I was going to participate in a zoom conference with a bunch of braiders, but I realized that I did not have a braid set up to work on during the call. so, I measured out the silk, wound the tama, and worked on the braid. Then, I had another Zoom, and that gave me enough time to finish the braid.
It’s basically the same braid as the previous one, but the core and outer colors are reversed.
Last week, we attended the “Armistice” event up at Cooper’s Lake Campground. Informally called “Pretendsic”, this was the event that the campground decided to run on their own after the SCA’s Pennsic War was cancelled again. It was a much smaller and informal version of a war, with no organized battles and many fewer classes. We did not even camp up there most nights, and brought all our own food. We spent a lot of time in camp braiding, and I completed these four braids.
All four braids were made using kute-uchi hand-loop braiding. The two inner braids are Mitake-gumi 10-loop rectangular braids, both using a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop. The two outer braids are Maru-genji-gumi 16-loop round braids. The inner of the two uses a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop, and the outer uses two plies of cotton crochet thread for each loop. To keep the loops together in bundles for the 2-ply braid, I used rope kute handles. These were all braided while seated on a bench, and I used my toes to beat the stitches if the braids were too long for manual tightening.
Back in the Spring, I started teaching myself a new kumihimo braiding pattern. It’s called the “Sankaku-kumi 1” braid. It is #116 in Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids: Marudai. It is a triangular braid with fifteen strands.
Most marudaibraids have a number of strands that is divisible by four. Eight, sixteen, and 24-strand braids are the most common. Odd-stranded braids are uncommon. I’ve done a 9-strand braid and a 17-strand braid in the past, and I’d love to be able to run a workshop on odd braids. This one seemed like a good candidate.
First, I did the braid in some acrylic yarn I keep around for learning purposes.
It’s a pretty thick braid because I used two plies of yarn on each tama. You can see that there are a number of errors in this braid. Most of them seem to be of the “doing the wrong step at the wrong time” kind. There are 9 white strands, and 6 red strands. They are separated into six positions around the marudai: RR WWW RR WWW RR WWW. Each iteration, you move one white strands from each group two positions clockwise, and one red strand from each group one position counter-clockwise.
For the second try, I used cotton crochet thread, and reversed the colors. I don’t think there are any visible errors in this braid. There are some structural twists in it, though, that keep it from being smooth.
For the third try, I went with lace-weight silk yarn. I got started on this, then it sat on the marudai for at least six months. I got side-tracked onto other things and it stared at me accusingly for all that time like a one-eyed daruma doll. For this try, I used back and gold threads for the 6 center strands, plus red and white threads for the 9 outer strands. I did not quite plan out the color pattern well enough, so you can see where two white strands come one after the other. There’s also a big error from when I got started on the braid again and did the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve hidden it in the photo, though.
Anyway, this is a nice, fast braid when you don’t take a six month break in the middle of it. I’ll probably give it a rest for a bit, then do a fourth try to lock the pattern into my memory. Once I do that I can create my own instruction sheet and I’ll be ready to teach a class on it.
When I was in Japan for the TV show, they gave me the opportunity to visit with Makiko Tada in her studio and while I was there she taught me how to do “Kute-Uchi” hand loop braiding. I have since taken more classes in it, and done more studying. This craft, like finger loop braiding, has the disadvantage that once you start a braid, there is really no way to put the work down until it is finished. Also, if you want to experiment with the multi-person braids you actually need multiple people. That is, unless you have some “helping hands” to hold the loops for you.
I’ve seen several designs for these, but most of them seemed either too primitive or too engineered. Some are made of PVC pipe or other humble materials. Some have magnetic bases to keep them from shifting, but then you need a metal table. anyway, I thought that some wood would be nicer, and friction would probably be enough to keep them from shifting. A few hours in the shop, and here we are!
Here you can see the kute-uchi hands in use. This is just a simple 5-loop braid, but I can stop at any time by sliding the loops off my hands onto the dowel ends. The bar in the center keeps the two sides separate, and fiction between the wooden base and the tablecloth keeps tension on the loops. If I need more tension for some reason, I can always put a weight bag on the base to increase the friction. the hands do need to move forward, as uptake from the braid makes the distance between the hands and the fixed point shorter as the braid progresses.
Here’s a closer shot from the front. The dowel just goes through the upright post. A set screw keeps the dowel from sliding out. The upright is in a shallow mortise for stability, and a screw comes up from underneath to keep that attached. There’s no glue, so I can remove the screws if I need to take the whole thing apart for travel or something. There’s a bit of sealer on it to stabilize the wood, but no finish to make it slippery.
I actually made three of these. I needed at least two for making two-person braids, and why not make an extra one while I was working? I had three good pieces of dowel in the surplus rack.
I’ve been wanting these for a while, so it is really good to finally get around to making them.
Set up the marudai with another 16-tama braid in red and white. This one looks similar to the last one, and it’s braided similarly in alternating colors, but it’s based on a round braid instead of a square braid.
So yeah, 6 plies of lace-weight silk yarn per tama, using braiding pattern 16T from Jacqui Carey’s Creative Kumihimo.