Friday, 16 April 2010

Something Completely Different (Part II)

Another new craft I'm trying out is kumihimo or japanese braiding.  I forget exactly how it came about, but I saw someone doing some braiding a few weeks back and I immediately thought I could make some purse handles this way.  So I got myself a cheap braiding disk and started work.

The great thing is how quickly you can produce a braid; the difficult bit is getting the tension consistent.  I'm sure if I had a proper marudai (a braiding stand or frame) instead of a foam disk, it would be much easier.  Working with the disk hand held doesn't produce an even braid, so I've improvised and have discovered that a stand for drying wine decanters works well. I've also got myself some better instructions in the form of a book written by someone who lives in Ottery St Mary ... next time I'm visiting relatives down in Devon I'll have to see if I can attend a workshop.

These are short samples of some of the patterns in Jacqui Carey's book including flat, round and square braids.


I can see some of the flat ones making good purse handles and possibly also being used to decorate bags somehow.  Plus the braids can be used instead of a chain to make necklaces or as a bracelet.

The possibilities are endless!

Just for a laugh, here is my make-shift set up:


I've since improved on this by adding more weight to the bobbins (it's amazing what you can use wine corks for) and a counterweight to the bottom of the braid - this gives a more even tension.  It's tempting to try and source a proper marudai, but I can't justify that just yet.

My next braiding project will be with strands of seed beads - however, that may take some time as I have to thread the beads first and they're really, really small!

What do you think?

6 comments:

  1. That looks really complicated but worth the effort. I can see how effective the braids would be as handles. I have a really funky french knitting bobbin which I knit wire and bead bracelets on. And you are dead right about getting all the beads on the wire. I would advise over-estimating how many beads you need as there is nothing more frustrating than nearly finishing and realising you have run out of beads. Been there... done that.

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  2. Very cool Fiona! It looks complicated but I like your makeshift setup! In fact, I'm slightly amazed that you were able to spare the decanter-drying paraphenalia for working with... Sara

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  3. The braids look wonderful! They would make terrific bag handles. Well done you! I'm thinking of having a go at using the satin cord you use for these braids in my french knitting dolly to see if I can make cords sturdy enough for bags.

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  4. Fiona (Buy Design) - I'm looking forward to learning how to knit (and possibly one day even crochet) bracelets - it's on my list!

    Sara - the decanter drying stand is used but rarely, especially over here where few wines seem to need decanting. Roll on getting back to Europe and a different class of wine. However I do think it's a great use for the stand. My problem is I really need something higher to get the tension right on longer braids (that's why my test samples are so short).

    Ady - I'm sure your french knitting dolly will work - that's what Buy Design is referring to above.

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  5. I am new to K-braiding! I thought it looked time consuming and complicated too! But after attending a bead show, I learned how it worked. I am a excited to do more! I really like your set up, I am ready to by a decanter! Thanks for sharing, SaBrina

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  6. Have you tried weighted bobbins? They are available on Amazon. There are also 2 different sizes of weights that clamp on the end of your braid using an alligator clip. I believe they are called Gizmo weights. I use the smaller of the two weights. Between the weighted bobbins and the Gizmo weight, I can get a pretty even braid.

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