I am very excited about this! I just got word that my workshop proposal (Intro to double braids as a solo braider) was accepted by the organizers of Braids 2012! That’s an international braiding conference (who knew?) that will be held in Manchester, England next year, August 20 – 24, put on by the Braid Society.
It’s only the second time for this every-five-year conference–the first one was in 2007, in Kyoto, Japan, organized by Makiko Tada.
From what I heard the Kyoto conference was a huge success. People who went raved about it–even British braiders who are not normally very talkative/ effusive on the Braid Society’s yahoo list.
“Braiding” in the Braid Society refers to all narrow textiles, including woven bands, so there is likely to be a wide range of great workshops. I know the word “conference” sounds intimidating, but it just means a lot of people getting together to learn and share fun narrow-ware textile techniques.
These are braids that were traditionally made by two braiders working side-by-side, connecting their separate braids after each braiding cycle (ie after each pair of left and right loop transfers). Such braids were often doubled 5-loop braids, so 10 loops altogether.
I plan to teach a reduced, 8-loop, solo-braider version that doesn’t require using thumbs, or more than one loop on any finger. Classic color patterns like “Crowns” and “the Edge” etc that were described with 10 loops in the old loop braiding manuscripts can also be made with 8 loops–see the orange and gray braid in the center of the photo above.
Double braids have a lot more shape variations than their component “single braids”. They can be flat, rectangular, hollow, grooved in various ways, peaked-triangular, double-tubular etc. Different color-patterns become possible with these structures, and there are some fun tricks you can do with colors as well–see the braids with contrast-color borders. More possibilities than I may be able to get to in one workshop! (though once you learn a few of the structural variations, most of the others would be easy to get from the workshop handouts.)
The double-tubular shape is really interesting. See the pink and green “rosebud” braid, and the blue and pink braid next to it, 2nd and 3rd from the upper right. Each has an inner braided tube and an outer braided tube of different colors, that can be made to switch places whenever you want, as in the blue/ pink braid. Or the outer tube can be braided with holes, so the inner tube peeks or pooches out (the rosebud braid). The double-tubular form requires an extra step, so it’s a bit more complicated than the others, but it is so worth it!*
Although I plan to teach these as 8-loop braids, I will also demo my method** for making the full 10-loop versions, using 1 loop per digit: thumbs to little fingers… (this is a “next step” after getting used to using thumbs in making 9-loop square braids.)
It’ll be a go-at-your-own-pace type of workshop. Those who can already braid with 7 loops may get to the 8-loop double braid on the first day, and spend the second day learning variations and color manipulation.
I just noticed that the color patterns on the 7th and 8th braids from the left, and maybe the top right braid, look a little bit like columns of birds —I didn’t think of these braids when I replied to Doug the other day on a different post—he had asked if I knew of any braided bird motifs and I said no. Oops! Though I don’t know if these are what he had in mind, it’s kind of a stretch to see them as birds… (In answering a question in his second comment, I went into more detail about how double braids can be done by a solo braider—if you are curious about this you can go to the comments section at the end of the “Why Spanish?” post.)
(Leave a note below, or email me if you have any questions about the conference or these braids)
*Double-tubular or “couvert” braids are known from the 15th and 17th C English loop braiding manuscripts, though Noemi Speiser seems to suspect that the 17th C source (from Lady Serene, in a document entitled Natura Exenterata) might have been copied or handed down from a 15th C source, based on the style of the braids, and of the writing and vocabulary, which was exactly like the 15th C braiding manuscripts and very different from all the other known 17th C loop braiding manuscripts.
See Joy Boutrup’s couvert braid from one of Lady Serene’s braid recipes on this page in L-MBRIC, issue 2–scroll down to the color photos .
Just below this couvert braid, Masako Kinoshita shows a photo of her reproduction of an even more complex Japanese Kute-uchi (hand-held loop-braided) braid with a double-tubular structure (it’s the lower of the two kute-uchi braids). The colors of an inner and outer braided tube can switch places, making for dramatic and total color changes in the braid. Kute-uchi braids like this were braided by multiple braiders working together, possibly as many as 4.
(The top of this same page shows diagrams of the hands of two co-operating braiders who are making a 10-loop double braid. If a solo braider were to braid this double braid, the left hand would hold the left braider’s loops, and the right hand would hold the right braider’s loops.)
**Others have come up with thumb-less ways to make 10-loop double braids by holding multiple loops on certain fingers, so that is an option, too–see Phiala’s String page. Noemi Speiser’s Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding has a mention of her own method, but she doesn’t describe it exactly.