This article shows the different patterns achievable in a basic round kumihimo braid with two colors of thread. When making a kumihimo braid one day, my threads got jumbled around. I put them back where I thought they were supposed to be and began braiding again, a few minutes later I looked at the just completed braid and noticed that the pattern created by the two colors was completely different from the earlier portion. After that experience, I decided to test what patterns it was possible to make with the basic round braid and two colors of thread.
I had two goals in mind when I decided to start testing with my basic round pattern kumihimo braiding. First, I wanted to know what pattern variations I could come up with and document them so that if I ever wanted to make a specific pattern I would know how to do it. Second, I wanted to know what the ratio of starting thread length is to finished braid size so that if I need to make a braid of a certain length I would know how much thread to start with.
Since the format of the basic round kumihimo braid is the same, I decided that to change the pattern I needed to change the starting locations of the different colors of threads. So I drew up a quick sketch of the possible starting locations. When making the braids, I realized that several of my proposed starting locations were the same thread positions as some of the later steps of the braiding process for other starting locations (and produce the same pattern). After all the kumihimo braids were complete, I came up with four possible patterns when using equal amounts of each color. Here are those four patterns and how I achieved them.
This braid began with the black threads in the upper two and right two positions as shown in the diagram. It produced a braid with a thick spiral that goes from the top right to the bottom left when viewing horizontally and top left to bottom right when viewed vertically.
I think this one looks best with two colors that are similar. Dark green and black or white and light blue blend together a little and give this braid a much subtler look than the black and light gray pictured.
This braid began with the white threads in the upper two and bottom two positions as shown in the diagram. It produced a braid with a thin spiral that goes from the top left to the bottom right when viewing horizontally and top right to bottom left when viewed vertically.
I think this braid looks a lot like a narrow two colored rope.
This braid began with the white and black threads alternating around the edge as shown in the diagram. It produced a braid with a kind of speckled appearance which when looking closer is actually an extremely narrow spiral.
The second thing I wanted to do with my testing was to try to determine how much thread it takes to make a basic round kumihimo braid so that I can determine how much thread I need to start with in the future to make a certain length braid.
For those readers that don't want all the technical details, I found that you need to start with thread at least 1.84 times the finished braid length when working with DMC #5 Perle cotton thread, add some more for a safety margin. Technical details about how I arrived at that number are below.
To find out how much of the thread was consumed in the braid making process, after the braid rested I measured the length of the braid and the length of the thread left over. When testing I found that half of the threads always ended up being shorter than the other threads so I measured by the shortest thread. I am not sure why this happens, if it is normal or just a byproduct of my technique (or lack thereof). I also measured the length of the braid when stretched in case someday I need to make a braid that is always under tension.
All four test braids produced the same measurements. I began with 8 inch long threads. The left over amount at the end of the braid was 2.25 inches. This means that 5.75 inches of thread was used to make each braid. The braid length when not stretched was 3.125 inches and when stretched was 4 inches. Dividing 3.125 into 5.75 I found that the starting length of thread was 1.84 times the length of the finished (non-stretched) braid. So, to figure out how much thread I need to start with, I would multiply the desired finished length by 1.84 and then add some additional length to be on the safe side. For the stretched braid the starting length of thread needs to be at least 1.44 times the length of the finished braid.