Discover a New Kumihimo Technique: Peek-a-Boo Koo

In this new kumihimo technique, which I’ve playfully named Peek-a-Boo Koo, extra cords are hidden in the center of a kumihimo rope and brought out to create continuous pattern variations. Endless variations can be worked with cord counts of 9 or more, with or without beads.

I have even worked this technique with 28 cords, gradually blending in new colors 2 cords at a time. Using embroidery thread and S-Lon cord keeps the rope width slim even with so many cords.

Peek-a-Boo Koo technique worked with 28 cords

Peek-a-Boo Koo technique worked with 28 cords

Necklace with a 15-Strand 2-Pattern Kumihimo Braid

This blue necklace is made with 15 strands. It can be made with or without the two additional braided sections or the silver seed bead wraps. Metal end caps can be substituted for the beaded end caps on the additional braided sections.

Kumihimo Technique

Peek-a-Boo Koo necklace made with 15 strands in 2 patterns

Materials & Tools

Cording cut to desired length for 19″ necklace (see Note under Additional Braided Sections):

  • 3 strands of silver 1mm Satinique satin cord (A)
  • 4 strands of denim blue 1mm Satinique satin cord (B)
  • 4 strands of dark turquoise blue 1mm Satinique satin cord (C)
  • 4 strands of medium blue 1mm imitation silk cord (D)

Additional materials and tools:

  • 2 silver-tone end caps, inner diameter 7mm or more
  • 1 silver-tone toggle clasp
  • 4 silver-tone 6mm jump rings
  • 2 silver 4mm faceted beads
  • Silver size 11° seed beads
  • Glue
  • Kumihimo disk and weight
  • 9 kumihimo bobbins
  • Sewing needle and medium blue sewing thread

Pattern 1: Colors C and D, 4 each with pairs opposite: CC, DD, CC, DD; section length 3/4″
Pattern 2: Colors A (3), B (4), and C (1), in pairs as: AA, BB, AC, BB; section length 1.5″

Kumihimo Technique

Transition between patterns (Pattern 1 = dark turquoise blue and medium blue; Pattern 2 = silver and denim blue)

Movement of Hidden Bundle While Braiding

If you consider the moves in pairs (top to bottom, bottom to top), the bundle is moved counter-clockwise one quarter in the middle of each pair. This leaves the hidden cords in the center of the braid; the 8 working cords as they are moved do not cross over it.

Call the four pairs of cords TOP, RIGHT, BOTTOM, LEFT.

Hold the bundle hanging over the disk between BOTTOM and LEFT.

Move the TOP-right cord to the BOTTOM-right.
Move the bundle counter-clockwise one quarter so it now sits between BOTTOM and RIGHT.
Move the BOTTOM-left cord to TOP-left.
Turn the disk one quarter turn clockwise.
The bundle is now back between BOTTOM and LEFT.
Continue from TOP-right in the same manner.

Instructions for Main Necklace Rope: Work in Spiral Round 8-Strand Kumihimo

Tie all 15 strands together and thread into the kumihimo disk.
Using colors C and D, set up Pattern 1, rolling each cord into a bobbin.
Bundle the 7 A and B cords together; smooth and roll into one bobbin, leaving out enough to hang about 2″ or more over the edge of the disk. This is the “hidden bundle.”

Work Pattern 1 for the desired length, moving the bundle as described above (counter-clockwise between each pair of moves) to keep it in the center of the braid. The first section should include an extra 1/2″ or more to tie and glue into the end cap (be generous to give yourself length flexibility!).

Kumihimo Technique: Peek-a-Boo Koo

A 2-pattern 12-strand necklace made with Satinique cord and woven yarn containing sparkly fibers

Switching to Pattern 2

Unroll the bundle.
Place each of the 7 A and B cords in the slots next to the current cords where they will belong in Pattern 2.
When placing the 4 new cords, you can take them from the sides of the bundle closest to the slot they need to be in on the board, but there’s no right or wrong way to do this.

The disk will temporarily look like this: AACC, BBDD, ACC, BBDD.

Remove each of the 4 D and 3 C cords (leaving one C next to the second A) from their bobbins, take out of slots, smooth together, and roll up in one bobbin. I usually place them in two extra slots to hold them while I ready them for bundling. This is your new central bundle.

Roll the 8 new working cords (AA, BB, AC, BB) into individual bobbins.
Begin braiding Pattern 2.
The cords will not at first be crossed correctly; just pick a logical place to start and begin braiding, moving the bundle as before to remain in the center.

At the desired length (1.5″), use the same method to switch back to Pattern 1.

Kumihimo Technique: Peek-a-Boo Koo

A 3-pattern 16-cord necklace with matching earrings

Ending the Necklace

After working 8 sections of Pattern 1 (plus extra on the last section for the end cap), tie off the ends of the work with sewing thread, measure, cut, and glue to seal the threads. Glue on the end caps. Attach the clasp using 1 jump ring on the toggle ring end and 3 on the toggle bar end. This makes a necklace that is approximately 18.5″ long. Braid more sections for a longer necklace.

Additional Braided Sections (Optional)

Note: If you choose the make the additional braided sections and want to braid continuously without stopping, you must (1) account for an extra 8″ of braiding when measuring your cords, (2) add 1 extra cord in color A for the longer addition, and (3) leave extra braiding between each piece for cutting and tying off.

Long addition:

AA, BB, AA, BB; 7/8″ including end caps, plus extra for tying off
BB, CC, BB, CC; 3/4″
CC, DD, CC, DD; 3/4″
BB, CC, BB, CC; 3/4″
AA, BB, AA, BB; 7/8″ including end caps, plus extra for tying off

Short addition:

BB, CC, BB, CC; 1.25″ including end caps, plus extra for tying off

For each piece, measure, tie, cut, glue, and add either beaded or metal end caps.
Thread a sewing needle with blue thread.

Center the short section below the necklace and anchor the thread above the center of the necklace. Sewing through the braids and hiding the thread between kumihimo stitches, tack the bottom piece on. Gently angle the stitches from one side to the other. Below the center stitch add a 4mm faceted bead and a size 11° seed bead; sew back up through the 4mm bead. Reinforce with a second stitch.

Center the longer section above the necklace. Bend the necklace and use some needles to tack the sections together in a curved shape. Continue tacking the top piece to the necklace, adding a 4mm faceted bead and a size 11° seed bead at the top of the middle. Hide your knots within the braid to finish.

More Options

Seed bead wraps:
First, determine how many size 11° seed beads it will take to wrap around the cord. (I used 17.)
Square-stitched beaded strips 4 beads wide and 17 beads long.
Wrap the strips around the cord at the desired location, stitch the strips closed, sew through the cord a few times to hold the strips in place, reinforce the stitching, and knot both ends.

Kumihimo Technique: Peek-a-Boo Koo

Seed bead wrap

Beaded end caps:
First, wrap the ends of each braided section tightly with sewing thread and trim to the desired length.
Use glue to seal the end threads together; allow to dry.

The beaded end caps are the same 4×17 strips as for the seed bead wraps, lightly glued and sewn onto the section ends after wrapping/gluing them. Create a top with a reducing spiral peyote stitch. Knot and cut the thread to finish.

Kumihimo Technique: Peek-a-Boo Koo

Beaded end caps

  • Important Transition Tip: After each pattern transition, work a few rounds (about the first 8 cord moves), then gently pull on each individual cord going into the bundle to gather in any kinks that got stuck in the transition point. I do this twice; once after 8 cord moves, and again after another 8.
  • Section Length Tip: After deciding on the length for each pattern section, mark it on a stiff strip of paper from one end. This strip can be held up against the work from the top of the braid down to measure your progress. For this necklace my strip had marks at 3/4″ and 1.5″.
  • Beaded Strands Tip: If using beaded strands, leave them on their own bobbins when bundling and move them along with the hidden bundle. For example, if 2 of the 8 strands to be hidden are beaded, the other 6 will be wound together on one bobbin. That bobbin and the 2 beaded strand bobbins will move together as one central bundle. Another 2 bobbins would be required for the project.
Peek-a-Boo Koo necklace made with beaded strands; necklace made with beaded strands and a beaded toggle clasp

Peek-a-Boo Koo necklace made with beaded strands; necklace made with beaded strands and a beaded toggle clasp

  • Beaded End Caps Tip: My beaded end caps don’t go fully around the ends of the short braided sections. I left a few beads out of the beaded end caps so that the short braided sections wouldn’t be pushed up off the main necklace section. I didn’t provide specific instructions for this option because it was extremely difficult to do. However, I think it makes for a more finished piece.

—Deb Samuels

Deb Samuels

Deb Samuels


All cords and end caps: Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, (800) 355-2137, Silver Satinique cord: H20-1490BS; denim blue Satinique cord: H20-5785BS; dark turquoise blue Satinique cord: H20-5791BS; medium blue imitation silk cord: H20-1921BS; pewter glue-in end caps: H20-9052FY.

For questions about this unique kumihimo technique, please contact me at [email protected].

For even more kumihimo inspiration and instruction, check out Maggie Thompson’s eBooks in the Interweave Store!


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