CONTINUE HERE: 7-loop 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…

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.

Loop-shifting problems:
Don’t be discouraged if the loop-shifting suddenly seems harder with 7 loops than it did with 5. The ring and little fingers have to learn how to detach from each others’ movements during the loop shifting move—it can sometimes take a couple of braids before they get used to not being each other’s ‘shadow’. The ring finger has much less independent range of motion than the other fingers. However, the whole hand and all the fingers are ‘deep-wired’ to co-operate and help each other. They just have to understand what this new task is – sometimes they have to figure this out in their own way, and not necessarily by your “telling” them what to do!

The hand itself can help the ring finger with its new task – tip your hand back slightly to help get the ring finger out of one loop and into the next. It isn’t actually necessary for the ring finger to lift up as high as the other fingers if the hand itself tips back a bit. 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 as an assistant it will just prolong the learning curve. It’s normal to be dropping loops a lot at first—that’s just because you are focusing so much on the new motions, that temporarily you can’t pay as much attention to the rest of the fingers. Just pick them back up and keep going, this will ease off after the first braid or two.

Once you get past that little hurdle you will love 7-loop 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. And it’s really fun to use all 4 of your fingers! In no time at all you will be braiding 7-loop braids just as easily as you were braiding 5-loop ones. (After making a few 7-loop braids, move right on up to 9-loop braids.)

See the Start Here tutorial for info on how to set up the loop bundle, and 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 tightening much too hard. Keep tightening widely, but do it lightly. Don’t pull hard. I go on and on about this in the 5-loop tutorial, but that’s what it boils down to!

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

My post on color-pattern planning has a few more photos of 7-loop square and flat braids.
NEW: That post now includes the set-up instructions for several beautiful 7-loop braid color patterns!

NEW: A tutorial on how to make even more color-patterns in 7-loop flat braids by linking loops within the braid:
Color-Linking in 7-loop Braids

OOPS! I just noticed a mistake in my 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 shapes. The surface that faces you as you braid—and the opposite one that faces the floor—show the “zigs”.

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 Jan 1, 2018

© 2012–2018 Ingrid Crickmore
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9 thoughts on “CONTINUE HERE: 7-loop 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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