yarn up and over the beadwork towards you. It is sitting just to the right of that bead on the loop your hook is in.
Pull a bead down close to the hook. Sort of use your fingers to hold it in the right place, while you do a yarn over and pull the yarn through both loops on the hook.

It’s fiddly, I know, but you will work out how to hold your fingers and thumbs and eventually, probably before you finish your 600 beads, you will get quite good at it! Truly!

The thread here is not thick enough for these beads, so you can see that they don’t sit as nicely.

With 5-7 beads in the round you probably won’t need to put anything in the tube – it won’t collapse. If you are using smaller beads, and therefore more beads per round, it might be necessary to fill the tube with some sort of cord to stop it collapsing. In fact, you can make quite large calibre tubes, say 5 cm across, that you can thread onto a scarf, for a very interesting effect.

And, no, I’m not doing any photos to show where my hands go, cos, that would require some magic manicuring skills. 

You don’t have to do this my way!  I put this here as a suggestion, particularly if you are struggling with it starting out.   Here are some links to see how others do it. does a very nice video so you can see how it looks as it is being worked.

Danysska does a very detailed tutorial and you can see how to hold the hook in the knife grip, and how she pulls the bead down to the hook. Plus she shows a neat way to finish the necklace

Ann Bensen on Beads East had a really good video with animations and short real life clips and she explains it beautifully

For me - I have the hook in my right hand, and wrap the yarn around my left little finger a couple of times, then bring it up between my ring and middle finger, and across the back of my middle and index finger.  I tend to hold the beadwork tube between the tip of my thumb and middle finger.  As I push the hook through the bead loops my thumb is right there to hold it steady.  At the moment that I pull the thread up and over, and bring a bead down close, I tend to hold the end of the mandrel with my right index and thumb to steady it.  Anyway, your hands are all different sizes, shapes and dexterity, so you can figure that out for yourselves.

Things to try:
JBead Computer program for designing patterns

Any of the patterns in the book - Crafting Conundrums by Ellie Baker and Susan Goldstine.  They also have a series of 6 You Tube videos, which are excellent.  They have a FB page but it isn’t very active

Patterns on Etsy

Use different bead sizes to give a 3 dimensional rope shape.

Single colours of Czech size 8 knitting beads.  Purchase in a hank – so easy to transfer onto the rope and these beads are made for this!  Just beautiful.

Using single or double crochet instead of slip-stitch.

Do a tube of larger diameter.

Bead Soup!  Gives interesting marled effects and is great for designing neckalces to match specific fabrics. 

When you get really good you can make those amazing necklaces that you see on Pinterest with 22 beads in the round and elaborate patterns!  Go for it!

Fringe beads! (and a way to finish the ends)

Clear beads, multi-coloured crochet cotton - great effects! 

Happy Beading!  Have a go at this lovely technique and enjoy!

Copyright Gaye Townley 2020

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gayetha Designs at Tasmanian Craft Fair

From Friday 1st November to Monday 4th November Gayetha Designs will once again be at the Tasmanian Craft Fair at Deloraine.

For sale will be many newly designed necklaces, earrings and bracelets and some new things such as beaded scarves and beaded Christmas decorations.

Have a look at some of our new designs here.

Come and see Max and me at Stall 116 in Venue 1, the nice hall near the bridge in Deloraine.  We will be there between 9am and 5pm daily.  The fair ends on Monday at 4pm.

The Tasmanian Craft Fair is very worthwhile visiting for anyone interested in craft and art and of course it will also be a great opportunity for people to buy unique and interesting Christmas presents.

The Gayetha Designs stall last year
For those who came to our stall last year, this year we are in the same venue, but just around the corner from our 2012 spot.

For some previews of new designs we will be selling have a look at

See you at Deloraine!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Snakes and Markets

So - what does one do with a pile of Japanese long magatama beads?   I had to buy them because they were so interesting, but somehow they didn't make their way into any of the beaded pieces that I was making.   Then I saw a pic of a brick-stitched bracelet, in one of the magazines, using them.

But brick stitch is a bit slow, and the beads are very unwieldy.   So they sat in my stash for some months while other projects took my fancy.

Then I had a bit of a breakthrough in managing to do some tubular crochet rope necklaces.   One could say I got a little obsessed with the technique for a while.    So, when I had a go at crocheting the long magatamas - suddenly I had this sinuous, scaly creature-like rope.   It just had to become a lovely slithery sssssnake.    The perfect gift for my dear friend Rosy for her birthday!  

I had such fun making this one, I had to make another!    So, ready for Christmas, Wayne's Sssssnake was hatched.

He is a bit less smooth - more like he has his hackles up.    Plus he has fangs to go with his red forked tongue!   A much more dangerous character.

And my other news - I have sent some more lovely lampwork pieces up to the Artisan Gallery and Wine Centre, north of Launceston in Tasmania.   If you are up that way drop in and check out the beautiful range of quality handcrafted artworks (and Tassie wine if you like that sort of thing).

This weekend - Sunday 13th January - I will have the Gayetha Designs range on display at the  

Kingston Beach Handmade Market

Come along and say hello!   Sadly there will be no snakes there, but lots of other fabulous glassy goodness that I have had a lot of fun making.  

For more information, and how to get there -

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gayetha Designs this weekend at Kingston Beach

This Sunday from 10am to 3pm a Kingston Beach Handmade Market will be held in and around the community hall at 20-24 Beach Road, Kingston Beach.

This is a new market that will take place on the second Sunday of each month.  Last month was the first time and it was a real success with a great variety of stalls all selling products handmade by the stallholder, food, music, a choir, and other entertainment.
Gayetha Designs will be there this Sunday with a stall in the hall.

On display will be Gaye's wonderful array of earrings, pendants and other affordable quality work.

The organisers are promising that there will be a wonderful mix of high quality handmade toys, jewellery, photography, hand spun wool, portraiture, body products, artwork, children’s clothing, jams and preserves, native plants, delicious food and much, much more… even treats for man’s best friend! Everything you need for a Happy Handmade Christmas! 

For more information about the Kingston Beach Handmade Market visit

See you there!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gayetha Designs at the Tasmanian Craft Fair

We will be heading up to Deloraine early on Thursday morning to set up our stall at the yearly Tasmanian Craft Fair.   It will run for four days and is my major retail event for the year.   I have made lots of lampwork glass necklaces, pendants and earrings, but I have quite a bit of seed beadwork on offer this year too.  I have added a few other bits and pieces in, all beaded in some way, so that there will be a bit of variety, because strangely enough, not everyone wants to wear lampwork (although I really wish they would!)
One of the conditions of entry is that I must demonstrate my craft at the stall.   I wouldn't dare to take a propane/oxygen torch into the lovely hall where we will be though - I might burn the beautiful wooden floors!  Last year I demonstrated Tudor style (netting) beadweaving.  This year I have been having a lot of fun doing tubular crochet beaded ropes so I will demonstrate how to make them to any of interested passers-by.   Crochet tubes are really soft and amazingly flexible.  Very comfy to wear too.
You can do all sorts of patterns - subtle or bold, depending on your choice of beads.   They work up fairly quickly once you get the knack for it.  I have worked out a few tips for the technique which I needed to do so that it wouldn't take six months just to do only one.
 You can get lovely textures and interesting effects by using beads other than seed beads.
Another fun activity that I did over Tassie's long dark winter was to get my old knitting machine out and knit a few scarves in fine wool and cotton.   This one is in 4ply (fingering weight) merino and alpaca.  Naturally I had to add some beads!  So I will have a few of these at the Tasmanian Craft Fair as well. 

I had great intentions to have a lot of brooches too, but I only managed to keep one for the Fair - the others made wonderful presents.  Maybe next year....

I have been so busy in the last few weeks   I am looking forward to the excitement of having my pieces all out on show.  I plan to have a bit of a rest after that!

If you are able to get to the Tasmanian Craft Fair at Deloraine - come and see Gaye and Max in Venue 1, Stall 102.  Also in our venue there is Eraine's fantastic stall, More Than Skin Deep, with beautiful soap and skin care products that she makes herself.   Next to her will be Denise, Stitched By Me, who does the most amazing smocking.   And nearby is Bev with her beautiful bound books, BookSeed.   The rest of the Fair is packed with the products of hundreds of talented makers/designers.   It is a feast for people who appreciate handmade crafts.

The Tasmanian Craft Fair will open this Friday 9am (2 November) and continue until 4pm on Monday (5 November).  For more information visit

Friday, September 28, 2012

This Sunday we will be at Snug Market

This Sunday (30 September) Gayetha Designs will once again have a stall at the Snug market.

Snug Market is a community market and has a great variety of produce and crafts.  The food that is available for lunch is the creation of local master cook Toni of Honey Child Catering and is worth a visit in itself.  Snug Market is open from 10am to 2pm.

Coming from Hobart drive until you reach Snug Primary School halfway down Snug's main road, then turn left into Beach Road.  The market is held in the community hall, which is the last building on your left, nearest to the beach.

Go here for a review of this market.

Snug Market is held on the last Sunday of every month from 10 until 2.  A great day out!

Friday, September 21, 2012

New stock and new blog

Some web sites remain the same for ever and why would you go back to them once you have seen them a couple of times?

The latest update of the Gayetha Designs web site has a new banner intended to make it clear that all Gayetha Designs jewellery is handmade and quality.

There are a lot of new items in our online gallery AND you are looking at a completely new blog that looks much better than the previous one we had and has some interesting new features:

  • you can quickly find posts on subjects that interest you
  • you can subscribe to this blog, so you receive new posts automatically in your email
  • you can skip between web site and blog with ease

Enter your email address in the box in the right-hand column of the blog. When you receive an email with the title 'Feedburner Email Subscriptions', confirm that you would like to be kept up-to-date with new posts coming from the Gayetha Designs and, bingo, you will automatically receive them in your email from then on.

We hope you will enjoy this update.