If you are already comfortable braiding 7-loop square braids, this seven-loop spanish braid might be fun to try next. It has twice as many loop transfers as a square braid (and they are done differently than you might expect!)
This post also has information about braiding the 14-loop ‘letterbraid‘ both in the traditional manner (two braiders working together, each braiding the 7-loop Spanish braid taught here, and connecting their two braids into one as they work), and with my own solo-braider method (7 loops held in each hand).
[Video tutorial below; skip down to text instructions for the 7-loop (single braider) and 14-loop (two-braider) braids here; jump further down to my 14-loop solo-braider method here ; and to my “Why Spanish?” structural and historical musings here]
Slide the bubble under the video to the point you want to see.
0:00 Intro and setup (overly long! Skip to 5:45 for braiding moves for a divided braid)
5:45 Basic braiding moves, making a divided version of the braid (loops are not turned over while being moved). This creates a divided-into-two-layers braid, which will form a loop/ buttonhole at the start of the braid.
17:47 Beginning of braiding a “solid” braid: each loop is turned over when it is moved. This connects the upper and lower layers of the braid, making a solid, rectangular braid, twice as wide as a square braid.
In the video I am braiding a color pattern that I call “Lopsided Crowns”. In the picture of the two sample braids below, the lowest braid has an example of the “Lopsided Crowns” pattern: At the far right (upper) end of the braid, beside the biggest bunch of loop-ends.
This post now has instructions for making all the color-patterns in these two sampler braids.
Text instructions for 7-loop “Spanish” braid, demo’d in video above. I learned this braid from Speiser/Boutrup’s Instructions for Letter Braids in 17th c. Manuscripts (I do the first loop transfer slightly differently than Joy Boutrup describes it, but the result is the same.)
See notes below braid instructions for info on color set-up. Give all loops a half-turn when transferring them (for a solid braid), or no turn for a two-layer, divided braid (both shown in video). Other combinations will make different braid shapes.
La, b, c, d = left index, middle, ring, little finger, or the loop on that finger.
This is similar to most loop braiding notation systems, goes back to the 15th C. manuscripts.
In these instructions, La= the left index finger; La =the loop on that finger
3 loops on the left hand: 1 each on La, b, d (no loop on the Lc-finger)*2
4 loops on the right hand: 1 each on Ra, b, c, d
1. Ra (operator finger for this move) goes through Lb, takes La and places it onto Lc. First left-side transfer done.
2. Lb shifts up to La.
3. New operator finger Lb goes through Lc and Ld, takes Rd. Second left-side transfer done.
4. Rc shifts down to Rd, leaving the Rc finger empty. Loops are now in mirror image of original starting position, ready for the 2 right-side loop transfers.
Repeat above moves in mirror-image fashion:
5. La (new operator finger) goes through Rb, takes Ra and places it onto Rc. First right-side transfer done.
6. Rb shifts up to Ra.
7. New operator finger Rb goes through Rc and Rd, takes Ld. Second right-side transfer done.
8. Lc shifts down to Ld, leaving the Lc finger empty. Loops are now in original starting position, ready for the 2 left-side loop transfers.
One braiding cycle done.
For the 7-loop braid, just keep repeating these steps. Skim through notes below for info on color setup and new info on loop-turns. Most of the rest of the notes are for the 14-loop, doubled version of this braid. After you learn this 7-loop braid, check out the bicolor pattern set-ups below for several fun color patterns.
For the 2-person, 14-loop version of this braid, this is the point where the 2 braiders would exchange their nearest a-finger loops, one through the other, being careful that the loops didn’t get a twist or turn during this process. The shanks that were in upper position on each braider’s hand should end up in upper position on the other braider’s hand with no twist to the loop. This can be tricky, review the info and video in my 2-person braiding tutorial for a way to do this with a 10-loop braid. However, in this Spanish braid, the two braiders’ neighboring hands will each be holding four loops when it comes time to exchange. Because of this, one of the two braiders will probably have to temporarily place a loop onto her other hand in order to free the index finger for the exchange (see suggestion in Joy Boutrup’s letterbraid book)…
To turn or not to turn: In my 7- and 14-loop braid samples, each transferred loop was turned. (“reversed” –15th C, “crossed” –Speiser and Kinoshita). This interconnects the upper and lower layers of the braid fabric. It also creates a color change if you are using bicolor loops.
For the 14-loop letterbraid, however, all transfers are done without turning the transferring loop. This results in a two-layer braid fabric, the top layer should be one color, the separate bottom layer another color. The top and bottom layers are not connected at all unless loops are turned over on the fingers (before the loop transfers occur) to change colors for the letter-shapes. This has the side benefit of connecting the two layers of the braid. (photo)
In the video I am turning the loops from below, unlike the way I showed in my square braid videos—in those I turned the loops from above. Either way works fine, but you should stick to one way within a braid
New info 2-14-12: Au contraire! ~ The following is not necessary in making this braid, and was apparently not traditional, but it turns out that this type of braid will be much straighter and flatter in cross-section if you turn the first and third transfer from above, but turn the 2nd and 4th transfer from below. (Outer transfers from above; inner transfers from below.) Or vice versa. Thanks to Gary in the Canary Islands for pushing me to confirm this. [I demo this in a video here.]
However, no extant surviving “spanish” type braids or double braids had this type of mixed turns. [Joy Boutrup told me this at Braids 2012, and she has done extensive research on surviving European loop braids]
2-braider method: For making either the 14-loop letterbraid, or my doubled 14-loop samplers in the traditional method, 2 braiders would be standing side-by-side, braiding from one fixed point.
What I described in the directions above are the LEFT braider’s moves—the right braider mirrors everything the left braider does.
For example, the right braider starts with 4 loops on his/her left rather than right hand (and would then begin braiding at steps 5-8, followed by 1-4, since these two sections are the mirror-image of each other).
Bicolor loops set-up: The 14-loop letterbraid, and the 7-loop sampler braids in this post, have all-bicolor loops –each loop is of two colors, having one light and one dark-colored shank. (See my Bicolor Loop Magic tutorial for an introduction to bicolor loops)
For the letterbraid: at the start of braiding, all the dark shanks are in upper (or all in lower) position on all fingers. The color of the upper shanks forms the ground color; the color of the lower shanks will be the color of the letters.
For the 7- and 14-loop sampler color-patterns: each of the various patterns starts out with a different arrangement of dark and light-colored shanks in upper position on the fingers, described below under How to set up…
Of course, this braid can also be made using single-color loops, or a combination of single and bicolor loops, just like square braids. Below are photos that reader Dan Gaiser sent me of his 7-loop Spanish braided bookmarks—most of these are flat versions of this braid, btw. He experimented with color patterns using bicolor loops and fewer or just one contrast single-color loop(s). (Thanks for these great examples, Dan!):
Color sequencing: For setting up your own color arrangements, if you want to line up colors in a certain order in this braid, you’ll need to know the loop sequence (the order of how the loops follow each other in the braid itself). Two loops that are next to each other on your fingers might not actually be next to each other in the braid. I describe the loop sequence for the 7-loop spanish braid here in my post on color-pattern planning.
How to set up for the bicolor patterns in my 7-loop sampler braids:
Many other patterns are possible than just the ones I show—try other set-ups; single-color loops; and combining bicolor and single-color loops.
Update: after I posted this tutorial, Gary Mitchell developed an online interactive pattern-planner for this 7-loop Spanish braid! With it, you can plan over 500 different braid designs! I’ve made two posts about his planner – the first post explains how it works, and the second post has a video showing how to follow his planner in braiding a design, either one you’ve made up, or one of the examples in my photos.
See note 2b re (lack of) historically notated color-patterns.
For these patterns, use all bicolor loops. When you are about to start braiding, set the loops up on the fingers as I describe below for each pattern.
In the directions below, “Black” means: dark shank in upper position, whereas “White” means: light shank in upper position on the finger. (All the loops are of the same two colors).
All colors will return to their starting set-up position on the fingers at the end of each pattern repeat—7 full braiding cycles—as long as you haven’t made any mistakes!
The “Edge” pattern is an exception. With this set-up, the loops will return to the same color distribution on the fingers after each braiding cycle (4 loop transfers), so the “Edge” pattern repeat is only one cycle long. That makes it a good pattern to practice the braid with—you can error-check to make sure the color distribution is correct after each cycle, instead of counting 7 cycles before knowing if you’ve made a mistake.
If you’ve made a mistake and (after one full pattern repeat) one loop is in the wrong orientation, the easiest way to fix it is just to turn it on the finger to be in the correct color-orientation, and continue braiding. (The fussy way to correct is to unbraid back past the mistake.)
[new: Gary’s online pattern planner for this braid can show how the loops should look on your fingers after each cycle of any pattern! see note **** ]
a, b, c, d = index–little finger
Edge pattern—first pattern in each braid (and repeated between the other patterns)—lengthwise stripe outlining the edges of the braid:
Left hand loops: a-black up, b-black, (no loop on c), d-white
Right hand loops: a-black, b-black, c-white, d-white
a, b, c, d = index–little finger loops. Each loop is bicolor–half light, half dark.
In Gary Mitchell’s new interactive pattern-planner for this 7-loop spanish braid, the Edge pattern’s ID # is 585—if you enter that # into the box on the first page of the planner and click on “submit,” you will see a chart for this color-pattern.
Dom’s Edge-pattern bracelet
“One loop wrong” pattern—the first pattern after the “Edge” pattern, lower right end of both braids:
Start with the Edge setup above, except have one loop—any loop— “wrong” (opposite color than I list). I always turned the La loop to be “wrong”, but it shouldn’t matter which one you choose. [braid ID 586 on Gary’s planner]
Next very busy pattern to the left on lowest braid (black)
(the result of a mistake):
L hand loops: a-black, b-black, d-white
R hand loops: a-white, b-black, c-white, d-black
[braid ID 589 on Gary’s planner]
Lowest braid’s last pattern—upper right end of braid (lopsided “Crowns” pattern):
Start with all white OR all black shanks in upper position on all fingers.
[this is the pattern I am braiding in the video for this tutorial]
[OR, start with the set-up shown in the planner for this pattern—i.d. #595. Different set-up, but same pattern.]
Pattern to the left of that one (after Edge pattern—mottled black and white):
L hand loops: all white shanks upper position
R hand loops: all black shanks in upper position
(white color areas connect, black patches are separated—reverse the colors for the opposite effect. Or turn the braid over after finishing–colors are reversed on the other side.)
[OR, start with the set-up shown in the planner for this pattern—i.d. #590. Different set-up, but same pattern.]
Navy braid, middle pattern on lower half (navy irregular “M’s”):
L hand loops: all black shanks upper position
R hand loops: a-black, b-black, c-black, d-white
[or start with the setup shown in Gary’s planner for this pattern—i.d. #592. Different set-up, but same pattern.]
(for irregular white “M’s”, reverse the above colors)
–I forgot to try doubling this pattern in a 14-loop braid.
Top rightmost pattern in navy braid (sampler photo) is simply the Edge pattern, alternating with the same pattern but with all the colors reversed—switching Whites and Blacks in starting position.
How to switch DARKS & LIGHTS seamlessly:
To alternate between any pattern and its opposite–meaning the same pattern but with the dark and light reversed– do the following:
1st braiding cycle (4 loop transfers): do all 4 transfers STRAIGHT (unturned/unreversed/open)
2nd braiding cycle (4 loop transfers): do the first 3 transfers STRAIGHT, but the last transfer TURNED (reversed/crossed).
After these 2 cycles are done, the colors should be reversed. Check to make sure that they are. Resume braiding normally—turning all the loop transfers—until you want to switch again. For patterns other than The Edge, you will need to braid 5 more normal cycles (with turned transfers) before being able to check that you are in the exact opposite color set-up. That’s because, after making the switch you will be 2 cycles into the pattern repeat, so the colors you see on your fingers will not be in cycle-start position. If you want to be able to check immediately, learn how that pattern’s loops should look on the fingers once they have progressed two cycles from your starting setup. Gary’s online planner can now show this, see note: ****
Do try out single-color loops with this braid, too. As well as combinations of bicolor and single-color loops. I was on a roll with finding bicolor patterns when I made this series of posts, but you can use as many colors as you want, of single or and/or bicolor loops. I would love to see any that you make, either these patterns or your own…
What is a “spanish” braid, exactly???
Several braids were referred to as “Spanish” in the 17th C. English loop braiding manuscripts, not just this particular 7-loop one. Some were single-worker braids and some were multiple worker braids, and they had varying numbers of loops from five to 14. This one is the first Spanish braid I learned how to make —from Joy Boutrup and Noemi Speiser’s recent monograph—though I had read about “Spanish” braids much earlier, without really understanding what they were (in Noemi Speiser’s Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding).
When I finally learned this one I was amazed to find out that it was essentially the same as my solo-braider double braids, though with only 7 loops. (It may seem different to you, if you’ve followed my double braid tutorials, but that’s largely because I teach them with doubled A-fell braiding moves, rather than doubled V-fell ones.)
Even though this 7-loop braid is meant to be made by a single braider, the structure/architecture of the braid is very similar to the 10-loop 15th and 17th C. doubled-square braids made by two braiders—in Europe as well as other parts of the world. Surprisingly unlike the European two-worker double-square braids, this 7-loop “Spanish” braid grows on a W-shaped fell. Historically, European two-braider braids were made with what I call an “M-shaped” fell. That’s because they were braided by two braiders both using A-fell braiding moves.
The other thing that might seem different is that this “Spanish” braid has an odd number of loops, while all the double braids I teach (so far) have an even number. However double braids can also be made with an odd number of loops, I just haven’t taught that variation here yet. Braiding them with an odd number of loops slightly changes the way the braider or braiders connect the two halves of the braid—they wouldn’t use a simultaneous and reciprocal loop-exchange move.
Here’s how 2 braiders could make this 7-loop Spanish braid as a two-worker double braid technique (usually done with odd numbers of loops greater than seven):
At the start of braiding, one braider holds 4 loops and the other holds 3, yet each braider will (in turn) do all the braiding moves of a 4-loop braid (the way I teach square braids – the V-fell method).
There are at least two ways this can happen.
One way: the braider with 4 loops starts, braids two loop transfers as for a 4-loop square braid, and then passes the closest index loop over to the other braider—who’s been holding 3 loops, with none on the closest index to the first braider. Now the second braider has 4 loops. S/he braids two transfers, and then passes a new index loop back to the first worker.
So there’s no “loop-exchange” swapping move as in regular double braids–instead, the two braiders take turns braiding, and whoever has just braided passes an index loop to the partner who is about to braid. (Notice that each side of the braid is still braided with 4 loops–it’s a very symmetrical braid, in fact in some ways it’s more symmetrical than a double braid with an even number of loops.) Noémi Speiser calls this a “giving-taking” type of loop exchange. (after clicking that link, scroll down the L-MBRIC page to 3. 9-loop 2-person technique)
The exact same passage of loops can also be accomplished in another, more efficient way: The braider holding only three loops starts the braiding, and in one of the two loop transfers, goes through his/her own loops and takes a loop directly from the other braider’s closest index finger—and ends up with 4 loops. Then it’s the other braider’s turn to repeat those moves in mirror-image fashion.
That’s essentially what’s happening to the left and right hand loops in the 7-loop spanish braid directions above, across the two hands of a single braider instead of the four hands of two braiders. ***
And since this braid only has 7 loops, it’s fine to do it that way—there’s no need for it to be a 2-worker braid. With only seven loops, all four loop transfers can easily be done by one braider.
In OEPBforLB, Speiser wonders what the term “Spanish” could possibly signify, since the so-called Spanish braids were seemingly all so different – from 5 to 14 or more loops, and made by one or more braiders. So she just defines/describes so-called ‘Spanish’ braids by their weave structure rather than their method — as being plain weave, or occasionally a mix of plain weave and twill, and never all-twill.
My assumption is that 17th C braiders in England used the term “Spanish” for any braid in which the braider or braiders each make four loop transfers per braiding cycle, rather than two (the more usual case). Noémi Speiser doesn’t state this anywhere in her description of “Spanish” braids in Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding. But from what I can glean from Joy Boutrup’s instructions for all 3 “Spanish” braids that form the three letterbraids, and from Noémi Speiser’s descriptions of the structure of the braids called “Spanish”, that seems to be thing they all have in common. Some were one-worker braids, some multiple-worker braids. But all seem to have required 4 loop-transfers per braider, in each braiding cycle. [update – Joy Boutrup corroborated this when I asked her about it at Braids 2012].
To me it seems likely that the English braiders of the 17th century gave the name Spanish to certain braids based on something special or unusual about their method, rather than that the structure of some of these braids was plain-weave, and some a mix of plain weave and twill. Either of those two structures is a necessary result if a single braider is making four (orthodox) loop transfers and using 7 or fewer loops. An all-twill braid of 4 transfers per braider would require the braider to use a minimum of 9 loops. The 10-loop double braid that I teach as a solo-braider technique is an example of this. My guess is that if a 17th-C English braider could watch someone make that braid, s/he would likely call it a Spanish braid.
So then there’s the question Why did they call it “Spanish?”… Did this braiding method come to England from Spain, or maybe from even further away originally?
In the few of these “spanish” braids I’ve learned, loops are always transferred “outside→inward” in direction for the component square braid-type moves (like the so-called V-fell method). This seems a little strange to me, because in England (and most of Europe), the opposite direction of braiding was always used in making square braids: loops were transferred “inward→outside” in direction – a.k.a. the A-fell method.
If European simple square braids had later evolved into spanish braids—doubled square braids done by one braider—then why didn’t these braids have the typical European A-shaped fell, doubled into an M-(AA) fell? It’s perfectly possible to make them this way, in fact it’s the way I’ve tended to prefer myself after originally trying it in both directions… (it’s the braiding direction I teach on this blog in my double braid tutorials).
In India, and the rest of Asia and the Pacific, square loop braids were and are made with a V-shaped fell. To me it seems possible that this 4-transfer “spanish” braiding method—even though we only have records of it from 17th C. England—actually had its origins in India or Asia, before eventually being introduced into England (maybe via Spain), sometime in the 17th C. Knitting was also introduced to England from the Mediterranean/Middle East/North Africa around that time. Diseases, ideas, spices, fabric, and technologies were being disseminated on a large global scale. [new note: Loop braiding has been documented in Asia as long ago as 3 or 4 thousand years, cf Mari Omura.] There is no mention of ‘spanish’ braids in the English loop braiding manuscripts of the 15th Century, that term only appears in the 17th C manuscripts.
FOOTNOTES , REFERENCES, & BOOK REVIEW
* European Loop Braiding: Investigations and Results–Part II Instructions for Letter Braids in 17th Century Manuscripts by Noémi Speiser and Joy Boutrup
Parts I through IV are available separately or together. Only Part II deals with letter braids. Available from BraidersHand in the U.S., from the publisher in the U.K.
Please note: The actual instructions in the monograph are very brief, with no pictures or diagrams of the moves. I suggest learning the braiding method here first! The monograph is primarily a structural analysis of the letterbraids, not an instruction manual for them. This series of monographs is a supplement to Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding, and it assumes that the reader already knows how to make 2-person braids, and other basic info covered in the earlier book.
(More info about the Letterbraid monograph here).
*2 Joy Boutrup’s set-up is slightly different from mine—she starts with a loop on the Lc finger which she later moves down to the d-finger. I start with it on the d-finger. (I do that move down from the Lc finger at the end of the previous cycle, as a loop-shifting move). This makes no difference to the braid structure, and might not be any more efficient, it’s just a personal preference. The exact way braiders in the 17th C. did the moves isn’t known–they may well have also had individual differences like this.
*2b No examples of color-patterns for this braid are notated in any known loop braiding manuscript. The only known recorded information about this braid is as a doubled, two-braider structure for making letter (and other) shapes by means of a braided version of complementary pick-up patterning, a very complex color-patterning technique. However, it seems very unlikely to me that the braid itself hadn’t been known and used in its “single-braider” 7-loop form in a wide variety of ‘regular’ braid patterns before charted letter-patterns were developed for it. The particular bicolor-loop color-patterns I teach in this tutorial would be very obvious and easy to come up with for any loop-braider familiar with this braid and familiar with bicolor loops (departed bows).
*3 The unequal loop transfers should be made such that the two “through 1 loop” transfers (plain-weave) are done at the outer edges of the braid and the two “through 2 loops” transfers (twill) are nearer the center of the braid.
*4 Gary’s planner can now show this progression—on any pattern’s chart, click on “cycle +”. With each click, the loop setup shown on the chart’s lower left will change to show the color arrangement on the fingers after one more braiding cycle has been done. This is a really great feature! (thanks, Gary!)
*5 Other spanish braid-shapes (flat, hollow, etc): My more recent series of tutorials on the various possible shapes of double braids apply to ‘spanish’ braids as well.
I would love to see photos of any braids you make! (Email through my contact form up top and I’ll let you know how to send them.)
Please let me know where the instructions aren’t clear enough, it’ll help others who might not ask. Leave comments / questions here, I check every day when I’m in town.
My [recently edited and improved] solo braider method for the 14-loop letter braid.
Below is a blow-by-blow description of how I make the doubled version of the 7-loop Spanish braid (the 14-loop letterbraid) as a solo braider. The trickiest parts are the inner two loop transfers of each hand. These are the ones that involve the three loops held on the d-finger. I recommend the following steps before tackling this braid—if you like loop braiding, these will all be very fun steps, and some great braids!:
First learn how to use thumbs, and multiple loops on the little finger, as well as 10-loop double braids, and the 10-loop Nun’s letterbraid as a solo braider. Then the 13-loop square braid, since it also requires holding 3 loops on the d-fingers, but is a simpler braid.
Also, learn the 7-loop Spanish braid above—it’s the root of this 14-loop letterbraid, so it’ll help to know those moves when you are transposing them into the same loop movements done with all 7 loops on a single hand.
Practice this 14-loop braid as a divided braid first, keeping the upper and lower layers of the braid completely separate. If you can braid them so they come out as completely separate layers, you can be fairly sure you are doing the moves correctly. The letterbraids are braided as two separate layers except for the pick-up patterned letters, which connect the two layers together.
Start with all dark shanks in upper position.
[nb: the shank that must be considered the “upper” shank of a thumb loop is not obvious, this is covered in all my tutorials that involve using the thumbs.]
Each time you transfer a loop, make sure it hasn’t turned over—that the dark shank is still uppermost with no twist to the loop. If the two layers of the braid keep getting connected together, you are either inadvertently turning loops (probably the thumb-loops), or are reaching the wrong way through the loops to perform the loop transfer. In either case, review my solo Nun’s letterbraid video and practice that braid, the loop movements are very similar.
Lth,La, b, c, dLow, dMid, dHigh = left thumb, index, middle, ring, little finger-Low, little finger-Mid, little finger-High (OR the loop on that finger).
Operator finger / fetcher – the A or B finger of opposite hand that performs the interlacing move by pulling a loop through another loop or loops.
Each hand holds 7 loops. I hold 3 loops on each d-finger—1 at each joint—and 1 loop each on all the other fingers, including the thumbs. (My Lth, a, b = Traditional left braider’s La, Lb, Ld. My Lc, dLow, dmid, dhigh = Trad. left braider’s RIGHT d, c, b, a, respectively)
There are 4 loop transfers on each hand, so 8 altogether in each repetition of all the moves (braiding cycle). The “fetcher” (operator) fingers are the a and b-fingers of the opposite hand. The operator finger always transfers a loop from one finger to another finger – it does not keep the transferring loop, just temporarily holds it while shifting and/or other moves occur. The operating finger holds its own loop low, and carries the transferring loop high.
After all 8 loop transfers are done (both hands), the dHigh loops of each hand are exchanged. (The left and right DHigh loops are equivalent to the two closest index fingers of two braiders working as a team—the a-fingers of their so-called inner hands).
All 7 loops on a hand perform the same movements, in the same order, that they do when they are held across the two hands of a braider making a 7-loop spanish braid. The braider performs whatever motions are necessary to get the loop to go where it should!
1st move: Left hand’s thumb loop goes through only the loop next to it, the Left index loop. Use your Ra/Right Index finger to fetch it. [this exact move is demoed in my solo nun’s letterbraid video, though in that braid it’s the third transfer. It’s very important to understand and keep track of which shank is “upper” and which is “lower” when transferring or shifting loops to and from the thumb.]
Before setting the transferring thumb-loop onto its new finger (the left a/index finger), shift the A-loop up to the now empty Thumb. The ex-thumb loop is temporarily held by the operator finger until that loop-shift is done, then it is set onto its new finger (La). Shift index/a-loop to the thumb as shown in my 9-loop square braid tutorial.
2nd move: Lc/left ring loop moves in the opposite direction of the first transfer, through 2 loops: Lb and La. It will end up on the index finger (after the two loops it just went through are shifted down one position to make room). Fetcher finger is Ra/right index. Warning: Bring “upward-moving” loops through the other loops in the correct orientation!–watch the first and fourth loop transfers in my Nun’s letterbraid video. For these transfers, the operator finger must reach through the passive loops from “behind” – back to front to fetch the transferring loop – same orientation used in braiding an A-fell square braid, except that the fetcher finger is on the opposite hand. “Upward” means the transferring loop is pulled towards the thumb/away from the little finger.
Third move: Left d-High, the tip-most of the left 3 d-loops, goes through only one loop: Ld-Mid. (Structurally, this loop movement is a mirror-image equivalent of the first loop transfer, even though it looks so different on the fingers.)
I do this by using an “outside-around” move. I don’t physically move the “transferring” loop at all. Instead, the fetcher finger (Ra) lifts the middle of the three left d-loops, and brings it over/around the “transferring” tipmost d-High loop, then holds it temporarily throughout the following transferring and tightening moves (it will eventually be placed in D-High position of the same finger). The net result of this move is that the tip-most loop (d-High) “moves” one position toward the thumb through the middle d-loop – even though it wasn’t physically moved.
The next (4th) transferred loop will travel in the opposite direction, “downward”—away from the thumb.
Ok, before moving on to the 4th transfer, here’s a crucial part: Keep temporarily holding that Ld-Mid loop on the fetching (Ra) finger for a while!
Use Rb (right middle) as fetcher for the next move.
4th move: Use Rb (R middle) to fetch Lc/left ring loop through the 2 remaining D-loops, then Rb temporarily keeps that transferring loop during the following loop-shifting and tightening moves. (After that the loop will end up as the new middle d-finger loop (Dmid). Fetching Lc through the two Ld loops feels awkward at first, but your hands will get used to it.
1st Tightening move, left loops:
The two ‘left’ loops that are being temporarily held on Right A and Right B are stretched away from, and tightened against the rest of the left loops on the left hand. Stretch the two hands apart to tighten all the left loops.
Last left loop-shifts and setting down Ld-loops:
You are already temporarily holding two left loops, one on Ra and one on Rb.
Now use the tippy-tip of Rb to temporarily hold yet another loop: the outermost loop on Left d, so the lowest loop on Left d can shift up to (vacant) Lc (L ring).
Set all 3 temporarily-held loops of Right B and Right A onto the Left D (little) finger, as one move. Left-to-right: tip-most Right B, then next Right B, then Right A.
They will end up as Ld-Low, Ld-Mid, and Ld-High, respectively. This can be done in one simple set-down move.
Left half is done.
Repeat all moves in mirror-image for the right loops.
Finally, exchange Rd-high through Ld-high, give a slight tug to tighten.
(Exchange: Set Rd-high onto the tip of Ld. Then use Rd to lift the original Ld-high up and around the new Rd-high loop, and off the left d-finger, to be the new Rd-high loop.)
I do two main tightening moves in this braid, after the 4th transfer of each hand. I only do a slight tightening, just a little tug, after the final loop exchange. I keep my eye on the fell – the just-braided section — every time I tighten, and adjust the tightening accordingly. The letters have a tendency to slip into a slant one way or the other if you don’t keep an eye on the braid when tightening, and do it with conscious attention, rather than automatically. If I need to re-tighten after the final loop exchange, I tighten first the left and then the right loops. I lift the left d-loops off the left d-finger (using Right index/Ra) and stretch the two hands apart, then replace the loops. And repeat in mirror-image with right d-loops.
This braiding method is cumbersome to write out but not to do, after you are used to it. It amounts to two pairs of braiding moves on each hand: a ‘down’ and an ‘up’ transfer with the outer loops, followed by an ‘up’ and a ‘down’ transfer with the inner loops; then a tightening move, then the same thing done in mirror-image on the other hand. The last move is the loop-exchange move between the two hands (d-high little-finger loops are exchanged, right loop through left).
As I noted above the main tightening move should not be after the loop-exchange, but after the left loops are braided and then again after the right loops are braided.
[Note: inner and outer loops: Turn both hands palms-up to display the loops. Inner loops are towards the little fingers; outer are toward the index/thumbs. Usually also applies to the braid itself – outer loops represent the outer edges of the braid, inner are near the center of the braid.
Down and Up: Refers to the palms-facing position when braiding. A loop transferring UP is heading ‘thumbward‘, a loop heading DOWN is moving toward the little finger/ toward the center of the braid. ]
Leave a note below or send a mssg thru my contact form if you are trying this braid and want more details. Btw, there are always other ways of accomplishing the same loop movements! I used to do them slightly differently than I described above. You may find a way that works better for you than the particular method I use.
These are made by turning certain loops on the hands before performing a row of braiding moves (described above). The charts of each letter-shape show which loops to turn before each row. Actually, they don’t in fact say which loops to turn, they show whether the dark or light shank of the loop should be uppermost on the finger, for eight of the finger-positions:
Thumb, A – Dmid, Dhigh of both hands (equivalent to the A and B loops of all four hands of two braiders co-operating as a team).
If the correct shank color is already uppermost, you don’t turn the loop; if it isn’t uppermost, you do turn it. Only the loops in 8 of the 14 positions on the hand are turned (or not turned) when following the charts. If you are a team of two braiders, each braider only has to turn (or not turn) 2 loops of each hand in following each row of the chart. For my solo method there are 4 loops on each hand to check against each charted row.
This process is taught in simpler braids in my recent series of tutorials on pick-up patterning. (The difference is that with simpler braids, it is much easier and quicker to turn the loop while doing the loop transfer, rather than ahead of time, so that is how I teach it in in this series. In contrast, for most of the letterbraid methods, the chart is checked and loops are turned on the fingers before the braiding moves of each ‘row’/ repetition.)
last updated Mar 17, 2019
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