Monday, 9 April 2012

kumihimo 組紐 (or Japanese traditional cord weaving)

phew, it not only seems like a long time since i last posted something, but it actually has been a long time... and meanwhile Easter has come and gone.

if you know me, you ll also know that i haven t been sitting still. well, i have been sitting down a lot, but my hands just can t stop moving, haha...

not too long ago, i discovered a new technique called kumihimo ('kumi' being the Japanese for 'to gather', or 'weave' and 'himo' being the word for 'cord'). i say 'new' technique but it is in fact a very old one... nearly 800 years old and indeed very familiar to me, because i had seen enough cords and braids in Japan, especially when one of my family members wore a 'kimono' (the Japanese traditional clothing) where the 'obijime', the cord that ties the 'obi' (the long silk sash or belt) together is in fact braided silk cord; kumihimo.

it must be that somewhere deep inside me there is this fascination for braiding or weaving. i used to have long hair that i liked to braid. i love knitting as well. and, i now realize, that many of the silver jewellery that i ve been making over the past years, also contains a lot of weaving and interlocking...

what first started as rediscovering macramé, another weaving, or rather, knotting technique using beads and cords to make some simple bracelets, i was looking up some information on the internet and came across kumihimo.


first i saw that there was this strange disc that enables one to make 'simple' weaves similar to ones produced on a 'maru-dai'.

by chance i was in a creative hobby shop looking for some cords and beads to make some more macramé bracelets and i found this:


but not easy to start, so i looked it up some more...

and began practicing:

'yatsu kongoh' weave (eight threads) two colors

'yatsu kongoh' weave (eight threads) four colors

'yatsu kongoh' weave (eight threads)

'yatsu kongoh' weave (eight threads) two colors

'maru yotsu' weave (four threads) single color

'maru yotsu' weave (four threads) three colors

'maru yotsu' weave (four threads) three colors

'kaku yatsu' weave (eight threads) two colors

and then i remembered i still have my mom s sewing box, where i keep all her old embroidery threads as well as mine (did i mention that i used to do quite a lot of embroidery too when my son was little?).

so i bundled some threads and started experimenting with those and trying out other weaves...

'yatsu se' weave (eight bundles of two threads) four colors

set-up for 'maru genji' weave

'maru genji' weave (sixteen bundles of three threads) three colors

and then i discovered these three videos on YouTube:

part one: Edo Kumihimo I

part two: Edo Kumihimo II

part three: Edo Kumihimo III

they are in Japanese, but please don t let that discourage you and do take a look... it s such a beautiful craft and words are almost superfluous.

somehow, i feel like i have come home.

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