Handmade by Deb – March 2021
Learn the ancient Japanese art of braiding! In Beautiful Braiding Made Easy textile artist Helen Deighan shows how – using kumihimo disks and plates. Just add thread or yarn to begin. Two cardstock looms are included – a disk for round braids and a plate for flat braids. Both are printed on the inside cover flap. Simply cut out to use and reuse. Alternatively you can easily make or buy. The basic kumihimo technique is as follows. Cut your choice of fiber into equal lengths. Arrange these strands on the handheld loom. Move the strands around the loom forming a braid. Continue in this manner until the desired length of cord is achieved. Remove the braid from the loom and tie the ends. First up is the (kid friendly) 8 thread pattern on a disk. It’s followed by a 16 thread braid and several variations – twist, lattice, heart, diamond and dog tooth patterns. A second chapter on the disk looks at more advanced techniques. Then move on to chapters on how to use the square plate and braiding with beads. Learn how easy it is to get different designs just by changing – looms, threads, starting positions, working moves and/or finishing techniques. The possibilities are endless. Try it – it’s fun! Patterns are an easy-to-read combination of diagram and text instruction. Long ago kumihimo braids were worn by samurai warriors. Today kumihimo is used to make friendship bracelets, in jewellery-making or wherever cord is required – for example in crocheting and knitting.
Braiding is not just for hair anymore. Using a Japanese technique she discovered in Australia, textilist and author (Dyeing in Plastic Bags, for one) Deighan not only demonstrates how to use the Kumihimo disk and plate but she also incorporates two ready-to-cut-out versions on the book’s front flap. (For library consideration, tape over the disk and plate with a note about where to order them online.) In all, about 30 patterns are featured, with the disk producing round braids; the plate, the flat version; and then, using beads in the designs. It’s hard to envision, exactly, the process without selecting appropriate threads (usually thin) and simply beginning. At the end of each chapter, a gallery of finished patterns, with page references, appears for crafters; what would make this unusual method even more appealing is the addition of a fourth chapter—ideas for making braids a part of home decor, of clothing, of accessories. A revised edition of the original, published in 2006. — Barbara Jacobs