Category Archives: Tassels

DIY bead tassel

I love tassels. You can make them out of pretty much anything you have lying around, and they can be as fancy or simple as you like.  I made a black and white one this morning for Jane, who is coming round later today to pick it up.

Finished!

Finished!

What you need for one tassel:

1. one large bead with a big hole (this will be the tassel head)

2. a selection of beads in various sizes and shapes

3. a 16cm length of soft cord (you can use ribbon if you prefer)

4. a sharp needle with a narrow eye (I used a #7 crewel needle)

5. strong thread (I used Gutermann topstitching thread)

6. scissors

Beads and cord

What you do:

1.  Cut a short length of thread and fold it over the cord.

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2. Push the thread up through your big bead and pull it out at the top, the cord with it.

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3. Pull the cord up until the loop is about as big as you want it. Leave approx 1.5 cm of cord stub sticking out of the bottom

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4. Thread your needle and knot the end. Run it through the stub and wrap the cord round it a couple of times to make it really secure.

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5. Trim the stub if it’s got a bit fluffy.

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6. Make the first length of beads: thread them on (in the order of your choice), using a little seed bead as the last one.

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7. Skipping the last bead, take your needle and thread back up through all the other beads back to where you started.

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It will look something like this:

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8. Make a couple of stitches through the stub to secure the thread nicely, then start a second length of beads.

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9. Add as many lengths of beads as you like (depending on whether you want your tassel to be slender or chubby), and vary each length slightly.

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10. When you’re happy with how it looks, secure the thread tightly in the stub and carefully trim off any messy bits.  I also like to dab on a bit of clear nail polish or fabric glue, just to make extra sure the thread won’t ever loosen. Push the head down firmly and knot the cord if you wish.

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And that’s it! If anything is unclear, please let me know.

To give you some more ideas, here are some of the tassels currently in my home:

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Hanging on the key hooks at the front door

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they're on the key to the linen cupboard

Very simple tassels that Alex made when she was about 6; they’re on the key to the linen cupboard

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

Multi-coloured tassel with a silk flower pinned on top, on my trusty old brown leather handbag

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

A tassel on a long piece of black and gold cord that I sometimes wear as a necklace. Modelled by you-know-who.

And if you don’t have the materials to make your own tassel, or if you want someone else to have the fun of making one, I’ve finally got around to making up more kits for bead tassel keyrings and listing them on etsy again.

Back soon x

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Woolhogs Made It Challenge

This challenge is an excellent idea from a clever fellow Capetonian crafter/ blogger: woolhogs! Yay, proudly South African! (Vuvuzelas, please!)

My entry is a little knitted bag. I call it The Little Knitted Bag.

I used:  super chunky yarn and size 7.5mm knitting needles. I can’t remember what the wool is called, there was a single ball left in Roger’s shop and he said he wasn’t going to order any more so I can’t ask him either.  I just know it was imported, but any nice chunky yarn will work.

I cast on 50 sts and worked 40 rows stocking stitch; cast off.  I made sure to leave enough wool to use for the strap.

With right sides together, fold the rectangle in half and stitch up along the side and bottom seams. Turn right side out.

Find a suitable piece of fabric for the lining.  I used a medium-weight velour-type material in crimson.  Cut two pieces a bit bigger than the bag; sew the two pieces along three seams, right sides together.

Don’t turn the lining inside out. Fold the top over (see above) and insert into bag, and pin into place at the top.  Stitch by hand.

I made a cord using the leftover wool from the bag and some other crimson wool and a length of silver chain to make it a bit more substantial. I cut lengths of 140cm and made a plait, and just knotted each end (instant tassel!)  Sew each end to the sides of the bag, and add a big press-stud for closing (optional).

Also optional – find or make something to stick on the front for extra oomph.

    

Voilà –  the Little Knitted Bag. Très facile et très jolie.   French? What the hell?  I’d forgotten the whole Proudly South African thing.  Ok, here it is in Xhosa –  kakhulu khaphukhaphu, kakhulu lekker.  And in Afrikaans – baie maklik, baie mooi.

To be continued…

after a long weekend

First blog in days and days…! What with a very long weekend in South Africa (5 days, from Freedom Day to Workers’ Day with 1 working day in between that most people seemed to take off anyway), some freelance work, too much socialising and a throat infection, I haven’t managed to do much knitty crochety crafty stuff, but there is a bit to show…

These are the first two tassels I have made for my belly-dancing friend. I know she has them in her little paws although I haven’t seen her myself today, so I’m hoping the feedback is positive.  Even if they aren’t what she had in mind, I certainly enjoyed making them, and I can always use them to decorate something or other around the flat.

I also managed a bit of progress on my shell shawl:

I’ve wanted to make this shawl ever since I first found it on the internet, and am using Marble double knit because I have no idea what the equivalent would be to the Sausalito yarn that was used in the original pattern. It’s 100% acrylic, which actually suits me very well – the only natural fibre I can wear is cotton, anything with real wool in it makes me itchy and scratchy.

I seem to be going through a strong attraction to teal and turquoise and sea-green and aqua at the moment, I used to be much more pink and red! This Marble was quite cheap at R15,00 for a 50g ball, and I bought 6 instead of the 5 that was recommended, just in case. Nothing worse than running out of wool and then not being able to get the same dye-lot again.  I still have some really lovely bamboo and cotton blend from Vinni’s hand-dyed range and, when I get an idea of the finished product, I will also try it in that, if it doesn’t make it too heavy and drapey. I liked this shawl because it doesn’t have a deep V at the back, which makes a nice change.

And that’s it for the handy stuff. I am going to Johannesburg for three days, leaving Friday, so I must be sure to pack at least one crochet activity that will keep me occupied on the plane and then also during the in-between socialising bits. Maybe something with small squares to be joined together later.

To be continued…

 

la Belle anniversaire pour la belle Jane

Funny how some people get – mention them once in a blog and they so enjoy the glare of the spotlight, however fleeting, that they come to crave on-going publicity.  So, today is Jane’s birthday. The lovely, serene, auburn-haired Jane with the understated elegance and subtle sense of humour that can only be achieved with polished maturity. Here are three old school friends: Jane on the left and Karen on the right, I’m in the middle. We were at La Belle at the Alphen Hotel, and the reason why the food display behind us looks so depleted is because we had just eaten up all the cheesecake and lemon pies.  Jane had many other friends there to celebrate with, but I was the only pleb with a camera.

 
The other really nice thing that happened today was meeting Letitia* for coffee in the afternoon. An erstwhile colleague and belly dancer, she is looking for unusual and amazing tassels with which to embellish her dance ensembles. I have seen photos of Letitia and her dance group doing their stuff, they really are extraordinarily gorgeous and flamboyant.  These are two “tribal” tassels which had to be imported, apparently they are hard to find in South Africa (you don’t say?) so I’m going to see if they can inspire me to come up with something a bit different myself.

I have no cowie shells, but I do have lots of bells, whistles, beads and glitter. It’s my challenge for the evening. Pic soon.

To be continued… 

* Not her real name.

At Jane’s house

Yesterday afternoon I visited Madame Jane Butters of Constantia, in my capacity as Tassel Maker Extraordinaire. The Butters have a new and very large house with many rooms, each of which has a door with a key which is crying out for a decent tassel to add some colour and verve.  Not that the house doesn’t already have verve — it is in fact already a very vervacious house — but a house with tassels becomes a home. A classy one, actually, and I should know, coming from Blackpool as I do.

This orange tassel was our starting point – height and body weight are good but the ribbon and too much bright orange isn’t going to work, so I’m going to tone the new ones down a bit. Creams, neutrals, ivories, a touch of pale rose and sea green here and there. Nothing like playing with beads to keep me happy.

There were some nice things at Jane’s house, notably the happy little pot of purple petunias on the windowsill, the exquisite mosaiced brick doorstop (wonder who made that?), and the view of the Constantia vineyards from the end of the road.  It’s like a piece of heaven. I’ll have to invite myself back one day soon.

To be continued…

 

tassels for Africa

So Anne asked me the other day what I’d done with all my tassels. I went through a huge tassel passion about 8 or 9 years ago, going so far as to run tassel workshops! It seems they had been wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a box in the garage all this time. A bit like bulbs, and hopefully – like bulbs – they will now come back to life.

I’d forgotten how very much I like them, and how very much I liked making them. Seeing the zebra one made from a cotton reel makes me think I could use other waste things in tassels to come.
The others have special wooden shaped heads, which were made by a very handy man called Laurie who used to live next door to my first shop in Rosebank. He had all the right carpentry equipment and used to turn some really beautiful shapes for me.

A woman asked me one day what on earth a tassel was, and when I showed her, she then asked what on earth it would be used for. [No imagination, some people.] Think of them as house jewellery, I said, just for starters.

To be continued…