Any weird technical terms are probably over-explained on my Terminology page. Highlighted technical terms are links to their definition on the Terminology page. Click your ‘back’ button to return to this page.
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Note: Links to LMBRIC are currently broken, click here to find out how to access those pages via the Internet Archive.
Header photo braids:
The header photo on my blog is a photo of some of my loop braids, taken when I started this blog in Dec 2010. It’s just a blog decoration photo, not a pictorial guide to my tutorials. The multi-loop plain-weave (and POT) braids were a phase I was into back then – I’ve rarely made any of those since. Most of the braids in the photo were made with embroidery floss and or 5/2 perle but a few are thicker cotton or other fibers. Some of the braids are traditional, some are original, some are a little of both. I made all of them solo, including the ones that traditionally would have been made by two or more co-operating braiders.
My site now has tutorials for braids #10, 14, 15, 16, as well as for many more braids than the ones shown in the header photo. There are links below to any online sources I know of for instructions to the other traditional braids in the photo.
Left to right:
1. double-tubular (‘couvert’) braid in plain/ tabby weave, thicker cotton yarn, probably 15 loops. Double-tubular braids have an inner braided tube surrounded by an outer braided tube, created simultaneously. One tube is formed by the upper shanks of all the loops; the other tube is formed by the lower shanks of all the loops. (The ones described in the old loop braiding manuscripts were twill, not plain weave, and generally of 10 loops, but the double-tubular concept and underlying method is the same.) If you use bicolor loops, the two braided tubes can be of two different colors. In that case you can choose to turn the loops occasionally in order to switch colors between the inner and outer tubes. In the leftmost braid, one layer (tube) is black-and-white and the other is reds-and-oranges. More details here. I don’t teach double-tubular braids yet here on the blog, but I covered them in my how-to article on double braids in Threads That Move (near top of sidebar). They are twill, though, not plain weave like this header braid.
[Update: There are now many tips for making double-tubular braids on my info page about track plan diagrams.]
I learned how to make double-tubular twill braids from Masako Kinoshita’s description on her L-MBRIC site—see #2 here. Later I applied that tube-within-a-tube idea to these plain-weave braids that I make with my own “too-many-loops” method (see #2 below). Double-tubular braids are described in much detail (possibly overwhelming detail, if you are just trying to learn how to make them!) in OEPBforLB. Here’s a link to Cindy Myers’ online directions for one double-tubuler braid (note: she calls them couvert/ couerte braids, which is what they were called in old loop braiding manuscripts). Her index includes directions for many of these braids. All or most of them require two people braiding together. [update – her braiding pages have apparently been taken down, this is a sad loss.]
2. 15-loop flat braid. In plain weave, like the previous braid, but braided like a typical flat braid – loops only turned along one of the two long edges of the braid, so that when done the braid can be spread open into one flat layer. I came up with these plain-weave “too-many-loops” braids on my own (braids 1-4, 9, 12, 13), but the underlying structure is very simple: For any 2-layer plain-weave loop braid, each ‘traveling’ loop must go through only 1 loop, then around the next, through the next, etc etc (or you can start with an ‘around’, then through, around etc). This is as opposed to twill braids, in which the traveling loop goes through two or more adjacent loops at once. There are many possible ways for fingers to effect these “through 1, around 1” loop movements, experiment to find the easiest/ most efficient. For
true plain weave (in two layers) don’t turn any loops except at one or both edges of the braid (flat/hollow versions). [update: I misspoke! Shouldn’t have used the word “true.” I was trying to differentiate plain weave from POT which is the result if you turn every “through” loop while doing these through 1, around 1 moves. A flat or hollow “plain weave” loop braid will inevitably have an extra “over 1” where you turn loops, so you can’t loop braid ‘true’ – meaning ‘pure’ – plain weave unless you are making a divided braid (no turns). There will be a sneaky little twill column in there as well! Thank you to a reader for pointing this out.]
3. double-tubular, plain weave, 16 loops (see #1). Here, one of the tubes is black and white, the other green and pink.
4. A variation of the same plain weave method; the method is almost the same, but the result is different. In this braid, every transferred (through) loop was turned, which results in plain oblique twining, also known as POT. 15 loops. [I now have a blog-post about this braid, but it’s not a tutorial]
5. like #8, katheren wheele, but without the openwork. Flat, 15-loop braid. Traditionally this type of 15-loop braid would have been made by 3 braiders co-operating, each braiding as for a 5-loop braid, but regularly trading a loop between adjacent braiders after all three braiders finish their left and right loop transfers. 3-person, 15-loop flat braids like this would have to have been quite familiar before braiders could come up with the much more complex openwork version called Katheren Wheele in the 17th C. manuscripts. This is one of many braids not specifically notated in any of the old English loop braiding manuscripts, but which can logically be inferred to have been well-known at the time those manuscripts were written. In this example, I also used a technique that I call “color-linking” to create the blue borders. Color-linking prevents the blue threads from migrating across the braid. This type of color-linking was called “changing twice” in the 17th C. manuscripts.
6. A 16-loop extrapolation of the 12-loop Lace Vice of 3 colors from the “Lady Serene” manuscript, one of the 3 known 15th C. English loop braiding manuscripts. [As well as the archived LMBRIC reference, also see Cindy Myers’ instructions on her Silkewerksite]. L-MBRIC issue 12, near bottom of page for photo and link to Joy Boutrup’s instructions for the original 12-loop braid—this is where I learned it. The 12-loop Lace Vice was made by two braiders co-operating, each holding 6 loops. Braiding this as a solo braider is slow but doable, even with 16 loops.
7. Double Grene Dorge (double Barleycorn) braid , 15th C. 12 loops. See fingerloop.org’s, and Silkewerk’s instructions (for two braiders working in co-operation on one braid). I haven’t yet made a tutorial for my solo braider method.
8. Katheren Wheel, 15th C. 15 loops. This was traditionally made by three braiders working together side-by-side and exchanging loops to connect their braids. Each braider does the moves of a 5-loop braid–two consistently making “divided” square braid moves, and a braider on one end consistently making “flat” square braid moves, just as in braid #5. The lacy “holes” occur when 2 of the braiders stop connecting their braids for a few cycles in a row.
The modern instructions on fingerloop.org for this 3-person braid have some problems. Main one: when three braiders cooperate in making a braid, none should mirror the others’ moves the way two braiders usually do in making double braids. All 3 braiders should first make a left transfer, then a right one (or vice versa). This might not matter too much for a “plain” triple braid, but in braiding the openwork Catherine Wheel, if one of the braiders braids in a mirror-image reverse order of moves compared to the other two, it creates a small glitch that a bit later the braiders will have to do some extra work to fudge over.
9. plain weave flat,like #2 , thicker cotton yarn. 15 loops. Original method.
10. Lace Dawns, 15th C. 8 loops (wool) Link goes to my tutorial for this braid, which teaches my “thumbs” method for making this braid with no doubled loops on any fingers. See fingerloop.org’s instructions for the traditional method (two loops on right index finger).
11. Original method, Unorthodox braid (a type of braid where the taken loop only goes through some of the loops—goes over and/or under the others). 11 loops.
12. plain weave flat, like #2 and 9. 15 loops. Original method
13. like 12 above.
14. Edge and Crowns (Two different bicolor color-patterns alternating. 17th C patterns). The braid is a “Double-square” braid, 10 loops, rectangular in cross-section. I teach this as a solo-braider method, as a 10, 8, or 6-loop braid. I now also have a video and photo-tutorial showing how the 10-loop braiding procedure is done the traditional way by two people working together (the two braiders should learn the 5-loop square braid first – either with the Asian method I teach, or the traditional European A-fell method. 10 loops
15. Spiral braid, called “lace bend round” in the 15th C. (a ‘lace’ meant a ‘braid’ then, as in “shoelace”). Variegated silk yarn and thinner purple linen. 8 loops.
16. Square braid, 21 feet long (6.5m). 7 loops
All my loop braiding tutorials are listed here, in a more organized manner (easiest first), including many braids not shown in the header photo.
The most complete reference and how-to for traditional braids, and for loop braiding in general, is Noémi Speiser’s Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding, 2000.
E. Benns and G.Barrett’s Tak V Bowes, Departed also teaches many traditional loop braids, has color photo illustrations, and may be easier to follow. BraidersHand
is a U.S. distributor of both books. update: both books are now out-of-print.
This blog is (so far) the only source I know of that teaches the basic V-fell method for braiding simple loop braids, long practiced in many parts of the world outside Europe (where the A-fell loop braiding method was used). It’s also the only place I’ve published my “too-many-loops” methods, aside from one how-to print article in the 2012 International Braids Conference proceedings book Threads that Move – see top of my sidebar. That article is on my solo-braider methods for making all twelve or so of the possible shape variations of double braids. Oh, and a how-to article for making 9- and 11-loop square braids that was published by Masako Kinoshita in L-MBRIC before I had started this blog.
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