Huichol Bracelet Tutorial

UPDATE: A new version of this tutorial is coming that eliminates the need to needle back through the previous row. Stay tuned!

I've started exploration in Huichol beading, a netting stitch unique to the Huichol Indians of Mexico. It has a distinctive style that includes gradations of color in geometric designs, and unlike Native American beadwork, this Huichol-style pattern does not require a loom, and can be done with a single needle.

It took me quite a bit of research to find any information on this technique, so my version may not be 100% true to the original. However, the look of the pattern is correct. I had found a description of this stitch being executed with two needles, but only one is needed. I also had difficulty with the first beads I purchased from a local bead store, but later learned that the Huichol artists use Czech 11/0 Preciosa Ornelo Rocaille beads exclusively. I purchased mine from Shipwreck Beads, but also found them at Fire Mountain. Toho 11/0 seed beads also work well, but will result in a slightly larger pattern that is stretched slightly and may not end up with the correct size on bracelet patterns.

About the Thread Used

Huichol bracelets use a different thread that I have not been able to identify, but I've seen Polymide thread used. I used 10lb Fireline here for illustration purposes. A stiffer thread will create earrings that retain their shape a little better.

You want to make sure that your thread will fit through the holes of the beads.  Size 11/0 Preciosa Rocaille Seed Beads have a minimum hole size of 0.60mm. 10lb Fireline is 0.20mm in diameter, so you can theoretically go through each bead three times. Preciosa publishes information about the size of their beads with this handy color chart.

Material List

Here are the Shipwreck Beads Product SKUs: Black (11SB109), Light Green (11SB180), Dark Green (11SB186), Light Yellow (11SB122), Light Orange (11SB132), Dark Orange (11SB134), Dark Red (11SB146). Click here for the list.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: This tutorial, all photos, and all diagrams are COPYRIGHTED, and may not be reproduced or sold without permission. If you are interested in using this tutorial, graphincs, or handout for teaching, please contact me directly. ©2016, Kat Kramer Adair.

Thread Path Details

This image is a illustration experiment of advancing through the rows of the bracelet.  Click the left/right arrows on the diagram to progress through the steps. 

Each step will be explained in detail in the next section.

A list of beads used is listed at the bottom of each image except in the first two steps.

This is the overall pattern of the bracelet.

Rows 1 & 2

Cut a piece of Fireline that's comfortable to work with. I usually cut a piece about 5-6 feet, but you might work with a smaller piece. Thread the needle with the Fireline (I need my 5x Opti-Visor to do this!).

Fig 1: Creating a stop bead

Create a stop bead with the first dark green bead. Leave a tail that's a couple of inches, then pass the needle through the bead, then go back through the same hole again. Tighten the thread around the bead. This will prevent the other beads from coming off the thread.

I have also seen another tutorial/technique where a lighter is used to "ball up" the end of the thread.

Next, thread the rest of the beads as shown below. These will create the first two rows.

Fig 2: 2 DG – 4 BL – DG – 2 BL – LY – 2 BL – DG – 4 BL – 2 DG

The first rows are the most difficult. You'll want to leave a little slack as you're working on the first two rows...if you work too tightly, the end of the bracelet will be distorted. 

Start by passing the needle through the first single dark green bead on the right.  

Fig 3

Next, thread a black bead (BL) and two light yellow beads (2 LY), pass the needle through the middle yellow bead, thread two light yellow beads (2 LY), then one black bead (BL), and pass the needle through the other dark green bead. 

Pass the needle through the end of the stop bead and the next dark green bead, coming in from the end as shown.

Fig 4: Adding BL – 2 LY, then 2 LY – BL

Pull the thread until the first rows start to take shape (Fig 5). At this point, the first two rows may twist and not lay right. We'll fix this when we add the third row. Now pass the needle through the beads as shown in Fig 6. Make sure that the thread is exiting the dark green bead as shown.

Fig 5: Pulling the pattern together (this is a different view of Fig 4)

Fig 6: Needling through beads to get back to starting position for Row 3

Row 3

Fig 7

Coming out of the dark green bead, add 1 BL, 1 LY, 1 BL, pass the needle through the middle light yellow bead of the previous row as shown in Fig 7.

Add 1 LY, 1 LO, 1 LY, then pass through the middle light yellow bead of the previous row.

Add 1 BL, 1 LY, 1 BL, then pass the needle through the dark green bead at the end as shown.

Row 4

Coming out of the dark green bead, you'll add four beads this time, because you're on the edge. On edges, you'll add two black beads that make up the edging, and two more beads.

Add 2 BL, 2LY, then pass the needle through the middle yellow bead in the previous row.

Add 1 LY, 2 LO, then pass through the middle light orange bead from the previous row.

Now you're reversing the pattern, so add 2 LO, 1 LY, then pass through the light yellow bead.

Add 2 LY, 2 BL, and pass the needle through the dark green bead at the end of the previous row. Pass the needle back and forth through the previous row's beads, then back through the two black edge beads and through the light yellow bead at the end, ready to start the next row.

Fig 8

Fig 9

Fig 10

Row 5

In row 5, add 1 LY, 2 LO, then pass through the LO in the previous row as shown. Add 1 DO, 1 DR, 1 DO, then pass through the LO in the previous row. The pattern now reverses, so add 2 LO, 1 LY, then pass the needle through the last LO.

Notice that the next row is an edge row, so it will have four beads that include the two black edge beads.

Row 6

In row 6, I'll combine the beading instructions and the weaving back through.

Coming out of the previous row's LY, add 2 BL, 2 LY, pass through the previous row's LO, add 2 LO, 1 DO, pass through the DR and reverse the pattern, adding 1 DO, 2 LO, pass through the LO, then add 2 LY, 2 BL. Pass the needle through the previous row's LO on the end.

Now weave through the previous row's beads as shown, coming out of the yellow bead, putting you back at the starting position for row 7.

You'll see that you've gotten to the center of the flower...the pattern now repeats backwards.  Use the image below to follow the rows of beads.

Row by Row Pattern

Click on the arrows to navigate row by row in the flower Huichol pattern.  Row 7 is indicated on the pattern.

The pattern repeats, and the first row of the repeat is marked, so when you run out of steps, just advance until you find the right part of the pattern.

For more detailed information, see the beading pattern below that includes thread paths.

Finishing the Bracelet

Continue the pattern until the bracelet is approximately the right size. With this smaller repeat, this bracelet style is easy to size, but you don't want a lot of play in the size.  You'll want to make sure that the finished bracelet has a gap of about 3/8" – 1/2" when wrapped around the wrist, which will accommodate the ball and loop closure.  I'll post instructions for the closure later, but you can use any standard closure.

Additional Patterns

I will also post a pattern sheet that you can color with markers here soon!

Bracelet created by the Huichol Indians in Mexico

Bracelet created by the Huichol Indians in Mexico

I just found this beautiful bracelet in Cozumel, a different type of bead design with elaborate flowers.