Advent Tips – Days 11-15

Oh dear! I did not get on very well with writing a blog every day for my advent tips. I did post them in my Facebook group, but it has been pretty hectic here and I did not get the chance to write them up more fully here. Well here they are now!

Day 11 – Feel the Rhythm!

Every braid structure has its own special rhythm. For instance Round Braid has the top down, bottom up moves followed by a quarter turn and this is repeated throughout, while the braid made on the Prumihimo disk is made with three cord moves followed by turns of different lengths. When you learn a new braid structure it is best to turn off the radio or television and settle yourself down somewhere peaceful, where you can practise without distractions. Shut out the family and the pets and turn off your phone. Keep practising the moves until you can remember them without having to check instructions. Keep practising and gradually you will start to feel the rhythm of the braid and your hands will seem to know what to do next. Don’t rush to get onto making something specific. Braid, braid, braid until you can complete the moves with complete accuracy and full confidence. As this starts to happen your hand movements will become smoother and more even, which will result in beautifully even tension. Time spent practising is never wasted.

Day 12 – Spread the Joy!

Kumihimo is still a very niche technique in the world of jewellery making and of craft generally. Even many experienced jewellery makers and crafters have never heard of it, so it is up to us to spread the joy and knowledge. People are always fascinated when they see it being made and are intrigued by the way that simple and repetitive cord moves can produce something so intricate. Disks are so portable that there is no excuse for not having a project on you at all times! Don’t be shy to pull out your disk on public transport or in a waiting room. You will need to be ready to answer lots of questions and give advce on how to get started. It is a great way to connect with others and to make friends. It is a great feeling to be able to pass on something special to others.

Day 13 – Weighted Bobbins.

It is possible to buy cord bobbins with an attached weight and I am often asked what they are for. There are several different uses for these bobbins and one of the most useful is to keep thin cords tight on the disk when you are using both thick and thin cords together in Round Braid/Kongo Gumi. The cords travel around the disk in this braid, so the slots will become stretched by the thicker cords, which means that the slots will be less able to grip the thinner cords. By using weighted bobbins on the thinner cords it is possible to maintain tension on these cords. When you use the Prumihimo disk you will be using both thick and thin cords, but they do not share slots in the same way. For this reason it is not usually necessary to use weighted bobbins, but if your Prumihimo disk has seen a lot of service the slots will have loosened over time, so you can try weighted bobbins for extra tension on the thin cords. This advice also applies to worn round disks when you are using thinner cords and particuarly when it is a beaded braid. Weighted bobbins on all 8 cords will make a big difference.

Some people like to braid all the time with weighted bobbins and I have to admit that you will get great tension if you do this, but I find that the additional weight is very tiring for your hands and wrists, so I prefer to braid without weighted bobbins whenever possible.

It is very easy to make your own weighted bobbins. The weight of each bobbin is around 20g, so I tape two 50 pence pieces to the flat side of the bobbin. If you are not in the UK and do not have access to our currency you can try weighing a couple of suitable coins of your own. Not all currencies have such heavy coins, so you can try large washers instead.

Day 14 – Be Kind to your Hands

This is a really important tip. Kumihimo involves very repetitive hand actions, so it is important to avoid prolonged  periods of braiding, which could lead to repetitive strain injury or other ailments. It is all too easy to keep on braiding for hours because it is such a pleasurable activity, but make sure that you take a break every now and then. You could try a few stretches or hand exercises or you could just do something else, which requires a different range of movements. If at any time while you are braiding your hands start to feel stiff or a little bit sore, stop immediately and give your hands a proper rest. If braiding starts to be really painful you should seek medical advice. Taking simple precautions now could prevent problems in the future.

Day 15 – Bright Lights!

Never underestimate the power of light. This is particularly relevant when you are threading beads with small holes. You can use either natural light or artificial light. Natural light varies in strength during the day depending on where you live and the time of year. It is strongest in the middle of the day and you need to be close to windows or skylights, with as much all round light as possible. Alternatively, you can invest in a good daylight lamp. There are many available at a wide range of prices and styles. If you have been struggling with threading beads and you have not been working in good light you will be amazed at the difference it makes. If your eyes cansee the holes in the beads clearly your aim will be more accurate and the cord will slide through tiny holes. In poor light your aim will be less accurate and you are more likely to catch the edge of the hole and the cord will not pass through. You also run the risk of fraying the end of the cord, which also makes the job much more difficult. If you do not have one already, put a daylight lamp on your Christmas list!

 

 

 

 

Advent Tips – Day 10

advent kumihimo

Don’t forget the cure!

If you have ever had the problem of glued endings falling off it is very likely that the problem was your technique and not the glue! It is very easy to blame the glue for the failure, but too often the manufacturer’s instructions are disregarded and the glue is not given a proper chance to work. The important point to take note of is the curing time required for the glue. Even when a glue seems to have set firm it still needs the curing time for the glue to form the best bond. If a piece is disturbed before the end of the curing time you risk compromising the bond between the braid and the end. It may still seem firm, but could fail later and this is a particular problem if you are making for gifts or even more if you are making for sale. Don’t take the risk. Check the curing time and once you have glued on the ends put them somewhere away from temptation, so that they do not get disturbed or ‘tested’.

The curing times vary considerably from glue to glue and can be up to 48 hours. They have been calculated by the manufacturer to ensure that the glue is given the correct time to become fully effective, so don’t guess – check!

Are you enjoying my advent tips? So far I have managed to find 10 handy tips. Keep reading every day to see if I make it to day 24!

Advent Tip – Day 9

Advent tip

Stitch it in!

It happens to everyone. You spend ages choosing your colours – you work hard to thread on hundreds of beads – you braid with mounting excitement – the braid is removed from the disk so that you can admire it properly and then to your horror you spot a missing bead! What can you do?

When a mistake is made and the braid is still on the disk it is easy to reverse the braiding moves to undo the braid and correct the mistake, but if the braid has been removed from the disk it is extrememly difficult to position the cords back on the disk in the correct slots to enable reverse braiding. My suggestion in this situation is to pick up a beading needle and thread and sew the bead onto the braid. All you need to do is sew through the braid several times to secure the thread in the braid. Give the thread a firm tug to be absolutely sure that it is fixed. Then sew the bead into position. The thread you use should be as close a match to the colour of the beading cord as possible and sew through the bead as many times as needed to match the width of the beading cord. Finish off by sewing through the braid several times. The tails of the thread can now be snipped off. To do this neatly, pull hard on the thread and trim it as close as possible to the beads. The thread end will retreat into the braid.

Now look again at your braid … perfect!

What if you wish to replace a bead? This is not so easy and I would only recommend it if you feel the braid is totally ruined unless you can change the bead and you are prepared to risk breaking your beading cord. The only way to remove a bead is to break the bead and the sharp edges of the broken bead can cut the cord, so beware! You are going to be handling broken glass, so protect your eyes and hands and make sure that you clear up every tiny slither of broken bead. There are two ways of breaking the bead. The first is to force an awl or the tip of round nose pliers into the bead hole until it cracks open. The second is to crunch down on the edge of the bead using flat or chain nose pliers. Once the bead has been broken be sure to remove every shard of glass from the braid, remembering that some may have been forced inwards. Then sew the correct bead into position as described above.

Advent Tip – Day 8

 

Advent kumihimo tip

Extend the life of your disk. Use a sharp knife to lengthen each slot on your disk. You only need to extend the slot by about 2mm. When you braid be sure to pull the cord into this new section for renewed tension. I only recommend this as an emergency measure because I have found that the new part of the slot is not as smooth as the factory cut slots, which may result in snagging of the cord. However, there are times when you need to get started on something straightaway and do not have time to send off for a new disk. This tip is perfect for those occasions!

Advent Tip – Day 7

advent kumihimo

This is my kumihimo tip for the 7th day of advent.

Don’t forget your stretches! All kumihimo braids will stretch to a greater or lesser degree, even if the cord used does not stretch at all. This is down to several factors, such as your tension, the texture of the cord and whether or not you have braided with beads. Traditional kumihimo favours very stiff braids with virtually zero stretch, but for jewellery making it is better to have braids which conform to the shape of the body, so a softer braid is preferred. However, stretch is not so good when it causes the size of a piece of jewellery to be altered permanently. When you make a braid give it a good stretch before you finish the ends and allow it time to relax back into shape. This is now its permanent length. The stretch can be done before or after the braid has been removed from the disk. If your braid is fully beaded there is likely to be very little stretch, if any at all, and this is because adding the beads has already caused the braid to stretch. If your tension is on the loose side the braid is likely to stretch considerably, while there will be less stretch if your tension is tight. Very springy cord or wire will produce a braid which is likely to stretch more, because pulling on the braid will close up the gaps caused by the resistance of the springy cord. Giving the braid this initial stretch allows much more accurate sizing of the braid and prevents the problem of a piece of jewellery stretching during use. Just get into the habit of doing that stretch and the problem is solved!

 

Advent Tips

In the run up to Christmas I thought it would be fun to offer a different tip each day as a sort of kumihimo advent calendar. I have been posting them each day in my Facebook group, Kumihimo by Prumihimo and Friends and I have decided to blog about the tips here as well. Here are the tips for days 1-6:

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 1

Use a new disk for beaded kumihimo. When you work with beads the cords need to be held firmly in the slots on the disk to maintain good tension. If you have used your disk for thicker cords, even just once, the slots will have been stretched and will not be able to grip the cords properly. Tight cords are always desireable for kumihimo, but they are particularly important for beaded kumihimo. It is much easier to keep the beads in position under a tight cord than it is under a loose cord. If just a single bead is allowed to jump over the cord in front the error will be very visible in the braid. You also find with loose cords that even if the beads stay in the correct position you end up with too much cord showing between the beads and the overall effect is likely to be uneven. The whole braid is also likely to feel too floppy. I wish that I had understood all of this when I first started kumihimo. Like most people I bought just one disk.  My first braids were made with S-Lon beading cord because I was trying something I had seen in a magazine. I loved the effect. Then I started experimenting with satin cord and various yarns. When I decided to return to beading cord and seed beads I was really disappointed and initially I could not understand why my braids were not as good as my earlier efforts. I was all ready to give up all together, but luckily I persevered and realised what was happening. The purchase of a new disk solved the problem and I knew I needed to reserve this new disk for thinner cords. Marking the disks avoids errors!

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 2

Stop Beads. Use a stop bead to keep the beads on your cords. Stop beads will be familiar for beadweavers, but may not be for braiders. For 0.5mm S-Lon you need size 6 seed beads, or any other bead with a large enough hole to fit two cords. Simply pass the cord through the bead twice in the same direction and tighten. Now the bead can be moved up and down the cord to release more cord as necessary. This tip is particularly useful for bracelet lengths of braid because it means that there is no need for bobbins. While bobbins are really useful for longer lengths of cord, they tend to bounce around and slow down the braiding process. Without bobbins and on shorter lengths of cord the braiding is super fast. If you are making a necklace or lariat using bobbins is a good idea, but a stop bead is still useful because bobbins can sometimes fall off the cord, allowing your beads to tumble to the floor! If you do not have suitable beads to use as stop beads, you can try using a slip knot, but it is not as secure.

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 3

Double up. If the slots on your disk are getting a bit loose or if you want extra tight tension, try braiding with two disks stacked on top of each other. You don’t need to glue them together because the cords will keep them in place. It makes a big difference, even if both of the disks are a bit worn. The effect is very much like using a double-thickness disk, so if you want really tight tension or you are using super-fine cords or threads, use 2 new regular thickness disks together.

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 4

Stiffen cord ends. Sometimes a needle can be used to thread beads onto cords, which makes the threading quick and easy. However, it is often not possible because the doubled cord plus the needle is just too wide to fit through the bead. In this case the easiest way to thread beads onto the cords is by stiffening the cord end, allowing it to harden and then cutting the end of the cord on the slant. By doing this you make your own integrated needle. You can use several different products to do this, such as superglue, clear nail varnish or fray prevention products. My preference is for the sort of superglue which is sold in a bottle with a brush. The reason I like this is that it is easy to apply and hardens very quickly. However, you do need to be very careful with superglue and make sure you follow all the manufacturer’s instructions. What ever product you use,  be sure to use it very sparingly. A common mistake is to apply too much product, with the result that the cord absorbs the product and swells, making threading  more difficult rather than easier! Remember to apply just a small amount on the last centimetre or two of cord and allow it to harden before you cut the end and use the cord. If you are threading lots of beads and the cord end starts to fray you can simply trim it on the slant again and continue.

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 5

Keep it level. Although we often talk about the top and the bottom of the disk, as in top down-bottom up, it is best to keep the disk as level or flat as possible when you braid. This will keep your tension even. The way to achieve even tension is for each cord to be moved with the same amount of force. If your disk is tilted the cords experience different levels of force. When you are braiding with Round Braid/Kongo Gumi the difference will not be significant, but with some other braid structures it will make a big difference and a tilted disk can result in lumpy or twisted braids. So it is good to get into good habits right from the start.

Advent kumihimo

Advent Tip – Day 6

Cord requirement. How much cord do you need to make a braid? The general guideline for how much cord is needed is for each cord to be 3 times the length of the braid required. For example, if you want an 8 cord braid measuring 20cm you need to allow 60cm for each cord, which is 4.80m in total. This is a very generous allowance for good reason. It is very difficult to add cord into a braid if you run out and the take up of cord varies according to many different factors. If you braid with thick and thin cords you will usually find that you need more of the thin cords than of the thick cords. If some of your cords are stiffer than others you will use up less of the stiff cords. Adding beads makes a big difference to the take up of cord, depending not only on the size of the bead, but also on the location of the hole on the bead. No mathmatical calculation can work this out for you, so you need to have allowed enough cord to meet any unexpected eventuality. Cord is cheap, but your time is precious!

I hope you have enjoyed these tips. For experienced braiders much of this will be very familiar, but these simple tips can make a big difference when you are starting out on the kumihimo journey.

So what tips are lined up for the rest of the advent period? I have to admit that I do not know! I make up my mind each day and I just have to hope that I will be able to come up with something new and useful right up to the 24th. Watch this space to see if I manage!!

 

Kits!

opulence kit collage

When I post photos of my work on social media I am often asked for kits, so that people can recreate my designs, without having to hunt around for the materials from different suppliers. Up to now I have not felt that this was something I wanted to get involved with, but in October I produced a few kits to dress up my table at the Big Bead Show. The response was fantastic and the kits sold out immediately. I even had to set up a waiting list for people who had been unable to get their hands on one! This made me rethink my reluctance to provide kits, especially as I often have to buy larger quantities than I need for individual designs. I did find that making up kits is fun, but it is also extremely time-consuming. My main interest lies in the design process, so I do not plan to get into large-scale kit production, but I think it would be popular if I offered limited runs of kits when I have spare materials. This will also give me the opportunity to work out which kits sell best, so that I will know what to make up for bead shows.

The first kit I produced for sale from this website was designed to be a companion to my second book, Kumihimo Endings. The book was included in the kit, which featured a cheerful beaded bracelet with a hand made cat button. There are 7 different variations of a button fastening in my book and the kit included the materials needed to complete the bracelet fastening in any one of these 7 ways. The kits sold out in less than a day! I hope to restock them when I have received a new delivery of cat buttons.

Today I have uploaded 3 new necklace kits. The design is Opulence and these were first sold at the Big Bead Show. It is a dramatic and intricate necklace made on the Prumihimo disk, with beads both incorporated during the braiding and also after braiding as an embellishment. I have uploaded three different colourways, gold, blue and purple and I hope to find the time to make up a couple of other colour options next week. I have just a limited quantity of each colour because the feature beads are an unusual top-drilled faceted glass bead and I am unlikely to be able to buy more.

I have decided to include a Prumihimo disk in each kit because you can really never have too many disks! They are so lightweight that including one does not increase the shipping charge.

In the future I will be offering more limited edition kits, based on the new designs I am working on at the time. I am sorry if people miss out on something they would really like, but there will definitely be other tempting kits coming along soon! For some I might just have one or two kits available, while I may have more of some others.

Opulence Necklace kit – Gold

Opulence Necklace kit – Purple

Opulence Necklace kit – Blue

Prumihimo kit - opulence

 

 

 

New Tutorials and Free Shipping Offer

Candy cuff collage

Desdemona collage

International shipping can be very expensive, so I have put together a limited offer for free shipping for my new book when my two newest tutorials are purchased.

My second book is Kumihimo Endings – the finishing touch for every braid and I wrote it in response to the frequent laments over the years of how difficult people find the finishing process for kumihimo. Many people confess to having drawers full of unfinished braids because they love to braid, but hate to finish off the ends! My aim was to produce a concise handbook which would not only explain the basic finishing methods for beginners, but would also give inspiration to more experienced braiders. I also wanted to free braiders up from the need to buy specific findings by giving creative alternative options. The format is bright and fun and the size is convenient and portable. I have been delighted by the response to this book and by the wonderful comments made by customers.

The book is specifically about how to finish off kumihimo and I had so many techniques and tricks I wanted to share that there was simply no room for instructions on how to make the designs. For this reason I kept most of the braids fairly simple and the majority of images show things which can be made from my YouTube videos or the free tutorials on this website. However, here and there I needed to add something a little more complex to illustrate the effect of a particular technique. For these designs I am writing tutorials because they require more explanation and photos. These two tutorials make a great pair because they both involve post-braiding embellishment, but in different ways, so they are a wonderful way to extend your skills and open up new design possibilities.

The first tutorial is Candy Cuff, which is a double bracelet made of two Prumihimo braids joined with 2-hole beads and featuring Candy Beads, which are a small round cabochon-shaped bead. You will see this bracelet on the back cover and on page 27 in the chapter on Glued Endings. The braid is made with satin cord, which can vary considerably in width. This has an impact on the spacing of the beads, so three alternative layouts are provided to ensure success.

The second tutorial is Desdemona, which is a narrow cuff-style bracelet, embellished on both sides. You will see this bracelet on pages 37 and 70, so you can see it both in the open and closed positions. Again, this bracelet is made with satin cord, so the instructions explain how you can adapt the bracelet for any width of cord. This is the third tutorial in my Prumistitch series of tutorials, where I teach how to embellish a single Prumihimo braid.

As I am launching these two tutorials as the same time I thought it would be helpful to offer to send the book with free shipping when both of the tutorials are purchased. This is probably a limited offer for just a couple of weeks, but if it is popular I may extend it.

If you are interested in the free shipping offer or in either of the tutorials please click on the relevant link –

Candy Cuff Tutorial

Desdemona Tutorial

Both tutorials and book with free shipping

The Prumihimo disk is my own invention and it is required for both tutorials. It is available here.

Kumihimo Endings – The finishing touch for every braid

kumihimo endings

kumihimo endings

It is with great excitement that I am able to announce that my second book has been printed, delivered and is now available to buy from my website!

Over the last few weeks I have been dropping lots of hints about my book and I think many people expect it to be about my Prumihimo disk. I do indeed have plenty of material for a second Prumihimo disk book and I hope I will be able to produce it in the future, but this book is the one I have been wanting to write for many years in response to what I see as a real gap in the market and something that people have been wanting and needing.

Kumihimo Endings – The finishing touch to every braid is a book which is intended to demystify the ending process and give braiders confidence and creative ideas to tackle their least favourite part of braiding … the ending! Too many braiders have drawers full of unfinished braids and this book is intended to address this problem. With 6 chapters of ending methods and a comprehensive section outlining the key techniques required to finish off braids effectively and securely I am confident that this little book will give solutions and confidence to every braider, regardless of their level of experience. I have put together the methods I turn to time and time again and added in all the secrets of sucess I have learned over nearly a decade of braiding.

The book is the perfect partner to my first book, in shape, size and format, making it a compact and consise companion, easy to fit in your workbag and crammed full of information. With this book you will have the solution to every ending problem and will be able to take on any braid with confidence, knowing that you will be able to finish it off in a secure and attractive manner.

It is now available in the shop on this website for only £11.99. In addition I am throwing in a PDF tutorial as a way of offsetting the shipping charges to international destinations. All the packaging and organisation of the shipping is done by me to ensure that the lowest possible shipping costs are charged.

My next blog will tell you more about how the book came about and the process involved in getting a book from the concept to a hard copy. In the meantime please follow this link to find this fabulous new book.

Kumihimo Endings – The finishing touch for every braid

2 book and disk package

This is the blurp on the back cover.

Kumihimo Endings back cover

 

 

Happy 5th Birthday!

prumihimo tutorials

Prumihimo tutorials

Happy 5th Birthday to this website!

Five years ago this website went live and this was the result of several months of hard work and planning. I had already been enjoying kumihimo braiding for 3-4 years and my work had been published in 3 different jewellery magazines, so I was already reasonably experienced as a tutorial writer. It seemed a logical next step to start to write tutorials to sell myself. Etsy would have been a possiblilty, but I wanted to have the opportunity to offer more than just a sales platform. Kumihimo has given me a great amount of pleasure over the years and I have been lucky enough to be able to devote a lot of time to it, enabling me to develop new ideas and techniques. I wanted to be able to share my way of doing things and pass on the little tricks and tips which can make such a difference.

In the months prior to the launch I worked on instructions for all the most popular kumihimo braids on the round disk and produced easy to follow instructions with photos. I also wrote up instructions for basic jewellery making techniques and knots. I wrote 3 tutorials specially for the launch.  My tutorials are always completely original designs with a level of complexity which requires either very detailed instructions or a specific threading chart. A tutorial takes a great deal of hard work, experimentation, photography and materials to bring to fruition, so I feel it is fair to charge for them. However, there are other designs or techniques which can be explained in a few sentences, so these are what I offer as free mini tutorials and it has always been important to me that people can visit this site and enjoy its content without feeling that they have to spend money. To round off the launch information I wrote a short history of kumihimo and provided a biography of myself, my published work and a gallery of my designs.

Over the last 5 years the website has evolved as I regularly add content. I write a blog every couple of weeks and although I haven’t tried to count them, I would guess that there are in excess of 150 blogs covering a multitude of kumihimo related subjects and announcements. The Pru in Print section has swelled as I found myself being asked to write for more and more magazines. I have now written tutorials for 6 different publications in the UK, Australia and the US. That section needs an update because quite a few are missing! The Resources section has grown considerably with the addition of further braid structure instructions, a large resource for braiding on the square plate, some new ending methods and further free mini tutorials.

A whole new tab had to be set up when I started working for Jewellery Maker because I wanted to share the designs I made for the show more widely. Two and a half years of appearances on television generated a wealth of unique designs. The company at that time was a gemstone supplier, so I was given the opportunity to work with some stunning stones and had to work out some innovative ways of using them. In this section I provide links to the recordings of the shows, so the demonstrations can be viewed for some of the designs, to support the written instructions and photos.

When I set up the website I had no idea of what the future might hold and the Prumihimo disk was just an ambitious dream at that stage. When my dream came true a new tab had to be raised! Under the Prumihimo disk tab I provide general information about the disk, including instructions for two designs and a popular FAQ page.  Here you can also find links to the pages of other designers who have worked with me to produce kits.

I have a tab for workshops, but I have to admit that I am a bit slow to keep it updated. Note to self – must do better! I  teach in workshops in some lovely shops, Stitchncraft, Spoilt Rotten Beads and Riverside Beads and I also teach at the Big Bead Show twice a year.

My catalogue of tutorials has grown from the original 3 to a current total of 35. This continues to grow because my great passion is designing and I have always enjoyed writing tutorials. Sometimes an idea comes to me and works out straight away. One design took just a single week from conception to publication and was an instant best seller. Others take much, much longer because the original idea does not quite work out as I want it to, so I need to keep working on it to refine it until I am satisfied.

YouTube has been an exciting new project for me. In January 2017 I started uploading regular videos to my YouTube channel and I wanted tobe able to provide additional information about these videos on my website. Under the YouTube tab you will find a page for every video containing information, such as the details of the quantities required, or the disk set up, as well as photos. If I receive messages requesting something I post it on the relevant page because it is not practical to make changes to a video once it has been published.

So what is next? I will need to set up a new tab in the next month or so because of an exciting new development, but I am afraid that I am not going to say any more at this stage!

In the meantime, please  enjoy the content of this website. If you browse the different tabs you are sure to come across something unexpected and informative!