You CAN put your loops down!

Despite what you may have heard, when fingerloop braiding, you really can put your loops down and take breaks.

These days, I set my loops down on a big-tooth comb, and secure them by wrapping a rubber band around the comb a little above the loops. The rubber band doesn’t directly hold onto the loops, just onto the comb, making a barrier the loops can’t slide past.

finger loop braiding, setting down the loops

in-progress loop braid resting on a wide-tooth comb holder. (embroidery floss, 14th C. Sudarium-type braid)

I do this anytime, even in the middle of a short braid, if I want to get up for a minute.
It isn’t absolutely necessary for the comb to have big, widely separated teeth, btw – you can just as easily set a loop down over a few fine teeth as over one big one.

The beginning and end of the following video shows how I use the comb holder (the main part of the video is on how to braid a 10-loop spiral braid – one of my several videos tutorials for 4- to 10-loop spiral braids).

In the beginning you can see me taking the “parked” loops off the comb.
Skip to the end of the video to see how I set them down on the comb. You have to be kind of careful about this, so you won’t pick them up wrong later! (Slide the little bubble under the video to the right to fast-forward to the end):

My first temporary loop holder was a ruler with clothespins clipped onto it:

My old clothes pin holder—(the ends of these loops had been chained up to reduce excess length)

Later I used a set of wooden pegs that were meant to hold or display plates or saucers. I modified it a little and ended up with 5 pairs of pegs in a row, about 3″ high on a free-standing base.

After setting each loop down onto a peg, I would stretch a rubber band around the top of the pegs the way I still do on my combs to ensure that the loops can’t slide off. 

Here’s a different set of pegs I picked up at a second-hand store recently – I think it’s a tie-rack. I haven’t tried it out yet but I think it would work fine. I might only use one of the two rows of pegs – or maybe, lay each loop over two parallel pegs.

[In part of another more recent video, I demo using this set of pegs. Skip ahead to 2min,38sec into the video to see that part.]

The pegs were the easiest system, but I like my combs because they are so light and portable–I take my braids on a lot of road and camping trips.

Masako Kinoshita told me she uses a big clip on a piece of cardboard.

Joy Boutrup says she uses the curved plastic spines that hold paper booklets together.

I heard from a blog reader that she simply cuts “teeth” into a rectangle of heavy cardboard, making a cardboard “comb”–inspired by her kumihimo card. No need for a rubber band, as the loops are held in place by the tight slits in the cardboard. I have to try this!

Update: I tried it and personally I still like the comb—slipping loops onto a comb feels easier than forcing them into tight slots…

For slippery fiber like silk or nylon, you can use a hair clip, bag clip, or small binder clip to hold the fell (the bottom edge of the braided area) to keep it from loosening up–as well as putting the loops on a holder, not instead of. 

I put the loops safely down onto a holder first, then manually tighten the fell by tugging the left and right bunches of loops apart below the fell, and then place the clip or clips on the loops right at the fell-line.

Or, if the loops are long enough, I might simply tie the left and right bunches of loops in a bow-type slip knot right at the fell.

Bonded nylon beading cord is not only slippery, but also very stiff, so it’s even harder to tighten than silk and rayon. If I set a bonded nylon braid down for a few days, I might find that I need to unbraid a short distance back and rebraid the loose bit.  But that’s not usually necessary if I’m careful about using clips on the fell right after I set the braid down on a comb.

last updated Jan 28, 2020

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5 thoughts on “You CAN put your loops down!

  1. I actually considered getting a pair of hands – mannequin hands, or ring displays – to hold my project when I needed a break. Then I made a holder with a paper towel tube. I cut “fingers” into the tube, three on each end. I hook the loops on to the fingers corresponding to my own, then roll the project around the central portion of the tube. I cut a second tube lengthwise to put over as a cover. That only works well for shorter braids, but I have a long, narrow plastic bag (the type our weekly newspaper comes in) to slip over the project.

    • That sounds perfect, also that the whole thing can hold the loops without using a rubber band. One bad thing about rubber bands – they don’t last, will crumble and break if you leave it on a comb for months or years. I just use a rubber band for temporary security while laying down the braid on the table or even hanging it from the C-clamp while I take a break. For long-term I wrap the loops around the comb like you do around the tube. (I have a LOT of ancient partially-done braids wrapped around combs with the crumbled remnants of rubber bands littering the bottom of the box or drawer!)

  2. Pingback: Finger loop braiding – Crafty Lady

    • Thanks! I didn’t mention my first attempt at this which was the opposite of brilliant: stuffing a pair of gardening gloves with newspaper and then pinning the loops to the fingertips. I got them all backwards and tangled…

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