New Track-Plan Page

I recently made a new info page about Noémi Speiser’s track-plan system for diagramming braid structures, including loop braids. This isn’t it! My “info pages” aren’t the same thing as “posts” so they don’t get announced to subscribers or show up on the homepage list of posts, which is why I’m making this announcement post about it (I know, doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s a WordPress blog “thing”!).

My new info page on Track Plans explains them (I hope!), and shows track plans for all or most of the applicable braids on this blog, except the two unorthodox braids. All my loop braiding “Info pages” can be accessed from the upper menu, btw – most of them are in the drop-down under the “ABOUT” tab. Here’s a link to the track plan page: Track-plan Diagrams for Loop Braids. Below is brief overview/ intro to it:

A track-plan diagram is both an idealized cross-section view of a braid’s shape, and also a map of how the strands of the braid interlace. The undulating lines on the diagrams don’t represent individual strands, but rather the pathway (or pathways) that the strands follow. A diagram shows the braid structure in cross-section – head-on – so if individual strands were shown, they would be represented by dots along the lines of the tracks. Track plan diagrams resemble the metal tracks that bobbins of thread trundle along in a braiding machine.

Track plans compared to braiding machine tracks:

Color-coded track plans for square and flat-square braids, finger loop braiding, Noemi Speiser's track plan system,

Track-plans for square and flat loop braids. (arrows=direction of movement; X=turned transfer, 0=straight/open transfer)

Square braid, machine patent illustration, wikimedia

Square braid, machine patent illustration, wikimedia

Drawing of braiding machine tracks for a flat braid.

Drawing of the braiding machine track for a flat 9-strand braid by Elkagye, public domain.

Track plans always used to make my head swim, and they still do sometimes. But one good thing about track plans is that you don’t have to be totally clear on all their intricacies for them to be useful! They very quickly start to make sense as a stylized cross-section of the shape of the braid, and of the location of all the turned (reversed/crossed), and straight (unreversed/open) loop transfers which created that shape. As such, track plans can give you ideas for potential braids even beyond the ones you’ve already made, and function as a ‘map’ of the necessary turned and straight transfers required to make it.

Also, 2-track diagrams (explained on info page!), if colored in, make an exact cross-section representation of the particular bicolor-loop “Edge” pattern possible for any braid that can have an Edge pattern (lengthwise striping along the braid). This can be helpful in planning and setting up Edge patterns for a wide variety of braids.

Note: Track plans are only applicable to “woven on the diagonal” plain-weave, twill, or unorthodox braids (whether made using loop braiding, free ends, kumihimo stands or slotted cards). This include most of braids I teach here on the blog. There are some types of braids that can’t be diagrammed with track plans, though, like twined braids and spiral braids, for example.

Note: The date “1989” on the square braiding machine patent above doesn’t mean that square braiding machines were only invented then. I’m sure they were invented much earlier than that, so this patent is probably for some obscure improvement to a square braiding machine. More about the history of braiding machines here.

© 2019 Ingrid Crickmore

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