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_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_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_borderIndigo Shibori Silk Kosode

A few weeks ago, Sharon hosted an indigo dyeing activity at our home. Some people came over and we spent all day dunking fabric in dye pots. I did some small test pieces for various techniques, but I also twisted up some big pieces of silk broadcloth, and then I made this kosode from that fabric.

It looks kind of like an accident in a bleach factory, but closer up the indigo patterns are very organic and Rorshach-inkblot fascinating.

bookmark_borderIndian Silk Kosode

Basically as soon as Sweetie and I had reached full immunity following our second COVID-19 inoculations (it’s not really a vaccine, you know), we went and visited my parents in NJ. They still live where I grew up in NJ, and although we did not want to go into NYC to visit fabric stores, I decided to search around the area to see what might have become available in the 30+ years since I left. Sure enough, the large presence of immigrants from Southeast Asia in my home town had resulted in some great fabric stores catering to their tastes, including one just 15 minutes from my parents’ house, called “Fabric Guy“. I was looking for some figured white silk for another project, but also wound up buying some of this lovely medium-weight silk brocade.

Close-up on the fabric

I suddenly decided that I needed a fancy kosode, because who doesn’t need a new fancy kosode every once in a while? One difficulty with the project is that the gold metallic threads for the flower buds (or whatever they are) are pretty much just behind those graphics. Cutting the fabric released hundreds of little whiskers, and I realized that wearing the kosode would break off more of those and they would get into everything else. The solution was to add a lining to the plan.

Open kosode, showing lining

I had some light-weight habotai silk in my stash, so I used that. I’ve made lined garments before, so this was not alien territory for me, but it has been a while. The trick, for those who don’t know it, is to leave closing the neckband for the very last step. That enables you to attach the sleeve linings to the body lining easily by pulling those seams to the outside of the garment. This silk was so light that keeping it still enough to sew was something of a challenge, but it came out OK, I think.

Indian Silk Kosode

bookmark_borderHashi-maki from Surplus Fabric

In Japanese, what Americans call “chopsticks” are called “hashi“. “Maki” is the word for “roll”. Many years ago, I bought a pair of hashi that came rolled in a piece of fabric, secured with a cord and a bead, and this was such a handy thing to have that I realized these would make great gifts, and would be a good way to use up small squares of surplus fabric. I bought a couple packages of bamboo chopsticks at the Asian grocery, and away I went.

8 Hashi-maki, 2021 edition

Here are the products of that idea. The fabric came from my stash of surplus fabric. You may recognize some fabric from previous sewing projects. The beads came out of my stash of beads and baubles that have been given to me as tokens of appreciation over the years. The basic process is to sew two squares of fabric right-sides together, leaving one corner un-sewn, Turn the squares right-side out, and insert the ends of the cords in the unfinished corner. Top stitch all the way around, sealing the corner and securing the cord.

To use, place flat on a surface with the corded corner pointing to the right. Place a pair of hashi just to the left of the center line, oriented vertically. Fold the top and bottom corners over the ends of the hashi, so they can’t slide out of the roll. Fold the left corner over the hashi to the right. Roll the hashi up in the fabric, wrap the roll with the cord, and tuck the bead under the wrapped cords to secure the roll.

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_borderTabi 2019

I didn’t manage to get my tabi for last year finished until February of this year, but i’m now way ahead of last year when I didn’t finish my 2018 tabi until more than half way through the year.

Tabi 2019 in brown raw silk

The uppers and soles of these tabi are made from the same raw silk I used for this suoh. The ties are made from some green linen I had left over from this hapi that I made so long ago. I did save some time making this pair by just overcasting all four layers (two layers of upper, two layers of sole) together at once instead of sewing the inner and outer layers together separately and then joining them with the himo ties. This leaves a raw edge rubbing against the feet, but hiding this edge between layers is bulkier and actually less traditional. Anyway, as you can see in the photo, I usually wear socks inside my tabi.

Just in case you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about here, tabi aretraditional Japanese footwear. Common tabi are made of two layers of fabric. Modern tabi have closures at the back, but historical tabi close in front and either tie at the top or are tall enough to be held shut by the kyahan. Since they are fabric and you walk on them, they tend to wear out pretty quickly. I try to make a new pair every year so that as old ones fall apart or get too dirty I have new clean ones to take their place. Since they don’t need very much fabric, I usually piece them together from bits of surplus fabric left over from other projects.