Braid making can be found throughout the world, but as with many other subjects, the Japanese braids have a distinctive character of their own. Kumihimo has been an integral part of the Japanese culture for many centuries, used for both function and decoration. These braids were used in all walks of life but notably in the construction of Samurai armour. There were no buttons or zips then, so braids were used instead.
Kumihimo braids can be made using a wide range of equipment including the wooden Marudai. This is not very easy to carry around and demands good dexterity and tension. Enter the Kumihimo disk. It is easy to carry around and so simple to use, as well as being very cheap!
The disk is primarily used for round braids but flat ones can be made on it too.
The above pattern can be found by clicking here. You can print out a copy too.
I used a card disk to make many, many braids and it was fine. It is possible to buy foam disk (look on eBay, Amazon etc) but I’d suggest you don’t bother until you decide to make braids seriously. Save your money! Click here to see an example of a form disk.
For long length of threads, I wrapped the surplus around a piece of stiff card. Again if you want to make a lot of braids you can buy bobbins to wind your thread around. Click here to see an example of a bobbin. They do some in different capacities.
Using Beads on your thread
If the yarn/thread is not strong enough for the bead, you can use nylon thread of bead-stringing thread in a matching or toning colour for the beads and use it together with your braiding thread.
You will need to push the beads down at the point of braiding so that the next move will lock them into place. You move the bead up when it is needed.
1 Creative Kumihimo, Jacqui Carey, 1994, ISBN 0 9523225 9 1 - for use with a maradai but some of the patterns can be used on the disk; best book I have used
2 More Braids on Card, the green book from Shirley Berlin, £4.00 + P&P; order by email to Berlinbraids@aol.com (note she is in the UK). Full of handy hints and tips for the starter and more adventurous braider.
3 Beautiful Braiding Made Easy Using Kumihimo disks and plates, Helen Deighan, 2006, ISBN 0 9540333 5 3; a good book.
4 Beads and Braids, Jacqui Carey, 1999, ISBN - 0 9523225 2 8; for the person who really wants to be inspired
5 200 Braids, to
Knot, Weave and Twist, Jacqui Carey, 2007, ISBN - 1 84448 652 48; for the
person who really wants to be inspired
Jacqui Carey http://www.careycompany.com/Jacqui-home.html
Kumihimo supplies http://www.arabesquebraids.co.uk/index.html
Kumihimo supplies http://www.shirleyberlin.com/ (US based company)
YouTube for videos on all aspects of using the Kumihimo disk, marudai etc
Yarns to use
1 Wool, any colour/thickness/type, eg, mohair, cotton, DK, Aran, fancy, chenille
2 Embroidery thread
4 Ribbon, knitting or otherwise
5 Garden twine
6 Anything that can be roughly classes as a yarn
Uses for braids
Use braids in any circumstance where you might ordinarily use a cord, or a ribbon, or a trim, or a woven band.
4 Bag handles
5 Wrapping a gift rather than using ribbon
6 Key rings
7 Curtain tie backs
8 Coiling to make a basket
9 Light pulls
10 Jewellery - broach, neckpiece, cord for a pendant
11 Choker or Necklace
12 Coiled to make Earrings
14 Ankle Bracelet
14 Glasses Cord
16 Watchband or Wrist band
17 Purse handle or strap for a handbag
18 Hair ribbon or headband
19 Hat band or strap
21 Strings for a drawstring pouch
22 Trim for the edges of clothing
23 Attached to front of clothing in loops as closures, with buttons on the other side
24 Closure for a box or instrument case
25 Obi: a sash used with modern traditional kimono dress in
26 Tie-closures on little sacs
27 Straps for lingerie
28 Twisted, couched and knotted to make a closure on a jacket
29 Decoration on a garment (edging on a collar, along a seamline as piping)
30 Trim for the edges of cushions
31 Curtain tie-backs
32 Edge trim for lamp shades
33 Hiding seams on upholstered furniture
34 Lamp or
35 Bolo tie/cord
36 Hanging plant holders
37 Coiled for rugs or floor mats
39 Camera or Binocular strap
40 Guitar strap
42 Dog collar or leash
43 Horse reins, lead rope, headstall
44 Napkin rings
45 curtain tie-backs
46 gift wrap ties rather sellotape, etc
47 Let your imagination run wild!
Other useful websites - mostly UK based
http://www.craftdesignonline.com/kumihimo/ designing braid colours
https://thebraidsociety.wildapricot.org/ The Braid Society
http://www.the-beadshop.co.uk/ Jewellery findings and beads
http://www.rainbowsilks.co.uk/Category.cfm?CatId=140 Jewellery findings
Beads - very many places to find them, including charity shops. Beads used in the examples shown were seed beads, size 6/0.
http://www.firemountaingems.com/encyclobeadia/beading_resources.asp?docid=6903&WT.cg_s=Beading+Articles,+Charts+and+More&sact=search bead size information in a handy chart
Now for loads of pictures!
I bought a leaflet from the Braid Society called More Kongo Gumi (round braid)
patterns for your card. I do not know if this is still available.
It has 19 different patterns, which I made and use the above stand
to display them, as a reminder of each one.
I had the foresight to label each one!
Turning the stand round to show more braids.
Yet more braids.
Beads used on this one.
Interesting yarns, of unequal weight etc were use to produce this bumpy sample.
Some of the braids produced using yarn of the 'same' weight.
Another close up of some of the braids.
Another close up of more braids!
The pattern for the top braid (yellow and green) is given later on in this post.
The stand I use to store/display my samples.
A typical label.
These were the instructions/yarn layout and I used 10 yellow and 6 green, with 2 of the green
yarn threaded with beads and placed where shown above on the disk.
Why use a disk? Look at my marudai below!
Beloved made it for me, including loads of wood bobbins.
It is not easy to carry around! On it is a sample in progress
so I can demonstrate when necessary.
Looking down onto the top; the pencil is there to stop the braid made popping out through
the hole as the wooden bobbins want to pull down!
I made this rather fine braid on the marudai; took forever!
This flat braid (my sample piece) was also made on the marudai.
It is possible to make flat braids on the disk but I don't think I've tried!
Now compare this to the foam disk! It is small, portable and can easily be taken
out with you if you have time to fill while travelling, waiting somewhere, etc etc.
If you look closely you will see at the 6 o'clock position there are three threads!
I leave it like that so when I come to pick it up I know to select the white thread
(left most) and move it up to the left of the single yellow thread at the top.
Remember the movement is Right down, left up
So in the above picture I brought the purple thread down (from the 12 o'clock position)
originally at the right of the yellow thread and moved it down to the right side
of the red thread; I will take the white one up when I continue.
The card is then rotated and the right most thread of the next pair moved directly down.
You just keep repeating this process whilst keeping slight tension on the braid
emerging from underneath the card/foam disk.
Braid beginning to emerge. This is only a demonstration piece so I've used short
pieces of yarn and there was no need to wrap them round card or use my bobbins.
Well I hope this had been helpful. Don't hesitate to ask questions!