Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Did She Make It In Time?

Yes, I finished the bookmark braid on time but it was a near squeak! I only had 2 days and it took 3 tries to get it right. First was a practise braid in some random weaving yarn of unknown fibre content (probably rayon). The colour was good but the results looked like cat yak and I kept breaking the east-west threads. Next I tried a new warp in shiny rayon machine embroidery thread in two shades of red (a brighter warm red and a duller purplish red): 10 doubled ends (one strand of each thread) 1 yd long per each north-south tama and 4 doubled ends 2 yds long for the east-west tama. That looked great, until I cut off the braid and found a big boo-boo on the back side. Bleh. Then I had an agonising few minutes while I tried to decide if there was enough left on the tama (weighted bobbins) to do a second braid. I didn’t want to start winding more thread and re-attaching them all to 24 tama. This was late Sunday afternoon and I was running out of time and energy. So I went with the thread I had left and there was just enough with maybe a bare few inches left over. Whew!

The braid was a new one for me from the “pink book” (aka Kumihimo: the Essence of Japanese Braiding by Aiko Sakai and Makiko Tada).


Kyoraku Gumi is a 24 tama flat braid where the 20 north/south ends work in five 4-strand yotsu-gumi braids and then are crossed by 2 of the finer 4 east/west ends. Each group of 4 works only with itself so any colour possibilities would be limited to vertical stripes. I went with one blended colour over all. Yeah, I know this makes no sense if you aren’t a kumist! Sorry, it clarifies things for me to write them down.

Here’s the marudai (braiding stool) set up for braiding:

You can see how crowded the mirror is with so many tama on there! The braid itself wasn’t difficult. Really. Here’s the crappy practise piece and the first proper braid with glitch front and centre, though you might not be able to see it:


The pieces are lying on the first page of the braiding diagrams that I scanned so I could mark it up with pencil lines. That made it easier to see what I was doing for the first few moves. After that I didn’t need to look at all!

And here’s both sides of the final braid. To give you scale, it’s about 1/2” wide and 8” long between the tassels:


I secured the ends with silver thread and trimmed the tassels with a really great technique I remembered. You wrap the tassel tightly with stiff paper and then trim with the ends sharp scissors right at the edge of the paper. The paper holds the slippery threads from moving and gives a straight line to cut against. Worked a treat.

I’m sorry that I didn’t get a photo of the braid with the guest book but here’s the pic that was sent to me so I could see what I was actually making the braid for. The book was made with a Coptic binding by another Guild member. You can just see the stitches at the edge of the cover. I think my red kumihimo bookmark looked very nice with the muted cover paper.


It was such a sad but very loving day yesterday at my dear friend’s Celebration of Life. Over 200 family and friends (including a former city mayor) turned up proving that such an unassuming sweet person touched so many lives in a very positive way. We filled the main floor of Aberthau, the lovely old manse that is now part of a community centre and the place where my weavers’ and spinners’ guild hold our meetings. There were little arrangements of photos, flowers and memorabilia and a number of heartfelt speeches. Her poor husband looked lost and bereft. All the hugs in the world won’t help to fill the gap in all of our lives.

Since our Spectrum Study Group served as organisers of the CoL, I took the position of door greeter and hander-out of the program. T-Man schlepped a few chairs and we both spent time chatting with old friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for years. After the speeches there were refreshments and an ongoing tea ceremony. I got to sit and have some matcha in a lovely tea bowl with the image of the rabbit and the moon which was one of my friend’s favourites. I guess Spectrum is going to have to decide whether or not to invite a new member. A replacement is not possible! However I think I’m going to have to assume her position of Official Lunchtime Reminder at our monthly get-togethers or we’ll all starve before we remember to eat.


onesmallstitch said...

--the bookmark looks lovely and I'm sure your friend was guiding your hands. the book looks very tempting ..but the last thing I need is another book. will soon have to move into the garage. hope you are sniffle free soon.

Heather said...

Both the book and the braid are just beautiful. I wonder if the process of weaving (kumihimoing?) helped somewhat in the process of grieving.

Dixie said...

Thanks for this peek into an unusual art. The braid looks perfect, and you finished it on time. Good karma!

pao said...

I have no idea what you were talking about, but the concept was fascinating. And the memorial sounded beautiful.

Louisa said...

You are all so sweet and I so appreciate your kind thoughts!

I don't know, Heather. I think I felt more stressed than anything. Which is probably why I made the mistake! The braid had to be GOOD. All I usually make is samples, samples, samples.

Trapunto said...

Wish my cat yakked kumihimo braids...

(Sorry, couldn't resist.) Somehow I missed that you did kumihimo. Your braid is subtle and beautiful; another of Damselfly's hidden talents!