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Braided kumihimo necklace

Use an ancient form of braiding to work up a colorful fiber necklace

Braided kumihimo necklace

Kumihimo is an ancient form of braiding. The braiding is usually done on a marudai, or wooden loom, but it can be done on a simple braiding board, as well. Today, fibers come in as many colors and textures as beads, so we can mix them with endless variation. This lariat’s soft braided rope is light and wearable, yet stable enough to support a bounty of beaded dangles. Gather up some of your leftover beads and string them on head pins to turn them into fabulous fringer.


Thinner fibers create narrower and more closely braided ropes. To make a thinner-fiber lariat as long as its thicker-fiber counterpart, you will need to compensate by using longer strands.Gather up your leftover beads and string them on head pins to turn them into dangles for fabulous fringe.


Lariat 1 yd. (.9m)

  • 34-60 3-6mm assorted accent beads
  • 2 4mm beads
  • 2g size 110 metal or glass seed beads
  • 10 assorted silver beads or spacers
  • 2 8mm cones
  • 12 in. (30cm) 22-gauge wire, half-hard
  • 13 in. (33cm) cable chain, 3.6mm links
  • 34 2-in. (5cm) head pins
  • 3 yd. (2.7m) each of 4 fibers
  • 8 bobbins or pieces of cardboard
  • braiding board or marudai
  • glue
  • weight
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters



Braided kumihimo necklace Photo a
Photo A
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo b
Photo B

1. Cut a 12-in. (30cm) piece of wire in half. Use roundnose pliers to grasp one wire at its center, and make the first half of a wrapped loop (Photo A)


2. Center four 3-yd. (2.7m) fiber strands in the wire loop. Make a wrap at the base of the loop (Photo B), and continue wrapping over the loop and the fibers to secure them (Photo C) instead of wrapping over the wire stem.

Braided C
Photo C
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo d
Photo D

3. Position the wrapped loop in the center hole of the marudai or braiding board, and place a pair of fibers at the top, bottom, left, and right. Wrap the ends of the strands around bobbins or cardboard to keep them from tangling as you work (Photo D). Hanging a weight from the wire will keep the braid consistent by controlling the tension as you work.

Braided kumihimo necklace Photo e
Photo E
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo f
Photo F

4. Place the bottom two fibers between the top two fibers (Photo E).


5. Place the original top two fibers at the bottom (Photo F).

Braided kumihimo necklace Photo g
Photo G
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo h
Photo H

6. Place the right two fibers between the left two fibers (Photo G).


7. Place the original left two fibers at the right (Photo H).


8. Repeat steps 4-7 until your lariat is the desired length. Remove the braided rope from the loom or braiding board and tie the loose ends in a square knot. Dot the knot with glue and allow it to dry.


9. Remove the weight, and slide a cone over the wire at the beginning of the lariat. Pick up a 4mm bead and make the first half of a wrapped loop.

Braided I
Photo I
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo j
Photo J

10. Prepare the chain by cutting two 2 1/2-in. (6.4cm) pieces, two 2-in. (5cm) pieces, and two 1 1/2-in. (3.8cm) pieces. Slide one of each length of chain into the wire loop. Finish the wraps (Photo I).


11. String an assortment of accent beads on head pins, starting and ending with an 11/0 seed bead, and then make the first half of a wrapped loop (Photo J).

Braided K
Photo K
Braided kumihimo necklace Photo l
Photo L

12. Attach a dangle to the end of one chain. Finish the wraps. Embellish every few links on each chain (Photo K).


13. On the remaining 6-in. (15cm) wire, make the first half of a wrapped loop. Slide the other end of the lariat, below the knot, into the loop (Photo L). Wrap the loop and remaining fibers. Trim the excess fibers. Attach a cone, a 4mm bead, chains, and dangles as in steps 9-12 to complete the lariat.


To download the full project PDF, which includes all photos referenced in these instructions, click here.

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