Kumihimo (Japanese Yarn Braiding)

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Kumihimo is a form of Japanese Yarn Braiding. Traditionally, Kumihimo was made on a wooden device called a Marudai, (“Round table”), and was used for lacing Samurai Armor and Kimono. The colorful and tightly woven cords are still used as decorative fasteners on robes and Kimono to this day. It is undoubtedly the thing that has saved my sanity as a middle school art teacher over the years. It is an easy activity to learn and the students LOVE it!

In my 7th grade classes, we create simplified weaving looms on 6″ cardboard cake circles, but you can also make you own by tracing a bowl or other circular object on a piece of corrugated cardboard. Kumihimo is a free-time activity, and all students have a disk and weaving in progress at all times. If a student finishes a lesson or a project step early, Kumihimo is a great filler activity, whether there are 5 or 20 minutes left in class.

Kumihimo requires 8 pieces of yarn for each braid. Standard Yarn works wonderfully and creates a round cord with nice thickness. Embroidery floss creates a “silkier” but skinnier cord.

This video will talk you through how to make your own disk and learn to weave.

Click Here: Kumihimo Instruction Video

As explained in the video, the easiest way to learn, (and teach!) this activity is to start with a two color set-up: (four pieces of each color,) as pictured here:

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Once students have mastered the technique, they can re-use their disk to make more braids and can combine colors creatively to create cords of up to 8 different colors. Here is a chart I make to give them some ideas:

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Close-up of one of these sample charts: (The initial set up of the string determines the pattern.)

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Have fun!

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