Kumihimo literally means “gathered threads”. In this Japanese technique strands of thread, beaded or not, are interlaced forming decorative braids. historically this technique was used to decorate samurai armor. Today these cords are made with just about any kind of thread and are used as jewelry or embellishments.
In needlepoint you can use kumihimo braids as a couched embellishment on your canvas or as a different form of cording on a finished piece.
Kumihimo is easy to begin and many companies make kumihimo kits that include everything you need to begin. The basic materials include a kumihimo disk, made by Beadmith, above, and plastic spools for each strand of thread, below.
You can use any thread you like for Kumihimo, but typically either rat tail (a thick nylon cord) or Super-lon (a thin nylon cord similar to pearl cotton in look) are used. Beads can be added to Super-lon and incorporated into your braid.
After the thread is wound onto the spools, The disk is set up. The threads, typically 8, are tied to a weight that’s fed through the hole in the middle of the disk. Then the strands are put at each of the dots on the disk, one thread per slot.
The pattern of colors you set up and the pattern of moving the threads will determine the pattern of your braid. There are hundreds of them. You can buy books on kumihimo or search for patterns, pictures, and instructions on the Internet.
Over the weekend at my ANG chapter meeting (Wine Country ANG) we learned kumihimo by making bracelets similar to the one pictured here Mine isn’t quite finished yet.
I’m addicted enough and intrigued by the possibilities that I’ve ordered a book and am planning some with stash threads to learn.
If you want to learn but don’t feel confident trying it on your own check out your local bead shops, they are more likely to have some classes.
This is going to be so fun!