I am always looking for new ways to combine fiber and beads and after a lot of trial and error the light bulb finally popped on top of my head for this one. I wanted a fine sett for the fiber (14 ends per inch), which is fairly thin hand-painted silk. I also wanted to add two different size crystals: size 3mm and 4mm. Well if you do the math, the crystals (and especially because there are two sizes) are not going to fit in the space between warps created by a 14 ends per inch sett. That space is tiny. But if I made the sett large enough to fit the biggest crystal, the silk weft would be all floppy and weird and it just would not be a nice bracelet. I played and played and played.
And just when I thought play time was over and I would not solve the problem, the answer struck me: DON’T PUT THE CRYSTALS IN BETWEEN THE WARP THREADS! So where does one put them? You float them on top of the warp threads. I tried it and is sure did work. And that is what this bracelet is all about: very finely woven hand-painted silk with “floats” of crystals on the top. The result was a bracelet that looks like lights on top of a sea of color. Playing really hard can pay off big time!
What tools do you need:
Any size Mirrix Loom with a 14 dent spring (which is standard with all Mirrix Looms)
A beading mat or piece of cloth for holding the crystals
What materials you need: You can purchase the kit here.
One twelve yard bobbin of hand-painted silk
Six grams of 3mm and 4mm round crystals
One 12 yard bobbin of cotton/poly warp
One Z Clasp
Let’s have another look at the bracelet before we launch into making it.
Now the warping begins. Don’t worry, this is as quick as it gets. Get your loom ready with the 14 dent spring on the top. You are going to need maximum eight and a half inches of weaving length so you can set any Mirrix Loom as low as possible. Remember to leave at least an inch of threaded rod showing at the bottom though. You will be putting on six warps. That should take you three sips of tea. If you are using the mini, you can just put on the warp. If using any other size loom I suggest putting the weaving on the left and a piece of string on the right to balance the warping bar.
Okay, let’s get warped!
Put the 14 dent spring on your loom and the warping bar in the clips at the back of your loom and you are ready to go.
If you have never worked before, we suggested checking out our warping .PDF on the website. You can find it here (skip the part about putting the shedding device on, you won’t need it for this piece).
We suggest that for any loom size 8″ wide or larger that you put the warp for this project on the left or right side of your loom and tie a string on the other side. The reason for this: because this is such a narrow piece if you center it on your loom the warping bar may have a tendency to wobble especially with the larger looms.
This is a fairly short piece so you can make your loom short. Have at least an inch of threaded rod showing for adjustment purposes.
Tie the end of your warp to the warping bar.
Take the warp up the back of the loom and over the top beam into the spring, down to and around the bottom beam and up to the warping bar. At this point do a U-turn and head back down the back of the loom to and around the bottom beam, up to the top beam and through the spring and down the back of the loom to the warping bar where you will do another U-turn and head back up to the top beam, through the spring, etc.
Once you have six warps going through the spring, you are done. Then tie a piece of warp to the other side of the loom to balance the warping bar.
Loosen the tension slightly on the loom by turning the wing nuts clockwise and move the warping bar down to just below the wing nuts. Turn the wing nuts counter clockwise to put tension back on the warp. I like a lot of tension!
Cut a length of warp material three times the width of your loom. Using a tapestry needle, weave under and over the warp threads, wrap around the threaded rod, weave through the alternate warp threads and then tie the two ends around the other threaded rod. This will serve as a base on which to start weaving.
Before you begin weaving the header (which is a few rows of warp thread) you will make a series of knots. This will keep the weaving from unraveling when you remove it from the loom. As an added bonus, you won’t have to tie knots in the warp threads which would be bulky for this bracelet. To begin, tie a knot around the right warp thread. Just one loop, not a complete knot as seen below.
Thread your tapestry needle. Take the thread behind the second warp and then around it. Sew through the loop and pull to tighten.
Now take the thread behind the third warp and through the loop in front. Do this until you reach the side warp.
Now you can weave the header using the working end of the warp thread.
We are ready to begin weaving the hand-painted silk.
Before we begin let’s talk about design and size. No matter what size wrist you have, the part of this bracelet that has the crystals will be five inches long. It will lie approximately in the middle of the bracelet. There is a certain amount of freedom you will have weaving those crystals, ie., how you bunch them, how much silk you weave in between. Your kit comes with 6 grams of crystals, which equals roughly ninety of them. That is plenty to spread out through those five inches of weaving. I tend to bunch my crystals and then put plane silk spacing in between. You can do that or evenly distribute your crystals throughout. Whatever suits your eye best.
Now for measurement.
My wrist is six inches around. To make a piece to fit I will weave one inch of just silk, 5 inches of silk and crystal and then a final inch and three quarters of blank silk. The reason one end is longer than the other, is the longer end will create the loop into which you will put the end of the clasp whereas the shorter end will sew around the fixed part of the clasp. With the Z-clasp you need a little wiggle room in order to have it fit into that loop.
The following is a chart to follow based on your wrist size. The first number is just silk; the second number which is the same for everyone is silk and crystals; the last number is again just silk.
6 inch wrist: 1″, 5″, 1 5/8″
6 1/4 inch wrist: 1 1/8,” 5″, 1 3/4″
6 1/2 inch wrist: 1 1/4″, 5″, 2″
6 3/4 inch wrist: 1 1/2″, 5″, 2 1/2″
7 inch wrist: 1 3/4″, 5″, 2 5/8″
Because this piece will not be backed, you will not have weft ends hanging to the back. They will all be trimmed.
Starting on the opposite end of where you ended the warp thread begin weaving your hand-painted silk. Weave one inch of this.
Notice how the silk wraps neatly around the side warps. Do not pull too tightly so that the warps pull in, but also do not leave a baggy loop.
You can trim the header and silk ends at any time.
Before you get ready to place your first “light” on the bracelet, weave the silk so it is in between warp two and three.
It is time to add some “lights!” To do so you will need to get one “light” (crystal) on the hand-painted silk. To accomplish this you first need to thread a short piece of thread (this can be beading thread or sewing thread) onto a needle (I am using a soft flex beading needle . . . but just about any sewing needle will do) and tie the ends in an overhand knot.
Slip the thread loop over the working end of the hand-painted silk with which you are weaving. Slide a crystal onto the needle.
Slide the crystal onto the silk.
Place the crystal between warps two and four and then continue weaving under warp four, six, etc. The crystal will float on top of the third warp rather than get shoved in between the warps. You see, it would not fit in between the warps and this way you both do not distort the warps (and can use both crystal sizes) and you get this lovely look of having the crystals floating on top of your bracelet. Now you know the secret behind this piece!
Pull gently so that the crystal lies as flat as possible but not so tightly that it tries to sneak in between the warp threads. It should float but not be loose.
Add another crystal. You can here that I’ve added a 4mm crystal (the first one was 3mm). It does not matter which size you use. I like to balance out the two sizes. My first attempt used just size 4mm and I would have kept to that size had I not accidentally ordered some 3mm crystals and after my disappointment I decided to see if they would work. I was certain they would not fit on the silk. But low and behold, their holes are the same size as the 4mm crystals and indeed they fit perfectly. That was the accident that inspired me to use both sizes and I sure am glad for that accident because the piece looks so much better was a combination of the sizes. Please note that most of the crystals will slide onto the silk. There may be a few that don’t because of a burr inside the hole. If it doesn’t slide on the silk you will know right away. Give it up. Put it in a pile to use for something else. Not manner of shoving or yelling at it is going to make it fit. Trust me, I’ve tried.
We’re going to crystal three. You know the drill: weave your silk to the spot where you want the crystal. Slide crystal onto silk. Place it over the next warp thread and weave under the warp thread next to that.
Here comes number four!
Just addig more crystals.
You don’t have to add all the crystals in the middle. You can take your silk thread right to the end of the piece and add a crystal. You can see that is the case with the gold crystal on the left side. It will hang off the side of the piece slightly.
lllTwo things are happening here. The first is I’ve ended a group of crystals. My pattern is to lay in groups of crystals, weave just silk, lay in another group. As I mentioned before, you can do this or spread your crystals more evenly through the piece. There is no rule, just whatever catches your eye. The two examples on the wrist at the beginning to this show both examples.
I have also replaced my silk thread with a new one. To do so just end the first piece at the edge of your weaving. Start a new piece on the opposite side. Once you’ve woven above this you will trim those two ends and they will get buried in the piece.
Even though this is actually two areas or “blobs” of crystals with some empty silk woven in between, it does almost look as if the two blobs kind of run together. I have woven a greater amount of empty silk above this which will appear to be more of a space between crystals.
Keep weaving until you measure five inches between the first crystal and the last. This will be the same no matter what your wrist size. Okay, so if you happen to have some crystals left over and you just do to want to listen to me, you can weave a few more.
We will see you in the second half of this weave along to finish weaving your bracelet and to put on the finishing touches so you can wear it!