As you may recall, the Kumihimo braid started my DIY art therapy journey that uses several art forms. This post focuses more specifically on how to make a Kumihimo braid of 8 strands with 2mm rattail. It is the most basic Kumihimo braid and therefore ideal for beginners.
To Make a Kumihimo braid, you will need:
- String Type: 2mm Rattail Satin (pictured here)
- String Length: for all colors, total length should be 6.5 times the desired length of the final Kumihimo braid PLUS 1 foot (or 12 inches) for the ends for knotting that can not be braided. Example:
For the 12 inch Kumihimo braid pictured below, I needed:
12 inch Kumihimo braid * 6.5 PLUS 12 inches = 90 inches for ALL colors
For 2 colors: 90 inches / 2 = 45 inches for EACH of 2 colors
- A Kumihimo Disk (round)
- A pair of scissors
- 8 Bobbins
- Tape Measure
- Cotton thread and needle (ultimately, you'll only use a few inches)
- A weight. This may be a small bunch of keys, a bulldog clip and so on.-- --
- Strong glue. Either E6000® Craft Adhesive or contact cement
- Jewellery ends. Based on your string diameter, you'll also need 2 glue-on Cord tip ends, 2 Jump rings and a Toggle clasps. You could complete braiding and even tying off the ends before taking a safe break during which to find the appropriate ends. Actually, if you're good with a sufficiently stiff wire, I reckon, you could even make most, if not all of these jewelry end items.
- Jewelry making pliers Once you plan on using metal jewellry ends, this item applies, even if you do not make the jewellery ends. You will only need any 2 of the following: flat nose pliers; bent nose pliers or chain nose pliers. (These pliers will help you to open and close connections like jump rings.) On the other hand, if you are making the jewellery ends, will need additional pliers. Depending on the design, you are likely to need wire cutters with a rounded jaws and pointed tips (for cutting wire in small spaces and close to the wire); round nose pliers and; bale making pliers.
Instructions: How To Make a Kumihimo Braid
- Cut your string in halves until there are 4 equal lengths
- Using a square knot (ie left over right and then right over left), tie a piece of cotton thread over the common midpoint of all 4 lengths. Emerging from that central point should be 8 equal lengths or 'warps' as they are called in the Kumihimo braiding tradition. As pictured here, I used a bulldog clamp to stabilize the lengths as I tied.
- Feed the central point through the hole of the Kumihimo disk. Place the weight at that central point. The 8 warps should lay on top of the Kumihimo disk and hang through the slots on either side of the 4 dots.
- Position the Kumihimo disk so that its 4 dots at the 32, 8, 16 and 24 positions are in line with your perspective of top, right, bottom and left.
- Place each of a pair of warps into the slots on either side of the dots.
- Place bobbins at the end of each warp. They will release more string as you need it
- Starting from the bottom dot next to the '16' position, your weaving movements will be to move the LEFT warp upwards with the LEFT hand and into the nearest slot that is to LEFT of the pair of warps in the top region of the Kumihimo disk. After making that first move, there should be 3 warps in the top region, with the 3rd string being in the 31-32 slot.
- Next, starting from the top region, your weaving movements will be down RIGHT warp with the RIGHT hand and into the nearest slot that is to RIGHT of the pair of warps in the bottom region of the Kumihimo disk. After this move, there should be 2 warps at each of the 4 regions.
- Turn the Kumihimo disk counter clockwise (CCW) and stop when the next dot (at position '24') is in the new top region.
- Consistently continue this sequence of movements (without regard for the slop numbers). To recap, the movements are up left warp to the top left position, then down right warp to the bottom right position. As you proceed, maintain an equally taut tension for all 8 warps on the surface of the Kumihimo disk.
- If you must stop working before completing the Kumihimo braid, leave a 3rd warp in the top region. This will be an indication that your next move must involve the warp in the farthest right position of the Kumihimo disk. It needs to be brought down to the bottom right. Example: in the image below, there is a 3rd warp on farthest left in the top region. It has clearly been the last warp to be moved since it pulling up above the left region warps.
- When you are done, bring together and knot all 8 warps to prevent the Kumihimo braid from unravelling.
- Hold the braid's end that had been weighted upwards and firmly slide your fingers over the length of the braid to release any tightness. This also narrows, elongates and better highlights the pattern of the Kumihimo braid.
- To prevent the ends of the Kumihimo braid from unravelling, you can do 1 of several things. For instance, you may tie each set of opposite warps and or at roughly 2mm below the knotted end of the Kumi braid, using cotton thread, stitch through the tips of the braid that will be hidden inside the jewellery ends.
- With the braid's ends secured, cut off the unbraided warp ends. Make the cut close to the braided section because each end must fit neatly into the glue-on cord ends. Furthermore, a close cut allows the warps of the unbeaded braid to bond better.
- Place your strong glue into a cord end and insert an end into it. On reason for cutting the end of the Kumihimo braid closely in the previous step is to ensure that all of the warp ends bond. Allow your Kumihimo braid's ends to dry for at least 24 hours handling.
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