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Beading PHD Challenge: Technical Difficulties

PHD beading challenge part 4: technical difficulties

Welcome back to the final installment of the beading PHD challenge. This week we’re going to be looking at your last box of PHDs. Those are the ones that stalled because of technical difficulties.

What do I mean by technical difficulties? Well, those occur when you reach a set of instructions that you simply can’t follow. There are a few reasons why this might happen. So, in this blog, we’re going to take a look at those and talk about what you can do to solve the problems.

Anyway, before we get into that, let me just recap for anyone who is new to this series.

Beading PHD Challenge Recap

Four weeks ago, I set you the challenge of spending a month clearing your beading PHD pile. I know this can seem like a daunting task, perhaps too much to carry out alone. So, this challenge has been all about offering you a system and some support to achieve your goals.

I’ve shown you how to organise your projects so you can focus on which to complete first.

Then, in week 2, I offered you a special incentive scheme to really get you motivated. You can find the details of that here.

Last week, we focused on how you can create a little more time for beading. So, feel free to catch up on the rest of the series. Then you’re ready to continue.

What are technical difficulties?

Basically, as I’ve said above, these are the points at which you discover you can’t follow the instructions. There can be a multitude of reasons for this. So, let’s look at the most common…

  • you understand what you should be doing, but you can’t seem to get the beads to sit right
  • the instructions refer to a technique that you’ve never done before, but the designer has assumed you already know the basics
  • your find yourself staring at a set of instructions that might as well be written in a foreign language for all the sense they make (even though they are actually written in your native language!)

I’m sure at least one of those is going to sound familiar to you. And of course, when you arrive at that blockage, the frustration and perhaps hours or days of not solving it, soon lead to another beading PHD…

So, what should you be doing in these cases?

Let’s take a look at each one in turn…

Solving your technical difficulties

I’m going to start with the first problem…

Your beads just don’t seem to sit right

Assuming you really have understood the thread path you’re using, there are usually three factors that cause this particular technical difficulty.

  • your tension
  • thread choice
  • bead choice

So, the first things I would check are your thread and your beads. Are you really using the same type of thread and the exact same brand of beads recommended by the designer?

I recently carried out a few experiments with different seed bead brands. It was amazing how the same project could turn out very differently when made with a different brand of seed bead. That is the headline. The lesson here is, always follow the exact recommendations of the designer, as listed in the materials on the tutorial. If you want to find out why this matters, then this blog post shares my discoveries in full.

Thread choice and tension are related. So, if you are having trouble because your tension is ‘off’, it’s definitely worth reviewing your choice of beading thread. Again, if the designer has made a recommendation, it would be worth following that. I have written extensively about beading thread. And I have always made the point that thread is a very personal choice. So, just because a particular thread type works for one beader, doesn’t mean it will work for all. But, having said that, sometimes you do need a particular thread for a certain type of project. So, it’s always worth carrying out a few experiments yourself. And if you do want to read more about beading thread, check out this blog.

Beading PHD challenge: technical difficulties - improve your beading tension

Beading tension

Now finally, let’s get on to tension. That is something that comes with practice and experience. So, there isn’t really a ‘shortcut’ to solving that problem.

If you are mid-project, then I suggest putting the project to one side, and doing some practice samples. You should use the same technique, thread and beads for these. And just keep making little samples until you get your tension better. Remember, that could be either looser or tighter.

When you feel like things are settling better, then try returning to your project and see how you go. Unfortunately, if the issue is with your beading tension, it’s entirely possible you will need to start over. In any project, how you set things up does matter. It will establish the right (or wrong) tension that carries throughout the project. So, take care!

You don’t know the technique

So this could be an instruction like, ‘stitch 8 rows of tubular Peyote stitch’. If you’ve never done tubular Peyote before, this would leave you a little confused.

Alternatively, I’ve seen a few posts on social media where people have received a tutorial that literally just gives a pattern chart and the instruction, ‘follow the chart using xxx technique’. Obviously, that would be simple enough if you know the technique. But if you don’t, your project is going to stop before it’s even started.

Now, I’m sure you can work out the solution to this problem. Put your project to one side and learn the appropriate technique.

Learn bead weaving, PHD challenge, Katie Dean, Beadflowers

But how do you do that?

In the good old days, you might have gone to a bead group, or used a class in a bead shop. You could be hunting through YouTube for a decent video tutorial of the basic technique. Or, you might grab a book.

But I would like to offer you another option. How about an online resource that is full of hours of beading technique videos? Plus you get to ask questions if you get stuck or need further help. And you can request specific video demos if you can’t find what you need.

That way, you’d know this resource was always there at the touch of a button. You don’t have to waste hours hunting the internet for a tutorial. And you can get that extra help if you need it.

How does that sound?

A solution tailor-made for you

Well, that’s exactly what I’m offering you here at this link. In addition to all of that, you get 50% off a selection of beading patterns that I’ve designed to teach specific techniques.

And, because you’re following this beading PHD challenge, and because I really want you to succeed, you can use coupon code HELP to get 50% off the membership today.

So, that should get you set up to overcome this selection of technical difficulties.

The instructions make no sense

So, that brings us neatly to the last issue. If your instructions are making no sense to you, it can be either user error or designer error.

Yes, I’m sorry to say, you are going to come across some beading tutorials that are just not written in a way that makes sense to you. That doesn’t mean they’re ‘badly written’. It’s just that we all learn and communicate differently.

Having said that, sometimes when the instructions don’t make sense, it’s simply that you’re trying a project that is above your current skill level.

For example, if you’ve never made a simple beaded box, but you launch straight in with a complicated design, you might come across terminology that doesn’t make sense to you. So, in a case like that, the problem is really back to needing to learn techniques and build a foundation for yourself.

So, when you’re dealing with a project that isn’t making sense, you need to work out why.

Is it because you simply don’t have the experience yet?

If so, then put this project to one side… In fact, start up a new beading PHD box specifically for ‘projects for the future’. Maybe make a note of the kind of skills you want to build. Then focus on more basic projects that will allow you to practice those skills. In time, you will gain the experience you need.

Alternatively, are the instructions simply impossible for you to follow?

If that is the issue, then there is no shame in accepting this project isn’t for you. Just re-claim your beads (i.e., cut up the project) and file the pattern as something that you’re never going to attempt.

One final tip…

In all of this, please remember that sometimes there is really no technical problem. Sometimes, you simply need to take a break and clear your head.

I know that many of you reading this are also dealing with chronic illnesses. A lot of those cause ‘brain fog’. And that can make it really difficult to follow any kind of instructions.

Other illnesses make it difficult to sleep. So, I know a lot of beaders who fill in sleepless nights with beading. Well again, if you’re tired, it’s just not the best time to be following instructions.

So, never overlook the obvious… Sometimes the problem is just that your brain needs a rest and when you come back and look at it afresh, everything will make perfect sense!

On that happy note, I am rounding off the beading PHD challenge. I wish you much enjoyment in clearing your PHD pile. And remember, if you do want some extra support with that, this whole series has given you lots of options. Whether it’s moral support, actual incentives, or technical help, I’ve got you covered! So, stay safe and happy beading!

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