My second kumihimo bracelet

I decided to make a second kumihimo bracelet with blue and silver beads. Many years ago I would have preferred this color combination over the other one, but my tastes have evolved. I now think having them both be silver-lined makes the colors blend together in one shiny mess.

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Then I found other kumihimo patterns and decided to try the wider spiral. I think it works better with these colors because they are farther apart so there is more contrast. This bracelet looks better from a distance.

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This time I used a disk template from CraftDesignOnline.com and glued it onto a cardboard circle. Having evenly spaced slots made it easier to work with.

I cut each string to 15″. I don’t remember if I put 36 beads on each strand. I ended up using all but the last ones. The beaded portion of the braid is 5 3/8″ long, but the entire braid is 6″ long including the end caps. (This information probably isn’t useful to you unless you also have 5.5″ wrists.)

I have a correction to state about the desired length of the bracelet. The length of the bracelet alone does not determine its size. The width also matters. To illustrate, if you had two identical lengths of string and strung large beads on one and small beads on the other, the one with the larger beads would result in a smaller bracelet than the one with the small beads. That’s because the “inner circumference” of the bracelet determines the size. Since the larger beads take up more space than the smaller ones, they reduce the inner circumference of the bracelet. Here’s a diagram that I painstakingly made, to show this. Pay attention to the purple dashed line.

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From this, we know that having a 7 inch long braid does not guarantee it’ll fit a 7-inch wrist, because the width of one of these kumihimo braids with beads is 7.5 mm.

After my first experience with gluing the end caps on, I knew to cut off more of the cord so that it will all be hidden inside the end caps. I did a better job this time.

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I had actually made this bracelet about a year ago, and had this draft saved for months before finally posting it now. I have since made more elaborate kumihimo, which I will show in posts to come.

Flowering Vine Bracelet

The idea for this bracelet came from this tutorial by Beadifulnights. As you can tell, I did mine a bit differently. The most obvious difference is that I made my vine and leaves the same color. The reason was that I still have a lot of those cheap green seed beads left over from another project, so I wanted to use as many as I could. This is a project where it doesn’t matter if the size and shape of the seed beads are uniform. In fact, I actually used the different sizes to my advantage.

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I also shaped my leaves differently and modified the spacing of the flowers. I like how it turned out.
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Giving Kumihimo a try

I first learned about kumihimo from a book on making jewelry. It looked confusing, so I didn’t think about it again until I was looking for portable crafts. At the time, it didn’t seem that portable, with all the strings and bobbins, so I didn’t think about it again until recently.

One morning last December I woke up with a desire to make my own kumihimo disk out of cardboard. It wasn’t my idea. Several months earlier I had seen a tutorial for making a braiding disc out of cardboard on Homemade Gifts Made Easy. I made the braiding disc according to the tutorial, and gave it a try with some Chinese knotting cord. It was fairly quick and easy. Then I wondered if I could do kumihimo with that, and found some video tutorials. The disk used was more complicated, as were the braiding patterns, so I made my own 32-notch disk out of cardboard.

I read here that kumihimo isn’t traditionally done with beads, but I’ve been wondering if it’s a faster way to make a spiral bracelet than beadweaving. This video by Beadaholique shows how to make a kumihimo spiral bracelet with beads. It’s very clear, which is how I was able to follow along with supplies that I already had.

I happened to have a spool of green S-lon that I had bought for a commissioned repair job. It’s not a color that I would normally use, but since I didn’t have any other use for it, I decided to try it for kumihimo. That’s why the color of the string doesn’t quite work with the beads, but it’s a test, so it’s okay. In case you were wondering, the beads are both 8/0 TOHO in antique bronze and gilt-lined aqua opal.

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Seeing how much extra string and beads she had leftover in the video, I decided to go by the tip of 3 inches of string makes 1 inch of braid, and give myself extra for the beads. Since I have a 6 inch wrist, I would only need a 5 inch braid, because clasps usually add 1 inch. I cut each string at 2 ft, and only strung on 40 beads per string. The length was manageable so I didn’t need bobbins. I simply looped the string through the last bead again, like a stopper bead.

The cardboard disk actually works, though I’m sure a machine-made foam disk would work better. I might buy one if I get more serious about kumihimo. I basically eyeballed the spacing for the 32 slits, which is why they’re not even. For that reason, I need to be careful to keep the beads under the string when the spaces are smaller. Edit: Since writing this post I’ve found Friendship-Bracelets.net has a printable kumihimo disk template.

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When I finished, I measured the lengths of the remaining strings. They were about 13 inches each, which meant I used about 11 inches for my 6.25 inch bracelet. I think approximately 15 inches would be enough for me next time. (I’m giving myself 3 extra inches for holding the strings in the disk.) I used 36 beads from each string to make the beaded part 55/8 inches long. It looks like it takes 12 or 13 (size 8/0) beads on each string to make 1 inch. Keep in mind, the numbers I’m giving here pertain to one string, so multiply them by 8 to get the totals. Or, if you don’t like doing math, just give yourself a ton of string and beads. I like to be precise to minimize waste of materials (and the time it takes to string on extra beads).

I was able to find simple cylindrical end caps with loops for finishing the ends. (For this particular bracelet, I used the 4mm antique brass ones.) I wrapped the ends with tape as shown in the video, but I had no idea how short the end caps were, so I had to trim the ends some more so that they’ll fit. In the process of fitting it, the tape came off and the braid started to unravel. I quickly coated the ends in E-6000 and pinched the strings together, and stuffed them into the end caps. Some of the green string still shows. Oh well.

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Since I didn’t have any antique brass jump rings, and the only brown wire that I had was 22 gauge vintage bronze, I decided to try making my own split rings. Even though I gently hammered them to work harden the wire, I might replace them with real jump rings in the future. The clasp is very beautiful, but it adds 5/8 of an inch to the bracelet, making it 7.5 inches. I might switch it out for a smaller clasp, and save this one for another bracelet that is done nicer.

Edit: I just bought some 20 gauge antique brass wire, so I made jump rings and switched the clasp for a smaller, simpler one. It really changes the look of the bracelet. Before, the flower clasp was drawing attention away from the braid, but now the beads are the main focus.

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The smaller clasp only reduced the size of the bracelet by 0.25 inches, though. Now that I know the length of the end caps and jump rings are 0.75 inches, I will subtract that from my desired length to determine how long the braided portion should be.

I read that S-lon and C-lon are basically the same thing, so I bought some aqua C-lon (because it cost less than S-lon) for future projects.

Josephine knot bracelet–Which do you prefer?

I got the idea to make a Josephine knot bracelet using SilverSilk knitted wire. I’m not sure which way to orient the knot. I like it one way, but my boyfriend likes it the other, which is why I’d like to get input from other people.

In the following images I tried my best to simulate what the completed bracelet would look like. However, I did not fix the ends and am hiding them under my arm and hand, so the knot will appear looser and messier than it would if the ends were affixed.

Here is the vertical orientation.
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This is the horizontal orientation. The knot got kind of loose and messy because I had a hard time holding the ends down.
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Here they are, side by side, for easier comparison.
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Which one do you prefer: vertical or horizontal?

Modified Caterpillar Bracelet

Last December I found a pattern for a Beaded Elastic Caterpillar Bracelet on 3dbeading.com that I wanted to try. A few months later I couldn’t find the site again, but was able to find the Wayback Machine archive of it. The embellishments over the larger beads reminded me of the Hugs and Kisses Beaded Bracelet by Beadifulnights on YouTube.

Since I didn’t have all the beads that the pattern called for, I needed to modify the design so that it would work with the beads that I have. When I first saw the bracelet, I immediately knew I wanted to use the 8mm blue fiber optic (a.k.a. cat’s eye) beads that I had. I feel strange about using plastic pearls with glass beads—I definitely wouldn’t combine them with Swarovski crystal—but how else could you get consistently shaped 2mm or 3mm pearls? Since I was modifying the pattern, I did a short test segment to see if the beads would fit together snugly. To my surprise, the plastic pearls actually looked quite nice when strung in the design.

P1120502cqSince I didn’t want to use plastic pearls at first, I thought I didn’t have any 3mm round beads in a color that would match the rest of the bracelet. I found some 3mm clear fire-polished beads that someone had given me years ago. I tested them to see where they would fit best. That’s why instead of having two 3mm pearls along the edges between the 8mm beads, I have a 3mm fire-polished bead flanked by two size 11 seed beads.

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I was concerned that the lack of additional colors would make the bracelet look boring, but I’d say it’s elegant.

I tested other bead combinations, too. I wanted to see if a 4mm bicone crystal would work. That way, there’ll be some of the aqua color that I love. Unfortunately, the size and shape made it not fit right. I’m sure I could have eventually gotten it to work with different sized beads, but didn’t feel like experimenting more.

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When using 4mm bicones, the “hugs and kisses” didn’t fit snugly against the 8mm beads. Notice the gaps.

The original pattern called for elastic, but I don’t like using elastic cord for two reasons. One is it’s hard to tie small knots that will stay put. The material is slippery and the knots will come undone on their own. Although a surgeon’s knot will stay together, it’s bigger and bulkier than I would like for this bracelet. The second reason is that over time, elastic cord will weaken and break. Instead, I used transite thread because it’s clear. (From what I’ve read, transite a.k.a. monofilament, will eventually weaken and break over time as well, but not as quickly as elastic.) I preferred to assemble the bracelet by going back and forth along the whole length of it three times, like the method shown in Beadifulnight’s video.

Since I was foregoing the elastic, I would need to use a clasp and was left on my own to figure out how to make a loop to attach the clasp to. At first, I didn’t want to put a fake pearl in the loop because I was concerned the finish would chip off over time—the clasp area is subject to a lot of wear, with jump rings constantly moving around. However, I discovered that having a size 11 seed bead instead of a 2mm pearl made the six other beads not fit well along the 8mm bead at the end, so I had to take it apart and start over.

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Not only was the spacing too tight but the loop liked to fold backwards, so I had to redo it with a larger bead.

I originally used a toggle clasp since I thought it looked nicer with this style of bracelet, but that made it a bit challenging to put on and take off, so I replaced it with a magnetic clasp. I’ve noticed the rest of the bracelet weighs more than the clasp, so it likes to rotate so that the clasp faces up while I’m wearing it. It’s not a big deal to me, but I don’t know if other people will care.

P1120496abcqIt took me about five hours in all to complete this, not including the time spent testing possible beads. I think I could get my next one done in two hours if everything goes smoothly. One disadvantage of assembling it the whole length across as opposed to in repeating units is that it’ll take more work to modify the sizing. Adding the 2mm pearl in between the beads along the edges made the bracelet longer than it had been right after I added the last 8mm bead, so I had to go back and remove it. (I know some people wouldn’t care, but I’m sick of wearing bracelets that end up halfway up my forearm and threaten to slip off my hand.) I probably spent a whole hour tying knots because I had a hard time getting the thread to fit a third time through the beads. If I were to ever make this again, I would use FireLine because it’s thinner than 8lb transite.

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Here’s how it looks on my 6 inch wrist. Not so good against my swim tan. (No, I am not skinny. I just have small wrists and bony hands. My thighs are a different story…. 😛 )

I wrote more this time, including a few of the challenges that I faced throughout this project, in hopes that people who don’t make jewelry will get a better understanding of the process (and quit telling me “it doesn’t have to be perfect”).

Experimenting with Viking Knit

I didn’t become interested in viking knit until I started the woven wire bezels class. After the instructor mentioned that she hangs her pendants from viking knit chains, I decided I needed to learn how to make it.

There are a bunch of free viking knit tutorials online. I found this video by JewelrySupply.com to be very informative, as she goes through all the steps. However, the setup was more complicated than necessary. I didn’t need most of that stuff. Instead, I used a never-sharpened pencil, and held it in my left hand, along with the weaving, as I worked. I’ve also used the end of a crochet hook, as they come in different diameters.

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Single viking knit woven on the end of a 5 mm crochet hook. This one was made with 28 gauge wire. It’s easy to get poked by the ends of the wire, so I wrap my fingers with medical tape when I do this.

I had a whole spool of 24 gauge wire that I never used, and was glad to finally make use of it.

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Viking knit necklace. Even though the colors look different, the 24 and 20 gauge wires are both Artistic Wire in Peacock Blue.

I don’t own a draw plate, because I read reviews of both wooden and plastic draw plates that said that the coating on the wire will come off. I simply stretched my weave with my hands. (I would recommend wearing gloves or wrapping your fingers with medical tape when doing that.) I know that the result doesn’t look as even as it would have, had I used a draw plate, but I didn’t want to risk scraping the color off the wire. If you’re reading this and have used a draw plate with colored wire, such as Artistic Wire, please let me know what kind of draw plate you were using and if the color on the wire came off.

I made my own end caps using this method found on gailnettles.com.

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After I completed this necklace, I looked online for more ways to finish Viking knit. I came across this necklace that inspired me to use multiple colors. (It looks like it was double or even triple knit.) As a test, I made this bracelet from different colored pieces of 26 gauge wire. For fun, I decided to make the end caps different colored as well.

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I love colorful things!

I am currently working on a project in which I am using thinner wires to create a chain. It’s extremely time consuming. More on that some other day.

Recently I learned about SilverSilk, which is a machine-woven wire chain. It looks so similar to viking knit and the price is reasonable that it made me wonder why am I’m even spending time weaving wire? It would take me 3 hours to produce a length that I could buy for $3. I decided to order some, to see how well it’ll work for the pendants. So far, my impression is favorable; it’s flexible, won’t stretch, and can hold the weight of the pendant. I’d much rather use it than weave my own chain. I suppose I’d only weave my own chain if it’s required to be handmade.

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My pendant with the woven wire bezel on a 3mm SilverSilk chain.

Exploring macrame jewelry

A few months ago I started venturing into the world of micro macramé. I was looking for a portable craft to do at sporting events during timeouts, and someone mentioned macramé in a comment. Curious as to what macramé is, I Googled it, and came across this helpful site. As I was looking at the various knot tutorials, I was surprised to learn that some of the crafts that I have done in the past, such as hemp bracelets, friendship bracelets and lanyards, actually utilized macramé knots. So I had been doing micro macramé for years without even realizing it was macramé! Since I’ve never anchored the ends of the strings down or used pins, I am able to take my projects with me wherever I go. (This was because I had to quickly hide my friendship bracelet activity from my mom, or else she’ll scold me for wasting time.) I simply fold up the strings and they don’t get tangled. (Even if they did, I’m really good at untangling, so it’s not a problem for me.)

I don’t have any interest in making large projects, such as pot hangers. Instead, I’ve been studying how to use macramé to make jewelry. The site MacrameSchool.com has clear and concise video tutorials for many styles of macramé jewelry. She goes quite quickly, though, so I needed to pause and replay many times.

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My first attempt at the Double Wave Bracelet, using Chinese knotting cord.

Since I already have a spool of hemp cord from many years ago, I’ve been using it to make jewelry. However, I’m wondering if hemp looks cheap. After all, it is a natural fiber, so it is biodegradable and probably won’t last as long as something made out of metal. Also, it’s associated with hippies. (I don’t have a problem with hippies, but some people do.) I think hemp doesn’t look so bad when it’s used with beads or even metal findings. I have seen some dyed hemp that looks nice.

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Modified “fish bone” knot bracelet using hemp cord and glass beads.

I am thinking of getting some waxed cotton or polyester cord since it might look a little classier than hemp. At least it won’t feel as rough or scratchy. I am thinking of buying cord online, but sellers carry either a wide assortment of colors in shorter lengths, or fewer colors in 100 meter spools. Perhaps I should first take a look at waxed cotton and polyester cords in a store before buying larger quantities online since I have not used them before.

Things have changed since I had written a draft of this post last November, so this is the update. I bought a pack of five colors of cotton braiding cord. After trying the cotton cord, I like it better than hemp. It looks nice and clean, and feels smooth. The knots also stay in place and don’t slide. My only concern is how durable the cotton is, since it is a natural fiber. I might try polyester or nylon if I come across it.

Bracelet made from waxed cotton cord & size 8/0 seed beads

Bracelet made from waxed cotton cord. The knots stay in place on their own. I used beads primarily to keep the spacing even.

I’ve also experimented with Chinese knotting cord and like it. The knots hold pretty well, and if I have to undo my work for any reason, the kinks will straighten out on their own. Since the cord is synthetic material, the ends can be melted with the heat of a flame, to prevent fraying.

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These were made during flights across the country. 🙂

Seeing some of the designs on this site has renewed my interest in friendship bracelets. Until now, the last time I intentionally made one was probably when I was in 8th grade. I still had a lot of embroidery floss at my parents’ house, so I retrieved it  the last time I visited. I watched some of the video tutorials on that site, and seeing how the patterns are done might lead me to develop my own designs once I understand how it works. friendship bracelets (In my opinion, the friendship bracelet loom-thing is unnecessary, unless you have a problem with your strings getting tangled. I find that going by absolute references for each string will make the learner dependent on following the instructions step-by-step. Instead, I prefer using the colors and relative positions of the strings as references. When I think of it that way, it’s easier to understand the procedure and I can pick it up faster. Perhaps absolute references are necessary when giving instructions.)

In your opinion, does hemp look cheap? Is there a type of cord that you prefer for your jewelry?