bookmark_borderTakadai Braid #2

A second braid made on the takadai. This one is a 33-tama 2/2 twill braid made with four plies of reeled silk yarn per strand. 16 strands are rose pink, and 17 strands are scarlet. I started with twice the length of material as last time, and wound up with about 6 feet of braid.

Silk 2/2 Twill Takadai Braid, ~2 yards

Because I used reeled silk instead of plied silk yarn, the braid came out much smoother, flatter, and even than the first braid. The takdai does a lot of the work, of course, keeping the tension even and such, but I am really happy with this braid.

bookmark_borderHael Braids

The Barony of the Rhydderich Hael in our sylvan Kingdom of Aethelmearc invested a new Baronage yesterday! The call went out from the Baronage of the Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands for largess to add to our gift basket to the new Baron and Baroness. I decided to make some braids!

7 8-strand braids in Black and Green

All seven of these braids were made on the marudai using cotton crochet thread. I used four plies of thread per strand, four strands of green and four strands of black. The braids are a variety pack of 7 different braid shapes. All have ring and toggle closures and come with an extra jump ring so that they can be used as medallion cords. They are all approximately 30 inches long.

bookmark_borderMore 16-Tama Braided Cords

I recently finished up the sixth in a series of braids that will be used as cords for award medallions. Basically, they are necklaces from which you can hang a pendant. They all have ring-and-toggle closures made from aluminum jump rings.

6 Black-and-Gold Baronial Medallion Cords

Most notably, the leftmost braid in the image is of a pattern that I have never braided before. One of the 8-tama braids in Jacqui Carey’s book Creative Kumihimo that is not expanded into a 16-tama braid later is 8J, the Yatsu Sen pattern that is also used for the Yatsu Rai braid.

This made me wonder what the double-8J braid would be like. So, borrowing the mechanic used to expand 8F (Edo Yatsu) into 16T (Keiruko no Himo) to wit –

This creates a lovely braid with smooth 4-ridge rounded faces, and flat edges. I still have to sit down and work out the colorway grid for this braid, but I think my first try is quite attractive.

There’s a few different ways I think I can work a double-8J braid, so I will have to keep working on these double-8J patterns until I feel like I have them all figured out.

bookmark_borderSpeaking of Braids

In yesterday’s post, I was mentioning 16-strand medallion-cord braids, and that reminded me to post about something nice that happened to me recently. The American Kumihimo Society (of which I am a member) is trying to get their new web site rolling, and introduced a new feature where they post pictures of members’ braids that were inspired by classes they took through the AKS. One of the reasons I started doing more 16-strand braids instead of so many 8-stradnd braids was because when Sharon and I went to the AKS Gathering in 2017, we took a class in 16-strand braids from Rosalie Neilson. So, I submitted a picture of my most recent set of Aethelmearc braids and the picture was accepted for publication!

bookmark_borderNew “Double Rai” Braiding Pattern

I’ve been doing a bunch of 16-strand braiding these days. All of my donated medallion cords for a few years have been 16-strand braids because I started getting a little bored of 8-strand all the time. It always bothered me that while most of the 16-strand braids in Jacqui Carey‘s Creative Kumihimo are expansions of some of the 8-strand braids in the same book, there was no doubling of the “8J” Yatsu Sen / Yatsu Rai pattern. “No problem,” thought I, “we can figure this out.” Hence:

I haven’t seen this in any books or anything, so as far as I know I made it up. It wasn’t that hard to figure out, though, so I would not be surprised if somebody else provides this pattern somewhere.

I started making these printable “index card patterns” more than ten years ago. They are a pretty good reference, but only if you already know how to braid on the marudai. This is the first new one I’ve made in a while. I think the last one I made was this “Double Maru Yotsu” card in 2012. Feel free to copy these or print them out for your personal use, just don’t use them for any commercial purpose without asking my permission.

Have fun! I’m working my first try at this braid right now, and it’s pretty challenging.

bookmark_borderBut what do you use it for?

Most of the braiding I do is either for practice or for making medallion cords. People are always asking me at SCA events what historical Japanese used kumihimo for. Here is a list of things I know about, but I am sure there are more:

  • Armor construction and attachments
  • Sageo and suspension cords for swords
  • Suspension and fastening cords for banners and scrolls
  • Garment embellishments such as:
    • kotsuyu (little knots) on hitatare
    • sodetsyu (sleeve cords) on hitatare, suikan, or kariginu
    • tasuke cords for tying sleeves back
    • munahimo (chest ties) on hitatare
    • hirao sash on sokutai sugata [early hirao were wide karakumi]
  • Fastening cords for hats such as kanmuri and tate eboshi
  • Cords for manmaku (indoor curtains)
  • Cords for boxes small {bako} and large {karabitsu}
  • Cords for marking pottery before firing [the grandparent]

I should probably write up that outline as a research paper with pictures. Let’s see how long that takes me. Probably at least ten years.

bookmark_borderBraids for Spring Coronation

I did these braids back in the fall, but I held onto them for a while and then put them into the Baronial gift basket to the crown for Kingdom coronation. I’m posting today because Coronation was yesterday.

Coronation Braids, Spring 2022

From left to right there are two 9-strands flat braids, three 16-strand round braids, and one 8-strand flat braid. They are all silk, and all intended as medallion cords.

I don’t know if all that is exciting enough to withhold “the surprise” for six months, but there it is. Now it can be told.

bookmark_borderWarping Pegs

More than a decade ago, when I first started braiding, I made a couple of warping pegs so that I could measure out material for setting up a braid on my marudai without having to pay for pre-measured silk. Not too much later, I made a nicer set of pegs for Sharon, so that she wouldn’t have to borrow mine. Over the next ten years, I kept telling myself that I should make myself a nicer set of warping pegs because my first set was kind of “quick and dirty” in their construction. Finally, I was in the mood to actually do that.

The pegs, clamped to my coffee table

Same as Sharon’s pegs, I did a pair of pegs on one board, and a since peg on the other. This is really common, and you will see it a lot if you do a web search for “warpings pegs”. It enables you to do a few different things like keeping two parts of a warp separated, effectively doubling the length of your table by using the single peg in the center of a long warp, and making part of a warp slightly longer than the other.

That last one is handy for some of the braids where the uptake on some strands is higher than the other. If you make all the strands the same length, you wind up running out of material on some tama faster than on others, and you usually throw away a bunch of material. Anyway, I’m glad to have them now.

The boards are both cross-drilled, so I can clamp them to a table edge using these ginchy clamps from Rockler. These clamps are a really good buy since they accommodate a large number of table thicknesses in a compact, sturdy clamp.

The wooden pegs have metal hooks extending from the top, same as all the other ones I have made. These are imitative of Japanese bodai warping stands. While they are not necessary, and most warping pegs made for weaving do not have the hooks, I like them.

I also put some sticky felt on the bottoms of the boards, so maybe they won’t scratch up the dresser in my crafting room like the cheap ones did.

bookmark_borderBeaded Fancy Braid

The braid I used for Fancy Square Braid and Another Fancy Braid has these nice compressed inner threads, and it struck me that you could make those inner threads beaded, and the beads would be nicely couched in the braid. I had some “magatama” beads in my stash from the swag bag of the AKS conference in 2017, so I decided to try it.

Fancy Braid with Beads completed 2021.11.08

I really like how it came out. There are a couple of “errors” in it, but I mostly recovered from them quickly so the overall braid was not disrupted. The magenta inner core on each bead makes a nice counterpoint to the different colors of blue thread I used for the other strands. The beads are strung on “S-Lon” beading cord, were kind of a challenge to get them well seated in their stitches, but I was able to work out a method eventually. The “magatama” beads have a teardrop shape, and are only on every other side stitch, which made it somewhat easier.

bookmark_borderAnother Fancy Braid

I was going to participate in a zoom conference with a bunch of braiders, but I realized that I did not have a braid set up to work on during the call. so, I measured out the silk, wound the tama, and worked on the braid. Then, I had another Zoom, and that gave me enough time to finish the braid.

It’s basically the same braid as the previous one, but the core and outer colors are reversed.