The term Kute-uchi  was coined by Masako Kinoshita and refers to loop-manipulation braiding  – both finger-held and hand-held – especially as a Japanese tradition. This type of braiding requires no tools or braiding stands, though optional handles or hand-straps known as “kute” may be used as the effective ends of the loops to facilitate hand-held loop-manipulation braiding.

In analyzing a cryptic record of proprietary braiding guild techniques that she found in a 19th C. treatise, and comparing these to the structures of much older Japanese cultural treasure braids, Masako Kinoshita discovered that loop-manipulation braiding had been the actual method used to make them. She was able to prove that loop-manipulation braiding was the method used in constructing the 7th century braids in the Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum, the 8th century braids in the Shosoin Treasures, and all the well-known braid treasures from the 10th to 16th centuries, such as the ryomen kikko (double face tortoise-shell design) braid at the Mitake Shrine, Ome-shi, Tokyo. Her research also established that kute-uchi workers comprised an essential industry supporting the vast demand for lacing braids used in Japanese armor from ancient times through the Middle Ages.

The LOOP MANIPULATION (L-M) Braiding technique is a pure hand-braiding technique requiring no tools… Every other working ends of the threads are paired and the paired ends connected, thus forming loops rather than being separate as in the case of most other braiding techniques. One end of the bunched braiding threads is fixed on a support, and you mount each loop on a finger of the hands (the finger-held method). Or you may slip the sequentially arranged loops around the hands (the hand-held method). To make a braid, you exchange the loops, one at a time, between two hands following a [prescribed set of steps].  – Masako Kinoshita, from the introductory page to her website L-MBRIC (Loop-Manipulation Braiding Research and Information Center).

Please follow links to Masako Kinoshita’s website for more information: –  L-MBRIC –  Loop Manipulation Braiding Research and Information Center
New L-MBRIC site established by Masako Kinoshita’s family after the original one expired, hosting issues 1-6, plus black-and white scans of hardcopy for Issues 7-13.

Link to Masako Kinoshita’s L-MBRIC article on beater-stands for use by a solo loop braider to make longer braids:

 Masako Kinoshita’s Illustrated instruction L-MBRIC page on Kute-Uchi  (now archived on the Internet Archive ):

Kute-Uchi glossary definition edited by Ingrid Crickmore. Link to her website for more loop braiding  insights and  instructions:

Ingrid Crickmore’s own index  to L-MBRIC on her site Loop Braiding, with links to the original L-MBRIC issues archived on the Internet Archive, and to issues 1-6 on the new L-MBRIC website.