Prumihimo YouTube Channel – Part 2

Yesterday I ran through the braid structure videos currently available on the Prumihimo YouTube channel. Today I will go through the technique videos. In some ways they may seem like a rather random collection of techniques, but I have tried to respond to the most frequent questions I am asked by filming those techniques first. This means that when I am asked for help on those particular topics I can post a link to the relevant video. This ensures that everyone gets a full response. When you have been braiding for as long as I have you find that the same questions come up again and again. I think it is very important to be able to give help when requested, but it can be time consuming to write out the same advice repeatedly. These videos have saved me a lot of time and hopefully helped a lot of people.

To be taken to the video just click on the link in the name. The other link will take you to a page of additional information on this website. On these pages I post whatever I think will be useful for that particular video, so some are more informative than others. If I am asked for something else this is where I post it.

kumihimo glue ending

Glue Ending – This is one of my most popular videos because the ending is often what braiders fear most! I give advice about the glues I personally recommend and how to use them.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

kumihimo wire ending

Wire Ending – In this video I introduce the way I use wire to attach an end cap. This is a great alternative to using glue and is a really useful technique to learn. Only basic wire working tools and skills are required.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Gemstone chip kumihimo

Chips – Gemstone chips are an inexpensive way of harnessing the beauty of genuine gemstones in your kumihimo and it has long been a great favourite of mine. Following my tips and tricks will help you to get it right.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Kumihimo core cord

Core Cord -This technique has made a huge difference to disk kumihimo and jewellery making and can be used in so many different ways. It is particulary useful in preventing collapse of beaded braids and avoiding squishy braids. It also opens up a whole new world of beads on more than 8 cords. Watch the video to see how easy it is.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

4 colour spiral

4 Colour Spiral – This technique is a great way to add colour and texture to a braid. Just make sure you follow the advice on which cord to start braiding with!

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

charm bead kumihimo

Charm Beads – What is a charm bead? It is better known by a brand name, but I can’t use that here! This video makes use of those large beads with a large hole in the middle. They are sometimes known as European beads. Whatever you want to call them I am sure you can see that they are perfect for kumihimo.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Big bead kumihimo

Larger Beads – Beaded kumihimo is best made with small beads, but this video shows you how to incorporate large beads of any size and shape in a kumihimo design.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Ribbon kumihimo

Braiding with Ribbon – Working with different materials is a great way to achieve an individual effect, so in this video I show how to use ribbon on your kumihimo disk.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Kumihimo with chenille

Braiding with Chenille – Chenille is a type of knitting yarn, which will bring something completely different to your braiding. Watch this video to see how.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Wire cone ending

Wire cone Ending – If you have wire you can always make a beautiful ending for your braids. In this video I use the Wags Wicone, which is now very hard to find, but the Conetastic is a good alternative. You are also sure to find alternatives if you look around your home for cone shaped items, such as pen tops and icing nozzles.

Toggle clasp kumihimo fastening

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Toggle Fastening – Over the years I have worked out many different ways of finishing off a kumihimo braid to make it into a piece jewellery. This is one of the ones I am most proud of because all that is needed is a toggle clasp.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

Speed Braiding – This is all about the ‘to and fro’ method and it has been my most contraversial video! My videos show what I have found out to be true, but sometimes people prefer to cling to inaccurate or outdated information without checking it out for themselves. Please keep an open mind and see if this method works for you. Those who have have been delighted by the speeds they have been able to achieve and it will improve your understanding of how kumihimo works.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

kumihimo weight

Kumihimo Weight – The kumihimo weight is an important piece of equipment for braiding and in this video I show how it should be used for maximum effect and also how weights can be used to create even tension when working with very heavy beads.

Click for YouTube video                                 Click for page of additional information

 

Prumihimo YouTube Channel – Part 1

In this blog I continue to take readers through different parts of my website to let them know how many good things there are tucked away in different parts of the site. I believe that this is just what we all need to keep our minds off the worrying developments around the world. The section I want to talk about today is the YouTube tab. When you click on this tab you are taken to lists of my YouTube videos and links to the 70 plus videos.  I am going to break it down into parts to make it more manageable because there really is so much to watch.

Two and a half years ago I set up my own Prumihimo YouTube channel as a way of spreading the word about my particular style of kumihimo braiding. It is possible to watch many hours of braiding videos on YouTube, but not everything is up to date or accurate. The world of braiding has expanded dramatically over the past 10 years and techniques have moved on. Disk braiders used to have to rely on instructions converted from traditional marudai instructions and tended to stick closely to traditional methods. As more and more braiders were taking up the disk and making braids for jewellery they began to develop their own style and invent their own techniques. I saw a need for more disk and jewellery oriented instructions and an opportunity to offer my own ideas and techniques to a wider audience.

When filming videos everyone has their own style and my aim was to make my videos feel personal, as if I am speaking directly to the viewer, so each video starts with an introduction showing me sitting in either my dining room or my conservatory. Then the action moves to close ups of the item I am demonstrating and to the demonstration itself. I aim to keep my videos concise and avoid too much repetition, so to do this I often refer viewers to my other videos for further infomation if required. Finally I appear again for a quick conclusion and to urge people to subscribe to the channel. If you wish to help me and to encourage me to film more videos please take this simple step of subscribing to the channel. The advantage to you is that you are notified by email of new releases. The advantage to me is that my videos are shown to more people.

On this website you will find listings of all the videos currently available on the Prumihimo channel, with a link to the video. There is also a link for each video to a page on the website for additional material. On this page I am able to give timing for the video, such as when the demo starts, as well as the materials and quantities required for each project. It is also where I can provide extra photos of the items. Sometimes a still photo of a close up is provided if I think it will be helpful. If I am asked for additional information in the comments on the actual video I can supply it on this page, so it is easy for others to find. The link to the dedicated page is also listed in the information under the video on YouTube.

To watch the videos mentioned in this blog, just click on the links. However, YouTube is very easy to navigate, so if you need some advice and wonder if I have a video you can just search for ‘Prumihimo’ and a key word or two. For example, if you are having problems with your tension you can search for ‘Prumihimo tension’ and you will be offered this video – ‘Top 5 tension tips’. Or if you wonder how a core might be of benefit to your braiding you can search for ‘Prumihimo core’ and the video ‘How to braid around a core’ will be suggested.

All my videos draw on over a decade of experience of kumihimo braiding and include all the tips and tricks I have worked out to make braiding more successful. I have been teaching braiding for over 5 years, so I am also able to draw on my observations of what people find difficult and how to address their problems. My style of demonstrating is based on my experience of two and a half years of demonstrating on Jewellery Maker television … I just wish I could have the professional studio and camera operators!

Today I want to talk through the 6 videos I have filmed showing how to make different braid structures on the round disk because this is really the starting point for every new braider. The majority of disk braiders find enough to keep them busy with just Round Braid/Kongo Gumi, but I would urge them to give some of these other structures a go!

kumihimo round braid

Braiding on the Round Kumihimo Disk – This video is perfect for complete beginners and also for those who have tried kumihimo, but have had problems. I am confident I can put you on the right track! I explain the important points about the equipment and materials before giving a clear demonstration of the braiding moves.

Click for YouTube Video                      Click for page of additional information

Beaded kumihimo

Braiding with Beads on the Round Kumihimo Disk – This is the next stage. Adding beads is where many people have had difficulties, so the advice given in this video can be the difference between success and failure. I wish I had known all of this when I started!

Click for YouTube Video                      Click for page of additional information

kumihimo spiral braid

Ridged Spiral Braid – Once you have mastered round braid you may want to try a slightly more complex braid and this is the first one I would recommend. It makes a very pretty braid and if you take the advice I give about coloured cord you will find it very easy and satisfying to learn.

Click for YouTube Video                        Click for page of additional information

Half round braid

Half Round Braid – This is one of my favourite braids because it has such a pretty texture and it is so versatile. However, you do have to memorise more complex moves than for the previous braids. Practise is the key to success and it really is worth the effort!

Click for YouTube Video                         Click for page of additional information

Hollow braid

Hollow Braid – These instructions are for the traditional version with 8 cords. As its name suggests this braid has a hollow centre. It is fairly rigid braid with a pretty basket weave texture. There are lots of moves to remember, but once you get to feel the rhythm of the moves you should find it fairly easy to learn and remember.

Click for YouTube Video                        Click for page of additional information

6 cord hollow braid

6 Cord Hollow Braid – This is a non-traditional version of hollow braid, which I came across simply by removing 2 cords. It is just the same, but with fewer cords. The advantage of this is that you require less cord and the braid is slimmer. It also has a pretty triangular profile.

Click for YouTube Video                        Click for page of additional information

I have several other braid structures lined up to film, so watch this space!

In future blogs I will run through other groups of videos, such as Techniques, Prumihimo disk, projects, square plate and more.

 

Pretty things to look at when you are locked down at home!

Following on from my previous blog I would like to explain further free information that can be found on my website. This part involves lots of pretty things to look at, but first a story!

When you click on the Resources tab and scroll down you come finally to the Gemstone Kumihimo section, where you will find that there is lots to explore and learn. This part of my website was set up in 2014 when I was invited to become a Guest Designer for Jewellery Maker television. This shopping channel was at the time under the ownership of a gemstone company, so they had a strict policy of gemstone beads only. This meant that I would not be able to work with glass beads of any sort. I would estimate that at least 90% of beaded kumihimo makes use of glass seed beads and this is because they are small and regular in both size and shape, with good sized holes. Gemstones, on the other hand, are natural products and part of their appeal is that they are not uniform, so they tend to be irregular in size and shape, with drillholes which are usually very small. As a guest designer I would be sent kits of materials to use to make one piece for a demonstration and as many other items as possible. The live shows lasted for 4 hours and I would be sent either 2 or 3 kits for each show. This was obviously going to be very challenging, especially as I was usually only sent the kits just one week in advance of the show. The other issue was that the person making up the kit had virtually no knowledge of kumihimo! However, please do not think that I am complaining. Yes, it was tough, but it was also an opportunity to develop new techniques and to push my knowledge and skills to the limit. When the kits arrived in the post I would unpack them with great trepidation, wondering what on earth they had sent me. On more than one occasion I felt like crying when I saw the random collection of items! Now that I look back on the shows I realise that the more challenging kits produced the most exciting designs.

I worked for Jewellery Maker for two and a half years, appearing once a month, generally for the afternoon show. Live television is scary stuff. It is very intense and inevitably things do not always go according to plan. There really is no hiding place when you have several cameras on you, zoomed in for the close ups and then the shows were uploaded to YouTube with no editing possible. Every mistake I made is out there for ever, but so are all the detailed demonstrations I provided!

Towards the end of my time with Jewellery Maker they were bought by a media company and the gemstone-only rule was relaxed, so it was great to be able to work with more kumihimo friendly materials, but by then I was working hard developing my Prumihimo disk, so I decided to leave the company to give myself more time.

The reason for this long story is that the Gemstone Kumihimo section was set up to support my work for Jewellery Maker. In order to encourage the gemstone loving customers I wanted to have the information they needed available. This includes the following topics :

Threading Materials for Gemstone Kumihimo suggests suitable threading materials for gemstones and explains the effect the choice of threading material will have on the finished braid.

Gemstone Chips are a particularly popular bead for kumihimo and this chapter gives advice on how to choose chips as well as some design suggestions. There are also chapters focusing on 4mm, 6mm and shaped gemstones.

Instructions for Designs made on Jewellery Maker 

This is the part of the website where there are the most pretty things to browse! Although there was no obligation to provide written instructions for the designs I created I decided that I wanted to do so. After the shows I used to receive a lot of emails and messages about the designs, so it made sense to get it all written down. I also found it a very useful reference for myself because it really is impossible to remember all the details about how something is made when you make so many. When looking at these pieces of jewellery it is important to remember that they were created using very specific materials from a kit which is no longer available. However, with a little bit of experimentation they can be adapted for substitute materials. You also need to be aware that sometimes I had to use the name of specific Jewellery Maker products, rather than using their more familiar names. For instance, I often refer to ‘beading thread’, but this is actually flexible, plastic coated beading wire, such as Softflex or Tigertail. As kumihimo can be time-consuming not everything shown is kumihimo. I would often add in simple earrings or bracelets to add variety and to be able to offer a wider range of pieces.

The designs are organised in chronological order by show and on each page you will find images of the designs, bullet point style instructions and a link to the show. Please also remember that shopping television needs to devote most of its air time to selling, so you will need to fast forward through the show to find the demonstration and there will also be interuptions during my demos for even more selling. It is what it is!

I hope you will enjoy browsing through the pages, seeing lots of pretty things to cheer you up and finding inspiration to encourage you to pick up your disk. The following images are just a small taste of what is available!

Prumihimo at Jewellery Maker

Kumihimo to keep you busy and cheer you up

We find ourselves in deeply worrying times with the rapid spread of coronavirus around the globe, but as crafters and makers we have the advantage of being able to keep our (frequently washed) hands busy and away from our faces, while also keeping our minds off the frightening spread of the virus. Kumihimo braiding has huge theraputic value because its rhythmic and repetitive movements are soothing  and calming, while the act of creating something has a positive effect on your outlook. Braiding also lends itself well to social distancing and a wealth of learning tools are available online. So my advice is to immerse yourself in your braiding!

A quick look in the shop on this website will show that all the physical items which need to be posted are showing as out of stock. That includes all disks, kits and my two books. However, tutorial downloads are still available in the shop and my second book, Kumihimo Endings, can be bought on amazon. At the time of writing my books and disks could also be purchased from several on-line shops, such as Riverside Beads, Spoilt Rotten Beads, Simply Beadiful, Etsy, Beadhouse and Stitchncraft, but each supplier will have to make their own decisions, so the situation may change.

Crafters are notorious for building up large stashes of materials and equipment, so it is now a great time to work with what you have in your stash. This is where I hope that this website will be useful to as many people as possible. It was set up in 2013 to be a valuable resource for braiders and there is a huge amount of free information to be found in different parts of the site. Over the years I have added to the instructions and made amendments, as the need has arisen. Most of this information can be found under the Resources tab. Click on this tab and you will find a list of free instructions covering the basics of kumihimo braiding. Have a browse and I am sure you will find something interesting.

This is what you will find:

Braiding Instructions is where you will find the step by step cord moves for all of the most common and popular braids. They are round braid, half round braid, hollow braid, square braid, spiral braid and 7 cord braid. I also include instructions for the more unusual box knot braid, which can be made on the round disk.

Braiding with the square plate offers a wide range of braid structures, some of which you will not find elsewhere. I have provided clear photographic instructions and vital notes on how to achieve good tension for each type of braid.

Braiding around a core is a technique which has enabled braiders to achieve more complex designs than used to be possible. It has opened up the possibility of braiding with beads on 16 cords and more, which when I first started braiding was usually said to be impossible!

Jewellery Making Techniques is where you will find useful instructions needed to turn braids into jewellery.

Hints and Tips is self-explanatory, but I have got a few more that I will be adding shortly!

Free Mini Tutorials is a selection of 18 tutorials. They are written in a concise format and are intended for more advanced beginners upwards. I would just like to stress that these instructions should not be compared with the tutorials in the shop which are written in far more detail and include lots of step by step photos and images of examples. The two most popular designs are Four Colour Round Spiral Bracelet and Wavy Disks and I am proud to have seen many wonderful bracelets made using my instructions over the years.

Braiding with Beads shows the correct placement of beads when adding them into a braid.

Button hole fastening and Loop and ribbon closure are two different ways of finishing off a braid. Since writing these instructions I have written a complete book all about how to turn a braid into a piece of jewellery, Kumihimo Endings.

Gemstone Kumihimo is the last on the list, but it is a big subject and there is lots to explore in this section, so I will leave that for my next post.

 

Learning new braid structures

S

Every January in my Facebook group I set up a poll about goals for the year. This year the top answer was to make more time for kumihimo, but there is not much I can do to help people with that!

The second most popular goal was to learn new braid structures, so I have decided to write a series of blogs about my favourite braid structures to encourage braiders to try something new. The basic round braid/kongo gumi made on the regular round disk will always be the most popular braid structure and for very good reasons. It is easy to learn, works up quickly and can be made from a wide range of materials. Plain braids can be worked in different colours to create a multitude of different surface patterns, while beaded braids add a completely new dimension, which is ever-changing as new beads come onto the market. However, experimenting with other braids is tremendously rewarding, so I would urge everyone who has not already done so to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. All the support you need is available on my YouTube channel for visual learners, or in the Braiding Patterns (Resources) section of this website for those who prefer written instructions.

Learn Spiral Braid by watching the video

Learn Spiral Braid by reading written instructions

Spiral braid bracelet

I am going to start by recommending the Spiral Braid or Ridged Spiral Braid. This is a great starting point because it is just a step away from the familiar moves of Round Braid. The braid is made with 12 cords and has a round appearance with a raised ridge spiralling around the braid. Visually it is most effective when the ridge is made in a contrast colour. It is important to heed the advice I give in both the video and the written instructions about using 2 different colours for the remaining cords because this trick makes the braid much easier to learn. Once you have learnt it you can play with different colour combinations and solid colours. You also need to cut longer cords for the ridge cords. Start with 30% longer, but keep a record of what works for you because this will vary from person to person.

I always recommend that new braids are learnt using satin cord because the slippery surface makes it easier to control the tension and create a smooth braid. However, any braid made with 12 strands of satin cord will be fairly stiff, especially the thicker ones. This works well for bracelets, but it is usually more desirable to make necklaces which are more flexible and will drape around the neck. Once the braid has been learnt you can experiment with different cords and yarns. For the necklace below I used soft knitting yarns. For the ridge I used chenille and for the valley I used a yarn with delicate flecks of metallic thread.

The video was filmed several years after the instructions were written and I made a minor change to the order of the moves, so it is best to stick to either the video or the written instructions to avoid confusion.

As with all braids, tension has a part to play. Irregular tension in basic round braid tends to hide itself well, but in this braid it will be more obvious because the spiral will not be evenly spaced. Practise will sort this out. Sometimes the ridges will flatten out after a few inches of braiding and this is again down to tension and pulling too hard on the ridge cords. As you braid keep a close eye on the way the braid is forming and if you see any flattening or distortion you can ease off the tension of the ridge cords.

The finished braid can be used in the same way as any round braid. It makes a pretty bracelet on its own or it can be used to hang a pendant from. Lariats and lanyard straps can also be very effective made with spiral braid. Beads can be added in just the same way as with round braid, but if beads are added onto all cords the full effect of the raised spiral will be lost, so I prefer to use beads either just on the ridge or just in the valley, as shown below. This is based on my own experience and I know that other people have had more success with beads on the spiral braid. It is worth noting that when you use beads on the ridge they may move slightly to either side because they are not supported by the rest of the braid, as they are in regular round braid, so sometimes photos may not show the whole story.

The braids in the photo above were made 6 or 7 years ago, so I thought I would revisit the technique and see if my views had changed. I used copper size 8 beads on the 4 cords which form the raised spiral and for the other cords I used a ready mixed cocktail of greens and aquas. The samples below show, from left to right,

  1. Beaded 12 cord spiral braid
  2. Beaded regular 12 cord braid
  3. Beaded regular 12 cord braid with a core.

Kumihimo spiral braid

I think that the slightly raised spiral effect in sample 1 is pretty, but not particularly defined. I found this quite a fiddly technique to get right because there is not much space for the beads, resulting in overcrowding. In the finished braid I felt that the copper beads in the spiral did not sit quite as neatly as I would like.

I think that the beads sit more neatly in sample 2 and regular round braid is an easier braid to work with. However,  the braiding was fiddly because again there is not much space for the beads, making it more difficult for beginners.

The third sample is my favourite and was also the easiest to braid. Braiding around a core is an easy technique to learn and it provides more space for the beads, making it much easier to braid the beads. The only downside is that you do not get the raised spiral effect, but using slightly larger beads or drops/magatamas would achieve this visual effect, with the added benefit that the beads are fully supported by their neighbours.

The experiences and preferences of other braiders may well differ from mine, so experimenting for yourself is the best way to find out what suits you. An alternative to adding the beads during the braiding process is to embellish the braid with strung beads or chain, allowing them to nestle in between the ridges and securing them with a beading needle and thread.

I have been asked if Spiral braid can be worked with a core cord. The answer is that you can braid around a core using Spiral braid instuctions, but the core will force the braid into a round profile, rather than the flat profile it naturally forms and this will completly flatten the ridge on the braid.

Learn Spiral Braid by watching the video

Learn Spiral Braid by reading written instructions

The temperatures are falling and icicles are appearing everywhere!

There are some projects that are such fun to make that you can feel yourself becoming rather addicted! The kumihimo icicles are certainly one of those projects. What makes some projects addictive, while others are less appealing to make? A quick make is always fun, but if they are repetitive they can become boring. The charm of a project like the icicles is that each one can be a little bit different, so as you work on them you have the fun of seeing how they turn out. The beads used are lovely to work with, but they are more than just pretty, because you can play with different combinations to achieve different effects. Transferable skills are an important aspect of all craft and the techniques learnt in making the icicles can be used in different jewellery projects, such as pendants and making focal sections for bracelets and necklaces. Finally, you can never have too much bling on a Christmas tree, so you can make as many of these charming ornaments as you like, knowing that the more you make the greater the impact and that they will give pleasure year after year. They make great gifts or can be added to gift wrapping for maximum impact.

My icicle tutorial has proved to be very popular and last month I made up some icicle kits, which sold out immediately. These kits are not only very time-consuming for me to make up, but it is complicated to source all the different types of bead, so I was not able to restock immediately. However, I have finally got together the beads I want and put together some more kits. In nature every snowflake and every icicle is unique, so when I make icicles for myself I make each one slightly different. For the kits I provide the materials for two matching, but not identical decorations. For the restocked kit I have made some changes so that for those who already have the first kit they can make two new designs. Each icicle is made up of 6 different shapes of bead in a variety of different finishes and I vary the shapes in each icicle, so there are 8 different bead shapes in the kit. This is why the sourcing of the beads is complicated and I have had to buy from 5 different suppliers! This is why kits are a good way to try something for the first time and can be economical, even with international shipping, because you do not have to pay multiple shipping charges. Once you have learnt the technique you can experiment with your own ideas. The tutorial is different to the instructions in the kit because I show different set ups to help people to use what they have in their stash. I also explain two different ways of constructing the icicle. In a kit I can supply just the right size of end cap, so in a tutorial I wanted to show how you can make your own endings.

If you want to make some icicles for your tree you can either try the tutorial or the kit (while stocks last!)

Icicle kit

Icicle tutorial 

These are addictive … you have been warned!

It is raining cats … but not dogs!

I am very pleased to be able to say that I have been able to restock my cat button bracelet kit for the third time and this time I have both the blue and the red versions available. This adorable bracelet seems to have become my signature kit, but this time I have made a few changes. Originally I designed the kit to accompany my second book, Kumihimo Endings. The kit included materials for one bracelet with additional materials so that a variety of ending could be made. However, I have had many requests for the kit from people who already have the book, so I have now simplified the kit to make one bracelet with two button hole variations and I have removed the book from the package.

The buttons I use are hand made in South Africa by a community organisation, employing local women and using environmentally friendly materials and production processes. Each button has its own individual character and this is where the difficulty in sourcing the buttons lies. Internet shopping does not work for this because I like to be able to select each button, making sure I only take the friendly-looking felines! As the doting owner of two spoilt cats I know what I am looking for!

I have been asked for dog button bracelets and I would love to be able to find some, but so far I have not found anything quite as appealing as my little stripey cats. I will keep looking.

I have also been asked for other colours and I have experimented, but nothing works quite as well as the red and blue, so I do not intend to extend the colour range for these buttons.

One part of the kit building I particularly enjoy is ‘cooking up’ the seed bead mix. I use only Miyuki beads for this so that the finished braid has a regular appearance. The different effects and finishes gives the optical illusion of variances in size, but when you feel the braid you can tell that they are regular in size. I gather together 6-8 different beads and first mix them together in equal quantities. Then I add in more beads of some types to achieve the effect I want. Then I make up a small section of braid to see how it works out and if I am not completely happy I tweak the mix further. It really is like cooking apart from the fact that I can’t actually taste the mixture!

If you are interested in trying one of these adorable little bracelets please click on the links below. I ship internationally and if your country is not listed on the website then you can contact me by email (pru@prumihimo.com) and I can usually ship to your location. I do all the packing myself to keep costs as low as possible and this kit weighs less than 100g, so shipping costs £4 (US$ 5.20 approx). If multiple products are purchased I am often able to make a saving on the shipping cost which I pass back to the customer as a PayPal refund.

Red Cat Button Bracelet

Blue Cat Button Bracelet

Let’s twist again!

This post is all about how to achieve a twist on a Prumihimo braid, which amuses me because I usually have to explain how to flatten a Prumihimo braid! One of the members of the Kumihimo by Prumihimo and Friends facebook group posted a Prumihimo braid with a pronounced twist, which she had not expected because she is an experienced braider. The post received a large number of likes and a couple of other members expressed and interest in making similar braids.

First of all the reasons for twisting of this particular braid need to be explained.  I designed the Prumihimo disk to simplify a traditional straight braid, using my own system of slots, dots and numbers. If the braid is made with perfectly even tension the braid should be completely straight. Beginners rarely braid with even tension, but the more they practise the straighter the braid will be. Even experienced braiders may find that they do not produce perfectly straight braids all the time and there are several reasons for this. The good news is that steaming or pressing the braid can flatten a twisted braid permanently.

The most common reason for twisting is that the braider is pulling harder on some cords than on others and even a slight difference will affect the braid. The best way to avoid this is to work in a regular and rhythmic manner. Give yourself time to braid without interruptions and relax into the 3-step rhythm of the braid. Stopping and starting will also affect your braid. Each time you put the disk down you risk releasing the tension on the cords. The best way to set your disk down is resting on a vase or something similar, which allows the braid and cords to dangle freely and keeps the disk level. This is good advice for not just the Prumihimo disk, but also for all types of disk braiding.

Your choice of cords may affect the straightness of the braid, especially when you combine cords made of very different materials. Flat materials, such as ribbon or tape yarn will often cause a braid to twist. Using multiple cords in a slot is also likely to cause twisting.

Braiding errors will also cause twisting, especially when the 3rd move in each set of 3 is omitted.

Flattening a twisted braid is easy and is based on the traditional Japanese remedy of steaming. Please remember that steam is hot and cord, especially synthetic cords, will melt when overheated, so it is worth testing a scrap piece of cord first. Don’t forget to protect your hands and your working surface too. Give the braid a few blasts of steam from a steam iron or steamer and you should feel the braid soften and relax slightly. Untwist the braid and place it under something heavy to cool. When the braid is completely cool check it. If it needs a bit more you can then apply more steam, cover the braid with a double thickness cloth and lightly apply the iron to the braid, but be aware that too much heat and pressure will permanently damage the braid.  Leave it to cool under something heavy as before.

So that covers flattening, but what about creating a twist? Deliberately choosing materials which are likely to twist is one way. For example, use a firm, round, synthetic cord, such as satin cord, in the slots at number 1 and 2, and combine it with a flat, cotton yarn or several strands of thin, organza ribbon in the slots at number 3 and 4. This is likely to produce a fairly gently twist. Experimenting with different combinations of cord will produce interesting results.

For a twisted beaded braid choose beads which are very slightly larger than the braid can accommodate and the beads will force the braid to twist to make space for the beads. For example, use 1mm satin cord in the slots at number 1 and 2 and use 4mm beads on S-Lon 0.5mm/Tex210 in the slots at number 3 and 4. When you start to braid the beads you will find that there is not quite enough space for the bead to sit in the V of satin cord and it will protrude slightly above the disk. When subsequent beads are braided the beads are forced out of line, causing a spiral. After braiding use a beading needle and beading thread to sew through all the beads several times to achieve an even spiral. You may need to experiment with different sizes of bead to get the effect you want. If the beads are not quite large enough there will be enough space for them in the braid and it will not need to twist. Using beads which are a bit too large will be difficult to braid and produce a messy effect.

The basic round braid on the round disk is perfect for making spirals and a similar look can be achieved by using beads on only some of the cords. However, the effect is different. With round braid the beads spiral round the braid. The Prumihimo braid is also round, but when beads are added on two sides (the double beading method) the braid appears flat and the whole braid twists. The photo below explains this better than I can! The photo on the left shows a spiralling Prumihimo braid and the photo on the right shows a 16 cord round braid with beads spiralling around the braid.

Twisting Prumihimo

 

It is time to think about the festive season and icicles!

kumihimo icicle

Now that the clocks have gone back here in the UK and the weather is a few degrees colder it is only natural that thoughts turn to the festive season. It is also a good time to think about Christmas crafts well in advance because the last few weeks before the holiday really fly past.

Every year I design a new Christmas design for workshops and my Christmas workshops are always very popular. When I post details of the workshops on social media I always receive multiple requests to make the tutorial available for those who cannot make it to the workshop. It is not appropriate to release tutorials for current workshops, so for the Christmas ones I wait until the next year. So I am very proud to be able to post details about the Icicle decoration. This was designed for a workshop at Spoilt Rotten Beads in Cambridgeshire in 2018. It was a lovely day and everyone did really well. Several people contacted me afterwards to say that they had become pretty obsessed by the icicles and could not stop making them! Now I am able to make it more widely available.

When I write a tutorial there are two aspects I consider to be particularly important. Firstly, the design needs to be original to me. There is no point in replicating something that is already out there and students at a workshop need to know that they are being taught something special. The beauty of beaded kumihimo is that as a relatively new craft there are still many wonderful things to discover! Secondly, I like to feel that learning goes beyond the tutorial design, in that I teach transferable skills to help braiders to develop their creativity. Once the festive season is over the skills learnt in the making of these icicles can be used to make pendants and key fobs or perhaps graduated bracelets and necklaces. The wire ending method is a great way to finish off a braid without the use of special findings, so it is a really useful skill.

In the tutorial I give instructions for two different methods of starting the braid. The bottom up method is best when you want to use a charm and the top down method is good for a tassel ending. Both methods can accommodate a large bead ending. I recommend trying both methods in order to make the most of the learning experience. The choice of beads and the order in which they are loaded give the opportunity to create a collection of different styles of icicle. I give suggested layouts, but I also encourage experimenting with what ever you can find in your stash.

The icicle is a very pretty and sparkly decoration, which is perfect for a Christmas tree because of the strong contrast of colour. It would look great with one of my other tutorials, Snowflake, and I can just imagine how exquisite a tree would look if it was decorated with only snowflakes and icicles.

If that is too restrained and subtle for your liking then just make them in bright colours. There are no rules when it comes to festive decorations!

Icicle Tutorial

Snowflake Tutorial

kumihimo icicles

The perfect weight

If you are planning a trip to Japan you are sure to find lots of fabulous souvenirs to bring home with you, but don’t forget to leave space for a few yen. A friend recently visited Japan and very kindly gave me some yen on her return. You may think that was an interesting gift, but not much use to me in London. Well, think again! The number of coins she gave me was very specific because it was 14 and they added up to 50g, which is the weight I like to use for kumihimo.  What a brilliant idea and what a thoughtful gift. I tied them together with ribbon and attached a clip and it is now my favourite weight. The coins form a neat little bundle and the weight could be adjusted, if required.