Kumihimo: Learn The Japanese Art of Braiding!

Kumihimo - The Japanese Art of Braiding

Kumi-…what? Kumihimo! This is a Japanese form of braid-making that allows you to create fantastic braided cords. These decorative cords are super versatile: turn one into a bracelet, a necklace, a bag handle, a key chain, or even a belt! In the video tutorial, Monique shows you how easy it is to braid these cords with a handy kumihimo disc. Watch the video and try out this fun braiding technique yourself or with your kids.

Handy kumihimo disc

More than 1000 years ago, this art of braid-making was already in use in Japan. Kumi comes from the Japanese word meaning ‘to braid’ and himo means ‘cord’. Luckily for us, we can use modern kumihimo discs which make the whole process a piece of cake. With a round disc you can braid round cords. With a square disc you can create flat cords. The discs are made from sturdy foam plastic with notches in the sides that hold up to 32 strands in place.
Check out the kumihimo discs here!

Round Kumihimo Disc

Fun for the kids!

Kumihimo is suitable for kids from 7 years and up! It’s super fun to braid a bracelet together using the handy Kumihimo discs. They can choose their own favorite colors and braid friendship bracelets or anklets for themselves and their friends!

Square Kumihimo Disc

Endless possibilities

Make your braids using cotton or glossy yarns. For the best results, we recommend using yarns that are 4 to 6 mm thick. We opted for robust cotton yarns in a variety of colors (see the photos above). Check out all suitable cotton yarns here.

We also made the lush bracelet pictured below using the slightly glossy yarn Lana Grossa Seta. This soft yarn is made from 40% cotton and 60% silk.

Why not mix things up and use yarns with different qualities and colors for a truly playful effect?

Lana Grossa Seta Armband

Lana Grossa Seta

The possibilities with this Japanese art of kumihimo are truly endless! You can work all different sorts of patterns and motifs into your braids. A quick search on Pinterest will reveal all kinds of patterns to choose from, each explaining how to arrange your colors over the braiding discs. If you get the arrangement just right, little flowers (or ladybirds, or watermelon slices, or hearts…) will magically appear as you braid. You could thread on beads at the ends of the cords or even work them into the braid itself to make a braided cord of little beads. If you would prefer to braid a thicker cord, then use double strands in each notch instead of single strands. Don't limit yourself to making only bracelets and anklets (fun as they are). Use them to create other great accessories, such as a belt or necklace. Why not pimp up your bag with a braided handle or never lose your keys again with an eye-catching key chain?

So, what will you make first?

How does kumihimo work?

In the video tutorial, Monique braids her round bracelet (with the round disc) using 4 strands. The flat bracelet is braided using 5 strands with the square disc. Monique details in the video how to calculate how much yarn you need.

As she explains: if you want to braid a bracelet of 20 cm, you need strands 3 x 20 cm long (i.e. 60 cm) in each color. If you want to use a doubled strand, like she does in the video, to make a thicker braid, then you need twice this length. This means each strand needs to be 120 cm long.

Kumihimo Braid

Video tutorial

In the video below, Monique demonstrates how kumihimo works. She shows you how to braid with first the round, then the square discs.

Tips:

Use a sliding knot to make an adjustable closure for your bracelet. This is how to tie a sliding knot:

  • Lay the bracelet in a circle with both ends alongside each other.
  • Take a new strand and tie this strand onto the bracelet with first an overhand knot then 2 square knots (at the point where the closure should come).Turn the bracelet over and tie the ends of the strand (with which you tied the square knots) extra tight around the bracelet with another overhand knot. You could secure this knot with a drop of superglue, then trim the ends.
  • Also tie knots in the ends of the bracelet itself to stop them sliding out the closure.

 Rotate the disk in the same direction each time. Monique, for example, turns the disc counterclockwise each time.

 Pull the resulting braid down as you work or even hang a weight on the end of it so you do not have to keep pulling downwards each time.

 If you are working with very long strands, it might be useful to wrap them around clothes pegs first. This prevents the strands from getting all tangled up.

 

We wish you lots of braiding pleasure with kumihimo!


We would love to see your braided creations! Share a photo on our Facebook page or on Instagram with #yarnplaza.

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