Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Prevent Earbud Tangles with Old School Friendship Bracelet Knotting

****hey Pinterest fans! we've up and moved, but you can still find this tutorial and more on my new site here!****

We've all experienced it: the small electronics cord tangle of death.

I swear, I put my earbuds in my bag wound up so nice and neat, and in the ten minutes it takes to get from home to work, they somehow get themselves into an intricate pretzel of frustration that I can't even begin to deal with until I've had my first cup of coffee.

So I was super-psyched when I saw this idea on Apartment Therapy yesterday. One way to prevent earbud tangling is to make the cord thicker, and AT wrote about achieving this through string-knotting à la preteen summer friendship bracelets. Take a look:
My finished project: wrapped earbuds = less tangles!
Pretty sweet, huh? If you've made friendship bracelets before, this will be a piece of cake for you. If not, still make this super easy! Because I was the teen queen of embroidery floss bracelets, and I will walk you through it, baby.

First, what you'll need:

*3 skeins of embroidery floss, 8.7 yards each (there's only one in the picture, but you'll need 3; and don't get the satin kind, it's really pretty but doesn't hold a knot worth crap)
*Scissors
*Tape
*A paper clamp (not necessary but will make things easier)
*Earbuds
*Not a measuring tape...he kind of just snuck his way into the picture

Supplies - make sure you've got three of the skeins of floss
I picked a variegated color because I wanted to have some color variety, but I didn't want to have to go through the trouble of tying different colors on and off.

Ready to rock? Here we go:

Start by taping the plug end of the earbuds to the table.
Taping in an X pattern seemed to hold it better than just putting a strip across.
Wrap the other end (the "buds") around the back of your chair, and clip in place with the paper clamp. If you're working in the floor, you can tape the plug end to the floor, and (this sounds weird, but it works really well) wind the other end around your big toe.
The paper clamp holds the other end in place so the cord is taut.
Here's what my work space looks like so far.
See how the cord is stretched instead of slack?
This will make it easier to wrap the cord.
Now, take out a skein of embroidery floss and untangle it. Even when it's fresh from the skein, it ALWAYS tangles when I take off those little paper rings!
Don't be alarmed, floss tangles are normal!
Next, find the two ends of the floss and the midpoint of the entire length.
Hint: After you find the midpoint, pinch it as we go to the next step.
It's easy to drop it and have to start over!
Put the embroidery floss under the cord, and keep track of the midpoint so you'll be able to tie a knot with relatively even lengths on either side. Tie a knot around the cord, just like you would in the first step of tying your shoes.
Tie a single knot...
...and pull it tight.
Next, use your hand to roll up each side of the floss. It's really long right now, and it'll be a pain in the butt to work with if you don't roll it up.



Just wind each end (one at a time) around your hand...

...and set down on either side of the cord.
Alright, now here is where this gets really sexy and awesome, because -- guess what! -- I made a short video tutorial to show you how to do the Chinese Staircase stitch! This knotting technique is very easy, but it's better shown than written. Watch, and be amazed at how incredible you will be as you try it along with me.


As you get farther along in your wrapping, you can move the already wrapped part up and tape it over the wrapping. Otherwise, you'll be working with your elbows in your sides like a T-Rex.
Move the tape to get the cord in a comfortable position for wrapping again.
Eventually you're going to run out of floss. When the ends are getting too short to work with, trim them to about 1 inch and wrap them with a short piece of tape. Then just start off a new skein of floss same as we did originally, tying a simple knot and then starting the Chinese Staircase again.

Trim and tape the ends.
Start a new skein and wrap right over the tape.
When you get to the end of the cord (where it splits off into each earbud), tie a simple double knot, trim the ends very close to the knot, and dab on a tiny bit of clear-drying glue. I use my fingers to spread the glue around the knot and squeeze it to flatten the tiny ends of floss.
Tie a double knot, then trim the ends close to the knot.
Dab on some glue to secure the knot.
Now, to wrap the two earbud strands, you just start over again. Tape an earbud to the table, clamp the already wrapped cord to your chair, and go at it. When one earbud strand is all wrapped, do the other one. 
Tape on the earbud just like we did with the plug end of the cord.
Clamp down the already wrapped end.
You'll have to tie off and knot on a new skein when you run out, or if your one of your earbuds has a plastic piece in the middle like mine do. Don't worry, just go back and follow the simple steps we already went though. I'm sure you're ROCKING this!

It took me about three hours to finish this project. You don't have to do it all in one sitting, though. Since we're essentially wrapping the cord with pretty knots, it won't come undone if you set it aside for awhile.
Love, love, LOVING it!
So how'd it go? If you attempted this project, let us know how it went! Especially leave a comment if you're stuck or had problems--we'll work it out together!

117 comments:

  1. Thank you! I will definitely try this at home!

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  2. What a great idea for the earbuds! Love the look of your blog and the whole idea behind it!!

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  3. Thanks for all the positive feedback! It's so rewarding to know people are reading and being inspired. Let us know once you try it!

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  4. wow, your blog is so new and already a success! :) lovely.... good luck!!

    www.houseofhemingway.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm having a ton of fun so far! I joined your blog on Google Friend Connect, it looks very interesting!

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  5. I did this back in November. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who took awhile to do it. I was expecting a.. well, FASTER project!
    And I've had a ton of compliments on the whole thing, but I'm not sure if I ever want to do it again. I blogged about it here:

    http://www.amimental.blogspot.com/2011/11/okay-that-was-officially-pain-in-ass.html

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  6. I checked out your post, and I love how colorful yours are! Thanks for commenting here!

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  7. I'll have to try this for the kids. If you think yours get tangled, give a set to Josiah for a little while! :)

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  8. It took me six hours! But I'm finally done now! Thank goodness I had a snow day off school! It was tedious but I'm pleased with the results. I did mine in 4 different colors of pink. :) thank you for the super awesome, helpful tutorial video!

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    1. Awesome, Lisa! I'm so glad the tutorial helped you. Shades of pink sounds really pretty!

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  9. I totally did this after finding your site through imgfave.com! took me a whole day due to taking breaks for my shoulders and going to the store to get more floss cause I was a dummy and read 2 skeins, not 3. it's a little tricky wrapping a flat style cord, like mine is. now i want to wrap more cords, like my computer chargers and cell charger!

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    1. pic of my finished headphones. i also used nail polish to paint the earpieces

      https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/yo0nSR8i3y5VhN-TrT1CGnoRyNVI6LcMZsIf7TUzanY?feat=directlink

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    2. They look AWESOME, Jess! Great work! I can totally sympathize with the run to the craft store issue...happens to me ALL the time during projects!

      If you do another flat cord, you could do the square knot instead. It's pretty much the same as the Chinese staircase, except you switch back and forth with which hand you start with instead of always starting with the right like you do with the staircase. I use method 2 here: http://stonebrashcreative.com/MacrameTutorial.html.

      Good luck!

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  10. Such an awesome idea! I wish I had thought of it! Btw, you're already posted all over pinterest. I'd say your blog is going to be a great success--good job!

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Lanee! I admit, I check Pinterest like half a dozen times a day because I get so excited to see my things repinned!

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  11. hi Elizabeth :) you are so thoughtful and creative. i found you website from facebook and im happy to see you from Turkey :) I'm started to do that earphone :) but i wonder that where did you started the green embroidery floss at the colourfull one. i couldnt find that. Thanks again :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind feedback! I'm so excited to have a reader all the way from Turkey!

      I'm afraid I don't quite understand your question. The embroidery floss is actually all the same floss, it just has different shades of green in one skein. Is that what you mean? Don't be shy to restate your question, I'm happy to help!

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  12. Thank you so so so much for this step by step!! I never made frienship braclets as a kid so I could never figure how to start this!! I cannot wait to do this now :)

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    1. Aw, I'm so glad you've found it helpful, Crystal! Don't hesitate to come back and ask a question if you get stuck along the way. And please come back again for more fun tutorials!

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  13. I found you on Pinterest and I'm almost done with the cord up until it hits the stupid little divider that splits the cord into the two earphone wires. I'm SO loving this... but I'm actually slightly terrified that my friends are going to see it and want me to do it to theirs...and I'm going to have issues saying no. -_- It's awesome (I have friendship bracelets up and down my arms...and on friends' arms too) but I've never spent this long tying knots without a break.
    I must say that I LOVE your breakdown of it. I've tried to do an instruction blog (for baking) and I always get so caught up in it that I forget to take pictures. So great job, and I can't wait to see what you post next! (I also can't wait to finish these headphones...) (:

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    1. Haha, well at least you have Christmas/birthday gift ideas for a while now!

      I'm so glad you like the tutorial. If you really want to do a baking blog, don't give up on it...even if you have to put a sticky note on your flour that says GET OUT CAMERA! Hehe! I know I would read it!

      Thanks, Cassidy! Have fun with those headphones!

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  14. After bookmarking this for about a month I finally got around to doing it today and here's the result: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lzbr5uL8qU1qc2a1h.jpg :D

    I knooow I have horrible color choices lol and I ran out of pink embroidery floss 'cause I overlooked the part where you said there should be three lol anyway I'm running to the store now to finish it :D

    Thank you so much for this, it was really helpful! :)

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    1. That looks great! And hey, I don't think the colors are that bad! Plus, you can always give that one away and do another one in different colors. I'm so glad you did it and that you're happy with the result. Thank you SO much for sharing the photo! Elizabeth

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    2. Aww thank you so much! You are amazing for sharing this. :) My sister loved the first one I made and asked me to make her one too! this could turn out into a good side job for me XD
      And lol - 'you can always give that one away and do another one in different colors.' that's actually the plan! I made it for my friend, she loves pink but I thought light shades/colors would be prone to getting dirty so I used black for the body (? o whatever it;s called-I DON'T KNOW lol)

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    1. Aw, so glad you like it! Thank you for subscribing and for taking the time to comment. Sending much love!

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    2. Hi Elisabeth. Love your idea. It looks fantastic. Found on pinterest. Your video is not visible so there was no tutorial. It's been a million years since I made friendship brackets. Do you have it somewhere else? Would love to do this. Thanks. Denise. Your can email me at ddmalonehw@yahoo.com

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  16. Finished this up tonight! Size 8 black thread on black SkullCandy earbuds. Love the result. Awesome idea :D

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    1. (Oh, and size 8 thread takes FOREVER! lol)

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    2. Awesome! So happy that YOU'RE happy!

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  17. Hi.....thanks for the instructions. I just finished doing this to my headphones using purple/blue variegated Cotton Perle emboidery thread. The strands are woven together and do not separate like regular embroidery thread. It came out great! Thanks again!

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    1. Ooo, great idea...I hate when the threads separate! Thanks for your comment!

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  18. Brilliant! Yet so straight forward. Why was this never thought of before?!

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I WILL be doing this in the very near future :)

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    1. So glad you're excited to try this! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  19. Absolutely Love this idea!! I have the day off tomorrow and am going to tackle this wonderful craft! I will let you know how it goes!!

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  20. Did this yesterday. Took me 5 hours (never had done friendship bracelets), but it was well worth the time. LOVE the results!

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    1. So happy to hear it!! Thanks for reporting back! :-)

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  21. Love this! I'm about halfway done with wrapping mine in red! I feel like it's taking me forever though. I guess I need better tape because I keep pulling the end loose while working. I can relate to the PP who said she is afraid of people asking her to do it for them, haha. My husband has already said "oh cool! Can you do mine too?"
    Anyway, thanks Elizabeth, I love your blog!

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    1. Hehe, I'm trying to figure out how I might be able to finagle it in the car so I could make some for Christmas presents this summer while we road trip it this summer!

      I'm so glad you like the blog Stefanie! Come back again!

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    2. Hi there! You can do bracelets in the car by using a safety pin and pinning the end to the back of the headrest of the front seat if you sit in the back seat. That was an awkward way to phrase that, but hopefully you know what I mean. I would imagine you could get a couple started at home so that you can use the safety pin method once in the car. I would squeeze the ear bud cord into a small safety pin and then pin it to the headrest so as not to pierce the electronics in the cord itself. Hope that helps!

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    3. Great idea! Yay, can't wait to do some more this summer!

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  22. this was great! I just made it and I LOVE IT!! It did take a while though... <3

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    1. Yes, it is a time-consuming project! So glad you're happy with the result!

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  23. Thanks for the DIY Tutorial! Making mine in sunset colors now!

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    1. Ooo that will be so pretty! And you're so welcome; thanks for stopping by!

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  24. Thanks for sharing this great idea! I finished my buds in about six hours and I love the color and the fact that they no longer tangle. I will be making my daughter's in green for her birthday! Thanks again!!

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    1. Your daughter will love her personalized buds! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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  25. I love this! Im really into making friendship bracelets and had to much fun making this!!!(: Now when ever i go anywhere i can show off my awesome headphones! I kinda got carried away and did it to my charger too... ^__^ Thanks for the idea!!!(:

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    1. Awesome! I want to do my charger sometime too...COLOR EXPLOSION!!! :-) Thanks for your comment!!!

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  26. Could you please tell me the brand and color name/number you used? I just love it!

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    1. I'm not sure of the brand and color because I've had the thread for a long time, and when I first bought it I wrapped it around a plastic spool and threw away the label. Sorry! DMC is a great brand though!

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    2. Aw, thanks anyway. I looked and didn't find a color like that at all!

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    3. Oh man, too bad! Best wishes finding a color that is totally you!

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    4. DMC has a blue that is very much like that. I have some, but I don't have the color number. If you go to where the embroidery floss is in your local craft store, they usually will have those types hanging next to the huuuge bin of solid colors.

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  27. Thank you for the amazing tutorial! I did this today and though it took a ton of time and my pattern, for some reason, didn't come out perfect, it still looks great! Someone mentioned trying to figure out how to do this in the car... If you secure the farthest end with a clipboard, pull the cord tight, and secure it to your shirt (or even the seat belt across your chest) using a paper clamp, it should work well.

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    1. I think that was me that wants to try it in the car! Thanks for the idea! Gotta love those paper clamps! So happy you did the project and liked the tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  28. I did this this last weekend, and boy was it a project!!! I started on Saturday afternoon and worked on it off and on all day Saturday until my shoulders and back ached from sitting in the chair then figured I would pick it back up on Sunday morning. Well, when I got up on Sunday the headphones were broken, all that work and they were broken. I was so disappointed! But my amazing father managed to fix them and I continued on with them. When I was about three inches from totally finished (right above the broken spot, I didn't want to do the knots over it and not have it work) I wanted to make sure that it still worked. I plugged them in and they didn't work again, even though my very, very careful attempt to be extremely careful with them. Well my dad managed to fix them again and I finished them (hopefully they last me forever!). I totally love the finished product!! They are so awesome and I have gotten tons of compliments on them already, but I'm not sure if it is a project I would do when I couldn't do it a little bit at a time (this was the only pair of headphones I currently have), but they do rock when finished even though they no longer fit in the case they came in.

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    1. Thank goodness for dads, right? I have to tell you though, I think you passed on your bad luck...the right ear on mine stopped working this week!!! You're right, after all that hard work, it's scary to think it might be for nothing! My dad is also handy, so I'm going to ask him to take a look this weekend. Crossing fingers!

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    2. Yes, he rocks, he fixed them TWICE! But I hadn't done the knotting over it yet! I baby them now and hope they will last me a long long time. Mine was the left one and on my type of earbuds my left one is the one that plays all the background music and stuff so without it they would have SUCKED! I guess it wouldn't be to horrible to cut the knotting off so far and tape and redo it once fixed (mine is pretty close to the bottom so wouldn't be to horrible! And the earbuds themselves didn't take as long as the other part. Good luck getting them fixed! I hope it's something simple cause I totally understand the feeling of doing all that work for nothing, I was pretty upset when I woke up and they were in two different pieces.

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  29. A friend shared this on Facebook, and I decided to share it on Pinterest. I've never had so many re-pins! I don't know if 605 is a lot of re-pins (or how many clicked through to actually read the directions), but it's a lot for me!

    I'm looking forward to doing this -- but first I need new earbuds.

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    1. I've gotten so many repins on this too, Margie! I feel like a Pinterest celebrity, hehe! Good luck doing this when you get your earbuds!

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  30. Has anyone ever tried using this for the iphone USB wire?

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    1. I'm sure it'd work just the same and would look HOT!

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  31. This is great! Definitely going to give it a go! Thanks for posting!

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    1. You're so welcome! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

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  32. So awesome....I'm addicted now...I did my ear buds AND my charger cable LOL. Thanks for inspiring me!!

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    1. You go, you crazy knotter! Hehe, that's awesome!

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  33. LOVE it!! Making one right now... thank you!

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    1. You're welcome! Let us know how it comes out!

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  34. I followed your instructions and I did it! It took me like 3 days but I love the result! Thank you so much for the idea!

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    1. You're so welcome; I'm glad it went well! Thanks for commenting Elise!

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  35. I wrapped mine this weekend and it went pretty smoothly. I guess in total it took less than 4 hours of working on it here & there. I used several different colors and I'm pleased with the result. Thanks so much for the excellent instructions!

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    1. 4 hours isn't bad...I think it took me a bit longer. You're so welcome for the instructions, and thank YOU for commenting!

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  36. SO excited about this. went and bought my string from Michael's today... i think they may have been the hardest part, deciding on a color! i must have made a bazillion friendship bracelets in my past so here's hoping it'll be a cinch! thanks for the tutorial. ecb :)

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    1. I agree about how hard it is to choose from all those colors! I'm having the same problem with choosing yarn for my recent knitting projects, hehe. Well have fun and come back to tell us how it went--maybe a picture?

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  37. so excited to try this...I am hoping that it will prevent my kitties from chewing through the wires so quickly!!! I found this on pinterest and can't wait to try! Thanks and I completely love your blog!

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    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Tiffany. I have the same problem with cords but with my guinea pig!

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  38. I've just recently tried this, I've found it difficult to work with the tape. I can never get it to tighten enough so it bulges out when I start a new piece of string. You can clearly see where the tape is underneath due to this. Is there any way to fix this or is it just normal?

    I've been using three separate colors.

    You should do a tutorial on more than one color so we have a good guess on how long the pieces have to be. =P

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    1. Maybe you could try some Elmer's glue, or a tiny tiny bit of hot glue? The point of the tape is just to make it easier for you to knot over the ends with your new thread, so if you take your time while you go over that part to make sure everything stays tucked in, you really don't even HAVE to tape it.

      I'll have to see about that tutorial...that's my problem, I've always got so many new ideas in my head that I'm hesitant to go back to something I've already done. We'll see! :-)

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    2. Okay, thanks! I will try the glue part.

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  39. Thanks a bunch Elizabeth. I did 2 pairs. One for myself and one for my BFF. I must really love her, because it takes a while 7 hrs for the first one and about 5 for the second. I did mine while watching tv with my family. I used a scrapbooking mat and the paper clamps to hold it down. It worked out great.

    You are truly wonderful,
    Gina

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    1. How sweet of your to do one for your friend! Like you said, she must be pretty doggone amazing to be worthy of five hours of knotting, haha! I'm glad it turned out well, and thank you so much for your kind comment. Peace!

      Elizabeth

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  40. Now after the split and the two other cords, do you just take off the little connector piece? I'm not sure if I should leave it on or just take it off.

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    1. I didn't take off the connector. I just knotted, cut, and glued the thread before, and started again after the connector.

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    2. I mean as in the connector piece that connects the two separate cords so when you wrap it up the headphone pieces aren't separated. I didn't see it on yours in the pictures.

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    3. Hm I don't think mine have that piece then. Do you use the connector piece? If not, I'd just take it off. Or if you really still want, will it fit back on over the cords after you wrap them?

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    4. I'm not sure but thanks for the help. I'll probably just end up taking it off. I love the idea! and now I just need to find the time to finish mine :) thanks

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  41. I did this last night with mine. i simply adore this look!
    Your ideas are always wonderful!!

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    1. So glad you liked it! Thanks so much for the kind comment!

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  42. I just did mine last night/this morning! I love them so much! I can't wait to check out your other posts and try some other new projects! Love your blog! Thanks do much for sharing! (=

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    1. Awesome!!! You're so welcome, and thank you for coming by!

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  43. I love this idea, but I'm not going to use it for earbuds. I'm working on a hanging lampshade/swag lamp thing, and I've been trying to come up with a cool way to cover the electrical cord. And I think I've found it! Gonna try it with twine or something heavier than floss, though. Thanks SO much for the idea!

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    1. Great idea Melissa! Show us a pic when you're finished!

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  44. Elizabeth,

    This is so great! I am doing this right now and can't wait to see the results. Everyone at the gym will be jealous. :) thanks! Anne

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    1. I love showing mine off at the gym too! :-) So glad you like it!

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  45. Hi! I just found this blog from the AT post from a random picture on facebook! This is a great tutorial! Thanks for the video too :) Can't wait to try this out.

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  46. Hi! Do you think this would work and be safe on power cords - like the cord on my hair straightener that ALWAYS gets tangled every time I use it? Very frustrating.

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    1. I don't see why not! Since the cord on your hair straightener is probably thicker than earbud cords, you might want to try thicker thread or even yarn. I'm afraid since the embroidery thread is so thin, the staircase pattern may not look as nice on a thicker cord unless you use thicker string. Does that make sense?

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  47. Thanks so much for the tutorial. My earbud cords are extremely long. I thought if I used embroidery floss, it would literally take me forever (and A LOT of floss). I ended up using medium crochet yarn. It worked out wonderfully and did not take as much time.
    Thanks again for the idea!!!

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    1. Great way to adapt for your needs! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  48. Thanks so much for the great idea. I just finished mine and the look great! (here is a picture.)http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3272824429338&set=a.1467892827176.2061832.1529223629&type=3&theater

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Rachel! I can't see your picture (maybe the privacy is set on it). I'm sure it looks lovely though! Thanks for sharing!

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  49. Your instructions are great! Loved the video! Mine didn't look as good as yours & I got frustrated & quit. I'll get back to it today though. Thanks a million!!!

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the tutorial, Kelly! Keep at it and I'm sure it will turn out great. FYI, I've changed my URL over to www.kissmeawake.com. You can find the earbud tutorial there at: http://www.kissmeawake.com/2012/01/how-to-prevent-earbud-tangles-with-old.html

      Thank YOU, Kelly!

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  50. Love the tutorial! It was easy to follow! Just wrapped my earbuds and they look awesome! The only problem I ran into is that u ran out of thread! I was almost done, had about 3 more inches to wrap and U ran out. Other than this little problem, everything turned out great! Thanks for the tutorial!!!

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    1. You are SO welcome! Thanks so much for the positive feedback. FYI, I've moved the blog over to www.kissmeawake.com . Come follow me there! Thanks again!

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  51. Oh yeah! What an awesome idea. I'm gonna start it, as soon as I finish my weekend tidying! Yay for a long weekend with a project!

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    1. have fun marilla, and let me know how it goes! in case you have trouble accessing this post again, know that we've redirected here: http://www.kissmeawake.com/2012/01/how-to-prevent-earbud-tangles-with-old.html

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I'd love to read what you think! Please be respectful; unkind comments will be removed. And my husband or dad may hunt you down and kick your butt.