In progress (baby shots of a gift)

I’ve had to stop knotting for the night: my knuckle is giving me a hard time (apparently I have an RSI from note-taking), and I know that if I even write with a pen, right now…it’s going to make it worse. (Typing, doesn’t.) I did get in a good amount of work on the circlet before I began to notice the pain, however. Given that my crafts depend on the usability of my hands (and the fact that my hands aren’t yet fully toughened: we’re a week out from Finals?), I decided to give it a rest for tonight.

Note: I am giving links to resources; however, no one whom I’m linking to has paid me or otherwise done anything to encourage me to do so (as of 12/26/21).

Image of the knots mounting a beaded micro-macrame strap to a toggle loop closure.

To the left (or just above, on mobile), you can see how I’ve mounted my nylon cording (as mentioned before, I believe this is standard-size C-Lon in Aurum) onto the toggle loop. This was made using three Mounting Knots with three strands of C-Lon, as shown in Joan Babcock’s Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting With Beads. Her Mounting Knot is essentially a reinforced Lark’s Head Hitch, but it often takes some thinking (and for me at this stage, some reworking) to get everything on the toggle in the correct direction. (As I said in my last post: don’t make the mistake of roughly drawing a cord out through a knot, or you’ll risk destabilizing the bond of the cord and separating the plies, if you haven’t previously sealed the ends of the plies together. After that, slipping a bead onto the end of the cord and pushing it up to the work [unless you’ve sealed the end of the cord with something like Fray Check] risks detaching the plies from each other and ruining the cord.)

The toggle was not meant to be used this way, but it’s what I have, and I’m a bit wary at the moment about buying new things when I don’t have to. Not to mention, the price of gold right now, does not really encourage buying. The toggle will also barely be visible in the finished product. The main thing to remember at this point is what the front and back of the piece look like. The knots don’t look the same.

And, to answer a question you may have which just came to my mind: no, this project is not in Joan Babcock’s book. I developed the band pattern myself, and have been thinking about releasing it to the wild (unless you can tell right off what I did, in which case, have fun).

Length of a beaded micro-macrame strap in topaz and emerald shades.

To the left again, you can now see a sample of what I’ve gotten done, tonight. I probably don’t need to go over all the exact beads I used, but those are the Toho Transparent Gold Luster Pink 6/0 beads in the center, which are giving me a little more faith in Japanese 6/0 seed beads. There aren’t any special finishes on any of the faceted beads you see here, but all of the rest of the seed beads (including the Miyuki 2.8mm Mini Fringe beads) on each side have a Rainbow finish.

To be honest, I’m kind of amazed that the camera picked up as much of the rainbow effect as it did: it usually surprises me by cancelling it out.

You can see, however, that the mini fringe beads have an angle to them, meaning that they naturally shape the desired side curves into curves. Normally, I’d be using Czech glass rocailles (round seed beads) for all three of the beads in each one of those units, due to the fact that they’re rounder and can nest into each other more easily, because of it. The thing about Czech glass 8/0 seed beads, however, is that complex color/finish combinations, are hard to come by. They also have a greater tendency toward irregularity. Sometimes this is welcome, as when doing sculptural works; however, generally speaking, when the beads as a set are a little wonky, I have a harder time dealing with it.

In any case, you can see I used a relatively squarish bead to border each side of the drop beads. Those are Toho 8/0 seed beads, which are also more widely available than Czech 8/0 beads, in my experience.

Each of the squares on the macrame board are about 1/2″ apart, so you can kind of gauge how big this thing is. As a circlet, it’s going to have to be just under 2′ (that’s two feet) long, which is the biggest project in this method I’ve done, so far.

And yes, I was stressing about what length cord to cut. Right now I’m dealing with lengths of 2.5 yards for each of the cords, which — folded in half — give me 1.25 yards of working length for a band that has to be around 11″ long on each side. I haven’t cut the cords for the other side, yet. No, I don’t know how much wiggle room I’ve got…I’ll be able to tell fairly soon, however.

I just remembered that I’ve been talking about “fire-polished” beads on this blog, without showing what they are: the transparent faceted beads (knotted in as singles) to the left and right of the band, are Czech 4mm fire-polished beads. (I tend to use a lot of this size.) There really doesn’t seem to be anyone else making these so far as I can tell, though I’ve found at least two overarching companies that have them. These are Preciosa and Starman.

Due to the fact that I have not yet researched whether Preciosa is an overarching brand for Bohemian glass beads or a distributor; or whether Starman itself is simply a distributor and wholesaler — or a distributor, wholesaler, and manufacturer — what I can say about their relation to beaders, is limited. What I know is that I’ve purchased both Starman and Preciosa fire-polished beads, and they’re slightly different; but I won’t go over that again. Preciosa seems to be the brand you’re most likely to find, at least in the U.S.

But generally speaking, I’m finding that glass beads — like yarn or hand-dyed fabric — do not necessarily turn out in a standard way, period, especially when they’re handmade. I guess the good thing is that, with handmade jewelry, no one expects them to turn out standard? (Unless they’re crossing over from mass-produced fashion jewelry to handmade, or something similar. I’m not sure how much this actually happens; the price points for handmade have got to be much higher than fashion jewelry; and if a buyer doesn’t really know about the effort put into handmade jewelry, my sense and experience has told me that they probably won’t want to pay handmade prices. The target demographic groups are likely different.)

But yeah. Market pressures…

Anyhow, I hope to continue work on this tomorrow, and hopefully have it completed in the next two days, then gifted; then I can move on to brainstorming the next gifts…

Yes, Finals happen too close to Xmas. Do I truly understand why I keep taking classes and putting myself through this (instead of just taking a job)? Not exactly…

I forgot to mention that I almost gave up on the design here and copied a trial bracelet pattern I’d made before, but it seems my brain won’t allow me to do that! I should be able to show you the original, soon…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry, for the interim...

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