I have tried so many things to keep my place when working a beaded pattern. The list is long. Some worked great, some worked not so great. But after a lot of trial and error, I found my absolute favorite way to keep my place in a beaded pattern. Read on to learn more.
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Any beader that uses a pattern knows what a pain it can be to keep your place, especially if it's a complicated pattern. I've tried dozens of options, some of them worked and some of them did not.
Before I get to far into this today, lets talk about digital vs. printed. A lot of people like to print out their patterns. I am on the fence about it. I have been trying to be good to the environment and use digital patterns more often then printed ones. I still tend to lean toward printed patterns and that is what I'm going to focus on today. I can talk about what I do when I use a digital file in a future article. But, today, it's all about reducing waste and staying sane while using a printed beadwork pattern.
So what have I used?
The real question is, what haven't I used? I kid, I kid.
When I first started making my own beadwork, I would print off the pattern and use a permanent marker to mark off where I was. I tried both regular markers as well as the highlighters. Now don't get me wrong, I love markers as much as the next girl, well maybe a lot more (I own every color made by Sharpie. I'm not joking about that). And This method worked fine, but I could not use the pattern over again. That meant into the garbage (well recycling) it went. I just did not like that I was wasting so much paper and ink (because not only is printer ink expensive, it just so wasteful to print and throw away). So this was okay, but I need something more earth friendly.
Side note, those Sharpie gel highlighters are the bomb. They don't smudge anything. I've tried them on all sorts of things and they are the best highlighters I've ever used. I have been using them for years and love them. Hint, hint, Sharpie. I'll take a truck load of those as well as your permanent markers and pens. Thanks.
So on the next stop on my quest to find a more eco friendly alternative, I tried sticky notes. This was a nice alternative. I could print out a pattern and not have to throw it away. It sounded like a great option.
Now a lot of beaders use these. A lot of beaders swear by these. And that's great, but, they just didn't work for me when I used a beaded pattern. And it's not because I do not like sticky notes. I love them. Almost as much as I love markers and pens. I mean look at these cute London ones. Oh my, how cute are those.
But I digress, I was not a fan of the good ol' sticky note (or using a ruler) for beading because I felt like the sticky note would fall off and I would lose my place. And I felt like the stickiness would never make it through a whole pattern. I mean those bad boys are mot meant to stay sticky forever. And here I was with throwing away paper again. So the quest continued.
I was looking for a way to reuse a printed pattern and have little to no waste. And one day while I was trying to think of a better way, I came up with sheet protectors.
Now here's a little back story on how I came up with these. My mom used to work for for Avery, so our house has always been full of office supplies. Which means I had a mountain of sheet protectors (as well as a whole lot of other office supplies) lying around. I already used them to keep my printed patterns organized in binders. So, what if I just kept them in there and then wrote on the sheet protector?
Ignore my scribbles. I don't even remember what they were. Hahahaha.
And it worked pretty well. I tried using both dry erase markers as well as permanent markers. Both had some ups and downs, but over all I was pretty happy with this method. I actually used this method for years. I would just wipe off the protector when I was done and I would have a perfectly usable pattern that I could make again. I was happy with this discovery.
That was, until I found an upgrade!
While perusing the local dollar store, I found these great page protectors in the school supply isle (I love back to school time and supplies. You might have noticed that already). They are made for little kids who are learning to write. The kids can trace letters and numbers with dry erase markers and then just wipe them off when they are done. Allowing them to use these page protectors over and over again. I was in love.
Of course I grabbed a few of them. I told myself that if they worked and if I felt like I needed more, I could always come back and get a few more.
They are really nice heavy weight plastic, so they hold up to numerous beading projects. The sides are fabric, so they don't cut or scratch like some of the page protectors I've used in the past.
I've been using the same two for years now, and they still are great. You can see my daughter added a little bit of bling to one of them so I would never be boring. I love these guys.
They work great if you use the word chart to keep track of your pattern. You just cross off the row you just did and move on to the next.
They work great if you use the graph to make your pattern. You just cross of the beads you have used and move one. And if you are like me and bead two rows at once, it's super easy to cross off the rows you have done.
I just picked up some more for my daughter. She starts school this year and since it will be online until future notice, I knew these would work great for her practicing her writing.
A note about the markers I use. I've found that the retractable dry erase markers are the best because you can use them one handed. You don't have to put everything down to take a cap off the markers, mark the pattern, and then put the cap back on. Just a click, a swipe, and another click and you are on your way to the next row.
And of course I have the pack of a million colors, because why just buy one or two when you can have the whole rainbow!
So that's how I keep my place when I bead. I never loose my place anymore since I've gone to this method. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Like I said before. I will be talking about how I use digital patterns and keep my place in a future article.
Leave a comment below on how you keep track of your patterns. I'd love to see some suggestions that I haven't tried yet.
Just a girl that loves to bead, take photos, and cuddle with her new baby and her pug.
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