Monday, 24 December 2012

Rocky Road and Muddy Boots

Robin, holly and ivy from my nature diary

It's Christmas Eve and at last it looks like I might be able to put my feet up with a glass of sherry. Family gift swapping visits are all done and the cupboards are groaning with treats. We went out to buy sprouts and various other Christmas lunch essentials and oh my goodness it was so wet and muddy walking back over the field. But it was good to be out in the fresh air watching the wildlife. Blackbirds and robins in abundance in the hedgerows.
I've made a good start on the Rocky Road kumihimo braid.... as promised here are pictures of it in the early stages. Also a short video clip with shows the marudai in use.
The braid beginning to form
underneath the hole in the marudai

The view from the top.
The photos show the very start of braiding. After working a short length with just the threads, I start to slide beads down and they are held within the braid by using the weighted bobbins and the counterbalance bag. Here's a video clip of me working on the marudai.

I will post more photos and I go along and in the meantime I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Kumihimo treats and treasures

What a busy December it has turned out to be. It was rather disorganised of me to arrange work on the house to coincide with the run-up to Christmas…. But it’s done. Last week the fitters came to do the final work on the roof and dormer, on the same day as the man came to install blinds and yet more men to cut hedges. 3 men hammering, 1 man drilling, 2 men with chainsaws… sounds like a Christmas Carol! Not surprisingly beading has taken a bit of a back seat of late.

Slabs of Rocky Road
One of my favourite activities at this time of year is browsing through all the lovely edible treats in the food hall of my favourite department store. Buying gifts gives me the perfect excuse to indulge my senses. Glossy preserves and chutneys, temptingly wicked chocolates, luscious fruits in tall jars filled with liqueurs, spiced oils, domed panettones, marzipan studded stollen (my favourite) and decadent biscuits of every description to name just a few temptations. I came away laden with edibles for friends and family! One sweet treat in particular caught my eye this year and I was immediately reminded of some beads I had in my collection.
These beads will be
going into the mix
Slabs of rocky road, that sticky confection studded with marshmallows is such a pretty combination of colours and chunky textures. It tastes pretty amazing too!
After working hard on bead embroidered pieces I feel the need to do some Kumihimo for a change and the rocky road sweets have really inspired my selection of materials for the new braid. I’ve selected loads of lovely treasures from my collection.

I've had quite a few emails from people wanting patterns and instructions on how to make braids like mine. Using a wooden marudai is quite complicated to try to explain and I tend to work intuitively and never follow a rigid pattern as such. You need to see it being done to really get the idea, but I'll post pictures of it in progress over the next few days.

Gathering together all the materials for the kumihimo braid

Tama - some with beads on the threads

After selecting my beads and threads I wind the threads round the tama (bobbins that are weighted to 70 grams).

In this case I am making an 8 strand round braid. I have threaded beads on 4 of the bobbins. You can use beads on all threads, but in this case I want some of that gorgeous hand dyed sari silk to peep through.

Marudai with tama and
counterbalance bag
The picture  shows what a wooden marudai looks like in use. A counterbalance bag with weights inside keeps the threads taut and when you slide a bead down to the point of braiding (in the middle of the hole) it locks that bead in place.