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October 12th, 2014 at 07:02 am

Moving From Disc To Dai

Braid thinking out loud – there is a conversation in Kumihimo Beaded Braids that reminded me of a tip of sorts I had been meaning to share.

Although I do not have a smart phone, I do have an OLD Video Camera that I use exclusively to develop instructions and to determine where my execution of instructions is going horribly wrong.

Most recently I applied that to introductory Kumihimo Braids and more specfically what could be done to help those who want to move from disc to dai.

It has long seemed to me that the biggest & easiest issue to lose site of in the transition is so many do not understand that they are different. While I know some agree, it may well be we under estimate how long it is going to take for our frontal lobe to be convinced and as a result our progress and certainly our speed of execution is hindered.

So how to “fix” this. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom – creating a new Paradigm – and likely severely annoying a certain segment with the bead & braid world since it will mean rethinking and perhaps rewriting instructions – not to mention all those you tubes and free tutorials that (at least in my never humble opinion) hinder the growth of the braiders knowledge and skills.

For some time, my mantras were altered to start with “on this disc” and “on this dai” – AND I really needed to find out why I seemed to be having so much difficulty reacquiring the needed muscle memory as well as why I seemed to be losing it between projects.

In a effort to more objectively evaluate where I am going wrong, I used the video camera to see what I was doing and find the errors of my ways. The BFOO (blinding flash of obvious) there is no reason why a disc must be used with only one hand and in fact that is a detriment to the student to insist they should

It seems such a simple answer, using two hands regardless of the tool – disc or dai. Why not teach – to quote a wonderful Quaker lady a bit out of context – to start as we mean to go on. I have always found the reliance on numbers (and the tedious lines of instructions that creates) a hinderance. In braiding it is and should be about the movement and flow, not about moving eyes from page to disc to find the numbers.

I suppose this “thought” has been brewing for sometime and might just be why I “Suddenly” needed to work the introductory braids in Art of Kumihimo on a disc. A project that went more quickly because of using two hands as I would to have followed the information on a Marudai and when I then moved over to the marudai – was back up to speed within one full sequence of moves, instead of several inches of braid.

Further the self critique reminded me one of the reasons I like to braid is the use of two hands. now I deliberately use both hands prefer to use two hands with the disc is because when analyzing my own technique that there was a definite correlation between which tool I have been using more heavily and how long it took to get back the skill level previously enjoyed.

As always, since I already know what I think, I hope you will share you thoughts with me.

Now I need some guinea pigs to test my theory – hoping my braider friends will give it a try and let me know if it helps their transition from disc to dai.

August 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Marudai Dreams Can Come True

FiberArtistSupply.com Ultimate Marudai Kit In case you missed hearing about my present of the year, well maybe 2 years – this is about the FiberArtistSupply.com Deluxe Marudai kit –

Apologies in advance for gushing more than a little. Wheat (me) is an especially happy customer of FiberArtistSupply after recently receiving my “dream” Kumihimo equipment.

Tim Hale and his company, FiberArtistSupply have been supplying affordable quality tools to the yarn community since about 2007 – when I saw the photos of Tim and his family on Facebook, I was surprised that he is such a young guy – great news for the yarn users of the universe.

Since 2008 I have acquired more than a few of Tim’s Tools. Now, I am grateful that about the same time I decided it was time to follow the tradition of commissioning a marudai to meet my personal needs, Tim was just about ready to embark on a “redesign” of his Marudai and gave me the the opportunity to be among those providing input into the redesign.

I love traditional fiber as much as the quite recent practice of adding beads and other inclusion into the braid. (and, yes, have always know that what I was doing was braiding, but not exactly Kumhimio) My biggest wish was for a larger than usual center opening for the mirror than is now standard for Tim’s Tall Deluxe Marudai. My “kit” included both weights of tama – a minimum of 16 each and both sets of legs.

The 9.75 inch diameter mirror is excellent for my preferred 8-16 tama projects and adequate for the occasional mad foray into 24 tama braids. My goal is to eventually add another 8 as I use them as both tama and counterweight.

One of the issues with the taller “American” style of Marudai is that the traditional friction fit for the legs to allow easy set up and take down gets a bit wonky and wobbly. Add in the sometimes less than perfectly controlled movements for someone regaining muscle use and memory and Tim’s new screw in legs are a personal Godsend.

A compromise was needed related to the finishing. As a young woodworker Tim has some strong feelings about finishing. After listening – I had to agree that if the result was a more appropriate finish there was no reason not to take advantage of the kinds of finishes available today for the Marudai mirror.

So, after months of “engineer meets artisan” that included lots of me explaining WHY that detail was important in terms that would appeal to his sense of engineering and my desire for a reasonably traditional work and his educating me the nuances of creating a design for hand crafted production it finally arrived (early July) – I have been braiding happily away on samples for a future book “to test” the limits of my new toy and am not the only one amazed and amuzed to find nothing I would change or wish was different.

I am not sure if Tim will consider working on a custom project anytime soon (and I take full responsibility and hold him blameless) but am very pleased with the outcome of this one.

The only thing left on my braiding “I want” list are larger capacity bobbins and rumor has it Tim will be solving that problem for all very soon – well that and more time to braid and bead and weave, and most important of all ….

Enjoy The Making


Oh, almost forgot – for ordering, pricing and availablity, visit FiberArtistSupply.com and check out the Kumihimo tools. Web Links Open In New Windows:
Kumihimo Tools at FiberArtistSupply
E Mail FiberArtSupply
Telephone: 847-530-0816
Email FiberArtistSupply

CC: Kumihimo Marudai Resource Links

CC: AllJustString.com Forum
FB: ItsAllJustString.com

July 15th, 2014 at 17:59 pm

Color Matching – The Process

Got a really good start “publishing” what has turned out to be much more of a project than I had hoped.

Although much more work to be done, and a number of “refinements” planned (better color, home town information, etc)

It was supposed to be an easy project – It really started as a project to cross reference the different color names used by SLon & CLon since they are made in the same mill, but marketed under two different brand names. ( and that is a story for another day )

The post it note had been hanging out for quite awhile, but Adrienne Gaskell’s sharing of her “professional crafter” cord and thread recommendations, kicked it up the “get it done” list considerably.

Even though I do sell SLON, after growing up in Yonkers and spending many a day riding my bike to and up one of the more impressive hills of Yonkers, Odell Ave to visit the nice folks at Consumers Union all sorts of questions – generally I try to buy things I want to review. Just seems more polite than to ask a supplier to give you something and then if you don’t like it – you might have to repay their generosity with a less than happy review.

So what is the process? First getting comparable samples, next to compare them using a true color light sources.

For textiles, I also like to use at least one or more manufacturer color cards – and generally for nylon and Polyester – Robison Anton Super Brite Poly is helpful.
The Robison Anton Rayon color card works well for Rayon and Silk. And last but not least, sometimes their J-Metallic.
Robison Anton threads are among my favorites for traditional Japanese Braiding, silk is just not very often in the budget.

It would be remiss of me not to also thank E L Wood and Franklin Braid – both samples for all the cord colors.

Okay, so with samples and color cards in hand, next up is
wait for a nice day, get out on the deck and compare again. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast – you don’t need me to tell you that those kinds of days have been in short supply. Especially during the window of time needed when the light is “right” (11am to 1pm and then again about 4pm to 6pm during the summer)

Because I am using some commercially produces cords with a braided sheath/cover the surprisingly easiest colors samples were generously provided by E L Wood Braiding and Bart at eXtremePara.com.

In the middle of all the information gathering was a “gift request” from a family member – so sport team colors has been added to the project and this is the current focus in how to present this. Of course, that also meant finding a way to provide information to crafters without having to discuss the issue with the intellectual property folks at the NFL or any other professional sport just because I want to help you (and myself) make affordable gifts for our family and friends.

There is still a lot of work to be done, more materials like threads and beads and findings to compare and report
Would welcome your feedback – here is how the “chart” started – scribbled on paper with a pen (yes, people do still use those kinds of tools)

HomeTown PMC-C RA-Poly SLon E L Wood CLon Web-Safe
All Football White White Snow White White White Web-Safe
15+ Black Black Black Black Black Web-Safe

It is planned to add to the blog with more about the process but the specific information will be elsewhere. Click here to see is where it is headed.
or cut and past in an new window:


Let me know what you think

February 24th, 2014 at 10:40 am

Process, Project, Overlap or “Oh My”

this has been kicking around in my brain as an introduction to a getting started topic in our new forum. It is still a draft, but I am hoping for some feedback to help clarify my thinking, The links won’t be added till the content is in the forum. Thanks in Advance for sharing your reaction to my perhaps inflammatory thoughts on this Daft version of getting started in Braiding as they evolve.

The following is a highly opinionated theory, and absolutely no disrespect is meant to any of the wonderful authors and teachers whose work may not fit into my vision.

Although focused on Braiding, much could apply to any of the fiber arts.

As I wrote in the article Getting Started: Disc & Plate, whether your braids are of Japanese or other ethnic origins – all share two commonalities. First, a Braid, unlike weaving, is a single set of elements, (in weaving, as you know, warp and weft are separate and generally worked at right angles) with each serving the functions of both warp and weft and in most cases, worked on the diagonal.

Second, is the need to focus on good information often found only in books and classes – and far too often not in a YouTube video where it is far too easy to miss nuances in the good ones and pick up bad habits in the “I learned this yesterday and so I am sharing”

As you may have already guessed, I have very low tolerance for books or videos that teach me nothing I cannot learn from Shirley Berlin’s Red Book “Kumihimo On A Card” There is nothing wrong with wanting, buying, using recipes – it is just not my thing.

So once the braider decides to use MaruDai or other braiding stand – there is no question that both devil and delight get equal time in the details. Fortunately for today’s beginning and advanced braiders – we have a much greater choice of books, educators, and venues for classes.

Equally of value is that for MaruDai, unlike when many of us in the USA started, you can learn MOST of what you need from some of the books available today (2014)

You just have to choose your most likely path. It is my opinion and YMMV may be different – that there is more than one path and that your choices should be guided by where you think you want to “go”.

Certainly there is a significant group of braiders who fall into either “category” still, at heart, you will find they are “mostly” Process or Project.

The Process people are more inclined to focus on structure – in the “English speaking” world (USA/Canada/UK etc) most have come from some other fiber discipline such as weaving and other small wares. Process people are more likely to move from MaruDai to other types of specialized Dai and other stands which have been developed for use in braids from other Cultures such as the Chinese and Peruvian structures. Process people are often, for lack a better explanation, more traditional in their approach, using traditional materials, and limiting their finishing to more traditional objects such obi-jime, the cord used to tie the Obi of Kimono. The Process person is mostly likely to look at a “finished sample and think, now what if I changed this step….. they are about changing the actual way the braid is made first and then considering artful variations later.

The Project People, are those building their skills and repertoire of techniques for the purpose of incorporating various structures into “useful” and “decorative” objects, often items intended for personal adornment (jewelry or trim on garments, etc) These are the people who first thought when looking at a finished braid might be some variation of
“That nice, now what can I make it into”. Many Project People have come to this path from other FiberArts – where an investment of time and discipline to master basics is the norm.

The Over Lap group is the one who is interested in how the braid was made, but their questions usually start with “well what if I put this color(or bead or chip) on that element and then repeated the structure. Speaking as an over lap person, It has been my observation that quite often we tend to choose one piece of equipment for the Process side of our personality and then use those unique structures within our projects.

Within the Project people there is a small but growing number arriving in the braiding community to have been exposed ot the basics, have been browsing the web seeing the work of and want to expand their skills – accepting the necessary discipline to buld those skills

And here is where I will likely get burned – this is an increasing influx from those who are not aware and mostly seem not interested in the rich history of the braider’s craft and are not really interested in growing their talent or those with a talent for choosing colors and using only the most basic of techniques and often without proper There is certainly a place for this segment in the bead & jewelry hobbyists population.

Putting my money where my mouth is – I recently stunned many customers who called asking me to special order certain books prefaced because they said something like “I am so excited to get this book to learn more about Kumihimo” with my reply “If you want to learn about Kumihimo, you should not be buying a beading/beadwork book” because no matter what is says in title, yes, it is braiding, but only at the most elementary level. There is nothing wrong with recipe books, but a Chocolate Chip Cookie is till just a Chocolate Chip cookie if the only variation is your choice of chocolate – Milk, Dark, etc – all good and delicious if you like that flavor. Just as the book you are requesting is offering you varaitions based on the bead ingredients (with some allowance occasionally for where to place the beads) If you want to learn about Kumihimo, let’s talk a bit before you choose.

So far, only one has gotten angry, and several have stuck to their original choice, but most have thought further and chosen a path that will keep them interested and innovative for years to come.

Now on to the, Getting Started Book Lists. (not to Wheat Wrote What readers, the forum does required you create an account to read most of the content – it is free, and you will not added to any email lists unless you choose to follow topics)

Click to Read: Books for Process People and why Wheat recommends each

Click to read: Books for Project and why Wheat recommends each

Click to read Books for Disk and Plate people and why Wheat Recommends each.

LINK To MATERAILS for Braiders

such as the
Maru-dai, Kara-dai, KaraKaku-dai, Omarudai, Taka-dai, Aya-Taka-dai, to name some of the Japanese – there are also Chinese and many other cultures with specialized equipment such as the recently released cord braiding stand that I have been told was developed to make Peruvian braids “easier”

February 14th, 2014 at 13:22 pm

Nut Roll Family Recipe

This recipe is the one used by my Aunt Juel (my dad’s sister) and it is the one most of us in the family use since she is the one who taught us.

So because I keep misplacing it, putting it someplace “safe” like the internet seemed the thing to do.

Someday I might have to do some baking and take pictures – all the ingredients are in the cupboard and refrig –

Cold Nut Roll Dough

5 C flour (plus enough to get it unsticky as you knead)

4 eggs, beaten

1 lb butter

1 tsp. salt

2 cakes yeast [or packets]

1/2 pt. light cream

Powdered sugar for rolling

Desolve yeast in luke warm cream.
Mix flour and butter as for pie crust.
Combine eggs, salt, yeast and cream
Gradually add “wet” mix to the flour/butter
Mix really well, you may have to add a little more flour to get the right dough consistency
Roll in powdered sugar.
Will make 6 nut rolls. [
Divide in 6-8 parts and chill dough overnight before rolling


5 cups of coarse ground nuts and
2.5 cups of sugar.
Mix together.
(I like to include about 1/2-1/3 cup of white raisins lightly coated with powdered sugar makes it easier to get them to mix into the nuts evenly instead of clumping together)

Remove one piece of chilled dough
at a time from the refrigerator, keeping the rest chilled.

Roll out that one into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread one sixth to one-eighth of the filling onto the dough and roll it up, jelly-roll style.

Put on ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper while you do the rest.
DO NOT Have sheet sitting on stove where oven is preheating

Bake 30-35 minutes in 325 degree oven.

This includes notes from Ceil – she makes them smaller.

With thanks to Jennifer Eggers for sharing her notes

Wheat’s Notes: My dad loved the Poppy seed version – somewhere along the line I lost their instructions for making it “from scratch”. It turns out that you can buy pretty much the right amount of Poppy seed “filling” for a small roll when mixed with stiffened egg white – Look for the Solo Brand in the stupid market baking aisle – that was the one he said tasted best.

Have tried apple pie filling, with white raisins dusted in flour in hopes of making it a bit less “juicey” resulting in soggy crust. but this dough can be used in a pie pan, weighted and pre-baked for a maybe 5-6 minutes and then bake according to the instructions for pie filling. We like the no sugar added. I do add a LOT more cinnamon/apple pie spice, but then I tend to treat cinnamon like a food group

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