Thank you everybody who clicked in on my poll!
It made me really happy to see so many responses to my poll What future topics would you prefer to see on this blog, they’ve been very helpful in planning future directions for this blog! (Overall poll results are here, below the requests I received from the ‘write-in’ request box on the poll form.) .
Note, 2015 – This was from a poll I put up in my sidebar a couple of years ago, that I still revisit when I need ideas for the blog. I update this post now and then to ‘check off’ whenever I’ve finally accomplished one of the write-in requests. So it has a lot of updates that are probably only interesting to me!
Here are the other write-in requests (including a few video requests from a different poll that used to be on my Tutorials index page):
Tutorial on the Sudarium braid
Thanks for bringing this up, I will put it on the list! It’s a great braid, not mentioned in any of the old loop braiding manuscripts, but known from one actual 14th C. artifact. It would have been made by two people, each holding 5 loops. My workaround method requires holding one loop per finger, including thumbs, like my 10-loop double braids.
Update: I just realized that it should be possible to make the Sudarium braid with only eight loops, no thumbs required! This actually might result in a better-looking braid than the 10-loop version (to me, this braid always comes out better when each hand holds an even number of loops). I am raising this topic higher in my to-do list for this blog!
In the meantime, the Japanese “genji-uchi” braid of 8 or more loops, and made with hand-held loop braiding rather than fingerloops, is an almost identical-looking braid, and I do have a video plus text tutorial covering it.
Tutorial on the twining talked about on the post about Rodrick Owen (Rodrick Owen and the Braids of the Mummies)
Sorry, I really can’t do that…I wouldn’t feel right about posting videos on what Rodrick teaches in his workshops. (But I’m hoping that he’ll publish something on this himself after his Core Braids book comes out!)
Video on finishing off a braid.
There are so many ways to do this! I do have a video on my most-used way in my 7-loop Bracelet tutorial (see the third video). It shows the way I almost always finish off a braid: by subdividing it into littler loop braids, then tying a knot at the bottom of each one. To me this is a quick, secure way to finish that also looks nice. For a 7-loop braid, at the end I braid a 3-loop divided braid and a 4-loop divided braid, which gives a fringe of four thin minibraids. (see any of my square braid tutorials to find out how to make a divided, “two-braids-at-the-same-time” version.)
There are many other ways to finish braids, though. Click link for some more tips in a reply to a reader’s comment with a similar request.
More tutorials for flat braids.
[update:] I just posted one, I hope you enjoy it! (color-linking in flat 7-loop braids) I will keep this request in mind for the future, I know other braiders who especially love flat braids as well…
“Too-many-loops” plus History/photos.
These are my own two main interests! I want to make more 9- and 10-loop “one-loop-per-finger” tutorials, since a few readers do seem to be using those. But for now I’m backing off from “way-too-many-loops” tutorials, since the tutorials I’ve already posted for braids of more than 10 loops don’t seem to be used much. [Update, Jan 2014] My new idea is to post occasional “way-too-many-loop” video ‘demos’—a briefer format than my full tutorials. See my recent demos on 12-loop double braids, and a 13-loop square braid with color-linking. (and for history, my Halloween post on the Peruvian “mummy braids”.)
A request that I keep blogging [Thank you! you gave my morale a big boost!]
Two-person braiding video.
[update] Done! Sooner than I expected, thanks to Amy and Patrick: 2 People Team-Braiding
Letterbraid tutorials (“before they die out again”).
I have one planned for one of the 10-loop letterbraids, as a solo method. *
[Done: Solo-Braider Nun’s Letterbraid]
Turn the header image into an image map linking to instructions for each braid.
Actually, the header photo is just a loop braiding blog decoration, not a key to my tutorials. I’ve only made tutorials for four of the header photo braids. The others braids in that photo are very complicated “too-many-loop” braids, and I’m not eager to make tutorials for them, since my existing “too-many-loop” videos get almost no views of longer than a few seconds! (see note below). For a description of each braid in the header image, including links to tutorials or any online references, click on the link in my sidebar-→ (just above the tall braid photo). I wish I could use your suggestion to make the header an image map with links to those descriptions, but that is far beyond my abilities! Any sophisticated-looking tech stuff on this site came built-in with this pre-fab, and mostly free wordpress-hosted site, I didn’t do it on my own.
A video on braiding longer braids.
Ouch!…I’ve tried and failed at this. So far I just haven’t been able to successfully video my whole process of setting up for braiding a long braid, or other fussy non-braiding procedures. I make my braiding videos with my camera sitting on a short tripod on the table in between me and the braid, so I can peer through the viewfinder as I braid–very awkwardly, with my arms wrapped around the tripod-plus-camera. It sort of works for braiding, but not for doing anything fussy that I need to see well, or with long-range and close-up views.
I do have a photo and text post on braiding longer braids explaining my two main methods (starting braiding from the center point of a double-length loop bundle; and as a secondary technique, shortening the ends of the loops by crocheting them up into a chain of slip knot.)
Here’s a request I don’t understand, sorry! (please contact me):
Tutorials based on producing a defined pattern
Do you mean thinking up a defined pattern first, and then figuring out a way to braid it? I do the opposite, I start with the braid and then experiment to see what patterns can be made with it…(Or does the next request cover yours as well?)
UPDATE nov 2017: Maybe this question might relate to my more recent series of posts on pick-up patterning. Pick-up patterning is a two-color braiding (and weaving) technique in which the braider can decide at every row whether to let the dark or light color show in each loop transfer – so, yes – the braid pattern is under the conscious control of the braider, within the limits of the braid, of course.
Images of braids with brief description of set up for color patterns
[Update] After getting this request, I added color set-up instructions for most of the example braids in photos in my earlier posts. Also, I have a new tab in the header menu called Color Patterns that you can click on to see links to all my color-pattern posts. Some of these are not listed on my Tutorials page, if they don’t teach an actual braiding method, just how to set up for various different color patterns. Also, I’ve finally learned a cool html charting format for presenting color-pattern variations! I’m using it on my newer posts. (It’s kind of hard and slow, unfortunately so I doubt I’ll be going back and redoing old posts.) I think this chart format makes the color-pattern instructions easier to scan through and easier to follow.
Leave me a note in the comment field under any post that has a braid image that you would like to have the color set-up info for (or to help me rewrite this sentence!)
Also, if you have a color-pattern you’d like to share, I would love to see it and post it! (see my note below on historical accuracy vs. experimenting with color-patterns, to me these do not conflict!)
Pdf with photos of braids
I have several downloadable Pdf photo-tutorials for spiral braids of 4-10 loops, and for the 2-loop braid here. Also a downloadable Pdf photo-tutorial for several variations of the 3-loop braid. I originally made those pdf photo-tutes for the braids_and_bands yahoo list, not for this blog, and I probably won’t be making any more because it was so time-consuming to make them. On the other hand, if you just want to download my content, there are some free online programs you can use for converting a web article into a pdf or other print-friendly format. My site is copyright protected, but you’re welcome to download my content for your own use. (Please read my full copyright info at the bottom of the sidebar.)
I ran this poll in my blog’s sidebar in spring of 2013. I had been feeling very uninspired and uncertain about blogging at all, and if so what direction I should be heading, so I posted a poll about future blog directions with four choices and a write-in suggestion box. It eventually got 144 votes—more than I expected. That in itself was very encouraging, because I hadn’t been sure the blog had enough of an audience that even cared which direction I went! I kept the poll running for a few months even after I made this post on the results, and periodically updated the results. This was the final breakdown:
25% — More tutorials for braids of up to 8 loops
08% — More tutorials for “too-many-loop” braids that require using all ten fingers
46% — Both of the above
10% — Prefer historical, general interest, or photo-gallery posts over tutorials
10% — Write-in requests: Many were for “all of the above”, but some were more specific. I listed and responded to them above, along with a few requests from a write-in suggestion box that used to be on my Tutorials index page.
*Re letter braids: I’ve mostly braided the 14-loop letterbraid, which isn’t the one I would teach first as a solo braid. I made a few samples of the 10-loop letterbraids three or four years ago, but nothing since. So I’ll have to do some work with one of them before I’ll be ready to make a tutorial on it. [now done! see my tutorials list!]
* Experimenting with color-patterns:
A familiar braid can seem completely different with even a small change in the color set-up. If you have a color-pattern you’d like to share with other loop braiders, please send photos, or a link to your own photo/blog post, I’d love to post either one. (you can email me through my ‘contact’ form–in the upper menu, hover on the ABOUT tab, then click on CONTACT in the drop-down menu.)
A note on braiding “in period”:
If your main interest in loop braiding is in recreating period textiles, I still encourage you to play around with different color set-ups. This was no question also done in the past. Loop braiding was very widespread over Europe and most of the world for probably thousands of years [for more on this see my more recent History post.]
Loop braiding knowledge was not restricted to specialized guilds or classes of workers, though these have certainly existed at various points. For most of human history until the advent of braiding machines, hand-made braids were daily necessities—for tying, carrying straps, and connecting just about everything, including clothing. It seems to be a natural human tendency to make necessities beautiful, maybe especially in the case of textiles.
It is very unlikely that European loop braids were restricted to the surviving written instructions in a very few 15th C. English household manuscripts and 17th C. upper-class ladies’ workbooks. Especially in regard to differences as superficial as specific color patterns. A 5 to 10-loop braid of any given structure has a large but not infinite number of possible color patterns. I think it’s near impossible that they weren’t all exploited during all the centuries that people have been braiding with dyed fiber.
In fact, even though not many braids have have managed to survive intact from medieval and earlier periods, the few that do include several loop braids that are very different from the braids described in the known loop braiding manuscripts—that is, in having a different braided structure, which is much huger difference than a color-pattern variation.
Those few surviving loop braiding manuscripts give us an amazing glimpse back in time, and show how advanced and rich the craft of loop braiding had become in those eras. But if anything, they suggest possibilities rather than prescribe limits to the range of color-patterns and even braid structures that were made in those periods…
For making period-accurate braids, to me it would make more sense to study the types of fibers, yarns, and shades of natural dyes that were available in a particular period, and experiment with color-patterns, rather than slavishly reproduce the same few “documented” color-patterns, in fibers and colors not appropriate to the period, like chemical-dyed cotton (cotton was not available in Europe until relatively recently) and ‘spun’ silk like most modern silk yarn and embroidery thread. Spun silk is very different in construction and appearance from the loosely ‘thrown’ filament silk that was used medieval times — by those few who were rich enough to afford it, and likely only for a small percentage of all their braided cords, accessories and trims. In Europe, wool and linen were much more commonly than silk. Silk braids survive disproportionately because they tended to be on precious objects that were hoarded rather than used and worn out. Beautiful, fine textile work and intricate color patterns are not just the hallmark of the richest class, either! – just think of peasant textile traditions throughout Europe!
*Re the braids in the header photo:
Most of the braids in the header are a lot more complicated to make than the ones I’ve made tutorials for so far. It’s been several years, and I still haven’t heard from anyone using my 11 and 13-loop tutorials, so for now I’m not planning on making tutorials for even more complex ones.
To tell the truth, this has been a hard thing for me to get over and keep my incentive up for working on this blog! My original motivation for starting this blog was to connect with other braiders and share my “too-many-loop” braiding techniques. To me they seemed like the main thing I could contribute to the information that was already available on loop braiding. The first and most basic technique that hadn’t been taught yet online was the V-fell style of braiding: using the little finger to pull loops instead of the index finger, because that method allows using the thumbs as well as fingers to hold loops — as taught in my 9-loop square braid tutorial. (there’s no particular advantage to using either the V-fell or A-fell method when braiding with 7 or fewer loops.) So it turns out a lot of people have used my 5 and 7 loop V-fell tutorials, but it just doesn’t appear that many have gone on to “too-many-loops”. This is still good, I have to remember! It’s a good thing if a few more people have gotten into loop braiding because of these tutorials, even if they weren’t interested in putting loops on their thumbs!
So, anyway, there are a lot of great braids that can be made without using extreme numbers of loops, including many that aren’t described anywhere else, so I think I should focus on those here, more than on the ones with “too-many-loops”.
If you do want to learn “too-many-loop” braids, go down my Tutorials index, and learn the prerequisite braids in order of difficulty…If you practice them, the learning curve is fairly fast. But it’s one step at a time, it doesn’t work to try to make a 13-loop braid before you can braid with 11 loops. (Ask me how I know! 🙄 ) And please, please do let me know if you’re learning any of my “thumb” braids, that would definitely encourage me to make more tutorials for them!
Kute Uchi and Andean-style hand-held loop braiding are other ways to make loop braids of many loops. Finger loops have some definite advantages over hand-held loops in security of loops, automaticity of braiding moves, and even tensioning—for braids of up to 18 loops or so. But it’s also possible that I am biased! You might find hand-held loops a great option for making ‘too-many-loop’ braids.