I love bead crochet!
I learned loads of techniques from the book Bead Crochet Jewelry, and I highly recommend it as a starting place for learning!
But what if you want to do more? Today I’m going to show you how to read bead crochet patterns, of the type you’ll find on Pinterest and online!
Finding a Bead Crochet Pattern
Much of the bead crocheting comes out of Eastern Europe, so it’s a good thing that patterns don’t use a lot of words! If you search Pinterest for ‘bead crochet pattern’, you’ll find oodles! You can also search Etsy and you’ll discover a number of patterns.
They vary greatly in complexity and size, but don’t worry… I’ll talk about all of that!
Today, I’ll be using this pattern by Snow Mirna that I found on Pinterest. It’s the pattern I used to make this ombre chevron necklace:
The Anatomy of a Bead Crochet Pattern
If you’re familiar with regular crochet patterns, you’ll find a bead crochet pattern very short! They’re about a half of a page and look like this:
There are essentially 4 parts:
- A description of the pattern (top right)
- A list of the materials you will need (middle right)
- A sequence instructing how to place the beads on the string (bottom right)
- A view of how the pattern will look when crocheted (left)
I’ll explain each of these sections in turn!
How to select a pattern
All of the information you need about selecting a pattern is in the upper right hand corner:
One of the most important dimensions is the circumference. This tells you how many beads need to be in the circumference to get the required pattern. You’ll see that this pattern has 6. I personally like patterns with 4 or 6 beads. The larger the circumference, the larger thickness your finished piece will be. A larger circumference will give you more pattern options, but will produce that a thicker piece that may be difficult to find notions and findings for.
Now, have a look at the middle right:
This tells you not only how many beads you need, but how many you need of each color.
This particular pattern uses equal amounts of beads, but other patterns will vary.
You often purchase beads by the gram.
The hardest part of following a pattern is stringing the beads in order!
Begin at the top left, and work your way down, stringing the number of specified beads for each color. You’ll see that this chart mostly instructs you to string one or two beads of each color, but that too, can vary.
You will repeat this chart according to how long you want your finished piece to be!
Once your beads are strung, the crocheting is the same no matter which pattern you’ve chosen to follow. The chart on the left will show you what your finished piece will look like:
The leftmost view is what the piece would look like flat, and the one on the right (which is optional) gives an idea of how the piece will look in the round.
Ready to try?
With such a variety of patterns, these simple tips will open up a whole new world of bead crochet to you!
Hi Stacey. Thanks so much for this post! Seeing your results in bead crochet inspired me to try it and I love it! I have seen so many patterns online, but was confused about how to read them. Do you know if the patterns would be read the same if you crochet left-handed? Thank you!
If you crochet left handed, your stitches will be clockwise around the work, but the pattern will work the same. Most of the patterns are symmetrical, so even if it’s backwards, it doesn’t really matter 🙂
So if you’re a lefty and the pattern is Not symmetrical, then I assume you should string in reverse order? Correct?
I don’t think that would work. Stringing in reverse order would bring the bottom beads to the top of the repeat – not just flip things from side to side.
my question is how ican know if the pattern is about 4 or 6 . thanks.
It should say in the pattern description (look for it to say circumference).
When you start your pattern from the left and come to the second row do you continue from the left side to the right?
I’m not sure I understand the question. You should be working in continuous rounds, picking up the beads as you strung them on the thread. The flattened pattern is just showing you what it would look like if you sliced your work open and laid it flat instead of its tube shape.
You read the pattern: left to right, more up a row, left to right, move up a row, left to right, etc.
This was SO helpful! Thank you so much.
How do you figure out the length of the finished repeat or the full project? I don’t see a reference to that in the numbers in the top right of the pattern. Is there a formula?
The length would depend on the size of the beads you use. For a rough estimate, you can measure the size of one bead and multiply it by the total number of rows in the pattern. To be even more accurate, you might want to work up a few rows so that you’re also accounting for the small space between the beads.
Thank you very much! I had seen many patterns but I thought they were very difficult. I wanted to ask how should I know which kind of beads to use. I’ve seen some of this tutorial with Miyuki, is the same tecnique?
That’s quite possible, though Miyuki makes a lot of different kinds of beads so their tutorial could be for something similar, but just a little bit different.
If it’s a sequence of 6 beads, the patterns show 6 beads in the first row and 7 beads in the second row. Help me understand every other row being an extra bead. Thank you
I guess technically the finished circumference is 6 1/2 beads – but talking about a half a bead doesn’t make much sense. 🙂 Remember that these are worked in a spiral, so it’s not a ring of six beads stacked on a ring of six beads, etc. That’s where the extra bead comes in. You need to imagine the finished project as a tube – the flattened image is just imagining that tube being “unzipped” down the back and laid out flat. The beads in the tube are staggered – like bricks – so laying it out flat without cutting beads in half needs to have alternating numbers of beads in each row.
when stringing the beads if you start at the top left and go down do you start the second row at the top and go down again and so on.
Yes – string each column from the top down.
How do you know size of bead to use? Pattern doesn’t seem to say size of bead using.
Hi Stacey, may i ask do you do these patterns flat then sew them together to make them round, or do you make them round to start with, Many Thanks Jill
You crochet them in the round. The flat image is just to show the repeats clearly.
Pls how do you tell how many repeats of a pattern are in one piece of work. And when done with the first sequence do you just go all over or you start from the last to beginning.in relation to the stringing
The pattern should tell you how many times to repeat. (It may just tell you to repeat until you reach whatever length you desire.) When you finish stringing one repeat you start over again at the beginning.
Thank you so much, I really believe I can do this. Im happy!!!!!
Thanks.Ireally like doing it.But there is a problem.Howmany rows İ have to stringto repeat.İn the pattern scheme which part shows it.Sometimes I aline too long sonetimes too short.Could you help please?
It depends on the pattern. There’s not one standard format – just look for somewhere where it tells you how many repeats to do.
I cant seem to find a pattern with a straight line in it the length of the braclet. I want to crochet all white with 2 straight line of red separated by white. How would I do this pattern? I dont want it to swirl around the braclet.
I noticed that there are several columns of colors. Do I read from left to right?
Yes, read down the first column, then move on to the next column and read down that one, working from left to right.
Can I use any size bead for this pattern?
I currently have size 0/8 0/10 and 0/11….I’d like to give 10 a try
Thank you very much for this explanation. I have crocheted with beads in a long time and I needed a refresher. 🙂