How to Read an Even Count Peyote Stitch Pattern

Blue peyote bracelet on a dark background close up
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Reading an Even Count Peyote Stitch Pattern

Printed peyote stitch pattern
The Spruce / Chris Franchetti Michaels

A peyote stitch beading pattern typically consists of two parts: a beadwork pattern chart or graph and a word chart. The pattern graph is a color picture of the beadwork that can be used as a guide. The word chart gives the same information as the pattern graph but uses words (or typically letters corresponding to a color of a bead) to tell you the order to stitch beads on each row.

Even count peyote stitch is a fun bead weaving technique, and it's most interesting when you use it to stitch up a colorful pattern. Pattern charts also called pattern graphs, are easy to follow once you understand how to use them.

This tutorial describes how to follow an even count peyote stitch pattern chart using the zig-zag cuff bracelet pattern as an example.

Decide Where to Begin

The first step in reading any pattern chart is to decide where to begin. For even-count peyote, you always need to begin with a low bead. In the example pattern, there are low beads in the top right corner and the lower-left corner. That means you can begin in either of those corners.

If you begin at the top of the pattern, you'll read the pattern from top to bottom; if you begin at the bottom, you'll read it bottom to top. You could also begin somewhere in the middle and work your way outward toward the top or bottom—as long as you start with a low bead. You would then return to the beginning and work your way back in the opposite direction to complete the design.

Here we’ll read patterns from the bottom up.

Tip: Keep in mind that you can turn a printed peyote pattern upside down if that helps you read the pattern more clearly.

Reading the First Two Rows

Beads in the first two rows of the pattern
The Spruce / Chris Franchetti Michaels

Start peyote stitches by picking up all of the beads for the first two rows. (You will not do this if you are using a quick start peyote card; in that case, you'll pick up the beads for each row individually.)

When you read a pattern, the beads for the first two rows are all adjacent to one another, with every other bead offset by one-half of a bead just like it is in the finished beadwork. Examine those first two rows of your pattern chart, and string the bead colors in the order indicated.

We've numbered the beads in the first two rows in the pattern above in the order that they need to be strung. (Note that the "blue" beads include blue and dark green beads because this color is a mix.)

Reading the Third Row

The third row of peyote stitch
The Spruce / Chris Franchetti Michaels

After stringing the beads for the first two rows, you can start stitching the third row. You'll read this row in the pattern in the opposite direction that you read the first two rows.

We read the first two rows left-to-right starting at the bottom, so we're reading right-to-left for the third row. The beads in the third row are numbered in the order they need to be stitched.

One thing that can be difficult, particularly in a complex pattern, is keeping track of what row or column you are up to. There are a couple of ways to keep your place.

  • If you have extra copies of the pattern, you can cross out the beads in each row after completing that row.
  • You can use the edge of a sticky note to mark the row you're working on.
  • You can slide the pattern inside a page protector and use a grease pencil or dry erase marker to write on the page protector and keep the pattern clean.

Continue Reading the Pattern and Beading More Rows

The next row marked with edge of a sticky note
The Spruce / Chris Franchetti Michaels

After completing the third row, you can continue reading individual rows of the pattern back and forth across the page. In the photo above, we're marking the next row with the top edge of a sticky note.

If you do this, remember to skip every cell that is only half covered by the note; those beads are in a different row. Alternatively, you can mark off the cells in completed rows with a pen or pencil.

With patterns that have repeating motifs, you may find that you can stop looking at the pattern once you have a few inches of the design beaded. At that point, your memory, combined with an occasional peek down at the pattern and your beadwork may be enough to keep you on the right path.

Watch Now: How to Pick Beads & String for Beaded Jewelry