Learning Kumihimo the Hard Way: Lessons From a Beginner

Like many bead weaving techniques, kumihimo takes a bit of time and patience to learn. I, however, ignored that fact and decided to jump right in to kumihimo with a project from Beadwork, October/November 2016. I soon found myself in over my head. But with some patience and perseverance, I finally learned the technique. Now, I love kumihimo and am constantly searching for new projects to advance my skills.

The Right Tools for the Job

This story begins with several mistakes and blunders. After I decided to make Gabby Guset’s Kumihimo Charm Bracelet, I realized I only had a few of the necessary kumihimo tools. I had a disk, which is incredibly important to the braiding process. I also had bobbins, but I had no idea how to use them.

Kumihimo Project

Kumihimo Charm Bracelet by Gabby Guset

I didn’t have a needle that had a large enough eye for the beading cord but was small enough to fit through my size 8° beads. I ended up spending a lot of time stringing my beads directly onto the unraveling cord! I also didn’t understand how to use the bobbins, so I clipped my cord ends with binder clips. This was a major mistake! The clips kept falling off and I had to restring the beads over and over.

Understanding the Technique

When I was finally able to start braiding, I didn’t understand the instructions! I hoped I was doing the technique correctly, but I knew something was wrong. I moved the cords into the correct slots, but I had no idea what the directions meant by “tuck [the bead] firmly under the strand that crosses to the right or left.” I just didn’t comprehend the technique at all.

Kumihimo Mistake

Can you tell where I finally understood the technique?

After I worked the steps several dozen times, something clicked. To my amazement, once I understood how to tuck the beads, my bracelet came together easily! The process of moving the cords methodically to their slots on the disk was soothing and enjoyable. I loved doing it so much that I started another project immediately. But this time I researched how to use the bobbins, and I got a stand. Finally, everything fell into place.

Kumihimo Pip

Pretty Pips Bracelet by Maggie Thompson

In Search of More Projects

Searching for more projects to master my new skills, I found a few patterns scattered in Beadwork’s archives. These projects did not take me long to finish, and I craved more designs. Lucky for me, Maggie Thompson included 10 brand-new projects in her latest eBook, 10 Kumihimo Patterns to Braid: Kumihimo Bracelet & Necklace Patterns with Shaped Beads. These projects take it to a completely new level by incorporating various shaped beads, including SuperDuos, bricks, lentils, spikes, and more!

Kumihimo Blue

Holey Tubes! Cuff by Maggie Thompson in blue colorway, now available in kits.

Even better, the Holey Tubes! Cuff is available in kits in both the fuchsia and blue colorways. I don’t even have to hunt down the beads! With a plethora of bracelets and necklaces and even a pair of earrings, this eBook is sure to keep me busy for a long time, therefore improving my technique.

Kumihimo Red

Holey Tubes! Cuff in Fuchsia colorway now available in kits!

So this story has a happy ending: I now love kumihimo! I just wish I’d had Maggie’s eBook with its section on basics to teach me when I got started. All the mistakes I made could have easily been avoided. Take my advice: Try kumihimo; just don’t try to learn it yourself without any resources! Lesson learned — always buy the book.

Kumihimo Button

All Buttoned Up Bracelet by Maggie Thompson

Happy beading!
Marissa Bouska
Assistant Editor, Beadwork magazine

To find more kumihimo products, visit the Interweave Store!


One Comment

  1. Catherine C at 9:43 am January 3, 2018

    Kumihimo is now an addiction for me. Most of my customers at my Arts and Crafts Shows don’t even know what the technique is. So I am always working on something to show them how. I have lots of fun and lots of sales too. I’m usually the only artisan in the show that knows this technique. My daughter was a bridesmaid in a wedding last year and I made kumihimo for the bride and bridesmaids. The bride’s was made with various size pearls and silver seed beads and the bridesmaid’s were made of sapphire blue and clear crystals. My daughter was so proud when people complimented them on their jewelry.

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