There are 3 basics to know before I start any Hemp design. 1 - Know my Materials 2 - Measure Twice to Cut Once 3 - Don't Rush
The Design Process
Before I begin with a sample design, I'm going to explain a little bit about my materials and my design process... BEAD DESIGN BOARDS - Starting with my beads of choice, I grab a handful of each and set them on a bead tray. These trays are great to help space out my beads for a design with up to three layers and several sections to sort, select, and separate beads of different colors and sizes to keep my layout line clear and visible. Starting at ZERO (0) at the bottom center of tray, I set my center bead for a bracelet, anklet or necklace. Working left and right equally spaced by inches (USA) to keep my design symmetrical. Example: I want a Chevron trade bead as my center focus for this design. I placed it at Zero. MEASUREMENTS - When I am working with a set length, I'll need to measure a few items to result in my desired length. Length of Beading: This is determined by the inches up the left and right side. Example: The image above shows the first bead from top left starts at 6" and matches the right side at 6". So, if I follow the inches from top left to zero and back up right side, I will have 12" of beading. Length of Design: This is determined by the measurement of neck, wrist, or ankle and desired distance of center bead to closure. Example: I want to design a Chevron choker with a red, white and blue theme. I measured my neck with a scrap strand of hemp and placed a mark on the strand, it was 16". So, in total, I want the length of design to be 16" to include the 12" of beading. Length of Sides: This is the side lengths that contain no beads. I have one on the left (starter side) and one on the right (end side). LENGTH OF DESIGN - LENGTH OF BEADING = LENGTH OF SIDES LENGTH OF SIDES / 2 = EACH SIDE Example: My length of design is 16" and if I subtract 12" of beading, I am left with 4". Then 4" divided by 2 gives me 2" of knots before I start beading and 2" to knot after my last bead before my closure. This is my total length of sides completing the circle of my necklace so that the center bead stays centered. I wouldn't want to just put 4" on one side of necklace, then my closure will be lopsided and not in the back. Length of Outer Hemp: These are the 2+ strands of hemp that are visible and are knotted around the beads. Example: My design above is for beads to be strung onto an inner hidden strand and I chose 1mm Navy Blue for an outer Square Knot which will require 10x the length of design. 16" x 10 = 160" / 12 = 13.3... so, I need 13 feet of Hemp for my outer. Length of Inner Hemp: This can be 1 or more strands of hemp that are hidden inside the outer knots and will need to be thin enough to fit through the bead. Example: My design above contains a few beads that have 0.5mm holes and my 1mm Navy will not fit through, so I've chosen 0.5mm Navy and will only be able to use a single inner strand which means it needs to be a minimum of 16", plus 8" for each end to allow for starter loop and end knot. Since I use a loom, I usually add another foot so I can clip my inner strands to my desk to hold them still for my outer square knots... 16" + 16" + 12" = 44... so, I round up to 4 feet of Hemp for my inner.
The Starter Side
How to braid a starter loop - I braid my starter loops for added strength. To do this, I need to have three groups of 1 or more strands for a standard braid. I find the center of my outer and fold the hemp at the center and measure to 8" and hold it there. Then take my inner from one end, a single strand in this case, and place it at the 8" and make a three stranded braid long enough that when folded in half, it can fit the end bead and end knot. Once I reach this length, usually 1.5", I tie an overhand knot with the braided loop in one end and all remaining strands out the other end of the knot. This left me with two inner and 4 outer strands. I tighten up my overhand knot by tugging gently on my remaining strands until snug. I'm sure not to pull too hard because hemp cord and twine is rated by weight. This weight determines it's strength. With my outer strands 1mm, these can withstand 20# of pull and my inner strand of 0.5mm is only 10# of pull. After being knotted, these strands can withstand up to 50# of tugging. Enough that a toddler can break. I am now ready to start my square knots and with only 2" to go...this will go quick.
Earlier I explained using the bead board to measure. Now I get to string the beads and knot between bead sets. Starting from the top left, I'll string the beads from the first set, meaning I will stop before I need to do a section of non-beaded square knots. One by one each bead is strung onto the inner strand of the hemp and pushed up to the last knot, square knotted around and secured with one complete square knot. I'll keep track of spacing between each bead as well as keeping my square knots tight around each bead to avoid movement, increase longevity of the design, and secure the bead and hide the inner strand as much as possible to give the illusion the bead is simple hugged by the outer strands. Once this set is done, I'll view my right side of bead board, double check my inches needed between each bead set, then repeat each step, measuring along the way.
PRO TIP on STRINGING BEADS: If my bead has a small hole, I simple glue the 1/2" tip of of inner strand hemp with fray locking glue and let dry. This helps create a small needle like tip of the strand to allow for easy stringing.
The End Side
After completing my bead sets and my final 2" for the end side, I was ready to add my end bead. When I add an end bead, I leave a little slack before end overhand knot so that the starter look has enough space to grip the end of the necklace between the bead and last square knot. If it's too tight on each side of the end bead from square knot to end overhand knot, my starter loop will just slip right over. Now that my starter loop is tested and my length of design is confirmed at 16" before my end bead, I can tighten up my strands after the overhand knot and trim at 1/4". Sometimes I fray the end strands to give a rustic look, or I glue the tips to create a clean look. Just depends on the design. I chose to glue tips on this one and it's a success. Ready to wear.