Ideas from eager braiders

“How-I-spent-my-summer-vacation”, and some braiding ideas!…

I just got home from a week-long music camp in Washington state, where I always lead one or two drop-in loop braiding workshops. It’s very casual, not much preplanning, a lot of fun, and I always learn a lot myself.


Adah and Amelia

This year it was a small but enthusiastic group. There were a few new braiders, and six who had braided with me in previous years. Three of them didn’t need a refresher course because they apparently hadn’t stopped braiding since I last saw them! Adah and Hannah were 8 and 9 when I taught them square and flat three-loop braids last year. Wes, Adah’s younger brother was only 5 then—much too young to loop braid. But he had been so determined and adept that he had learned it anyway!

Over the last year, the two girls had taught themselves how to braid with even more loops—all the way up to seven, which is really tough for younger children’s ring fingers. (I don’t think either of them likes making 7-loop braids yet, but they certainly know how to do it!) This year the three of them were joined by Amelia (9), first-time loop braider, and among other things, all four kids learned how to braid lengthwise stripes using bicolor loops.

They were so into it that they kept on braiding for the rest of the camp-out. It was a first for me—I had never taught bicolor loops to kids before… For some reason I even got a kick out of hearing these guys talking to each other about their bicolor loops!

Hannah's loop braided bracelets


They did some fun variations of the lengthwise striping pattern that I teach in my Bicolor loops magic tutorial. One variation is rainbow bicolor stripes—in the photo above, see the lowest braid on the right wrist for an example. Each of the loops in that braid had one black shank, but the other shank of each loop was a different pastel color.

(Some of Hannah and Adah’s braids that they had made on their own at home gave me a great idea for the subject of my next color-pattern post, see my note at the end of this post! I’ve been madly braiding up samples since I got home, ought to have enough for a post fairly soon.)

The adult braiders at the workshop had fun, too, and also gave me a lot of ideas, both for braids and for teaching. Margie had braided with me the 2nd time I ever did these informal workshops here, which was probably 8 years (?) ago, and she picked it right up again. Carol had already learned quite a bit of kumihimo braiding, and was curious enough about loop braiding to tear herself away from a fun jam to come to the workshop (a big sacrifice at a music camp!)

Cyndy easily learned how to unbraid right along with learning how to braid. She happened to ask me, so I showed her. No problem! I hereby vow to always teach this right from the beginning—at least in any workshop longer than a quick 20-minute demo.

Later, Cyndy made a beautiful “3/4-flat” flat braid, and wanted to know how to get a “fully-flat” one. Together we thought up a possible temporary strategy for starting a flat braid so as to avoid the “3/4-flat” outcome, something that shouldn’t be necessary after the fingers have gotten used to making fully-flat braids, but might help in the beginning. (this idea still needs to be tested, I’ll report back!)

My Canadian friend Carolyn braided a two-color Barleycorn braid that was stunning, I can’t wait to try this myself. It’s the red and white braid at the top in this photo. The third and fourth braids from the top are also Barleycorn in their braiding method, but it’s hard to tell, because their color-arrangement is not traditional at all!

Carolyn's loop braided bracelets


I don’t have a tutorial for the Barleycorn braid here on my site, but Cindy Myers has text instructions and an example photo on her Silkewerk fingerloop braids site: Greyne dorge. (Grene dorge is French for Barleycorn, in the odd spelling of the Medieval loop braiding manuscripts.)

Carolyn’s two-color red and white Barleycorn braid is similar to the braid in Cindy Myers’ instructions, but both of her contrast color loops were white. That’s what creates the long central row of white “kernels” rather than alternating black and white ones.

Like the four kids, Carolyn kept braiding non-stop over the next few days, workshop or no workshop…The lowest bracelet on her arm in the photo is a slightly different color-pattern of the 7-loop D-shaped braid from the ones I’ve taught here so far.

It’s similar to the first pattern that I taught in the video. For this variation: Make only 2 bicolor white/blue loops (instead of 3), and 5 bicolor black/blue loops (instead of 4).

Starting set-up: Only the right hand loops are slightly different—the A and B fingers would still start with white up, but the right C finger would start with black up for this variation.

My next post will be on color-patterns for 6-loop braids. 6-loop braids can have some fantastic color-patterns that are only possible with an even number of loops! I’ve only mentioned 6-loop braids on this site once, as an aside in my bicolor loop tutorial, but they have a lot of other possible color patterns, including some nice ones for flat braids.

Six loops is also a great braid to learn after you’ve mastered 5-loop braids, as a segue to learning 7-loop braids. With 6 loops, only one hand has to do the moves of a 7-loop braid; the other hand just does those familiar 5-loop braiding moves, so it can be an easier way to get used to the new moves.

© 2015 Ingrid Crickmore

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3 thoughts on “Ideas from eager braiders

  1. Thanks, Ingrid. More inspiration. I loved doing the D-shaped braids you showed us a while back. Will you be at the Kumihimo Festival this year? Hope so….. Connie

    • I agree! Of course I also love the “regular” alternating kernels version, but this one is so elegant. I was also thinking about trying something silky-looking or metallic for the white row…

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