Giving Kumihimo a try

I first learned about kumihimo from a book on making jewelry. It looked confusing, so I didn’t think about it again until I was looking for portable crafts. At the time, it didn’t seem that portable, with all the strings and bobbins, so I didn’t think about it again until recently.

One morning last December I woke up with a desire to make my own kumihimo disk out of cardboard. It wasn’t my idea. Several months earlier I had seen a tutorial for making a braiding disc out of cardboard on Homemade Gifts Made Easy. I made the braiding disc according to the tutorial, and gave it a try with some Chinese knotting cord. It was fairly quick and easy. Then I wondered if I could do kumihimo with that, and found some video tutorials. The disk used was more complicated, as were the braiding patterns, so I made my own 32-notch disk out of cardboard.

I read here that kumihimo isn’t traditionally done with beads, but I’ve been wondering if it’s a faster way to make a spiral bracelet than beadweaving. This video by Beadaholique shows how to make a kumihimo spiral bracelet with beads. It’s very clear, which is how I was able to follow along with supplies that I already had.

I happened to have a spool of green S-lon that I had bought for a commissioned repair job. It’s not a color that I would normally use, but since I didn’t have any other use for it, I decided to try it for kumihimo. That’s why the color of the string doesn’t quite work with the beads, but it’s a test, so it’s okay. In case you were wondering, the beads are both 8/0 TOHO #223 and #2117.

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Seeing how much extra string and beads she had leftover in the video, I decided to go by the tip of 3 inches of string makes 1 inch of braid, and give myself extra for the beads. Since I have a 6 inch wrist, I would only need a 5 inch braid, because clasps usually add 1 inch. I cut each string at 2 ft, and only strung on 40 beads per string. The length was manageable so I didn’t need bobbins. I simply looped the string through the last bead again, like a stopper bead.

The cardboard disk actually works, though I’m sure a machine-made foam disk would work better. I might buy one if I get more serious about kumihimo. I basically eyeballed the spacing for the 32 slits, which is why they’re not even. For that reason, I need to be careful to keep the beads under the string when the spaces are smaller. Edit: Since writing this post I’ve found Friendship-Bracelets.net has a printable kumihimo disk template.

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When I finished, I measured the lengths of the remaining strings. They were about 13 inches each, which meant I used about 11 inches for my 6.25 inch bracelet. I think approximately 15 inches would be enough for me next time. (I’m giving myself 3 extra inches for holding the strings in the disk.) I used 36 beads from each string to make the beaded part 55/8 inches long. It looks like it takes 12 or 13 (size 8/0) beads on each string to make 1 inch. Keep in mind, the numbers I’m giving here pertain to one string, so multiply them by 8 to get the totals. Or, if you don’t like doing math, just give yourself a ton of string and beads. I like to be precise to minimize waste of materials (and the time it takes to string on extra beads).

I was able to find simple cylindrical end caps with loops for finishing the ends. (For this particular bracelet, I used the 4mm antique brass ones.) I wrapped the ends with tape as shown in the video, but I had no idea how short the end caps were, so I had to trim the ends some more so that they’ll fit. In the process of fitting it, the tape came off and the braid started to unravel. I quickly coated the ends in E-6000 and pinched the strings together, and stuffed them into the end caps. Some of the green string still shows. Oh well.

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Since I didn’t have any antique brass jump rings, and the only brown wire that I had was 22 gauge vintage bronze, I decided to try making my own split rings. Even though I gently hammered them to work harden the wire, I might replace them with real jump rings in the future. The clasp is very beautiful, but it adds 5/8 of an inch to the bracelet, making it 7.5 inches. I might switch it out for a smaller clasp, and save this one for another bracelet that is done nicer.

Edit: I just bought some 20 gauge antique brass wire, so I made jump rings and switched the clasp for a smaller, simpler one. It really changes the look of the bracelet. Before, the flower clasp was drawing attention away from the braid, but now the beads are the main focus.

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The smaller clasp only reduced the size of the bracelet by 0.25 inches, though. Now that I know the length of the end caps and jump rings are 0.75 inches, I will subtract that from my desired length to determine how long the braided portion should be.

I read that S-lon and C-lon are basically the same thing, so I bought some aqua C-lon (because it cost less than S-lon) for future projects.

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9 thoughts on “Giving Kumihimo a try

  1. This is very pretty! Years ago I made something similar with craft pearls — while crocheting a long tube, I inserted a pearl into each stitch (the string is on the inside, and the pearls are what shows). It was simple, and I made several as gifts, in pearl and in a light blue.

  2. That’s pretty cool. Beading spirals has alway been kind of frustrating for me, though the kumihimo might end up a tangled mess in my hands. I’ll just watch.

  3. Pingback: My second kumihimo bracelet | Musings of a Quirky Introvert

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