I just love learning new skills and making a tassel to fulfill the requirements of the passimentiere module of the RSN diploma gave me the chance to do exactly that!
My tassel is a combination of four separate components; a tassel head, a skirt (both under and over skirt), a ruff and the hanging cord. Making the cord was the first thing I learned how to do and it was so much fun! I was like a child with a new toy, winding away and watching a beautiful cord emerge as I twisted and twisted.
There are many ways to make cord with different ways of winding, but the basics are the same no matter how you wind the separate strands together. The cord winder you see in the photo above comes from Anna Crutchley who is the author of the book ‘The Tassels Book’. It’s an amazing little device. Click here to purchase a cord winder from her.
If you look closely in the photo above, you’ll see there are multiple strands of thread hooked onto each of the four hooks. Those strands are twisted together, either in a S-twist or a Z-twist, before being wound together to make the cord. To do this, I strung the threads between the mechanical end you see and a piece of wood with four of the same hooks mounted onto it and clamped to a table about 3 meters/ 3.5 yards away. There is a lever to hold down to ensure that only the individual hooks spin either clockwise or counterclockwise, creating the individual twisted threads that will go into the cord.
Once the threads are twisted, you release the lever and continue to turn the handle in the same direction and all four hooks move on the metal plate at one time, no longer individually, which twists the individual threads into the cord.
During this part of the process I had to walk towards the wooden end that was mounted on the table since, naturally, the cord gets shorter as it’s wound more tightly.
Above is a photo of the first cord I made using long lengths of DMC cotton (not separated) and cotton crochet yarn, one of which had a bit of synthetic gold thread running through it. These materials were not expensive but when wound together created a very elegant piece of cord! Result!
The next piece of cord I made was the “real” one for winding around the head of the tassel. This cord was made of threads from Oliver Twists; two silver and two gold. Three of them are shiny, sparkly synthetic threads and the other is a grey gimp.
Again I used single pieces of thread and twisted them together first. Look closely at the photo and you can see the individual threads on the hooks ready to be twisted.
This piece of cord had to be about 3 meters long so the length of each thread to be twisted into the cord had to be 2.5 times the finished length or about 8 meters. We mounted the wooden piece with the hooks at one end of a large room in Kelley’s studio and I stood with the cord winder at the other end – you have to have space to do this to any length! Then I twisted and twisted and twisted and twisted and twisted… You get the idea! It was a LOT of twisting.
Finally the cord was done and ready to be tied off. This involves tightly wrapping one end of the cord – the end nearest the cord winder – with buttonhole thread. I removed the individual threads from the mechanical end of the cord winder and then I had to “walk” down the length of the cord about 2 inches at a time pinching the cord as I went so it wouldn’t untwist suddenly. When I got to the end I tied it off the same way as I did at the beginning and the cord was finished!
Below are the three different cords I made that day . The one of the far left was my learning/practice piece. The on in the middle is the one that will be wrapped around the head of the tassel and the one on the right is the hanging cord. The hanging cord is a double cord made of two cords that I made the same way and then twisted together to make a thicker cord.
I have to admit that I was so taken with he whole process and loved making cords so much that I sat down and ordered a cord winder when I got back to my room that evening. You can be sure I will be making cords galore in the future.
Have you ever made tassels? Did you love it as much as I did?