Saturday, March 20, 2010


Kumihimo is my latest venture. I took a class 2 weeks ago, and instead of choosing to do the 18-inch necklace that the other students chose to do, I had my mind set on a lariat. A 60-inch lariat, to be exact. Naturally.

If I had fully understood the implications of this, I might not have been such a rebel.

Kumihimo is a lot of fun, and though it was a little difficult to get the hang of at first, once I figured it out, it turned out to be relatively easy. And it is completely portable once it is set up on the disc.

This is the kumihimo disc - it is made of foam, and is maybe 8 inches in diameter.

The most tedious part of Kumihimo is the set up. At least 8 different strands of seed beads have to be pre-strung and then wound onto something that will hold them - plastic bobbins work well. The number of beads needed on each strand to complete a necklace varies with the length of necklace desired and with the size of the seed bead, and when using size 8 seed beads, it takes about 10 beads per inch.

So for an 18-inch necklace, I would have needed to string about 180 - 200 seed beads on each of the 8 braiding cords. But for my 60 inch lariat? Yeah - I could not even start learning the technique until I had strung almost 600 seed beads on 8 different cords. That's a lot of seed beads!

The other students finished stringing their cords, and there I sat, still trying to fit the tiny beads on the thick braiding cord. Ultimately, the other students pitched in and helped me get set up, and we all started braiding.

And here is my finished lariat, with the fringe I added at the ends.

And back to my point about portability: once all your beads are loaded on the bobbins, the whole shebang fits in a Ziploc bag, disc and all. And the notches on the disc keep your strands in place, no matter what. Trust me - they do not come out of the notches, even when thrown in a tote bag with a bunch of books, or tossed around in a car, etc. And once you are all set up, there are no needles, no tools - so this is an ideal project for air travel, or car travel: you hold it in one hand, move the strands with the other; it is lightweight - I love it. It doesn't hurt my hands at all!
Of course, you can also do Kumihimo without beads, or with a combination of fibers and beads - so I love its versatility.
I've purchased some pretty textured fibers to try, and I am anxiously waiting for my square Kumihimo disc to arrive. The square disc supposedly makes a flat braid, and I already have my colors picked out for my first project on the square disc. A 60-inch beaded lariat, of course. Because apparently, I never learn.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Custom Design

A good friend dropped by the shop about 3 weeks ago, carrying a garment bag.

Inside, she had a gorgeous, peacock-blue satin evening gown. Just below the plunging neckline was a diamond-shaped beaded design, about 3 inches square; the design had a hematite-colored background, bordered with peacock-blue bugle beads, with a beaded flower in the center.

My friend wanted a necklace and earrings to match the dress.

I took a photo of the beaded design, and gathered some beads together, and started stitching. I didn't have any peacock-blue bugle beads, but I had these size 8 delicas, which I figured would substitute nicely, once I got them lined up on the sides.

20 hours later, I had the beaded pendant stitched, and set out to design the necklace and earrings.

I chose 2 Swarovski square rings to bling it up, and hung them so that they mimicked the pendant.

My friend was really happy with the end result, so Yay!