Thursday, September 28, 2023

Review of the Kumikreator 2-in-1 Bead and Bracelet Friendship Making Kit

I’m in the middle of designing a wrist distaff so that I can hold my fibre away from my drop spindle while I walk and spin around my local park.  

My design incorporates a couple of lengths of kumihimo braid, both to wear around my wrist and to wrap my fibre supply around to keep it under control.

After spending a good couple of days weaving this *Kumihimo braid by hand and finding out that the handspun wool yarn that I wove it with was a little bit too ‘grippy’ for the job, I decided to find an alternative method that might speed the process up a little.

* Kumihimo is a traditional Japanese art form of making braids and cords.  Sometimes beads are added to the strings to make beautiful beaded bracelets or necklaces.

The strings are swapped back and forth while rotating the disc every couple of moves.  

12 strand spiral kumihimo

It’s a very repetitive, slow, meditative craft with a huge number of design possibilities depending on the number and arrangement of different coloured strings and the order that you move them in.

I recall seeing a video of a mechanical Kumihimo friendship band maker on Instagram a little while ago so I decided to look around to see what was available.

Full Disclosure, this blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links to products I purchased myself.  If you click through and make a purchase I may receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you.  Any income from my blog goes a small way toward funding future blog posts.

I looked on and found this ‘Kumikreator’ toy for £15.99.  At that price, I thought it was worth a shot because, as much as I enjoy Kumihimo, I really fancied having a play with a cool tool that might significantly speed up the whole process.  (I did try to convince my 15-year-old daughter that she needed a friendship bracelet maker but she didn’t bite, so this is very much my new toy, and I’m fine with that!) 

I've made a YouTube video demonstrating loading and threading the KumiKreator and showing it in action.

After a bit of research, I’ve learned that this is at least the third iteration of the ‘Kumikreator by Cool Maker, each one being slightly different than the previous one.  

I am slightly disappointed that earlier ones gave you the ability to use either 8 or 12 strings, while the one I bought only gives you the option to make an 8-strand braid.  However, the second and third iterations do give you the ability to make longer lengths of braid for necklaces so that is at least an improvement on the first one.

When I was looking to buy mine, I noticed that there were also earlier models on Amazon at a significantly higher price but I didn’t know what the difference was at the time.   As I type this, it is still possible to buy the second model that allows you to make longer lengths and to work with 12 strings but it’s 3 times what I paid for this one!  I’m not sure I would have paid that for something as limited as this…

The box contains 3 main elements.  The tension arm, the kumihimo maker, and a package with filled bobbins, beads, stickers, and fasteners.  I’m used to finishing my kumihimo braids with a needle, thread, epoxy glue, and metallic cord ends but this kit is aimed at children aged 8+ so stickers and locking plastic fasteners are supplied instead.

There is enough cord to make 5 bracelets and 2 necklaces.  This feels like only enough string to get you started.  I can imagine a couple of tweens spending a lovely afternoon making friendship bracelets for each other, but the supplies wouldn’t last much longer than that.  You can buy refill bobbin sets for the Kumikreator and the instructions have a safety warning about only using string supplied or recommended by the manufacturer.  Having now finished all of the bobbins, I have no concerns about using the embroidery floss or Chinese knotting cord that I have in my own stash.  You can read about how I refilled the bobbins and the threads I tried here.

There is minimal setting up of the machine involved.  You just click the tension arm in place and you’re ready to start loading the bobbins.

Push the white arm down until it clicks into place.  N.B.  It will only stay locked in place while the white tab on the tension arm is flipped up.

Turning the handle clockwise causes the bobbins to swap and change position in a basic 8-string Kumihimo pattern.  It can only be turned in one direction and you can turn it quite fast.  It is rather loud and clattery though and I feel like it might get jammed if I turn it too quickly.  Strangely, the loud noise didn’t bother me as I was more captivated by the high-speed Kumihimo weaving taking place in front of me.  The noise would definitely bother someone trying to watch TV in the same room, making it impossible to follow conversations at a regular volume.

This definitely feels like a toy but I would be concerned about leaving an 8-year-old to play with it without supervision.  Some reviews I’ve read show bits breaking off so I would be cautious about leaving a child alone to play with it, at least until I was sure they knew how to thread it properly.

You should start with the blue markers and blue empty slots at the top and bottom.  It will still work if you begin with them elsewhere, you just might not get the pattern that you intended.

The bracelet threads are thicker and are on the white bobbins.  The necklace strings are possibly twice as long and are thinner to fit on the same-sized black bobbins.  

The first few times I loaded the bobbins I arranged them around the Kumikreator next to the corresponding spool holder.  By my 3rd attempt, I was happy to just load them from the box.  I imagine an 8-year-old would need quite a bit of adult supervision, in the beginning, to set it up and follow the instructions properly.  Once it’s threaded I would have thought that a younger child would enjoy turning the handle and watching the bracelet weave and grow.

The kit comes with instructions to make 5 different patterns of bracelet braids and 2 different necklace patterns.  The implication is that if you load the bobbins in the order shown here you will achieve the braid shown on the outside of the image.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  More on that later…

All of the bobbins have the string ends neatly tucked into the outer disk.  The string ends have been stiffened somehow and I think they have been singed to prevent the nylon strands from unraveling.  The stiffened ends also make the strands easier to thread later on.

With the groove on the outside of the bobbin, push it onto the bobbin holders until it clicks into place. 

 One by one, release the string end and poke it up through the top of the bobbin holder.  Slide it between the gap in the purple yarn guide and then slide it behind the white string slot in the tension arm.  There are several warnings about not pulling on the white string slot throughout the instructions.  I imagine that eager little hands could break the tab off if they yanked it too hard to get to their finished bracelets.

Holding onto the bunch of string ends, rotate the bobbins until the threads are taut.

Here’s my first attempt at threading the kumihimo maker.  It wasn’t overly fiddly, it didn’t take too long, and once I’d done it once I could thread it without referring to the instructions.

Push down the white tab in the tension arm.  This secures the threads while at the same time releasing the white arm from the purple arm so that the yarns are all under tension.

Now you just keep winding and winding clockwise.  Here’s an animated gif of the bobbins weaving back and forth in real-time.  You can actually see the braid growing in front of you - unlike regular kumihimo where the braid grows very slowly underneath the disc.  This was my first attempt at weaving on the Kumikreator and the inner child in me was very happy.  My teenage daughter might not be interested, but I would have been captivated by this as a child!

When the red lines on the purple tension arm are all lined up, it’s time to either finish the bracelet or adjust the tension if you want to work a longer length for a necklace.

The white bracelet bobbins only contain enough string to work one bracelet and I found that they all ran out at slightly different stages.

Having said that, all of the bracelets fit my large, adult-sized wrists so it wasn’t a problem.

The kit comes with two cardboard wrist and neck measuring tools so that you know where to secure the braid to prevent it from unraveling.

I taped it at the top and bottom with the stickers supplied before pulling the remaining strands off the bobbins and sliding it out from behind the white holder.


Here is the first braid I made on the Kumikreator.  I’m pretty impressed by how quickly it worked up and how well the machine managed to tension it.  It's really quite neat and definitely neater than my first attempt at weaving on a kumihimo disk.

To weave a longer length: when the 3 red lines meet you wrap a sticker around the braid at the top to allow you to slide it out from behind the white string slot.

You then bring the white arm down again and wedge the braid inside the necklace groove and between the necklace guides on top of the arm.  Continue winding until either the strings run out, or the 3 red lines meet again.

The kit comes with these braid ends, fasteners, and plastic beads.  They’re very plasticky but I’m sure my daughter would have loved these regardless when she was 8 years old.

As I mentioned earlier, (aside from only holding 8 bobbins instead of 12) one of the negatives of this newer Kumikreator is that the patterns and instructions they provide don’t result in the braid that’s illustrated.

Here are 3 bracelets next to the corresponding instruction cards to show that the final bracelets don’t match the illustrated braid.

The necklace patterns don’t match either.

I don’t know how this could happen.  They’re not even close!

This discrepancy doesn’t bother me as I know how to design my own braids and I’m happy to reload the bobbins with my own strings.  I imagine that an 8-year-old might be disappointed, or at least slightly confused as to why the patterns aren’t turning out as the illustration suggests.

I’ve had a quick play at loading my own bobbins and I’ll share my findings in a future post.  I just thought I’d show that if you want to make a design similar to the ones in the necklace instruction illustrations…

…this is the kind of colour arrangement you would need.  (Of course, it doesn't matter where you place that single odd-coloured bobbin.)

The final very minor issue I had was that I had enough coloured bobbins to make the first 4 bracelets and the 2 necklaces detailed in the instruction booklet.  However, when it came to the final bracelet, I didn’t have the correct colours left over to make the final design (not that it would have worked anyway).

I used this arrangement instead…

Which gave me this pretty braid, so it wasn’t really an issue.

If you are looking to design your own braids I would highly recommend looking at the 8 strand Kumihimo  designer app on the Lytha Studios website.  It’s much more accurate than the illustrations provided with the Kumikreator and it gives you an idea of how the braid will look before you even begin to thread up the kumihimo maker.

Attaching the Fasteners

For the sake of this review, I decided to try one of the fasteners included in the kit - I didn’t show this band earlier on as I forgot to line up the blue spool gaps and posts before loading the bobbins, so it possibly didn’t turn out as it should.  It still worked though!

Having used the wrist measuring guide to place the stickers, I cut the band close to the other side of the stickers.

I then threaded on the smaller half of the clasp.  It was pretty tricky to open the clasps so a child might need help at this stage.  I would definitely recommend making the bracelets a little on the large side so that you can roll them on like a bangle instead of having to unfasten it every time.  I don’t imagine this kind of fastener is as secure as my usual method of securing kumihimo braids.

You then attach an end cap to the braid on the other side of the sticker…

… and push the clasp over the end cap.

If you’re going to thread on a bead, now is the time, otherwise, repeat the process on the other end.

Here’s my first finished bracelet - I actually think it looks pretty good and I’m sure most little girls would be delighted with it.  It amuses me that I would spend literally hours knotting or weaving friendship bracelets when I was a young teenager and I managed to make this one in about 15 minutes!

I went on to finish a few more bracelets with some inexpensive Tibetan silver cord ends, pendants, and findings that I had in my stash.


I'm actually pretty impressed by the Kumikreator.  However, I do have a few issues with it:  
  • It's quite noisy and clunky to wind.  The kumihimo I'm used to is a slow, mindful, relaxing activity - this is quite the opposite. 
  • I would worry about leaving a child younger than 10 to use it on their own.  Not because it is dangerous but because I would worry that they would break essential bits off accidentally.
  • The instructions do not result in the illustrated braid.
  • You can only work a basic 8-braid kumihimo cord so I will still be using my kumihimo disc for working a 12 or more braid spiral - or anything other than this very simple braid. 
  • I wish the bobbins were bigger.  You could thread up enough cord to weave two bracelets from one weaving session, but imagine if you could do a lot more!
  • The refill bobbin kits are quite pricey and not every parent will have the time to refill them.
Now for the positives:
  • It's fast and really speeds up making friendship bracelets.  Some children (and adults) don't have a lot of patience and this is much more of an instant gratification activity.  If you refilled the bobbins yourself, the bracelets might be a viable item to sell at craft fairs as you could make a friendship bracelet in 15 minutes rather than several hours.
  • The threading is pretty fast and straightforward.  Once I'd read how to load it the first time I didn't have to refer to the instructions again.
  • The tension system works well.  I was very surprised at how neatly the kumihimo braids came out.
  • You can see the braid weaving in front of you and it's pretty cool to watch.  You don't have to keep checking underneath to see how it's working up - more instant gratification!
  • It would make a great ‘non-screen’ activity for a girls' get-together or intimate party.  I can imagine friends taking turns to design and make friendship bracelets for each other.

Thank you so much for reading!  If you’ve found this blog post interesting or useful please pin this image to Pinterest.  It makes a big difference to me and helps other crafters find it too.

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1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This looks brilliant and like you I would have absolutely loved this as a teenager, I used to spend hours making friendship bracelets by knotting. In fact I'm very tempted to get one of these for myself!