Finger Loop Braids were popular from the 15th to the 17th Centuries in Europe, There are still some forms of similar braids made in isolated areas of South America, Asia and the Middle East. In Europe they seem to have been forgotten after the 1600's. Fabric and fiber art does not survive centuries. So examples of the original braids are very rare. You can sometimes spot them in old master paintings. They look like they take days to make but I'll show you some complex braids that can be completed in 5 minutes.
This is the style of braiding that was done in Medieval Europe and all the patterns are translated from Medieval manuscripts by the great folks at Fingerloop.org. I want to thank the producers of that website for showing me this ancient and almost forgotten art.
Supplies: some kind of rope, string, yarn,...
Time: Depends on the length and pattern of the braid but the ones I'm making only take a few minutes to complete an entire braid.
It is difficult to describe and annotate the patterns. The folks at Fingerloop.org have done a good job of documenting the patterns. I'm going to try to write up some instructions for the braids I'm showing you, but the best way to learn the braids is to just watch the videos. Each video has a photo of the completed braid.
I'm going to publish this with 5 or 6 different braids and will add more as I create the videos. They start very easy, and I'll introduce new techniques as we add new braids. The braids I'm going to show you are made by one person. There are also patterns for braids that are made by two or three people working simultaneously on one braid.
Lets go. Have fun.
This is the introductory video for Finger Loop Braiding. I'll tell you how it is done and show you some examples of Finger Loop Braids that I'm going to teach you how to create.
New: I made close up videos of my hands are up for all braids. They are very easy to follow.
Step 1: Braid number 1 - Flat Braid
You start with some kind of rope,string, etc. Hook it onto something sturdy and create 5 loops. I'm going to hook it over my bedpost. Then I'll loop the rope around the post until I have 5 loops. The rope is tied in one continuous loop. After I've hooked the loops, then I pull the rope back and forth to get all of the loops to the exact same length. These loops are called "Bowes" in the original manuscripts. Sometimes I say bow and sometimes I say loop. They are the same thing.
I'm going to add a L or a R to the front of the names of the fingers so you know which hand I'm talking about.
For this braid, start with two loops on your left hand. One over your LMiddle finger and the other over the LRing finger. On the right hand put one loop over your RIndex finger, one on the RMiddle finger and the last one on your RRing finger.
In the first move, we start from your left hand. Reach your LThumb and LIndex finger through the back of the loop on your LMiddle finger. With your LThumb and LIndex finger, grab the lower string of the loop on your RRing finger. When you take the top string of a loop, that is a straight exchange, taking the lower string is a reverse exchange. Pull that through the loop on your LMiddle finger as you transfer it to your LIndex finger.
You should now have three loops on your left hand. One each on LIndex, LMiddle, and LRing. On your right hand you have two loops. One each on RIndex and RMiddle.
Now we need to move the bows from RIndex and RMiddle, down one finger so they are on RMiddle and RRing. This is called Walking the Bows. You now have the same set up we started with, but on opposite hands. Next is the same move as before.
Reach your RIndex and RThumb through the back of the loop on RMiddle and take the loop on your LRing finger reversed (grab the lower string on the loop). Pull it through RMiddle. Then Walk the Bows on LIndex and LMiddle, down one to LMiddle and LRing. We are back to the beginning.
After each transfer, spread your arms wide apart to tighten up the braid that is forming at the far end of the string. Do this every time to keep the braid tight and even.
Just repeat those moves.
I've attached a series of photos illustrating the moves but the video will really be easier to understand. The first and second photos are the braid that we end up with at the end of the video.
These are new videos. The first one is a full view that shows you how I load the rope onto my post to make the loops. The second video will show you how to do the braid. It is a close up on my hands and will make it very clear how to make the braid.