giving: a kumihimo cord.

November 19, 2021

In today’s handmade gift guide, a few favorite ideas for making Japanese kumihimo cords from a variety of materials and offering them as a handmade gift during the holidays, or anytime…

A little kit for making:

If you’re not up to the task of making the caddies and offering them yourself, or you know someone who would love the chance to try them for themselves, offer the supplies in a cloth bulk bag and give the gift of a neat little kit. All you need is a cardboard loom and some embroidery thread. Add a link or search instructions for our kumihimo friendship bracelet tutorial, and you’ll have given everything your loved one needs to practice a new craft and end up with a cord of their own making.

A lanyard:

We were inspired by the beautiful wearable lanyards made by Big Soeur Supply and wanted to see if kumihimo cording would work in a homemade variation. Rose used 4mm flat leather cording and the same cardboard kumihimo loom (with a slightly enlarged hole in the center) to make this. For notions, we attached a few simple brass key rings. A solid brass swivel clip would be a perfect addition here as well and would make things easier to take on and off quickly. For folks who prefer not to use leather, the nylon hardware store cord we used in last year’s dog leash would be a smart substitution. Also shown here is Roses’s very nearly vintage Baggu pouch, but here’s a similar Leather Wallet from part of their current collection.

A utility cord:

I can’t personally get enough of plain old kitchen twine—easy to find at grocery stores or zero-waste shops like Fill More Waste Less—because it’s thick and cheap and cords up super quickly. Corded together, seven strands of very humble unbleached cotton thread turn into beautiful, thick cord that’s perfect for hanging beautiful wooden brushes like this Horsehair Table Brush Set from Salter House.

A mask cord:

Reality bites, and for most of us, it still includes daily mask wearing. Give the gift of a little something fresh and lovely with a handmade mask cord and one of these seamless Japanese knit face masks from Front Street General Store. They’re some of Roses’s favorites and they look beautiful with a custom cord. Gift your cord like the beautiful piece of jewelry it is, tucked into a mini origami masu box of your own making.

To turn an embroidery thread kumihimo cord into a mask cord, you just need to attach two 15 mm Lobster Claw Clasps to the ends. Use any remaining string at the end of your cord to carefully thread through the tiny circular ring of the lobster clasp. Once threaded, tie off by knotting that thread around the existing knot as neatly as you can. Cut off any remaining threads or leave to hang as a small tassel. If you don’t have enough thread length leftover on your corded necklace, then cut additional string (or sewing thread) and loop through the lobster ring and knot securely to the knotted end. Or you can use a sewing needle and extra string to sew the threaded clasp into the knot or woven part of the cord. Cut off any remaining threads.

A key fob:

Play with texture and size and use a variety of fibers to make a classic corded key fob. I’ve been using a kitchen twine cord on mine for the last few months and I recently refreshed it with fresh twine and two contrasting embroidery threads to create a distinctive pattern and add a tiny glimmer of color.

To attach the notions, simply loop the cord through a brass key ring using a basic ring or cow hitch. For a gift with a touch more heft, consider looping the cord through a Brooklyn-made Craighill Brass Keychain.

A glasses keeper:

Attaching tiny rubber bands (think braces) to the ends of a delicate kumihimo cord made from embroidery thread creates the perfect solution for holding sunglasses or reading glasses. For a very special gift, pair them with your favorite sunglasses, like these Eva Masaki Taea Sunglasses, designed here in Brooklyn and made in Italy.

To turn the kumihimo cord into a glasses keeper, make a tiny ½” loop with each tail end of your cord. (The loop should be big enough to slide onto the arm of your sunglasses but not too large that it can easily slide off.) Use a mini rubber band (think braces!) to tie the loop into place, also looping the band a few times right underneath the knotted stings. Trim any remaining threads with a scissor.

***

For the past few years, Rose Pearlman and I have been collaborating on simple, useful craft projects made from humble materials that can serve a practical purpose in your home. In celebration of our past work, we’ve designed a series of holiday gift guides that showcase just some of the ways that these humble crafts can become a part of a special holiday gift—or simply be the gift itself.

This post includes affiliate links to online shops. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links, but most of these supplies can be found locally right in your own community. If you’d like to support this site directly, you can contribute directly here. Thanks so much for supporting this work.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Tiffany November 19, 2021 at 10:11 am

    This post came at the perfect time! I’m planning on making soap on a rope as gifts, and I think woven bamboo cording would turn in to a lovely rope. Thanks!

    1
  • Reply nicole martin November 20, 2021 at 10:41 am

    So inspiring! thank you!

  • Reply alex November 20, 2021 at 11:35 am

    Wow I love this and I want to try making one! Do you have any recommendations for places I could get the leather string in Brooklyn or Manhattan? I did some googling for art and craft stores but wanted to see if you knew of any small business before I went to Blick! Thanks for this post, super inspiring

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 21, 2021 at 9:56 am

      Don’t have a brick and mortar source for this exact cord off the top of my head! But def worth a call at a local spot to see if they carry anything similar!

  • Reply Sarah November 20, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    That lanyard might be a great gift to me for spring/summer, since I don’t like carrying a purse. I can imagine making it work for jogging, too.

  • Reply steph November 23, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    these just keep getting better and better, thank you! my mom has been wanting a glasses cord, so excited to make her one and maybe i can find a couple of braces bands in my buy nothing group 🙂 i knit a little face scrubber with kitchen twine and it’s held up pretty well, i love it and it’s such a pretty texture.

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