CONTINUE HERE: 7-loop square and flat braids

fingerloop braids, loop braiding, instructions, tutorial, video tutorial

Square and flat wool braids, most of 7 loops (two are 8-loop braids). Click for more detail.

This video teaches fingerloop braiding with 7 loops, showing the divided, square, and flat variations of a 7-loop braid, plus how to unbraid back a few cycles to fix a mistake. Be sure to learn 5-loop square and flat braids first.  Once you’ve braided a few of those you’ll be ready to try this 7-loop version (the fingers need to “work up” to 7 loops, it’s not a good idea to skip the 5-loop version.) You might like this video better than my 5-loop ones as it is slightly more fast-paced. In this one I managed to squeeze all the variations into one video.

[The color-patterns setups for most of the braids above are taught here]

7-loop braids:
On one hand all 4 fingers hold a loop, and on the other hand index, middle, and ring fingers hold a loop. With 7 loops, the bare little finger is the “operator,” instead of the ring finger. The little finger will go through three loops on the other hand to take the index-loop, instead of through two loops as in the 5-loop braid. The sequence is exactly the same—take the loop, shift, tighten, repeat on the other side…

Tips for efficient hand positions (click to follow link)

Start watching the video at 8:30 (8min,30sec) to see ‘square’ braiding moves with no pausing and explaining. The video starts with me talking and explaining a lot, then demoing ‘divided’ braiding moves, before moving on to the square braid. (See my trouble-shooting hints below the video’s timeline.)

Drag bubble under video to any listed timepoint. If you go to the Youtube site to watch it (click below the video), and then click “show more” under the video, you’ll see the same timepoints—but there the timepoints are actual links. If you click on one, the video will start right at that timepoint. Use your ‘back’ button to come back to this post.

[I show how to unbraid toward the end of this video. If you want to skip to that part, move the little bubble under the video up to 23:50.]

0:00   Intro
1:23    Start of braiding a divided braid
1:59    Loop shifts
2:58    Next loop transfer.
5:30    Explaining a DIVIDED braid.
5:58    The top of the braid — a divided section.
6:40    Intro to SQUARE braid.
7:12     Starting the square braid section.
8:30    Continuous, slow braiding moves, then faster.
10:15   Showing the braid, skip to 12:03 for FLAT braiding
11:27   Explaining the FLAT braid
12:03   left side WITH a turn, right side with NO turn.
13:06  Braiding. (Mantra: “Left OVER, right THROUGH”)
14:21   Describing a common mistake.
15:30 How to check for the mistake
15:56   Showing the flat section
18:05–19:05   Faster braiding.
19:55   Showing more of the flat braid.
20:13   Fixing a dropped loop
22:15   Another mistake (taking the right loop turned)
23:11   Showing the mistake in the braid
24:48  Unbraiding.
25:40  Reaching the mistake.
26:40  Starting braiding ‘forward’ again
27:25   Showing the braid at this point, mistake gone.

Oops! I just noticed a mistake in the video, a verbal one—at the point where I am showing the four sides of the square braid, I say that the top and bottom surfaces show chevrons and the 2 side surfaces show “zigs”—it’s really the other way around… It’s the SIDE surfaces that show chevron designs. The surface that faces you as you braid—and the opposite one that faces the floor—show the “zigs”.

How to set up the loop bundle:
I show this in the 5-loop tutorial.

Loop-shifting problems:
The loop-shifting may suddenly seem much harder with 7 loops than it did with 5.
Some people have little problem with this, others (like me) find it quite difficult at first.

1. The ring and little fingers have to learn how to detach from each others’ movements during the new loop shift. Some people experience this as a ring-finger problem, others feel the little finger is the problem. The two fingers have probably never been asked to do separate things before, so it may take a little practice before they catch on.

2. Ring fingers naturally have a much smaller range of independent motion than the other fingers. However, the whole hand can help the ring finger lift out of its old loop and move into the next loop:

Tip your loop-shifting hand back slightly to help get the ring finger out of one loop and into the next. It really isn’t necessary for the ring finger to lift up as high as the other fingers if the hand itself tips back a bit to help the finger out, then turns slightly to help the ring finger position itself into the little finger’s loop.

If one hand seems better at the new loop shifting than the other, that’s a good thing! Pay attention to exactly what the ‘good’ hand is doing that works, and try to emulate it on the other hand.

Let each hand do its own loop shifting – if you use the opposite hand to ‘help’ it will not help, instead it will completely prevent the first hand from ever learning the new move!

It’s normal to drop a lot of loops at first – even from fingers that had no problems before with 5 loops. You are focusing so much on the new motions, that you can’t pay as much attention to the rest of the fingers at first. Just pick the loops up and keep going. Don’t worry about mistakes for the first few 7-loop braids.

If it really seems too hard, you may want to try a 6-loop braid as a more gradual way to get each hand used to the new loop-shifting. When you braid with six loops, the first hand to be the active ‘loop-fetcher’ will make 7-loop movements; while the other hand will only make 5-loop movements – for the whole length of the braid. To switch and train the other hand, start the next braid by having the opposite hand begin the braiding moves. Remember: tip the whole hand back to help the ring finger lift out of its loop.

Once you get past that little hurdle you will love 7-loop braids! It’s really fun to use all 4 of your fingers effortlessly to produce beautiful braids. Just those two extra loops make a much “richer” braid, more solid-looking, with a lot more color possibilities and longer, more eye-catching patterns.

Nudge: After making a few 7-loop braids without dropping loops, move right on up to 9-loop braids, where the thumbs will now be loop-holders. This is not necessarily any harder than moving up to 7 loops! And if you wait too long to tackle them, you might get so swift at 7-loop braids that you won’t have the patience to slow down for 9-loop braids. (Seriously, longtime and speedy 7-loop braiders sometimes seem more taken aback when adding thumbs than do newer braiders!)

Flat (and divided) 7-loop braids:
See the Start Here tutorial for more about the 4 different shape variations:
Divided, Square, Flat, and “3/4 Flat”. It’s usually easier to get a truly flat, wide braid with 7 loops than it is with 5 loops. If you consistently get the 3/4-flat version instead, you are probably tightening much too hard. Tighten widely, but do it lightly. Don’t pull hard.

[I now have some further insights about avoiding or achieving the 3/4-flat braid shape – within my more recent post Pickup 3: Flat Braids.]

Update 2017: Here’s a recent photo montage of a 7-loop flat braid – first right after being braided (top view) where it is still in its folded, 2-layer shape with the appearance of a square braid; then a shot of it as it is being opened out; then at the bottom a shot of the opened-out flat, single layer end result:

Opening out a 7-loop flat braid,

7-loop flat braid, Top: after braiding – folded in two layers. Middle: starting to open and spread apart the two layers. Bottom: One single flat layer.

In my header pic, the hank of braid on the far right side is a 7-loop square braid, made out of embroidery floss. I used very pale colors in this braid, so the pattern doesn’t show very well. Here’s a close-up of it:

7-loop square braid, finger loop braiding, embroidery floss

7-loop braid color-pattern and shape variations:

Check out my post on color-pattern planning – it includes set-up instructions for several beautiful 7-loop braid color patterns.

My two tutorials for ‘unorthodox braids’ are both geared toward 7-loop braids, though they can be made with more or fewer loops as well:

1. The D-shaped braid
Plus a color-pattern post on some D-shaped color variations

2. The Triangle braid
Plus this color-pattern post on a LOT of Triangle braid color variations

Hint: Any of the color-pattern set-ups in the two posts above (for D-shaped and Triangle braid patterns) will likely turn out very nicely when braided as a square braid as well! just follow the color set-up instructions for any of them, but then braid a square braid instead.

The following tutorial teaches how to make some striking color-patterns in 7-loop flat braids by linking loops within the braid (this adds another move to the braiding procedure):
Color-Linking in 7-loop Braids.

I usually end a braid by braiding a loop into it (a divided braid section followed by a short square or flat section).

You could tie a big knot at the bottom to finish it (or wrap and tie off the bottom), and then trim the loops to make a tassel.

I usually don’t do that, instead I divide the braid into several thinner loop braids (see the third video in my Bracelet with Chevrons tutorial).

See this note for some other ideas for ending braids.

After the braid is done (and before opening it out, if it’s a flat braid) I squeeze the braid inward all up and down its length—the opposite of stretching it, almost as if I’m trying to shorten the braid—in order to relax and loosen the braid. I do that squeezing inward as if to shorten for all braids, it makes them look better after being pulled lengthwise for the whole braiding process. Then, if it’s a flat braid, I open it out width-wise and tug the edges outward to spread it out flat and wide.

If the braid doesn’t ‘want’ to stay flattened out, I’ll then wet or dampen it, gently stretch it flat again, and let it dry on a towel or hanging over my towel rod overnight. (my version of ‘blocking’)

Apparently Japanese Kumihimo braiders steam their braids to finish and block them—holding them (carefully) over a kettle on the stove, for example. I usually just dunk them in warm slightly soapy water, or hold them under running water. (If I am certain the colors won’t bleed—whenever I use a new type of yarn I test it first by soaking a sample for a few hours in hot water and detergent in a clear or white container, to see if any color bleeds into the water.)

Last updated Dec 19, 2022

© 2012–2022 Ingrid Crickmore
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9 thoughts on “CONTINUE HERE: 7-loop square and flat braids

  1. Hi Ingrid,
    Thanks so much for such clear explanations, videos and color pattern ideas. I saw a lady fingerloop braiding at a maker space event and decided to try it out. Have made 5,6 and 7 loop flat and square braids in the past week. You are a great teacher.

    • Yay! Thanks for your note, you’re doing great if you’ve learned all that in a week! Were you at the recent Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA?? I was there too, but didn’t braid, I was tying knots with Carol Wang at the International Guild of Knotters booth…

      • Thank you Ingrid. The maker fair was in Maryland at The Stepping Stone Muesem. I am still watching and learning. I just made the 7 loop braid with color linking. Cool! I need to watch and figure out how to unbraid so I can fix mistakes instead of starting over😄

  2. I appreciate these wonderful tutorials! I am curious though how to perform a “smooth loop start” on a 7-loop divided braid? I see you have instructions for starting a smooth loop with 3 loops, but I am not sure how that translates into more loops (ie: do I create 6 loops in parallel and have the 7th go through all 6 at once? OR do I create 4 loops in parallel and have the other 3 go through all 4?)

    • Hi Blake, what I do is I separate the loops that will be on my left hand as one bunch, and the loops that will be on my right hand as the other bunch that links through them. But it really might work any way you link them–you could try it and see. There are some other ways to start a braid without any loose ends, as well, even when using bicolor loops. If you want a lot of “too-much-info” about it, check out my post entitled: Longer loop braids, and starts with no ends. (it’s also under “tips and tricks” in my upper menu, as well my in my Tutorials index).
      Happy braiding!

  3. Hi Ingrid, doing 7-loop braids I still have the problem to move my ringfingers separately. In the moment I put my thumb on the tip of the little finger to prevent the loop falling down. Works quite well, but that is what is keeping me from trying 9-loop braids. Any hint for training ringfingers to do what they need to do? – Thanks for your wonderful website and tutorials! They are a big help!

    • Hi Beate,
      Keep practicing, I’m sure by the time you’ve made two or three 7-loop braids the ring fingers will start to figure it out. It always takes them longer to learn something new than the other fingers. You can move on to 9-loop braids after the ring fingers are starting to “get it” but before they are as fluent as the other fingers. They will catch up at their own pace. Good luck, and thanks for the message, I’m so glad you are trying these tutorials!

  4. I enjoy looking through very much, my cousin Europa Dawson sent it to me. I shall be thrilled to look through each section and learn more later.

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