This is where you can find the answers to the most common questions. I will keep adding to this section as new issues arise. Feel free to contact me if there is something you need to know.
Why is my braid twisting?
The braid made on the Prumihimo disk is a straight structure, not a spiral structure, so in theory it should not twist at all. However, when you first start to use the disk you may find that your braid does not lie flat. There are several reasons for this and there is an easy way to correct the twist.
First of all, what sort of twist do you have in the braid? Is it a gentle curve or is it more of a kink? A kink indicates that an error has been made in the braiding. The most common error is not completing the third move. This error can be difficult to spot on the surface of the braid, but it changes the internal structure, causing a kink. It can be permanently corrected by steaming. See below how to do this. Omitting all three moves at one number is another common mistake which will cause twisting.
If the curve is more gentle it is likely to be a tension issue. The perfect braid is formed when every cord move is performed with equal strength. When you are first learning a braid you are having to concentrate on the moves and this can lead to uneven pulling on the cords. The solution is lots of practise, so that the moves become second nature to you start to braid in an even, flowing rhythm. However, in the meantime, any braids which are not as flat as they should be can be corrected by steaming, as explained below.
If you have practised the braid structure thoroughly and are still having problems with twisting you may need to think about the following issues, which will all affect the reguality of your braiding and can lead to twisting.
- Stopping and starting. Every time you put your disk down to do something else the cords will relax slightly and the braid will be affected. This is more likely to be noticeable for people who braid with a very tight tension. Try whenever possible to braid in one sitting
- Mood. Your mood affects the way you braid and you are more likely to braid more tightly when you are tense and braid more loosely when you are feeling relaxed. Changes in tension will cause twisting.
- Irregular bead shapes. As the beads are braided they pull on the braid. If all the beads are very regular this is not an issue, but if you are using beads of different sizes and shapes they will distort the braid, leading to twisting.
- Beads on 4 sides of the braid. When you add beads on all 4 sides of the braid you are likely to get a gentle curve on the braid because it is being pulled out of shape in so many directions. Luckily this is not ususally visible because the effect is masked by the beads.
The important thing to recognise is that your braiding will improve the more you practise, so don’t let twisting put you off.
How do I steam my braid?
Steaming a braid is a traditional way of improving the appearance of any braid and it can be done in a number of ways. Don’t forget that steam can cause serious burns, so make sure you protect your hands and take all sensible precautions to protect yourself and the working surfaces. I usually recommend using a steam iron. Use the steam button and give the braid several blasts of steam. Flatten the braid, giving it a bit of a stretch at the same time and leave it to cool under something heavy. This is usually enough to do the trick, but if not you can go one stage further and use the iron on the braid. However, remember that satin cord, rattail, S-Lon, C-Lon, knotting cord and most of the commonly used cords are made of synthetic fibres and they will melt or be scorched by excessive heat. Plastic and other synthetic beads may also melt. Good quality glass beads should be able to tolerate heat, but any flaws in the bead could cause them to crack if overheated. Therefore, protect the braid with several layers of cloth and start the iron at a low heat. Flatten the braid and gently iron it, check and increase the heat slightly if necessary.
How do I stop my braid slipping in the hole?
As with all disk braiding, it is necessary to keep the cords tight across the face of the disk and to keep the braid in the centre of the hole, level with the upper surface of the disk. This will ensure you can achieve good tension. However, the braid will sometimes move around and you may need to adjust the cords to keep the braid in the perfect position. This is likely to be an issue when your disk is either very new or has been very well used.
When the disk is new the slots are very tight and you will need to use a bit of pressure to get the thicker cords into the slots. This can have the effect of pulling on the thiner cords and dragging the braid across the hole. In this case, just keep working your disk and the slots will ease slightly to be the perfect size for the cords.
You should only use the slots at numbers 1 and 2 for the thicker cords and reserve the slots at numbers 3 and 4 for the thinner cords. This will allow the slots to grip the thinner cords and prevent them getting stretched. However, over time the disk will become looser and it may be time to buy a new disk for use with fine cords. Now you can use the old disk to experiment with thicker cords and yarns. A disk is never too 0ld to use and it is great fun to play with ribbon and chain, knowing that you have a brand new disk kept safe for your finer work.
You can also try using two disks stacked together to get extra tension for fine cords. There is no need to stick the disks together because the cords will keep them lined up.
Why is my braid knobbly and irregular?
This can happen if you do not keep the cords tight. Make sure that when you perform the moves the cords cross the point of braiding right in the middle of the V formed by the cords on either side. Sometimes people are concentrating so hard on which cord to move that they are not keeping an eye on the braid as it forms in the middle of the hole. Each move must look neat, tight and clean. If you allow the thin cords to cross the braid to one side of the V you will end up with a knobbly, irregular braid.
Can I use any shape or size of bead?
The easiest beads to use are small to medium in size, round or top-drilled and regular, but once you have learnt how to add beads you can play with all sorts of shapes and sizes. Here are a few suggestions, but the best thing is to play with your own ideas to find out what works. The Prumihimo disk is still a very new invention, so there are so many possiblilities stll to explore!
Round seed beads, sizes 6-8 are the easiest to use
Any long, thin beads with the hole at one end work very effectively
Round beads, including gemstones, 3-6mm are great, but remember that the larger the bead, the more the cord will be visible. If the beads sit crooked, with the hole not parallel to the braid they can be gently levelled up after braiding by sliding a needle into the hole and using it as a lever.
Two-hole beads can be used to add embellishment or to join 2 braids
Do I have to use 2 widths of cord?
The reason I recommend the use of thick cord at positions 1 and 2 with thin cord at positions 3 and 4 is because you need thin cord to carry most beads and the thicker cord gives the structure to the middle of the design and makes the braid faster to make up. I recommend sticking to this when you first use your disk. If you want to explore further I recommend getting a second disk which you can use for either thicker or thinner cords all round. You can make some very pretty and delicate designs using just S-Lon 0.5mm in all 8 slots. Alternatively you can play with unbeaded designs with all sorts of fancy yarns or ribbons in all 8 slots. Some beads, such as Miyuki cubes have very generous holes and you can get 1mm cords through them.
If you decide to have several disks for different uses, I recommend writing the cord widths used on the disk to avoid mistakes.
Is the arrow pointing in the wrong direction?!
The wording of the instructions is ‘follow the arrow’. This means go straight from number 1 to number 2 in the direction of the arrow. The arrow does not indicate the direction in which the disk itself should be turned. When I designed the disk I tried both ways and I found that the majority of people preferred the ‘follow the arrow’ method, including me, so that is what I went with. If you find this confusing you can use a marker pen to change the arrow, but once you have got into the rhythm of braiding you will find it is instinctive and that you are not looking at the markings.
Can I turn the disk in the other direction?
You do need to follow the numbers from 1 – 4 in order because the moves at each number are different. If you find it uncomfortable to turn the disk as directed you could consider turning the disk over and marking the disk up in a mirror image of the front so that you can turn clockwise.
Can the disk be used to make any other braids?
The Prumihimo disk was specifically designed to make this one braid structure because it is so useful for jewellery making, but it is not the only braid you can make on the disk. If you use cords in just the top and bottom slots at numbers 1 and 2 you can make the 4 cord braid. Instructions can be found by clicking here. If you find it confusing to have the extra numbers you could consider marking up the reverse side of the disk for this braid. You can also make a 6 cord braid by omitting the cords at number 4.
Why would two or more disks be needed?
You can manage perfectly well with one disk as long as you heed the warnings about only using finer cords in the slots at numbers 3 and 4. However, you may want to experiment with different effects or have several braids on the go at the same time and extra disks would be useful. Eventually, as with any sort of foam disks, the slots will loosen, so it will be necessary to have a new disk to achieve tight tension.
Is it necessary to turn the disk to work each position?
It is recommended that the disk is turned after the 3 moves at each position, so that when the cords are moved the relevant number is at the top. This ensures that the cords are moved with equal pressure. Moving the cords across the disk from side to side instead of from top to bottom is likely to cause uneven tension and twisting.
Can the Kumihimo Handle be used with the Prumihimo disk?
Yes it can. I have ensured that the hole is the correct size to fit the handle.
Can both hands be used to perform the moves?
If you find it more comfortable to use one hand to perform the downward move and the other to perform the upward move it is fine to do so. Whichever way you prefer to braid, it is wise to take frequent breaks to rest your hands.