I just finished this bracelet. The band is loom woven. The triangle is a combination of peyote and herringbone stitch. The clasp is peyote stitch. The triangle took almost as long to make as the band, which worked up really quickly. I woven two pieces simultaneously on the loom and learned quite a lot.
Let me show you a shot of the two pieces as they came off the loom.
The piece on the right became the finished bracelet. The piece on the left is still awaiting its fate. The left piece is twelve beads wide whereas the right piece is eleven beads wide. I discovered that I love odd count bead rows. It lends itself better to spontaneous design. On an even bead row, diamonds have a two bead point. You can’t center anything including which is fine, but on a thin piece like this I like being able to center the designs. The even count rows would serve better abstract design, color blocks, Greek keys, etc.
I did not use my usual technique of weaving a fiber edge and folding it over thereby concealing the knotted warp threads because of two reasons: I knew that the double-sided triangle clasp would buy one end of the band. And I had decided that I would try a new technique on the other end which was to continue the end of the piece with four rows of square stitch and then fold those four rows onto the back of the piece and sew it down, again burying the knotted warp threads. I liked the outcome because it was clean and neat and no thread showed. It might have been a little more time consuming than weaving a fiber edge, but I think it was worth and I do plan to experiment more with this technique.
Here’s a not so great photo of the extended square stitch. (I took it in bad light last night). Once I folded it back onto the woven section those threads were buried. I did apply some glue just to make sure the warp thread knots didn’t come undone.
I discovered something else and I am kind of hitting my head wondering why I couldn’t have figured this out a thousand years ago. I’ve been having a lot of trouble missing beads when using the traditional technique of bead weaving which I do tend to use for thin pieces. I couldn’t figure it out until I randomly used a long thin needle on these two pieces. Normally I use the softouch needles meant for softouch wire. Why? Because they are very sturdy and easy to use. BUT they don’t like passing through the front of a bead when on the loom. The longer and thinner needles don’t mind doing it at all. So with this new needle I made NO mistakes. And you all probably already new this! I was so happy with the quality of the piece. So perfect and flat and I didn’t have to sew through beads that hadn’t quite got connected to the warp. WOW, major breakthrough I should have had along time ago. Hope you haven’t lost all faith in me!
Picture of finished bracelet on my wrist!
The best thing about this job . . . running Mirrix . . . is the opportunity to weave new pieces on the Mirrix. Hard sometimes to stop and actually answer the phone (p.s. the best way to get in touch with me is through email: firstname.lastname@example.org because at least one computer/blackberry is turned on or with me) when I am in the “flow” state. It’s been flowing a lot lately. Maybe it’s the inspiring colors of autumn or maybe it’s just my time to fall into that state where all I can think about (until life knocks on my brains door) is color and shape and how those beads can replicate what I see in my mind.
I am trying to combine loom work with off loom work and have come up with the following piece:
The strap is loom woven. I’ve used quite a few gold plated and rhodium plated beads with a sprinkling of some great subtle greens and dark reds. The triangles are not yet attached. They were formed from peyote stitch/herringbone. I am not yet sure how I will attach them or what I will do with the black fringe. I do know that I will place either semi-precious stones or crystals inside the triangles. I do know that the points will face down. I might actually string beads onto some of the fringe and weave the rest back into the piece. But until that image finds its way into my brain, this piece will have to rest.
The next piece was intended to be a belt but my impatience forced me to take it off the loom. I also realized that it would make a great necklace. This piece has, besides the loom woven strap, an off-loom created triangle. It’s two-sided and buries all those tied off loom warps!
The beads are 11/0 Delicas. I made up a bunch of symbols. I am fascinated with symbols and geometric shapes. Have gotten away from weaving such shapes until recently and suddenly remembered how much I love them.
I wove both these pieces on a 16 inch with loom extenders. I love the loom extenders both because they give me the length I need to weave a very long strip and because I can see much of the piece while weaving it.
Back to weaving something big on the Mirrix
For a variety of reasons, including the fact that I have not woven something large with beads on the Mirrix for quite some time, yesterday I decided to weave our “ipod” kit. I love this piece. I’ve woven two already, but gave them both away. I decided that my blackberry needs a new, beautiful house (this purse fits most cellphnes, ipods, you name it). Also, I needed to warp the loom for a larger piece, remind myself that I love this loom and why so I can communicate this information to my customers. So I am going to take you on this journey, which had some snags in the beginning, which I will share. In fact, I will share all the good and all the bad (mostly it will be good).
The kit itself comes with a multiple page version of this pattern. The piece itself is ten inches long and about three inches wide. It gets folded to have a flap. A rope made from rayon is included with kit but you can also bead your own strap since there are extra beads added for this purpose.
I warped the loom. I am good at this having had a bit of practice! Put the heddles on with no problem. Put in the first row of beads, which was really, really easy because I was using the bottom spring kit. Started using the shedding device. Wove about five rows. Everything was working great and I was patting myself on the back for not having made an error attaching the heddles. Went over to a friend’s house for dinner. Returned for some more beading fun. And then I realized that I had forgotten to put heddles on one set of warps.
Spent the next twenty minutes trying to fix this problem. Fortunately, the mistake was only about eight warps in. Still, I had to unweave what I had woven, remove all heddles in the way to get on new ones, replace all those heddles. After that, I stopped for the evening because the light was lousy and I was in one heck of an annoyed mood.
But this is good because I was feeling exactly what one of our customers feel when things don’t just go swimmingly well. When everything is set up right, it does go swimmingly well and we forget all our troubles in bead land. But when we make a mistake and have to fix it suddenly all those thin threads seem like the enemy and the loom could easily be converted into a weapon or a football.
Woke up this morning with a new attitude and before I even had my morning espresso I wove a few rows. No mistakes in heddle placement. Everything was right in bead weaving land. A not so great close up below but you can see the progress. Those rows took maybe ten minutes to weave and they just fell in place. What I love about the shedding device when weaving wider pieces is there is really only one mistake to make: forgetting to rotate the shedding device. You can tell you’ve done that when you get some funky side warps. They aren’t caught by weft thread. You see it pretty quickly. I did that once this morning but it was the last row I was weaving so it took only a moment to fix. The great thing is that you don’t have to remove beads to fix it. Just pull them back through the shed (that’s the space between the raised and lower threads). And even though when on the loom it looks like there are slight gaps between the rows, once removed from the loom the warp will shrink back to size and pull everything in nicely. There will be no gaps.
You will be able to but the kit for this bracelet in a day or two. I’ve made all the kits, just need to get it into our shopping cart. But meanwhile, I am uploading the pattern to this blog for those of you who would like to put together your own kit.
Instructions for Making a Checkerboard Square Bead Bracelet using the Mirrix Loom
Materials Included for making one bracelet:
Matte Patina Iris
Matte Metallic Khaki Iris
Metallic Gold Iris
Two swarovski pearlized crystals
Six grams of Japanese seed beads: Matte Metallic Kahaki Iris
One bobbin of C-lon beading thread
Hand-dyed silk yarn for finishing
Necessary tools not included in the kit:
A Mirrix Loom with or without a shedding device
A piece of cloth for holding beads; a beading needle, a blunt edge needle
Warping your Mirrix Loom:
Warp Coil size: 18 dents (a 14 or 16 dent coil will also work)
Number of warps: 13
Number of rows for 6 ¾ inch bracelet: 99
You can use any of the Mirrix Looms to create this lovely bracelet. This piece can be woven with or without the shedding device. It’s your choice. Try Both!
These instructions are for a bracelet 6 ¼ inches in diameter when on your wrist. Increase or decrease by three rows to add or subtract a quarter inch from the size of your bracelet. Make sure that there are sixrows after the button hole.
You will want to reduce your loom’s height to minimize the amount of warp you will use. If you have a larger Mirrix Loom, this can be accomplished by using the extra warping bar. Use the 18 dent coil for this project if possible. The 14 or 16 dent coils will also be adequate. You will need to have 13 warp threads.
We have included a bead pattern to demonstrate the placement of colors. This pattern does not reflect the actual colors included in this kit. Do follow the placement of color in the pattern.
To Begin Weaving:
Place three piles of the different colored cylinder beads on a cloth in front of your loom.
Cut a length of C-lon thread about a yard long. Tie the end of this thread to the bottom of the left threaded rod on your loom using a slip knot so that you can easily release it and weave it back into your piece later. Beginning with the first row, pick up three blue/green beads, three gold beads, three blue/green beads and three gold beads. Weave these beads. Repeat this pattern for two more rows. The next row will comprise three green beads, three gold beads, three green beads and three gold beads. Repeat for two rows. The next row will comprise three gold beads, three blue/green beads, three gold beads, three blue/green beads. Continue this pattern of for 93 rows for a 6 ¾ inch bracelet. As I mentioned before, add or subtract three bead rows to add or subtract a quarter of an inch to your bracelet. Some adjustment can be accomplished by the placement of your peyote button.
For the next section, keep the new color and replace the old color for nine rows. At row 94, you will need to create a button hole. Continue weaving with your current thread, but only go to column six (please see white line in enclosed pattern). Weave this section of only six columns for six rows. Start a new thread to weave the five columns on the other side of the bracelet. Weave that side for six rows. End one of the threads and continue weaving a straight row of checkerboard for six rows.
Next you need to weave in a header and a footer with the silk thread. Cut the thread in half. Thread a blunt nose tapestry needle. You will be weaving a half inch of this silk on either end of the bracelet. Using the needle, go under and over every other thread (or pairs of threads, if you have used the shedding device), then reverse direction and go under the threads you went over and over the threads you went under. After you have woven a half inch, sew both ends of the silk thread into the woven part so it does not ravel. When you’ve finished weaving your header and footer, loosen the tension on your loom and slip out the warping bar. Lay your piece flat and trim the ends so that you have at least four inches left to work with. Tie overhand knots with warp pairs. When you’ve tied all the knots, trim the warp as close as you can without allowing the knots to be undone. Fold the header (or footer) at the seam where the header and beads meet. Turn the knots under so that they are buried. Carefully sew this header down so that you knots are buried and it looks neat. Do the same with the footer. This will be the back of your bracelet. You want to make this hem as sturdy and neat as possible. Make sure that you avoid covering the button hole.
In order to add a picot edge to the sides of the bracelet, string a workable length of C-lon (a yard) and sew it through the beads at one end of the bracelet in order to firmly attach it. You will pass your needle through the last bead at the edge of the bracelet, pick up three 11/0 seed beads and then pass back through the next edge bead. Pass your needle through the next bead so that you are once again working on the edge of the bracelet. String three more seed bead and pass back through next bead. Continue this way until you have come to the end of the bracelet. If you have left over C-lon, work your way back to the other side of the bracelet and repeat this procedure until you’ve reached the far end. If you have only a short length of C-lon, string a new piece and firmly attach to bracelet. This edging is very attractive as well as reinforcing your bracelet and disguising the warp threads on the side of the bracelet.
The “button” will be created using peyote stitch:
Using cylinder bead color of your choice to make a flat peyote piece that you will sew into a cylinder. Firmly attach the pearls to either end of the tube.
String ten 11/0 seed beads. Make the piece 8 rows wide. Zip the first and last rows together to form a tube. Sew the tail back into the bead work. Use the left over thread to sew to the sixth bead in one of the rows. You will be sewing this button onto the bracelet at a point that creates the best fit for you. String up three 11/0 seed beads, sew onto bracelet, thread three cylinder beads, sew back through button.
Wear and enjoy!
Or, if this is a gift: put it in the included gift bag and give it away!
I was just playing around here and at other bead sites (the guests are all gone, the kitchen floor scrubbed . . . on hands and knees and boy is that wooden floor a whole lot of shades lighter now that I’ve removed the ground-in dirt!, the dreaded tax stuff sitting in a threatening pile, the sun bright and waiting for me to take my daily walk to make sure the mountain is still standing properly, etc.) looking at looms. It was mentioned on the Bead Creator blog that there are “lots and lots of manufactured looms out there”, which is indeed true, so I wanted to get a sense for what the looms are, what makes each one different, pricing of looms, etc. What I found: there is a standard model for many bead looms and most are made of wood of varying degrees of strength, beauty, value and a few are made of light metal like the ones most of us had when we were kids. Those looms: 1) allow you to put on one plane of warp or have roller beams so that you can advance the warp; 2) have the warp attached at either end to a single nail or more; 3) provide a spring at either end through which the warp is spread out evenly. Additional features may include: 1) the ability to adjust the size of the loom to accommodate different length weavings; 2) a stand as part of the loom or an additional stand to put the loom in an upright position. And then there are the plastic looms which are more like forms about which you can wrap your warp. There are also “heddle looms” but I can’t find any that still exist. These operate like actual weaving cloth weaving looms and were originally used by Native Americans.And then there is the Mirrix Loom (okay, so you knew I was going land at exactly this spot): The Mirrix Loom is NOT a bead loom (well, it wasn’t at first but it is now). It is a tapestry loom. Its closest relative would be the “heddle looms”. It functions in a similar, but not identical, fashion. (Let me digress slightly here. I want to mention that all those cool beaded purses from the 30s and 40s were in fact made on regular cloth weaving looms. If you look at t hose purses closely you will see a line of thread between every line of beads. That provided stability because two beads lay between every warp thread. The Mirrix was designed to avoid the two bead/one warp/two bead method so that there could be a bead/warp/bead/warp hence eliminating the need for that extra thread between rows of beads.) The only difference between weaving tapestry on a Mirrix and weaving beads is that when you weave beads you put two warps in every dent (the space in the spring) so that when you raise one set of those threads in order to literally weave your beads (Place them between the raised and lowered sets of warps) you end up with a warp/bead/warp/bead, etc. Otherwise, if you just had one warp thread in each dent, you would end up with a warp/bead/bead/warp. Hard to visualize unless you are sitting in front of a Mirrix. So, having designed this lovely tapestry loom to suit all MY tapestry needs (and that is exactly why I invented the Mirrix, not originally to sell it) and finally gone into business with it, it was pointed out to me by some bead folks, namely Ms. Jane from Jane’s Fiber and Beads, that this would make a fabulous bead loom. It would be overkill, of course, because the requirements of tapestry (strength of loom) far out way the requirements of bead weaving. But overkill is good because overkill means the equipment will not fail you and will last forever. (Note here that wooden looms of lower quality wood or particle board will degrade over time but metal will most likely not.) I learned how to weave beads. I didn’t particularly want to, mind you. I was perfectly happy with fiber and dyeing and spinning and all that very cool stuff. Who needed beads? Plus, I couldn’t dye them and I didn’t think there could possibly be enough colors to suit my needs. Wrong, but who knew that then.We discovered that you can simply use the Mirrix to weave beads in the standard way: putting a row of beads on thread and placing those beads behind and in between the warps that are on the loom and then sewing through the tops of the beads to attach them to the warp OR you could use the shedding device and actually weave the beads.So what makes the Mirrix different from other looms: 1) it’s amazingly strong and will stand up to any beading moment you want to throw at it; 2) it’s very adjustable and accommodates two planes of warp (versus looms that only allow you to weave on the front or looms with roller beams which aren’t so great because as you release and roll up the warp you often mess up the tension); 3) it is vertical ; 4) it provides two methods for weaving beads (except for the two smallest ones, which do not include the shedding device); 5) it does not use the nail method for warping which in fact I find very difficult to accomplish; rather it uses a continuous warp which provides consistent tension; 6) it has available lots of spring options for use with any size bead; 7) it’s made of some really serious metal.The Mirrix Loom is a serious bead (or tapestry) loom which is nothing like the other many, many bead looms out there. But it also can be for a beginner. It’s just a great loom. And since I am its Mom, I think I am bragging! HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR! Claudia
Finished bracelet using square beads with button closure.
Before removing your bracelet you need to weave in a header and a footer with thread. This thread can be the same thread you used for the warp. I prefer to use a slightly heavier silk thread (which is included in the Checkerboard bracelet kit). Cut a length of thread about a yard long. Thread a blunt nose tapestry needle. You will be weaving a half inch of this thread on either end of the bracelet. Using the needle, go under and over every other thread (or pairs of threads, if you have used the shedding device), then reverse direction and go under the threads you went over and over the threads you went under. After you have woven a half inch, sew both ends of the silk thread into the woven part so it does not ravel. When you’ve finished weaving your header and footer, loosen the tension on your loom and slip out the warping bar. Lay your piece flat and trim the ends so that you have at least four inches left to work with. Tie overhand knots with warp pairs. When you’ve tied all the knots, trim the warp as close as you can without allowing the knots to be undone. Fold the header (or footer) at the seam where the header and beads meet. Turn the knots under so that they are buried. Carefully sew this header down so that you knots are buried and it looks neat. Do the same with the footer. This will be the back of your bracelet. You want to make this hem as sturdy and neat as possible. Make sure that you avoid covering the button hole.
I also like to add a picot edge to the sides of the bracelet. In order to do this, string a workable length of warp thread (a yard) and sew it through the beads at one end of the bracelet in order to firmly attach it. You will pass your needle through the last bead at the edge of the bracelet, pick up three seed beads and then pass back through the next edge bead. Pass your needle through the next bead so that you are once again working on the edge of the bracelet. String three more seed bead and pass back through next bead. Continue this way until you have come to the end of the bracelet. If you have left over thread, work your way back to the other side of the bracelet and repeat this procedure until you’ve reached the far end. If you have only a short length of warp thread, string a new piece and firmly attach to bracelet. This edging is very attractive as well as reinforcing your bracelet and disguising the warp threads on the side of the bracelet.
Making a Button Hole and a Button
At about row 102, you will need to create a button hole. Continue weaving with your current thread, but only go to the middle of the piece. Weave this half section for eight rows. Start a new thread to weave the columns on the other side of the bracelet. Weave that side for eight rows. End one of the threads and continue weaving a straight row of beads for four or five rows. Weave two rows of a solid color.
The “button” will be created using peyote stitch:
Using cylinder bead color of your choice to make a flat peyote piece that you will sew into a cylinder.
String 12 cylinder beads. Make the piece 10 rows wide. Zip the first and last rows together to form a tube. Sew the tail back into the bead work. Use the left over thread to sew to the sixth bead in one of the rows. You will be sewing this button onto the bracelet at a point that creates the best fit for you. String up three cylinder beads, sew onto bracelet, thread three cylinder beads, sew back through button.
This bracelet will hug your wrist and feel great.
Although computers and graph paper are great tools for creating designs for bead weaving, there are other options. Designing an image to weave on a bead loom is not as daunting as it seems. If you look around your home, you will find the tools you need to create an inspired and unique design. Crayons, photographs, pastels for example, can hold the key to a great design. Any full-sized picture–tapestry weavers call such pictures “cartoons”–can be your muse.
This advice was gained through experience. As a tapestry weaver who wanted to experiment with bead weaving, I was skeptical whether beads could convey a sense of color and texture the way fibers can. Fiber absorbs light and beads reflect light. Fiber is soft and beads are hard. I was could make my own yarn through spinning and dyeing, but there was no way I was going to make my own seed beads. To get a real idea of the difference in these two mediums, I decided to create a bead weaving based on a photograph of a plate holding pears and peaches, the same photograph I had once used to create a tapestry weaving. I warped my loom to correspond exactly in size to the photograph turned on its side. I pored through my bead stash and found fifty tubes of size 11/0 seed beads whose colors could be found in that photograph.
Keeping in mind the method that tapestry weavers use, I placed the photograph behind the warp of my bead loom. I looked at the photograph and the edge that would be the first row of beads. Then I used my threaded needle to pick up beads that were the colors I saw. I didn’t think about the picture; I just thought about a the colors I was seeing in the first row. The first few rows were not very impressive, and it wasn’t until the tenth row that I began to see shapes emerging. Those little beads became the dots of color in a pointillist painting. Since the picture was on it’s side, I did not allow my concept of what a plate of peaches and pears should look like interfere with the beaded piece my hands were executing.
I used all fifty colors. Some rows contained twenty or more colors. Many colors were closely related, like the five shades of white. After I wove in the last row, I turned my loom on its side. Sure enough, there it was: the plate of peaches and pears in all its glory. I walked across the room to look at it. To my astonishment, the image was crystal clear from fifteen feet away. My understanding of pointillism deepened significantly in that moment. I had been watching the weaving progress from a distance of inches. That the weaving translated best from many feet away was astonishing to me. A four-by-five-inch bead weaving is small format, and yet the beads seemed to speak as loudly from a distance as they did from close up.
After realizing that the tapestry method of using a cartoon could also work for bead weaving, my whole outlook on bead weaving changed. I could use anything as a guide. To prove that this was possible, I quickly made a small abstract sketch with pastels using some very lively colors to contrast with the rather dull colors I had used for the plate of peaches and pears. I used about twenty colors of Delica beads for this weaving. The color areas in my pastel sketch were not distinct. Between a yellow and green there emerged a third and fourth color. By looking very carefully at the space between colors, however, I was able to find beads to match so that the emerging bead weaving had the same feel as the pastel drawing. As the weaving progressed, I was thrilled to discover that beads could capture such subtle blending of color. I realized that any image could be created with beads since beads are simply points of color. If carefully arranged, those points of color can add up to a perfectly shaded, blended, complex design.
You can take any image–from a slice of a picture you’ve taken to the latest crayon creation taped to your refrigerator–and turn it into a bead weaving. Try making a collage of family photographs or finding a picture of your flower. Use your digital camera to take a picture of pebbles or the bark on a tree. Anything can become a beautiful bead weaving because beads make everything beautiful. Tell yourself you are an artist today, and with beads in hand the sim0plest of tools, you can create a masterpiece.
Warning: make sure you use a great loom like the Mirrix!