Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Kumihimo Fun

I went to the quilt show at the Pomona Fairgrounds recently and saw a booth, Kumihimo with Margo. I'm sure that every crafter in the world is shocked SHOCKED that I had purchased a project from this same business 18 months ago and had put it away, unstarted, in a drawer. I know, I'm the only one on Earth that's ever done this.

I'm so ashamed.

Anyway, kumihimo is a braiding technique that lets you create a cord from a minimum of 8 warps or individual threads up to, well, any multiple of 4 that will fit on your disk. The foam disks sold just about everywhere usually have 32 slots which easily fits 28 warps. Adjusting the pattern of warp colors let you create intricate braided cords. But why would you want to make your own braid? Well, we make twisted cord all the time for trimming pieces. A tightly-braided cord would be much more durable for something like a scissor fob or neck strap. It is an additional technique we can utilize to make our handwork genuinely hand-worked.

I had purchased a 16-warp bracelet set up from Margo's shop, consulted the three books I'd also purchased, and I finally got it started.
My disk set up with 16 warps

You can see the threads that were part of this project. The warps were already tied together when I bought them, but I think that they are a Rainbow Gallery threads, a red ribbon, a green ribbon, a gold metallic, and a silver metallic. The braid has a weight on the bottom to keep the tension consistent and works up really fast. The braid measured about 10 inches when finished and took maybe 1 1/2 hours to complete.  
Here is my braid with a skein of floss for size comparison.

Comparison for length.
I eagerly dove back into my kumihimo books for more information on what I could use to make a kumihimo braid. I kept seeing Rattail mentioned. Yes, genuine Rattail is a copyrighted product made in the USA from rayon while most of the big box stores carry a copy made from nylon made in China, but how different could it really be? I hurried down to Hobby Lobby and found some satin cord in the fabric department. I bought four colors to made an 8-warp braid for Halloween since the cords were so thick I really didn't want to work with 16 warps of this stuff.

All set up, ready to start my satin-cord braid.

 Look at the cover of this book. Aren't those lovely braids? Many of the braids in this book are made of satin cord using 8 warps. I knew that I would have a beautiful braid too.

I got something very different.

I did not get beautiful.

I got ugly. Really ugly.

This braid is about 18 inches long and big and thick. I mean dog leash thick. It turns out that that cheap whopper satin cord, at least what's sold in the Hobby Lobby trim department, is too big and rough for a really lovely cord.

Here are my first 2 cords next to each other. First, the spiral on the big 8-warp is there, just not well defined. Also, though it uses half the warps of the first braid, it's really big and thick. Not what I was thinking at all. You can even see the differences between the way the materials lay without being braided. Softer and smaller materials really did make a smaller, softer, and more elegant braid.

 So back I went to Hobby Lobby. I didn't want to spend much money on my braid since I wanted to make a simple braid to use for a Halloween necklace. I found some #3 crochet cotton on sale in a Halloween variegated color. I combined that with some #5 black pearl cotton, some #16 gold braid from Kreinik, and some 1/8" satin ribbon and made this braid. I played with the variegated aspect a bit and ended up with a fun cord.

Some end caps, a clasp, and a bat pendant and some beads and I have my custom-made Halloween necklace.
The variegated color smoothly changes around the cord. I did that on purpose.
All in all, I spent maybe two afternoons on all of this including shopping time, so it really is something you can learn and complete pretty quickly. I can't stitch in the car but I could easily do kumihimo. And of course I did an online search and found lots of patterns you can make by changing the colors and number of warps. Adding beads brings a new dimension to a project.