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.

https://ee0r.com/proj/images/pegs-warping-warped.jpg

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.

bookmark_borderFancy Square Braid

This braid is braid 16AD, the final braiding pattern, in Jacqui Carey’s book “Creative Kumihimo”. Essentially, it is a 12-strand braid that is overlapped with a 4-strand braid. I used it to create this braid which uses Baronial colors at the corners to protect a tight inner core of Kingdom colors.

The completed braid is about 30 inches long, with a ring-and-toggle closure so that it can be used as a medallion cord. Each strand of the 16 contains 6 ends of lace-weight silk yarn.

bookmark_borderStill Braiding

I am still braiding with kumihimo on a regular basis, though not as much as I used to. Most of my braids become medallion cords that are donated to my local SCA group. Some become garb embellishments. every once in a while I just do a braid to practice a particular braid or color combination. Also, sometimes for fun. This one is basically for fun, to break up the monotony of making black&gold braids for the Barony or red&white braids for the Kingdom.

Completed 2021.10.31

This braid is about 6 feet long. It is a 9-strand flat braid that uses 6 ends of lace-weight silk yarn per strand. This braid is a little short for it, but it is appropriate for use as a sageo or simply securing a box. To achieve this color pattern in the final braid, I started with a RKK WK RW WR set-up.

The Set-Up

bookmark_borderTrio of Triangular Braids

Back in the Spring, I started teaching myself a new kumihimo braiding pattern. It’s called the “Sankaku-kumi 1” braid. It is #116 in Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids: Marudai. It is a triangular braid with fifteen strands.

Most marudai braids have a number of strands that is divisible by four. Eight, sixteen, and 24-strand braids are the most common. Odd-stranded braids are uncommon. I’ve done a 9-strand braid and a 17-strand braid in the past, and I’d love to be able to run a workshop on odd braids. This one seemed like a good candidate.

First, I did the braid in some acrylic yarn I keep around for learning purposes.

First try at the sankaku braid

It’s a pretty thick braid because I used two plies of yarn on each tama. You can see that there are a number of errors in this braid. Most of them seem to be of the “doing the wrong step at the wrong time” kind. There are 9 white strands, and 6 red strands. They are separated into six positions around the marudai: RR WWW RR WWW RR WWW. Each iteration, you move one white strands from each group two positions clockwise, and one red strand from each group one position counter-clockwise.

Second try at the sankaku braid

For the second try, I used cotton crochet thread, and reversed the colors. I don’t think there are any visible errors in this braid. There are some structural twists in it, though, that keep it from being smooth.

Third try at the sankaku braid

For the third try, I went with lace-weight silk yarn. I got started on this, then it sat on the marudai for at least six months. I got side-tracked onto other things and it stared at me accusingly for all that time like a one-eyed daruma doll. For this try, I used back and gold threads for the 6 center strands, plus red and white threads for the 9 outer strands. I did not quite plan out the color pattern well enough, so you can see where two white strands come one after the other. There’s also a big error from when I got started on the braid again and did the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve hidden it in the photo, though.

Anyway, this is a nice, fast braid when you don’t take a six month break in the middle of it. I’ll probably give it a rest for a bit, then do a fourth try to lock the pattern into my memory. Once I do that I can create my own instruction sheet and I’ll be ready to teach a class on it.

bookmark_borderCompleted Daimon Hitatare

I sewed the Daimon Hitatare Sugata some time ago, and added some kotsuyu embellishments and munahimo some weeks ago, but only got around to taking new pictures recently.

Completed Daimon Hitatare
Daimon From the Back

While the scroll I based this outfit on does not show these cords, I feel they are necessary. I am guessing that the scroll does not show them because the warrior in the image was not rich enough to afford them.

bookmark_borderCored Edo Yatsu Braid

It’s been a while since I did a cored braid, and I have my home made core stand, so here we go.

Black and gold cored edo yatsu braid

So there are actually 16-tama in this edo yatsu braid, which is actually an 8-tama braid. The “core stand” holds 8 of the tama over the center while the other 8 braid around them. Now I can work the core strands one by one into the braid, every few inches, until the color of the braid completely changes. Then it changes back.