Tips For Beaded Kumihimo From A Beginner

From Jennifer: Warning: Doing kumihimo with beads is totally addicting. If you're thinking about learning how to do beaded kumihimo, you should know that you will fall head over heels for this easy Japanese braiding technique. You'll be buying up size 6 seed beads by the kilo. You'll start dreaming about end caps and cones for finishing your kumihimo braids. And you'll be thinking about ways to stitch up fancy beaded sliders and accents for these quick and easy beaded ropes that are a great alternative to bead crochet.

Don't believe me? My most excellent marketing manager here at Interweave, Ashley Lauwereins, is just the latest friend of mine to be bitten by the kumihimo bug. Read on to learn about her experience and how she learned how to do kumihimo with beads!


I got into jewelry making back in middle school. My mom wanted to keep me preoccupied during the long summer months, so I started stringing jewelry. From there I progressed to… metalsmithing, and wirework. But somehow, bead stitching skipped me all together. I've never bead stitched, and of all the different jewelry making techniques it seems the most inaccessible to me. Yes, I have watched every DVD Interweave has put out in the last year, and while I feel inspired to pick up a needle and start stitching away, I haven't.

And honestly, right-angle weave, peyote stitch, and herringbone stitch intimidate me. Even after watching all the DVDs, the idea of stitching beads together still scares me. I know, it's probably crazy that I'm fine with soldering using a flame and hot, molten metal, but a little needle and some seed beads scare me.

All that changed when I watched Jill Wiseman's DVD on kumihimo beading. I already had some of the basics down from watching her in the past, but this DVD really brought the technique to life. I had a private lesson watching Jill tell me in detail what I needed to do, and I felt like Jill made it look so easy that even I could do it!

So I went out and purchased my own kumihimo beading kit. I measured out my thread the way Jill demonstrated, strung on my beads, and began the pattern. Up left, down right; up left, down right. I made sure to tuck my bead under the thread, and before I knew it my braid was grew into a bracelet. As I watched the DVD and wove my kumihimo bracelet, I learned five great tips, and just like they say, practice made them perfect:

1. Weighted bobbins make a difference. Jill talks about the importance of bobbins, and how much you are sure to fall in love with them. I couldn't agree more, but I have one slight change to that. I found these weighted bobbins, and they are amazing. I didn't even need the center weight with these, and they helped keep my cord inside the notches of the disk.

2. Don't be afraid to draw on your foam kumihimo loom. Jill suggests drawing a directional arrow on your foam kumihimo loom. If you're intimidated by all the numbers on your loom, you'll love how Jill teaches the basic moves of kumihimo braiding — she doesn't teach it by the numbers! Having that arrow was really helpful for me! 

3. Gotta put down your kumihimo for a minute? Or an hour? Jill's got you covered. The best part of the DVD is that Jill shows what to look for if your kumihimo time is interrupted. For this reason, I was able to start again with confidence. I simply looked for the crossing cords and went on with my kumihimo time.

4. Thread is cheap. Jill recommends starting with three yards of cord for your kumihimo creations. I started with that much and it made three bracelets, but Jill was right — I'm happy I had extra cord, instead of running out before my bracelet was finished. It's easy to use up what you cut, or buy more cord (which is cheap).

5. You're only limited by your imagination! Once you understand the pattern, the possibilities are endless!

If Jill taught me anything, it was that it really is easy to kumihimo with beads. Really, even the most intimidating part, connecting the end caps, was easy to do. If you're interested in trying out kumihimo, may I recommend Jill's DVD to teach you. All the must-know step by step direction, the tips, and Jill acting as a kumihimo type of Fairy Godmother. Now, the only thing keeping me from making more bracelets (or necklaces) is that I ran out of size 8 beads! I'll have to improvise with larger sizes next.


I had the good fortune to be able to take a beaded kumihimo class from Jill Wiseman live and in person. In fact, I took 2 kumihimo classes with Jill! But if you don't have the ability to travel in order to learn this fun beading technique, you can learn everything that I did about beaded kumihimo right at home. Get your copy of Kumihimo With Beads by Designer Of the Year Jill Wiseman, and watch how Jill expertly demonstrates everything you need to know to start making your own beaded kumihimo ropes.

Best of all, Kumihimo With Beads is also available as an instant download, so you can store it right on your favorite desktop or laptop computer, and be watching and learning in just minutes!

Do you love beaded kumihimo? Do you have a tip, a favorite resource, or a favorite tool for beaded kumihimo? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and let's share our advice and experiences with beaded kumihimo!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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