Project #12: Beaded Stitch Markers

originally posted June 27, 2011

This weekend the weather was terrible. It’s been raining off and on for days, but this is Florida and this is the rainy season. Here’s the view from my kitchen window yesterday…

Real nice, huh? If you look close enough you can see my yard and my neighbor’s yard beginning to flood slightly. That’s always nice…I know the dog really loves it when the backyard is completely saturated with water, not really actually.

I decided it was a good day to do some crafting, so in between laundry loads I made up some new stitch markers. Most knitters have these among their knitting paraphernalia and use them to keep track of where they are in a row as well as to remind them to do something like increase or decrease in a certain spot of their knitting.

The only skill that you need in making these is knowing how to make a simple loop on a headpin. I used various sizes of jump rings and split rings to hang my beaded dangles. The smallest sized jump ring used in this project is 8 mm, which will fit up to a size US 8 knitting needle. The size 10 mm jump rings will fit up to a size US 10 knitting needle. The split rings used for this project were 12 mm, which will fit up to a size US 15 knitting needle.

Here’s what you will need to complete this project:


  • Round-nose pliers
  • Flat-nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Ruler or measuring tape


  • Headpins – need to be long enough to have room to make a loop
  • Jump rings and/or split rings – 8 mm, 10 mm, 12 mm in size
  • Glass, metal, plastic, gemstones beads in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors


To make your bead dangles, first string your beads onto the headpin.

Using either your fingers or the flat-nose pliers, make a 90-degree bend. Next, trim the wire using your wire cutters. I trimmed mine leaving a 1/4 inch of wire to form my simple loop. The length of wire you leave for your loop depends on how big you want to make the loop. This will be a trial and error process if you haven’t made simple loops before.

I wanted a fairly small loop, so I placed my wire near the very tip of the round nose pliers.

Holding onto the beaded end with my other hand, I then turned my pliers to form a loop with the wire. I turned until a complete loop was formed. Your bead dangle is now done.

Next, open up a jump ring with your pliers and just slip the loop of the bead dangle onto the jump ring, then using the pliers again, close the jump ring. For attaching the bead dangles to the split rings, I opened up the loop of the dangle as I would a jump ring, placed it on the split ring, and closed up the loop with my pliers.

There’s your finished stitch marker!

Not much too them really. A few basic beading skills are all that’s really needed to complete these. They’re a great rainy day project, and they make a fun gift for those knitters in your life.

Happy crafting!


Project #8: Necklace Redesign – Before & After

originally posted February 22, 2010

I’ve been making jewelry for around 20 years, and in that 20 years I’ve accumulated a moderate-sized collection of hideously made pieces just screaming to be redesigned into something better. I keep said hideous jewelry in a bag hidden from public view. Well, not too long ago I was rooting through that bag and came upon this little gem…

I would guess that I made this around 15 years ago, and it’s sat in a Ziploc bag for about that long, too. Among the several flaws in this necklace, two stood out the most to me – the shoddy workmanship and the fact that the gold-colored seed beads had tarnished into an ugly blackish-brown color. I did, however, like the combination of purple, gold, and brown-tone beads in this necklace and thought I could do a lot better redesigning this into a much nicer piece of jewelry. I decided on which beads I wanted to reuse in the new design. The only new beads used were gold seed beads to replace the original tarnished beads. Check out the new and improved necklace using the components of the old, ugly piece:

I’m pretty happy with the end result, in fact, I think it’s pretty darn snazzy (don’t mind me as I toot my own horn). Go through your old stash and see what you have that needs to be remade into something new and fresh. Garage sales, your grandmother’s jewelry box, and thrift shops are great places to find inexpensive beaded jewelry that can easily be taken apart and remade, and a cheap way to add to your bead collection.

Instructions for the “After” necklace design:


Size 11/0 glass seed beads

A variety of glass beads (mine range in size from 4 mm to 8 mm)

Bead board

Beading thread

Bead tips

8 – size 5.5 mm jump rings

12 – size 4 mm jump rings


Glue or clear nail polish

Pliers – chain nose, bent nose



1. The best way to start is first determine how you want to lay out your center strands. You can do this by laying your beads out on a bead board.

2. Once you’ve decided on a layout, start stringing your bead strands. Each strand is strung on double-stranded beading thread. Cut the following lengths of beading thread:

a. For the side strands – cut 27 inches of beading thread for each side strand (you’ll have 2 strands that are 27 inches).

b. For the inner center strand – cut 16 inches of beading thread.

c. For the outer center strand – cut 17 inches of beading thread.

d. Note: If you’re necklace is going to be a different length than mine, figure out the length of each strand, double the length of each strand, and add about 5 to 6 inches to allow for knot tying. In other words, if the finished length of your side strands are going to be 6 inches, you’ll want cut each strand of beading thread at least 18 inches for each side strand. Same goes for the center strands.

3. You should have a total of 4 strands of thread. Take each strand, fold it in half, and tie a knot at one end of each strand. Now, you’ll have 4 double-stranded lengths of thread.

4. At the end of each double-stranded length of thread, string one seed bead to sit flush at the knot. If the knot slips through the hole in the seed bead, tie a bigger knot. The seed bead acts as an anchor for the knot and keeps it from slipping through the hole in the bead tip. Next, string a bead tip, open side facing down so that the seed bead sits inside the bead tip.

5. Start stringing the side strands by first threading on 10 seed beads. Then, add decorative accent beads. In the case of my example, I used 4 mm round gold balls separated by seed beads that were a different color than the main seed beads (in this case, purple). Once you finish stringing your accent beads, finish stringing the seed beads until you’ve reached the desired length of your strand. Once you get to the end, string on a bead tip facing up then string on a seed bead so it’s sitting inside the bead tip. Pull the threads taut but not so tight that the strand buckles. You want a smooth strand of beads. Tie a double knot, making sure the knot is large enough not to slip through the seed bead hole. String your center strands of beads as well. Put a dot of glue or clear nail polish on all knots and set the bead strands aside to let dry.

6. The next thing to do is make the jump ring links. Take two 5.5 mm jump rings and connect them in the center with three 4 mm jump rings, using your pliers to open the jump rings. Attach another 5.5 mm jump ring to the bottom 5.5 mm jump ring with three more 4 mm jump rings. In addition to trying to explain this step, I also wanted to see how many times I could get away with saying jump rings. I think I overdid it. Anyhoo, make two of these links. And in case I’ve confused the hell out of you in my attempted explanation of this step, each one should look like this:

7. Once the glue has dried on the knots, cut any excess thread flush with the knot, being careful not to cut the knots. With your pliers, close each bead tip.

8. Attach 4 mm jump rings to each bead tip. Then, join the outer and inner center strands to one end of each jump ring link. On the opposite ends of the jump ring links, attach the side strands.

9. At the top of each side strand, attach a jump ring and your clasp components, and finally you’re done!

Check out the before and after side by side. I think the “after” is huge improvement.

If you have pieces of jewelry in your collection that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, wouldn’t give as a gift to your worst enemy, or even try to sell, then it’s time for a redo.

Happy Crafting!

Design Your Own Jewelry: Elements of Style

originally posted February 1, 2010

There are many elements that determine the design of a new jewelry piece – the materials used, the designer’s own personal style and, for those who design for a living, the clients needs just to name a few. If you’re new to making jewelry but don’t know where to start, the following design idea basics should help you in creating new pieces to add to your jewelry collection.

The Repeated Pattern

Repeating a pattern throughout a necklace or bracelet creates a nice symmetric look, and it’s probably one of the easiest designs to create. I made the bracelet above by starting out with small beads, gradually stringing on larger beads, then back down to the smaller beads. I repeated this pattern three times for the desired length of this bracelet.

The Asymmetric Design

Creating an asymmetric look is another option. Simply string your focal beads a bit off center, generally to one side or the other. In the example above, I used black onyx beads in 3 different sizes, starting out with the smallest to largest creating a graduated look in the size of the onyx. Then, I added five large, bright red, imitation Cinnabar beads a little off center and then finished stringing my black onyx.

I used the same asymmetrical design concept in the bracelet below. Keep in mind that using different shaped beads together creates visual interest as well. Notice the texture created when mixing the smooth round black onyx beads with the larger, saucer-shaped rhodonite beads.

The Centerpiece Design

When you want to emphasize larger focal beads, make them the centerpiece of your design. The 3 faceted teardrop glass beads make up the centerpiece of the above necklace. I broke them up by placing smaller spacer beads and accent beads in between them. To finish this piece, I used two different repeated patterns up the sides of the necklace.

These are just a few design ideas, but there really are endless options when it comes to making your own jewelry. Keep in mind, too, that the best way to start designing a necklace or bracelet is to lay the pattern out on a bead board to see if it works before stringing your design. This will help you figure out the right length for your necklace/bracelet , as well as how many beads you’ll need to create your design.

Happy Crafting!

Project 4: Beaded Charm Bracelet

originally posted June 15, 2009

Beaded charm bracelets are quick and easy to make. In this week’s project, I made my bracelet using black onyx beads, sterling silver beads, and sterling silver wire. Bead dangles are used as the charms in my example, but you can use anything – charms, beads, crystals, etc. This is a great project for reworking old jewelry, thrift store finds, or broken bracelets & necklaces you have stashed away in your jewelry box. You’ll need basic jewelry making skills to complete this project, specifically you’ll need to know how to make bead links using wrapped loops. As I said, I used sterling silver wire for this project, but you can also use artistic wire to make these bracelets. The artistic wire comes in a variety of colors, which allows you to be really creative with your designs.

Here are the supplies you’ll need to complete this bracelet:

Please note: The supply list and instructions are for a bracelet that has a finished size of 7-1/2 inches. Before adding the clasp, the size is about 6-1/2 inches. You may need to add more bead links or use less than I did depending on what size bracelet you normally wear.

• 20 or 22-gauge wire
• 6 and 8 mm beads
• 2-inch head pins
• 5.5 mm jump rings
• S-hook clasp or hook & eye clasp

• Round nose pliers
• Chain nose pliers
• Wire cutters


1. Make five 8-mm bead links and four 6-mm bead links using the wrapped loop method.

2. Make eight 6-mm bead dangles using the wrapped loop method on 2-inch long head pins.

3. Attach the links together with jump rings in the following manner: 8-mm bead link, bead dangle, 6-mm bead link. Close the jump ring. Continue attaching the bead links in this same pattern until all bead links have been connected to form your bracelet.

4. Add a jump ring to both ends of the bracelet and attach your clasp.

5. Add a bead dangle to your clasp. Do the steps you normally do to make a wrapped loop but don’t make your wraps. Open the loop a little bit, slip the clasp into the loop, then begin making your wraps to complete the dangle.

As you can see with the example below, I used a variety of bead sizes and I also have some bead links using the wrapped loop method and some links with just simple loops. Rather than attaching the links together with jump rings, I linked them directly together. Either way works well, it just depends on what your preference is.

Happy Crafting!

Project 3: Simple Beaded Bookmarks

originally posted June 8, 2009

These beaded bookmarks are easy to make, can be made in any color you can think of, and are much prettier than the boring, run-of-the-mill paper bookmarks you normally see. Make a bunch to have on hand for yourself or when giving a book as a gift, include a beaded bookmark as well. Tiny seed beads are used for the main part of the bookmark. They’re small enough so they will fit in the spine of a book. Anything larger than seed beads or bugle beads would be too bulky for a book to closely nicely. Use larger beads for the dangles on either end of the bookmark. The dangles extend beyond the length of the book and make for pretty decoration when your book sits on your nightstand or coffee table. The instructions for these bookmarks are for larger-sized paperback and smaller hardback books. Make them in different lengths to accommodate a variety of book sizes. One skill you’ll need to be familiar with for this project is how to use beading wire and crimp beads. If you don’t know how to use crimp beads, click here for instructions from Fire Mountain Gems.

Here are the supplies you’ll need:
• 14 inches of beading wire such as Accu-Flex or Beadalon
• 2 head pins
• Size 11/0 or 10/0 seed beads
• Various beads for the bead dangles
• 2 crimp beads or crimp tubes
• Crimp covers (these are optional, they cover the crimp and give a finished look)

Tools needed:
• Crimping pliers
• Wire cutters
• Round nose pliers
• Chain nose pliers


1. Make 2 dangles for the top and bottom of your bookmark using the wrapped loop method (see Jewelry 101: Loops and Links for instructions on how to make wrapped loops).

2. Cut about 14 inches of beading wire (the length of the wire will depend on the size book you’ll be making this for. You’ll want to add 2 to 3 inches to either end to allow for making your loops to attach the dangles).
3. Thread wire through the loop in the bottom dangle and attach with a crimp bead.

4. Start stringing on your seed beads, making sure to cover up any extra wire coming up through the crimp bead. Continue stringing beads until you have about 2 to 3 inches of wire left.

5. String on a crimp bead and thread wire through the loop of the top dangle, pull the wire through the crimp bead and through the next 3 or 4 beads. Pull the wire taut and crimp the crimp bead. Trim any extra wire as close to the base of the bead and tuck the end of the wire into the next bead.

Finished Bookmarks

Once you get the basics down on crimping and making wrapped loops, you’ll be making bookmarks in every color of the rainbow and beyond.

Happy Crafting!