The art of braiding has a long history in Japan, where braids have been used to embellish everything from hair to samurai sword handles and tea ceremony tools. The term kumihimo specifically refers to braiding with cords and is an old art form that continues to inspire contemporary artists around the world. Traditionally, artisans use a marudai, or wooden stand with a hole in its center, to braid and organize threads. But more common now—and much more accessible—are foam disks that fit in the palm of your hand. You can get one in kumihimo kits, which come with cords and other accessories; these are a great way to secure all materials at once. Kits are also ideal for anyone curious about kumihimo. With a little practice, you will be on your way to making your own jewelry, key chains, closures, and more.
1. Primitive Originals Kumihimo Kit
Kumihimo disks are typically shaped like circles or squares, allowing you to create both round and flat braids. Enter the KumiLoom, an octagonal disk designed to let you make accessories in either style. This standout kit features one of these clever little tools, enough cord to make a spiral key ring, and eight bobbins to keep your strands weighted and separated as you braid. Beginners can quickly learn how to round braid by following the included instructions, which are clear and even supplemented by a brief history of this art form.
2. Beadsmith Kumihimo Starter Kit
Jump into braiding with this user-friendly kit, which features enough accessories to familiarize you with kumihiro and inspire you to realize your own designs. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions to make a braided necklace out of heavy cord—the weight is particularly ideal for those new to this art form. In addition to a near six-inch diameter disk, you also get four cords in different colors, bobbins to ease the braiding process, clasps, a pendant slide, and an adhesive. The disk is made of good-quality foam that you can use for future projects.
3. Cool Maker 2-in-1 KumiKreator
This is a toy that is designed for young ones, but that shouldn’t limit people of any age from checking it out. Designed to make bracelets and necklaces, the KumiKreator is a hand-operated machine that weaves designs in minutes, making it a useful tool for anyone who needs to churn out dozens of braided pieces but doesn’t have the time to do so by hand. It comes disassembled, but the instructions are relatively easy to follow; once set up, you simply choose a pattern from the included design booklet (or make your own), load the spools, and spin a handle to create an accessory. The results will still be entirely yours, even if you had a slight assist.
4. Darice Kumihimo Braiding Disk Kit
Darice’s kit is similar to The Beadsmith’s, but the materials are slightly nicer. The round disk is made of high-quality foam and features markings that are clearly printed. It feels comfortable to hold for long periods, and the notches are consistent and provide good tension to the cords. You also get seven yards of satin-like rattail cord that is satisfying to touch. Follow the included instructions to braid your own necklaces or bracelets.
5. Cousin DIY Kumihimo Starter Kit
This is a cost-efficient kit to make two basic, braided bracelets. It comes with four cords, end caps, and a thick, sturdy disk with markers to guide your handiwork. The included instructions are well-written and straightforward. We like this option for its simplicity: If you don’t like the embellishments that other kits offer, this is a great way to save a few dollars and instead purchase your own accents and charms for a more personalized touch.