Hollow loop braids

This is part 3 of my double braid tutorials, on the hollow, or tubular version of the double braid. [Part 1 – Basic instructions, and Solid Rectangle double braids; Part 2 – Flat double braids.] No video in this tutorial—it’s not needed, as the method is so similar to making a flat double braid.

(If you haven’t loop braided before, start with my intro tutorial on 5-loop square braids.)

The color patterns for the hollow braids in these photos are all given below, after the braiding method .

fingerloop braiding, 8 loops

finger loop braid, 8 loops, hollow double braid, with "Edge" pattern

(Click twice on any photo to see the braided structure more clearly.)

This braid doesn’t actually look hollow or tube-like as you are braiding it, or even afterwards (though you can make it look tubular by inserting a narrow object like a knitting needle into it, massaging the braid a bit and removing the object, see photo lower down). It will look rectangular or slightly D-shaped in cross-section, not very different from the solid rectangle double braid. But the color patterns can be very different! For two reasons: one, because the hollow braid’s side surfaces are its widest surfaces.
[NOTE: This is the case when it is braided by my solo-braider method, but not necessarily by other methods. (See the footnote in my post on two braiders working together to make double braids.) Whichever method is used, however, the braid is always hollow, and because of that it can be manually flattened on any axis the braider chooses after it is made.]

You will think of the sides as the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ surfaces after the braid is done, because they are the widest. That puts a different section of the braid in the center-view. A color set-up that would make a zig-zag pattern in a solid rectangle braid, would instead have mirror-image symmetry in a hollow rectangle braid—like X-shapes going down the braid  (the ‘X’ shapes can look a bit like eagles, or maybe lobsters).

8-loop hollow double braid, no bicolor loops

8-loop hollow double braid, no bicolor loops

And the second reason for very different patterns applies to bicolor loops. In the hollow braid, loops are only turned two times in every cycle, instead of 4 times. Since bicolor loops switch colors with every turn, they make very different color-patterns in these two rectangular braids.

The first two photos below are not of hollow braids. They show a couple of solid rectangle braids set up for that braid’s “Edge” pattern of bicolor loops—the blue-and-white braid also has a short section of the “one-loop-wrong” pattern. (The color set-ups for these two 10-loop braids are taught in my first double braid tutorial, near the end.)

fingerloop braiding, 10 loops, medieval pattern

Bicolor “Edge” pattern in solid rectangle double braids, 10 loops, top surface

fingerloop braiding, 10 loops, medieval pattern

reverse side, solid rectangle Edge patterns

Compare them to the hollow rectangle braid’s “Edge” pattern (below).

fingerloop braiding,  medieval, hollow braid

Hollow rectangle double braids with “Edge” type bicolor patterns, 9 loops

In my lingo, Edge patterns are those bicolor loop patterns in which the lengthwise columns of the braid keep to one color, without the braider having to do any extra braiding moves (i.e no ‘linking’). Some of the braids in the photos above are mostly Edge-patterned, but have a small contrast element…maybe one loop of a single color, or one bicolor loop turned in the opposite color configuration of all the other loops—that’s the “one-loop-wrong” pattern. Some have a range of colors—instead of just one—for the dark shanks of the loops.

I describe how to set up for the Hollow braid’s Edge pattern, along with several other patterns shown in the photos, further down in this post—just below the braiding method itself.

The Hollow Rectangle double braid is truly hollow (if you’ve remembered not to turn any of the inner loop transfers!), so you can easily change it from a flattish, rectangular shape, to a round shape.  Insert a fine knitting needle or maybe a shish kabob skewer into the braid and squish the braid up and down to help it fill out.

fingerloop braiding, 9 loops, medieval

You can then re-flatten it into any orientation you want—changing the way the color pattern displays on the braid. Or you can thread a core through it to keep it filled out.  In the photo below, I hadn’t actually inserted a core, but the stiffer, gold-colored viscose threads tend to make the braid keep its rounded shape. (If I wore this bracelet a while, it would probably flatten out, though, so if I want it to stay round I would definitely pull some kind of core through it, maybe a round shoe-lace.)

friendship bracelet, fingerloop braiding, 9 loops, hollow, medieval

Hollow double braid of 9 loops, no longer rectangular. This is its rounded, “puffed-out,” form, after inserting knitting needle. Embroidery floss and shiny rayon thread.

Or you can use a hollow braid to cover and decorate a narrow object. Or maybe put elastic, or a ribbon inside—plus some other possibilities:

fingerloop braids, complex, 12 loops, hollow braids, beads, openwork, by Ingrid Crickmore

Hollow double braids of 12 loops, some with openwork areas

The braids that probably jumped out at you are the ones with the open areas!

This is another really cool thing about hollow double braids…When you make a divided section in the braid (by doing none of the loop transfers with a turn), the divided area appears in the center of the braid, like a keyhole.

friendship bracelet, finger loop braiding, complex braids, tutorials

8-loop hollow braid, with linked loop exchanges to create the different colored sides (explained in my previous post)

And since the braid is hollow, anything you string through the braid will show in that opening! Ribbons, another braid, beads, etc.

Plus, the sides of that keyhole are cupped, and will hold onto a flat object of the right size, especially if it is oval, diamond-shaped, or best of all  “eye”-shaped (like an oval but pointed at both ends…what on earth is the name for this shape???? it seems like such a simple geometric shape, but I can’t find a name for it anywhere).

Here’s a photo of a bracelet I sometimes wear when I’m teaching:

friendship bracelet, finger loop braid, hollow braid with inserts, tutorials

I’m not crazy about the colors I used, but I like the inserts. They were some thin, flat metal scrap-booking ornaments (eye-shaped) that I happened to come across, with English words on one side and Chinese characters on the other.

The braid above was made with more loops than those in my tutorials, but 8 and 10-loop hollow double braids have the same possibility, maybe with the added security of a little glue to hold the inserted elements in place.  Judging the size is important, too.  It’s best if the opening is small enough that it’s difficult—but possible—to insert the flat object. The object should not be very thick, and it will hold best if it is pointed at the top and bottom. That large, round insert in the upper photo would probably need glue if were used in an actual piece of jewelry. I didn’t glue the inserts in the bracelet, though, and I’ve worn it many times without having any of them fall out.

BRAIDING METHOD, Hollow Rectangle double braid
(solo braider method):

No video is necessary, if you have learned the braids in my previous 2 double braid tutorials (solid rectangle, and flat)
Update-I just posted a video that demos how to make a 12-loop hollow double braid. Same concept, but a lot more loops. 6, 8, and 10-loop hollow braids will be easier to learn from watching my videos on flat double braids, see below.

The hollow rectangle double braid is even easier to make than the flat double braid:
The first loop transfer is not turned, and the second transfer is turned, on both hands, instead of just one. Basically, you do on both hands what I demoed for only the right-hand loops in my flat braid videos.


Fingers: A = index, B = middle, C = ring, D = little

8-loop hollow double braid, no bicolor loops

No-bicolor-loops braid pattern, hollow double braid, 8 loops: (above)

Left hand loops:
A Orange
B Black
C Orange
D Tan

Right hand loops:
All tan (4 loops)

fingerloop braid, tutorial, medieval, 8-loop hollow double braid

Hollow double braid above: 2 orange loops, the rest of the loops black+white bicolor loops in Edge pattern:

Fingers: A = index, B = middle, C = ring, D = little

For 6, 8, or 10-loop braids:

Use the same setup shown below for the EDGE pattern except, instead of bicolor loops on the right hand’s A and B fingers, use two all-orange loops.

Edge pattern loop set-ups for Hollow double braids:
All loops bicolor, of the same two colors, one shank dark and one shank light.

Edge, 6-loop hollow braid 
Left hand loops:
A Dark shank up [this means: place loop so the dark shank of the loop is over the upper side of finger; light shank on lower side of finger]
B Dark shank up
C Light shank up

Right hand loops:
A Light shank up
B Light shank up
C Dark shank up

Edge, 8-loop hollow braid
Left hand loops:
A Dark shank up
B Dark shank up
C Light shank up
D Light shank up

Right hand loops:
A Light shank up
B Light shank up
C Dark shank up
D Dark shank up

Edge, 10-loop hollow braid
Left hand loops:
Thumb Dark shank up –it’s important to remember which shank on a thumb is “up” and which is “down”! (Review photo #3 in the 9-loop tutorial)
A Dark shank up
B Dark shank up
C Light shank up
D Light shank up

Right hand loops:
Thumb Light shank up
A Light shank up
B Light shank up
C Dark shank up
D Dark shank up

Bicolor loop braids do not have to be of only 2 colors:

fingerloop braid, complex, 13 loops, original design, tutorials, loop braiding

13 loop hollow double braid, Edge pattern with 10 black/white bicolor loops, followed by 3 pink/brown bicolor loops

Loop set-up for grey/white and pink braid:

8-loop hollow braid, with linked loop exchanges

This 8-loop hollow braid has color-linking at the final loop exchange of each braiding cycle, as taught in my flat double braid post. That keeps the left hand’s grey and white loops on the left hand, and the right hand’s pink loops on the right, making each side a different color.  Here, in a hollow double braid, the two different colored sides of the braid end up seeming like the “top” and “bottom” of the finished braid. During braiding, the braid was on edge, as shown in the photo. The braid also has openwork areas, made by not turning any of the transferred loops for (here) 8 braiding cycles.

No bicolor loops. The grey and white ‘W’ pattern can only be made with 8 loops, not 6 or 10 (but 6 or 10 loops will make a nice non-W pattern). I used embroidery floss, but doubled the strands to make a bigger braid.

The left hand holds 2 grey and 2 white loops. The right hand holds 4 pink loops. While you are braiding, the left loops and right loops should never cross over to the other hand. Instead of crossing, they are linked together at the final loop exchange by being exchanged twice (shown in a video in the flat double braid tutorial).

Fingers: A = index, B = middle, C = ring, D = little

Left hand:
A Gray
B White
C White
D Gray

Right hand:
All 4 loops pink

I braided “hollow” for 8 cycles, then “divided” (no loop transfers turned) for 8 braiding cycles to form the openings. Fewer divided cycles will make shorter openings, more divided cycles will make longer ones. The openings may not stay open on their own if the braid is stretched lengthwise. To keep them open, consider stringing a ribbon through the braid and tightening it to keep the braid from stretching out, or inserting something into the openings to hold them open.

Note—if you want the pink side to show (like a slight border) around the edges of the grey and white side, as in the photo, be sure to set the colors up exactly as I described, with the pink on the right hand, and the grey and white on the left hand, and do the final loop exchange as I teach in the videos: Left loop AROUND right loop (two times). If you do it oppositely, the pink side will have a (gray and white) border, and the grey and white side won’t have a border.

Here are some other pictures of hollow braids that have color-linking at the final loop exchange:

fingerloop braid, 6 loops, loop braiding, instructions, tutorial, video tutorial

6-loop hollow braid, right loops black; left loops white and bicolor white+other. Linked loop exchange.

fingerloop braid, 8 loops, loop braiding, instructions, tutorial, video tutorial

8 loop hollow braid with linked loop exchange

fingerloop braid, 16 loops, loop braiding,original design

16-loop hollow double braid with 2 kinds of linking—at final exchange, and also at right hand outer loop transfer (turned twice)–with bicolor loops this can result in 2 bands of lengthwise colors on the right side of the braid. Right loops bicolor; left loops single colors (4 green, 4 ecru).

Below is an 8-loop version:

fingerloop braid, 8 loops, loop braiding, instructions, tutorial, video tutorial

8-loop hollow braid. Right loops are bicolor tan/black, turned twice. Left loops not bicolor. Final loop exchange done twice. Both types of linking are explained in an earlier post.

The braid below was made with 9 loops, which I haven’t taught yet for double braids, but below the photo I give directions for both an 8- and a 10-loop version. (Reduce the 8-loop version by 2 loops for a 6-loop version.) Btw, the braid in the photo really is a double braid, even though it has an odd number of loops! Over-explained under “what is a spanish braid?” near the end of my 7-loop Spanish braid tutorial.  The gold is viscose rayon. The other colors are cotton embroidery floss. The 10-loop version has two contrast all-gold loops instead of just one; and the 8-loop version has no contrast loops (in other words, no all-gold loops, so no gold “interruptions” going across the multicolor columns).

hollow double braid, 9 loops, Edge pattern with mulitcolors

8-loop version of the gold-and-multicolored Edge-pattern above:
4 gold + black bicolor loops
2 gold + green bicolor loops
2 gold + purple bicolor loops

Set-up (hollow braid Edge set-up, but dark shanks are 3 different colors):

Left hand
A: Black up, gold down
B: Green up, gold down
C: Gold up, purple down
D: Gold up, black down

Right handnote that the colors are are the same, but the up/down orientation is the opposite as on the left hand
A: Gold up, black down
B: Gold up, green down
C: Purple up, gold down
D: Black up, gold down

10-loop version of the gold-and-multicolored Edge-pattern above:
4  gold + black bicolor loops
2  gold + green bicolor loops
2  gold + purple bicolor loops
2  gold loops


Left hand (thumb to d-finger)
Th: Purple up, gold down  –it’s important to remember which shank on a thumb is “up” and which is “down”! (Review photo #3 in the 9-loop tutorial)
A:   Black up,  gold down
B:   Green up,  gold down
C:   Gold up,  black down
D:   Gold up,  green down

Right hand (thumb to d-finger)
ThGold up,  black down
A:   Gold up,  purple down
B:   Gold up,  black down
C:   all-gold loop
D:   all-gold loop

© 2013–2015 Ingrid Crickmore
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2 thoughts on “Hollow loop braids

  1. You are a marvel. I am in love with loop braiding through your posts. At present I am too busy to take it up in earnest. As soon as I have a little time I´ll be practicing like mad.

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