Kumihimo 101

May 23, 2009

kumihimo 101

I thought I’d kick off this weblog with a scan of various taka-dai braids I’ve made, all of them more than a year ago – flat, square, single- and double-layer – as a general introduction to my kumihimo. These sorts of braids are at the core of my braiding practice and I’m hoping that by ‘going public’ with what I’ve done, I’ll redouble my efforts into the future.  Some of these were done in the leadup to first global braiding conference in Kyoto, November 2007. I didn’t think I could attend the conference in good faith without having attempted, in a small way, icons of the repertoire such as Chuzonji-gumi and Itsukushima.

For the kumihimo-curious (and the flat ones are around one inch wide), from left,

1. blue and white 2/20 tencel, a first attempt at an original pattern for a pickup/double-layer (colours reverse on each side).

2. same yarn and same technique,  syllables from the Japanese language, as set out in the traditional Iroha poem (the Japanese equivalent of The Quick Brown Fox…). Pattern published by Yayoi Miura

3. same yarn and same technique, an original design from a shibori pattern in a Japanese museum textile, hinting at flowers on a background of twigs. Further down, is a geometric design copied from an old Japanese silk obijime (Japanese because it’s hard to come by examples not made in China these days). 

4. 2/20 tencel again, a simple single-layer plain weave pattern from Rodrick Owen’s book on taka-dai braiding.

5.  sewing cotton (for the pure bright colours), Chuzon-ji-gumi. Historic temple braid from North Honshu, 72 bobbins. Square. A few inches took me many weeks. I’ll discuss this braid later on, since no pattern has been published in English – though it’s a more complex version of the Saidaiji-gumi mentioned below.

6. sewing cotton again, Itsukushima historic temple braid. Instructions published by Owen, for the first time in English.

7. 2/20 weaving yarn. Saidaiji-gumi, historic temple braid. Instructions as published by Makiko Tada. Again, very slow – 1″ taking around 10 hours or so. Mine is around 10mm wide, while the original used to wrap sutras was 3mm in diameter.

8. same 2/20 weaving yarn. Kikko double-layer braid. Traditional pattern used in samurai armour braiding because of its auspicious qualities.


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