8 ‘n’ 8 Kumihimo: Diamonds!

A medley of 8 ‘n’ 8 patterns in cotton yarns.


“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!”
— Jule Styne and Leo Robin, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949)

Were Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe braiders?  While waiting for their turns on stage, did they sit with kumihimo disks in hand braiding silk cords?  If so, the pair would certainly have recognized the value of my Diamond Grid and reached for their crayons, eager to fill in the diamond-shaped spaces on the grid as they created new designs to braid!

You don’t have to be a blonde or know all the words to that classic or even be a singer to sign up for the 8 ‘n’ 8 Kumihimo workshop.  Just come with your coloured pencils and scissors, and I will show you how to set up sixteen threads on a special foam disk for the simple round braid.  We’ll start with the basic spiral and then move on to other patterns, each one a variation of eight light threads and eight dark threads.  Once the threads are in place on the disk, unlike the theatre there are no difficult lines for you to learn.  There are just five words to remember: left up, right down, turn.  Your kumihimo braid will grow longer as those five are repeated, over and over again.

A trio of knotted bracelets.
More 16-strand patterns, many inspired by flowers.

Have I forgotten about those coloured pencils?  Of course not!  We’ll pick them up once you’ve worked a couple of patterns and the left up/right down/turn mantra is now so familiar that your hand does it without any prompts from you.  It is at this stage that I’ll share the secrets of the Diamond Grid, how 16 of the spaces on paper correspond to the sixteen threads on the braiding disk.  The first patterns we’ll draw will be in the same two colours — 8 light and 8 dark — used for the braid on that disk.  Let’s see what happens when we change the layout of the colours within that ‘block’ of 16 diamond-shaped spaces.  Now swap the threads around on the disk to match those spaces and do some braiding: left up/right down/turn.  What new design is emerging in the braid?  Shall we add a third colour?  A fourth?  And what can these braids become?

By the time our three hours together are up, you will know the answers to these questions and more, and understand why, for a braider, “a Diamond Grid is your best friend!”

Alison Irwin

Download your registration form: H2HRegistrationFINAL


These two ‘Round Robin’ necklaces are 24-strand braids.


A braid in variegated yarn becomes a bolo tie.

Why blend colours when I can buy them?

One of a series of posts about workshops available at the Cowichan Hand to Hand Fibre Arts Workshops Weekend in April 2018.

A good question, given there’s so much beautifully-dyed yarn and spinning fibre available from commercial dyehouses and indie dyers.


I want my colours NOW and I want the colours I see in my imagination.
Sometimes I want a specific colour or set of colours RIGHT NOW, and I don’t want to spend hours searching the internet for them (only to find when they arrive that the colours on my screen weren’t the same as on the vendor’s screen, so they’re not the colours I was looking for). I want my colours now and I want the right colours for the project I’m working on.


I want a set of colours that work well together.
If you buy indie-dyed yarns or fibre you may have noticed that all the colours from any one dyer tend to work well together, but might not work well with the colours from a different dyer. Each dyer is working with his or her stock dyes: all the colours come from the same basic dyes. In the same way, if I work from a set of dyed fibres, the colours I make will generally work well together.

I don’t want bland solids. I want living colour!
For many centuries dyers of yarn and fabric worked hard to produce even colours on fibre, yarn and fabric. Blotchy, uneven dyeing was unacceptable. Even today, unless the blotches are deliberate (hand-painted fibre and yarn, tie-dye, shibori, snow dyeing and other techniques), I don’t want unevenly-dyed fabric. But some unevenness in the colours of a yarn makes that yarn come alive in my weaving and knitting. Very few things we see are a single solid colour: if you look closely at a green leaf the colour varies not only because there are different shades in the leaf, but because light reflects differently from different parts of the leaf. By blending my colours myself I have more control over how evenly they are blended. A quick look at the photo below shows a rainbow of colour, but if you look more closely you’ll see that every one of the yarns shows its constituent colours to some degree. As a result they not only work well together, but they bring life to whatever I make from them.

Download your registration form:H2HRegistrationFINAL