The methods for this and two other 17th Century letter braids were recently decoded by Joy Boutrup, extending Noémi Speiser’s earlier research on the very inscrutable 17th C. loop braiding manuscripts.
There isn’t much, if any, information on-line about these alphabet symbol loop braids, which is why I am making this meta-post about a previous post.
The 17th C.letter braids represent a pretty amazing pinnacle for loop braiding, which would have been lost completely if the few manuscripts on them hadn’t survived, or if Noémi Speiser and Joy Boutrup hadn’t come along and managed to decode them.
The 3 different types of letterbraids (that we know of) were all made by 2 braiders working together—each braider doing a rather complex braid of either 5 or 7 loops that was of a type called “spanish” in the original documents. Spanish braids have two loop transfers done on each hand—so 4 loop transfers per braider, compared to the more common type of braid which a braider only does two loop transfers in each “round” or cycle of braiding. A doubled Spanish braid—like all the letterbraids—has a whopping 8 loop transfers in each braiding cycle. That’s a very intricate braid—twice as intricate as a regular double braid. In a way, they are “quadruple braids,” since each component spanish braid is essentially a “double” braid itself…
If anyone has the Boutrup-Speiser collaborative monograph on these letterbraids, and is having trouble following its rather lean though technically complete directions, my videos should help with the 14-loop letterbraid’s component spanish braid of 7 loops.
This 7-loop component braid is itself a very fun and intricate braid:
I made several posts about the 14-loop letterbraid and its component 7-loop braid earlier in this blog’s life, when I had not yet tackled making videos:
Citrus letterbraid, part 1
Citrus Letterbraid, part 2
A Spanish Braid, Breed, Breadth (photos of my various pattern samplers)
Why Spanish? (this post has the instructions, and now the videos for the braid)
Bicolor Loop Magic (shows another doubled, 14-loop pattern sampler of this 7-loop Spanish braid)
The first two posts listed above give complete information on the Boutrup-Speiser publication on the letterbraids, and a lot more info about the braids.
The third post is on my experiments with the spanish 7-loop braid that is the basic braid of the 14-loop letterbraid. The fourth post has the instructions for this 7-loop braid (now with a video supplement). It also has text instructions for two braiders making the doubled, 14-loop braid (no video). I also describe how I hold the loops while braiding the doubled version as a solo braider, though not with step-by-step instructions for the moves.
I still haven’t posted anything about the other two 17th C. letterbraid methods…Still on the to-do list. Both are 10-loop braids, traditionally done by 2 braiders working together, each holding 5 loops, and doing the braiding moves of a 5-loop Spanish braid (the two 10-loop letterbraids are based on two different 5-loop spanish braids). Either of them can also be done by one braider, holding only one loop per finger if thumbs are included.
I’m sorry about the bad light in these 2 videos, I made them at night. I’ll try to reshoot them at some point. But they seem to show the braiding moves clearly enough, so I decided to go ahead and post them—I don’t know how long it will be before I can clear enough off my plate to redo them.
Done! I have a much clearer video now, instead of the two old blurry ones!
[update March 2013: I recently posted a new reference page on the 17th C. alphabet braids, and on Joy Boutrup's publication on them—the link is in the menu at the top of my blog. Hover on the "About" tab, then on "About Loop Braiding", and you'll see 17th C. Letter Braids in a secondary drop-down to the right.]