Today I’m sharing a handful of basic Kumihimo tips and tricks. These are pretty simple things that I’ve encountered while braiding my heart out. I hope at least one or two prove useful you on your exploration of this fun and incredibly addictive craft!
1. The foam discs used for Kumihimo are really convenient, but after time the slots will begin to stretch out. For example, if you braid a lot of 2mm cord and then try to use the same disc with embroidery floss, the floss will not stay well because the foam has conformed to fit the much larger cord.
To keep this from being a problem, I have several discs and only use them for one size or type of cord. I have a wheel for 2 mm, a wheel for 1 mm and a wheel for very fine cords. I mark them on the back to keep from getting confused.
2. Different sized cords will require different finished lengths because of the added bulk. As a example, a bracelet out of 2mm cord, the length of 8.5 inches fits me well but when using the much smaller craft floss I only need a length of 7 inches for a good fit.
3. A finished Kumihimo braid will stretch out, but not back. Before preparing a braid for a bracelet, it is best to give the cord a good pull to stretch out fully. If you don’t, the cord will stretch over time and become way too large to wear.
The cord in the picture above measured about 5 inches when taken directly off of the disk, but after stretching to its full length became about 6 3/4 inches long. The cord can be stretched while on the disc, just hold the cord in the center on the top of the disc to keep from pulling your cords from your slots.
4. Remember that adding end caps adds length to a finished piece. Keep this in mind when creating a beaded braid since you can’t just trim as needed once complete.
5. When placing tight cord ends onto a braid, have a wooden skewer or toothpick on hand to shove stray strands into the end cap.
6. Sometimes I’ll cut a single cord shorter than the others by accident. I only notice when I get down to the end of my braid and one piece won’t fit in the slot anymore. To remedy this, I’ll take a small piece of tape and place the cord in line with the slot that it would be sitting in if it wasn’t so darn short.
7. Experiment with different cords and fibers for different looks. I tend to prefer satin rattail for my braids but it can be expensive. You can also braid craft cord, embroidery floss, jewelry wire, leather cord (as suggested by a reader – thanks!), baker’s twine, yarn, fancy yarns (like the furry stuff), plastic cord… the list could go on and on I’m sure.
8. To keep costs to a minimum while I’m trying to work out a pattern, I use cheap acrylic yarn.
9. The best way that I have found to save my place when working with my disc is to make the first move and bring the cord up and then leave it. When I have one extra cord on one section of my wheel, I know that is where I need to pick back up at.
10. When working with patterns, color choice can make all of the difference. When attempting to make a braid I use colors that always go well together and are different enough from one another. My scheme of choice is black, white and red. I toss in orange or blue when I need more colors.
11. The foam is like a magnet for pet hair. If you have pets (like I have a whole freaking pride of cats) you’ll need to keep a close eye on your disc as you work to prevent from braiding in any hair that might become attracted to the disc.
12. And last, but not least, cats are insane for Kumi projects. Be careful where you place your stuff because cats will walk clean off with braids and even braids that are still being worked on and left in the foam disc. Look at Max up there. He’s clearly not right while he’s slinging that braid around.