Letterbraid Therapy

Dominic Taylor will be teaching at Braids 2016! His 2-day class is called Cylindrical Braids, which I think refers to turks-head-type knotted braids that can be formed around solid objects—like handles of tools, etc. (see photo). These are very versatile techniques—once mastered they can also be applied to other uses. I have seen it used on a finer scale for embellishment, findings, and finishings over kumihimo-type braided jewelry, for example!

Here’s a mini-“reader’s gallery” post for your enjoyment — I recently received these photos and some news from Dominic, who after a hiatus from braiding, and then suffering a broken wrist last fall, has picked up loops again—partly as an exercise regimen for his wrist–first time I’ve heard of loop braiding being used for physical therapy!

He wrote “…have done the 10 loop spanish braid until its quite automatic. Definitely no problem for the straight thumb brigade.” [take note – proof that you don’t need curved thumbs like mine to use them in braiding!]

And here’s his result:

10-loop Nun's Book letter braid by Dominic Taylor

Dominic’s in-progress letterbraid

A letterbraid! And what a beauty! I recognize every “stitch” of those “Nun’s Book” lettershapes. It was so exciting to see this photo! Dominic has been dead-set on learning letterbraids ever since he first saw them here, so this is a real triumph.

Here are some other photos he sent, of bracelets made using a waxed leather-stitching thread that he loves as braiding material—he says the braids end up looking like snakeskin. (I think it’s what he’s using in his letterbraid, as well.) Of course they incorporate his amazing knots:

fingerloop braided bracelets by Dominic Taylor, waxed leatherworking thread

The upper bracelet is a 10-loop flat double braid, rather than the flat variation of the 10-loop letterbraid. (Same number of loops, but different “weave” structures. Both require using thumbs as well as fingers.)

Below it and to the left (arranged vertically) is a 5-loop flat braid with a starting loop and an ending button, and lowest (spread horizontally) is 5-loop flat braid with a button on either end, and two buttonholes midway, with a 2″ gap between them, forming two conjoined bracelets—a great design.

The buttons are complex knots called “star knots”. The 10-loop bracelet on top has four star-knot buttons—two on each end of the braid, as well as two buttonholes a few inches in from each end. The bracelet wraps one-and-a-half times around the wrist and buttons in two places…another nice design! Below are some more pictures that explain this better than my description:

10-loop flat bracelet, with star-knot buttons, by Dominic Taylor

Bracelet by Dominic Taylor, loop braiding

Dominic’s bracelet

10-loop fingerloop braid bracelet by Dominic Taylor, waxed leatherworking thread

I hope this will convince others to try these pesky “thumb” braids I keep posting about. I know it can be disconcerting at first to add those two talented but unpracticed extra digits when you are used to braiding fluently and automatically with fingers alone. It’s such a switch to feel clumsy and slow all of a sudden, that people sometimes leap to the conclusion that they “can’t” do it, no point trying. It took Dominic some getting-used to, as well. But thumbs are very adept—they often end up learning it faster than the ring fingers did when you first tried to go from braiding with five loops to braiding with seven.

(another of Dominic’s braid + star knot bracelets with a beautiful bi-color star knot is shown in this earlier Readers’ Gallery.)

All photographs and braids in this post are by Dominic Taylor. Copyright applies, do not reproduce.

©2015 Ingrid Crickmore
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2 thoughts on “Letterbraid Therapy

  1. Such handsome and inspiring work. I don’t intend to break my wrist first to learn these techniques however!

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