Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fun with String--Part 2

I took a look at the book I had, Compleat Anachronist No. 108, Fingerloop Braids, but could not find any directions for 6 strand braids (and only one for 6-"bowe" braids that I didn't understand).

So I went back to my sample piece and my challah-dough directions, and tried again. I think I'm getting the hang of it; I just need to take things slower. After I prove to myself that I can braid a reasonable length without screwing up noticeably, I think I'll cut a set of pieces long enough to make a braid to go entirely down one of the dress sides and try braiding it.

I also think that I'll weight down each of the string ends with a bead or something like that. One of the toughest parts to this is keeping track of which string is which after they've stuck together farther down than where the braid is forming.


  1. The simplest 6 loop fingerloop braid is done to the same pattern as the simplest 8 loop braid, and can also be done as a 4 loop braid.

    See the 8 loop braid as a lace bend round of 8 loops in CA#108: http://fingerloop.org/patterns.html#n08

    CA#108 can explain the exchange move better than me, but although I rememeber this in the paper version, I can't find it in the online version. The important thing to remember about this is that it is a) completely different from a normal fingerloop exchange, and b)involves both loops swapping fingers (with one going through the other), rather than the normal one loop moving (via passing through annother loop).

    Quick instructions: with 6 loops exchange the top loop of hand with the bottom loop of the other, then exchange the 2 middle loops on each hand, then the bottom (remaining) loop of the first hand with the top loop of the other. return to step 1 and repeat.

    It may be simpler to try the 4 loop version first - where you always exchange the diagonally opposite loops.

    To make it extra long, ask a friend to beat your warp for you, like in the diagram on fingerloop.org's front page/CA108's cover.

    This fingerloop braid is different from a 6 loop conventional braid. The one illustrated in the bread is a simple braid, like you do with your hair but structurally different from a 6 loop fingerloop. Mind you everything I see says this type of conventional braid was used inmedieval times too. (definately braiding, can't guarantee proof of any set number of strands.

  2. Thanks for the explanation! And thanks for commenting; I'm always surprised to realize that somebody other than me reads this blog. :-)

    Unfortunately, I don't really have a friend who can "beat the warp" for me, and my husband isn't really a good candidate for this type of task (assuming I could manage to explain to him what I needed to have done).

    I'm aware that a 6-loop braid is different from a 6-strand braid. However, I have only ever tried the very simplest of fingerloop braids, and an exchange that involves passing loops through each other is more than I feel up to handling, right now. In addition, the 6-strand braid I got directions for from the bread site looks, to me, a lot more like the sketches of the braid on the Hedeby piece than anything else I've seen.

    I may well experiment with fingerloop braiding for other projects, but I think for this one I will soldier on with my "simple" bread braid method. If it works out, I'll have a picture of it to share in a few days. Wish me luck!

  3. Do you want a 6-loop or a 6-strand braid? I've just tested it, and it seems to me that you can do the "bread braid" version with a simple 3-loop fingerloop braid (take the bottom loop from the hand with two loops through the single loop on the other hand, turned - the resulting braid is rounded on one side and rather flat on the other) and 40 inch might just be short enough for you to carry the shed with a toe.

  4. I want a 6-strand braid, so your 3-loop idea could well work. I'd need to knot two colors together for each loop, because the Hedeby braid I'm trying to imitate had 3 red strands and 3 yellow ones, but I can certainly do that.

    I think I understand part of what you're suggesting as a braiding method. This starts with one loop on one hand and two on the other. Then you take the bottom loop on the hand with two loops and through the middle of the single loop on the other side. I'm not sure what you mean by "turned", though, but I can certainly experiment--I'm not short of yarn!

    Thanks for commenting, and for your idea on how to do the braid!

  5. "Turned" means that when taking the loop from the two-loop hand, you take it so the thread that was under the finger on the first hand lies over the finger on the second hand, making a 180° turn in the loop. It does not work with no turn, because then you end up with two normal 3-strand braids instead.

    The 3-loop braid is nice-looking and extremely fast to make, since there is no long string-walking before the actual braiding action. Have fun experimenting!

  6. The fact that the original braid has 3 strands in one colour and 3 in annother, makes fingerloop braiding a less likely possibility to me. Yes, knotting the strings at the top will work, but why do it when you would be working against the natural advantages of the technique - unless it gave a particularly pretty pattern, whihc I don't think this would.

    I can think of 3 types of braids that would fit the criterea mentioned so far:

    1)6 strand braiding like you are doing.

    2) the technique called "viking whipcording", most instructions are for 4 strands, but it can be easily extended to 6 strands. this technique tends to lend itself to even numbers of strands, as that makes life easier for the braider/s. The simplest way to do 6 strands in this would be with 3 people though, so unless you want to do this at a historic event (it's quick and fun :) ), it's probably not hte best choice.

    3)As mentioned, one arrangement of a 3 loop fingerloop braid will produce 2 3 loop braids which will be structurally identical (if the weaver makes no mistakes) to a conventional hair braid (the baby sister of your bread braid). Well it is possible to do this with a larger number of loops too, even 6. It has the advantage of more even tension than a conventional braid, and is much quicker, but it is limited in length, and if you make a mistake, the braid can be ruined. It's also much easier to do with even numbers of loops than odd numbers, so I think making a 6 loop strand this way is quite unlikely, as well as a bad place for a beginner fingerlooper to begin, but the end result would be structually identical to a conventional braid, so you couldn't tell which histroical braids were made by which technique, except if the braider made mistakes.

    there is one other thing regarding fingerloop and braids I've discovered. Braiding with fingerloops can be easier than with single strands, unless you want a longer piece. the loops are easier to hold on to than a slippery strand. But your braid always has doubled string (ie 3 loops/6strands, makes a conventional 3 part braid).

  7. Yes, knotting the strings at the top will work, but why do it when you would be working against the natural advantages of the technique - unless it gave a particularly pretty pattern, which I don't think this would.

    Maybe not, but it would at least give me a red-and-yellow braid, which is the minimum I intend to settle for. On the other hand, Teffania also made a good point when you suggested that passing and turning loops may be too much for a new braider--God knows I've already screwed up enough on my 6-strand bread braid, and I only have about 6 inches of it done so far.

    I'm not in a position to attend a historical event or track down two other people interested in braiding this year, so whipcording is out.

    What I'll probably do is finish my 6-strand simple braid as best I can, mistakes and all, and then experiment with a 3-loop fingerbraiding technique for the other side. If both look like too much of a mess, I'll simply make 3-strand conventional "hair" braids (with each "strand" consisting of a red yarn and a yellow yarn) since I know I can do that simple braid quickly and tidily.

    Thank you both for your suggestions!

  8. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't try knotting loops on your fingerloop (try without first though), just that it makes it more likely the original was annother technique.

    The 6 loop done in the style of a 5 loop fingerloop is quite tricky (as much conceptually as physically), but the 3 loop isn't - give the 3 loop a try when you have some time.

  9. I suspect you're probably right that some variant of whipcording produced the original braid, and not a fingerloop technique, but I'll settle for any technique that produces a plasible braid, at this point. I plan to try the 3-loop a try--but I probably won't get to it until after my next trip. Meanwhile, the rest of the project is coming along nicely.

  10. Teffania, I'm a bit confused by your fingerloop description of 3 loops giving a conventional 3-end braid with doubled ends - seems like you have a very different method from my own. The typical loopbraiding I know means that loops are crossing through other loops, while the braiding method you seem to describe sounds like conventional braiding only with doubled ends (held as loops on the fingers).
    Cathy, I didn't want to crowd your comments too much, so I've done a blog post on fingerloop possibilities with 3 loops, maybe you'll find that helpful?

  11. Katrin, I think I'll find it helpful once I make myself some loops, re-read it and your previous posts on this thread a few times, and do some experimenting. (I just got back from my trip tonight.)

    I really appreciate your thoughts on the subject, and the pictures on your "To Loop or Not to Loop" post. Thanks!

  12. Hi Katrin,
    structurally I can think of 3 braids you can make with 3 fingerloops:
    1)conventional 3 loop fingerloop braid, roundish profile
    2)fingerloop that makes 2 conventional 3 strand braids simultanously (see 5 loop analog : http://fingerloop.org/patterns.html#n03)
    3) NOT FINGERLOOP - use 3 loops as a simple way of holding 3 doubled strands to perform a conventional 3 part (2 strands in each part) braid. (as you said)

    Of course adding the element of colour will add many visually different possibilties to this list.

    I hadn't thought of turning loops 360 degrees, only turning loops 180 or not at all when passing them in fingerloop. (or alternating turning while passing and not turning while passing) - but from memory only 2 of those fingerloop options gave a unique noticeable structural change.

  13. Okay, I just did a little experimenting, and I suspect I'm still not seeing quite how the process works. (I'm not very visually-oriented, I'm afraid.) Here's some questions for Katrin or Teffania (whichever of you has time and a better idea of what I'm trying to ask).

    Suppose you start with two loops on one hand (say, the left) and one on the other (say, the right). You take the singleton loop through the bottommost of the two-loop pair, rotating the loop 180-degrees as it goes.

    My questions: 1) Which way do you rotate the loop--inwards or outwards? 2) Must you always rotate the loop in the same direction? 3) Doesn't one of the loops have to end up on the opposite hand, so that you have one loop on the left and two on the right for the next pass (and then alternate thereafter)?

    Once I get down the method I have to use, I think I can make the fingerloop idea work, but I need to understand the process a bit better.

    Thanks in advance for any further help you can provide!

  14. 1st a few tips:
    *Start with loops about the length of you forearm plus hand. Try longer ones if you wish, after you are confident in your technique and tension.
    *Use a thicker, tightly spun, non-fluffy, not stretchy material first, before trying other materials. eg weaving materials, crochet cotton, perle cotton, cotton cooking twine.
    *tie to a fixed object initially. You can try tieing to a foot/toe or similar later, but initially it is easier to adjust tension if you don't have to hold an initialy stange posture
    *if you get blisters or hotspots on your fingers stop until they heal. (this is case law :-) )
    *Do it again in the next 2 days, or you will forget
    *the aim is to have fairly even tensin at both ends - so pull tighter at the start, and looser at the end.
    *don't try and untangle your loops before starting. Just push them towards the knot, and start below the tangle and chop off the rest. Once you've had practise, and make less tangles setting up, then you can decide if you want to untangle or not.

    The questions:
    1) Which way do you rotate the loop--inwards or outwards?
    2) Must you always rotate the loop in the same direction?

    Any differences if they exist should be so subtle that they shouldn't be discernable to you.
    Try to be consistant with each hand.

    If the loop is rotated or not is important.

    3) Doesn't one of the loops have to end up on the opposite hand, so that you have one loop on the left and two on the right for the next pass (and then alternate thereafter)?

    yes. but the most common way of doing this is actually the opposite to how you are doing it.

    Stick two fingers through the singleton loop, and with the top finger grab the bottom of the two loops.

    I think tehre is a video on fingerloo.org that shows the basic moves. It might be for 5 loops, but that is the same principal as for 3 loops - the extra two loops at the top of the hand can be ignored.

  15. Teffania, there's a third structural variation, a flat braid made by turning the loops with one hand and not turning with the other hand (this links the two independent 3-end braids together on one side).

    Cathy, I hope Teffania's explanation of how to loop helps you a bit. There's an explanatory video with ropes (easy to see) on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKOKn7wazJA&feature=related
    How you turn the loops is usually not important; there are some very few advanced braids where turning direction will change the look very slightly, and when doing a multi-person braid, the direction might be important as well - but for three loops, it won't be discernible. If you take all loops turned and start off with the yellow shanks on top on one hand and the red on top on the other hand, you will get unbroken stripes running down the length of the braid.

  16. I've played with loops a bit more, and my problem is that I keep ending up with the same number of loops on both hands even after the pass.

    Ah well. I'm sure I'll get it eventually.

  17. Start with 3 different coloured loops, so you can track where the loops are going.

    When you reach through the single loop, the single loop should stay on the hand, and add the botom loop from the other hand. look at he colours, and asee where they are ending up.

    There is a family of fingerloop braids where you swap the loops (usually using even numbers of loops), so you probably aren't doing it "wrong", but rather not doing the technique you are aiming for.

  18. Finally figured that out; now I need to get the "rotating" of the loop part in order to end up with the equivalent of a six-strand braid. Thanks for all your advice!

  19. I think I disagree with Katrina on the rotating bit. I say there are two ways you can move the loop - with a 180 degree rotation, or with no rotation. I couldn't find a way to do a 360 degree rotation.

    There are different ways to pick up a loop to achieve these effects. Your finger which is picking up the finger can form a hook from below or above the loop, and also it can pick up the top strand of a loop or the bottom strand of a loop. of these 4 combinations, two rotate the loop, and two don't.

    When I teach people this, I don't get them to focus on doing either particular method of picking up the loop, but instead to make sure they consistantly do one style at a time, and can achieve one combination that rotates the loop and one that doesn't.

    In fact, I don't focus on the mechanics, ie the loop rotating - which can be hard to see, but instead on the end result, namely with a 3 loop fingerloop braid, you either get 2 seperate braids or one fat braid. So long as you can consistantly get both, it's all working fine, and you have the skills to move to harder patterns. Making the flat braid where you alternate between rotating and not rotating the braid, really tests if you've "got it".

  20. Teffania, I understand what you're driving at. However, if I don't memorize a particular techinque for "rotating" or not rotating a loop, I can't keep track of whether I'm doing it consistently, and thus can't guarantee a consistent result. I got my nice double braid by following this instruction from one of your comments:

    Stick two fingers through the singleton loop, and with the top finger grab the bottom of the two loops.

    I read "bottom of the two loops" as "the bottom part of the lower of the two loops" and that worked very well. Pity I don't need two 3-strand braids. :-)

  21. ok. stick with "the bottom part of the lower of the two loops" - are you consistantly getting one single strand? If so, call this the "rotated" way of picking the loop up. (and don't worry that there is annother way to do this - this is the easier way)

    There are two ways of achieving the unrotated loop pick up. I'll explain the one that most people find simplest. But if you don't get the desired result, you're not doing it wrong, you'll just need to add some comensation factors - if so, let me know and I'll explain.

    So, try picking up the top strand of the bottom loop - see if that gives you two seperated strands - if so, this is your unrotated way of picking up loops.

  22. Actually, you misconstrued what I said. It was picking up the bottom part of the lower loop that was giving me two separated braids. After I read your last post, I started another test braid, trying to make sure that I took the *top* string of the bottom loop--and then making sure that the loop I took ended up as the top loop for the next pass.

    That seems to be working, though I haven't gotten the process down sufficiently well yet to be willing to attempt a full-length braid.

  23. ok, you're part of the 10% (approximately - I get one in every class) of people whose finger naturally claws the loop like a bird, instead of hooks the loop like a come-hither-finger.

    Where you read instructions that say don't turn the loop, or take a loop unreversed, or even "pick up the top of the loop" (it's written for the 90%) for you, that will mean the way you are picking up the bottom loop now.

    If picking up the top strand of the loop is becoming comfortable for you, that will be your turned, reversed of "pick up the bottom loop" type one for you.

    I'm assuming picking up the top strand is giving you a single loop now - some people switch hooking methods as they switch positions and thus don't change patterns.

    If picking up the top strand of the loop continues to be awkward, try using the other method of hooking the loop on hte bottom strand - stretch out your finger, so the finger goes under the loop, then hooks it from behind/below, rather than through the loop and hook it from above.

    I say fingerloop is about using whichever posture works for you, so long as you can compensate for the way other peoples' methods are written.

    Although I haven't seen any indication yet that there was a medeival understanding of hte two ways to do things I've tried to explin above, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't.

  24. Ok, you're part of the 10% ... of people whose finger naturally claws the loop like a bird, instead of hooks hte loop like a come-hither finger.

    Oh, I start out with the "come-hither" position all right, but I can't transfer the loop that way; if I try, the loop falls off my finger and hopelessly bollixes up things. The truth is, I can't count on my hand position being exactly the same each time I go for the string, so I need to understand where I have to take the string in order to develop a method that works for me.

    I appreciate your patience, and wish you could watch me attempting to braid--at the very least, you'd probably find it amusing!