There comes a time when you’re a crafter when you suddenly need a quick crafty gift. But it can’t look like a quick crafty gift. It has to look special. Personal. A little different. So why not use your Craft Tray Bag, some mini pony beads and elastic thread and knock up a quick named friendship bracelet or charm? This one is actually designed to fit around a water bottle so that the owner can spot it at a distance, but it will fit on her wrist as well. This is a quick and relatively easy make, although it is a bit fiddly. I’d advise against trying to get clever the way I did and making it in a string, as that gets complicated very quickly. (You have to count the beads as you go to make sure you’re threading them on right, and you have to remember that the strands will turn to go up and down. This is because the elastic loops up and down, and then the second strand goes the opposite way. More pictures needed.) The craft tray bag is great for this kind of work as you can fasten your thread down with a safety pin really easily, and the beads don’t shoot all over the place as they would on a hard surface. Working with just two colours, I found it easiest to sort out all the beads I needed first, and you can work out how long a piece of thread you need by measuring how long a bracelet you want and allowing 2 cm *2 for each row of beads. I found that 2 rows made a cm, so 16 rows gave me the length I needed given there’s some stretch. Once you’ve done all the calculations and sorted your beads out, the only thing to do is get threading. Like I say, I started with a straight thread. Once I’d got a few beads on, I quickly realised that keeping track of what I needed where was complicated, so I pushed the beads to the middle of the elastic, and started to do the second threading. Basically you bend the beads in a zig zag and the other end of the elastic goes the opposite direction through each set of 4 beads, meaning that all except the first set are double threaded. So it starts to look something like this. And then as you tidy it up you can see how the bracelet is going to form. You can use this technique to do all sorts of things. We’ve made little animals and owls as keychains or phone charms. Or bigger animals like lizards as toys. To finish this off as a bracelet, I took the ends of the elastic and tied them off, then threaded them through the first row of beads as if they were new beads, so there’s no break in the bracelet at all. Pretty, quick, unique and cheap. An excellent craft in all sorts of ways.
Macrame was big in the 70s to create wall hangings that no one quite understood, and bags that no one wanted to carry. But the techniques that it uses can be brought up to date and used to create beautiful jewelry with very little effort. For this micro macrame project making a ring, I used burgundy thread and a glass bead. You can buy specific micro macrame knotting thread, which is a little thicker than the thread I’m using, which is probably quite a good idea when you’re starting out.
Getting started with micro macrame – the materials.
As you can see, everything I needed fits beautifully into the craft tray bag for safe keeping when I’m not working on the project.
This particular project is a very simple one, and uses only one knot, the square head knot. If you’re just getting started with macrame, I’d suggest trying out the knots with something a little less fiddly than fine thread – I actually learnt all my knotting with scoobies! They are a lot easier to manipulate, and you can see exactly what the knot needs to be like.
You can easily find instructions to do this knot and many other macrame techniques on youtube if you need to practice before you get started, or there is a good image based tutorial here
Measuring your thread
The first thing I did was measure the thread twice around my finger to go through the bead. With a thicker thread you may only need to go round once. Once I’d knotted it, I slid the knots inside the bead, giving a ring looking something like this. You can also dab a little glue onto the knot before you slide it into the bead, if you want to be absolutely sure it isn’t going to come apart.
To actually do the knotting, I fastened the bead to one of the loops on the craft tray bag with a pipe cleaner. Might not be the most elegant looking solution, but it works surprisingly well. One of the things that I find particularly good for crafting about this bag are the variety of ways you can use things like the fastenings to make your crafting life easier. And let’s face it, we’re all about making life easier, aren’t we?
The work in progress
As the bag surface is fabric, the bead doesn’t slide around and you can even pin to it very gently if you’re so inclined. As you can see, I use needles to make the two threads I’m knotting more manageable – I can effectively sew the knots as I’m going.
Here’s a close up of the knots in progress. My technique is to go under from the left and over the right thread, then take the right thread over the ring threads and through the loop the left thread has left. You then reverse this process so that the left thread (now at the right) goes back under the ring threads and over the right thread, and the right thread goes back over the right threads and under the left. If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, the best thing to do is try it
When you’ve finished knotting, the best thing to do with the thread ends is sew them through the knotting so they can’t be seen. The finished effect is very clean and elegant I think, do you agree?
The finished ring
This is a simple and effective gift, and when you get into the hang of it, takes around half an hour to make. Micro macrame is definitely a craft that deserves bringing up to date I feel. Do you agree?