My New Addiction

Otherwise known as Kumihimo, the art of traditional Japanese braiding.  At least I was warned…

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I can get turned on to all kinds of hobbies, and my one requirement before venturing in at all is that I need to be able to try something out with a minimum of investment.  This way I don’t feel compelled to keep on with something that I’m not loving once I’ve gotten into it.

I started reading about Kumihimo quite by accident when I was looking for some tutorials for adding beads to one of my handmade blouses.  I still haven’t quite found what I was looking for, but I did find a youtube site that showed how to do beaded Kumihimo (you can see a bit of it in the illustration above). I knew I wanted to try it, and luckily a beading store nearby had all the supplies and a starter kit.  Here’s a look at what I came home with:

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I decided to start simple with just a silk cord design (no beads),  and today I sat down to make some Kumihimo bracelets.  By the way, I’m pretty sure that this is the grown-up version of friendship bracelets.  I was of the lanyard era (yes, that old) so I can’t say for sure.

Essentially the Kumihimo Disk is threaded in various ways to create all kind of designs. Mine was a two-tone alternating color design so the initial set-up looked like this:

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The pattern is achieved by a simple up and down movement of the warps (official term for the strands) with quarter turn movements after each.  The disks below are bobbins like those used in intarsia knitting and they just keep the warps from getting hopelessly tangled.  This all moves very fast once you get your zen motion going and the braid forms below the disk like this:

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Eventually you get a big old braid:

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Once the warps are all used up and the braid is removed from the disk there’s a special way to bind the braid so that it won’t unravel when you cut it into pieces for jewelry or whatever.  This is what that looks like:

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I used some industrial strength glue on a toothpick to add end caps and voila!

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Although you should let it dry overnight, I couldn’t resist closing it up

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and slipping it on my wrist:

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Now I’ll leave it alone until tomorrow.

Oh, this was so much fun to do, and the possibilities are endless.  Next up, beads.  More on that later.

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