1 August 2012

Fingerloop: a few braids

Here are a few of my recent attempts at fingerloop, all in cotton (as it's cheap and I have lots):

From left to right:

  1. A brode lace of v bowes
    • I attempted to learn more about the structure of this braid and how the moves produce the braid by using as many different coloured bowes as possible, so that I could see which move created which pattern. As I only had 4 colours of thread at the time, there are 2 brown bowes.
  2. A brode lace of v bowes
    • More of the same, to attempt to understand how the pattern is made. This braid uses 3 blue bowes and 2 brown bowes. The right hand acted as instructed, but the left hand picked up bowes unreversed instead of reversed. The result? The tension in the braid is uneven, resulting in the entire braid spiraling somewhat annoyingly.
  3. A brode lace of v bowes
    • Yet more of the same. This braid uses 3 light blue bowes and 2 brown bowes. I did a section as instructed, then did an overhand knot to mark the change, then did the remainder with both hands picking up bowes unreversed. The result? Picking up unreversed makes the same braid but upsidedown - what was the upper, visible face when braiding now is the lower, invisible face.
  4. A lace common round
    • Using 3 green bowes and 2 dark blue bowes.
  5. A lace maskel (Harley 2320 version)
    • Using 4 pale blue and 4 pink bowes. This lace spirals somewhat and the holes are not visible unless it is purposely stretched out. The lace compacts a lot when held under tension vertically, rendering the pattern less visible.
  6. A lace maskell (conjectural Serene version)
    • Cindy Myers suggests the lace maskel instructions in the Tollemache and Harley manuscripts are incorrect and suggests a conjectural version based on the Serene MS instructions and the name ('maskell' apparently means 'a voided lozenge')
    • This produces a nice lace-like braid, though it too has a tendency to spiral and requires purposeful stretching to look its best. The lace-like pattern collapses when held under tension vertically.
    • My braid has a fair few mistakes (that may or may not be visible in the photo). I kept forgetting where I was and how many repeats of the horizontal exchanges I had done. However, the principle of the pattern is there.
  7. Lace cowe de race
    • I kept trying but could not make this look like Cindy Myers' example. The problem is with the instruction "A goes through B right from within outward, under all the loops of both hands, and takes the over side of A left reversed". I am unsure quite what is meant by the underlined section.
    • I tried several contortions to attempt to "take the over side of A left reversed" but neither were satisfactory: one resulted in the 'vertical' threads changing colour (see between the second and third set of 'stitches'), the other resulted in the 'stitch' threads pushing up through the 'vertical' threads (see below the fourth set of 'stitches')
    • It is clear that, however this move works, the same colour should remain on the top half of the bow - if this doesn't happen, the 'vertical' threads will change colour

So, those are all of my experimental braids so far. I did do some others at a show I was at last week, but those are just more 'brode lace of v bowes' and 'lace common round of v bowes' that were to keep myself from boredom and to have something to talk about.

I also taught a friend's daughter the 'brode lace of v bowes'. She was quite content to only learn that pattern, but was amazing at creating colour combinations (including several I'd never even considered) - she kept fishing in my thread bag and drawing out amazing combinations, with colours I didn't even know I had. Unfortunately, I am no where near as talented at the colour selection as she is!


  1. Lovely braids!

    Hopefully I can help clarify what I did with the cowe-de-race, and why.

    There are certain things medieval braiders (the ones writing the manuscript, anyway) seem to have assumed.

    The first assumption is that the palms are facing, and the natural way to put your finger through a loop is from "without" - "within" referring to the space between your hands. So the first instruction - to go through B from within outward means you're doing it the opposite way from usual. You sound clear enough on that part.

    The second assumption is that when loops are taken "unreversed" your finger enters the loop itself. For "reversed" loops, your finger does not enter the loop, but takes it from *below*.

    For this braid, they don't want you to enter the loop, so they say "reversed", but they want you to grab the top portion of the loop rather than the lower portion assumed by "reversed", so it specifies the "over side". The odd thing is that when you do this from "without" (remember the first assumption) the loop doesn't actually twist. So the color that was on top, forming the stitches stays on top.

    That's how I interpreted the instructions anyway, and how I got the braid I did. I'm *very* intrigued by your color changing version, since the Serene text contains a similar "compound" braid. The colors are to be reversed as desired. I changed all the loops at once, but perhaps something in the way you were doing it is a better answer. I'll have to consider it further.

    I have a better index to the braids now, if it will help your experiments:


    Thanks for sharing your work. This was very interesting.


    1. Thank you for your reply and for the beautifully clear instructions for your version of the cowe de race. I shall have to try that one again and report back. I shall also try to record more precisely how I got the colour-changing version and the other version (and perhaps take some better photos of them).

      "Over side" makes a lot more sense if it is the opposite of "under side". Seems obvious now!

      Thanks too for your amazing website.

      (Also, I sent you an email a week or so ago with a link to a fascimile of the Harley MS. Not sure if you know about that link but it looked useful.)

  2. I just replied to that letter! Sorry I missed it for so long. I was trying to focus on finishing the one section on my web page, and ironically missed hearing something really lfabulous and completely related. THANKS!

    1. No worries. And thanks for telling me about the new page on your website - it's both useful and beautiful. ^_^