There are a number of techniques that can be used for creating braids. The simplest equipment is the tablet weaving card.
Tablet weaving (or card weaving) is a method of producing braids, straps, belts, edgings and hair bands and a large range of yarns work effectively with this method. It is necessary to use a strong yarn for the warp as it is subjected to high tension and twisting but softer, lighter yarns are adequate for the weft.
This is an excellent place to begin to learn the basics of weaving. The equipment is inexpensive and portable and the technique provides opportunities for experimentation with design and colour, practical use of mathematics and problem solving and is a creative activity for both adults and children to share.
Luceting or Cord Making
The craft of luceting can be traced back to Viking times. The lucet produces a square cord which can be woven using string, wool, silk or cotton threads.
The cords have been used in clothing for millennia. They were used to tie doublet and hose in the middle ages and bodices in Elizabethan times. Ornamental frogging was created using the luceting technique and the Victorians made silk cord neck chains and watch fobs.
Probably the most portable of braiding techniques, the Lucet has been adapted, along with the techniques, to absorb a whole new crafting audience. Ziggy Rytka’s Lucet Kit and DVD offer an excellent way to learn the techniques. Luceting can be used to create jewellery by adding beads or charms during the process of making the chord.
Inkle weaving is also an ideal activity for children. Weaving is created on a simple loom. It is used to produce braids, bands, belts and straps just as the tablet weaving cards but the warp is unsleyed and therefore a warp-faced surface usually results. The weft is completely hidden except along the edges.
Strong, smooth yarns with two or more ply are used for this weaving technique as they need to be able to withstand the pressure of the shed separation. The shed is the space into which the shuttle passes and is controlled by heddles which are string loops attached to the warp strings. Learn how to start Inkle Weaving.
Kumihimo is a Japanese craft of braiding usually using lengths of silk strands but also other threads, such as fine cotton and linen.
The braids are created either on a loom called a Takadai which allows for wider pieces of fabric to be woven or on a Marudai (above) which is portable and can be used on a table.
The warp threads when set up on a Takadai lay at an oblique angle and are weighted with bobbins (right) to keep a consistent tension. Instead of a separate weft thread, each warp thread takes turns to become a weft thread in a similar way to plaiting.
The threads on the Marudai are fed through the hole at the top of the stand and weighted in the centre to keep the braid in place. The unwoven threads are counter-balanced by bobbins to help maintain the tension.