Learn Kumihimo As Easy As 1-2-3

kumihimo

One of the best classes I took last summer at Bead Fest Philadelphia was Easy Kumihimo with Beads, taught by Jill Wiseman. Easy, fun, and wildly addicting, I returned home with a whole bag of kumihimo supplies and project ideas, and I haven't stopped making these beautiful beaded braids since then!

A number of you have asked for a basic beaded kumihimo tutorial, and here it is. Learning kumihimo is much easier than you might think it is — your basic kumihimo braid only requires two moves of the cords to make a braid that you can use for bracelets, purse straps, and even spectacular beaded necklaces. Enjoy!

Materials:

  • 1 spool C-Lon cord in color to match or contrast with seed beadsd
  • For a 7" bracelet, you'll need about 30 grams of size 6o seed beads

Tools:

  • Big-eye needle
  • Foam kumihimo disc
  • 8 plastic bobbins
  • Scissors or thread cutter

Before you get started, measure your thread and cut 8 strands that are 3 times the length of your desired finished length. Remember: it's easy to add more beads as you braid, but you can't add more thread, so always make your threads a little longer than you might anticipate.

Once you have your threads cut, tie them all together using an overhand knot. Place the knot in the center of the hold in your kumihimo disc, and space them so that there is one thread on either side of a black dot.

Note that I'm not using the front of the disc with all the numbers. Jill told us that looking at all those numbers would just confuse a lot of people, and she's right. You'll also find the black dots on the front of the disc, so just use a permanent marker to mark them on the back of your disc. For basic kumihimo like this, just four dots is all you need!

Using a big eye needle, string your beads onto each strand of cord. For a 7" bracelet, you'll need about 42 beads per strand, or 6 beads per inch. Once you've added all the beads for each strand, wrap the remaining cord around a bobbin.

You can always add more beads if you run out, but it's harder to add more thread. Make sure that your cords are the correct length before you start braiding!

It really only takes two steps to learn basic kumihimo, and here they are.

For step one, take the cord that sits to the right of the dot at the top (in the twelve o'clock position) at the top of your disc. Move it down to the right of the two cords at the bottom (six o'clock position) at the bottom of your disc.

Next, take the cord all the way to the left at the bottom (six o'clock position) of the disc and move it up to the left of the remaining cord at the top (twelve o'clock position) of your disc.

Rotate your disc so that the dot at the top of the disc is to your right (or left). Repeat the two moves of the cord, moving the top right to the bottom right, and the bottom left to the top left. Rotate your disc again (always in the same direction), and you've just learned how to do basic kumihimo!

To help you remember the moves of the cords for this, Jill taught us a little mantra: downright uplifting. Repeat that a few times as you reposition the cords, and always remember to keep turning your disc in the same direction.

Before we actually start adding beads, you'll need to braid for about 1 inch. This is a great way to practice your moves before adding the beads into your kumihimo braid!
Now we start adding beads! When you lift the next cord out of its slot on your kumihimo disc, grab the first bead with your fingers and slide it down the cord so that it lays under and between the cords to your right.
Finish your move with the cord, wrapping it gently over the bead to hold it in place. It should not, at any time, "pop" up from its position under those two cords to the right.

After you've added four beads, you will begin to notice a set of "v's" (top and bottom) and "u's" (left and right). These are quite helpful in remembering where you were if you should have to put down your kumihimo disc before you've finished your braid.

If you set down your kumihimo disc and then pick it up later, as long as you have the v's lined up at the top and bottom and the u's on each side, you're ready to start braiding again. Just remember to always turn the disc in the same direction, and you're good to go!

As you work, you'll see the braid coming out the back of the kumihimo disc. Until you have at least an inch of beads, it's not a bad idea to gently hold on to the braid with your non-dominant hand to give it a little tension as you work.

Once you've achieved the desired length for your beaded kumhimo cord, weave about another inch of plain cord without any beads. Gently slip the cords off the disc, tie them together in an overhand knot, and trim the ends of the cord. You've finished your first beaded kumihimo cord!

There are lots of different ways to finish your kumihimo braid with beads, and I'll get into those techniques in a future blog. For now, keep practicing with your beaded kumihimo technique, and stock up on those lovely size 6o seed beads!

Ready to learn some more great kumihimo techniques? All beading projects are now on sale in the Beading Daily Shop, through January 11, 2013 at 12 a.m. CST. Download Kumihimo Splash by Suzanne Branca and put your new kumihimo skills to work, making this fantastic bracelet! It's a new year, so it's time to learn some new beading and jewelry-making techniques with our great instant download beading projects in the Beading Daily shop!

There are so many things you can do with kumihimo braids — have you tried beaded kumihimo yet? Take a picture of your best beaded kumihimo creation and post it over in the Reader Photo Gallery!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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