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Exact center-start
This method will place your center-start at the exact center-point of your loop-bundle. Basically it’s like using the “handshake” start for only two of the loops – the other loops will all be doubly-long single loops. The join area here will be almost invisible with a square or solid-rectangle braid – actually any braid other than a flat braid. It creates a much less obvious join than the full “handshake join” start. (The most seamless-looking join, especially for a flat braid, is the Seamless/ Two Combs variation of the Basic Center-start.)

Make all but one of the loops separately, and full-length – as long as needed for the whole extra-long braid, plus extra for take-up. (These instructions assume that each half of the braid is a manageable length for braiding and will not need to be shortened into “caterpillars”.)

Then make the final loop out of two half-length loops linked through each other like two links of a chain: Tie one half-length into a loop, then thread the other half-length through that loop and tie it. Now you have two half-length loops linked together into one long figure-8.

The two half-length loops must be the exact same length. Linked together, they must add up to the same length as your other full-length loops–for that reason you’ll probably have to cut them a tiny bit longer than half the length of the others. (Unless you follow my hint at the bottom of this page for making each loop in the braid out of two lengths of yarn.)

Stretch all the loops out together, treating the two linked loops as if they were one long loop (make sure their knots are at the far ends of the eventual braid, not in the middle).

Suspend one end of all these loops onto a fixed point (treating the doubled loop as one loop). Or tie a header cord through one end of all these loops and hang it from a fixed point.

You will be braiding at quite a distance from that fixed point, so make sure you have enough room. Start braiding. Gradually, over the first several braiding moves, the loops will all get caught together at the center-point of the braid, right at the join between the two linked loops, and the braid will begin forming from that exact center-point of the loop-bundle, leaving the top half unbraided.

When you have finished braiding the closer half, remove the top unbraided half from whatever it is attached to, and if there is a header cord holding the loops, untie it. Fasten the braided portion firmly onto a fixed point. Make sure no part of the unbraided section of the loops is constricted or tied, only the firmly-braided section.

Put the loop ends of the unbraided half onto your fingers, and start braiding the second half of the braid. Tighten well on the first few moves, to avoid any gappy threads at the center-point of the braid.

When you are finished, the join area between the two halves of the braid should be at the exact midpoint of the braid, assuming that the two linked loops were equal in length, and that you braided each half of the braid with equal tension.

Hint: the quickest and easiest way to measure out the loops for this start is to cut two strands (all the same length) for each of the long loops as well as for the one linked loop. Make each long loop from two lengths of yarn, tied together at each end. Then use two of the lengths to make the two short linked loops as described above. Tie all the knots in the same way, leaving ‘tails’ of exactly the same length to each knot. (I recommend leaving fairly short tails because they are easier to “eyeball” and estimate as equal in length. However they must be long enough that the knot will stay secure!)

This way, the long loops and the double (linked) loop will all end up the same length automatically, so you don’t have to fuss to get the two shorter loops to add up to the same length as all the long loops. A few more knots to tie, but easier and quicker overall.

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Last updated Nov/25/2019

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