New Track-Plan Page

I recently made a new info page (here) 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”).

The new info page shows and explains the track plans of all or most of the applicable braids on this blog, except for the two unorthodox braids (unorthodox braids have very complicated track plans!). Also for some braids I haven’t taught yet, like double-tubular braids (a.k.a. couvert / couverte braids). All my “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 new track plan info page: Track-plan Diagrams for Loop Braids. Below is brief overview:

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 curving lines on the diagrams represent the pathway (or pathways) that the strands follow around the braid. As such they also present an idealized cross-section view of the braid’s shape. Track plan diagrams resemble the metal tracks that the bobbins of thread follow 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 ins and outs for them to start being useful. They quickly begin 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. They may even give you an idea for a braid you haven’t made before, and serve as a ‘map’ of the 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 and Edge-variation color-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 on the square braiding machine patent above doesn’t mean that machines for making square braids were first invented in 1989. The patent is probably for some kind of improvement to a square braiding machine. OopsMG! I checked out the full patent and it looks like this really was the first patent issued for a square braiding machine! even though the first braiding machines were invented in the 1700’s, and plenty of the early ones seem much more complex than a square braid. Click link for more about the history of braiding machines.

Last updated Jan. 19, 2020

© 2019-2020 Ingrid Crickmore

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