Hello Beautiful Beaders,

I'm always excited to teach a new beading technique and none more so than Kumihimo, which I touched upon in my last blog. It is a form of Japanese braid-making, where cords and ribbons are interlaced.

Kumi himo is Japanese for "gathered threads". It was originally used as a way for Samurai to both functionally and decoratively lace their armour and their horses armour. In modern day Japan you can still find the Kumihimo technique used to tie on an Obi, which is a Kimono sash, but in the western world today we use it to make a wide range of jewellery and decorative pieces.

I became so passionate about the technique that it inspired me to write a book about it. I wanted to teach the novice beader how simple it is to create beautiful handmade pieces of braided jewellery to wear, sell or gift to loved ones.

You can buy my book on the website here but if you'd like a little taster before doing so then just follow the steps below:-

Standard 8 Braided Kumihimo

You will need - Riverside Beads Kumihimo disk; 1-2mm satin cord; glue; 8-10mm end cap.

1. Measure the length you need your finished item to be, then cut 4 strands of cord each 4 times the length of your finished design, when you are first learning it’s easiest to start with 2 contrasting colours. Place the 4 strands together and fold them in half, tie the centre with a spare piece of cord.
Nb: For a 8” bracelet a guide is around 4mtrs of cord.

2. Push the centre of the cord through the middle hole of the disk (It can be useful to clip our kumihimo weight onto the scrap cord to help to pull the braid down). 

For a standard 2 colour twist you will need to arrange the same colour cords either side of N and S and the same colour cords either side of W and E.

To follow Riverside Beads instructions you will need to place north at the top, once you have mastered the technique you can start anywhere.

3. Take the cord to the right of the “N”, (between 32 and 1) and bring if down to the right of the bottom cord (between 14 and 15). Take the bottom cord to the left of “S” (between 16 and 17) and take this up to the left of the top cord (between 30 and 31)

Now turn the disk anti clockwise so that “E” is at the top and repeat the previous step, this time the cords from the top right (between 8 and 9) and will go to the right of “W” (between 22 and 23) and the cord from the bottom left will go to the left of “E” (between 6 and 7) Turn the disk a quarter turn anti clockwise again (“S” will now be at the top)

4. Repeat the previous steps by taking the cord to the right of the top cords and bringing it down to the right of the bottom cords and then the cord to the left of the bottom cords up to the left of the top cords and rotating anti clockwise after these 2 moves. A swirly braid will start to come through the centre of the disk.

When you are working out your size allow about ¾” the fastening will add when you attach it. When your cord is the desired length, either whip a fine cord round the braid underneath the disk to secure or tie the cords off on the top of the disk, take the braid off the disk and cut off any surplus cord.

5. Untie the spare piece of cord that you started with and slide that out, separate your end cap and place glue into the cap, put the end of the cord into the cap and twist to ensure the glue secures the cord into the ends, leave to dry, repeat on the other side.

TOP TIP: If you need to put the disk down mid braid place a cord so you have 3 cords, you then know you need to take the bottom left braid up next.

You can vary the finished bracelet by changing the position & the colours of cord you use, you can use up to 8 different colours!

If you've enjoyed this week's Techniques blog and want to try your hand at more Kumihimo then why not enter our competition to win a signed copy of my book. You can do this by either clicking here or by writing your name in the comments box below.

Once you've mastered the technique you may want to come along to one of our more advanced workshops here at Riverside HQ. Join the amazing Pru McRae on the 1st of July, when she'll be teaching us more of her unique Kumihimo designs. The course costs £35 and you can book it by clicking here.

In the meantime you can catch me back on Create and Craft TV on Wednesday the 1st of March at 9am, where I'll be showing you more hints and tips from the beading world. Be sure to tune in or set your TV to record the show and bead with me at your leisure.

Until next time...Happy Beading!

xxx Donna

Watch Donna Wednesday March 1st at 9am on Create and Craft TV at Sky 674, Freeview 23, Virgin 748 and Freesat 813