Everybody has their favorite stitches, whether it’s the first stitch you learned, the most recent, or just the one that seems to “click” in your mind the easiest. I’ve been watching trends in bead weaving and it appears to me that the people have picked kumihimo, bead embroidery, and cubic right-angle weave as their favorites! Many of the latest patterns in Beadwork magazine feature these stitches, and there’s no shortage of materials available to become educated and inspired. Let’s explore kumihimo, bead embroidery, and cubic right-angle weave together.
The origins of kumihimo are in a finger-loop braiding technique from Japan in the 7th century. It evolved over the centuries, passed down verbally through families, and was finally written down in the Edo Period (17th-19th centuries) in the form of patterns to accompany the wooden stands that are still used by some kumihimo artists today. I love that this ancient braiding technique is experiencing a renaissance. Our little foam discs are spinning away, creating beautiful ropes from fibers and beads.
Beadwork magazine’s Kumihimo 101 page is printed with every kumihimo pattern in our magazine. It’s available online so everybody can have access to the technique. We love being able to share this addicting braiding technique with anybody who wants to learn.
If you’re looking to go deeper, learn the basics and beyond in Jill Wiseman’s Kumihimo with Beads video download. Discover new tips, tricks, and basic techniques you need to make kumihimo jewelry at home. Maggie Thompson is a prolific kumihimo braid designer. Her eBook 10 Kumihimo Patterns to Braid: Kumihimo Bracelet & Necklace Patterns with Shaped Beads is the must-have resource for taking your kumihimo braids to a whole new level using various shaped beads. The use of modern multi-hole shaped beads like SuperDuos, Honeycomb beads, AVA beads, and more usher this ancient art into the modern age.
Here’s another bead technique that’s been around for as long as beads have—applying beads to a fabric backing with embroidery stitches. There’s been a resurgence of this beautiful technique lately, and I am a huge fan. With the introduction of new materials like shaped beads, shibori ribbon, and more, there’s always more to explore when it comes to bead embroidery. In Kinga Nichols’ Creative Bead Embroidery 1 and 2 videos, she takes you through the entire process of working with shaped beads, fine fabrics, and precut foundations, then teaches you how to “bead without boundaries” to make your piece truly special. If you are intrigued by the textures of incorporating silk shibori ribbon into your bead embroidery, Sherry Serafini’s Bead Embroidery: Incorporating Shibori Ribbon Into Your Projects video download is the resource you’ve been looking for.
Cubic Right-Angle Weave
This stitch is the newest in our list of top bead weaving techniques to learn. There has been a lot of innovation going on in the world of “CRAW” lately, with interesting new shapes and more and more intricate applications of the stitch being produced by bead weavers around the world. This stitch may be daunting to many stitchers, but I encourage you to try your hand. There are multiple ways of achieving the complicated thread path of CRAW, so if you struggle with one, there are more ways to try. I teamed up with jewelry artist and designer Susan Sassoon to test the differences between ways of stitching cubic right-angle weave and we compared the methods to see which we prefer. Check out the results of that experiment.
If you want to learn cubic right-angle weave, the Cubic Right-Angle Weave with Marcia DeCoster: Fundamentals video will help you demystify the stitch and really understand how it all comes together. She breaks it down to help you learn the basics, figure out how to create curves and angles, manage your thread with ease, get your joins to line up perfectly, and explore all the possibilities that this stitch has to offer.
Once you’ve got the fundamentals down pat, you can take it to a whole new level with the Beadweaving 2 with Huib Petersen: Celtic Basketweave Using Cubic Right-Angle Weave video download. Combine layers of cubic right-angle weave together into a bead weaving masterpiece that was traditionally a crochet technique.
Have you tried these three bead weaving techniques? Share by tagging @interweavebeading on your Instagram posts!
Technical Editor, Beadwork magazine