How To Make Hemp Jewelry
By Zach Swinehart

You're obviously reading this because you want to learn how to make hemp jewelry. Well you've come to the right place! This article will teach you everything you need to know about macramé; (the art of weaving and knotting cords—in this case, hemp—to make jewelry) I start out by covering the supplies you will need to make hemp jewelry (there aren't very many of them), then move on to the actual stitching. I've broken the stitching technique into four parts: starting the piece of jewelry, learning the two main stitches, how to add beads, and how to end it. To make the whole learning process much easier and fun for you, I have included diagrams and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for the stitching sections. With that, read on and you'll be making your own hemp jewelry in no time!

Let's get hempin!

Part 1: Supplies
Before we can get started on the stitching, there are a few supplies you will need. They can either be purchased individually or in a kit, whatever works best for you; I've got some great supplies and starter kits for sale on the website, (www.hempwork.com) I encourage you to take a look if you're looking to buy supplies.

The first thing I'll list, because it's the most obvious, is hemp. Hemp can be purchased in many different weights and lengths, but for a good all around use hemp cord, I'd recommend a 48lb. ball; they usually come in 400ft. lengths and don't cost much. If you go for the bigger or colored hemp, you'll probably end up paying more money for fewer feet, and that's no way to get started out!

You'll need a good pair of scissors; you probably have some lying around the house, just use those. While hemp is quite strong, you shouldn't have any trouble cutting it with a good pair of household scissors. All I ask is that you don't try to cut with safety scissors, if for whatever reason you were thinking you wanted to.

With those two supplies you can successfully make a piece of hemp jewelry. However, there are a few more things you'll need if you want to make a great looking piece of hemp jewelry, so I'll list those next. (I'm assuming you prefer a beautiful piece of jewelry to a mediocre one)

Beads are the most important of all of the "optional" supplies, because of the huge effect they have on the overall look of the piece. When buying the spacer beads—the beads that aren't the centerpiece—be wary of the size of their holes. If you get a bead with too small of a hole, you can theoretically string fishing line through it and make it work, but it doesn't look as good in the end, and I would strongly advise against it. There are millions of different beads out there; you're bound to find some that you like that also have big enough holes.

For centerpieces, murano foil glass beads, or other hand-blown glass beads look great with hemp jewelry. These beads can get expensive though, so make sure to shop around before buying. And hey, if you are looking for centerpieces, you always can find a wide range of beautiful and affordable centerpieces at hempwork.com!

Assuming, of course, that you are going to be using beads, I'd recommend a bead box. They're inexpensive and they keep your beads safe. As much as we might like to tell ourselves that glass is really sturdy, the truth is that it's not, and a bead box is a great way to prevent accidental drops or bumps of those fragile glass beads.

The last "set" of supplies that you have the option of using is the clasp ending apparatus. To assemble it, you will need a couple of split rings, a clasp of some sort, and a of couple end connectors. It might seem like a hassle at first glance, but it's an inexpensive way to end your jewelry when you want it to be removable. If you're going to go with the clasp ending method, you're also going to need some pliers, I'd recommend needle nosed pliers. You will be working with a small amount of metal, and normal pliers are a little bit too bulky for the task.

Part 2: Starting It
At first it's kind of tough to get the thing started, but after you do it a few times it will become second nature. Just follow the steps and diagrams and you'll be fine! Consult the chart at the end of the section if you want a general guideline on lengths of hemp to cut for various pieces of jewelry.

Step One
Measure a length of hemp that is appropriate for whatever project you are making. For example, if you are making yourself a necklace you would wrap the hemp around your neck and mark the spot where you want it to hang by pinching the string with your thumb and forefinger; if you wanted to make a bracelet you'd want to do the same thing, but on your wrist—you get the point.

Step Two
Double the length of the piece you measured out and add about one inch to the total length. Once you've done that you can cut the string and set it aside for now. This string will serve as the foundation for you to wrap all of the other strings around later. (Referred to as the base string)

Step Three
Now that you've got the base string cut, it's time to cut the working strings. The working strings are the pieces of hemp that you will be wrapping around the base strings to form the stitches. Grab the base string you cut a minute ago and line it up with the slack from your ball, spool, or whatever source of hemp you may have. Once you've done this, measure a length of hemp from your source that is about three times the total length of the base string and cut; for smaller jewelry like bracelets and key chains, you may want to cut a length that is four or five times that of the base string, just to be safe.

Step Four
Repeat the process once more so that you have one base string and two working strings, each of which is three times the total length of the base string.

Step Five
Now that we've gotten everything cut, we need to line them up at the center. The first thing to do would be to find the centers of the working strings. Since they are the same length, you can find the centers of them both at once to save yourself some time. Once you've done this, fold them in half and set them somewhere safe where they will be able to stay somewhat folded.

Step Six
As for the center string, we are technically going to be folding it into fourths. If you're wondering why, remember back to when we doubled the necessary length. This was so we could have essentially two base strings for our jewelry; this provides a better foundation to work around.

Step Seven
Once you've found the center of the doubled over base string, pinch it, and with your other hand grab the two working strings at their center. Line up all the centers of the strings and tie them in a knot so you don't have to hold on to all of these strings anymore.

Feel free to consult the following chart as a guideline for how much hemp to use when making your jewelry. Note the part about it being a guideline; not everyone has the same sized limbs; it's usually a good idea to have people measure out their own initial length of hemp to avoid disappointment. Think of this chart as something good to go off for the hemp jewelry that you'd sell on the spot at a booth in a craft show, as opposed to custom pre-ordered jewelry.

Jewelry Type

Length of Finished Jewelry Base String Length Length of Each Working String Total Hemp Needed
Average Necklace 17" 35" 105" 245" a.k.a. 20' 5"
Over-The-Head Necklace 26" 53" 159" 371" / 30' 11"
Average Choker Necklace 15" 31" 93" 217" / 18' 1"
Average Bracelet 7" 15" 75" 165" / 13' 9"
Average Key Chain 4" 9" 45" 99" / 8' 3"
Average Anklet 9" 19" 95" 209" / 17' 5"

Part 3: The Two Main Stitches
There are two main stitches used when making hemp jewelry, along with tons of different variations on those two stitches, which you will learn later. For now, we'll just focus on figuring out the two main stitches. If you've seen hemp jewelry before, chances are you've seen both of the two main stitches. The first stitch is the flat stitch. It's used often in tight fitting jewelry, such as bracelets, anklets, choker necklaces, etc., because of how well it fits the skin when attached tightly. The other main stitch is the spiral stitch. It looks great when used on a necklace in particular, as well as with many other kinds of jewelry. The two stitches both follow the same general idea, and once you learn how to tie one, you pretty much know how to tie the other. Keep that in mind as you work through this guide, so you don't have to go back and re-read instructions. There's also one other thing you should keep in mind before we begin. A tight stitch is a right stitch, if a rhyme helps you remember things better. If rhymes don't help you remember though, just remember to tie your stitches tight. If they are loose they will be inconsistent and your jewelry won't look very good. Hemp is strong material; don't be afraid to tug on it when necessary. The only time you have to worry about ripping the hemp string is if you're using the 20lb stuff. There have been a couple times when I pulled too tight when tightening a stitch and snapped the cord in two. Other than that, pull the hemp tight, and your jewelry will look great.

Step One
First you will need to grab the knotted strings that we got all measured and prepared in the last section. '

Step Two
Line the stings out on whatever surface you are using so that they are all traveling straight away from you. This will make it easier to tie the stitches.

Step Three
Now that you've got the strings all lined up, it's time to tie. Grab one of the working strings, in this example, the one labeled in blue, and pull it over the two base strings, but make sure to leave a gap for later

Step Four
Grab your other working string (red) and make sure it is on top of the first working string (blue)

Step Five
Pull the red working string under the two base strings and up through the loop made by the blue working string earlier.

Step Six
Pull tight, making sure you are tightening by stitch by pulling the working strings outwards, not towards you.

Before we can move on, there are some things you will need to keep in mind while tying the rest of your stitches. The first thing to remember as you continue to tie your stitches is which side the stitch is going to be on. The best way to determine this is to look at the working strings. The working string that's on the top of the base strings will indicate the direction the stitch is going to be on by pointing at it. Take a look at the diagrams above as a reference. In these examples, the stitch will end up being on the left side, because that's the direction the top working string—the blue one—is pointing. Keeping that in mind, you can now take the necessary steps to tie either the flat stitch or the spiral stitch. Luckily for you, the two are practically the same thing. The only difference between the two is the rotation that you tie the knots. For the spiral stitch, you keep tying the stitches in the same direction, whereas for the flat stitch you alternate.

Spiral Stitch
For the spiral stitch, you will always start on the same side, resulting in you switching off with the "color" string you are grabbing. For example, if you tie your first stitch with the blue working string on top, your next stitch will be tied with the red working string on top.

If you're making a necklace, or anything with a centerpiece, and you decide to use the spiral stitch, you should remember that it ties in two different spiral directions. So, instead of having the spiral go the same direction throughout the whole piece of jewelry, you can have it reverse at the middle, creating a symmetrical, mirrored kind of look.

Flat Stitch
For the flat stitch, you switch off with the side you start on, resulting in you always grabbing the same "color" string. Look at the example on the right, the blue working string is always on top of the base strings.

Now that you know the two stitches, it's up to you to decide how you want to use them! Don't be afraid to use both in one piece of jewelry, variety is what makes each hemp necklace interesting and unique.

Part 4: Adding Beads
Considering how much of a role the beads play in the overall look of the necklace, it's surprisingly easy to add beads to your jewelry. All you have to do is run the two base strings through the bead, and continue your stitches like normal. Careful not to accidently stitch the same side twice if you're doing a flat stitch, it's easy to get confused about which side the stitch is actually on with a bead because it doesn't produce the visible stitch that you get with a "bald" length of hemp jewelry. With spiral stitched pieces, add the bead when it looks like there's one more stitch for the spiral to have turned a full 360 degrees. If you add the bead after the spiral has already completed the full turn, the bead will end up either facing a little bit too much up, or a little bit too much down, depending on which direction you were stitching.

Part 5: Ending It
To end your awesome new piece of hemp jewelry you have a few options. You can either tie it, or if you want it to be removable you can end it using clasps or the bead and loop method. Tying it is probably the longest lasting of the three, but they're all durable and long-lasting to begin with. For removable jewelry I recommend using clasps. This method is more cost effective, keeps a lower profile, and you also don't run the risk of having the end piece take the place of the centerpiece because it weighs the most, causing the piece of jewelry to spin until the ending bead is where the centerpiece should be. This generally isn't a problem with standard necklaces, but I see it happen often with bracelets and chokers. To assemble the clasp ending apparatus, you will need some small split rings (about a quarter inch), some end connectors, I use the crimp style ones, and a clasp setup, I prefer the barrel clasps. Once you work half of the clasp and one of the end connectors into the split ring, do it again with another end connector and the other half of the clasp and you'll be ready to move on. On each of the unfinished ends of your piece, tie an overhand knot about an inch from the last stitch. The gap between the last stitch and the knot is where you'll crimp one of the halves of your ending apparatus. After you've done this on each side, make sure they're crimped on tightly, then you can trim the excess hemp beyond the knot and…. YOU'RE DONE! Wasn't so hard after all was it?

About The Author:
For supplies and free instructional materials including bonus stitches, maintenance tips, instructional videos, shopping guides, and more, visit the website at www.hempwork.com! Questions? If something was unclear in the tutorial, feel free to shoot me an email at contact@hempwork.com and I'll be happy to help you out with whatever it is that you might be needing help out with!

©2008 Zach Swinehart www.hempwork.com



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