As a child, I was introduced to finger loop braiding at camp. It’s one of many fiber-related techniques that has crossed my path, but it wasn’t until I was in Manchester, England last year teaching at the International Braids 2012 Conference that I developed a new appreciation for this technique.
Finger loop braids are braids woven using loops of string on your fingers. It’s a technique that reached a high point in Medieval Europe and England between 1200 and 1600 CE. Now, via the beauty of the internet, we can see how loop braiding artists are showing us what is truly possible and taking this technique to new heights. If you know someone involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) http://www.sca.org/, you’re probably not far away from knowing a loop braider.
I remember the moment at Braids 2012 when I stopped and stared with amazement . . . and that was when I came across Ingrid Crickmore creating a stunning braid during one of our breaks. I was mesmerized as I watched a technique I had learned briefly as a child transformed into something remarkable . . . and certainly beyond my expectations. (By the way, the International Braids 2012 Conference was one of the best experiences in my fiber life . . . the next conference will be in 2016 and will be held in the Seattle, WA area . . . perhaps that is the impetus for expanding your fiber repertoire!)
Not only can you create braids by yourself, there are also loop braiding techniques that require a partner. It was fascinating during Braids 2012 to watch two braiders in beautiful synchrony creating a single braid. I desperately hope to try that sometime soon . . . in the meantime, I’ll continue to explore techniques I can do on my own. I think loop braiding would be a wonderful opportunity for a guild or small group of fiber artists to explore together . . . so, I hope some of these resources will be helpful to providing new insight into this old technique.
If you only check out one of these resources on loop braiding, definitely head to Ingrid Crickmore’s website! It’s loaded with amazing information. I could spend years exploring the information, videos, and more and never be bored. Thank you, Ingrid for producing a fabulous website and promoting loop braiding to an extreme worthy of recognition and admiration!
Ingrid Crickmore’s loop braiding website – http://loopbraider.com/
If you’re eager for more, Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa (Lois Swales) and Mistress Azza al-Shirazi (Zoe Kuhn Williams) have an information-packed website on finger loop braiding. One thing I really like is their explanation of how to read loop braiding schematics. As a traditional weaver, I really needed some assistance in understanding this notation system.
Fingerloop.org - http://fingerloop.org/
Finger loop braiding is only one thing covered on this next website, Stringpage. I really like the clear introduction to a classic five-loop braid.
Stringpage - http://www.stringpage.com/braid/fl/fingerloop.html
Finally, SFHandyman has a handy on-line video for loop braiding . . . plus, he’s used large cords to help the viewer better understand the technique.
I hope you enjoy my latest favorite thing and develop a new appreciation for loop braiding. Enjoy!