Archive for the ‘ayatakedai’ Category

The takadai, with the ayatakedai extension removed.

So, one of the dozens of fiber arts that I like is kumihimo, and like everything else fiber, it’s a gateway drug. You see, there is more than one form of Japanese braiding. I already have two marudai, and quite a few foam kumihimo disks. But I’ve been fascinated with the takadai and the ayatakedai. Only, where to get one, right? Well, Braidershand makes what I was looking for. The link will take you to the one I bought. There’s an 18 month waiting list to get one, but I’ve got to say, Janis at Braidershand is a doll, and all the equipment I’ve purchased from them is first rate and worth every penny.

The downside to the takadai and the ayatakedai is that neither is as popular here as kumihimo. A good marudai or a braiding disk is far less expensive than these big pieces. Not a complaint, just an observation. You get what you pay for. I won’t be buying any more equipment for quite awhile–I’ve tapped out that budget–but I’m quite happy with what I have! But the point was that, because they’re not as popular, it’s harder to learn because unless you live in the right area, or can afford to travel, neither of which applies to me currently, you kind of have to learn on your own. There aren’t a lot of books available either, and virtually no YouTube tutorials. Demos, but no tutorials that I’ve found.

The loaded tama, and one with the new, longer leader string

For the takadai, I can recommend Rodrick Owen’s book Making Kumihimo: Japanese Interlaced Braids. It will walk you through setting up your takadai and several different braids. He has a couple of other books too, and some deal with the core stand, which is another piece of equipment from Braidershand. Now that  the studio is finally coming together, I can play a little bit, so I have been!

The takadai is the size of a small floor loom. It’s for oblique braids, and it uses tama, which are the weighted bobbins the thread is wound around, and 9-pin koma, which are the sliders on the arms of the takadai. Those are used to keep your warp strands in order. As each koma is emptied of its warp strands, it’s brought down to the bottom of the arm, and the others slide forward into its previous space. The torii is a structure at the very top of the takadai, and the braid is pulled up over that as you go, like a cloth beam. The sword–and there is a Japanese word for it that escapes me right now–is used to hold the shed you create with your hand, and to beat after you’ve cast the tama through it.

9-pin koma

The learning curve wasn’t very hard for the basics, especially if you weave already, although the first time I tried braiding on it, the braid was horrible, bowing rather than flat, not symmetrical, didn’t come to a point the way it should…horrible. My mistake there was in not realizing the author’s takadai only carried four koma, where mine carries six, so I had removed two koma from each arm to match his, thinking I needed to do this. What that did was put everything at the wrong angle. I also discovered that the leader strings on the tama needed to be a lot longer than the four inches I usually have on the marudai. So, the next morning, I unraveled all that I had done the night before (not fun), and started over from scratch. The piece I was doing calls for 25 tama, which meant I had to re-do 25 leader strings. They are now a foot long each and I’ve been told I might want to increase that length even more, to two or three feet!! Understandable…if you’re working with silk, which is expensive, you don’t want any waste if you can avoid it!!! Currently, I’m working with Chinese knotting cord, which is pretty inexpensive, and I’ve got a bunch of it, but I’d still rather not waste any cord if I can use it instead!

The much improved second braid

After making all the repairs to the previous night’s mistakes, I started the braid over again and it came out much better the second time around. It’s not perfect by any means. I still need to work out a balance on beating as my sides are not symmetrical where they should be, but at least it’s no longer bowing in the center. The tension is good, so the braid is flat, as it should be. And I had a lot of fun making it. Putting a warp on the takadai is much easier than warping a weaving loom!!! The only exception to that might be the Gilmore Big Wave…maybe.


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