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Kumihimo: The Art of Braiding the Basics


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Back in Egyptian times, the ancients discovered that by braiding papyrus and other reeds, the end product was much stronger and more stable than by using the reeds in their natural form. Ancient mariners would make their ropes out of local grasses and other materials, which resulted in sturdy ships that could cross vast distances. In beauty, Women and men were plaiting their hair for beauty and function on all inhabited continents. Equestrians discovered that braiding their horses tails could result in beauty as well as cleaner rear ends. Unfortunately, the art of hand braiding has started to be lost after the industrial revolution. As machines made life easier for the common person, the many braiding techniques were utilized through cranking a wheel. Recently, I stumbled upon a wonderful book from 1867: Self-Instructor in the Art of Hair Work, by Mark Campbell that instructs how to use a braiding wheel to create these lost variations. In this and future tutorials, I am adapting the instructions for use on a Kumihimo wheel for modern use. I am including the original lithograph images and adding full color, step by step photos and end results as well. It today's modern era when it is far easier to buy completed products than to make your own, why should you consider learning Kumihimo? It is a scientific fact. Our brains are changing. Our neurons are firing at incredible speeds as we have adapted to the world of Google. We want everything instantly. Sometimes, our minds seem to get information overload and we need to slow down. Repetitive hand movements creating patterns can quiet the mind and create a meditative state. United States Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg keeps her hands busy by crocheting while she is listening to court cases. This simple technique helps her focus. In my case, I am a mother, wife, and development director at a local Boys & Girls Club. My workdays are filled with board meetings, grant writing, speaking engagements, public relations activities, and networking in the community. Additionally, kids are in my office in the afternoons, telling me about their day and playing games. With all of these diverse activities, I need to quiet my mind in order to switch between these many roles. Practicing Kumihimo helps me regain the necessary focus on the task at hand. Happy braiding! BASIC SKILLS NECESSARY Use scissors and cut a fairly straight line. SIZING / FINISHED MEASUREMENTS 20 inches

Recommended with this pattern

  • 1/4 yard of fabric or 24 feet of twine
  • kumihimo wheel
  • binder clip or kumihimo weight

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Monique Jeweler's Pattern Store
Monique Jeweler's Pattern Store
Whether I'm cutting a gemstone from a rough rock into a work of art or blending beads sourced from all over the world into one-off jewelry designs, I am in the business of creating beauty. I am a philanthropist at heart. I love supporting causes that I believe it. All of my profits are channeled into donating jewelry to local causes. For every piece of jewelry I sell, I donate a different one to charity to be auctioned off.