[Notes on color patterns, unbraiding to fix mistakes, techniques for carrying multiple loops, structure, Unorthodox braids of 11 loops, etc follow the tutorial. Text-only instructions for a 13-loop square braid are in the comment field below this post]
Below is a photo-sequence detailing the moves for my 11-loop square braid method. It’s a revised version of my photo how-to on 9 and 11-loop braids that was published in L-MBRIC in 2008. I completely rewrote it for this post, and included more and larger photos.
There are also two videos below the photo-tute. They were among the first loop braiding videos I ever made, and I’ve gotten a lot of complaints about how long-winded and slow they are, with too much talking and explaining, so you may prefer the photo-tute! But they do demonstrate the moves, so if you are serious about trying this braid you might want to at least glance through them (you can fast-forward by dragging the little bubble below the video).
Learn the 9-loop braid first, and practice it til the moves are easy and automatic, before moving on to this 11-loop braid.
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. That finger will be the first operator/ loop-fetcher.
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.
[Note: that's something I actually don't do anymore, but I'm leaving it in the instructions just in case it's helpful. I used to always move that low loop up to mid position, so the operator finger of the other hand could go through it more easily. But somehow it seems to work fine now whether the low D-loop stays low or slides up a bit for the following loop transfer. 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—especially to get the loop on the d-finger all the way down to low position.
[This may be helpful for braids of any numbers of loops, in fact...The whole hand tips back or forward for the loops to slide, you don't move them individually. This is something I don't think about, it just happens! So I don't really know exactly when I do it, I just know that the loops don't sit in one place on the fingers when you loop braid, they need to slide forward and back.]
Proceed with loop-shifts and tightening just as in first loop transfer.
11-loop square braids, first video:
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:
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 (usually).
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! Get used to the moves first, and save unbraiding for later, after the 11-loop braiding moves are clear.)
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 methodically reversing your braiding motions and sending the loops back the way they came. See my tutorial on unbraiding to learn both ways to unbraid.
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. Holding the extra loop on the d-finger means no extra moves for the loop-transfer, and also makes the loop-shifting much simpler than if extra loops are held on other fingers.
In fact, even holding two extra loops on the d-finger doesn’t require extra moves for the loop-shifting (it does require one extra step for the loop transfer). 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].
Square braids of 11 loops can be less neat in appearance than square braids of fewer loops. 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 extra-long 5/5 twill floats on the four ridges of the braid. [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 any more complex than 5-loop square braids: each pass of a loop covers a lot wider area, but still dives through a single section of ‘throughs’ and then emerges for one section of ‘overs’ before it reaches the other side of the braid to go back through again. (These two sections create the 2 ridges/edges on the upper and lower surface of all square braids—four ridges altogether, no matter how many loops are in the braid.)
But 11-loop braids are really fun to make! The braids are bigger, have more color possibilities, and nice, long pattern repeats. And they are very fast to make once you get used to them.
There are other braids that may be more interesting than square and “flat square” braids, but to me 9- and 11-loop square braids might be the most purely enjoyable to braid, with beautiful and quick results. (And their unorthodox variations are just as fun, as well as very interesting.)
11-loop square braids are a key step for learning how to manage even larger numbers of loops. If you are at all interested in learning any other braids with more than 9 or 10 loops, learn the 11-loop square braid first (and then the 13-loop version, and/or a double braid of 12 loops.)
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. It was also ‘documented’ to me by first-hand report, from someone who learned how to braid 9-loop V-fell braids in China in the 1940′s. 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.
© 2011–2014 Ingrid Crickmore
Adapted and expanded from my original version, published on M. Kinoshita’s LMBRIC site in 2008
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