Monday, March 16, 2009

Make your own trim: Fingerloop Braiding


A friend of mine was over to a St. Patricks' Day tea, and taught me how to do fingerloop braiding, a very old technique. I was surprised at how much fun it was! The resulting braid (in this case, 10 stranded-braid) done in different materials, can be used for corset lacing, cording, or trim. 
Above: using a chair and learning fingerloop braiding 
First, we needed a place to make a loop of strings. The top of this chair worked well. This is demonstrated using yarn. Go around until you have five strands. Knot the ends together. 

The resulting strands of yarn, in a large loop. 

Now you need a place to anchor the loop so you can work with it. The back of the chair worked for us! Put the middle of your yarn behind a rung. 

Pass one end of the loop through the other (it is tidier if you pas the un-knotted end through the knotted side)...

...and slip one side down so that all the strands are anchored and now available for your hands.


Put your fingers through the loops, as above. One side will have two loops, and one side will have three. Keep your index finger free on the two-loop side. 

Now, working with the two loops, reach your free index finger and thumb through the very top strand, and send the index finger over to the other side (the three loop side) like a hook to grab the very bottom strand. Pull that bottom strand through your top strand. 

Now you ought to have three loops where there were two, and two loops on the other hand. 

You will notice that one of the loops on the two-loop hand, is over your index finger. You will need to carefully pass down the loops of yarn on that hand so you have a free index finger. Put the loop that is around your middle finger on your ring finger, and then pass down the loop that is on your index finger to your middle finger. Now you are ready to go. It really is quick and easy, trust me!

Now start all over again, putting your index finger and thumb through the top strand, and grabbing the bottom strand of the opposite side and pulling it through. "Step down" your two loops and start all over. 

Between each turn, you should stretch your work out so that the braid gets cinched up and tight. 


Here are my first attempts and experiments. The top one you can laugh at-- I tried it with eyelash yarn. It looks like some strange creature of the deep, but it sure is soft, and some cat will think it is fun. Below that is a green braid made of satin ribbon. The next two are done with crochet cotton thread, some strands green and some white thread. Then there are two examples using a ribbon yarn from Lion Brand yarn. 

There are many variations that can be done with this braiding technique. My teacher showed me how to braid in a buttonhole, how to make a round braid (the braid above is flat on one side, rounded on the other), and as you see I "went to town" and tried it out with different materials. 

Longer braids can be had, but you will need an assistant to help you cinch it up, or use your pretty little foot:)

Below you see something else my teacher wanted me to learn: Netting. Here she is beading a hair net for a re-enactment. She will use the fingerloop braid on the edge of the net to tie around her hair. Maybe next time I will go for it!
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