Despite what you may have heard, when fingerloop braiding, you really can put your loops down and take breaks.
These days, I set my loops down on a big-tooth comb, and secure them by wrapping a rubber band around the comb a little above the loops. The rubber band doesn’t directly hold onto the loops, just onto the comb, making a barrier the loops can’t slide past.
I do this anytime, even in the middle of a short braid, if I want to get up for a minute.
In the following video (on how to braid a 10-loop spiral braid, part of a tutorial I have on file on the Braids and Bands yahoo list) I also show exactly how I use the comb holder.
The beginning of the video shows how I take “parked” loops off the comb.
Skip to the end of the video to see how I set them down on the comb. (Slide the little bubble under the video to the right to fast-forward):
Before I found these combs, I used a ruler with clothespins clipped onto it:
Later I used a set of wooden pegs I found somewhere–the pegs were 10 in a row, about 3″ high on a free-standing base. After setting each loop onto a peg, I would stretch a rubber band around the top of the pegs the way I still do on my combs. Here’s a photo of an even nicer set of pegs I picked up at a second-hand store recently—I haven’t tried them out yet but I think they would be great. I would only use one of the two rows of pegs at a time—or better, lay each loop over two parallel pegs. (I assume this is a tie-rack)
[In part of another more recent video, I demo using a set of pegs. Skip ahead to 2min,38sec into the video to see the the loop-holder.]
The pegs were the easiest system, but I like my combs because they are so light and portable–I take my braids on a lot of road and camping trips.
Masako Kinoshita told me she uses a big clip on a piece of cardboard.
Joy Boutrup says she uses the curved plastic spines that hold paper booklets together.
I heard from a blog reader that she simply cuts “teeth” into a rectangle of heavy cardboard, making a cardboard “comb”–inspired by her kumihimo card. No need for a rubber band, as the loops are held in place by the tight slits in the cardboard. I have to try this!
Update: I tried it and personally I still like the comb—seems easier to slide the loop onto the separated teeth of the comb…
For slippery fiber like silk or nylon, you can use a hair clip, bag clip, or small binder clip to hold the fell (the bottom edge of the braided area) to keep it from loosening up–as well as putting the loops on a holder, not instead of. Or, if the loops are long enough, tie the left and right bunches of loops in a big bow-type slip knot right at the fell (after securing the loops on a holder).
Bonded nylon beading cord is not only slippery, but also stiff, and really resists being tightened. If I set a bonded nylon braid down for a few days, I might find that I need to unbraid a short distance back and rebraid the loose bit. But that’s not usually necessary if I’m careful about using clips on the fell after I set the braid down on a comb.