[I'm still working on this page. Please make suggestions for any terms that need explaining!]
Loop braiding terms used in instructions:
Any movement of loops by the fingers.
A very specific kind of move—a move in which a loop is interlaced with or through another loop or loops. A square braid has two loop transfers that repeat over and over again. One is on the left and the other on the right. In each of these loop transfers, a loop is pulled through all the one or more loops between its starting point, and its new finger on the other hand. There are more moves than this in each cycle, but only 2 transfers.
A move that merely rearranges the loop or loops on the fingers, without interlacing them through or around any other loops. Ideally, this move is performed by the finger that the loop is shifting onto, not by a “helping” finger of the other hand. It’s usually done in order to put the loops back into their correct starting-position set-up after a loop transfer occurs.
In the 15th C. manuscripts, shifting loops was called “walking the bows,” which is how it feels, a very reflexive and easy motion that looks complex—like a centipede walking. It was also called to “hi” or “low” the bows, depending on which direction the loops were being shifted.
One repeat of the braiding movements, after which the same exact movements are repeated.
In a pigtail hair braid, a braiding cycle is two moves—one transfer on the left and then one on the right. That’s one full cycle, which repeats over and over.
Re the loop braids here on this website:
Like a pigtail braid, square braids have two loop transfers in each cycle of braiding. Double braids and Spanish braids have 4 loop transfers in each cycle.
The 8-loop spiral braid—or ‘lace bend round,’ also has 4 loop transfers in each braiding cycle, before the same sequence of moves repeat. (These transfers are very different from square or spanish braid loop transfers—they might also be called “loop exchange moves”.)
‘Braiding cycle’ only refers one repetition of the hand movements, not to a repeat of the pattern on the braid, or to all the loops returning to their original finger-positions.
That usually takes several braiding cycles, depending on the number of loops and the color pattern of the braid.
This is the term for the length of braid, or of braiding, that it takes before all the colors return to their original starting positions. This will equal one full expression of the color pattern on the braid. For a five-loop square braid, it takes 5 braiding cycles before all the loops return to the fingers where they started. So usually, the pattern repeat for this braid is five braiding cycles. Bicolor loop braids may not follow this general rule—depending on how often the loops are turned, it could take more or fewer cycles for a complete color-pattern repeat.
Turned loop transfer (same thing as Reversed or Crossed loop transfer):
Turning or not turning a loop over while transferring it can make a huge difference to how a braid turns out. Doing one or the other, or mixing the two types of transfers, is how you make a braid square, flat, or divide into two braids. ‘Turning’ the loop means taking it off its previous finger in such a way that it gets rotated by 180 degrees (a half-turn) as it moves onto its new finger. This makes the upper and lower shanks of the loop switch positions.
Reversed (vs unreversed) were the 15th C terms for this; Turn was used in the 17th C manuscripts; Crossed (vs open) are Noémi Speiser and Masako Kinoshita’s terms. To me, ‘turned’ (vs ‘not turned’ or ‘straight’) seems clearer, and when I teach, students seem to understand it more easily. In writing and in my tutorials I usually cite all three terms because people have different backgrounds in loop braiding.
With bicolor loops, turning a loop over twice (ie turning it 360 degrees) is another option—it has a negligible effect on the shape of the braid compared to turning the loop once, but creates a very different color effect, since the colors of the upper and lower shanks of the loop will not switch positions. When a loop is turned twice, its upper and lower shanks become linked around each other, instead of crossing each other.
A different kind of linking can also be done as part of the loop transfer or loop-exchange to create interesting color effects, like borders or lengthwise stripes of color (as in the braid in my sidebar →). This type of linked color-effect doesn’t require using bicolor loops. In this case, two loops of different colors are linked together—each shank linked separately to the equivalent shank of the other loop. This is done by exchanging or transferring a loop from one finger two times in immediate succession as part of one loop exchange or loop-transfer move.
“Loop braiding” vs. “Finger loop braiding“
I usually use “loop braiding”, unless I’m contrasting finger-held loops with hand-held loops (say, comparing a European braiding method to a Japanese hand-held loop braiding method), in which case I specify “finger loop braiding”. To me this seems clearer and less wordy than “finger-held loop braiding”. But “hand loop braiding” is problematic because it could be interpreted as loop braiding by hand versus by machine! So there is no recourse but “hand-held loop braiding.”
I’ve found that many online searches spell “finger loop” as one word “fingerloop”. So I try to remember to use that term in every post.
Masako Kinoshita and Noémi Speiser have done the most definitive research into, and analysis of loop braiding, and they prefer the term “loop-manipulation braiding”, using “finger-held loop-manipulation braiding” when they want to differentiate it from hand-held loop braiding. (Masako Kinoshita then shortens this to f-h l-m braiding). Others seem to have then dropped the word “braiding” altogether, and refer to it as “loop manipulation” alone. To me, that takes away the most important word! So far I simply can’t bring myself to add the word “manipulation” to loop braiding—it sounds unnecessary to me. I feel somewhat buttressed in this heretical departure from my two heroes’ terminology in that Noémi Speiser herself uses the simpler term “loop braiding” in many of her published works…
© 2012–2013 Ingrid Crickmore
This may be copied and distributed, as long as I am credited, and as long as it is not posted online, sold, or used in fee-based workshops without my permission. See full copyright notice in blue area at the very bottom of the screen.
Page 1: About Loop Braiding
Page 2: A-fell, V-fell, Slentre, and hand-held loop braiding
Page 3: Too-Many-Loop Braids
Page 4: Unorthodox Braids
Page 5: Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding
Page 6: Alphabet braids of the 17th Century
Page 7: About Me
Page 8: Terminology