There is a certain type of excitement I feel when I can utilized the skills I've learn in the SCA, within everyday life. As you may know, His Lordship Kuji is a professional Magician in the real world. On many occasions I am asked to create clothing and props for his performances. Because of this, I have worked in many mediums to create his designs. But I never thought any projects would require the use of my fiber arts skills, particularly kumihimo.
Kuji was working on a new set of rope routines that require flat, flexible cord. In most cases finding a product like this should be easy, but it specifically needed to be a striped pattern of orange and black. He searched high and low for something that matched the requirements, but the color scheme hindered his success. Searching for a solution, I suggested it may be easier to make what he needed as opposed to finding a supplier. So I set off to find the braid pattern that would create the shape
and color pattern needed. A book I tend to reference, for basic patterns, is “Japanese Braiding: the Art of Kumihimo” by Jacqui Carey. It’s a small beginner book, but it’s a favorite. It provides a quick, comprehensive intro in technique and a good set of braid patterns to refer back to. This book does not cover history of kumihimo, simply procedure. I couldn't find a suitable pattern in the book so I turned to another common source for me; Orion’s Plumage website by Rosalie Neilson. Success! The shige uchi braid seemed to work perfect for my needs. To layout and visualize the color pattern, I used the Braid 3D feature provided by Craft Design Online.
The design is planned, the materials are delivered. Now all I have to do is make it, probably the easiest part of the project. I needed to have a finished length of 12 feet. This is my first attempt at making a shige uchi pattern, so I overcompensate for loss by doubling the length of the fiber used. This is probably considered over-kill, but I like playing it very safe when I have no experience with a certain braid pattern. You will gain a better understanding of your loss percentage, per pattern type, after making a few cords. Half of a day and 24 feet later, we have a shige uchi himo in orange and black. The himo ends were finished by Kuji’s instructions and sent off into the world to be put to the test. I’m proud to announce that the cord is working beautifully for his performance and he is thrilled to have exactly what he needed, instead of what he could “get”.
With the design complete, it was time to find the materials. For ease of cleaning, I chose crocheted cotton thread to make the himo (cord/braid). It was surprising to discover that I could only find one company that sold orange crocheted cotton thread. But I’m glad they did! Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet Cotton (size 10) by Red Heart ultimately was my savor with colors: 12 – Black & 431 – Pumpkin. You can order directly from the company. The price (+ shipping) was very reasonable and delivered promptly. I would spend close to the same amount if purchased at the local craft store.