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The current traditional Japanese kumihimo is made using 150/3
silk yarns. A rayon substitute called biron is also
often used. That said, however, just about any yarn or thread
(or fibre or even wire) can be braided. What you want to use is
up to you.
Silk versus ...
Silk has been called the queen of fibres. It is beautiful,
wonderful to touch, dyes well, is washable, shiny, etc. It is
also relatively expensive. That's why there's rayon, a
cellulose based silk substitute. Silk, like spidersilk, is
famous for it's strength. Rayon is not, although it is very
shiny, slippery, and also dyes well.
Even all silk is not the same. There is reeled silk, a composed
of long continuous filaments which can be spun or just loosely
twisted, versus spun silk, which uses shorter filaments spun
into a thread like most other yarns. Anecdotal evidence
suggests that "official" kumihimo thread is more durable and
suited to the task (tassel ends don't fray and fuzz out like
other silks might do).
Stands, looms and whatnot
This sentiment applies to your kumihimo "loom" as well. A
wooden Maru Dai with lead weighted Tama (wood spools to hold the
silk) can be purchased from many sources. Or you could get a
cheap stool and drill a hole in it. Or construct a Maru Dai out
of cardboard or wood. Or just use a single piece of cardboard
with slots in it. Or...
Many braiding techniques can be accomplished in the hand, or
with a handy fixed point (like a doorknob or bedpost) to tie one
end of your work to, but Japanese and Korean braids are best
worked on stands (or looms, tables, stools). Experimentation
and sampling of these braids can be done on cards, but for that
wonderfully even effect, a loom with weighted bobbins will be
what you want eventually.
Pre-cut/pre-packaged "official" kumihimo silk &
- Lacis, Berkeley, CA,
I seem to recall that Lacis has a small selection of kumihimo
silk packets, but I can't find it in their online catalog.
However, they do have what they call thread identical to
silk on spools in a small number of colours including
white suitable for dyeing, as well as various
- Things Japanese,
Kirkland, WA, USA
Selling Tire brand silk
thread from Japan, the machine
twist (3 ply high twist) thread looks an awful lot like
kumihimo thread to me. in 171 colours in small spools and
black and white in large spools.
- Web of Thread,
Western WA, USA
A mostly (?) online thread shop with a wide variety of threads
including the above mentioned Tire
silk, as well as other silks and rayon.
Other silk and ...
- Silk Tree, Maple
Ridge, BC, Canada
While they do have a high twist 3 ply cord, it is thicker than
"official" kumihimo thread. In any case, they have lots of
- Treenway Silks,
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Various spun and reeled silk
- Habu Textiles,
NY, NY, USA
The ultimate funky yarn place with many different kinds of
silk; silk and stainless steel, paper, bamboo, ramie, etc.
- Textura Trading
Corp, Easthampton, MA, USA
Similar to rayon: tencel and lyocell, plus a variety of
unusual (rayon + stainless steel, colour changing, etc) yarns.
Thread by companies:
various silks, metallics and novelty threads
Marathon, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
affordable rayon for machine embroidery
rayon sewing thread
rayon sewing thread
loosely twisted rayon "filament" thread
designer 6 rayon (loosely twisted rayon "filament" thread)
selection of silks
beading silk and various other fibre offerings
Fiberarts are makers of Maru Dai in Port Ludlow,
is a supplier of Maru Dai, an economical polystyrene braiding
board, kumihimo silk and books in Berkeley, California, USA
- Leanda are suppliers
of Marudai, Kakudai, and Ayatakedai in Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
- Mountain Loom
Company is a mail order supplier of Maru Dai, kumihimo
silk, and books in Vader, Washington, USA.
- Treenway Crafts
is a mail order supplier of silk thread/cord/yarns and silk
tops in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
- The Silk Tree is at
a storefront in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and a mail
order supplier of silk thread/cord/yarns and silk tops.
Creation Date: Tue Sep 16 11:40:56 PDT 2003
Last Modified: Monday, 18-Apr-2016 04:22:54 UTC
Page accessed at local time: Wednesday, 20-Mar-2019 08:54:48 UTC