As with all tools, there are tricks that make them easier to use. For instance, the small plastic spinner (Figure 1) uses fewer beads to fill until it is one-third full, the recommended level. Use too few beads, and you won’t get as many beads marching up your needle. Use too many, and you’ll have beads flying all over the place. Notice the BigEye needle in the smallest bead spinner? This is what I use when I am doing fringe. A bead spinner does not have to be limited to loading up beads for necklace, bead crochet or Kumihimo.
Picking up beads when you’re doing friendship can be tedious. If I have a strand that calls for seventeen beads, I use my bead spinner and put a slight curve into the BigEye needle with my finger. With the thread caught on the straight end, I use the curved needle to pick up seventeen beads. If I have an accent bead in the sequence, I’ll move my thread to the curved end, and use the straight end to pick up the accent bead. Even if I have only four beads to put on my thread, it’s faster with the bead spinner.
Last week, I said that I kept looking for source for the small plastic spinner so that I can carry them in my store. The good news is that they’ve made a comeback, and I will have them in my store soon. A regular BigEye 3.5” needle that you curve works well with these spinners.
Another thing that’s come out is a long curved BigEye needle, which come either flexible or rigid. The needles make an excellent alternative to the long needle that came with the larger bead spinners (Figure 2). That rigid needle had a very small eye, making it hard to put some of the popular threads through the eye of the needle. There is a solution for that as well, if you own one and don’t have a rigid BigEye needle.
When faced with the issue of not being able to thread the long curved rigid needle, I get my 4# test Fireline and use a small, 6 inch strand to thread through the eye of the needle. I then knot the Fireline using the fisherman’s knot. Be sure to tighten the overhand knots as much as possible before pulling on each end to pull the knots together. You want to make this knot as small as you can so that your beads will fit over it. The more you pull on the Fireline, the tighter the knot will become. Now put your beading thread through the loop of Fireline, and start spinning. With this method, you can use your bead spinner to put beads on materials such as rattail, as long as your bead hole is large enough that the cording doubled up will go through the hole of your beads.
Visit Need for Beads to find the spinners, BigEye needles, and the curved BigEye needles.
Dr. Gail H. Devoid, Ph.D. is president of Need for Beads, Inc. and teaches beading techniques through programs at the Bead Society of New Hampshire. She also co-hosted a live, free, Internet radio show called The Jewelry Connection.