Kumihimo – 8 Strand Cord Tutorial

June 14, 2013Allison Murray

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

The very second I heard about Kumihimo I was online ordering a starter kit for myself. The. Very. Second. When it got here I jumped around the living room like a loon clutching my bubble mailer. I hadn’t even opened it yet.

When I opened it, I jumped right in. The directions were on the backside of the product card and it was easy enough to follow, though I did get a bit irritated. In my set was enough 1 mm cord to make 8 bracelets. Russell and I sat down to watch a movie, me with my new best friend, Kumihimo disk, and got to it.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

By the time The Guilt Trip ended, I had used up all of the cord that came in my kit. Russell then thought to ask how it was going and I can only assume that the smile I gave him was that of a zealot as I displayed my arm full of new bracelets. His only response “so you like this kumi thing, huh?” Yep, yep I do.

So here I am now, trying to get you addicted to this fun little braiding technique, too! For this you will need:

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Before I got my disk in the mail I ordered a boatload of 2mm satin rattail directly from China through Etsy. I am so bad at understanding those little mm sizes, it drives me nuts. This is a lot thicker than I had anticipated and my braids are really chunky. A visit to the bead store told me that the norm is 1mm or 1.5 mm cord for Kumihimo.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Cut about 4 pieces of cord around 39 inches long. Depending on the thickness of your cords you’re starting with, you may need more or less but this will be our practice experimental braid. Gather the middle of the four cords and tie a knot.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Push the knot through the center of your Kumihimo disk.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Now we’re going to lace our strands through the beginning slots on the disk. Like you see above. Now on your first use, the slots are going to be kind of tight. Don’t be scared to pull a bit to get them firmly in place. It won’t hurt the disk at all.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Your first pieces will be placed on either side of the starting point dots on the disk. If you use four different colors, here is how you’ll set up your disk . Note that the arrows are pointing to the same color.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

And here is how the braiding actually works. With the disk facing you with the text the right way, take the bottom left strand and move it up to the left of the cords at the top.

Take the one at the top that is at the far right and move it to the right of the cord at the bottom.

Turn the disk 45 degrees. The directions showed me to go counter-clockwise but I always get confused so I just go clockwise and have had absolutely no issues with that.

Keep repeating: Bottom left to top left. Top right to bottom right. Turn.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

As you continue to braid, the developing cord will come out of the back. If you have cats, beware because they will be all up in your business.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

When your cord is as long as you’d like it, or if you run out of enough to continue braiding, grab the braid tightly so that it doesn’t come undone on you and remove the laces from the slots.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Carefully knot the end. If you’re using the satin rattail, you can take a lighter and hit the ends with a little bit of flame to seal off and keep from fraying or unraveling.

Learn the basic 8 strand Kumihimo braid

Bring the dangling cords and pull through the loop at the other end and tie on to secure and you’re all set. Like I said before, the fatter your cords are to begin with the bigger your finished braids will be. I used 2mm and I think I prefer the daintier 1mm. I’ll get in here soon and show some examples for you but this is a lot of info for one day, I think.

Hoping you have fantastic plans for the weekend!


Comments (28)

  • Midsommarflicka

    June 21, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Haha, it's so sweet that you don't understand "those little mm sizes"… ;)
    For me it's so logical and I never get your measurements!

    This Kumihimo looks really interesting, I have to see, if I can get it here!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  • Monica //mon makes things

    June 22, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    I love these!! Definitely going to get one of those disks soon… Do you think crochet thread or string would work in place of the cording?

  • Allison Murray

    June 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Hey, Mon! I absolutely think that crochet thread would work really well. I just know you have to have tons of colors already, right? Score!!

    1. John

      May 1, 2017 at 6:18 AM

      I use wool all the time ansd mine come out great

  • Annette

    July 7, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    I too am fairly new to Kumihimo.. and Im L-O-V-I-N-G it!!!! … I came accross it by Accident one day… and Shot to EBAY and bought my first kit!! (mine only had enough ratail to braid 1 bracelet but it also had c-lon thread and sead beads to make a beaded one!!!! and WOW am I hooked!!! They are GORGEOUS!!!! I prefer doing the beaded ones now!!! and I found that I had to buy another round Plate!!!! as the ratail is wider than the c-lon thread it didnt grip it enough to hold the tension!!! so I now have 2 round plates!!! My husband watched what I was doing So I bought him A SQUARE plate!!! ha ha.. Now my pet dogs have nice new collars!!! and soon a new lead each!!! You dont always have to but Ratail Cords You can use most stuff!!! Wool and Thin Ribbon and Leather thongs and I love doing necklace cords with EMBROIDERY THREADS!!! Thank you for posting the 12 braid.. Ive not tried that yet but I have done many other Variations of the 8 cords… America is the place to be to buy and find New Craft stash!!! Unfortunately I live in England Where Crafting is not so Hot…. Enjoy what you are doing hunny I love it!!! I went on a long boring bus trip and took mine with me!! ha ha.. sat doing kumihimo on my journey Other Travelers got interested to!!!

  • Allison Murray

    July 7, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    Hey, Annette! I am addicted to kumihimo. Totally and completely and I'm absolutely unapologetic! I've very recently begun trying to make my own patterns and I've started using yarn because it's so much cheaper and readily available than rattail. But I LOVE the look of rattail! I'll definitely have to start playing around with some other fibers like you have!

  • ireland

    August 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    i love this idea ill have to do it soon

    1. Allison

      September 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      Yay! I promise you won’t regret it!

  • Tammy

    October 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    OMG I love it, I wanted something different to do in the winter and something that doesn’t take a lot of thinking so I can still watch my shows LOL Thanks for getting me hooked. :-)

    1. Allison

      October 30, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      I’m so glad you love it. Definitely a good hobby for keeping your hands busy but your mind free. Glad to have yet another convert :)

  • Dingh

    December 7, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Hi!!! I LOVE how the Universe works!! My mother bought a kit for me with this Kumihimo wheel and white and gold cord just 2 days ago. I was very excited and sat right down with it. I like to think that I am fairly intelligent, but sometimes it takes a little while… hahahaha…. my first attempt was VERY loose and looked horrible. I took that one apart and started over. The second one looked better but is still kind of loose — now that I see how it is SUPPOSED to look!!! hahahahaha….. What I did not realize was that there are little slits on the wheel. I could not figure out why there were just little ‘divits’ at the numbers and thought it was pretty silly. Now, I am just laughing at myself!!! I am halfway through one now – after just a few minutes (it took me over an hour to make the loose one). I had tied heavy beads to the ends of the threads to keep them kind of tight, and I tied a pair of scissors to the loop in the bottom to keep the end product pulling tight. I would have lost interest in this quickly the silly way I was doing it…. but NOW it is soooooo much fun… and looks BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dingh

    1. Allison

      December 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      You’re so welcome! I learned off of the directions that came with my kit, too, and it was a pain in the rear! Very glad that this was helpful for you and I just know you’ll be addicted to kumihimo like so many of us are :)

  • Sophie

    January 14, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I saw a Kumihimo disk on tv and though, “hmm, that looks fun”
    So, naturally, when I came across one in Walmart for 3 dollars I had to get it. I made my first bracelet yesterday and it looks amazing!!! I want to make a dog collar now :)

  • Charlotte from AZ

    March 16, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Thanks so very much Allison for the great directions! Definitely going to give this a try. I’ve seen these bracelets but never heard the word ‘Kumihimo’ before. I am going to be hooked I’m sure of that. :) Love doing little stuff like this. Your bracelet looks wonderful! Thanks again!!!

  • Delores

    March 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    this is lovely – I thought this was Macrame I have made flower pot holders and haging tables, ets. using this stitch – or what looks like this stitch to me. You do not need a disk. Is this soemthing different thanks

    1. Allison

      March 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      Yes, Kumihimo uses a disc to create lovely and really simple strands. I’ve never tried my hand at macrame but I hope to, soon!

  • Jeepy

    March 16, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    Love this……..great job explaining it !!! Can you tell me where to get the round and square plastic disks. I can only find the foam ones. Thanks.

    1. Allison

      March 16, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      Hey there! Unfortunately I don’t know of any that are plastic, just the foam. You could also make one out of a stiff paper but the foam ones are pretty awesome!

  • Adrienne

    April 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Hi Allison
    Your enthusiasm has inspired me to try Kumihimo once more after giving up last year. I have the foam wheel, I have the cords, but the first couple of times I tried I couldn’t get the tension right and the resulting braid looking like a snake in its death throws. What advise can you give about achieving the right tension?
    Thank you for inspiring me again :)

    1. Allison

      April 24, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Woo! That’s pretty darn awesome, Adrienne. It’s so much fun once you get the hang of it! The best thing I can tell you about keeping the correct tension is 1 – don’t use the same foam disc for materials of different thicknesses – a heavy rattail is going to stretch out the foam and a thin beading string isn’t going to stay in those slots well enough for good tension. 2 – a weight can make all of the difference in the world. Google the ones to buy and then figure something up for yourself. My first homemade weight was a battery with Duck tape, string and a safety pin. My second was some pennies wrapped in Duck Tape with string and a safety pin. Jankety? Yes but still very effective (and not $15) for keeping my tension in check! Good luck!

  • Tash

    June 22, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    So glad I read this, I was about to order a ton of 2mm rattail as well. Still waiting for my disk to arrive. Can’t wait to get started! Love your tutorials btw. Bookmarked this site for future reference :)

  • Ruth

    February 4, 2015 at 1:31 PM

    Hi, I have been doing kumihimo for about 6 months and love it. I started by buying a book, with a free disc, while in Belgium on holiday and although it is in French it has great illustrations. I bought 1.5mm rat tail cord through eBay but have used varying thicknesses of crochet thread and knitting cotton as well. I just use 1. 2 , 3 or 4 threads together to get the desired thickness, which is a great way to use up my cotton threads. I have also mixed these threads on say 6 out of 8 sections and rat tail cord on the other 2 sections with the result that the shiny rat tail cord stands out with a beaded effect. I am on holiday in Spain at the moment and have been thrilled to find rat tail cord at the Furengirola market for 3 metres for €1, where I spent €17 and today bought a box of 24 rolls of 1.5mm x 10metres for €16. Wow was I pleased. I have bought some of the little weights with a small clip intended to hold individual photos, to weight my kumihimo work. I also use small bag clips to hold my threads together when I have finished a piece of work until I can finish the jewellry – I usually use magnetic necklace or bracelet fastenings. The bag clips are also useful instead of bobbins if you are making long cords to help stop tangling. Happy braiding.

  • It’s All in the Details: Braids | Blog | Oliver + S

    October 20, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    […] kumihemo braid […]

  • Lillian

    April 9, 2016 at 12:35 AM

    Do you recall how thick this braid is when finished? I want to make something similar with a finished thickness of about (or just under) 1/2 inch. It would be a purse handle and the ends would be housed in a round handle end.

    1. Allison Murray

      April 9, 2016 at 10:42 AM

      I’m pretty sure with 3mm cord you’d get about 1/2 an inch. If I can find some around here I’ll give it a go and let you know but I think everything I have is way small. I haven’t busted out my kumihimo wheel in a while but I think it’s time to dust that baby off :)

      Let me know if you get to it before me. I haven’t looked in some time but you could get 3mm cord at Hobby Lobby in the ribbon department if you need help locating it.

  • Katey Val

    April 26, 2016 at 10:58 PM

    Thank you so much for posting instructions! I bought a starter kit today at JoAnn and the instructions included were confusing and referred to make the pattern by moving which thread to each printed number on the disk, so after the first step it got hard because they didn’t yeah the pattern. Here you broke it down very simply, so thanks!

    I’ve seen these bracelets before but always assumed they were really hard to make so I never looked them up, but I’m glad I did :)

    1. Allison Murray

      April 27, 2016 at 12:17 PM

      I’m sure you’ll take to it so well, Katey! It’s such fun and not hard at all. Before long you’ll be half paying attention to your wheel and watching TV or reading a book at the same time! :)

  • Laura

    May 29, 2016 at 12:00 AM

    I have 6 cats! Hahaha! Actually they’re being really good. I trained them not to play with my wire (I’m usually a wireworker, weaving, coiling, etc). So they are leaving my cord alone for now. Thank you for the directions. I recently met a friend that I’ve been talking to online for over 2 years in person. She brought me a kumihimo kit knowing I was interested in it. I found the directions to be confusing, so I searched Google and found this page. I only have about an inch done, but it looks good so far. :-) the Bead and Button show is only 2 weeks away and I’ll be looking for more stuff!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post Next Post