I have noticed that many customers buying my latest book, Kumihimo Endings, are adding a Prumihimo disk to their order. Some of these are braiders who have already bought Prumihimo disks and want another one. Others are those who want to try it for the first time. When people make multiple purchases on my website a shipping charge is added for each item, but it is usually possible to make a saving by getting everything into one package. In these cases I pass the saving back to the customer by issuing a PayPal refund. However, it makes sense for me to offer the book and disk together as a package, so that customers can see from the beginning what the shipping will cost. It also means that I can offer a good deal for the two products.
It is now possible to purchase this book and disk together and a PDF tutorial is included to help to offset the shipping charge. The cost is £15 (Approximately US$19.50) and for that you will receive the Kumihimo Endings book, one Prumihimo disk and the Beaded Cluster Double Bracelet tutorial PDF. I aim to keep the shipping costs as low as possible. UK shipping for this package costs £2.00 and for the US and many other countries it is £6 (Approximately US$8). EU customers should contact me by email if they wish to purchase.
I have been working with wire for my kumihimo designs for many years and I have experimented extensively to find the best way to use wire on the foam disk to make effective designs, which are also pleasurable to make. My first success was with a wire necklace design, which was a finalist in the Jewellery Maker of the year competition in 2011. To make the design I used bundles of fine wire to braid the necklace with additional embellishment and it remains to this day one of my favourite necklaces. What I love about it is that it brings something new to the traditional world of kumihimo. By using traditional techniques and non-traditional materials a very contemporary effect can be created.
As you may imagine, this design created a lot of interest and I had numerous requests for instructions, so when I set up my website in 2013 this was one of the first designs I provided as a tutorial. I also developed the technique to make a bracelet, which is a better starting point for working with wire because of the shorter lengths of wire involved. These two tutorials have remained popular ever since.
Also in 2013 I wrote a wire kumihimo tutorial for Beads & Beyond magazine. I wanted to offer something different, so I experimented with a traditional kumihimo braid to produce a light and pretty effect. I was delighted to find that my Twister bracelet achieved front cover glory!
Over the last few years I have have had fun experimenting with a few different braid structures and different types of wire, but didn’t find the time to write up new tutorials. I have also experimented with mixing wire with cord, which I was able to use to give structure to Christmas decorations. My latest experiments involve the Prumihimo disk because I was asked to deliver a wire Prumihimo workshop and it has been very satisfying working out suitable designs and planning the workshop. I am really looking forward to introducing my students to the wonderful world of wire kumihimo.
I am sometimes surprised that we do not see more wire kumihimo designs posted on social media and I think one of the reasons is that people are put off by working with thicker wire, such as 0.8mm or 0.6mm (20 or 22 gauge). The problem can be that it is more difficult to get an even effect with thicker wire and it can be very hard on your hands. It may not seem to bad when you start to braid, but I find that by the time I have made half a bracelet my fingers are feeling pretty sore and by the next morning my hands feel stiff. So I prefer to leave the thicker wire to those with stronger hands than mine and my designs rely on multiple strands of thinner wires, which are much easier to control and handle. The end result is still very robust and structural. My hands are definitely grateful!
In the workshop I will share my 10 golden rules for working with wire. I will teach an easy way to set up the disk and then we will proceed to making a plain braid. In the afternoon we will work on beaded wire kumihimo and I will teach how to embellish a wire braid and how to finish off with a really lovely wire ending and clasp. At the time of writing there are still a few places left on this workshop, which is at Riverside Beads in Market Deeping on Saturday 11th May. In addition to learning all about wire kumihimo it will be a great opportunity to connect with other braiders and to stock up on great wire and all sorts of other wonderful kumihimo goodies!
Getting out the wire has really inspired me to develop a few more ideas, as well as reworking some of my previous designs. I hope to have a few new wire tutorials by the end of the year, so watch this space!
The Prumihimo disk has been on vacation, but now it is back home and back in stock on this website! Not only is the patented Prumihimo disk in stock, both regular and extra-thick, but both of my books are also back in stock. If you are interested in making a purchase I suggest looking through the various different purchase options in the shop. The disk itself is very lightweight, so I have put together packages of multiple disks to make the best use of the shipping charge. In order to keep the shipping charges as low as possible I do as much as I can myself and in most cases I also offer a tutorial to offset the cost. I do not use tracked mail because this is almost twice the price, but I can honestly say that not a single correctly addressed international package has been lost. Some have arrived really quickly. Most take around 7-10 days to reach international destinations, but that does vary and I always warn customers that they should expect to receive their purchase in 2-3 weeks. A few have taken quite a bit longer, and I presume that they got held up in the receiving country’s customs, but they all get there safely in the end! If people prefer to pay for tracked mail I am happy to arrange that for them. If you are buying from an EU country other than the UK (and a few other countries) you will need to email me to arrange the purchase. Customers in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can order directly from the website. If you have any problems in placing an order please just contact me using the contact details on this website.
I would like to tell you about one very well-travelled book. It was supposed to be sent to Grenada, in the Caribbean, but the address must have been misread in London and was sent to Canada instead. Unfortunately, its arrival in Canada coincided with a postal strike. At this point I presumed that the package was lost and sent another one, which arrived safely. Eventually, the strike was over and the package was sent to Grenada. The recipient very kindly sent it back to me, but it arrived in London when I was away from home and the postperson did not put a notification card through my door. I knew it had been sent, so I checked at the depot, but without the card they couldn’t (or wouldn’t!) find it. Finally it turned up in Grenada again, having been returned. There was no point in trying to send it back again, but the original recipient is planning to give it to a relative in the US. Luckily this time it will be delivered in person, rather than taking its chances with the postal service! I am glad to say that was a one-off and I have sent thousands of packages out to many different countries with no delays or problems!
The international shipping charge depends on the weight of the purchase. For example package containing 1-4 disks can be shipped for £4, which works out at around US$5.40. A package containing a book and 1-3 disks can be shipped for £6, which works out at around US$7.90. If multiple products are ordered I may be able to package the items together to save money and I will refund any excess shipping.
I have just uploaded a brand new necklace tutorial for the Prumihimo disk and when I looked back over my records I was surprised to see how long it has been since I offered a new tutorial. Working on new designs is my absolute favourite kumihimo activity, so why has it been so long? In November I published two new bracelet designs. Candy Cuff is a double bracelet design using 2-hole flat backed round beads, called Candy Beads and Desdemona is a single braid bracelet, featuring embellishment on 2 sides using lentil beads. I like to work with unusual bead shapes, such as these, because I enjoy the challenge of working with something new and fresh, which has not been widely used with kumihimo, if at all. Last week I wrote a supplement for the Candy Bead tutorial, which shows how to adapt the instructions to use a similar bead, the 2-hole baroque cabochon. New purchasers of this tutorial will receive the supplement and those who have already purchased it can contact me and I will send the supplement. Both of these tutorials are made on the Prumihimo disk. I am aware that many people prefer to use their stash, rather than having to purchase expenisive new beads. My Cordelia bracelet is a good example of a tutorial requiring only simple, widely available beads, such as 4mm rounds and seed beads. I enjoy the challenge of that sort of design as well because I have to try to achieve a new effect with familiar beads, rather than being able to allow an exciting new bead to do all the work!
Since November I have been very busy with Christmas, a vacation and family issues, so I have just not been able to find the time to design something new and to get it written up as a tutorial. The Viola necklace came about almost by accident. I needed to find something to enter for a challenge, but I did not have time to start from scratch, so I hunted though my designs and found a simple necklace made on the Prumihimo disk. Then I set about working on embellishment to give it a fresh new look. First I created the embellishment at the front of the necklace to give it a bit more impact and to provide some interesting shaping. Once that was finished I felt it needed something more, so I found a new way of embellishing the braid, which added intricacy, while still allowing the underlying braid to show through. Once it was finished I was so pleased with it that I wanted to share it as a tutorial. Writing up a basic tutorial generally takes only a couple of days, but I believe it is important to work on different variations of the design, so that different options can be offered. This is particularly important for kumihimo because the precise size of the cord and beads used will affect the spacing of the design. There are always slight variations in size between seed beads from different manufacturers and the variation in cord width and firmness is even more diverse. By making up my design several times with slightly different cords and beads I am able to anticipate problems people may have and find a solution. It helps me to understand my own design better and it often stimulates my imagination for new ideas for future tutorials. I really enjoy this part of the process and it ties in with my belief that a tutorial should offer more than just how to make the one design on the front cover. By offering variations and lots of additional suggestions I hope to encourage people to explore the possibilities and expand their skills. I have received lots of very postitive feedback on this issue, which makes all the hard work worthwhile!
The new tutorial has been named Viola (after Shakespeare’s heroine) and I hope it will be welcomed by those who like a stash-busting design. It features 6mm round beads of any type. This is a really popular size of bead and can be found made of many different materials, such as gemstones, glass and wooden beads. It would also work with pearls, but as the design requires even sized beads I would recommend glass pearls, rather than freshwater pearls. Apart from that all that is needed is cord and seed beads, plus a clasp.
The necklace is made on the Prumihimo disk because it allows the beads to be braided in straight rows. This also means that it is quick to make up and economical with the beads. There are two different techniques for embellishment, using a beading needle and thread. Even complete newcomers to bead stitching should be able to complete this design because I provide lots of general advice to ensure success. For those who may be interested in developing their own embellishment techniques this tutorial would be a good starting point.
All of these tutorials can be found in my shop. They are very competitively priced at £5 each (approx US$6.75).
One of my favourite necklaces is the Opulence design, so I have made several for myself in different colours to match different outfits. I have recently made myself a version in a dark lilac colour, as well as a red version. When I show my work on Facebook or elsewhere I am often asked if I can supply a kit for the design. Making up kits is actually very time consuming and my interest lies with design and making, not in counting, weighing and measuring, so I do not intend to get involved with large scale kit production. However, I often find myself with left-over materials and I have decided to use these to make up as many kits as I can and to offer them for sale. Sometimes it will only be one or two, while other times I will be able to make up a few more, but in both cases once they are gone they are gone!
The reasons I love the Opulence design is that it has a lovely weight and flexibility and I also love the way the colour of the cord peeps through the beads. The faceted glass beads throw up a wonderful sparkle while the embellishment provides more subtle detail. For the kit I provide a clever button fastening, which is secure and easy to use. However, this could be substituted for a glue-in clasp or wired-on ends of your own, if preferred. I like my necklaces to be around the 50-54cm (20-22 inches) length, but this necklace also looks pretty when made shorter. Alternatively, it can be made longer by extending the plain braiding at the beginning and end and enough cord is supplied to do this.
I have found it to be a very enjoyable necklace to make. It is made on the Prumihimo disk, using the double beading technique. The thicker cords are 1.5mm thick, which makes it relatively quick to make up. The embellishment is very simple, so it is a good kit for beginners to embellished braids. Virtually everything required is included in the kit. I include a Prumihimo disk, but you will need a weight of approximately 50g. A bag of coins or beads to this weight can be used as an improvised weight. I do not include glue because of postal restrictions. Glue is not essential, but I do recommend a drop on the binding for extra security. Most glues or even clear nail polish will do this job. Suitable needles are provided and I even pop in 2 beading needles, because they can be fragile, so there is a spare in case one snaps!
In order to keep the cost down for international shipping I have kept the instructions brief, but I include links to helpful material and of course I am always happy to give assistance if required and I can be contacted either by Facebook messenger or by using the contact details on this website.
The dark lilac necklace is sure to appeal to lovers of tones of purple. The colour comes from the cord and it is complimented by hematite coloured rondelles and different tones of purple seed bead. The red necklace is very striking and the strong contrast of the black and red gives is a bit of a Moulin Rouge appeal!
For more information about exactly what is included in the kit please follow these links,
In October I started experimenting with kit building and one of the most popular was this cat button bracelet kit, which was designed to accommpany my second book, Kumihimo Endings. The idea was to provide the materials for one bracelet, but to include a few extras to allow the bracelet to be completed with any of the button fastenings explained in the book. The button is an adorable ceramic cat, produced by a wonderful organisation in South Africa, which provides employment to local women. When the kit sold out I had many requests for more, but I was not able to source the same buttons. I have now got my hands on more, so the kit is back in stock.
Why do I provide so many button fastenings in the book? There are several reasons for this. I have found that many of the more reasonably priced end caps and clasps have let me down by having very thin plating. Sometimes within weeks the plating is wearing off to reveal the base metal underneath. While the obvious answer would be to use more expensive findings I have found very few mid range options and solid silver would make the kit very expensive. Most buttons are designed to be robust enough to stand up to washing and extended wear. In addition, they do not sit against the skin, which is where the plating seems to wear off most quickly.
The second reason is that using a button fastening removes the need to find end caps of exactly the right diameter. Every braid is a little bit different and until it is finished it is hard to know exactly how wide it will be. With a button fastening all you need is the button and the technique. The aim of my book was to provide as wide a range of ending methods as possible, so I experimented until I narrowed it down to 7 main methods of creating a button fastening. I believe this gives the braider the chance to explore and narrow it down to their own particular favourites. However, it is important to remember that you need to plan the button fastening before you start to braid because you need to start with either a loop or with the cords through the button.
This photo shows just 4 of the ending options. The buttons are hand painted, so they are all a bit different. The one included in the kit most closely resembles the ringed examples.
I am always excited when I come across a new product for jewellery making and my particular interest is to see both how it differs to what is already available and what it will offer me for my kumihimo jewellery. We are used to frequent releases of new bead shapes, but there has been very little recent innovation in the thread market. So I was very interested to try the new DuraThread, especially when I learned that it was developed by an experienced beader and teacher from the UK. The thread is 0.08mm diameter with a 2.7kg (6lb) breaking strength. The structure is braided, which makes it both strong and flexible. It is very resistant to abrasion and virtually non-stretch.
I use thread widely in my kumihimo designs and its use falls into 3 main categories.
Beadwork focals, bails etc
With 2.7kg (6lb) breaking strength and a highly flexible structure this is a great thread for binding because you can pull really hard and achieve a very tight binding. I use bindings widely in my work. Sometimes they are hidden under an end cone so the colour does not really matter, but they are often used with button fastenings, where they are visible. I found that the white DuraThread was easy to dye with a permanent marker pen to match the braid and the ink sinks in well to the braided structure of the thread to provide good colour saturation. I ran the thread under the tip of the pen, wiped off the excess ink and left it for a couple of hours for the ink to set. There are detailed instructions for bindings in my book, Kumihimo Endings.
A lot of my work involves adding embellishment to a braid using beading thread and a beading needle. In most cases this involves additional beads being suspended between beads incorporated into the braid. I really liked the flexibility of the DuraThread for this purpose because it curves gently around the braid without distorting the anchor beads. I also found the flexibility and smoothness of this thread particularly useful for designs where I needed to pull on a whole row of beading to create a curve, as in the necklace below. This necklace was made using the Cordelia tutorial, which can be found by clicking here. It was made on the Prumihimo disk.
Beadweaving and bead embroidery find their way into much of my kumihimo work, such as in beaded focals, peyote sleeves or stitched bails. There are lots of beading threads available and each one will have an effect on the beadwork, so it is important to choose the right one for the effect you want. For instance, if I want something fairly stiff and rigid I would use Wildfire. Fireline provides a bit more flexibility, but is still fairly firm. However, for something more fluid and sinuous DuraThread is perfect, but at the same time it is extremely strong and abrasion resistant. I found it easy to thread and knot and I did not get any tangles or unintentional knots. As with some other black threads, I did find some dye transferance with the black thread onto my fingers, but I found that using thread conditioner minimised this. It is synthetic, so it can be used with a thread burner and it is strong enough to be used safely with crystals or other beads with sharp edges, such as metal seed beads. For this necklace I used black DuraThread for both the beaded bail and the embellishment on the braid and I really enjoyed the soft and silky feel to the thread as I worked. The bail is a warped square construction, which is ususally made with stiff thread and tight tension to create an an angular shape. However, that was not what I wanted because I needed the bail to curve and conform to the curve of the braid. Using DuraThread allowed me to achieve exactly the effect I wanted.
When a new product comes onto the market it often means more expense, but the great news is that DuraThread is round about half the price of the market leaders. It comes on generous 100m reels, which is much more convenient than smaller reels, which seem to run out so quickly.
So to conclude, I think DuraThread is a great choice for anyone who wants just one good quality all round thread at a reasonable price. For those who already have several different beading threads I think DuraThread offers the opportunity to achieve a softer, more fluid effect with all types of bead, including crystals, so this would be great addition to their collection of threads.
Since the beginning of January both of my books and all my disks have been showing as out of stock on this website. This is because I was away on an extended vacation. Now I am back and everything is back in stock and I will be sending out orders as quickly as I can. Here is a reminder of what I have on offer.
The Prumihimo Disk. This is my own development which I first produced in 2015. I worked out my own system of slots, dots and numbers to guide the braider through the steps of a traditional braid structure. The braid allows beads to be positioned along the sides of the braid in straight rows, which is particularly useful for jewellery making because it opens up a wide range of different bead shapes, which had not previously been used widely in kumihimo. The disk is available in the regular 1cm thickness or the extra-thick 2cm version. They can be bought singly or in multiples to make the best use of the shipping charge. The disk is protected by design patent and design protection in 29 countries.
Book – The Prumihimo Disk – A fresh approach to kumihimo. My first book was published in 2016 as a handbook to the Prumihimo disk. It is a concise, yet comprehensive guide in a compact format. My aim was to ensure that readers would be able to get the most out of their disk. There are 8 carefully selected projects designed to teach the main applications of the disk. It is filled with inspirational images of braids snaking through the pages to encourage the reader to explore the potential of the disk. It is sold either with one disk or with 3. It can also be purchased with the second book.
Book – Kumihimo Endings – The finishing touch for every braid. This book was written in response to the numerous requests for help with the ending process. I have written six chapters of different ending methods, ranging from simple glue-ins to some very creative loop or tassel endings. The chapter on button fastenings has no less than 7 different structures, with a mix and match element offering many more variations. The format is the same compact size which proved so popular with my first book. It can be purchased alone or with the first book.
Oh dear! I did not get on very well with writing a blog every day for my advent tips. I did post them in my Facebook group, but it has been pretty hectic here and I did not get the chance to write them up more fully here. Well here they are now!
Day 11 – Feel the Rhythm!
Every braid structure has its own special rhythm. For instance Round Braid has the top down, bottom up moves followed by a quarter turn and this is repeated throughout, while the braid made on the Prumihimo disk is made with three cord moves followed by turns of different lengths. When you learn a new braid structure it is best to turn off the radio or television and settle yourself down somewhere peaceful, where you can practise without distractions. Shut out the family and the pets and turn off your phone. Keep practising the moves until you can remember them without having to check instructions. Keep practising and gradually you will start to feel the rhythm of the braid and your hands will seem to know what to do next. Don’t rush to get onto making something specific. Braid, braid, braid until you can complete the moves with complete accuracy and full confidence. As this starts to happen your hand movements will become smoother and more even, which will result in beautifully even tension. Time spent practising is never wasted.
Day 12 – Spread the Joy!
Kumihimo is still a very niche technique in the world of jewellery making and of craft generally. Even many experienced jewellery makers and crafters have never heard of it, so it is up to us to spread the joy and knowledge. People are always fascinated when they see it being made and are intrigued by the way that simple and repetitive cord moves can produce something so intricate. Disks are so portable that there is no excuse for not having a project on you at all times! Don’t be shy to pull out your disk on public transport or in a waiting room. You will need to be ready to answer lots of questions and give advce on how to get started. It is a great way to connect with others and to make friends. It is a great feeling to be able to pass on something special to others.
Day 13 – Weighted Bobbins.
It is possible to buy cord bobbins with an attached weight and I am often asked what they are for. There are several different uses for these bobbins and one of the most useful is to keep thin cords tight on the disk when you are using both thick and thin cords together in Round Braid/Kongo Gumi. The cords travel around the disk in this braid, so the slots will become stretched by the thicker cords, which means that the slots will be less able to grip the thinner cords. By using weighted bobbins on the thinner cords it is possible to maintain tension on these cords. When you use the Prumihimo disk you will be using both thick and thin cords, but they do not share slots in the same way. For this reason it is not usually necessary to use weighted bobbins, but if your Prumihimo disk has seen a lot of service the slots will have loosened over time, so you can try weighted bobbins for extra tension on the thin cords. This advice also applies to worn round disks when you are using thinner cords and particuarly when it is a beaded braid. Weighted bobbins on all 8 cords will make a big difference.
Some people like to braid all the time with weighted bobbins and I have to admit that you will get great tension if you do this, but I find that the additional weight is very tiring for your hands and wrists, so I prefer to braid without weighted bobbins whenever possible.
It is very easy to make your own weighted bobbins. The weight of each bobbin is around 20g, so I tape two 50 pence pieces to the flat side of the bobbin. If you are not in the UK and do not have access to our currency you can try weighing a couple of suitable coins of your own. Not all currencies have such heavy coins, so you can try large washers instead.
Day 14 – Be Kind to your Hands
This is a really important tip. Kumihimo involves very repetitive hand actions, so it is important to avoid prolonged periods of braiding, which could lead to repetitive strain injury or other ailments. It is all too easy to keep on braiding for hours because it is such a pleasurable activity, but make sure that you take a break every now and then. You could try a few stretches or hand exercises or you could just do something else, which requires a different range of movements. If at any time while you are braiding your hands start to feel stiff or a little bit sore, stop immediately and give your hands a proper rest. If braiding starts to be really painful you should seek medical advice. Taking simple precautions now could prevent problems in the future.
Day 15 – Bright Lights!
Never underestimate the power of light. This is particularly relevant when you are threading beads with small holes. You can use either natural light or artificial light. Natural light varies in strength during the day depending on where you live and the time of year. It is strongest in the middle of the day and you need to be close to windows or skylights, with as much all round light as possible. Alternatively, you can invest in a good daylight lamp. There are many available at a wide range of prices and styles. If you have been struggling with threading beads and you have not been working in good light you will be amazed at the difference it makes. If your eyes cansee the holes in the beads clearly your aim will be more accurate and the cord will slide through tiny holes. In poor light your aim will be less accurate and you are more likely to catch the edge of the hole and the cord will not pass through. You also run the risk of fraying the end of the cord, which also makes the job much more difficult. If you do not have one already, put a daylight lamp on your Christmas list!
If you have ever had the problem of glued endings falling off it is very likely that the problem was your technique and not the glue! It is very easy to blame the glue for the failure, but too often the manufacturer’s instructions are disregarded and the glue is not given a proper chance to work. The important point to take note of is the curing time required for the glue. Even when a glue seems to have set firm it still needs the curing time for the glue to form the best bond. If a piece is disturbed before the end of the curing time you risk compromising the bond between the braid and the end. It may still seem firm, but could fail later and this is a particular problem if you are making for gifts or even more if you are making for sale. Don’t take the risk. Check the curing time and once you have glued on the ends put them somewhere away from temptation, so that they do not get disturbed or ‘tested’.
The curing times vary considerably from glue to glue and can be up to 48 hours. They have been calculated by the manufacturer to ensure that the glue is given the correct time to become fully effective, so don’t guess – check!
Are you enjoying my advent tips? So far I have managed to find 10 handy tips. Keep reading every day to see if I make it to day 24!