Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kumihimo

Kumihimo is my latest venture. I took a class 2 weeks ago, and instead of choosing to do the 18-inch necklace that the other students chose to do, I had my mind set on a lariat. A 60-inch lariat, to be exact. Naturally.

If I had fully understood the implications of this, I might not have been such a rebel.

Kumihimo is a lot of fun, and though it was a little difficult to get the hang of at first, once I figured it out, it turned out to be relatively easy. And it is completely portable once it is set up on the disc.


This is the kumihimo disc - it is made of foam, and is maybe 8 inches in diameter.






The most tedious part of Kumihimo is the set up. At least 8 different strands of seed beads have to be pre-strung and then wound onto something that will hold them - plastic bobbins work well. The number of beads needed on each strand to complete a necklace varies with the length of necklace desired and with the size of the seed bead, and when using size 8 seed beads, it takes about 10 beads per inch.


So for an 18-inch necklace, I would have needed to string about 180 - 200 seed beads on each of the 8 braiding cords. But for my 60 inch lariat? Yeah - I could not even start learning the technique until I had strung almost 600 seed beads on 8 different cords. That's a lot of seed beads!


The other students finished stringing their cords, and there I sat, still trying to fit the tiny beads on the thick braiding cord. Ultimately, the other students pitched in and helped me get set up, and we all started braiding.

And here is my finished lariat, with the fringe I added at the ends.





And back to my point about portability: once all your beads are loaded on the bobbins, the whole shebang fits in a Ziploc bag, disc and all. And the notches on the disc keep your strands in place, no matter what. Trust me - they do not come out of the notches, even when thrown in a tote bag with a bunch of books, or tossed around in a car, etc. And once you are all set up, there are no needles, no tools - so this is an ideal project for air travel, or car travel: you hold it in one hand, move the strands with the other; it is lightweight - I love it. It doesn't hurt my hands at all!
Of course, you can also do Kumihimo without beads, or with a combination of fibers and beads - so I love its versatility.
I've purchased some pretty textured fibers to try, and I am anxiously waiting for my square Kumihimo disc to arrive. The square disc supposedly makes a flat braid, and I already have my colors picked out for my first project on the square disc. A 60-inch beaded lariat, of course. Because apparently, I never learn.

11 comments:

mrs beadsley said...

wow - amazing necklace - beautiful colors and a great blog post on kumihimo and beads. can't believe how many beads you had to load up previous to starting!

Aunt Mary Ann said...

love your piece.

I am a newbie to Kumihimo...

Still experimenting.

would love to chat sometime.

Mary Ann

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks Mary Ann! I am actually spending all day today working on a purple version of this kumihimo lariat. I need to braid 18 more inches, and then I can start on the ends. Would love to hear from you again!

Pinkmoo said...

Love this, want to make something similar but not sure I've got enough beads to do it! Might go with a 20 inch to start with and a pendant and go from there! x

Vanessa said...

Hi there! I, too, am new to Kumihimo and I am totally addicted. What I LOVE about it is what you talked about - the portability of it. It is not just portable to take with you in the outside world, but just think about this if you are a beader - once set up, you can just lay fully on my sofa, legs all crunched under me the way I like to sit and I can do my work! This is amazing and so much what I was looking for. I hated being tied to my table where all the beads and tools and supplies needed to do my work was. Anyway, your piece is gorgeous. I would love to see your new flat one when you are working on it.

Vanessa said...

Hi there! I, too, am new to Kumihimo and I am totally addicted. What I LOVE about it is what you talked about - the portability of it. It is not just portable to take with you in the outside world, but just think about this if you are a beader - once set up, you can just lay fully on my sofa, legs all crunched under me the way I like to sit and I can do my work! This is amazing and so much what I was looking for. I hated being tied to my table where all the beads and tools and supplies needed to do my work was. Anyway, your piece is gorgeous. I would love to see your new flat one when you are working on it.

Sweet Freedom said...

Hi Vanessa - I spent hours trying to make a beaded flat kumihimo piece, and the beads just wouldn't pop in and stay. Can't even tell you how many different variations of patterns I tried, in attempt to make a beaded flat kumi rope. I finally figured out it is because there is no central "hole" in the flat braid, whereas the round one has a (potential) hole in the middle where the bead fall.

I gave up on the flat beaded kumihimo, and never even tried to make a flat kumi necklace from just fibers - your comment is the kick in the pants I need to go back and make one. Should be fairly easy and quick!

Mz Jazz said...

Hi, your necklace is gorgeous! I am also new to kumihimo and i would like to know about the mix colors of beads, "how do you place them on the cord"? You have gold and other colors, where do the different colors go on the cords?
Thank you so much for sharing.

Jazz

Mz Jazz said...

Hi, your necklace is gorgeous! I am also new to kumihimo and i would like to know about the mix colors of beads, "how do you place them on the cord"? You have gold and other colors, where do the different colors go on the cords?
Thank you so much for sharing.

Jazz

Sweet Freedom said...

Hi, Mz Jazz - welcome to kumihimo!

For this particular lariat, I used 8 warps and 3 colors of beads. 3 warps had one color of green, 3 warps were a slightly different color of green, and 2 were the metallic antique bronze color. I arranged the warps randomly on the disc after I placed the beads on them.

Mz Jazz said...

Thank you so much, this is very inspirational. Since seeing your necklace i am attempting to do a necklace in beads (not that many)but still going to try. Thank you so much!

Mz Jazz