Spirals, Non-Spirals, and the 2-loop Braid

I’m finally making a place here on the blog for my several youtube video tutorials for 4-to-10-loop Spiral braids, a.k.a. lace bend round, as well as the simple Two-loop Braid, which is made with the same basic braiding move as the spiral braids. I made these videos years ago for another website, along with a series of pdf photo-tutorials.

All the photo-tutorials are now available here too! Each one can be downloaded as a pdf file by clicking the link just above the related video (copyright applies; download for personal use only, not to share commercially or post online). The videos and photo-tutorials are independent of each other, though. You could use either one to learn a braid. They aren’t identical – the photo-tutorials show a few optional projects not included in the videos, and there are tips and ideas in the videos that didn’t make it over into the photo-tutorials.

If you download any of the photo-tutorials, note that the 2-loop Braid photo-tutorial (in left or right-handed versions) is Part 1 for all/ any of the others – it should be downloaded too, because it teaches the braiding move that is basic to all of them. Only this intro photo-tute has a left and right-handed version. The subsequent Spiral Braid PDF photo-text tutorials are not “handed” – for example, the 6-loop Spiral Braid PDF photo-tutorial applies to left and right-handed braiders, but lefties and righties would download different 2-loop braid pdfs to accompany it.

That isn’t the case for the videos, however. Each video is specifically right or left-handed. The 2-loop Braid video is not a necessary prerequisite for the others – all the videos show how to do the basic move (some show more than one way to do it).

Finger loop braids: 8, 6, and 4-loop spiral braids, plus 2-loop braids and fringe (cotton, rayon, silk)

Above: 8- and 6-loop spiral braids with the typical spiral color-pattern, plus two 2-loop braids (center of photo). 4-loop spiral braids: Lowest braid’s forked “tail,” as well as upper braid and second-from-lowest braid’s looped sections at end of braid. Cotton, rayon, silk.

Above: 6-loop (on upper ring) and 8-loop (lower ring) “Spiral” braids with non-typical color-patterns. Cotton, rayon, wool.

This post has a lot of embedded videos – the links below are shortcuts so you can jump down to the section you want. Any “extra” videos for a particular braid are not necessary for learning it – they show alternative methods, or cool extra things you can do (make a different color-pattern, unbraid, split your braid into two separate spirals, etc).

Note: Left- and right-handedness is only an issue for the braids in this post, none of the other braids I teach are “handed”.

Two-loop braid videos, left and right-handed versions – also two different methods: finger-held loops for short loops and hand-held loops for managing long loops.

Spiral Braids, right-handed videos
4 loops – extra videos demo alternative methods useful for all the spiral braids, plus adding a loop to the braid
6 loops – 2nd video demos adding a loop to the braid
8 loops – 2nd video shows how to make a non-spiral lengthwise stripe color-pattern, 3rd video shows how to divide the braid into two separate, simultaneous spiral braids
10 loops – also shows how to make a thick-thin spiral braid, applicable to any number of loops

Spiral Braids, left-handed videos
Note: I demo unbraiding a Spiral braid, as well as how to make a spiral pattern change direction only in the 8-loop left-handed video below, but these techniques apply to all Spiral braids.
4 loops
6 loops
8 loops

Color-pattern notes – How to make other color-patterns than a spiral, as shown in second photo from top.

History/ references

Two-loop Braid
The 2-loop braid has the same basic braiding move as the Spiral braids, but the resulting braid is flat rather than round. It is a 4-strand braid that comes out with an unavoidable loose twist or ‘curl’ to it unless you dampen or iron it to be flat. I often use this 2-loop braid as part of an ending fringe or tassel to a braid of more loops (or as a warp-finish to a woven piece).

2-loop braids, and a weaving with a fringe of 2-loop braids. Fingerloop braids, loopbraider.com

Above: Five separate 2-loop braids, and a weaving sample with a warp finish of 2-loop braids. The 1st and 3rd single braids (from left edge) have been blocked or pressed.

Fingerloop braided fringe finishes to larger braids - 2-loop and 3-loop mini-braid/ braidlets. loopbraider.com

Above: braided fringe finishes. The curly braids are 2-loop braids. (The straighter fringe-braids are divided and square 3-loop braids.) Larger braids are described though not taught in my plain weave repp post.

2-loop braids

2-loop Braid Photo-tutorial, Right-handed (pdf)
Right-handed 2-loop braid, short loops:

Right-handed 2-loop braid, using LONGER loops

Left-handed 2-loop braids

2-loop Braid Photo-tutorial, Left-handed (pdf)
Left-handed 2-loop braid, short loops:

Left-handed 2-loop braid, LONGER loops:

Spiral Braids of 4 to 10 loops RIGHT-handed (click here to jump to left-handed videos)
The 8-loop version was called lace bend, or lace bend round in 15th C. English loop braiding manuscripts.

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 4-loop Spiral braids (requires 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

4-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 1 including alternate method: exchanging loops without turning them.

4-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 2 incl. adding a split (buttonhole-type opening) into braid

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 6-loop Spiral braids (requires 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

6-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 1 incl 3 different ways to exchange w/out turning the loop – results in no torque to the braid.

6-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 2 incl adding a split (buttonhole-type opening) into braid:

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 8-loop Spiral braids (requires 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

8-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 1 (lace bend round of viii bowes):

8-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 2 (including vertical/ lengthwise stripes patterns. This non-spiral type of color pattern can be made with any number of loops, from 4 on up)

8-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed) part 3 including a divided spiral braid, which makes two little 4-loop spiral braids at the same time – great for forming a buttonhole opening in which each side is a thin spiral braid:

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 10-loop Spiral braids (requires 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

10-loop Spiral braid (Right-handed)

Left-handed Spiral Braid videos

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 4-loop Spiral braids (requires leftie 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

4-loop Spiral braid, left handed:

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 6-loop Spiral braids (requires leftie 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

6-loop Spiral braid, left handed:

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 8-loop Spiral braids (requires leftie 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

8-loop Spiral braid, left handed:

Halfway into the video above I show 2 things not covered in the right-handed videos:
How to make the spiral pattern change direction, and how to unbraid a spiral braid for several cycles. Skip to halfway or so through the video, to just where I start to join up the mid-braid loop I’ve made in the braid.

Photo-tutorial (pdf) on 10-loop Spiral braidss (requires leftie 2-loop braid pdf for basic move)

(sorry, no video for the left-handed version of the 10-loop Spiral braid)

Color and Shape Variations:
Using a thicker thread or yarn for one of the two colors, and a much thinner one for the second color creates a wonderful thick-thin spiral – there’s an example in my header photo at the top of the page, second braid from the right (I used a variegated yarn for one of the colors). The 10-loop video demos this, but it can be done with any number of loops.

Check out Dominic’s bracelet for a one-color spiral braid. This makes a great texture.

Non-spiral color-patterns
To get other color patterns than the iconic 2-color spiral, vary the way you set the colors on the fingers at the start of braiding.

Lengthwise striping: Set up the colors on the fingers so that at least one finger on each hand will be exchanging the same color loop with its “partner” finger on the other hand. For any two fingers that are loop-exchanging ‘partners’ on opposite hands: If they both have the same color loops, and none of the other fingers hold that particular color, there will be a lengthwise stripe of that color on opposite sides of the braid.

With a 6-loop braid, you can have up to 6 narrow stripes of 3 colors; with an 8-loop braid you can have up to 8 narrow stripes of 4 colors.

Wider stripe: If two pairs of fingers that follow each other in the braiding sequence all hold the same color (so, 4 loops of one color), it will create 2 wide stripes of that color (on opposite sides the braid). You can also plan a mix of wide and narrow stripes (not shown in photo): 1 “wide” color and 1 “narrow” color for 4 wide/narrow stripes in a 6-loop braid; and 1 “wide” color and 2 “narrow” colors for 6 wide/narrow stripes in an 8-loop braid.

Above: 6-loop (on upper ring) and 8-loop (on lower ring) “Spiral” braids with non-typical color-patterns. The 6-loop color-patterns can be made with 8 loops as well, for a larger version. Cotton, rayon, wool.

If any two loop-exchanging fingers carry 2 different colors, there will be a “polka-dot” stripe of those two colors on both sides of the braid. To make them show up as polka-dots, the other fingers should all hold loops of another color that contrasts well with both polka-dot colors. In the photo above, the 2nd braid from the top has this pattern. All the fingers held orange loops except for one pair of loop-exchanging fingers, which held a black loop (one hand) and a white loop (partner finger on the other hand). The resulting color pattern will be similar to the color pattern of the classic braid called Grene Dorge in the old manuscripts (a.k.a. “Barleycorn”).

If all but one of the fingers hold black loops, and only one finger holds a white loop, you will get a black braid with a column of evenly-spaced white dots on both sides of the braid. (see top braid above – this pattern with slightly different colors).

Spiral braids of more than ten loops:
A 16-loop Spiral Braid is described in two of the 15th C. English loop braiding manuscripts, to be made by two braiders working together – the “Bend of 16 bows for 2 fellows” (Tollemache and Harley, though Noémi Speiser warns that the Tollemache description is flawed in some way [p.64 of OEPBforLB])

Braiding solo, I have made spiral braids of up to 20 loops, but they are slower to make. Each extra pair of loops beyond 10 requires loop-shifting moves at the end of each cycle to get the loops back into starting-position. These loop-shifting moves (for me, anyway) require a fair amount of help from the other hand, unlike square and double braids, so “too-many-loops” spiral braids are much slower to make than double braids of the same number of loops.

4-, 8- and 16-loop spiral braids are documented in various loop braiding manuscripts from the 15th C. (see just above, as well as my History post for more specific information). I learned the 8-loop Spiral braid (lace bend round) from online somewhere – probably from Fingerloop.org – and later extrapolated the 2-loop, 4-loop, 6-loop, and 10-loop braids that I teach above. All of them are obvious variations, so I’m sure they have been made by others before me.

The 8-loop method for making two separate 4-loop spiral braids simultaneously was obvious to me only in hindsight! A new braider discovered it by accident right before my eyes while I was teaching her the 8-loop spiral braid. This is a quick and attractive way to form a loop/ opening in an 8-loop spiral braid.

The 2-loop braiding method is no-question the fastest way to braid a simple 4-strand flat braid of yarn or thread. I’m fairly sure Noémi Speiser mentions the 2-loop braid in one of her loop braiding books but I don’t remember where – will update with citation info when I come across it.

last updated Sep 22, 2020

© 2011–2020 Ingrid Crickmore
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