What is Kumihimo?

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Kumihimo is a form of braiding or plaiting that comes from Japan. Kumihimo traditionally uses silk and is durable, despite the delicate fabric.

Kumihimo was traditionally used as a way to close armour on Samaria warriors and because the pattern was able to be varied, each Kumihimo is different.

Today Kumihimo is used as a decorative art. The braids are usually used to dress up outfits and garments, such as hats, bags and belts.

Many different fibres are now used, varying from the traditional and expensive silk. This means that Kumihimo is much more accessible to many different people.

Traditionally, Kumihimo was created using a wooden stand called Takadai – which enabled

kumihimo Takadai

Traditional Takadai - by Claire Cassan cc

the crafter to create these gorgeous braids and plaits pretty much anywhere. Thanks to modern materials, Takadais are now usually made of super light weight foam making it even easier to create Kumihimo on the move!

The word Kumihimo literally meaning coming together – which is what the strands of material do. The very first Kumihimo designs were simple and were created by finger looping. Although these designs were strong and fit for purpose, as Kumihimo became more popular tools such as the Marudi were made. This along with some other tools allowed the crafters to embellish their designs and make them much more intricate. Along with this the tools also made the process of making the Kumihimo much quicker and easier. This was beneficial as they were being used in all sorts of dress.

If you are interested in taking up this traditional and beautiful art, then getting a Kumihimo disk is vital. Kumihimo disks are common in Japan and relatively cheap and easy to pick up. The reason why these are great for beginners is that it helps to keep the silk (or whatever material) you are using nice and tight. This makes the finished product neater and more durable. It also means that you have more control over the pattern you wish to insert.

The patterns can vary and now that many materials can be used, the only limit to these designs will be your imagination. You can alter the pattern and design by swapping and changing the colour of the material and for the duration in which you use it.

The braids are very versatile, but the Kumihimo disk will make it easier for you to create the various shapes. These are: flat, hollow and flat sided. The cards are especially good for the traditional flat version of the braid.

If you are looking to pick up this type of craft to make jewellery – then using the tradition silk material will best suit your needs. In addition to this you should try to incorporate some beads into the design.

The scariest part of this beautiful Japanese craft is the design, but there are plenty of help books offering different patterns and guiding you through the whole process so that you will feel confident that you Kumihimo looks fabulous!

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