Kumihimo: What Thread to Use

on Friday, June 20, 2014

Figure 1

Figure 2

Like most bead weaving, looming, and crochet, Kumihimo can look better, last longer, and add to the design of your piece, depending on which thread, hemp, rattail, or wire you use. In Kumihimo, your thread (a word I will use to describe any medium you use to hold the beads or make the braid) is going to show. This is why it’s so important for you to pick the correct medium.

You can have a piece made mostly from rattail, and add just one bead (Figure 1). This might be a good way for you to start learning Kumihimo, as you don’t need to worry about beads so much while you’re getting used to the way that you will be braiding. For instance, I started with a bracelet, using eight strands of rattail while I was an Ambassador in the Cousin Creative Circle.

I finished the braid with end caps, E6000 glue, and a lobster clasp. But I wanted at least one bead, so I used the piece of chain to make a bail, and hung one gold Trinkette from it. The large bead is removable, making this bracelet something that can be worn in two ways. Notice how the color yellow is the dominant feature in the bracelet, with the black, brown, and white adding interest.

Getting brave, I went on to design a necklace. I wanted it to be a full necklace and full of sparkles. From experience, I know that crystals can cut thread easily, even if they are Swarovski crystals. For that necklace, I used 20# test crystal Fireline. I thought that using crystal Fireline would make the strands that I knew were going to show disappear into the background of the beads. I also hoped that because the Fireline was so strong, that the crystals would not cut it. I’m happy to say that that was the case (Figure 2). This necklace starts with glass pearls that are knotted to come down to the part of the Kumihimo that is the accent of the piece.

Note how difficult it is to see the crystal Fireline, but at the same time know how easy it is to see the silk knots between the glass pearls. Even with knotting, what you use for thread is part of the design. Continuing the pearls on one strand of Fireline makes the pearls look like they continue through the design and that they are captured within the crystals and the pressed glass leaves. I have worn this piece many times, and I haven’t lost one bead yet.

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