Part 2 on two-person fingerloop braids done by a solo braider: Flat double braids. (also Color-linking to create borders and other color-patterns)
[Part 1 introduced the basic instructions for double braids, and taught solidly rectangular, and divided double braids. Part 3 teaches the hollow version of the double braid.]
This flat, ribbon-like braid is one of the twelve or so shape variations of double braids. The braiding procedure is the same, except that here you will only be turning one of the 4 loops that you transfer.
[See footnote *² for some non-essential fine points about turned loop transfers in solo-braider double braids.]
In my first double braid tutorial, I taught the basic braiding moves, and 2 of the 12 shapes: the divided braid (2 separate layers), and the solid rectangle braid (like two joined square braids). This new shape variation is similar to the flat variation of a square braid. It’s braided as a two-layer braid that opens out to be flat. However, it’s about twice as wide as the the flat version of a square braid – mostly because it’s twice as intricate. A flat double braid has 8 columns (the lengthwise columns of slanted threads that make up the braid) rather than 4.*¹
I first show how to do the basic braiding moves for a flat double braid. I then also show how to use a technique I call ‘color-linking:’ first for making a contrasting border color on the two edges of the braid, and then for making 4 lengthwise columns of different colors – see the pattern on the far right end of the braid above. I crammed these various color patterns close together in one braid for this video tutorial, but I think each pattern would look a lot better spread out a bit longer, or each to its own braid (and maybe with different colors than I used!). The color-linking technique is not just for double braids, by the way – it can be done with many other types of braids as well.
In this tutorial, I didn’t make a video for 6-loop flat braids. If you’ve already learned the 6-loop double braid from my introductory double braid tutorial, the 8-loop videos below should make it clear what you need to do with 6 loops. The only difference is that (with six loops) the first move on each hand would only go through ONE loop, not through two loops.
One way to get columns of colors in a flat braid is by linking threads of different colors, rather than letting them cross each other. The first video shows one way to link colors (creating a border stripe on both edges of the braid). The second video introduces another way, which here is used to make two central columns of different colors. Color-linking can be done in most types of braids, not just flat ones, but it’s especially dramatic in flat braids! [update – I now also have a tutorial on using color-linking with square-type flat braids of 7 loops – simpler braids than these double braids]
The yellow, orange and gray braid in my right sidebar → is a flat, 10-loop double braid, like the ones I am teaching here. However, it had loop-linking in multiple parts of the braid, which is what created the various patterns. Its loops are all single-color loops — no bicolor loops.
Dan Gaiser sent me these photos of his great-looking flat double braid bookmark of three colors (blue, white and gray). In the lower half of his braid he linked loops during the final loop exchange, creating a blue-and-white patterned border with an all-gray center area:
His photo-montage shows the top and bottom surfaces of the braid. You might be able to notice in the photo that the braid doesn’t lie completely flat—a ‘cross-section’ of the braid would be humped/curved like a number 3 lying down. There are two lengthwise furrows down the braid. That’s how these flat double braids often come out if you tighten firmly. If you want a firmly-braided flat braid to lie completely flat (which will also make it wider), relax it first: squeeze it inward, as if to shorten it, all along the braid’s length. Then gently stretch the edges apart as if to widen the braid. After that, dunk it in water (or steam it) and lay it out flat on a towel to dry.
Update:The photo below shows a bunch of 8-loop double braids, many of which are flat braids. I just posted the set-up directions for making the flat and rectangular braids in this photo.
8-loop FLAT double braid:
8-loop BORDERED flat double braid (below):
The video above shows how to make the flat braid with a one- or two-colored border on the edges of the braid. This involves a new way to do the loop-exchange (the second-to-last move, just before you tighten the loops). Here, you will do the loop exchange two times in a row, which links the two loops and creates a lengthwise border on the two edges of a flat braid.
With these bicolor loops, it’ll be a two-color border, having one white edge, and one blue edge. For blue on both sides, start with all-blue left hand loops, (no bicolor left loops). For a stripey or other pattern to the border, start with a mix of blue loops and white loops on the left hand, rather than only blue loops.
8-loop 4-COLUMN flat double braid:
The video above shows how to make a flat double braid with 4 columns of different colors. In the video I only used 3 colors for these four columns. If you want columns of 4 different colors, use bicolor loops for both the left and right hand loops—two colors for the left loops, and two different colors for the right loops.
The two columns on the outer edges are made by the same method used in the previous video (linking loops at the final loop exchange by doing the exchange twice).
The inner two columns of colors are made with another type of linking: Turning a bicolor loop twice while transferring it with a turn, instead of the normal once. I first show a simple way to turn the loop twice, then later in the video I show a faster way to do it.
10-loop FLAT double braid (below):
Watch the left and right thumb transfers closely. The left transfer is “straight” (the loop does not get turned), while the right transfer to the thumb is turned, even though this may be hard to tell. Turning vs. not turning a loop looks very different when the loop will be placed on a thumb rather than on the index finger. (This is because the thumb is held at a very different angle than the fingers.). So turning vs. not turning the second and fourth loop transfers in a 10-loop braid will not seem the same as the way you did it in 6 and 8 loop double braids.
10-loop BORDERED flat double braid (below):
Done just as in the 8-loop version.
10-loop 4-COLUMN flat double braid (below):
Below, in the single turned loop transfer (right middle finger to right thumb), the loop will receive TWO turns instead of one.
I first show a simple way to do this, then later in the video I show a faster way. The faster version is easier in this 10-loop braid than in the 8-loop one, because of the way the thumb holds its loop.
I demo a two-color border, white on one edge, black on the other–not a great look on this particular braid! Just good for a demo, go ahead and pick better colors for your own braid.
P.S. I followed the advice of a reader/ viewer and made all the videos with no talking. This works fine for these videos as each one adds only one small new thing to the introductory double braid videos. I made a separate video for each of the different “tricks” for pattern variations, rather than cramming them all into one video, so I hope that makes them more digestible!
I’ve been staying with a sick family member who is computer-free, and unfortunately I don’t have a laptop to take along with me. I can only be home a few days here and there. So I’m making this post quick and barebones, without many photos. I had to make the 10-loop videos at night, which is why they are blurrier and yellower. It’s on my list to redo them at some point, but that might be a while…
The videos are not at slowest slo-mo speed, since I’m assuming you’ve already learned the basic double braid moves from my introductory tutorials.
In case you are wondering why I had the ends of my loops tied up into short “caterpillars” in one of the 10-loop videos (see my post on how to braid lengths longer than your arm-span): I had set up and already braided part of the sample for the video (where I normally braid–off the edge of the table, not over the top of it). But then, when I moved the braid in front of the camera+tripod on the table for filming, it turned out that the loops were a bit too long for the space available in front of the camera. So I crocheted up a few inches at the ends of the loops just to shorten them for filming that segment. In another video segment I had undone the ‘caterpillars’, (which is why the loops look wrinkled at the ends in that video) to let out their length, while tying up the finished section of the braid onto the C-clamp to shorten the length from the top of the braid.
*¹ Unlike the simpler square braid, this double braid’s flat form will tend to look like a tall, narrow C-shape as you are braiding it—before you open it out to be flat. If you experiment further with other shapes of the double braid, you’ll notice that the hollow rectangle double braid will braid up in this tall shape as well. This is due to the tightening method I use for making double braids as a solo braider. With hollow and flat braids the two sides of the braid are pulled inward during the tightening moves. After being finished, flat braids fold out to be flat regardless. With hollow braids, the final shape of the braid can be manipulated into whatever round or rectangular configuration the braider wants, but I usually prefer the “tall” rectangle shape (more about it in the hollow rectangle double braid tutorial).
You can see pictures of—and learn how to make—all twelve of these shape variations in my chapter in the Braids 2012 conference proceedings, obtainable through the Braid Society in England, or BraidersHand in the U.S. [update – I just repaired that broken link, it should work now!]
*² In the videos, I demo the flat braid in only one of two possible ways, where the single turned transfer is the right side’s outer transfer (the last loop transfer). The braid could just as well be done by turning only the left side’s outer transfer (the second loop transfer). If you turn both these two outer transfers, you will get a hollow rectangular braid, not a flat one.
I turn the loop in one of two possible rotational directions—I call the turn that I demo a turn ‘from above’.
I call it “from above” only because, if two braiders were making this braid together—which is the traditional way to make it—a braider would turn the loop from above the loop to make the same exact turn I demo. Done by a solo braider, the move doesn’t necessarily look like a turn from above, because of the odd, backwards way you are reaching down to get the loop. But since there are always 2 possible directions to turn a loop, it is important to me to label them so they accurately describe the equivalent moves that two braiders would be doing (the traditional double braiding method). The direction you turn the loop can make a difference to some double braids (though not this flat one).
In a 6 or 8-loop double braid, it would be just as easy to turn the loop in the other direction (a turn ‘from below’).
However, when you get up to a 10-loop double braid, it’s a lot simpler to turn the loop from above, because of the way the thumbs hold loops. In fact, it might not even be apparent that you are turning the loop at all when you move it to the thumb with this ‘turn from above.’ When you learn the 10-loop version of this braid from my video, pay close attention to the the two different ways I transfer the loop to the thumbs—on the left hand the loop does not get a turn, whereas on the right hand it does. (It’ll help if you bear in mind that the inner shank of the thumb-loop is like the upper shank of a finger-loop—it goes to the upper layer of the braid. Photo #3 in my 9-loop square braid tutorial shows this…)
The direction of the turn makes no real difference to this braid, the flat one, since it only has one turned transfer. You can do it in either direction, but be consistent—turn only in the same direction for the whole braid.
Update on historical background: Imo, flat double braids can be logically inferred to be known/made by the 15th C. in Europe, but they are not specifically mentioned in the 15th C. manuscripts. (They are described in the 17th C. manuscripts, in fact the Catherine Wheel braid is a flat “triple” / 3-worker braid). But flat double braids may not have been made before the 15th C. Noemi Speiser and Joy Boutrup’s research into extant historic European braid specimens found that double (and even 3 and 4-worker) braids from before the 15th C. seemed to only have been made with a loop exchange method that precluded the possibility of flat or hollow braids. Solid rectangle and Side-slit rectangle double braids can be made with that more archaic loop exchange method, though they would have a slightly different structure and appearance along the center-line of the braid. 2-or-more-worker braid artifacts with that archaic loop exchange method were noted from the 12th C. all the way up into the 20th C., including braids from the 15th C., so it didn’t disappear in the 15th C even though it’s not described in the 3 known loop braiding manuscripts from then. Both loop-exchange methods can be inferred from braid instructions in the 17th C. manuscripts. (See my recent history post).
Posted Feb 2, 2013. Last updated Oct/19/2019
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