Given my druthers, I’ll take a knot over a stop bead, any day.
…Long story short. In many tricky beading designs you need to maintain thread tension. When you’re trying to construct defined shapes out of flimsy thread and colored bits of silicon dioxide, keeping the beads pulled together at specific angles can be the deciding factor in whether you get a pretty, practical result, or an ugly morass of beads that makes no sense whatsoever.
The two ways I know how to start this are a knot – physically tying the thread into place to create a solid anchor of beads – or a stop bead. Stop beads are an extra, hopefully differently colored and sized bead you wrap the tail of the working thread around so you can maintain thread tension while leaving open the option of loosening the thread as you work.
A lot of beading books demonstrate their patterns with stop beads. If you have excellent manual dexterity so you can deftly maintain their position and nimbly weave the tail thread in later, stop beads are fine.
If, however, you’re as fumble-fingered as I am, and have enough trouble just trying to sort the directions into a viable set of “what movements do I do next”, stop beads are endlessly frustrating.
I prefer knots, whenever and wherever I can use them. That defined, solid base gives me an anchor I can pull everything against as tight as I have to, to make the structure work. Pull too hard and I may break the thread, sure – but at least it’s more likely I’ll get far enough to figure out how to work the design, without worrying about constantly collapsing beaded webworks.
I suspect this is also why I prefer genre fiction to free-floating “literature”. If you pick up a work of literary fiction, you may get anything from endless second-person POV (Augh!) to “experimental” works that torture the English language in ways that would make Torquemada blush, to nihilistic forays into “life means nothing and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool”. Maybe it can be done right; too often it seems to collapse under the weight of its own pretensions, and leave you with wasted hours and a headache.
Genre fiction, in contrast, gives you solid things you can rely on. Fantasy? Magic and monsters. SF? What-ifs based on the best science of the time. Mystery? Cue the dead body. These basic elements of the genre let you anchor the story. Your hard military SF is not going to have a unicorn-riding half-naked priestess show up spouting prophecies about a Chosen One. Not without a lot of genetic engineering and future-predicting AIs involved. Likewise your fantasy is unlikely to have pump lasers, and your murder mystery probably won’t have nanotech resurrections unless it’s cross-genre to begin with.
Knowing what you definitely won’t have makes writing the rest easier. It’s something to consider, if you’re just starting off writing or trying to build your skills. If you’re going to build something complicated, a scaffold is just good sense. And you don’t get much more complicated than a novel!