Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kumihimo, or Japanese Braiding, Makes the Perfect Summer Craft with Printable Loom


During the sweltering heat of summer, during those lazy days, the perfect pick-up craft is kumihimo or Japanese braiding. Traditionally made on a round wooden loom called a maru dai, these brightly colored braids were used as decorative cords in religious ceremonies and then later, to embellish clothing, to hang flags and to lace up the armor samurai warriors used for battle. The number of threads used, from 4 to 100, determines the simplicity or complexity of braid. We will be using 8 threads in a simple rotating pattern that will produce a spiral stripe. It's best to use 2 contrasting colors. Any fiber can be used. For this project I'm using 4 ply cotton cord, sometimes called Sugar and Cream, the type used for knitting dishcloths. After you learn the technique, try embroidery floss for friendship type bracelets. There are commercial looms or disks on the market, but I've designed a printable loom that you can download and glue to a recycled cereal box.
The supplies needed are: Printed template, cereal box, glue stick, scissors, key ring, 4 ply cotton thread, tape measure or ruler.
The template print out and photo tutorial follow the written instructions.

Make the loom first by gluing the template to the cereal box. Cutout the circle and cut out the inner circle. Next, glue the unit to an additional piece of cereal box for extra strength. Cut out the inner circle again. Cut the 32 slits where marked. Notch the upper left hand corner of each slit about 1/8 of an inch. This will ease the threads in and out of the slits.
Prepare the threads by cutting four 36 inch strands, two of each color. Gather together, fold in half and feed the folded end through the center of the key ring. Bring the cut edges through the loop just made and pull through. From top to bottom, slip the threaded key ring through the hole in the braiding disk. Just slip the ring through, not all the threads.
Using the big dots on the disk as your guide, and working with one color at a time, in a vertical fashion, place a cord on either side of the dots, opposite each other. Working horizontally, with the second color, and using the big dots as a guide, place a cord on either side of the dots, opposite each other. The threads will look like a cross, with the vertical bar one color and the horizontal bar the second color.
Making sure the disk is in the 12 o'clock position, take the string on the right out of the slit and bring it down about 180-degrees and place it to the right of the 2 strings below. You will have one string on the top and 3 strings on the bottom.
Take the string to the immediate left of the 3 threads at the bottom, remove it from its slit and bring it up to the left of the string at approximately 12:00. At this point you will again have two strings paired together. Rotate the disk counterclockwise, (to the left) and repeat the 2 steps again. Keep turning counterclockwise and repeating the 2 steps until the braid is 3 inches long. If you lose your place, look at the threads. The top thread should be pointing to the right.
When you get your length, remove all threads from the disk and tie the free ends into an overhand knot, close to the braid. Neatly trim free ends. Your key chain is made!
Once you get the technique, you can use embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets, or fancy threads to make necklaces. Use your imagination as the possibilities are endless.

Try Japanese Braiding!

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