[Notes on color patterns, unbraiding to fix mistakes, techniques for carrying multiple loops, structure, Unorthodox braids of 11 loops, etc follow the written instructions.]
11-loop square braids: Learn 11-loop braids only after the moves for 9-loop braids are automatic, meaning you can talk, or look up occasionally, while still braiding. There is no new finger to train with 11-loop braids, but there is a new step to remember in the loop-shifting. Your fingers need to have a lot of automatic control over the loops so you can manage them easily while thinking about the new step and keeping track of two loops on the d-finger. The following 2 videos are at slo-mo practice speed, but they do assume that you already know how to braid using my “thumb” method for 9 loop braids.
Below is part 2—I had to break my initial video into 2 parts because it went over the youtube maximum of 15 minutes. Both have useful tips for learning this braid:
Below is a revised version of my old photo-tutorial in L-MBRIC from 2008. I’ve rewritten it, and included more and larger photos, it may be easier to follow than the original version.
In the instructions below, I use the finger and loop letter-code abbreviations shown in this diagram of the 5-loop braiding procedure.
An 11-loop braid starts out with 5 loops on the right hand (one per digit), and 6 loops on the left hand. The left d-finger (little finger) holds 2 loops, one about halfway down the finger, and one in the crease near the tip. The right d-finger holds 1 loop, low–at the base of the finger. It will be the first operator.
Step 1. First loop transfer:
Carrying its original loop low, at the base of the finger, operator Rd goes through both loops on Ld, and continues through the Lc, Lb, La loops in one pass, to take the Lthumb-loop (turned from above), and keep it in high position.
Below, the yellow ex-thumb- loop is now on Rd in high position: (yes that really is the right little finger–I don’t know why it looks so big!) Rd is now holding 2 yellow loops–the low one doesn’t show in this photo, but it’s there.
Step 2. Loop-shifting: One extra move happens before the L loops shift up–The uppermost (orange) Ld loop must be moved out of the way temporarily, so the lower Ld loop (pink) can shift up to the c finger:
So, the right index (Ra) will help with this: Ra temporarily lifts the high (orange) loop off Ld, and holds it while the left loops all shift up one position, filling the empty space left on the thumb.
After the loops have all shifted up one position, the now-bare little finger reaches out to take back the orange loop temporarily held on Ra.
Before the next loop transfer, that orange loop should drop down to be in low position on the Ld-finger, since the Ld finger will be the next operator. After the next loop transfer, Ld will again be holding two loops: the orange one low, and a new (yellow) one high.
Step 3. Tighten fell of braid–stretch Left and Right loops out to the sides til they make a straight line from one hand to the other (ie a little further than the photo shows). Do this smoothly with a gentle yet firm touch, and not pulling hard–see step 3 in my 9-loop tutorial for my rant on how important the tightening move is!
(after or during the tightening move, ease the low-position Rd loop up a bit to mid-position, but not too close to the high loop. This is not completely necessary, but will help the next loop transfer go through these loops more easily).
[I no longer make this mid- and low-position distinction when I braid with 11 loops!—I used to, so I include that differentiation here, in case it is helpful. I definitely always hold the loop all the way at the base of the little finger—low—when that finger is fetching a new loop. However, the rest of the time I don't make any special effort to bring a low loop to mid position when it is a passive loop that will be operated through—it seems to work fine whether it is in low or mid position at that point. I show my current method in my videos, and explain the difference in the 2nd video.]
Step 4. Repeat above steps in mirror-image fashion:
Second loop transfer in progress. The active (left) hand’s loops are usually low at the base of the fingers during the loop transfer. Later they will slide forward on the fingers for the tightening move, and will stay “forward” when they are to be the passive loops that the other hand’s operator finger will need to tunnel through. I slide the active hand’s loops back down to the base of the fingers before the loop transfer occurs—mostly to get the loop on the d-finger all the way down to low position.
Proceed with loop-shifts and tightening just as in first loop transfer.
One braiding cycle done. Repeat braiding cycles til braid is done.
Please leave corrections, suggestions, questions under “comments” below. I would love to see pictures of any loop braids you make!
[new 8/9/11] Color patterns:
See my recent post on how to plan and set up for different color-patterns in square and flat braids)
After 11 full braiding cycles (22 loop transfers), loops will be back on the same fingers where they began.
For an 11-loop braid, 11 full cycles = one color-pattern repeat.
See the videos in the 9-loop tutorial to learn how to do a loop transfer from the thumb without turning the loop.–Necessary for making a flat braid, or a divided braid (for a loop or buttonhole)
Unbraiding is the best way to understand the structure of any braid, and is the only way go back to undo a mistake. By the time you get up to 11-loop braids, unbraiding becomes an essential part of the braiding process. Eleven loops is so many that you won’t want to start a braid all over again when you make a mistake, and there are some mistakes you probably won’t want to “live with”. (If you’re like me, you’ll have a lot of them in your first one or two 11-loop braids.)
With 11 loop braids, there is no equivalent A-fell method to use for unbraiding, the way there is for unbraiding 3 to 7-loop braids. But you can still unbraid, by reversing your braiding motions and sending the loops back the way they came. See my tutorial on unbraiding to learn both ways to unbraid.
It’s really liberating to know how to undo your braiding—it frees you from stressing out about making mistakes. To paraphrase Elizabeth Zimmerman: Once you learn how to unbraid, you will be the boss of your braiding! (She wrote it about knitting, in one of her many great knitting books)
Using the d-finger to hold the extra loops (while braiding with “too many loops”): This was my main breakthrough in trying to figure out a workable way to braid with more loops. By “workable”, I mean an efficient, enjoyable way as opposed to a way that works, but is so involved and tedious that I can’t stand to do it very often! Holding the extra loops on the d-finger works well for the loop-transfer, and also makes the loop-shifting much simpler than if extra loops are held on other fingers.
When the extra loop on the tip of the d-finger is temporarily removed, all the other loops on the hand can then shift normally, with no further help from the other hand. Replacing the temporarily-held loop onto the d-finger is a natural loop-shifting move. The d-finger that originally held the loop just reaches out and takes it back –”walking” into it in the same way that any loop-shifting finger steps into its new loop. In fact, even holding two extra loops on the d-finger requires no extra moves (for the loop-shifting) than holding one extra loop—during the temporary hold, you lift both extra loops off at the same time, and replace them with one move as well. [new--I've added a text tutorial for my 13-loop method below, in the Comment section].
I also tend to put extra loops on the d-fingers when I’m making braids with more complex structures than square braids. (Braids that have more than 2 loop transfers per braiding cycle, and also unorthodox braids of only 2 transfers, but with more intricate interlacing than square braids).
Square braids of 11 loops are not as strong for their bulk as 5-loop square braids are. They tend to be less “neat”, too. Especially if you are using very fine, slick thread, a single contrast color loop can disappear occasionally in the pattern–sinking into the mass of threads that make up the long 5/5 twill structure. [This did not happen in my 11-loop video demo, using thicker, smooth cotton yarn---the single light-color loop stood out cleanly throughout the braid.] With fine, slippery thread, I suggest using at least two adjacent loops of each color if you want that color to show consistently.
In a way, 11-loop square braids are not actually more complex than 5-loop square braids: each pass of a loop covers a lot wider area, but only interconnects / interlaces with one other loop, just as in a 5 loop square braid.
They are really fun, though! the braids are bigger, with nice long pattern repeats, and still very fast and automatic to make once you get used to them. It’s a great way to make a square braid with finer thread–the braid will actually be visible. 11-loop braids are probably my favorite braid to make in terms of how easy the procedure actually is, compared to how complicated it appears (even to me, the one braiding it!) If you already know how to braid a 5 or 7 loop braid automatically, you know what i mean–it’s just plain fun to watch your fingers fly along without having to think about them, while producing a great-looking cord.
Other braids might be more interesting, but 9- and 11-loop square (and flat) twill braids might be the most enjoyable to make. And some of their unorthodox variations can be very neat and strong (as well as very interesting!) If the unorthodox braid has both over-, and under-whole loop moves, they bind the upper and lower surface of the braid together, and neaten up the long twill floats.
Unorthodox 11-loop braids
Check out my info page on Unorthodox braids to find out more about these really fun braids, and try out the two that I describe in my 9-loop tutorial. There are many more you can discover on your own, especially with 11 loops. The variety almost seems endless at first, and many are great-looking and very unusual braids.
Using thumbs with V-fell (aka method 2) fingerloop braiding:
This is documented from Finland. I have more about this, also how I stumbled onto the V-fell braiding technique, in my 9-loop tutorial‘s notes.
th=thumb, a=index, b=middle, c=ring, d=little finger.
d-high = d finger’s upper crease; d-mid = d-finger’s middle crease;
d-low = base of d-finger
Ld-high = left d finger, upper crease
Ld-high (underlined) = the loop in that position
Rc = right ring finger
Rc (underlined) = the loop on the right ring finger.
11-loop square braid:
Loop arrangement at start of braiding cycle:
Right hand: 5 loops– Rth, a, b, c, d-low
Left hand: 6 loops– Lth, a, b, c, d-mid, d-high
1. Rd thru Ld-high, d-mid, c, b, a, takes th (turned from above);
Rd holds new loop in high position, old loop in low position.
2. Ra temporarily holds Ld-high.
3. L loops shift up one position (to Lth, a, b, c).
4. Ld takes back the temp-held loop from Ra, keeps in low position.
5. (optional but helpful–slide Rd-low up to Rd-mid position)
Repeat steps 1-4 in mirror image–Ld will be the operator.
One braiding cycle done.
© 2011-2013 Ingrid Crickmore. Some limited and strictly specified sharing of this document is allowed, see full copyright information in blue area at bottom of screen.
Adapted and expanded from my original version, published on M. Kinoshita’s LMBRIC site in 2008