Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to Become a Prolific Beader

As I am frequently told I am a "prolific' beader I thought I'd let you in on the secret.  Which means I sat down and thought how and why I am so productive.
  • Firstly....You have to be an don't just go the extra mile you do the marathon.
  • Then you have to have no social life to speak of, no husband, no kids.
  • It helps if you worked in a factory where you were 'part of the machine'...think Lucy in the chocolate factory....hard to keep up at first but once you're used to the pace it's second nature.
  • You have to absolutely love and be obsessed with beading.
  • You have to know what you're doing! You can't be a speed demon if you have to keep looking at the instructions....know your stitches!

What can you do to increase your speed?

With flatwork it helps if you can read a graph chart rather than a word chart.  The old magnetic board and magnetic ruler make things much easier. (I bought a little page size magnetic white board from Wallyworld and a sheet of magnet 'paper' and cut an inch strip from it).

Time yourself...see how long it takes you to bead an inch and try and beat your time for the next inch.   This actually makes things feel faster even if they aren't, but it will increase your speed....and is the best way to approach, say, a long rope.

Did I mention know your stitches?
And if you're working from a pattern, take the time to read the pattern all the way through before you start!

Use a workable length of thread...I see people use too long a thread and it slows them down considerably because it takes ages to pull it all through and it always gets tangled and knotted. A workable length so you don't have to keep adding thread every two minutes is just under twice you arm's length, so, when threaded into your needle and the tail is almost as long as the thread. Leave about three inches of single thread and keep sliding your needle down the thread so you don't get the tail woven into the work.

Leave the bobbin attached...huh?
This is actually a time saver and strengthener. When adding new thread I leave it attached to the bobbin so that when I need more thread I just clip it from the bobbin, weave it to the last bead and carry on.  This means I have one less thread to secure in.

If you're working with a pattern where the beads are numbered....lay little piles out on your beading board in order, like paint on a palette.   If you're using predominately one color just pull it forward on the board.  If you are working on something that only uses a certain bead once in a while have that pile of beads furthest away from you....this saves time by it being harder to pick up by mistake.

Have a bead mat that shows the beads on a green bead mat make it harder to find them.

Make sure you have good light...invest in an Ott-light...they are well worth the money!

Set yourself goals, write the 'to do' list...but remember to be realistic, if you set your goals too high you will end up being deflated and always playing catch-up.  When making a 'to do' list make it for the week but leave every third day free...this gives you a 'catch-up' day and helps you know what you're actually capable of achieving.  When you can keep up to your 'to do' list it makes you feel much happier and successful which in turn makes you want to move on to the next thing.
I typically leave Friday's clear for catch-up work and I just schedule "beading" for the weekend so I'm not putting pressure on myself. Oddly, relieving the pressure does tend to speed things up.

Here's hoping these tips help you become the speed beader you want to be :)


  1. Very good ideas and tips here, Mikki. I am a bit confused, however, on the leaving the thread on the bobbin when attaching a new thread. Could just be my brain isn't getting it. Love that you are willing to share!

  2. Dorrie....don't cut the thread from the bobbin, just thread your needle and go through a couple of beads close to where your last thread ended then come out where you need to be. Pull through your workable length and continue beading. When you've finished that thread weave the end in. Cut the attached thread about six feet from your work then weave it to where it needs to be. It makes it so you don't have to worry about the thread being secure beacause it automatically will be.

  3. Thanks so much for the tips! I do use numbered "dishes" with the colors I'm using for a particular pattern. (They are actually the lids from small round bead containers.) I definitely need to get the magnetic board and ruler, that would be a definite time saver for me! Thanks again!

  4. Great tips, Mikki! I completely agree with the To Do list - I have been so much more productive this year already, and it's all because I sat down, looked at what I needed to work on, and made a list of projects to work on and the order to work on them. No more just not beading because I don't know what I want to do next :)

    I am SUCH a fan of little piles of beads, too - my only problem is little kitty-cat feet who don't understand that Mommy's lap desk is not their personal platform...But, they're getting better!

    Personally, I know I still use more thread than is suggested most of the time, but for me, the length of the thread also depends on what thread I'm using...For the finer threads (4lb Fireline included), I will use a shorter length because they tend to tangle more easily...The bigger, heavier threads don't bother me as much, so I will use longer threads...

    Oh, one other tip: make sure you're in a comfortable beading space. If you're not comfortable, you'll be too fidgety to get much of anything done. I also bead with a Band-Aid (usually Hello Kitty) on my left pinky finger. Since I'm left handed, that's the finger that gets rubbed by the Fireline when I'm adding tension, so I use a Band-Aid...That way, my finger doesn't hurt and I can bead longer...

  5. Excellent tips Katie...thanks :)

  6. e disciplined about setting aside a specific amount of time to bead each day/week.

  7. Not having a full-time job helps, too. Heh. Great tips, Mikki! You've inspired me!

  8. These are all awesome tips. Thanks.

  9. I definitely noticed a huge difference when I started using shorter threads! The rest of your tips are great, thanks for sharing :)

  10. wow - great tips. I love the beaded cuff illustration too. Is there a pattern available?



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