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Reading kumihimo patterns

A kumihimo pattern is usually illustrated as a large circle representing the marudai or disk, surrounded by small colored circles, representing the cords. The colors indicate what color (or size or type) beads to string on each cord. 
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Depending upon the complexity of the stringing pattern, there may be a bead stringing chart and/or a bead key to indicate what beads go on each cord. If there is just a single color indicated for any individual cord, it means the entire cord is strung with just that bead. The presence of more than one color or circle means there is a pattern that needs to be followed.

The movements required to make the braid are shown in subsequent drawings, usually with lines or arrows showing where the next cord or cords are supposed to go. Varying bead order and colors can offer a multitude of design possibilities. The photos and figures here show six basic patterns you can make in 2-drop kongoh and the corresponding cord setups you would follow to achieve the patterns.

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