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?


  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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  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

  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.