Flat double braids

Part 2 on two-person fingerloop braids done by a solo braider: Flat double braids.
[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.]

8-loop flat double braids

Flat double braids of 8 loops. Set-up instructions for most of these patterns here. Embroidery floss, 5/2 perle cotton, linen, rayon

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 twice as intricate—has 8 columns (the lengthwise columns of slanted threads that make up the braid) rather than 4.*¹

10-loop flat double braid, pattern sampler

10-loop flat double braid, pattern sampler

In the videos, I also show how to make these flat braids with ‘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).

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.

Two 6-loop flat double braids

Two 6-loop flat double braids

Braiding columns of colors in a flat braid can be done by linking colors, rather than letting them cross each other. There are two ways to link colors. The first video shows one way (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 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:

8-loop flat double braid, braid and photo by Dan Gaiser

8-loop flat double braid, front and back views, by Dan Gaiser. Click photo for more detail.

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 DoubleBraids

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.

© 2013–2015 Ingrid Crickmore
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9 thoughts on “Flat double braids

  1. Hi! I’m definitely a fan of your site, as I have learned so much. Thank you for taking the time out to create all of your blogs — it’s amazing. My absolute favorite braid is the flat double braid! I’ve been making 8-loop flat double braids, and am ready to conquer the 10-loop (I’ve tried and failed, but will try again very soon). However, it crossed my mind that I would love to see flat double braids of even more strings! I thought of team braiding and thought that it would be the easiest way to accomplish a 16-loop flat double braid. Wouldn’t that be awesome? The only thing is that I don’t know what moves to use for team braiding to get a flat double braid. I saw the blog post of the 10-loop double braid done by two people, but you don’t have the instructions for a flat double braid. Could you please explain it to me? It would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!🙂

    • Hi Isaiah, that would definitely be awesome if you and a buddy would team braid some 16-loop flat double braids!

      Are you thinking of a team braid where the two braiders would EACH already be making an 8-loop double braid? That would be doubly awesome! It’s twice as complex as what Patrick and Amy were doing in my team braiding video — they were each braiding a “square”-type braid and connecting it together, not a double braid.

      If that is what you intend: For a flat version, you and your friend would each braid an 8-loop double braid (two loop transfers on each hand), but the braider on the left would use divided braiding moves – so never turn any of their loops – while the braider on the right would braid as for a flat double braid – and only turn their furthest RIGHT loop. That’s their fourth loop transfer – the last loop transfer on their right hand (for the loop order that I show in my videos)… The braid will come out with its ‘fold’ on the right edge (the edge on the right braider’s right), and will open up there to be a flat braid.

      The loop exchange move between the two braiders would be almost the same as the way Patrick and Amy do it in my team braiding post.

      There is one difference, though. Both of you will be holding 4 loops on the hand that has to exchange loops with the other braider, which is more loops than Patrick and Amy had. The problem is that the person who is the “initiator” should have his exchanging index finger free of loops in order to do the exchange. (Check out how Patrick and Amy do it in the video, and my photo-tutorial below the video.) The initiator’s index loop needs to move down to the B-finger for the exchange move. With four loops, he might have to first temporarily “park” one of his lower loops over onto his other hand so that he can shift the other loops down a notch.

      Good luck, I hope you have a chance to try it! And good luck with 10-loop braids too–btw you can expect to fail at first when you start using thumbs! I kept dropping loops off all my fingers when I first tried it, but it got easier fast. That was with a 9-loop square braid, though…by the time I started making double braids I was used to braiding with thumbs. There’s a lot to think about with a double braid! it might be easier start on thumbs in a square braid.

  2. [I copied and pasted Dan’s comment below and my reply over from another post–want readers here to be able to see his great flat double braid]

    from Dan Gaiser June 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Great tutorial. Really getting hooked. https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/469087_522011774525793_865729435_o.jpg

    reply from ingridcc June 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Dan, that is a gorgeous flat double braid. Congratulations! Thank you for the link to the photos!!!! Your braid is perfect. Is it 8 loops? You even did color-linking, and a no-ends loop start (did you actually use the method I tried but miserably failed to describe clearly? that works with bicolor loops?)

    The braid’s 2 strongly convex vertical columns are normal with firm braiding tension. It’s how my flat double braids always come out right after braiding. It looks great like that, “au natural.” If you want to flatten it completely, wet it in water and lay it flat on a cloth or hang it over a towel rack after gently pulling the edges apart / flattening the braid. It will be even wider when it dries flat.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I didn’t bother to listen to the part of your video about un-braiding. I started this braid 4 or 5 times. Each time I made a mistake or dropped a loop, I untied all the loops and started over. This final braid I did in a little over two hours without once taking the loops off my fingers.

  3. I am in love with your posts. I have very little time at the moment but, when I am a little liberated from my current occupations I´ll try several of your creations. Thanks for your generosity in letting us benefit from your lessons. Edita

    • You’re welcome! I’m really glad you’re enjoying the braids! (If you’d ever like to send photos of your braids, I’d love to see them, just email me through the contact form and I’ll get back to you)
      Happy Braiding!

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