No, I did not just randomly hit the keyboard. Kumihimo is Japanese for “gathered threads,” but we can call it extreme braiding. What makes this type of braiding so amazing is the wonderful variety of patterns you can make with simple twining. This technique creates the beautiful flat and wide braids often found on Asian garments and banners.
Historically, the braids were used to tie the various plates together on Japanese samurai armor. Short sections were also used for everyday clothing, to create ties and closures. Today, the braids are made into jewelry, hatbands, belts, friendship bracelets, decorative knotting, embellishments, and wherever else imagination can take the artist. These sturdy braids can stand up to heavy workloads and add wonderful swatches of color.
Intricate patterns are achieved through careful manipulation of the threads. The maker forms the patterns by varying the sequence of thread movements. In other words, the threads at the top of the circle go to the bottom, and vice versa. The maker just keeps moving the around the circle following the set pattern.
Making the braids does require some specialized equipment. For the beginner, and braiders on the go, there are plastic
or foam disks (about the size of a CD) with numbered notches. For the more experienced braider, there are stands that sit in front of the user. The two most common braiding stands are the marudai and the takadai, and are employed to make more complex braids, in a shorter amount of time.
This ancient Japanese braiding technique still has many uses today. Free instructions and patterns can be found on various websites. Here are a few:
So now you can start embellishing everything in the house. No pillow, lampshade, pet leash, hand towel, or cardigan edge will be safe!