Monthly Newsletter                                                                            April 2016  

Kumihimo & Knitting Trip: Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende - March 2016
April Kit of the Month - 20 Strand "Flat" Bracelet
New Goodies at What a Braid
Kumihimo Artist of the Month - Elizabeth Cavasso
Kumihimo Tip #39 - Measuring Cord Lengths
Kumihimo Links...


Hello Braiders, 

Happy Spring! Many of you are basking in sunshine and watching flowers bloom. We still have snow in our yard and spring skiing is wonderful. I am ready for the seasons to change!

Our Knitting & Kumihimo Trip to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was a brilliant success. I have written a short story of our adventure as well as included a   my movie. I hope you will enjoy the flavor of our trip vicariously.

I have lots of new things to share with you this month; a new kit of the month ( 20-Strand Flat Braid Bracelet), new braiding fibers ( Gala Ribbon in 15 colors), new beads ( Super Duos, etc), new magnetic closures, etc. I also have a few items on sale. There are some great deals to snatch up! There is never a dull moment. One day blends into another and new Kumihimo ideas emerge.

Great news! The boat finally arrived from faraway places with my Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon and Kumihimo Rayon Gimp. I love opening the package. The colors are all so beautiful and this batch is especially vibrant and delicious! 

Thank you for your patience while I was away. I appreciate all your generous orders. I am happy that so many of you got in on the free shipping in March (some of you multiple times)!!

 Happy Braiding,

If you haven't "Liked" WHAT A BRAID on Facebook, please do!  Click here to "LIKE" What a Braid and get mid-month updates and sneak previews on new kits!

Knitting & Kumihimo Trip
Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende  - 2016
During the first 2 weeks of March, twenty-seven of us made friends with each other and
with Mexico. We knitted, braided, ate, laughed, walked, relaxed and shopped for everything "Mexico" including pottery, leather boots, silver jewelry, chocolate, weavings, dishes and San Miguel shoes. Irene taught knitting classes and Karen taught Kumihimo classes. Bill was in charge of all 27 of us and meticulously choreographed a fabulous adventure. We came home with full suitcases, extra suitcases, new friends and big smiles. Suffice to say, it was a wonderful trip.

The adventure starts here . Guanajuato is known as one of the 10 most vibrant and
colorful cities in the world. Standing at the Pilipa, a monument at the top of the mountain, one sees a vibrant collage of colors on the hillsides. 

A former mining town, Guanajuato is now home to the University of Guanajuato and is famous for its hilly, cobbled alleys lined with colonial architecture and picturesque gardens. The students add a youthful energy and the town buzzes until the wee hours. 

We stayed at a beautiful hotel just footsteps away from the Jardín de la Unión. There was never a shortage of mariachis.The narrow streets that wind in every direction, are lined with fabulous shops, boutiques, galleries and some of the finest eateries around. We never lacked for a delicious meal. Points of interest include the Teatro Juarez, Don Quixote Museum, El Museo De Las Momias (mummy museum) and the Diego Rivera Museum to name a few. Also, a "must see it, to believe it" is the  extensive network of tunnels under the main part of the city. These tunnels go on and on and twist and turn and it is impressive. The tunnels serve as the roadways for the cars and without the cars on the streets, in the main part of the city, it is great for pedestrians. 

On another day we ventured into the mountains to Santa Rosa to visit the home of Majolica pottery and then we ventured into Leon to indulge in well-priced leather boots. 

The adventure continues. A short and picturesque drive through
hilly l
andscapes brought us to San Miguel de Allende. We arrived, checked into our boutique hotel and walked the famous cobbled streets to the Jardin. As if planned, the colorful and decorated dancers, hundreds of them, rounded the corner right in front of our group and paraded by us. What a wonderful welcome to our new home for the next week! 

San Miguel de Allende is a very special place. Friendly, interesting and artsy. There is no shortage of great places to shop and fantastic places to eat; over 300 restaurants. We all found our favorites! 

San Miguel is also home to the very well-known San Miguel shoes. Those of us that already knew about these shoes wasted no time getting to the few shoe shops in town. Those that had no knowledge of San Miguel shoes figured it out pretty quickly and by the end of the trip, some admitted to getting as many as 8 new pairs of shoes! Oh the fun we had tempting each other.

One afternoon we took a trip to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. The main feature of the sanctuary is the rich Mexican Baroque mural work which has contributed to the sanctuary being considered the "Sistine Chapel of Mexico". Beautiful. We ate lunch at the "famous" Coyote Flaco where we enjoyed the outdoor ambiance and great food. 

In San Miguel, we basked in nearly perfect weather. Our days were filled with eating, walking, shopping and well timed knitting and kumihimo classes. Karen taught four kumihimo classes and Irene taught four knitting classes; a nice creative balance to our otherwise busy trip.

The most special component of the trip was the people on the trip. Funny, adventurous, open, good natured and inclusive. I would travel with this group any day! I am grateful for the good times. See you next year. 

Make sure you watch my movie of San Miguel!  The happy couple are Bill & Irene York. Irene celebrated her 80th birthday on the trip! 
Kumihimo Kit of the Month:  20-Strand "Flat" Bracelet
It seems that every month I have a new favorite.  The 20-Strand "Flat" Bracelet Kit is a hollow braid that is typically flattened upon completion hence the reason I describe the bracelet as "flat".

The braiding sequence consists of repetitive clockwise and counter clockwise moves that move around the disk.  After you "get it" it is alot of fun. That being said, I do not recommend this kit for a total beginner, however, if you are a fast learner, have a bit of Kumihimo experience and read the instructions before jumping in, you might be fine!

There are essentially 2 patterns in this kit!  The first pattern includes instructions for the 20-Strand braid structure.  I have included the "Big" picture concept of the braid as well as "Detailed" diagrams of each move, helpful hints and tips about the braid structure and how to "read" the braid. The  second pattern  is the instructions to make the bracelet and finish the ends.   The instructions for the braid were tested in my classes as well as with a few individuals. All had excellent results and you will too! I warn you...this is really addictive! After you master the braid it is super fun to try with other fibers, especially the Kumihimo Rayon Gimp, Kumihimo Rayon Ribbon, Shimmer Tubular Yarn, the new Kumihimo Gala Ribbon and the Frilly Novelty Yarn. The variegated colored fibers are so much fun as you get to watch the colors evolve. It is also really interesting to combine the fibers. There is so much opportunity to come up with great things. Experimentation is fun. I figure it takes about 10 yards total to make a bracelet. Use you imagination once you feel comfortable with the braid structure. 

You will need: Kumihimo Foam Disk (regular thickness, Mini or 6" - my preference is the Mini), 20 Bobbins (I use small plastic EZ Bobbins), Scissors, Tape Measure, Needle & Thread and Glue (I use WeldBond).
Kit includes:
- Petite Satin Cord for one bracelet
- Straight Magnetic Closure
- Six pages of instructions:
   Instructions for 20 Strand Braid structure on the Foam Disk
   Instructions for 20-Strand "Flat" Bracelet 
- Cost $25

New Items at What a Braid
Last month I wrote an article titled  "Some Talk about Finishing Cord Ends" and I mentioned helpful tools like the Extra Strong Cord Zap and Fray Block. Things got very hectic before leaving for the Kumihimo workshop in Mexico so I was not 
Fray Block $4.45
able to get some of the new items on my website before I left. Well, they are both in stock and ready for you to order. They are both wonderful tools to have in your Kumihimo Toolbox!
Extra Strong Cord Zapper - $18.95

I have also added fun new braiding fiber called Gala. It is a 1/4" wide (when completely flattened) soft ribbon. It comes in 11 variegated colors and 4 solid colors. The hand is heavenly and it is super fun to incorporate into your braids. I have used it as a "self" fiber as well as combined it with Petite Satin Cord, Gimp , etc. The fu n is i n experime nting.  Click here for Gala!  15 colors!

Gala Ribbon -  $4.25   10 yards/skein

Don't miss the 2 news colors Shimmer Tubular Yarn (10 colors); Pink and  Chocolate and I also added one n ew color  to the Frill y Novelty  Yarn (6 colors); Earth. Click here for Shimmer and here for Frilly.
New Pink Shimmer - $4.00 10 yards/skein
New Chocolate Shimmer - $4.00 10 yards/skein
New Earth Frilly - $4.25 10 yards/skein

For those of you that love beads, I have increased my selection of beads:
Super Duos: Czech Glass beads with two holes in 27 colors. Click for Super Duos.
Super Unos: Czech Glass beads with one hole in 7 "Picasso" colors. Click for Super Unos.

10mm Round Magnetic Clasp $7 to $7.50 depending on color
Flower Magnetic Clasp $8.25

New Magnetic Closures:


New 6mm Top Drilled Round Beads
Oh, so beautiful...Orchid, Magenta and Arctic Blue 
25 Beads per string
$2.50 / string

Arctic Blue
Kumihimo Artist of the Month - Elizabeth Cavasso
Elizabeth Cavasso - Alturas, CA
Elizabeth is one of my favorite creative people. Her Kumihimo creations are unique and take off in all sorts of wonderful directions. She was one of the women on the San Miguel trip and it was so much fun to see what her next creation would be. Many of the gals brought some of their goodies from home and we had a little bit of show-n-tell. It is always fun to see what other people are doing with Kumihimo and how we interpret similar things differently and come up with fun new creations. I just so happened to love this necklace that Elizabeth made. It is a wonderful balance of color and the variety of well-sized novelty beads adds texture and interest without compromising the harmony. I love this. If I didn't have to give it back, I would keep it. Hee, hee. Just kidding, Elizabeth!

The necklace design is asymmetrical with the closure on the side. Elizabeth used the Button & Loop Closure from the Staggered Spiral & Clunky Funky Bracelets.

The focal portion of the necklace is made up of a wonderfu l assortment of beads that all work
er beautifully. Take a look at the close-up photo. Isn't it beautiful? It is fun to create "out of the box". Keep in mind that everything doesn't have to be the same. If the colors and sizes work together, why not try your own fun combination?!

Thank you Elizabeth!

Kumihimo Tip #39 - Some Talk About Measuring Cords for Foam Disk Kumihimo Projects
I am generally entertained by all of the theories about how long to cut cords 
for Kumihimo projects. For the beginner, it is downright confusing. 

Here are some "foam disk general guidelines" that I have experimented with and used for many years and  they work for me. There are a few things to think  about and consider. Always take notes of what works for you!!

"Fiber Only" Braids:

Desired Finished Length x 2 + 4 to 6 inches = Length to cut cord in braids with even take-up for all elements (see explanation below)

"Beaded" Braids (Dropping a bead on every move):

Desired finished length x 2 1/2 + 4 to 6" = Length to cut cords for all beaded braids.  

There are many things to take into consideration including some of these:

* Take-up: This refers to the amount of cord taken up in the braid structure. Take-up varies between braid structures. In some braids the take-up is the same for all elements. There are other braids where the take-up is not even. An example would be the difference between an 8 Strand Kongoh and the 12 Strand Ridge Spiral Braid. On the 8 Strand Kongoh Gumi the take-up is relatively even for all elements. In contrast, with the 12 Strand Ridge Spiral the take-up is greater for the E, W elements that form the "ridge".  We learn this from experimentation and practice or by following a pattern where the pattern write/Designer has already determined the differences and accounted for them in the pattern. (Take-up applies more to "Fiber Only" braids and not drop beaded braids that are usually Kongoh Gumi).

* Disk Size:  There are two basic sizes of foam disks. The "Mini" is 4.25" in diameter and the "Standard" is 6" in diameter.  The distance across the face of the disk effects the length of cord. On a 6"disk yo might want the cords a little longer than for mini disk. Just food for thought.

* Start Method: If you start your braid with a Lark's Head Knot, sometimes called a clean start, you will have more length of cord to braid with than if you start with a knotted end. A Lark's Head Knot can be used when you are using even number of elements per color. With a Lark's Head Knot you cut half as many cords but each one is measured twice as long. The cords are gathered, ends evened, folded in half and then bundled in the middle. If you have odd numbers of colors, you cut each cord individually and knot the ends with an overhand knot. If you use a knotted end, add a few inches or so to your cut length. 

* Thick and thin yarns combined. A general rule of thumb is to cut the thinner cords longer as they have a longer distance to travel over and around the thicker fibers. 

*Finishing. It is important to decide before you cut your cords, how you plan to finish the ends. Your cords can be cut shorter if you are simply attaching a magnetic clasp. On the other hand, if you were using my "adjustable closure" you would need to account for the extra length.
It is never any fun to get to the end of a project and there isn't enough cord. Always, always, always, " Measure twice, cut once. And always add a little extra for safe keeping". 
These are just some things I have learned and I'm sharing with you. If you have learned another way, stick with what works for you. If you are new to Kumihimo, these are a few more things to think about.

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