I often hear the question, “How can I arrange my drop beads in a specific pattern in a Kumihimo braid?”
It’s not difficult! Here’s how:
First, you’ll need a pattern calling for drop beads on two opposing (opposite) cords (the most common).
Next, arrange your beads in the order you want them to appear in your braid. I recommend using an odd number of drops. The example below uses 13 etched daggers.
Read the bead loading pattern carefully, and you’ll notice that one of the two cords will begin with 2 more seed beads than the other.
I like to put the drop beads on cords 3 and 7 (3 at upper east/right and 7 at lower west/left). Let’s say the bead loading pattern for cord 3 calls for 12 seed beads before the drops begin and cord 7 calls for 10 seed beads before the drops. That means the first drop bead will come from cord 7 since it has fewer seed beads. The second bead will drop from cord 3. They will continue to alternate between cords 7 and 3.
To make this easy, separate your single row of drops into two rows, as shown below. The first dagger moves down for cord 7 since it will drop first, the second dagger moves up to the row for cord 3. The third dagger moves down, the fourth moves up, and so on, alternating along the line.
Hurray! Now you have the order in which to load the daggers on each cord. You’ll load them from left to right, if that’s how you arranged your pattern of drops. My sample uses four colors of Etched Crystal Copper Rainbow daggers (silvery, copper, lavender, and dark blue-purple). You can use any number and variety you want, and they will always land in the braid in the desired order.
When you load the beads, the pattern will call for seed beads between the drops. Don’t forget to load them!
Bonus tip: For alternating just two styles of drops (different styles, colors, sizes, etc.), load one style drop on cord 3 and another style on cord 7.
You can find bead loading patterns using drops on two cords on the internet, Bead & Button magazine (May 2016 special Kumihimo Fiber and Bead Jewelry issue), and Rebecca Ann Combs’ book Kumihimo: Basics & Beyond. You can find a kit with the pattern and beads at R. Sherman Designs.