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Skill Level: Intermediate
jewellery making hints and tips

How to use Kumihimo disc for 8 warp braid

Kumihimo disc for 8 warp braid

Getting Started

Kumihimo is an ancient form of Japanese braiding, but there are a vast number of designs that one can create with this modern tool.

Before attempting to use beads, it is best to master the basics of the Kumihimo braiding basics, just while you become accustomed to sequencing the braid. Take four cords of colours of your choosing, fold them in half, and tie them together in the centre so that you have eight strands.

You need to remember to use more cord than the length of the product you’re making, as it will be folded in two, and will become shorter as the braid is formed. You need to start with 8 strands twice as long as your desired finished length to do a basic 8 - warp round braid.

For a neater finish, you could glue an end cap on to the starting end at this stage, but you can always leave this until the end; if you are using a macramé technique, such as a sliding knot, make sure you leave plenty of extra thread (you do, however, need to knot the end first to make sure it doesn’t unravel).

Cut all of your cords to the same length. It’s better to have too much cord than too little.


Step One

When you start, make sure the numbers on the disk are facing towards you, so that ‘North’ is represented by the number 32, ‘South’, 16, etc. Feed the knot you’ve just created (Place the knot through the top of the disk, so that it hangs through the centre). Hold this taut so that you don’t pull the strands, or ‘warps’, off-centre when you are securing these in the notches of your disk.

Step Two

Put the first pair of warps (strands) on either side of notch 32 at the top (notches 31-32 and 32-1). Repeat this with the other three pairs of strands, until you have four pairs of cords straddling the ‘North’, ‘South’, ‘East’ and ‘West’ of your disk. Don’t worry if some of your cords overlap in the centre.

Step Three

The dangling cords will inevitably get tangled, so wind each cord around a bobbin (all the way up to the board), and then turn them inside-out to hold the cord in place. Bobbins come in various sizes; smaller ones are ideal for bracelets, while medium bobbins are useful for necklaces. Larger ones are better for more ambitious projects, such as guitar straps, or curtain tassels and trims.

Step Four

Start with the pair of warps closest to you (in notches 15-16 and 16-17) and take the warp in notch 16-17 up to the left of the two warps surrounding number 32, as follows:

Step Five

As you are working with a pattern of four pairs of warps, and as this leaves three at the top and one at the bottom, one strand needs to come back down to the bottom of the board. Bring the strand in notch 32-1 down to the bottom hand right side to notch 15-16. The warps will have moved counterclockwise to the directional dot.

Step Six

Turn the board counter-clockwise, so that number 24 is at the bottom, and number 8 is at the top. Repeat the process, taking the thread in notch 24-25 up to notch. Bring down the thread from notch 8-9 to notch 22-23, so that there are again four pairs of warps on the board. Always take the lower left thread to the upper left hand side, and the upper right hand thread to the lower right hand side.

Step Seven

After repeating this process for about five to ten minutes, the braid will start to feed through the underside of the disc. It is best to use your left hand to work the left threads, and then change to your right hand to work the right. You can then use your free hand to hold the forming braid underneath, which prevents this from riding up through the centre, or you can hang a weight from the bottom of the braid to ensure consistent tension throughout your braid.

Step Eight

Detach the threads from the grooves of your disk and tie a knot so it doesn’t unravel. The braid will look, and feel, tight and tense. Take the starting end, and run your hand down the braid, while applying a slight amount of pressure. This will relax the tension in the braid, making it longer, narrower, and more manoeuvrable.

Step Nine

Wrap a strand of nylon or monofilament tightly around the end of the braid a few times and tie it off, knotting it several times with a square knot; trim the nylon. If you have opted for a macramé finish, un tie the knot in the braid and use your excess thread to finish off the project. If you are using an end cap, Use an end cap large enough to encompass the end of the braid, and then and then trim the braid with some large, sharp scissors, for a clean cut, as close to the nylon/ monofilament wrap without cutting it.

Step Ten

Add a good dab of super-glue or super-glue gel (super-glue gel dries more quickly; instructions for use will vary depending on the manufacturer) to the end of the braid and slide into the end cap. Give the braid in the end cap a gentle twist, so that all of the glue is evenly applied.

Step Eleven

Once the glue has dried, you can then add clasps as you normally would.

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Hints & Tips


Step One

Once you have mastered the eight-warp Kumihimo technique, you can apply the same process to the slightly more difficult version of the Kongo Gumi pattern, which uses sixteen warps (eight folded cords) instead of eight. The starting board pattern is shown below:

Step Two

This is by no means the only method to Kumihimo braiding, and thousands of patterns are available in print and on-line, ranging from the simplistic to the agonisingly complex.

Step Three

Using a reverse hand action (i.e. by taking the thread down the disk first, instead of up) will change the direction of the spiral. It does not matter which way you do it, as long as you are consistent, and continually turn the board in the same direction.

Step Four

If you need to leave your disk to do something else, but don’t want to lose your place, simply leave it when you have 3 strands together at the top and only 1 at the bottom. This way, you will know where you left off.

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