7 Reasons You Will Love Kumihimo (and Instructor Jill Wiseman)
A few weeks ago I uncovered a half-finished kumihimo bracelet at the back of one of my bead drawers. I felt a combination of horror and joy at seeing that rope of tightly braided beads. The horror came from the realization that this was yet another unfinished project that I’d forgotten about. The joy came from remembering Jill Wiseman’s class where I first learned about kumihimo.
Several years ago I signed up for Jill’s class at Bead Fest. I was enticed by the idea that this ancient Japanese braiding technique looked similar to bead crochet but was supposed to be easier to learn. I’d signed up for the class late, so the only time slot available was an early morning one.
The next day I woke up early enough to grab a large cup of coffee, but I still felt half-asleep in class. (Somehow when signing up I’d totally overlooked the fact that I’d be taking the class after a ten-hour car trip the previous day.) Luckily, Jill proved to be a kind, clear, and patient instructor who made me feel like I could still do kumihimo with only half the synapses firing in my brain. This isn’t to say that my work was perfect. I’m pretty sure I made every mistake that Jill had ever seen a student make (and probably a few new ones), but I still left class feeling that kumihimo was something that I could conquer…after a short nap back at the hotel! Years later I’ve had that exact same excited, I-can-bead-anything feeling after watching Jill Wiseman’s digital download Kumihimo with Beads .
7 Reason You Too Will Fall in Love
In her digital download, Jill Wiseman warns that you’ll get hooked on kumihimo. Here are my own reasons that’s true:
1. You don’t need too many new tools.
I’m one of those people who likes to try new techniques, but I get frustrated when they require a bunch of new tools for the first project. Too many times my first project in a new technique has ended up being my last, leaving me with a bunch of expensive tools that I cannot use. Kumihimo requires an inexpensive foam disk and a few plastic bobbins. Most of the other materials such as wire and beads are the kind of things you probably already have in your stash.
2. You can use up your bead stash.
When I was learning to weave beads together, I bought tubes of size 6 beads by the handfuls. Their size made them great to use for learning stitches. Now most of my beadweaving work uses the much smaller size 11s. I still have a lot of size 6 beads languishing in my drawers for that perfect project. Kumihimo saved the day! Of course, if your drawers are filled with crystals, shaped seed beads, pearls, or gemstones, you can use those for kumihimo, too.
3. You can take it with you.
This is the kind of project that would be easy to pack and take on a trip. As long as you remember your place in the process (and Jill gives tips on how to do that), you could pick it up periodically and work on it while lounging by the pool or waiting in the hotel lobby. Even if you didn’t want to pack all the materials needed do the finishing work on the road, you could certainly make lots of kumihimo ropes to finish later at home.
4. You can customize your designs.
With a simple switch of bead types (like those cool shaped beads) or a mix of colors, you can create textured ropes or spirals. You can even skip the beads altogether to make braided ropes to hang those fancy focal beads that you’ve been hoarding. (Tip: If you’re having trouble adding beads, I found it useful to work kumihimo just with the cords alone until I got used to the repetitive motion.) Best of all, Jill includes a bonus list with the digital download that will help you figure out how many beads you’ll need to make your own design.
5. You can play to your strengths and style.
Jill shares three different methods to end the kumihimo bracelet: beading wire and crimps, gauged wire with wrapped loops, and crimp-end cord ends. Cord ends come in a huge range of sizes, metals, and shapes from sleek, smooth modern cord ends to huge, vintage-style flowers. Choose the technique and material style that you enjoy the most.
6. You can get through the hardest part quickly.
Sometimes when I’m working on a new technique I keep changing my mind about the hardest part. When you’re new at something, everything can seem difficult! For kumihimo, adding the first four beads is the hardest part. (The close-ups on the digital download make it much easier to do, so don’t stress about them.) Once you add the initial four beads, then it’s a matter of repeating those steps until you have the length of beaded cord that you desire.
7. You can avoid common mistakes.
Or at least understand why you made them. Jill covers the common errors that students make in her classes such as using a death grip when holding the center knot and reversing the cord direction. This is the kind of time-saving information that you’ll only get with a very experienced instructor. Jill goes a step beyond avoiding mistakes by also giving some hints on how to hide or transform them when they occur. For example, she showed how a too-small bracelet strap could be used as part of an asymmetrical necklace design. I appreciated Jill’s understanding that as a student I want to make sure that I can use my finished piece in some way as imperfect as it is.
Hmmm…now that I think about it, maybe I’ll make a necklace with my unfinished kumihimo bracelet.
Treat yourself to a new technique perfect for summer trips: