Birthday Present

Sharon bought me a birthday present back when it was my birthday, but I only received it this past weekend. The reason was that the gift was a kumihimo workshop with Rodrick Owen, one of the world's foremost authorities on braiding. Sharon attended, too, so we shared a room with nine other braiders for two days, doing nothing but kumihimo for eight hours a day. It was terrific. He's a great teacher and personable conversationalist. He gave us all instruction, tips, and pointers to improve our skills. Some of us were working on marudai, some on takadai, and some on kakudai.

Probably five of us were braiding on marudai, and I was probably the most experienced with my 1.5 years. Consequently, he started me out on a 16-strand braid on Saturday, and moved me on to a 24-strand braid on Sunday. The others did 8-strand braids for much of Saturday, and moved on to 16-strand on Sunday. He really pushed everybody to work a little harder and aim a little higher than we maybe thought we were ready for. It was a gentle push, but firm.

I learned a lot, even thought I only made two braids in 16 hours. The braids he had me doing introduced me to some new moves, and had me doing some pattern reversals. Most of my braids follow a single pattern over and over, which can yield things like chevrons. If you alternate chevrons and reversals, you start to get diamonds and other complex arrangements. Definitely a step forward, and the patterns were complex enough that they were not something I would have tried on my own.

The workshop was held at a shop in Cortland, Ohio called The Lacemaker that specializes in lacemaking, weaving, needlework, and braiding. We met the proprietor at Pennsic last year, and she told us then about the workshop. Rodrick travels internationally, and it's great of her to bring him so close to home for us.

We decided that commuting out to the class was going to be too hard on us, so we spent Friday and Saturday nights at a bed and breakfast up the road from the shop called Dream Horse Guesthouse. It was a great place to stay and the hosts were awesome. We recommend it if you want to stay in that area.

2010.04.26 at 12:30pm EDT