Kumihimo – the name for this ancient Japanese craft is complicated, but the basic technique is easy. Let’s learn How To Do Kumihimo! (There are more complicated variations, but those are for another time!)
The traditional Kumihimo loom is wooden and called a marudai. It consists of a disk with a hole in the middle, mounted on a stand so that both hands are free to work the fibers. Excess lengths of fiber are wound on wooden bobbins and pulled out to use as needed. You can also use the plastic bobbins that are easy to find.
The wooden loom has no markings, so the artist must pay careful attention to her work.
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Lucky for us, there are beginner-friendly modern tools available to us in many bead and yarn shops.
The Kumihimo Loom (often called a “Kumihimo Disk”), is usually made of foam with numbered slots around the perimeter. There are several brands available. They are inexpensive, light, sturdy and portable. If you mark the turning direction on the disk with a Sharpie, then it’s easier to keep your braid consistent.
The process is exactly the same even if you choose to use different materials! So have some fun and experiment!
Try using sari ribbon or yarn, made from recycled saris so the fibers have a lovely patina.
You can make Kumihimo braids with anything, as long as it fits in the slots on the loom!
Can I do Kumihimo with Sari silk yarn?
Yes! I had this skein of recycled Sari silk yarn that I picked up at Sew Expo one year, and decided it would make a pretty rope for a beaded pendant, so it was time to try my hand at Kumihimo with Sari Yarn.
It’s finished with a simple glue-on magnetic clasp. Glue-on clasps are easy to apply. My favorite glue for this task is E-6000. It is super strong and permanent. If you have trouble getting the cap off of your tube of glue, try rubbing a little petroleum jelly on the cap’s threads. It creates a seal that’s easy to break the next time you need glue. I hate it when I have to use pliers to get the cap off. Or the glue is hard as a rock because air made its way into the tube between uses!
Like many strong adhesives, E-6000 has an odor while wet, so make sure you use it in a space with good ventilation. Once the fumes have dissipated and it is dry, the glue has no odor at all.