Sunday, July 30, 2017

Kumihimo Bracelet with PIP Bead - Compare Kumihimo with Bead Weaving and Bead Crochet Techniques

Kumihimo compared with other Beading Weaving Techiniqes and Bead Crochet

When you look at these pieces, they simply look like beaded bracelets. Which actual technique was used to make them is not so obvious nor important when you wear them. They could have been made using a bead weaving technique, tubular bead crochet, or a fiber technique known as kumihimo taken over by beaders and fiber artist who like beads. Kumi means braided, Himo, cord in Japanese. The braiding technique using tools such as wood stand (Maru Dai) or a disk or board was developed tin Japan. With beads, kumihimo is now known as Bead Kumihimo or Beaded Kumihimo. 

What's the difference between these techniques? The process.

Kumihimo compared with other Beading Weaving Techiniqes and Bead Crochet

Bead Weaving requires multiple passes through the beads and working with a needle. Each bead is stitching one at a time to the finished piece. The thread takes multiple pass through the bead, plus it has to fit into a needle, so it needs to be thin. Thin also means not as strong... but, hey, this technique has many fans. 

Interested in bead weaving techniques and thread? If so start HERE. The links takes you to a series of posts on Peyote Stitch, one of the most popular beading technique and a good place to start. 

Kumihimo compared with other Beading Weaving Techiniqes and Bead Crochet

Tubular Bead Crochet requires a crochet hook and good eyes. Catching the thread in the middle of the beads can be annoying after a while, but the work is highly portable, once the beads are loaded onto ONE cord, the crochet process begins.

Interested in Tubular Bead Crochet? If so, get this tool and tutorial. I would never have been able to get over the start of the crochet tube without them.  

Kumihimo compared with other Beading Weaving Techiniqes and Bead Crochet

Bead Kumihimo requires a few tools, but $12 will get you everything you need in a nice bag so you can take your project around. The beads get loaded up to 8 cords. Self needles or needles can be used to this process. The braiding process is easy to learn, it requires moving the cord from one place to another. And if you doing bead kumihimo dropping a bead at the same time. Period.

Basic 8 Stand Round Braid Kumihimo with or without beads does not require amazing skills. Anybody can learn. I do it watching TV, listening to conversations, and while doing demos and explaining the process. 

Oh, one more comparison, the cord size for Tubular Bead Crochet and Kumihimo is usually the same, thick enough to hold well, and thin enough for the beads to slide down easily. 

For more info on these bracelets - go to my previous post or go to Kumihimo Bracelets with Pip Bead Kits.

Leave comments if you have any questions! - Marion

Kumihimo with PIP Beads

Kumihimo with PIP Beads

I bought some Preciosa PIP Beads a while ago... and thought they would be perfect for kumihimo. I decided to play around with them and to do a quick project... Many bracelets later, I have now 4 design variations, a 25 page manual with all the steps, the beads sequences for each variation, the bracelet length versus wrist size, and bead numbers charts, all broken down in easy to follow steps with over 50 clear and easy to understand pictures and charts. 

How did this happen?

Kumihimo with PIP Beads

While working on this project, I fell in love with the PIP beads. They are shaped like small petals and perfectly suited for kumihimo. They lend themselves to flower designs and to dimensional geometrical designs. 

Here is what I learned along the way... 

Kumihimo Bracelet Tutorial with PIP Beads

PIPS  All Around - Design 1

My first design, very dimensional, sculptural and geometrical, has a simple bead placement with Preciosa PIPs and Miyuki 8s.

While making these, I experimented using the standard C-Lon Bead Cord and C-Lon Fine Weight Bead Cord. The result is the same, even I cannot tell which one was done with which cord, but the Fine Weight is a lot easier to work with. The beads slide up and down the cord more freely. And since I add a central cord at the braid center for my bracelets, the C-Lon Fine Weight Bead Cord with a 24 lb breaking strength is plenty strong enough. So that's settled, Fine Weight is the way to go.

Then of course there is the choice of central cord size, I played around a bit and the 1 mm Nylon Satin Cord works well. It does not add bulk to the bracelet, and it keeps the bracelet nice and flexible.

Next I decided to try a bracelet with a smaller flatter profile. The PIP All Around is round...

Kumihimo Bracelet Tutorial with PIP Beads

Half Round PIP Design - Design 2

So I designed one with PIPs (mixed with 8s) on one side and 8s on the other side. That required careful notes, charts to keep track of the bead pattern and ultimately the creation of a system to keep track of the bead sequences. I ended up coming up with a great way using spreadsheets and charts. It makes following bead patterns very simple and easy.

The bracelet is very modern, with a lower profile than the first design... It is half round.

At this point, I was really intrigued, I had developed a system to keep track of the bead placement and sequences, and I really wanted to make something with a flower design with kumihimo... So more experimentation and later... The result...

Kumihimo with PIP Beads

PIP Flowers - Design 3

Flowers like little cluster of petals placed at regular intervals on the beaded braid. So yes, now I was pretty happy, I had three design variations in three colors. I did a demo at an art center and everyone loved the bracelets. Lots of woman wanted to buy one, but they are samples not for sale... So next - time to write the manual.

Kumihimo with PIP beads

By the time I write a manual, I have already made the piece that will be in the tutorial many times. The process by then has been refined, all the production kinks are already out of the way. And while making the piece to be featured, I stop to take pictures and I write down the steps one by one. When that's done, I start over again and make another bracelet, but this time I simply follow the directions I wrote, and edit as I go. The goal is to make sure everyone can follow the steps.

This is not the way I used to write tutorials years ago. I have learned that doing it this way will save us lots of time in the long run. Less hassles for you, less questions, less emails for me to respond to...

So yes, I was all done ready for the final steps, an outside editor and the kit assembly... To assemble kits, cords have to be cut, beads measured and counted, clasp added, then it gets packaged and labeled. But late at night... 

Duo PIP Flower Design - Design 4

I decided to experiment once again with a new version of the flower design with a center bead and dual coated PIP beads, PIPs with one color on one side and another on the other side. 

So yes, the next design challenge, figuring out how to load the dual sided PIPs onto the cord to get them to face the right way... More charts, more spreadsheets, another addition to the tutorial, and three additional colors. I am finally done!

The flowers alternate, one with the transparent colored side up, the next with the metallic coated side facing us, and the flower has a bead at the center of each flower design.

Color Choices

And the colors with the dual sided PIPs...

You can find out more about this project HERE and if you interested in making these bracelets without having to spend the time experimenting, undoing and redoing... The 25 page manual, the kits with all the cord & beads, and tool bags are available at Marion Jewels in Fiber online store

I thought it would be nice to write about the process of creating a kit and a tutorial... and I could go on. I could speak about how the braid starts and endings evolved. The new way presented in this kit, not seen elsewhere, is so much easier and simpler than my early attempts. Simple and elegant seem simple, right, but that's when someone else has already done it and shows the way. Otherwise it is often only found after a long search. Simplifying is harder than it looks... You might have to get a kit or manual to understand what I am talking about. -Marion ;))

Oh, and read my next post comparing kumihimo to other beading techniques... It has newer pictures of the PIP bracelets.

Friday, July 14, 2017

8-Strand Flat Kumihimo Braid with Hearts and Metallic Accents Tutorial

These bracelets made with a flat braid can be done on a round kumihimo disk or a square plate. The flat braid is easy to learn and the movements of the cords become instinctual quickly. Four variations of this 8-strand flat braid are shown on page 68 in Braids, 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru & Beyond, by Rodrick Owen, but none of the variations have the heart motif shown here. In this tutorial, this braid is done on a round disk, but instructions for the square plate will be forthcoming in a future post.

These bracelets can be worn singly or stacked. They are light and comfortable to wear. When stacked the magnetic clasps either attract or repel each other depending on the direction of their magnets, so take advantage of this property to stack them closely. Wear these bracelets triple stacked as shown on the top picture. 

Tutorial - Step by Step Instructions

This is a free tutorial... but it is copyrighted!
If you want to share the content with others, always refer to this original post... and visit Marion Jewels in Fiber online store for supplies. Thank you! - Marion

Braiding Materials

Rayon Satin #2, or 2 mm Nylon Satin - or 2 mm Chinese Knotting Cord - 3 yard (2.7 m)
Metallic Cord with Shiny Finish - 12 yard (10.80 m)
or Metallic Cord with Iridescent Iris Finish - 15 yard (13.50 m)
or Metallic Cord with Fine Finish - 20 yard (13.50 m)

These cords will be cut into 1 yd length. The satin will be used individually, the metallic cords will be used as a bundle or strand with multiple cord treated as 1 unit. These steps are described in Step 1 and 2. 

Finishing Materials
C-Lon Micro Cord - 1 yard (0.9 m) cut in 1/2 into 2 lengths of 18 inches (45 cm)
Magnetic Clasps with 6.2mm inner diameter

The tutorial shown below is made with Black Rayon Satin #2, Silver Shiny Metallic Cord, and a 6.2 mm Black Oxide Magnetic End Clasp. These materials are available by following the links in the material list.

Tools & Adhesives
4 inch Kumihimo Mini Disk
2 Mini-Clamps
2 EZ-Bobs (optional)
1 Paperclip
1 Weighted EZBob
Micro Tip Pruning Snip or Shears
Poly Zap Super Glue

All these tools can be found in Tools for Kumihimo, Tools, and the glue in Adhesives.

Step by Step

"Cord" refers to an individual cord or a strand - a group of cords is treated as a unit, as in the metallic strand.

Set Up the Braid

1. Cut 3 one yard length of Rayon Satin #2 or 2 mm Nylon Satin.
Fold in half and insert into the paperclip. 

2. Cut the Metallic Cord into 1 yard lengths, keeping them together as a strand. Fold at the center and add to the paperclip. Add mini-clamps at each end or roll the ends into the EZ-Bobs to keep the cords from intermingling.

3. Tie several half hitches 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the paperclip with C-Lon Micro Cord. 

4. Pull the paperclip through K-disk, the weighted EZ-Bob, and secure the paperclip with a mini-clamp. 

5. Place the cords and strands in the slots on each side of the black dots. The heart pattern is created by placing the metallic strands in the slots above dots #24 and #8. 

Braiding Steps

Left cord by #32 to slot below the 2 cords by #8

Right cord by #32 to slot below the 2 cords by #24 

Now 3 cords are on each side and 2 cords are by dot #16

Left cord by #16 to slot above the 3 cords by #8

Right cord by #16 to slot above the 3 cords by #24

Now 4 cords are on each side

Right cord above dot #8 to slot right of dot #16

Left cord above dot #24 to slot left of dot #16

Now 3 cords are on each side and 2 cords are by dot #16

Right cord below dot #8 to slot right of dot #32

Left cord below dot #24 to slot left of dot #32

Reposition the side cords to the closest slots on each side of #8 & #24

Now all the cords are in the slots on each side of black dots.
The metallic strands are now on each side of dot #16. 

Braiding Mantra
Top down
Bottom up
Center up

Here is the Mantra shown in a graphic form:

Note: Move the left cord 1st

Note: Move the left cord 1st

The cords are back to the same position as before Move 1.
To continue, repeat the Mantra.

Turn the disk over often and check the progress of the braid. 

- Keep your tension even - I prefer mine on the loose side for this braid.
- Hold the flat braid on the back end of the disk with your left hand, braid with your right hand.

Repeat these steps until you have braided the cord to the desired length. Remove the cords from the disk while holding the braid with your left hand. With 18 inches (45 cm) of C-Lon Micro Cord, tie several half hitches right at the end of the braid.

The End Clasps

1. Prepare the part you just finished braiding - Wrap the cord ends in a corkscrew fashion with the Micro Cord. Do it very tightly but keep some space between the wraps. Wrap around 1 inch (2.5 cm). End the wrap with a few half hitches. For the end with the paperclip - Cut the cords first, then wrap the cord ends in a corkscrew fashion. 

2. Add a few drops of Poly Zap Superglue over the wrapped parts. Let the glue dry. Cut the ends with the snip or shears leaving 3/8 “ (1 cm) of wrapped cords. Check the fit. Round the braid with pliers if needed. Dab a drop of glue on the end clasp and insert. Let dry. 

Design Options

Peyote Sleeves
Add a Peyote Bead Sleeve over the magnetic clasp. Go the tutorials HERE and get the materials HERE.

Extra Colors
Add an extra color for the center of the braid as shown above. Grey Satin was used for the two satin cords by dot #16. This way the satin color at the center of the braid is different than the color on the sides.

Compare Materials

2 mm Nylon Satin: Shown on left. It has a bit more sheen than the Rayon Satin. It is strong and durable and devoid of the annoying little thread that sometimes stick out of the rayon satin. 

Rayon Nylon Satin #2: Shown at center. Beautiful sheen. Needs to be treated nicely. Harder to clean than nylon. Little threads stick out sometimes.

2 mm Chinese Knotting Cord: Shown on right. Matte. Textured. Strong and durable. Easy to wash. 

Enjoy this tutorial. Happy Summer! - Marion

Links to Materials