We recently received an email from a reader named Mina with a picture of a braid, asking if we could identify it. I took on the challenge, and in spite of my best efforts I couldn’t come up with an origin for it. Braids are often a created for functionality, so most have a special value or meaning to someone, somewhere. Even though my research didn’t work out, I did figure out how to make it.
The most basic way to weave a fabric is a flat weave – over, under, over, under. If you ever learned to weave in an elementary school art class you’re already familiar with the process. To make a satin fabric, some of the threads go over more than one strand running the other direction. These longer strands are what make satin fabric look glossy in a way that broadcloth doesn’t. This braid is sort of the satin equivalent to more common types of braiding.
This is a braid best constructed of heavier strands – strips of leather or suede, waxed cotton, or rope. It needs a minimum of 5 strands, but theoretically could be made with an unlimited amount of strands, though additional strands reduce the stability of the braid. The braid shown uses 6, I would expect a braid with more than 8 threads to be pretty weak. The braid is identical on the front and back, and is very flat.
The first step is to pick up the strand farthest to the right and pass it under the strand directly to it’s left, then across all but the last strand on the left.
Bring that farthest left strand over the working strand, an tighten it all up.
The braid is made by repeating this over and over – the working strand (farthest right) goes under the strands on the right and left side of the braid, but over all the others.