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How to Braid Unusual Components into Kumihimo Designs


I love using different and unusual components in my kumihimo designs. While dreaming of my next creation, I often start by looking at what’s lying around my workspace. Once a particular bead or component catches my eye, I like to envision how I could use it in a kumihimo project. This can involve incorporating the component directly into the braid in some fashion, using the component to add other sparkly components or beads, or leaving the component in the braid as-is to make its own design statement.

Kumihimo with Shaped Beads

Some of my favorite and often-used 2-hole beads include SuperDuos, bricks, and lentils. Once these beads are in a braid, it’s just a matter of how to embellish them to complete my vision. My new eBook 10 Kumihimo Patterns to Braid: Kumihimo Bracelet & Necklace Patterns with Shaped Beads has several designs using this method. The Accordion Bracelet uses bricks to form an aisle on either side of the bracelet to embellish with crystals. The All Buttoned Up Necklace uses SuperDuos to create a way to attach the Czech flower buttons to the top of the braid, while the 2-hole daggers along the base edge also allow for embellishment. The Honeycomb Lace Bracelet and Toni’s Treasure use SuperDuos to create extra embellishment for these pieces.

Clockwise from top left: Accordion Bracelet, All Buttoned Up Necklace & Bracelet, Honeycomb Lace Bracelet, Toni’s Treasure

Kumihimo with Focal Beads

In some of my other kumihimo designs, I add a particular bead directly into the braid but leave it as-is to make its own statement. The Pretty Pips Bracelet & Necklace are a perfect example of this technique. The Pip beads have only one hole, but they stand up in such a way in the braid that they have their own impact.

Pretty Pips Bracelet & Necklace

Sometimes my design process involves creating a setting for a particular bead or component and showcasing it front and center. My Holey Tubes! Cuff is a prime example of this distinctive concept. This piece involves creating three separate braids, each with a centered tube. The braids are then connected so the three tubes come together to make a dramatic centerpiece for this design.

Holey Tubes! Cuff in blue and fuchsia

I’ve used this concept in the past as well. For example, in the C-Koop de Ville Bracelet from my first eBook, Kumihimo Made Easy, I frame an enameled copper tube with long magatama drop beads. And in the Nouveau Necklace from my second eBook, Elegant Kumihimo, I showcase a collection of lampwork beads with braided strands of peanut beads.

C-Koop de Ville Bracelet and Nouveau Necklace


Kumihimo offers so many ways to design and embellish—and each approach has its own distinctive look and feel. I encourage all my students to learn the basics first (of course) and then begin trying out designers’ patterns and/or kits. Once you’ve done the ground work, you can adapt designs with your own ideas—expanding, omitting, adding, and embellishing as you choose. And that’s the first step in creating your own designs!

I hope you enjoy my designs! For even more kumihimo how-to info, see “7 Kumihimo Tips and Tricks.”

Happy braiding, my friends!
Maggie Thompson

Find Maggie’s kits and eBooks in the Interweave Store!


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