We are Susan and Murray Read, and we live in Norfolk, UK with our 3 children, a cat and 2 hens.
We first found out about kumihimo when our daughter was given an Alex Toys Friendship Wheel kit for Christmas a few years back. It was so easy to make braids - with a bit of help starting, our 6 year old could do it - and we were fascinated.
The 4 patterns that came with the kit weren't enough for Murray. As a software engineer, he was sure it was possible to write a computer program to help arrange the threads for new designs. At the time, we couldn't find anything else on the internet that would do designs for friendship wheels, and we decided to put the tool on a website so others could share it.
Not a lot happened to our poor "Friendship Bracelet Applet" for a while. Family, work and study took up too much time. But then I stoped my part time job, and we decided to get "Craft Design Online" going again, and work towards it being what we always planned. A resource for design of more than just one type of braid.
We had by that time found out that there was more to a Friendship Wheel than just one braid. The style of braid we were familiar with was one of many forms of Japanese braiding, or kumihimo. There was a traditional Japanese braiding stand called a marudai, and that would allow greater flexibility with thread movements. Once I tried using a makeshift marudai (kitchen roll lace bobbins and weighted thread cards), I decided this was a better way to go, and I would find out more about what I could do with it
Well, now I am hooked. I am fascinated by the different structures that can be made, and want to try out as many as I can from books, and experiment to see what I can come up with myself. Some of the braids I have come up with don't have the same "flow" as the braids I have made from books - perhaps that is why they haven't been passed around in the same way.
We want this site to be about more than braiding, so have been looking at how people design their patterns for other crafts, such as cross stitch. Since quite a number of other crafts also have patterns based on rows of squares, we have come up with "Pattern Grid".
For the future - I'm going to carry on trying new marudai braids, and we will gradually put them up on Marudai Painter. I am trying to persuade Murray that he wants to build me a takadai (another type of Japanese kumihimo loom). We are still looking for other crafts we can create tools for, so let us know!