Braided Suede Bracelets

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I was fooling around after my success in the aftermath of the nautical knot necklaces and I came up with these quick little bracelets. Let’s get one thing straight, though: I have never made jewelry before. I don’t know what is the appropriate thing to use in which situation. So if you do something like this but you do it better? Let me know. Either way, I’m quite pleased with how these turned out, even if they look a little silly on my teenie weenie wrists and fat hands. Bracelets drive me crazy, anyway, but these will make good gifts.

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I forgot to take pictures at the beginning but it’s pretty straightforward. I picked up some faux suede cord at Wal-Mart when I was getting the other hardware for the necklaces (I was going to get the real suede cord but it was more expensive and when I picked it up it was MOULDY, ew). I cut some of it into three equal pieces just slightly longer than the circumference of an average girl wrist.

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I used a pinch crimp/ribbon end to hold the three pieces together, then braided it up. I used another crimp on the other end.

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Then I did that two more times with different coloured cord and attached small jump rings to all the ends.

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Then I attached all three together with a slightly larger jump ring at both ends.

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And attached a spring ring clasp to that on one side.

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And this is how it does up. Though in many cases I’m sure you could just slide it on over your hand.

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Easy peasy.

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I made three, of slightly varying sizes.

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Nautical Knot Necklace

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I was trying to come up with some last-minute present ideas back in December when I came across this one on the internets. Everyone likes necklaces, right? And nautically-themed things? Yes. Yes, they do.

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So there’s some things you’re gonna need: a couple metres braided nylon cord (you can pick this up in craft and fabric stores; small pieces of felt in colours that match the cord; some tiny pliers; hot glue gun and glue; small split rings or jump rings; ribbon ends (or pinch crimps or whatever they’re called); and spring rings or lobster clasps.

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You might also need a little bit of tape if your cord comes unbraided when you cut it. The coiled stuff will come undone, whereas the braided stuff will probably stay put.

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Next, decide if you want your necklace to be four or six strands wide. The version I saw on tuts+ had six strands, but with the amount of cording I bought (6 metres each), I ended up having only enough to make two necklaces of four strands each. So cut your cord into four (or six) equal pieces, and make them a little longer than you would like your finished necklace to be. Divide your strands into two groups.

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To create the basic nautical knot, start by making a wee fishie out of one set of strands: create a loop where the strands cross over themselves, as shown below.

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Do the same thing with the other set of strands, in the opposite direction. Lay the second loop over the first loop such that the top loop part is over the crossed strands of the loop below, and the crossed part of the top loop is over the loop part of the strands below.

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Now things get a bit complicated to explain, but once you do it you’ll totally get it. The idea behind tying these knots is that the top strands will alternate going over and under the bottom strands. So in this picture you can see that all the top strands are currently above the lower strands, and that’s not going to work.

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Here’s where we pull out the loops and start alternating the over/under part. So to the right you see the part where the bottom loop strand crosses under itself. That means the next one, in the bottom centre, has to go under. You can see that the far left one goes over, and the one in the middle goes over. So the one that I haven’t done yet therefore will have to go under. Yeah so that’s not easy to talk about.

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Basically make sure that each time your strands cross over each other, that they alternate going under and over.

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Then you do the same with the other side. Under. Over. Under. Over …

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So when your cording looks like this, with all the appropriate unders and overs, then you’re ready to pull.

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Grab the ends of your cording and gently pull them away from each other and tighten your knot.

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Keep pulling, and then you have an honest-to-goodness nautical knot!

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You can tug on the individual cords to make the knot even.

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So that’s cool and all, but I figured once I had that basic knot down, I should go a little bit bigger, and better. So I doubled the number of loops!

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This takes a little bit more finesse.

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And certainly a longer time to weave all the under/overs.

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Then you can carefully pull it tight.

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And adjust the individual cords.

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This is the version I did with the larger coiled cord.

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So then you arrange your necklace how you’d like it to look.

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This red one is going to be off-centre. Because asymmetry is cool.

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Trim the ends of the cording straight across but at a slight angle.

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Then cut a tiny square of felt and glue your cord ends to half of it.

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Fold it over and glue it down. Trim off excess felt.

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Then you take one of those ribbon end/pinch crimp things and use your pliers to crimp onto the piece of felt.

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Do it to the other one as well.

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Add a jump ring to each side.

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DO NOT EAT THESE THINGS. I like how in the warnings it’s only the Spanish version that uses exclamation points.

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Next you’ve got the spring rings to deal with. Lobster clasps are easier, but I couldn’t find any at the time.

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Add those suckers on.

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And it didn’t take long!

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Fast-Tip Friday: Storing Jewelry

(Sorry for the glitch with the photographs there, folks. Seems Flickr is subtly changing the addresses of my photos after I’ve already posted them …)

Next week is jammed packed chock full of fantastically amazing recipes, so I’m going to leave you hanging with a handy tip to tide you over for the weekend.

Get ready for a shock: this is my jewelry box.

Storing Jewelry 1

I know it looks totally chaotic, but I swear it’s organized.

The thing is, I own a huge amount of jewelry.  Most of it is just costume stuff, but some of it is inherited.  I’m also horribly allergic to metal, so I can’t wear most of it.  At least, not until my body chemistry changes in the future.  So I keep it all stored very carefully.

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I save tiny and odd-sized plastic bags, with the Ziploc-like seals, whenever I find them.

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Then I keep my rings together.

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And my necklaces separate, which keeps their chains from tangling together and also protects them from exposure to air that will cause them to tarnish.

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And the finer chains I also take the clasp part and seal it on the other side of the closure.  I find this ensures that the fine links won’t tangle with themselves or with the heavier clasp.

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Whenever I go home I usually spend an hour or so with my mother’s jewelry collection, doing the same thing.  For stuff that you don’t wear all that often, it really works.

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Blinging Back the Bring – I mean, Cleaning Rings

As a newlywed, I am still enchanted with the two white gold rings on my left hand.  As the clumsy, messy, and generally absent-minded person that I am, those two rings get scummy and filthy pretty quickly.

While a professional jeweler can clean your rings the best, there is a quick and easy way to do a pretty good job at home, without using any harsh chemicals, solvents, or otherwise expensive products.  This method is mild enough to work on plated items such as my engagement ring, which has a rhodium coating.

Plop a tablespoon or two of baking soda in a bowl or a jar.

Plop in your rings or other jewelry that needs cleaning.

Carefully pour in about 1/4 cup of white vinegar (I use white vinegar to clean pretty much everything, so I have an 8L jug of it under my sink).

Watch the foam!  It’s like a science experiment from elementary school.

Stir the foamy mixture around a bit to make sure all the baking soda has its day in the sun and leave the stuff to sit for a few minutes.  Add more vinegar if you’re feeling science-y.

With a soft toothbrush or even a pipe cleaner, give your ring a little scrub, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies that hold the grossest of crud, which in my case is the big empty space right under the diamond.

Rinse ’em off and blamo kablam you’ve got your shiny back. (I don’t have a picture for you because it hasn’t been sunny enough here to truly blind you with my diamond shine.  Oh Newfoundland.)