Bead Woven & Embroidery Bracelet: Finishing!

When you are happy with all of your weaving and the final look of your piece, it is time to remove it from the loom. Do not forget to measure it to ensure that it will fit the wrist of its recipient. In my case, it measured a bit beyond 6.25”.

To remove the piece, loosen the tension on the loom and slide out the warping bar. Trim the ends of the warp threads so there are no loops. Tie overhand knots using pairs of neighboring warp threads. Be careful to get those knots as close as possible to your weaving.
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It is at this point in the given instructions that I have chosen to take a bit of a personal departure. Although I do love to hand sew, I do not however love to hand sew through beading and ultrasuede together. (Ouch!) So…here it is- I admit to it freely: I cheat. Yep, I use a little bit of glue. (Ah, I can hear the admonitions from here. Sorry folks.)

I measure and cut the ultra-suede so that it is the same size as my finished piece. Placing the finished weaving bead side down with the backside facing up, I dab a LITTLE BIT of trusty E6000 across the back of the piece being SUPER CAREFUL not to overdo it and have any glue- God forbid- seep through to the front of the piece. I use a small paint brush for this to better control the amount of glue. In this way, I am also able to glue down those pesky errant warp tail that want to stick out anyway. I am also careful to neatly extend the glue JUST to the edge of the piece so that the ultrasuede is sealed all around creating a seamless look without any messy glue seeping out. This careful glueing takes a little practice but can definitely be successfully accomplished. Of course I realize that many of you purists out there might never consider using glue at all but I can assure you that it does work and might even be preferable to those sometimes imperfect tiny sewing stitches around the edge. I should also note that in the case of this particular bracelet, I prefer not beading around the edge either as I believe that it detracts a from the finished beaded look of the piece. (Just my humble opinion here.) Feel free of course to choose your own personal finishing method.

mirrix glue

mirrix clothepins

The written instructions continue as follows:
“Warp the bracelet around your wrist. Measure the distance between the two edges. This distance will be filled with the loop that the button will go into and the button itself. This cuff should fit snugly around your wrist. In any case, you will want to add some beads to the beading thread to attach the button.
Center your beading thread at one end of the cuff in order to attach the button.
Attach a length of beading thread to the other end of the bracelet. Pick up enough beads to be able to fit over the button. You can make this loop longer than that if you need to in order to fit around your wrist. Keep in mind, that if the cuff is snug the button will not fall out of the loop even if the loop is large. Sew back through the end of the bracelet and then back through the beads for strength. End the thread as you ended the other thread.”
mirrix clasp

mirrix clasp 2

mirrix clasp complete

mirrix 2 braceletes

WEAR PROUDLY AND WITH PANACHE!

See you next time,

xxx, Karen

Bead Woven & Embroidery Bracelet -Bead Weaving the Base

The ten warp threads I dressed the loom with created nine working spaces to place my beads.  Using approx. 18” C-Lon beading thread, I threaded nine beads of a similar size for my first row.  Once my first few rows of beading were established, I was able to choose among the 8/0 seed beads, 10/0 delica beads and an occasional larger 6/0 bead. The concept here is that the base beads all be of a similar size to not expand or contract the space between the warp threads too much. It really is very much like creating a puzzle with smaller beads sitting atop larger ones from the previous row, and vice versa. The good news is that after making my first bracelet I learned the important fact that this base will be pretty well covered with embellishment beads and will only show through as a background so don’t sweat it too much. As long as the width of the bracelet remains fairly consistent you’ll be ok.  (And I say fairly even” because even this can be fudged later on if need be.)

mirrix first row

mirrix 6 rows

mirrix 10 rows

 

 

 

You can approach the weaving of this bracelet in one of two ways: You can bead weave the entire bracelet’s base and then completely embellish the full piece or you can weave the base for several rows, embellish just these rows, go back to weaving the base and embellishing those rows, etc. For these photos I did it the second way, initially weaving ten rows before embellishing. I was not patient enough to weave the whole bracelet before indulging in the fun part which for me is the embellishment. That is where you really get to play.

It is best to do your embellishing when you are relaxed and not in a hurry. I must warn you that this is a very time consuming process. Each and every embellishment bead is threaded and secured individually and forcing a bead where it does not belong will only bring misery. Trust me on this- ask me how I know.

 

When you are ready to begin adding your embellishment beads, you begin by coming out the side of the last row you wove and picking up a larger bead. In my case I used a bugle bead on the top right hand side of the photo. I then sewed through the bead below that is two warps over.
mirrix bugle

mirrix bugle 2

According to the instructions the rule here is to sew through a bead that is far enough away that the embellishment bead will lie flat but not so far away that the beading thread will show. Although you will initially measure each bead before finding its landing spot, with a little experience after a few rows, you will pretty much be able to eyeball it and this will make things move along a little faster.

 

 

After placing the first embellished bead you can go anywhere you want in the woven piece. In my case, the next bead I added was a crystal traveling across the piece. You can choose to travel anywhere you like across the piece however you will probably find that working in small sections makes the most sense rather than criss-crossing all over the place and getting the embellishment threads tangled up. The point is to cover a lot of the base beads nearly entirely while angling the beads differently so that they add interest.
mirrix moving along

mirrix getting there

mirrix mess

 

 

You will continue weaving and embellishing until your piece is large enough to fit around your wrist keeping in mind the type of clasp that you intend to use. In the case of this kit, we will be making a loop on one side with a button on the other. Your piece will shrink at least a third of an inch when you take it off the loom because the warp threads are under tension so keep this in mind while measuring.

 

Next: Finshing Your Bracelet

Bead Woven & Embroidery Bracelet- Intro & Warping

If my name looks familiar to many of you Mirrix aficionados out there, it should. It is hard to believe but it was exactly a full year ago that I began blogging for Mirrix. In fact, it was the end of July 2012 that I learned that I had won the contest that Mirrix sponsored to find a new blogger for Claudia’s Craftsy class. Well, I can surely tell you that a lot has happened during the course of the last year and unfortunately for me, much of it has taken me away from weaving and my Mirrix loom. However on a rare occasion that I was able to catch up with the Mirrix happenings, I caught sight of a really compelling bracelet that Claudia had designed. It didn’t have a name nor any real details other than that a special weave-along class and kit* was to follow. I went on about my business storing this information away for a later date when life returned to normal.

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Months later, while life hadn’t exactly returned to normal, I still had not forgotten about this mesmerizing bracelet. I had never seen anything like it before and although I had some idea as to how it might be constructed, I wasn’t sure I could copy it myself without some guidance. My spontaneous suggestion to Elena to commence blogging again was met enthusiastically, and here I am. If you too have been smitten with this mystery bracelet, then follow along with me as I take you through its construction, step-by-step. I will provide instruction in three parts. The first will detail bead weaving the bracelet’s base; the second will include the fun part- or the embellishment; and the third part describes the finishing touches in turning your beaded piece of art into an actual bracelet to be worn on your wrist.

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Warping

The warping is standard using ten warps of the C-Lon beading cord. No shedding device is necessary. The weaving of this bracelet has two distinct phases. The first phase is quite basic where you will create a grid-like base using your choice between the 8/0 seed beads, 10/0 delica beads and an occasional 6/0 bead which are all included in the bead soup that comes with the kit.

Next: Bead Weaving the Base

*Weave-along Class dates: March 10-24, April 7-21, May 3-24 2013

Kit includes enough to make TWO bracelets: 60 grams Bead soup, black C-Lon cord & black C-Lon beading thread, black ultra-suede, 2 pewter buttons, written instructions

Advanced Tapestry Techniques

Lesson 10 of the Craftsy Bead & Tapestry Cuff class teaches advanced tapestry techniques. Upon first viewing it, I felt as if I’d been suddenly thrown into the deep end of the pool. After many slow and steady lessons, this class uses frequent new terms and I must admit, unfortunately does not always employ the best photography. The techniques themselves are not really all that difficult but if it is one’s first time attempting them, I am certain that you will need to watch multiple times before catching on. The thirty-second rewind feature is useful although I found I required more than just the quick thirty seconds to review certain sections. (I cannot speak for everyone’s experience however it seems that the Craftsy platform does not always allow for smooth rewinding and fast forwarding although this could perhaps just be a problem with my own computer.) My criticism of the photography concerns the bad angles that are sometimes used and the need for more close ups. As Claudia does admit however, if you are seriously interested in learning more about tapestry, any of the many books available at www.mirrixlooms.com will provide the necessary depth that is beyond the scope of this class. I’ve purchased Kirsten Glasbrook’s classic and look forward to diving into it as soon as I’ve completed this course.


Pick and Pick

          

                                                    Wavy Lines & Lazy Lines

Minor concerns aside, I seriously love the results of “pick and pick” or what I prefer to call simply vertical striping. The beauty of these advanced techniques is that suddenly the whole process of weaving becomes quite clear in a novel way. Of course, if you weave in one shed with one color and the following shed in another, you will get vertical stripes. Two passes with one color followed by two passes with a second color will yield horizontal stripes. Brilliant. For me, the term “lazy line” seems a little too close to “wavy line.” (And why not just call it “diagonal line” which is what it is?) And if anyone can explain the difference to me between hatching and shading, I’m all ears. Also, those special situations when the edge warps are lowered are a little confusing but once again I’m sure a little more experience will clear this up.
 

                                                        Finished on the loom

                                                         Weaving two at a time!

                                                           

Well, as they say, practice makes perfect and I’m more than willing. My first cuff has attracted so much attention that I’m afraid I’ve already overextended myself gift-wise. This should keep me busy for quite some time.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be weaving tapestry cuffs.

xxx, Karen
 

Ain’t No Stopping Me Now

I’ve said it before but these Mirrix Loom bracelets really do weave themselves. After years of painstaking pattern-following, row-by-row stitch count knitting, what a pleasure it is to obtain such instant gratification. In less time than it takes to watch an episode of Law & Order, another bracelet is woven and finished off. The only problem, if you could call it that, is what to do with all the resulting bracelets. (Another random note: I once started making handmade herbal soap as a hobby. Well, it was so much fun that I wound up with far more soap than I could ever use. The upshot: a fairly successful cottage industry with customers that included Bed, Bath & Beyond and HomeGoods. It nearly killed me though. Not again, please.)

 

Using the shedding device, admittedly, takes a little getting used to. At first I couldn’t figure out how to keep the shed open. Only after several rewinds of the video did I catch on to the fact that the black part of the handle must actually wind around the bar, hugging it, to keep the shed open. Duh. Also, I’m still not entirely happy with how my bead rows are sitting- not quite even and a little wobbly for sure. I must be doing something wrong or else I prefer the other method of sewing the row in as it seems more secure. Oh well, good to know that I’m not exactly an expert at this yet ;)


The finishing…well, let’s see…the glue is a little messy. Be sparing. I would definitely use clothes pins or clamps to temporarily hold the three layers of tapestry, brass cuff and ultrasuede together while the glue dries. And while I enjoy the Zen-like process of sewing the three bead picot edge around the perimeter of the piece, I would definitely set aside some quiet time for this, and don’t plan it for too late an hour. It’s a little tedious for sure but the results, you must admit, are spectacular.

                                                            Freshly cut off the loom

 

                                                 Backside before being trimmed & glued

Backside after being trimmed & glued
 
Clamped while glue dries

 After beading
 
 The finished bracelet
 
Lookin’ good!
 

I think they’ll fit perfectly in several Christmas stockings, don’t you? Who will be the recipients of your Mirrix weavings this year?

 
xxx, Karen

The Big Leagues

Whoever designed the Mirrix class for Craftsy really knows their stuff. (Claudia/ Elena?) Each lesson builds on knowledge learned in the previous one and progresses so gradually that nothing ever seems too difficult. Although I’ve been moving through it all rather smoothly, secretly I’ve been terrified of that odd looking metal tube lurking in the box. Ever since first becoming interested in Mirrix looms, I‘ve been fascinated with the concept of this shedding device. The name itself is so unusual, don’t you think? I’ve wondered if the term is unique to Mirrix and if not, who invented it? Of course, I had to google it. Wikipedia explains “a shedding device is the device used to raise or open the shed.” Ok, so the term exists out there in the greater world of weaving and the definition definitely makes sense. But still…you have to admit is does sound strange. (Random note: in describing the shedding device to my husband -who I warn you has a strange sense of humor- he responds by pointing to Ollie, our beloved Old English Sheepdog and says “Now that is a real shedding device.” Yuk yuk.)



Ollie, the original “shedding device”


Clearly, I had no idea, when the time came, how I was going to deal with this contraption. I would have remained perfectly content to continue using my loom as is, sans shedding device, making Affinity Bracelets from now ’til doomsday. But captivated as I was by the sheer beauty of the Tapestry Cuff, I knew that sooner or later, like it or not, I would have to conquer the dreaded shedding device!

Almost as terrifying a concept as the shedding device are those devilish little bits of string called heddles. How confusing they seemed and could I figure out a way to avoid using them? Well, was I ever pleasantly surprised. Following Claudia’s step by step instructions in Lesson 9, I was warped for tapestry, with shedding device and both sets of heddles in place in the wink of…well, you know. I cannot describe my joy while using the shedding device handle and seeing the shed move back and forth before my eyes. Magic. And how brilliant! I’m happy to report that I am well on my way to creating my very own magnificent beaded tapestry cuff. Wait ‘til you see it. Won’t you be jealous!

 
Warped, heddled & ready to go
 

 
 
 

 

Oh and by the way, think only Claudia’s Mirrix gets to go sailing?

xxx, Karen

 

Everything Old is New Again…Plus Another Tip!

As I tackle the second No Warp Ends project in this Craftsy course, I am reminded of the first bead weaving I did many years ago. Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, many young girls were obsessed with making simple little necklaces, bracelets and even rings using what we then called Indian seed beads. For years I kept my “Navajo Bead Loom” in its original box but of course, as I awaited the arrival of my new Mirrix, I naturally could not find the old loom. Since they are still widely available and cost next to nothing, I purchased a new one. I felt thirteen years old again!

 
This no warp ends project uses a simple charted design much like my Sixties weavings did. Who would have thought that my crafting life would come full circle as it has? (If someone had told me back then that nearly forty years later I would again be making seed bead jewelry…) Fortunately though, someone had the vision to improve upon the original primitive bead weaving loom. I can tell you that it sure is a whole lot faster and more enjoyable using a Mirrix.
Like Claudia, I have a real problem following these simple little charts. I don’t know why but if there’s a mistake to be made, I’ll make it. Of course, this involves a fair amount of UN-weaving so my progress is a little slower than I’d like… and alot more tedious. However, I persevere.

 

 

 

By the way, I have another tip for you. Although many of you may use bead mats, I have another idea for easy beading for when you’re not sitting at a table or otherwise on the go. I cannot take credit for this. I learned it while attending a sewing workshop with Natalie Chanin, the brilliant hand-sewn clothing designer for Alabama Chanin. (www.alabamachanin.com). Her artisans have created a “beading cuff” from a cast off cotton jersey sleeve. By applying heavy duty double-faced tape to it, tiny beads easily stick to it. Voila, beads right at your fingertip just when and where you want them. Easy, cheap and up-cycled, what could be better?
 
 
 
 
 

Try it and let me know how it works out for you.

And Happy Labor Day!

xxx, Karen 

Look Ma, No Warp Ends!

After previewing this lesson, I was actually a little nervous about getting started. Just when I was beginning to feel confident with the ease of bead weaving in the previous lessons, I would now have to actually do something drastically different. Those innocent-looking paper clips and tex-solv cord seemed more than just a little intimidating. Well, fear not. I’m here to tell you that like everything else so far in this course, the learning curve is swift and before long I was on my way.
 
 
 
I will admit to making good use of the thirty second replay button that Craftsyoffers. After several replays, I finally realized that TWO lengths of tex-solv were necessary. Duh! (This was also a good time to actually READ the course material provided.) Getting all the new cords adjusted and evened  out was a bit of a challenge but once the paper clips were in place, the warping was surprisingly painless. I’ve since watched my fellow blogger Noreen’s excellent video tutorial where she uses S-hooks in lieu of the paper clips. (http://tottietalkscrafts.com/2012/06/22/a-slightly-different-approach-to-the-no-warp-ends-on-the-mirrix/). I may try that next as my biggest difficulty was figuring out which direction to actually place the paper clips. Again, not a huge problem but using the S-hooks will eliminate that confusion. As Claudia promised, the actual weaving part is lightening fast and in no time flat, I had completed another beautiful fully beaded cuff.


Now who doesn’t love the final result? Really…no warp ends to deal with! This is just genius, don’t you think? The strength that using the wire warps is a bonus as it gives a very professional look. I also love having the option of choosing how to finish the bracelet with either the peyote clasp or by using an unusual or vintage button as I did. How cool!
 
Off to the hardware store to purchase S-hooks. I may never use real warps again.
 
xxx, Karen 

 

 

Magnatamas, Tilas & Silk, Oh My… Plus A Quick Tip

I’m really cooking now. Finished the latest Affinity Bracelet in under thirty minutes and that includes warping! They’re just so easy. Using the no. 8 beads again makes bead weaving a breeze. There’s plenty of room to squeeze a needle and thread through without nasty mishaps like catching warps. The tilas are fun and aptly named- they resemble little rows of tiles. My favorites though are the magnatamas-they look like little pudgy off-centered donuts. Love ‘em. Although I’ve seen them at the bead shop before, I now intend to purchase lots more and play around with design possibilities. Anybody know why they’re named such? Just curious.
What I’m really excited about though is the ability perhaps to teach you all something…me teaching you, for a change. Many weavers might already be familiar with “fringe twisters” but in case there are some newbies who are not, read on.
3 Clip Fringe Twister
These magical little thingies are a life saver when you need to make lots of fringe. I first spotted them at the many sheep and wool festivals that I attend. Again, I guess they’re more of a fiber thing. Smart knitters use them regularly to assist in the tedious chore of finishing the fringe at the end of scarves. The most popular ones I believe are made by Leclerc although there are other brands. (http://www.leclerclooms.com/twister.htm). They come in various sizes and run about $25 depending on the size. Trust me, they’re worth every nickel. The one shown here is designed to make a three-strand fringe however if you only employ only two clips, as I do here, you can use it for the two-strand fringe necessary for this bracelet.

The how-to? Simply insert each strand of fringe into its own alligator clip. Turn the handle in the same direction as the twist in the thread/yarn. Count you turns until you’ve reached the desired crimp. Next you must place all strands into the same clip and turn in the handle in the opposite direction. Again, you should count the revolutions to maintain consistency between all fringes. When the twist in the resulting rope is to your liking release the strands while holding the ends together and knot. That’s it. (It takes longer to explain than actually do).



Perfect fringe, every time!



What’s wonderful about this tool is that you get tight consistent fringe every time. Although I was initially unsure if it would work on such a tiny scale as these bracelets, I was thrilled to learn that it works perfectly. No more twisting delicate fibers between your fingers or accidentally letting go. It’s really almost hands free and takes a fraction of the time as traditional twisting by hand.
(Note to Claudia & Elena: you should stock these babies. Very useful).
Off to the beach again. When you live on Long Island, you go to the beach. And haven’t you heard? Summer’s almost over. (sniffle sniffle)
xxx, Karen  

Bead Weaving: A Love-Hate Relationship

Craftsy Class 5: Affinity Bracelet Variations
 


The second Affinity Bracelet variation uses 4mm crystals & hex-cut beads. Besides being entirely bead woven, it employs the technique of substituting a larger bead for two smaller ones in specific rows. As Claudia explains, one can always replace any two smaller beads with a larger one if the larger one is exactly twice as long and wide as the two smaller ones. Pretty cool concept if you think about it and it opens up a world of creative interpretation using a variety of beads. Of course now I can imagine obsessively trying to measure all kinds of itsy bitsy roll-y beads. (Thanks, Claudia). Then again, I suppose I can just eyeball them and hope for the best which is really much more my usual m.o. anyway. 

I admit to starting this project with a little trepidation. With all due respect to the fabulous bead weavers reading this (you know who you are. I won’t mention my fellow blogger, Brenda’s name here), I’m just not a big fan…not for myself, at least. Lots of blinding work weaving with microscopic beads and where’s the fiber anyway? By know you must know that I always need my beautiful fibers. For this reason, I predict that I will be more of a tapestry girl. I can’t wait to begin the Tapestry Cuff but I really must complete the lessons in their proper order and that one, sadly, is last.


Several missteps thwarted my initial attempts. I kept splitting the bead thread and piercing (or missing entirely) the warps. Very frustrating. The ability to count to six posed a problem as well. (Hey it was after 10PM when I started…first mistake). The other thing I learned about bead weaving is that you need amazingly good light. In fact, more light than I have in my entire house- at least at that late hour. Note to self: must save these projects for daylight hours only or suffer the consequences. Still, I forged ahead…straight through David Letterman. As Dave said goodnight, so did I. With a mere 16 bleary-eyed rows completed, I called it quits. “G’night folks,” as Dave says. Yeah, I’ll say.



Stealing some time from my lunch break the following day (who needs to eat anyway? Not me lately…but that’s an entirely different blog post topic), I took my loom outside and was able to finally make some serious progress. I really love how the beads line up in this pattern and my choice of lime green silk warp matches my green 4mm beads to perfection. (Almost like I planned it but we know better). The four row pattern repeat, as we knitters would call it, is an easy one to remember and after a short while comes quite naturally.



I find that the near-instant results seen in these bracelets are incredibly gratifying. Within a very short period of time, you’ve completed another little work of art. Fabulous!

As I’m beginning to expect from Mirrix, this bracelet has turned out to be another winner. This really is becoming addicting.

xxx, Karen