Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Refilling the Kumikreator Bobbins and Testing Different Threads

Last week I wrote a review of the Kumikreator friendship bracelet kit - a mechanical toy for making kumihimo braids.  I have a project in mind that uses 2 long lengths of kumihimo and I wondered if I could use the Kumikreator to speed up the process.

If you haven't already, please take a look at my review as I go into a lot of detail, explaining the different parts of the Kumikreator as well as detailing some of its limitations.

If you would just like a video demonstration of me filling a bobbin and a look at how the different braids came out, take a look at this video.

Filling the bobbins

Firstly, I should mention that the instructions for the Kumikreator warn against using your own supplies.  They make and sell Kumikreator refill bobbins so they recommend that you only use these.  Well, I ploughed through the bobbins that came with the Kumikreator in less than a day…  I’m a serial but frugal crafter, so, of course, I’m going to throw caution to the wind, delve into my craft supplies, and see what else I can use on the Kumikreator bobbins.

All of the bobbins have this little groove running around one side.  To secure your thread onto the bobbin, wrap it tightly over this spot twice and the thread should hold in place.  Some threads are too wide or too stiff to secure in the groove, in which case, a narrow piece of sticky tape will hold it in place.

If you were to hold the bobbin and simply wrap the thread around it you would inevitably add twist to the thread which may affect the look of the final braid and possibly the performance of the Kumikreator.  To avoid additional twist, I needed to find a way of easily turning the bobbin to wind on the thread.

The basic solution I came up with was to insert a 6mm knitting needle into the bobbin.  This meant that I could rotate the bobbin to wind on the thread without my large fingers getting in the way.  I imagine I could fashion a bobbin winder with an electric screwdriver but I doubt this would give me the longest length of cord as I would have less control over where the thread landed on the bobbin.

To maximise the amount of thread I could get onto the tiny bobbins I made sure that each thread was placed directly next to the previous thread, going back and forth, 1 layer at a time until the bobbin was full.  As a rule, I stopped winding before the threads reached the outer rim of the bobbin.  I did try to exceed it a couple of times but the bobbins are such a tight fit that they become wedged and will stop rotating if they are too full.

The bobbins have a second groove running around the outside.  I was able to secure most of the threads I tried in the groove to stop them from unraveling.  Unfortunately, the thicker, stiffer threads that wouldn’t fit needed to be kept under tension until I’d secured them somehow on the white tension arm.


I thought it would be interesting to search through my craft drawers and test out a few different threads and yarns to see which worked best.

Full disclosure, this blog post contains Amazon Affiliate Links to products that I bought 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 craft projects.

Materials I tried with the Kumikreator

  1. 1.5mm Rattail
  2. Size 60 crochet cotton
  3. Hand-spun variegated sport weight (UK Baby) yarn *
  4. 6mm organza ribbon
  5. 3mm satin ribbon *
  6. 1mm waxed cotton
  7. 1mm Chinese knotting cord *
  8. DMC Embroidery thread *
*As a quick guide, the ones marked with an asterisk worked well with the Kumikreator and I would probably try again.

Size 60 Crochet Cotton

The finest thread I tried was size 60 crochet thread.  This was so fine that the white tab wouldn’t hold onto the threads so I knotted them all together to keep them firmly in place.  Of all the threads that I tried, this was the only one that I didn’t try to fill the bobbin.  I added about a metre of thread but, as the threads were so fine, it seemed to take forever to weave the full braid.  When I said that the noise didn’t bother me in my previous blog post… well I had to take several breaks while winding this one and I really don’t fancy doing it again.  It was very loud and very tedious.

It did result in a very neat braid though.  When the tension arm reached its limit, the cord wouldn’t hold in the necklace grooves but I was able to slide the whole thing behind the white tab and carry on winding.

It’s very thin and you really do need to take a closer look to see that it’s made up of 3 pastel shades.  I’m not sure what I would use this for but I can imagine if you enjoyed making miniature items for dolls or dollhouses you could find a spot for it.  Perhaps it would look pretty on a present with a rustic gift tag attached...

It’s only when you see this braid at the very bottom of this image that you get a feel for just how skinny it is.  I’ve made pretty string!

Handspun Sport-Weight (UK Baby) Yarn

I managed to get about 1 metre of handspun sport-weight yarn on each bobbin.  (This was the rainbow yarn I spun last year for my blog post about chain-plying two ways.)

The braiding worked really well, but again, the braid was too thin to be held in place by the necklace grooves in the white arm so I attached a quilting clip to the braid behind the white tab and it held in place while I kept on winding.

This was the only braid made using variegated threads so the colours and patterns changed subtly down the length of the braid.  Being made from handspun wool also added interesting textures and ridges to this very cosy-looking braid.  It’s such a shame that the Kumikreator bobbins are tiny.  I can imagine so many different uses for this braid if it were longer…

1.5mm Nylon Satin Rattail 

The 1.5mm Rattail was probably the trickiest thread I tried.  It’s very slippery and it was too thick to wedge inside the bobbin groove.

To get the most onto the bobbin I taped it on so that the end wasn’t overlapping but I still only managed to get two full layers on the bobbin.

I was worried that the thick cord would damage the white tab on the Kumikreator so I held the threads in place behind the necklace notch with a quilting clip.  The white arm being spring-loaded helped to keep everything in position throughout.

It started off a little untidy but it came together eventually 

This gave me one of the shortest braids, but it’s quite a substantial thickness.  I can imagine this hanging from a key ring with a tassel of some sort…  

3mm Satin Ribbon

This one was a bit of a surprise success…

Being flat and quite narrow, I managed to load quite a bit of this onto the bobbins.

The resulting braid was quite thick and long with a lovely sheen to it.

DMC Embroidery Thread

This one was a nostalgic hit for me because it most resembled the friendship bracelets I used to make as a child.  This braid was one of the thinner ones so it needed to be knotted to hold it in place.

The embroidery thread gave me a really pretty, delicate braid that easily wrapped 3 times around my wrist.

Two Plies of DMC Embroidery Thread

I thought I’d try doubling up on the embroidery thread because I really liked the finish of the last one but it’s very delicate.

This was one of the few braids I tried that I didn’t need to modify the tension system of the Kumikreator somehow.

Unfortunately, it only gave me enough braid for one bracelet, but it’s a very pretty and substantial one.  I think this might be my favourite!

1mm Waxed Cotton Cord

Well, this may be my least favourite.  The stiffness of the waxed cord had a major impact on the appearance of this cord.  Firstly, I had to tape the cord onto the bobbins, and it appears that the black cord is stiffer than the blue cord so it’s protruding strangely.  It’s one of the more masculine-looking braids so it might look nicer all in black...  Ooh, interesting...

1mm Chinese Knotting Cord

This was the first braid I made using bobbins that I’d filled myself and the 1mm Chinese knotting cord is probably the most similar to the necklace threads supplied with the Kumikreator.

The Chinese knotting cord makes a lovely, neat shiny cord that’s long enough for a necklace or a couple of bracelets.

Combining Chinese Knotting Cord and Embroidery Thread 

Unfortunately, the Kumikreator is only capable of working a basic 8-braid kumihimo pattern.  I began to wonder if combining different thicknesses of thread would give me a textured spiral pattern.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the difference in thickness between the Chinese knotting cord and embroidery thread was enough to create an obviously protruding spiral.

But combining the two different textured threads did add a little surface interest to the braid.

Combining 6mm Organza Ribbon and Embroidery Thread.

I did manage to achieve a protruding spiral pattern by combining a wider ribbon with the embroidery thread.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a lot of ribbon on the bobbin so this turned out to be the shortest bracelet of all.  Maybe it would make a very cute party accessory for a little girl.


Here are all 10 braids together in order of length from longest to shortest.

  1. Size 60 crochet cotton
  2. Embroidery Thread
  3. Chinese knotting cord and embroidery thread
  4. Handspun sport-weight yarn
  5. Chinese knotting cord
  6. 3mm satin ribbon
  7. double strands of embroidery thread
  8. 1mm waxed cotton
  9. 1.5mm Nylon satin rattail
  10. 6mm organza ribbon and embroidery thread

I’ve had so much fun playing and experimenting. I’ve been like a big kid, cranking out friendship bracelets and deciding what combinations to do next. I have a couple of favourites and a much better idea of which style I will use for the kumihimo wrist distaff that I’ll be making very soon.

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

Related Posts

Review of the Kumikreator
Bead and Braider

Please be sweet and share the love. Leave a comment, subscribe to my YouTube channel, like my Facebook page for regular updates or follow me on Pinterest,  Bloglovin' or Instagram


No comments: