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!