Kumihimo Seminar

One of the two seminars I took at the ANWG Conference was on the topic of kumihimo. The seminar was originally to be taught by Makiko Tada, but unfortunately she had an emergency come up and was not able to teach at the conference. The capable Shirley Berlin stepped in and took over our seminar.

kumihimo class samples
Shirley Berlin samples

This seminar topic was originally intended to be flat kumihimo braids but with Shirley Berlin stepping in, she adjusted the topics a bit and covered a little bit of everything. I think she may have been expecting more of us to have experience — only a handful of us had done any kumihimo style braiding before.

kumihimo class samples
Shirley Berlin samples

We started out with the most basic flat braid, the first flat braid I learned a few months ago. I picked some colors and textures outside of my usual comfort zone – a pink yarn wrapped with lurex, a purple ribbon, and a plain ol’ white cotton. I quickly got bored with it and slightly frustrated that the different yarn textures didn’t show up differently in the braid. I set it aside and flipped through the (lovely!) pattern books with which Shirley Berlin supplied us (a blue booklet and a green booklet, I think they can be ordered here).

I started a zig-zag flat braid (Freda’s Fishbone Braid) in two shades of green, pink, and white while the class started a round braid over a core (Laramie braid).

my samples, and allergic reaction during class

After I had made enough progress with my fishbone braid to conclude that it is awesome, I noticed the class was now working the Laramie braid in wire, using a pen as the core (just to create the space in between). Now that: up my alley. I picked out some dark purple 26ga wire and started that, but quickly became frustrated with the wire tangling. At this point Shirley popped by to see how I was doing and really liked my zig-zag/fishbone braid. She suggested I try another zig zag braid, Mountain Road Lace.

I picked out more yarn — maroon, white, and teal ribbon yarn — and started this pattern. I ended up ripping it out and starting it anew later with more success.

Shirley covered a topic I ran up against when I made a kumihimo keychain — how to finish off the ends. I generally start with a tidy loop of the yarn used, which works fine (given an even number of ends per color anyway). I wanted a tidy way to finish off that was not fringe. One option she explained was to gorilla glue the end of the braid into a finding (this makes me cringe, I do not like glue, but apparently it is a perfectly valid option, so maybe I need to get over it). Another option for something like a necklace is to take both ends of the item and wrap it with thread, then sew it together. On top of the stitching, add one bead, make a stitch. Add another bead, stitch. Continue this method until the entire piece is very secure and has a fashionable connector. That doesn’t help much with keychains, but it really looked nice on longer necklaces.

Overall, this was a good hands-on class and I had a lot of fun. Shirley Berlin is a good instructor and seems to really love teaching these methods.

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