The 20-Minute Bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Weaving isn’t (usually) for the impatient (a trait which I more than occasionally identify with). A tapestry can easily take months to complete and even most bead weavings aren’t completed in an afternoon. But sometimes you need a bracelet to wear with your favorite brown wedges and your brand-new Kate Spade mint-green purse and you need it now. I mean, hypothetically… (ha).

Anyway, I’ve been playing with leather as warp on my Mini and found a partial tube of gorgeous  fire-polished crystals that just screamed spring. I also dug up a tube of SoftFlex Econoflex very fine wire in a pretty blue (it was this). It was like the universe was telling me to create this bracelet. I’d never used wire on leather before and wasn’t sure how it would react, but the results were so much fun and SO EASY. Like, do-this-with-your-child easy (disclaimer: all loom work with children should be done under supervised conditions. Small and sharp parts can be a hazard).

And it was FAST. Like 20-minutes fast. You could, of course, bead a whole lot more of the bracelet (and that would be gorgeous) but it would take a little bit longer and require more than the amount of crystals I had on-hand. purse and bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Fold your leather piece in half and loop around the warping bar. Then bring the leather (keeping it flat) under the loom, around the front and tie the ends back around onto the warping bar. Then, tighten your tension. Make sure everything feels even.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

This leather, looped around on one end and then tied on the other, to the warping

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Make a slip knot with your warp thread. Here we used SoftFlex very fine wire in blue.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Take a crystal (we used 4mm fire Polished crystals), beads or gemstones and place it behind and between the two strips of leather. Then weave the wire through the front, securing the bead to the leather.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Continue to weave on your crystals, beads (in a few places I used three Delicas in place of a crystal) or gemstones onto the leather.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

When you’ve finished (you can weave as long or as short as you’d like), discreetly double-knot your wire ends and trim then. Then remove the piece from the loom and tie on your wrist!

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

So easy and so cute!

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

New bracelets from Claudia

Fun to weave and easy to finish.  Inspired me to order way too many beads for other color combinations and, of course, future kits.  It’s attached to a brass cuff with an ultra-suede backing.

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Similar bracelets but not on a brass cuff and backed with ultra-suede with a pewter button and a silk covered o-ring for closure.

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Free Bead Patterns

In a few days we will be launching the first of our free patterns to the Mirrix Website.  You get a sneak preview of the first three bracelet patterns.  In the works:  cellphone case, small purse and whatever else I (Claudia) can come up with.  So keep me inspired and download these totally free patterns.  And then send up pictures of your weavings, if you’d like, so we can share them with the rest of the Mirrix family.

Pastel Bracelet

Geometric bracelet one

Broken arrows bracelet

Ask Elena: Warp Coil Woes

You may have heard the terms “warp coil” and “spring” thrown around our website. Maybe you understand the references, but maybe you don’t. This post is a little primer on warp coils (or springs, they’re the same thing) including HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE and HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS.

WHAT IS A WARP COIL AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

A warp coil is a spring you put at the top (or bottom if you have a bottom spring kit) of your loom to organize you warp threads. When you put the spring on the loom and you measure an inch, the number of DENTS (spaces in the spring) should equal the numbers in the name of the spring. An 18 dent spring should have about 18 dents in an inch. Easy!

warp coil

warp coil

The warp coil spaces your warp threads correctly. If you’re using larger beads, you want your warp threads to be spaced further than if you were using smaller beads. The same goes for tapestry. If you’re using thicker yarn, you want your warp threads spaced out further than with a thinner yarn.

What springs come with the loom:  8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch.  As you can see, this pretty much covers all your needs except when using tiny beads such as 15/0s or when weaving a wide piece with size 11/0 delicas, which work better with a 16 dent coil.

For beads: Since the springs are even measurement and the beads per inch are sometimes an odd number and because you have to factor in the thickness of the thread in between the formula is not exact.  If you don’t have the correct spring, but one that is close, and you are doing a piece that is not very wide, you can use a larger spring and squish it together in the middle and put under tension. For a wider piece (three inches or larger) you really want the correct spring.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE

How do you know what warp coil to use for bead weaving:

Place the beads you plan on weaving on a needle and measure an inch. Then, count how many beads are in that inch. The number of beads minus one is the warp coil that will be used. For example, if you are using Delicas you would find 19 Delicas are in one inch, so you would use the 18 dent coil. There is some leeway in this, and depending on the beads you are using, it might not work out perfectly (numerically), just close. Using a smaller (lower number) coil is better than using a larger (higher number) coil.

How do I know what warp coil to use for tapestry?

This is something you have to experiment with as a tapestry weaver. For finer weft, you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch. For thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch or even warp every other dent. (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.)

The basic thing to remember is to make sure your warps threads aren’t showing and you must consider the warp set (how far apart your warp threads are, or what warp coil you are using), how thick your weft is and how thick your warp is. One way to determine your weft size is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.

DO I ALWAYS NEED A SPRING?

The answer is: in some cases you do not want a spring.  For example, when weaving a bead soup bracelet with lots of different size beads, the beads will set the spacing.  Also, when weaving a thin piece, you can usually skip the spring if you don’t have the correct size.

HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS

Sometimes you don’t have the right warp coil on hand. Maybe you’re making our Tapestry/Bead Cuff and you need a 10 dent spring and don’t have one, or maybe you have an 8″ Lani Loom without the shedding device and you want to weave Delicas (that loom comes with only a 14 dent spring). You can always buy new springs on our website, but you can also modify springs to fit your needs. Here’s how: (Note: as we mentioned earlier, this is only recommended for pieces thinner than three inches)

-Warp your loom like you would normally. When thinking about width, take into consideration that you’re going to change the spacing slightly by stretching or smushing your warp coil.

-Take out your measuring tape and measure an inch. Count how many dents (spaces in the spring) are in that inch and then stretch or smush your spring to make that amount of dents in an inch equal how many dents you need. For example, if you have a 12-dent spring, you will want to stretch it so there are only 10 dents in an inch, not 12. Keep stretching or smushing your spring to make sure there are the correct amount of dents in an inch over the entire width of the piece.

-Then, while holding the spring at the amount of dents you want it (remember, just in the place where you have your weaving), tighten your tension. This should secure your spring at the correct dents per inch.

warp coils

Or…

What happens if I am all ready to weave a wide piece with 11/0 delicas and I don’t have the 16 dent spring and I want to weave it this very second?  You can sacrifice your 18 dent spring.  Do the math:  For a 16 inch loom, the spring spans 13 inches and a tad.  You would need to remove 2 times 13 dents from your 18 dent spring.  26 dents.  Count 26 dents and cut at about 24 so you can create a new loop.  Or just put the 18 dent spring on the loom and stretch it so that there are 16 dents per inch.  Cut a few coils  past that to allow for a new loop at the end.

WHERE TO BUY MORE SPRINGS

Buy more springs: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/warpcoils.html

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT BOTTOM SPRING KIT AND DO I NEED IT?

The answer is not that simple. But there is an answer, never-the-less.

First let me answer the question:  why don’t all the looms just come with a bottom spring attachment?  The reason it doesn’t is about half of Mirrix users do not want one or use one and it would get in their way.  For example, tapestry weavers who weave at the wider setts (the number of ends per inch) usually don’t use it.  However, we find that weavers who weave small format tapestry love the bottom spring kit because it helps get all those pesky threads all neatly lined up and in order.  For those folks we created the bottom spring kit with two 20 and 22 dent springs, one for the top and one for the bottom.  Usually these folks are warping with material that is about as thin as beading thread so you can see where organization on the bottom of the loom could be very helpful.  We have relied heavily on the opinion of Kathe Todd-Hooker who is the Queen of small format weaving and loves the bottom spring kit.  In fact, we made the 20/22 dent spring package to make her happy.

Now for the bead answer to this question.  If you are weaving thinner bracelets or necklaces it’s really easy to organize your warp threads at the bottom of the loom.  And since the first row of beads sets the bottom sett, once you’ve got that row in, a bottom spring has no use.  However, when weaving wider pieces and especially wider pieces using the shedding device where there are pairs of threads between beads that have to remain paired correctly, that bottoms spring kit certainly helps to keep those pairs paired correctly and the threads not crossing at the bottom.  So in the case of wider bead pieces (more than four inches) it will test your patience less if you do have the bottom spring kit.

We offer the bottom spring kit with all the springs that come with the loom as well as the one mentioned above with two 20/22 dent springs.  We al so offer the bottom spring kit with two 16 dent springs.  This is designed for those weaving wide beaded tapestries with Delica beads since the 16 dent spring for some reason works better than the 18 dent spring in this situation.

You can buy just the bottom spring kit (it’s a tray that holds the springs) and pick just the springs you want.  For example, even though the looms (except for the MiniMirrix and Lani without shedding device) come with size 8, 12, 14 and 18 dent springs, you might only be weaving size 11/0 seed beads which require the 14 dent spring.  There is no need to buy the whole set.  Just buy the bottom spring kit and that particular spring.  You can always buy others later.  But then there are those of you who might be weaving a whole range of beads or might do so and it is cheaper to buy the whole package.

In any case, before you jump in and buy a bottom spring kit, carefully think about what your weaving future might hold!

BEAD WEAVING WARP COIL CHEAT SHEET:

Delicas:

8/0- 9 per inch. Use the 8 dent spring

10/0- 14 per inch.  Use 12 dent spring

11/0- 19 per inch.  Use 18 dent spring except when doing very wide pieces, when you can use the 16 dent spring.

15/0- 25 per inch.  Use the 22 dent coil just in order to space the beads.  That is the largest coil we can make.

Seed Beads:

15/0- 24 per inch.  Use 22 dent spring.

11/0- 14 to 15 per inch (size vary slightly depending on finish and manufacturer).  Use 14 dent spring.

8/0-12 per inch.  Use 10 or 12 dent spring depending on what size warp you are using.  For example, when using the bead cord, because it is thicker, you will use the 10 dent spring. But if just weaving straight beads using beading thread as warp, you would use the 12 dent spring.

6/0-8 per inch.  Use the 6 dent spring.

Bead Weaving, Freestyle!

I admit my life my be a little busy to take on a tapestry and bead diary in a single month. My weaving admittedly has taken a back seat to work, school and dodgeball this month, but I’ve still been working on my diaries, if not quite as much as I’d planned/hoped. The bead diary has been a lot of fun and the more I think about it, the more I think that every beginning bead weaver should start with a totally freestyle piece to get the hang of weaving beads and to take some time to play and experiment. Weaving beads without a plan is a completely different experience than weaving with a pattern (yours or someone else’s). It gives you the freedom to experiment and mix colors and create your own patterns. Maybe you’ll end up cutting your piece off the loom and reusing your beads (that’s probably what I’ll do with this one) but the process is a learning experience, and it’s really, really fun to just take some time to play.

bead diary

The Mirrix Freeform Bracelet

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Before I even finished it Elena demanded ownership of this bracelet.  This meant I had to be careful not to make it too long.  Elena has the smallest wrists of anyone I know.  I used to think my wrists are small.  Not anymore.  At first I thought I overachieved in the smallness territory.  When I removed the bracelet from the loom I looked around for a doll whose wrist I could put it on.  I tried to increase the length with peyote.  Didn’t work.  Hated it.  Ripped it out.  Then I tried square stitch.  Equally awful.  And then I said to myself:  make the clasp attachment a little longer and it will be fine.  So I backed the bracelet with ultra-suede and then sewed beads all around to cover up my lousy sewing and to give it more depth and one more row of beads on either end.  Then I suffered over the clasp.  Elena wanted a button, a silver button if possible.  So I searched through all my s stuff and came up with a few very pretty pewter buttons.  Pewter/silver.  She won’t know the difference, I tell myself.  I wanted to use a silk covered O-ring for the thing for the button to go through because those O-rings make things stay on.  Because they have stretch they work so much better than something that is hard and static.  But silk covered?  There is no silk in this piece.  If it had silk (and future ones will have silk AND gold) the silk covered ring would be just fine.  Light bulb above my head:  what about embroidering beads onto the o-ring.  And so I did.

The first attempt at attaching the button failed.  Made the attachment way too long.  This cuff needs to fit snug.  It was going to look like Mommy’s bracelet on her five year if I didn’t fix it.  So I went smaller, smaller than I though realistic.  And guess what?  I got it so right.  The bracelet is snug on me but will fit Elena’s delicate wrists just perfectly.


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Bead Soup Bracelet Revisited

I haven’t had a chance to finish the last bracelet, but you know the drill.  It’s finished like the first.  My mind started to wander as it filled with some new ideas, and so I headed in a new and surprising new direction.  Got the idea as I was trying to wake up yesterday.  That process consists of my lying in bed and letting ideas and thoughts float through my brain before the day has taken its toll on my creative thought process.  It’s when I get my best and most original ideas.

 

The genius of this idea came when I created a new batch of bead soup.  I looked at all those beautiful beads and crystals and thought:  yeah, this is great but in order to weave all these beads you have to set the warp as wide as the longest or biggest bead and some of those beads are really long and really can’t be used.  So how do I use all the beads in the bead soup in one piece.  I suddenly had this thought:  what if one wove beads off the grid or used the warp threads as a canvas that was not dedicated to weaving a row of beads across the warp threads and leaving it at that.  I had this image of a bunch of beads that would sit at angles, go on top of the woven beads and in effect mimic the concept of bead embroidery married to bead weaving.  And as it happens about one in a hundred times when I come up with some great idea, the image I had in my brain was able to find its way in reality.  So I am excited because this is new.  I have never seen anything like this before.  I had the same sense of AHAAAAAAA that I had when I visualized the tapestry/bead cuff bracelet.  I always love to find a totally new way to use the Mirrix Loom, and this was one of them.  To accomplish this bracelet one needs a loom that can provide perfect tension so it lends itself perfec
tly to the Mirrix.  Plus, there are a bunch of future additions that I can only imagine such as combining fiber and doing a lot of the finishing right on the loom.

I have five inches woven and one inch to go.  I am still contemplating the finishing.  I think I have it figured out but don’t want to rush it.  So for now I will just tease you with the piece on the loom.  See if you can figure out how this is done!

 

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What is a Shedding Device?

The Mirrix Shedding Device can seem a puzzling contraption to those unfamiliar with weaving. Today, I hope to clear up what a shedding device is and why you might want one.

sheddingdevice

The Mirrix Shedding Device

Called: Shedding Device
Not Called: Shredder, Shredding Device, Shedder

Shedding devices are devices used to lift warps in order to pass fiber or beads through them more easily. The space between the warps is called the SHED, which is where the term SHEDding device comes from.

On a Mirrix shedding device, when you change the position of the handle, the shedding device shifts position and opposite sets of warps are raised, securing your beads or weft between the warp threads. The wooden clips hold your shedding device on the loom, but also serve to hold your warping bar in place when warping your loom (and before you install the shedding device).

shedding device

By changing the position of the shedding device using the handle, you change which warp threads are raised or lowered

When weaving tapestry, if you do not use the shedding device, you must weave each piece of fiber under and over the warp threads.

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By using the shedding device, you can lift half of your warp threads all at the same time, so instead of weaving over and under, you can just place your weft (the thread you are using) between the raised and lowered warp threads.

shedding device

The shedding device is attached to the warp threads with heddles. These heddles pull up on the correct warp threads when the shedding device is engaged.

heddles

The shedding device engaged in one direction, picking up half the warp threads.

When weaving beads with the shedding device, you string up a row of beads and then place them between the raised and lowered warp threads. Then you change the position of the shedding device, securing those beads between the warp threads.

bead weaving

bead weaving

On a Mirrix Loom, using the shedding device is recommended for tapestry weaving as it makes the process much faster and easier. For combining beads and fiber, a shedding device is also very useful. For beads, both the traditional bead weaving method of placing your beads behind your warp threads and then sewing through and the method using the shedding device and placing the beads between raised and lowered warp threads work. The method using the shedding device takes a little more time to set up, but once you get the hang of it it’s a fast and fun way to weave beads!

Do you still have questions about the Mirrix shedding device? Ask in the comments!

Crystal and Bead Bracelet # Two

So I did weave the bracelet and I did take it off the loom, but the day got ahead (or behind?) me and I didn’t get to add the clasp.  That gives me an entire grade off starting at a B although I do like this bracelet better than the first AND the photos are a lot better.  At least you will be able to see the detail and get a feel for how this was set up on the loom and how the beads fit in their little places.  I have used both 11/0 and 8/0 seeds beads as well as the 4mm crystals.  One crystal, three 11/0 seed beads and two 8/0 seeds beads fit in the space between the warp threads.  I’ve used C-Lon fine beading cord for warp and C-Lon size D beading thread to string and weave the beads.

Half way there!

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Finished on loom

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Off loom taking a little rest

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Close up of resting bracelet

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First thing tomorrow when there is sun I will finish this one and weave and finish bracelet number three!