Here’s a tutorial for a very non-traditional 12-loop braid with an unusual number of loop-transfers: Five!
If two braiders were to make this braid as a team, the right braider would be holding 5 loops and doing regular square braid moves: two loop transfers in every ‘row’ of braiding.
But the left braider would be making something really weird: a 7-loop braid of three loop-transfers! That’s one more loop-transfer than a square braid, and one fewer than a Spanish or double braid. A “Square-and-a-Half” braid.
A Square-and-a-Half braid requires different braiding moves on the two halves of the braid, which is another odd thing about the braid aside from – but because of – its odd number of loop-transfers (text instructions here).
So, put those two different braids together into one, and you have a 5-transfer/ 10-ridge braid with a fell shape of N + V = NV. Totally odd! And also with different braiding moves on the right and left hands.
Braiding it by myself, I hold seven loops on the left hand, and five loops on the the right – demoed in the video below. An obvious question might be “Why not go for 7 loops and three loop transfers on both hands? The more loops the better, right?”
You could use this 7-loop strategy on both hands and make some nice braids. But what I’m interested in is the odd number of transfers, because they can create some really odd and asymmetrical color-patterns if you use bicolor loops and turn all the transfers. (Or at least turn an odd number of them!)
Above is a video tutorial for my solo-braider strategy for this braid. It can also be made by two braiders working together, one braiding a 5-loop square braid, and the other braiding a 7-loop square-and-a-half braid.*
Corrections to video:
1. After the 3rd loop transfer (to the thumb) I repeatedly refer to an upper SHANK as the “upper LOOP”, sorry! There’s only one loop, with two shanks, an upper shank and a lower shank.
2. In the video I say that there are 12 cycles to one pattern-repeat, but actually that’s a half-repeat – the full repeat has 24 cycles. The half-repeat is a good point to check the loops, because they should all be back on the fingers where they started, though with the opposite shank colors upward.
Braid samples, and structural variations
The component Square-and-a-half braid has some fun asymmetrical patterns, too:
I first stumbled onto this type of asymmetrical color-pattern back when I was first experimenting with two of the possible double braid shapes: the Half-hollow double braid, and the Single Side-slit double braid. I haven’t taught them here on the blog, but both are described in my Braids 2012 article on Double Braids in Strands That Move, see photos from article below. Double braids have 4 loop transfers. These two double braid variations are the only ones with three turned loop transfers and a single straight loop transfer. Because of that ‘oddness,’ their bicolor-loop color-patterns are very asymmetrical:
The brown-and-white color-pattern above reminds me of random cow-skin blotches! The blotches actually do repeat eventually, but the pattern repeat is twice as long as that of a double braid having an even number of turned loop transfers.
(I used those little square and C-shape symbols in the article rather than track plan diagrams – they can easily represent all the double braid shapes, but they don’t work for 5-transfer braids.)
It’s the odd number of turned transfers, not total transfers, that results in odd, asymmetrical bicolor-loop color-patterns. So even this 5-transfer braid can have more symmetrical color patterns if you only turn 2 or 4 of the transfers, and leave the others unturned.
Edge pattern (lengthwise stripes of color down the braid ridges) is only possible in braids that have an even number of turned loop transfers. You can’t braid an Edge pattern if you turn all the loop transfers in my 5-transfer “Odd” braid. But you can get an edge pattern if you don’t turn one of the transfers:
Unfortunately the shadow at the right side of this braid obscures that edge, so in the photo it’s hard to tell that the top half of the braid has a slightly different appearance than the bottom half – a wider black edge on the left side than on the right. (Visible if you click two times on the photo to enlarge it twice.)
The top half of the braid has a “Single Side-slit” structure – four turned loop transfers, and the leftmost transfer straight (no turn/ open/ unreversed). That’s the edge of the braid with a shallow slit into it, dividing the upper and lower layers of the braid. That black edge is wider than the black edge on the right side of the braid. So the braid has an asymmetrical shape (one edge slit, the other solid), but can have symmetrical bicolor loop color-patterns – the evenly alternating blue-gold horizontal stripes for example, and an ‘Edge’ pattern. Neither are possible if all 5 transfers are turned.
The lower part of the braid was braided also with four turned transfers, but here the single straight transfer is at dead center of the braid, creating a narrow hollow area down the middle of the braid. Its ‘Edge’ pattern has equally-narrow black edges. And in this case the structure is symmetrical too, since the straight transfer happens in the exact center of the braid.
Update – I forgot to include the following shape variation when I first posted, adding it now (7-7-19):
Below are a couple of samples of the 2-Tubes shape variation. This braid has a symmetrical shape, like the central-tube variation above, but has an odd number of turned loop transfers, so tends to have asymmetrical bicolor loop color-patterns:
I’ve only braided these two samples of this braid so far. The first pattern in the blue and black sample started with all dark shanks upward on the fingers. I vaguely expected an asymmetrical ‘blotches’ pattern, but instead got a much busier one. I then switched to this braid’s version of the “Broken Edge” pattern (longest possible stretch of darks or lights in each braid column). The black and gray sample is also this “Broken Edge” pattern.
All these 5-transfer braids are 2/2 twill (more or less), like a 5-loop square braid or 10-loop double braid, because transferred loops are always pulled through 2 adjacent loops. (Some of the twill ridges actually end up having a span of 3 or 1 due to factors I don’t want to get into here!)
You can also make 5-transfer braids with fewer loops, by pulling some or all of the transfers through only 1 loop, for either a plain-weave, or a mixed plain-weave and twill 5-transfer braid (like my 6 and 8-loop double braids).
I’m sure there are several other possible ways to do the braiding moves. I gravitated to this configuration of moves because it recycles some of my letterbraid strategies for the left hand loops. The right hand moves are the way I usually undo double braids (in the reverse order, though).
Either on its own, or if two braiders want to make the 12-loop braid by braiding as a team, there are a few different ways to make the 7-loop, 3-transfer “Square-and-a-half” braid. Text directions for 2 different ways below.
The way I like to make it requires holding a loop with the left thumb. The second option has no thumbs, but requires doing a tricky move with the left ring finger.
R = right; L = left
th(umb), a, b, c, d = thumb, index, middle, ring, little fingers
Ra = right index finger, or the loop on the right index.
7 loops: Lthumb, a, b, c, d; Ra, b
1. Rc (fetcher finger) thru Ld and Lc, takes Lb. (Lc and d shift up one position)
2. Ra is the new fetcher. Ra goes (from above the loop) thru Lthumb, La, to take Lb, and temporarily hold it, while Lthumb and La shift down one position. Then Ra places the taken loop onto Lthumb. (no tightening move)
[this 2nd transfer is exactly the same as the 3rd transfer in the 12-loop video above – see it at 5:00 min. into the video.]
3. Ld goes thru Rc and Rb, takes Ra. (Rc and Rb shift up one position).
For a solid rectangle braid, turn the loop each time you transfer it.
These braiding movements are somewhat similar to the Spanish 7-loop braid. Here, though, loops are always transferred through two adjacent loops, never through just one.
The tricky move is the central loop transfer, which has to be done by the left ring finger (not the middle finger as in the 7-loop Spanish braid) reaching through the little-finger loops of both hands, to fetch the right hand’s ring finger loop.
7 loops, on La, b, c; Ra, b, c, d
1. Ra is fetcher. Ra thru Lc, b, takes La, places on Ld.
Lb, c shift up one position, vacating Lc (ring finger) to be next fetching finger.
2. Lc thru Ld, Rd, takes Rc.
Rd shifts up to Rc.
3. La is fetcher. La thru Ra (from above and thru back of loops), Rb, takes Rc and temporarily holds it.
Ra, b shift down one position.
La places taken loop onto Ra.
Note: These braids could also be made with the opposite direction of moves, in the same way that you would unbraid the braid I teach here. But if I wanted to braid in that “backwards” direction solo for the 12-loop braid, I might try to work out another way to hold the loops than having three on the left little finger. It’s not as convenient to unbraid in that configuration as it is to braid.
Note: The outermost two loop transfers of the combined 12-loop braid (and of the Square-and-a-Half braid) move in the same direction, not mirror-image as in most loop braids. (in a team braid, these would be the left braider’s leftmost loop transfer, and the right braider’s rightmost loop transfer.) Neighboring loop transfers move in opposing directions. The central loop transfer of the combined 12-loop braid must pass a loop in the same direction as the two outermost transfers. That central transfer is made by the 7-loop braider – it is his/her innermost loop transfer, that is, the transfer that is closest to the the other braider.
Colors and starting set-up positions for the three solid rectangle braids in photo above.
(Solid-rectangle = all transfers turned.)
Th, A, B, C, D, Dlo, Dmid, Dhi = Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring, Little fingers; lastly: Low, Mid, High loop positions on little finger (of left hand only)
First color-pattern: “Stairstep Edge”
[for a 2-color version, substitute white for all the pastel colors]
12 bicolor loops of black/ pastel color
4 Yellow/black; 4 Purple/black; 4 Pink/black
In set-up instructions “Yellow/black” = yellow shank UP/ black shank DOWN.
(Numbers in parentheses are explained at the bottom of the page – they convey info for planning your own color-patterns, but are not necessary for loading these patterns.)
C Pink/ black
B Yellow/ black
C Yellow/ black
D Purple/ black
2nd Color-pattern: “Blotches”
I used 3 shades of blue, but this pattern also looks very striking with just white and dark blue – more graphic and bold.
12 bicolor loops
4 Blue/white; 4 Turquoise/white; 4 Navy/white
Th Blue/ White
A Blue/ White
B Blue/ White
C Blue/ White
Dlo Navy/ White
Dmid Navy/ White
A Navy/ White
D Navy/ White
3rd color-pattern: “Stairstep Edge + Black contrast loop”
11 bicolor loops of Red/ white
1 single-color loop of all-Black
C White/ red
Dlo White/ red
Dmid White/ red
Dhi Black loop
B White/ red
C White/ red
D White/ red
Numbers in parentheses in first set-up indicate Loop movement and colors sequences for the solid-rectangle 5-transfer braid. These sequences are for color-planning purposes – if you want to set up a specific color order for a braid.
1st series of numbers = Main Loop Sequence
I usually count Loop #1 as the first loop that will leave the left hand, and move to the right hand (because that way all the loops of one hand will be first in the sequence, followed by all the loops of the other hand). Loop #2 is the NEXT loop that will move from the left to the right hand. The loops all follow each other in this circular and repeating order onto each finger, and down the ridges of the braid. It’s the same order for all the shape variations, not just the solid rectangle, as long as you are following the order of braiding moves demoed in the video above.
This order is circular, so in reality there is no particular finger it starts on! With a braid of only single color loops, you could load your desired color-order of loops onto the fingers in this circular order starting at any finger, and get the same resulting color-pattern.
2nd series of numbers = Bicolor-Loop Set-up Sequence within the Stairstep Edge color-pattern
However, in setting up with bicolor loops, the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of the bicolor loops must be carefully arranged, and the first loop of any color-sequence (if there is one) within the two groups of bicolors has to be carefully placed in relation to the ‘up’ and ‘down’ positions of all the loops. This is dependent on which transfers are turned or not turned, so it differs for the different braid shapes.
For this 5-transfer braid’s solid rectangle shape, I find that the simplest set-up arrangement for the pattern I call “Broken Edge” or “Stairstep Edge” (longest possible stretch of same or similar colors down each ridge) is to start with the two shank color-groups in the up/down positions given above. If either of these two color groups has a range of colors in a certain order, like the pastel colors in the first braid (4 yellows, 4 purples, 4 pink strands, in that order), then – given this particular up/down starting set-up – the first color of the pastel sequence that will appear along a ridge will be the one on Left Dhigh. That means that the next color following it down the ridge will be the one on Rc, etc. This circular order is exactly the same as the order shown in the first column of parentheses, but starts at a different finger-position, so the sequence doesn’t neatly follow all the loops of one hand before the other.
If I hadn’t loaded the pastel colors in this particular order (starting with the Left Dhigh loop, then Rc, Rb etc), it wouldn’t have made a big difference to the overall braid pattern, only to the order of the pastel colors within that pattern. However, if the starting Up/down arrangement of the bicolor loops were changed, the larger dark-light pattern would probably be completely altered (maybe with a wonderful resulting color-pattern!).
Like Edge-pattern in more symmetrical braids, the “Broken/Stairstep Edge” pattern is a great starting point for coming up with other color patterns. Easier than random shuffling of the bicolor up/downs!
© 2019 Ingrid Crickmore