Knit if you want. Crochet if you must. But don’t talk to me about braiding. Because I found out recently that there is actually no such thing as a braider!
The shock came when we were watching Countdown on Friday 10 November. For those who have never seen it (ie, about two hundred thousand Americans for a start 🙂 ) contestants have to get the longest word possible from a selection of nine letters. Winners stand to take home the grand prize of…a teapot.
Anyway, one hapless anagrammer suggested the word ‘braider’ and was promptly informed by the venerable Susie Dent of the Oxford English Dictionary (an excuse for a lexicon if ever there was one 🙂 ) that ‘braider’ was not a valid word.
So if you are (or think you are a) a braider, sorry but your time is up. Prepare to live the rest of your days in an existential quandary.
Or alternatively, take up knitting instead. You know you want to.
Having got a kumihimo disk just over a week ago, I am now amassing a huge arsenal of round plastic bobbins. They are mega-useful for keeping all those miles of warp threads under control. One consequence of all this bobbin usage though, is that, if you lift the disk up to check how your pattern is going, it all looks like some weird foam and plastic jellyfish. And if you get a bit of a rhythm going, the tapping and clicking of the bobbins as they gently collide under the disk, sounds like nothing so much as a mass breakout from the Pelham Puppets factory.
So, in my usual relaxed manner (got all the time in the world, me 🙂 ) I have been nicely absorbed in trying out a few braiding patterns, as well as raiding the Web for new ideas. My favourites so far (and Shana is quite taken with them too) are the raised spiral, which not only looks good but has a great texture too. The hearts pattern also looks excellent and needs only two colours. I made it using some Arran that Shana bought recently. And the kumihimo zig zag, which I tried today, has a very striking appearance, and it will also test your powers of concentration with all its changes of direction. Well worth the attempt though.
Shana thinks I’m a genius. And while I’m not going to argue with that 🙂 credit has to be given to the brainy braiders who first came up with these patterns. I’m sure it would take more than a few hours of experimentation and lucky guesswork to discover some of the ones I’ve been doing. Feel free, however, to admire my sample pieces. One day I might even get round to finishing the ends and putting some fancy closures on them. One day…
‘I’ll never get the hang of this braiding disc!’ I said. ‘Those little plastic bobbins keep flying around all over the place and getting tangled up. Pesky ‘crummy-himo’!’
Later yesterday though, I watched part of a short tutorial on the art of kumihimo braiding, and realised where I’d been going wrong. My warp threads had not been securely fixed in the notches at the edge of the disc. Instead, I had merely rested them there and expected them to behave and defy gravity.
Armed with my new knowledge, I managed a couple of decent lengths of braiding today. We are all proper chuffed here, that’s for sure!
Interestingly, on glancing at the little leaflet that came with my kumihimo disc, I found a few helpful tips. One of them was to make sure the threads are well fixed into the notches.
Typical bloke, aren’t I? Don’t bother to read all the instructions. Just start anyway. My bad 🙂