Kumihimo, my new hobby


I have a new hobby.

I’ve actually started a number of things over the past eight or nine months. I seem to have a certain need to occupy my hands. But while my general mood has leveled out, I still do not do well with things that require much concentration. Like crocheting a unicorn whose three mismatched hooves have sat in the bottom of a box for months.

Come to think of it, learning new things isn’t coming particularly easy, either. The learning goes OK, so long as it isn’t very complex, but things don’t seem to stay learned. Like this knot I learned to tie a few months ago. I watched a video, went back with some scrap hemp and paused the video a few times to tie it and then did it on my own the third time through.  It is a pretty easy knot. I’ve tied it at least 40 times since. And then suddenly I couldn’t. I went back and watched the video and it took me longer to get it right this time then it did when I first learned it.

Clearly, my brain is not working quite right. But I guess it is working well enough that I at least notice, so I guess I’m moving in the right direction.

But that is neither here nor there. Back to my new hobby.

It’s called Kumihimo. The Japanese art of braiding. I came across it when I checked out a book from the library on braiding and realized it wasn’t quite what I thought it was. The braids were beautiful and complex and required special equipment to make. Special equipment that cost over $100. So after imagining myself sitting for hours at a maru dai turning out yards of lovely braids, I retuned it.

But then I found out you could do a number of the braids on a little foam disk that didn’t cost nearly so much. So I bought a disk and a book (Necklaces Braided on the Kumihimo Disk) and got started. (All of these are made with eight cords, though there are three different braids.)

My first braid with a small bit of beading practice at the end.

I didn’t use a weight for this one so the tension was uneven. Sections of it looked nice and I was pretty happy with my first attempt. I dug through my yarn stash and found some cotton crochet thread. This time armed with a weight, I started again.

The tension was much more even. In fact, I was quite pleased with the end result, except that the thread was so small you could hardly see the braid. So I got out some more hemp and tried again.

With a taste of success, I got out some variegated yarn and tried a longer cord. The effect was created by finding where the variegation repeated and cutting equal lengths. I turned half the cords over so the patterns would meet in the middle, but I didn’t cut the yarn quite long enough for the pattern to finish repeating.

Then I tried a hollow braid.  I liked the result enough to finish it into a bracelet.

And then cotton cord with some organza ribbon. Another bracelet.

And with some fun fur. A bit much, but fun.

Then I tried a different sort of braid that is flat on the back and rounded on top.

After I got that down, I tried it again with my cotton yarn accented with ribbon. Another bracelet.

And then I tried it with leather cord. This one is just waiting on a lobster claw to be finished off. I may even list this one in my Etsy shop.

Now I’m saving for that maru dai. Because it is a lot easier to part with that kind of money after you have fallen in love with a hobby rather than before. And who knows. If I get really good at making these bracelets, maybe it will even eventually pay for itself.

And if not, well, I hope everyone I know loves wearing their kumihimo bracelets they’re sure to be getting for Christmas.

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This post contains an affiliate link. Should you happen to purchase anything through that link, I get a small percentage of the sale as a referral bonus. All money I earn from such purchases is donated to Tiggy’s House to help the orphans of Nepal in memory of my son.

About Dana

Dana homeschools her children on five acres in the country with her husband John.
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24 Responses to Kumihimo, my new hobby

  1. Heather says:

    Those bracelets with the ribbons are absolutely beautiful!!

  2. Eleonora says:

    What book did you purchase with your disc?

  3. Dana says:

    Thank you! And it was Necklaces Braided on the Kumihimo Disk, now that I finally went and found my book. I guess I should add that to the post. :)

  4. Eleonora says:

    Yeah, that one is on my wish list. ;)
    I’m waiting for the Beginner’s Kumihimo book by Jacqui Carey to arrive.

  5. Eleonora says:

    Do you mind if I link your site to my blog?

  6. Dana says:

    Not at all! That would be wonderful! I have many books on my wish list, but I think I’m going to check out the one that turned my attention to kumihimo in the first place again. I am so indecisive. Part of me just wants something to teach me the different braids. Part of me wants something to walk me through a few complete projects.

    I’m experimenting with adding beads at the moment. This work is a bit more tedious because the beads cost a bit more so I actually take the braid apart to salvage the beads when I’m done. But I think I almost have it.

  7. Dana says:

    Oh, and let me know how you like that book! I had no idea which one to start with. This was just one of two offered by the company I got the disk from. :)

  8. Eleonora says:

    Done! You’re the only non-SCA link on my blog so far.

  9. Angela Watts says:

    Love the fun fur one…its a bit much, but I can see little girls adoring it. Especially with some shiny beads in it. Very well done.

  10. Dana says:

    Eleonora, that SCA group looks like a lot of fun!

    And thank you, Angela. I’m actually thinking of finishing some off as earrings for Mardi Gras. That’s about as festive as I get. :)

  11. Maggie Hogan says:

    Ok, I need to buy some for Christmas!! And I’m thinking you could make one I could attach my med-alert bracelet to? (I love Lauren’s Hope for those but they are way to pricey for me.) soooo…how do I place custom orders? Because these are just my kind of bracelet. Love them! (ok, I wouldn’t wear the fur one but still… Lol! )
    Blessings,
    Maggie

  12. Dana says:

    Wow! Thank you! Just tell me what you want. All the yarn is 100% cotton and I’d love to do a medic alert bracelet! I’ll email you later, but these are $10 each. Shipping is $2, but I will ship as many as you want for that. :) I can do different colors, too. Whatever you like. :)

    Actually, if you want to order directly from me, I can include shipping. No listing costs for me that way. :)

  13. Kelley Galyen says:

    Hi! I am really LOVING the leather one and wondered if you could make it in brown? I also love the hollow one and wonder if that could be done with beads, if so would you do custom colors? Sorry for all of the questions…lol. Thanks!

  14. Dana says:

    I can do the leather one in brown, though I don’t have any at the moment so it will take me a little longer. I am still experimenting with beads and am not satisfied with the ones I’ve made so far. Part of the problem is that I’m not using the right materials, but I don’t have the technique down yet, either. As soon as I have one I’m satisfied with, I’ll let you know!

  15. Kelley Galyen says:

    Great! Let me know about the brown leather one. I definitely want to order one!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed on the bead ones!! Thanks!

  16. Laurie T. says:

    These are pretty! They got me interested enough to some digging on the internet. Guess what I found – how to make your own inexpensive marudai (http://seabreezespinners.com/2009/03/04/cheap-marudai-for-kumihimo/). Hope that helps!

    Any puppies yet?

  17. Oh wow! So cool!
    You could definitely sell those!!
    And of course all your fam & friends will be thrilled at Christmas…

    Smiling with you, dear woman, that the Lord brings tender pleasures, moments of rainbow-beauty, as you continue to weather grief’s rain.

  18. Eleonora says:

    Dana! The new book came in! I’ve linked it from the new wordpress blog (linked).

    Now I need a marudai, and some real wooden tama and some warp pegs and….

  19. Dana says:

    Do you recommend it for someone new to learn with? I’m going to need to purchase one book with my marudai, but I’m hoping to get by with only one for awhile.

  20. Dana says:

    Thanks, Laurie! I actually have seen some different ways people have made their own marudai. Thinking about it, but for now I am just saving my money.

    And there are puppies. Which hopefully you may read about tomorrow!

    (And I’m sorry your comment just posted. It got caught by my spam filter because of the link.)

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