Bead crochet vs. kumihimo

on Thursday, June 26, 2014

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

One of the first classes I took was a bead crochet class. I was so fascinated with the bead crochet bracelets that I saw fellow members of the Bead Society of New Hampshire making, that I signed up for their class at their annual Bead Retreat. I was taught by Edie Leone, a woman who taught Judith Bertoglio-Giffin how to bead crochet. This was a three hour class. I fumbled, and I fumbled, trying to hold the crochet hook the right way. I have been taught how to crochet by my mother when I was a pre-teenager, but I like knitting better than crocheting. I was certainly out of practice.

Edie was teaching us using pony beads, yarn and a huge crochet hook. Something was just not right. I could hold the crochet hook into a slipknot, but my work didn’t look like her work. As it turned out, I was wrapping the thread around the crochet hook the wrong way. This led to really tight bead crochet. Once we had that figured out, I spent the last 15 minutes of this class bead crocheting six stitches; however, I left the class knowing how to do bead crochet.

My first bracelet is one that I will always keep. It took me a month to finish it, and I tried to remember the instructions that Edie had given us at a bead society meeting on how to do the invisible join. It was not perfect, but it certainly was a good try (Figure 1).

Can you find where I did the invisible join?

This is three colors, and to my knowledge, an eight strand Kumihimo bracelet can have four colors. Doing this bead crochet pattern may not be possible using Kumihimo, but I am not what I would consider an expert. Do you know any way? If I wanted three colors, I would do bead crochet. If I wanted four colors, I would use Kumihimo.

This is one of the differences between bead crochet and Kumihimo. The patterns can be different. Another difference is that Kumihimo does not stretch; however, bead crochet does stretch because it has slip stitch knotting in the middle (if you doing slip stitch bead crochet, that is. There are several ways to do bead crochet). This is the way that those lucky enough to own a bead crochet bracelet roll it over their hand to have it snap back to exactly their wrist measurement. Kumihimo won’t be so forgiving.

What you can get from Kumihimo is a polka dot pattern (Figure 2). This involves having two strands one color, and the other six strands the background color. You can try out the placement of the two black strands here , but to make it easy, all you need to do is place them opposite each other, one top left, and one bottom right.

I suggest you use two colors that are quite different from each other so that you have a lot of contrast.

Different colors would also be a good way to create a new color...if you used two colors close to each other on the color wheel. Our eyes will not be able to distinguish one from the other and will blend the colors. This necklace looks like it is one color from far away, but close-up, we see that it is two colors blending together (Figure 3).

Notice the two colors, a true purple, and reddish purple (Figure 4).

Experiment with bead crochet and Kumihimo, as well as colors, and see what you can get.

Last question: Is the necklace bead crochet or Kumihimo? Answers next week when I post them to this blog.

Dr. Gail H. Devoid, Ph.D. is president of Need for Beads, Inc. and teaches beading techniques through programs at the Bead Society of New Hampshire. She also co-hosted a live, free, Internet radio show called The Jewelry Connection.

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