How to Knot Mala Beads the Right Way
Lately, it seems that no matter what I do or where I go in life, my beads follow me. Even after finishing my 200-hour yoga teacher training program back in March, the dots are following me into my yoga and meditation practice—last weekend, and I taught a workshop on how to make your mala beads using gemstones. If you want to get new malas collection then click the link given below thefiveclouds.com.
Meditation has always been a tiny bit of a challenge for me. Wait, did I say little?
Maybe more than negligible. When I was pregnant with my son, I took a childbirth class focused on breathing and meditation techniques to deal with labour.
I remember going home to practice and getting frustrated because I found myself as relaxed as I practiced that I would fall asleep! At the time, the instructor assured me that it was a good thing, and it was for childbirth, but when I sit and do regular meditation, I need something else to help me focus.
That’s why I love to use gemstone mala beads as a tool for keeping my mind engaged while sitting in meditation.
I prefer to use knotting techniques when I make my gemstone mala beads, just the way I choose to knot my strands of freshwater pearls so that one bead flows into the next. It makes for a charming, tactile experience when I’m meditating with my gemstone mala beads, and when I’m feeling inspired, I can wear them around my neck, just like a beaded necklace.
Even if you don’t meditate, you can learn how to make a strand of knotted gemstone beads for sweet, supple beaded necklaces and bracelets.
Here are some essential tips and techniques to get you started!
Materials for knitting mala beads:
Assorted gemstone beads in your choice of size, shape, and stone
S-Lon cord or silk thread (size F silk thread is a good choice for pearls or tiny gemstone beads)
Clasp or another finding for finishing your strand of beads
- Scissors or thread cutter
- Beading awl
How to Knot Gemstone Beads
Select a thread.
Take into account the size of the gemstone beads that you’re using, the bead hole’s diameter, and the weight of the beads. Silk thread is an excellent choice for smaller, lighter gemstones like 4mm amethyst, garnet, or citrine.
(Thinking spring with those colours!) When I make my gemstone mala beads, or if you’re using a strand or two of larger, heavier beads (around 8mm in size), I prefer to use an S-Lon cord. It’s the same beading cord that I use for beaded kumihimo, and it knots beautifully between gemstones, too.
Bonus: it comes in dozens of colours, so chances are, I can find something to perfectly match whatever jewels I choose.
I like to make a few test knots with my gemstone beads and thread to ensure that the knots won’t disappear into the bead holes. If you find that your gemstone beads swallow up those knots, you can either try double-knotting between dots or use something like a flat washer or another spacer bead to make a smaller hole on either side of your beads.
You don’t want to get a long strand of beads strung onto your cord and then find out that your knots are too tiny!
String your beads first.
To begin your knotted gemstone project, you’ll want to cut a length of cord and string your beads on the line before you start. A general rule of thumb is that a wingspan’s length of cable is good for a longer necklace made with larger beads. I use about 10 feet of cord for a 36-inch strand of knotted beads.
To reiterate what my good friend Jill Wiseman teaches, the thread is cheap—it’s easier to have leftover yarn at the end of your project than it is to have to add a new cord 3/4 of the way through your stringing project! Once you’ve cut your rope, tie a knot about 8 inches from one end. String on all your beads in the order desired for your finished piece, and then tie another knot about 8 inches away from the opposite end of the cord.
You can also use one of these professional finishing techniques for knotted strands of beads before you get started with the rest of the knotting. (Make sure you slide your clasps and other jewellery findings onto your cord with the rest of the beads!)
Basic knotting technique.
Slide the first gemstone bead down to the “empty” end of your cord. Make a loop by passing the thread’s back with the single bead under the rest of the line with the remaining dots.
Pick up that gemstone bead and drop it down right into the centre of the loop, but don’t tighten it into a knot just yet! Holding the loop in your non-dominant hand (the hand that you don’t write with), pick up your beading awl with your dominant hand and slide it into the loop from the bottom.
Gently tighten that loop around the drill, and use the awl to slide that knot down so that it’s snug up against your gemstone bead. Slide the next bead down, make the loop, and use the awl to slide the knot down against the dot, until you’ve finished knotting your strand of beads. Add your finding or closure on the other end, maybe using a tiny drop of glue to secure everything, and trim your threads.
I’ve found that making new strands of mala beads using things like rudraksha (organic seeds) beads and gemstone beads is that the process of knotting itself has a meditative quality for me.
The rhythm of sliding and twisting the gemstones induces a relaxing, peaceful state of mind in me—very useful when I make a mistake and have to somehow undo a tiny knot in that silk cord. And I love the simplicity of using just a plain ol’ beading awl for my knotting.
It’s light in my hand, it’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s inexpensive.
And then there are the gemstones themselves. My interest in the metaphysical and symbolic properties of rocks has been renewed through my meditation practice with my mala beads.
I’m always on the lookout for new gemstone beads now. Using knotted gemstone beads as part of my meditation practice helps me focus my mind and energies on the positive!
If you’re looking to stay informed about hot new gemstones, find out about the latest tools and techniques in jewellery-making, and maybe pick up some excellent jewellery business style, take a look through the pages of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. You’ll find everything you need to create artistic, on-trend jewellery, including inspiration and practical tips.
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