Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Practice Makes (More) Perfect

Since I set up this blog over a week ago, I guess it's high time I posted something to it.

I haven't started another kumihimo braid yet... I'm back to braiding horse hair, for two bracelets and two necklaces. I finished one braid earlier today, and will make five more (the necklaces require two braids each).

I've been doing traditional kumihomo with machine embroidery 40w rayon thread and 240g tama for the last two months. Now that I'm braiding with horse hair again, I noticed several things right away: 
  • 150g tama seem much lighter than the 240g tama I've been braiding with. I used to think the 150g tama were heavy.
  • The horse hair setup seems to be much easier than it used to be. Either I've got the technique down pat, or I've learned patience after dealing with all those ends of long rayon thread. For sure, counting out the horse hairs goes faster than making a full-rope warp.
  • I'm more accurate in moving the warp than I was before I started braiding with the traditional length warp. Braiding with 2.7m of thread gives one the opportunity for lots of practice.
  • It's REALLY important to document every aspect of your setup. You may think you'll never forget it, but (believe me!) you will. I didn't do my "standard" braid for two months and was fuzzy about how much counterweight to use. DUH! If you find me wandering about the neighborhood, please direct me to my house.
I thought I had finished the braid last night. I got to the end of the hair, took it off the marudai, and noticed the spirals weren't even. I had removed part of the weight from my core strand midway through the braid, which caused the spirals to elongate. Another head-smacking moment. The good thing about horse hair is that it really wants bo be straight. Especially if you wet it. I just undid the fastenings at both ends and put it in the sink. It didn't take long to completely undo it. Now that I'm using twisted pulls (like the ones the horse hair hitchers use), it was really easy. I laid the pulls on the counter and they dried overnight.

I set up the marudai again this afternoon and redid the braid. I was about half-way finished when I noticed a broken hair. Fortunately, the hair had enough length before the break to make the braid long enough for a bracelet. The twist in the pull kept the hair in place, and I just ended the braid early.

Since I need to make two more braids to match this one, I'll have to be careful about the hairs I select.  I'll need longer braids for a neckace, and broken hairs would be a disaster.


  1. This is absolutely beautiful. What is the name of this particular braid?

  2. Thanks! It's a hair work braid called "Four-Ribbed Spiral."

  3. Anita:

    I can not believe how similar our stories are, you're just a bit ahead of me as far as your skill set goes. I am struggling with the instructions in the Campbell book, trying to do the spiral braid you have mastered here...can you tell me which pattern (if it is from the Campbell book) this braid is based on?

    Thanks so much!

  4. If you're looking at the original Campbell book, I don't think it's there. It's in both series of hair work articles in Godey's Lady's Book. If you have the Lacis edition of the Campbell book, it's "No. 7" on p. 200.

  5. Anita:

    Thank you - - that explains my frustration!!

  6. The complete Godey's Lady's Book can be accessed online (by subscription) at Accessible Archives (www.accessible.com). Many libraries and schools already subscribe. Private subscriptions are also available.