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Monthly Newsletter                                                                             April   2015

Guatemala - A Trip of a Lifetime
Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation - A Touching Story
The Beadsmith Kumihimo Handle - A Classroom Full of Comments
The Handle and THICK Disks are in Stock!
Kit of the Month #1 - "Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon & Satin with Enamel Pendants" Kits
Kit of the Month #2 - "Raku and Ribbon" Necklace Kits
Kumihimo Artist of the Month - Cheryl Parsons
New Stuff!
Kumihimo Tip of the Month #31
Kumihimo Tip of the Month #32
Kumihimo Links...




Hello Braiders,
Time flies! I had another busy month and I have alot to share!

I spent the first part of the March in Guatemala and this was another  trip of a lifetime
It was an incredible trip with wonderful experiences. I put together a slideshow and it turned out to be a kaleidoscope of Guatemalan color! I had amazing experiences from beginning to end but one of the highlights was teaching Kumihimo to three Guatemalan women who will now be able to generate some income, in their little villages, with their newly learned skill.

In addition to teaching the Guatemalan women, I also had a great time teaching our American group. I had 18 women in my Kumihimo Disk classes and I taught 2 half day classes called "Creative Kumihimo - Beyond the Round (Kongoh) Braid". We had fun experimenting with hollow, square and round braids and braided with a variety of fibers on the foam disk. We also had the chance to use the Beadsmith Handle. 

Another day was devoted to the Marudai. Most of the braiders were new to the Marudai or needed a refresher. My goal was to send the braiders home with the confidence that braiding on the Marudai is as natural and easy as braiding on a disk (if not easier). We practiced with many short braids which gave everyone many opportunities to set up their Marudai. We experimented with several braid structures with an emphasis on identifying the unique appearance of the point of braid of each structure and learning to read the braid to understand the braiding sequences instead of looking at braiding diagrams in a book or pattern. My hope was to demystify the Marudai and I think we met that goal! Loved, loved, loved it!

I have 2 Kits of the Month. Some of you might remember the Raku pendants. You wanted more and I got them! I am also introducing a similar necklace with a Metal Enamel Pendant. They are beautiful. The colors are magnificent. Super easy project. I hope you will enjoy them. 

I have several new items to share and I am happy to introduce some hand dyed Perle Cotton (dyed to match KRR & KRG), some new Petite Satin colors and some new Magatama beads in Picasso Turquoise and Picasso Red. I hope you will have fun experimenting and creating with these new goodies!

Happy Braiding,


Tales from our Guatemalan Adventure!
Click on photo to start slideshow!
There's nothing like going through pictures to bring it all back. Take 31 awesome people, a well-organized and orchestrated trip, perfect weather, Kumihimo & Knitting topped off with Guatemalan people, culture and color and you  have one FANTASTIC trip. We mixed history, culture, arts, food and camaraderie and we had a great time. Our trip started and ended in Guatemala City and the middle of our trip was divided between Antigua and Lake Atitlan. In Antigua we learned about coffee and cocoa, dined in great restaurants and shopped in galleries as well as indigenous markets. We stayed at a wonderful, centrally located hotel and watched the volcano erupt on several occasions and even saw fireworks over our hotel at night! A bus journey took us to Lake Atitlan where we stayed lakeside in Panajachel and made daily boat excursions to the unique villages around Lake Atitlan. We visited Santa Cruz La Laguna, Santiago La Laguna and San Juan La Laguna. We had native tour guides in all locations that shared a lot of information but mostly their incredible love for their country. I can still see the smiling faces of Karen and Pedro, our Guatemalan guides, who delighted us each and every time we were with them. Let me tell you, it was one great trip! Enjoy the slideshow. The pictures have captions but are in no particular order. Guatemala 2015 Slideshow Link

CECAP - Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation
If you read any of my What a Knit Newsletter, this is the BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT! I mentioned that Santa Cruz La Laguna was one of the villages we visited on our recent trip to Guatemala. I also had the opportunity to stay in Santa Cruz three years ago when I was in Guatemala with my family. It is a place that is dear to my heart and even dearer after this last trip.

To start, Santa Cruz is considered one of the 45 poorest townships in all of Guatemala with illiteracy and malnutrition among the highest in the country. An organization from the United States, called Amigos de Santa Cruz, works with the community and believes that education is the
 key to breaking the cycle of poverty for the indigenous people of Guatemala.

My first introduction to CECAP was three years ago when I was in Guatemala. Centro deCapacitacion (CECAP) is Santa Cruz's vocational education center. It is an amazing achievement and a great source of pride for everyone involved. In 2008, a foundation in the United States, Amigos de Santa Cruz began to work hand in hand with the community to help envision, plan and build a 5,000 sq foot building that now houses workshops in carpentry, welding, computer education, sewing, weaving and cooking. CECAP began as a vision of a place where people young and old could come to learn new skills that could lead to meaningful work and a more prosperous community. Today, the center is the heart of the community, providing on-going training to adults and and youth in carpentry, sewing, computer education, foot loom weaving and welding and most recently...Kumihimo!

One of the  vocations   that CECAP  endorses is a culinary program. Students
learn cooking skills and with that they learn how to operate a restaurant. CECAP has, on s ite , their own kitchen and cafe called Sabor Cruceno. We brought our group of 31 people to Sabor Cruceno for lunch one day. We arrived by boat, as that is the only way to get t o Santa Cruz, and then took Tuk Tuks or walked up the steep road to the main part of the village. We were greeted at the restaurant with smiling faces and escorted to the rooftop of the vocational building. The tables were beautifully set with tablecloths and colorful awnings were stretched overhead to protect us from the sun. The
The Chef Extrordinaire
Guatemalan wait staff were excellent and welcomed us. We had an amazing lunch. From the explanation of the food, to the presentation, it was super. We started with salads of organic greens, our entree included a chicken breast with a raisin sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Our dessert was a gastronomic delight - an Orange Tres Leche Cake. The meal was absolutely delicious. The students did an absolutely amazing job.They don't have a grocery store in Santa Cruz. They have to go by boat to Panajachel for many supplies. The culinary team at CECAP have certainly earned their r eputation in the region for excellent cuisine and outstanding service. We  should  all be humbled.

Another interesting program at CECAP is the Artesania
program. It provides CECAP graduates with paid work producing a variety of arts and crafts. Women are earning income for the first time in their lives thus building more 
financial security for families and increased self esteem among the women. I had the incredible opportunity to teach Kumihimo to three of the woman at CECAP and we all have great hopes that this new skill will create another means for earning income for their families. In one day, they learned the 8 and 16 strand Kongoh, braiding with all beads as well as braiding with fiber and using beads as accents (Edge Bead and Cluster Bead techniques). Their naturally creative minds were running with ideas and solutions and it occurred to me that they will figure out ways to finish their braids that will far surpass what I could show them! We braided with their native fibers and came up with solutions to make what they have work for them. It was a such wonderful and personally rewarding day. I left them with almost a dozen foam disks plus bobbins. We hugged and smiled and until we meet again, Happy Braiding!
What makes CECAP unique is that is has always been a community-driven vision and not a government or outside organization project. Their long term goal is self sufficiency and economic development. If you would like to learn more about this program, take a look at the Amigos de Santa Cruz website. 

Kumihimo Handle by Beadsmith - A Classroom Full of Comments

Just before I left for Guatemala, I received a "care package" of Kumihimo Handles & Disks from Beadsmith to share in my Kumihimo workshops in Guatemala. We played with them and tested them and here's what the group had to say:

The vote was unanimously "in favor" of the new Kumihimo Handle by Beadsmith. After each person found "their own rhythm", the Handle was a useful tool. The benefits were clearly recognized by those with wrist / hands that get tired when braiding for long spells on the disk. It was quickly realized that the Handle was easily detached from the disk to check on ones progress so the opaque color was not really an issue. With anything, the more you use it, the more you figure out how it works for your own applications. While some preferred using the handle with the mini disk, others liked it with the bigger disk. I'm sure there will be little tweaks along the way, but all in all, the Handle was was well received. Suffice to say, everyone that tried one, wanted one! Thank you Beadsmith!

The Beadsmith Kumihimo Foam Disk with Handle, Mini and Thick Mini Disks are IN STOCK!
What a Knit has a variety of Kumihimo tools including an assortment of different disks. In a nutshell  this is what I carry and how it breaks down:

6" Kumihimo Foam Disk:
- Hamanaka 6" Disk, 10mm thick, 25mm center hole  $11
- The Beadsmith 6" Disk with Ergonomic Handle, 10mm thick, 35mm center hole  $12.99

4.25" Kumihimo Foam Mini Disk:
- The Beadsmith Mini Disk, 10mm thick, 25mm center hole  $3.00
- The Beadsmith Mini Disk, 10mm thick, 35mm center hole (compatible with Handle)  $3.00

4.25" Kumihimo Foam THICK Mini Disk:
- The Beadsmith THICK Mini Disk, 20mm thick, 35mm center hole (compatible with Handle)  $3.75

The 6" and 4.25" disks will produce identical braids. Try both sizes and pick which one you like or have both sizes on hand. I am a fan of the mini disk. The 10mm thickness is the "standard" width and can be used with just about any fiber that will fit in the slots including Satin Cord, Kumihimo Rayon Gimp, Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon, Kumihimo Hand Dyed Perle Cotton as well as beading cords and beads. 

The 4.25" THICK disk at 20mm thick is intended to keep better tension on smaller diameter cords hence the suggested use is with smaller diameter cords and beads. I find that the C-Lon Tex 400 works fine on the 10mm (standard thickness) disk and the C-Lon Beadcord (finer) may be better on the THICK disk. Give it a try.

Here's something else to consider. The tight slots on the disk are intended to keep the cords under perfect tension (most of the time) without the use of a bunch of heavy weights. Most of the time I do not braid with weights on the foam disk when I am braiding the Kongoh (basic round braid)*. I will qualify that by saying that sometimes I will put a light weight on the tail of the braid just to get it started. Believe it or not, sometimes using weights the wrong way can mess with your braid, the tension and the final outcome. Take it easy with weights and add them slowly as needed. 

*I have found that some braids on the foam disk, like Edo Yatsu, can benefit from a small amount of counter weight. But still, don't over-do it!

Kit of the Month #1
Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon & Satin with Enamel Pendants
H andcrafted in the Atlantic Northeast these gorgeous enamel pendants, designed by Anne, are the perfect fit with a Kumihimo braid made up of Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon and Petite Satin Cord. This necklace & enameled pendant ensemble is even more beautiful when you can hold it and look at it in your own hands. Trust me, the colors are beautiful.  Enamel is one of the most versatile sources of pure, luscious color. Powdered glass is be applied onto a variety of jewelry metals.
These days braiders are experimenting with more and more braid structures. I found that the Round Braid (or Kongoh Gumi), that we all know, is the perfect braid structure to show off the beauty of the ribbon and satin. 

You need to know : Kumihimo Round Braid (Kongoh Gumi).

You should have:  Kumihimo Disk , 8 bobbins, scissors, measuring tape, needle and thread and glue (I like WeldBond but you may use whatever glue you have had good success with). 
Each kit contains: 
- Handmade Enamel Pendant (Teardrop and Sand Dollar shapes)
- Skein of Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon
- Petite Satin
- 6mm Super Sleek Magnetic Closure

- Instructions with Photos

Cost: $40

Click here to see all of your choices!  

Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon is alot of fun to braid with. It is a hand dyed, variegated fiber. Some color ways have more striking transitions than others. I like braiding with the ribbon and and an accent of satin. The combination gives the braid a nice diameter and like the consistent color of the satin running through the variegated ribbon.  You can also get the same results with the Kumihimo Rayon Gimp.

Kit of the Month #2
"Raku & Ribbon" Kumihimo Necklace Kit
The "Raku & Ribbon" Kumihimo Necklace kit was the "bonus" kit I featured on my What a Knit Facebook page. Some of you have already ordered this kit and there are still some kits available for those of you that didn't know about it. It's a beauty.

The Raku pendants are handcrafted by an artist in southern Utah. They are just exquisite! The Kumihimo braid is a combination of Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon & Petite Satin. 

You should know: Kumihimo Round Braid (Kongoh)

Kit includes:
- Raku Pendant and Bail (silver colored)
- Skein of Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon
- Petite Satin Cord
- 6mm Super Sleek Magnetic Closure (silver colored)

Kit Cost: $36.00   

Kumihimo Artist of  the  Month
Cheryl  Parsons - Hixon, Texas

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I was so excited when Cheryl sent me the photo of her creative Kumihimo necklace.  When I emailed Cheryl and asked if she would like to be the Kumihimo Artist of the Month, she wrote back " Wow! Thank you! With only a year's experience, I'm not the most experienced artist you'll feature, but I sure am enthusiastic about kumihimo". I think Cheryl's enthusiasm speaks loads for her. 

Here's Cheryl's Kumihimo story:
"A little over a year ago, a dear friend introduced me to Kumihimo. Although I've always enjoyed needlepoint, cross stitch, and knitting, I found Kumihimo to be a great fit for older eyes--no squinting to see stitches! I love the patterns, the colors, the portability, and the almost instant gratification. I can quickly put together a piece to match an outfit or to give to friends or family.

I just braid by myself. The lady who taught me has an annual long-weekend Christmas getaway for five couples in her vacation home in the Smokie Mountains of Tennessee. She always has a project for the ladies, and Kumihimo was it for 2013. We all braid by ourselves but often e-mail or see each other's creations in person. 


After buying the pendant by Courtney Tomchik at a craft show, I couldn't seem to find the right cords to pick up its colors until seeing the hand-dyed rayon gimp on What a Knit. I used a 12-strand ridged spiral in order to make a thicker braid for the pendant. Thinking it might be fun to combine braids, I then made an 8-strand round in petite satin and an 8-strand square in gimp. It was my first time for the ridged spiral and square. The tips and kits from What a Knit have enabled me to jump from the basics to more creativity".


 From left to right:
- 12 Strand Ridge Spiral in Kumihimo Rayon Gimp
- 8 strand Round Braid using Petite Satin Cord
- 8 strand Square Braid using Kumihimo Rayon Gimp

Thank you Cheryl!

NEW Stuff ! 

Hand Dyed Kumihimo Perle Cotton
is dyed to match many of the color ways of the Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon and the Kumihimo Rayon Gimp. Have fun combining the fibers. The results are spectacular. 13 colors, 28 meters / skein, $8 (equivalent to a "thick" Perle Cotton #5)

Click here to see the hand dyed Kumihimo Perle Cotton.


New Petite Satin Cord colors!

Somehow, without any planning, I man aged to order the se tw o n ew colors of Petite Satin Cord and I like them. You now have two more choices. 

10 yards for $3.00 


4 x 7 Miyuki Picasso Magatama Beads

Picasso Turquoise & Picasso Red

11 grams / pkg


Kumihimo Tip of the Month # 31
Left Bottom Up, Right Top Down or is it
Right Top Down and  Left Bottom Up?
Do you turn clockwise or counter clockwise? 

This is a technique question that comes up frequently. And when  you are talking  about the Kongoh (or round braid) everyone is right. You can start at the top or the bottom when you are initiating moving your elements (strands). It will not make any difference. The more you braid, the easier this is to understand. And if braid on a Marudai, where you are moving both elements at the same time, then it makes it clear that starting at the top or the bottom, on the disk, doesn't make a difference. It also doesn't matter, with this braid, if you are turning your disk clockwise or counter-clockwise! Now think about that! 

*In some instances, like a charted beaded pattern with drops in particular places, it's best to follow the pattern instructions. But once you get your beads dropping and aligning correctly you can braid as you like. 

Kumihimo Tip of the Month # 32
Maybe I am the only one who didn't know about this trick, but I will share this with you anyway. There is more than one use for dental floss!
I have travelled domestically and internationally, plenty. I pretty much know what will and won't make it through security. The Kumihimo foam disk and bobbins are a sure bet for a good airplane project. My 4" blunt end scissors have never been a problem....until my flight home from Guatemala. As I was going through security, my carry-on bag got a thorough once over and my little blunt end scissors were confiscated. Not such a big deal other than the fact that I had a 6 hour layover in Dallas and I knew I would need my scissors to cut some more Kumihimo cord. My sweet mother, who didn't have such a long layover, reached into her bag and sacrificed her dental floss. At first I thought, what is this for? Then she opened the container and showed me how the little metal cutter in the dental floss container worked to cut her knitting yarn. It also worked on my satin cord, c-lon and gimp. My mom saved the day and I was able to braid until I got home!                                                                    
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