Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Book review: Kumihimo Basics and Beyond


Quite a few years ago, I took my first journey into kumihimo territory, and bought a few books by Jacqui Carey, whom I still consider to be an amazing kumihimo artist and author.  So I was excited to see the newest book on this topic, Kumihimo Basics & Beyond by Rebecca Ann Combs.  For organization and clarity of instructions, I have to recommend this new book, even though it never moves beyond the most basic style of round braid.  There is something to be said for exploring all the possibilities in one form before moving on to others, many of which you will find in Jacqui's books.

Kumihimo is simply the term for traditional Japanese braiding, either the act of braiding or the braid itself.  These braids are great for hanging your special focal beads or pendants, but they can also be beaded in their own right.  Rebecca has arranged her book so that if you work through it in order, you'll pick up all the tips and tricks that you'll need to go off and move beyond what is contained here.  She starts with information on the tools (very few), the fiber types, how to chose an end cap, and includes some handy cheat sheet charts.

The first section of projects teaches the basic round braid in fibers only.  Rebecca covers how to start, the basic pattern, binding, and finishing with end caps.  She shows lots of color patterns that you can try in the future, teaches the no-knot start variation, and explains how to combine fibers in the slots.


The next section covers adding beads to your braids.  You 'll learn the additional tools needed, how to make a basic beaded rope, how to use different sized beads together, how to braid around a core, how to use shaped beads like teardrops and magatamas, and how to add focal beads and pendants.

Throughout, the instructions and photos are crystal clear.  It's been years since I played with kumihimo, but I found myself nodding along as I read through Rebecca's directions.  Even though the book only covers the one style of braid, I think you'll find more than enough variation here to keep you busy for a long long time!

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