This video tutorial demos an alternative method for braiding the 15th c. 8-loop braid called Lace Dawns, or Daunce in the Medieval loop braiding manuscripts. It is a much faster method, with no extra moves, or doubled loops on any fingers.
In the original manuscripts, this flat version of an 8-loop square braid is taught using the A-fell braiding method, and at one point requires holding 2 loops on one of the index fingers, and doing some rather fussy moves to finish the loop transfer and shifting on that hand* . Using the V-fell method for braiding this braid, you can hold the extra loop on the thumb of one hand, as taught in my 9-loop braid tutorial. This makes the braid very straightforward to do—with no more moves than a regular square braid, and no doubled loops on any fingers.
The right hand’s loops will be held and moved as if for a 9-loop braid, while the left hand’s loops will behave like those of a 7-loop braid.
(Any square or flat braid with an even number of loops has this kind of asymmetry—try a 4-loop square braid and you’ll see what I mean…)
The video below shows the color set-up, how the braid is done using the V-fell method, and explains some strategies for getting the w-pattern to stay level/ not to drift off into a slanted line, as it sometimes tends to do.
This is also how you braid the color variation of this braid that was called Lace Piol in the original documents. Piol is braided the same way as Lace Dawns, but starts with the colors in a different arrangement on the two hands.
Dawns and Piol braids, using the V-fell braiding method:
Basically, you will be following the instructions in my 9-loop tutorial, but reducing the number of loops to 8. The traditional color pattern had four red loops and four white loops. For Lace Dawns, set the colors up on the fingers so that A and B fingers hold one color, and C and D fingers hold the other color; with the same (mirror-image) color arrangement of the loops on both hands.
Dawns also looks nice as a square braid—same starting set-up, then do all the loop transfers turned (reversed/ crossed).
(For Lace Piol, at the start of braiding, all the red loops should be on one hand, and all the white loops on the other.)
Your first move will be to shift the right hand’s loops up to thumb, a, b, c fingers—leaving the little finger free of loops so it can be the “operator” for the first loop transfer.
Then braid as for the flat version of the square braid–turning loops on one side, not turning them on the other.
Only one hand will need to use a thumb.
In each braiding cycle, the first loop transfer will go through 3 loops, while the 2nd transfer will go through 4 loops. This might seem strange at first, but that kind of imbalance always occurs with even-no.-of-loop braids. The resulting structure is a little bit “off” from truly symmetrical as well. But using an even number of loops is the way to get truly alternating color patterns like lace dawns.
Tighten carefully and be prepared to do some fussy fell-correcting—the W-pattern tends to slant.
There will be a slight but visible difference to the braid pattern depending on which side you choose to turn the loops– done one way the two narrower “through 3 loops” ridges will be in the center of the braid, and done the other way the two wider “through 4 loops” ridges will be in the center. My video demos the first way, which was how the medieval manuscripts taught the braid. The turned [crossed/reversed] loop is the first transfer, so is pulled through 3 loops (left hand), while the straight [open/unreversed] transfer loop is the second one, so is pulled through 4 loops (right hand). The left side of the braid will have the “center-fold,” and the right side will be divided. When the braid is opened out, the left hand loops (with shorter passages) will be at the center of the flat braid, while the right hand’s loops (longer passages) will be divided onto both edges of the braid.
The braid in the photo above was actually done the second way—the left A-loop was taken through three loops without a turn, and then the right A-loop was taken through 4 loops with a turn—so the center-fold was on the right side. That’s why the two slanted “legs” at the center of each “W” shape are slightly longer than the outer two “legs” on the edges of the braid. (Not done on purpose, it was just an ingrained habit—I used to make all my flat braids that way.)
*When I do use the European A-fell braiding method for Lace Dawns, I prefer to start with 2 loops on the little finger, so as to leave that hand’s operating index finger free of loops. The bare operator index finger can then reach through all the loops at once—including the two d-finger loops—to make the loop transfer in one move. (Later on, the loop shifting on that hand is facilitated by a “temporary loop-hold” of the d-loop by the other hand, like the temporary loop-hold I demo in my tutorial for 11-loop braids.) I use this A-fell method when I need to unbraid the V-fell Lace Dawns and Piol that I teach here, as well as for unbraiding 9-loop braids.
See Fingerloop.org’s directions for the original A-fell method notated in the old manuscripts for making Lace Dawns.
My loop braiding info pages:
About Loop Braiding
A-fell, V-fell, Slentre, and hand-held loop braiding
Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding
Alphabet Braids of the 17th Century
Index to Tutorials