Saturday, March 10, 2012

8-Cord Kumihimo Spiral Bracelet Instructions - Part 1.

I love the simplicity of the design of my latest kumihimo braided bracelet using size 8 Japanese seed beads. The spiral pattern is pleasing to the eye and the materials cost is low! To make the spiral pattern, choose two contrasting colors of size 8 seed beads. You can use either Japanese or Czech seed beads. My design utilizes matte black Miyuki (stock no. MI-8-401F) and lovely matte gold Toho's (stock no. TH-8-559F). The beads are strung on coordinating colors of S-Lon cord. I used black and Light Khaki. If you look at the close-up photo below, you will see that the cord shows ever-so-slightly, so matching the cord color to the bead is a good idea if you can manage it.

Each strand of cord will be strung with 50 beads, four strands of black, and four strands of gold, so it will take 200 beads of each of the two colors to make a bracelet length. This is approximate. You can string on more beads further into the project if you need to, or stop braiding before all beads are used.

You will need a Mini Kumihimo braiding disc, eight bobbins, and a button to make the closure. Sharp scissors, and "Bead Tip" hypo cement to glue your end knot will also be required. A short "Big-Eye" needle is nice to use to thread your beads onto the cord, but it is not a necessity. All of these supplies are stocked at Anita's Beads.

I start by cutting two 2-yard pieces of black S-Lon cord, and two 2-yard pieces of light khaki. Strands will be folded in half to give you a total of eight cords required for this type of Kumihimo braid. I will begin with adding my button by taking all four cords together and threading them through one hole of my button from the back (the button is slightly domed in shape, the high part of the dome is the top, and the back of the button is slightly "dished") and then through the second hole towards the back. I keep sliding the button until it rests at the center point of the four cords, at the fold.

Then I place the button top-side down into the center of my Mini Kumihimo disc. Supporting the button with my fingers, I slide each of the eight cords into slots before and after the four dots located at the North-East-South-West positions on the disc. To make the spiral design, I want to arrange the cords so one color runs vertical (North and South) and the other color runs horizontal (East and West).

Once the cords are secured into the slots with my button face down in the center, I flip the disc over and begin stringing on beads. Each of the four black cords get 50 black beads, and each of the four light khaki cords get 50 gold beads. After adding each group of 50, I slide them up close to the disc and wind the remaining cord onto a bobbin so the beads rest above the bobbin. The bobbins serve two purposes: they keep the beads from sliding off of the cord, and they keep the cords from becoming tangled as you work. You can always unwind the cord, remove the bobbin, and string on more beads if necessary.

When all your beads and bobbins are in place you are ready to start braiding. I hold the disc in my left hand and manipulate the cords with my right, turning the disc in a counter-clockwise direction as I work. I can use the fingers of my left had to create a little tension on the braid by grasping the button from the back. Some people prefer to use a weight.

I start out by braiding a short section without moving up beads. This will create an area of plain cord just behind the button where your loop will attach to secure the bracelet. I start by moving the cord in the Left South position UP to the first empty slot to the Left North, and then take the cord in the Right North position and move it DOWN to the first empty slot to the Right South. Then I turn the disc one-quarter of a turn counter-clockwise and repeat. You can tug on the bobbins to release more cord as needed as you go.

So the sequence is bottom Left UP, top Right DOWN, 1/4 counter-clockwise turn. At first it doesn't seem like you're doing much, but then the braid becomes established and you will see the spiral pattern beginning to form. Keep braiding without beads until you create a space of about 1/4 (.25) inch.

You will notice that as you braid, the position of the cords will move away from the dots. Gradually they will work around until, again, all eight cords will come into position at four compass points with one cord on either side of each dot. This is your check point. If the cords fail to line up, check your work for errors and work in reverse until you eliminate the error.

[Continue to Part 2.]