My friend, Ingrid Crickmore, is one of the world’s most knowledgeable finger loop braiders. She has an astounding web site where she teaches how to create these intricate braids.
Ingrid Crickmore – LoopBraider
I was able to interview Ingrid this summer about her braiding.
Enjoy the video.
The transcript follows:
Carolyn – So here we are. Welcome to Penguin’s Wanderlust. This is Penny. This is Penguin. This is my longtime friend, Ingrid Crickmore. Ingrid is a really great craft person. She has on the Internet, a site called Loop Braiding, and the URL is loopbraider.com. We are here at the beautiful Centralia, Washington Oldtime Music Campout. She’s here to tell us a little bit about her finger loop braiding that she’s taught me over the years. I have many bracelets at home from doing workshops with Ingrid.
So she’s here today. Welcome, Ingrid.
Ingrid – Thank you.
What Loop Braiding Is
Carolyn – How would you describe finger loop braiding?
Ingrid – It’s a very basic, easy textile craft that has been done all over the world for thousands of years. It started to die out when mechanized braiding machines came into being but it’s still a very handy, easy, and beautiful craft. So that’s how I would describe it. It’s a way of making cords, and bands with braiding; basically weaving on the diagonal. Weaving that goes diagonally down the path of the work rather than horizontally and vertically.
Carolyn – When did you first discover loop braiding?
Ingrid – I think it was in 2006. I was at a knitting group. We would meet in a cafe in my home town. They were talking about i-cord which is a way of knitting a cord. One of the women there said that she knew how to braid i-cord. I was intrigued and asked her to show me. She showed me a 5 loop braid. I thought it was fascinating. It seemed very easy to do the way she showed me but I quickly forgot how at home. Luckily I had taken a few notes when she showed me and with those I was able to do it at home after a few days.
Carolyn – Was it slender cord like these ones?
Ingrid – Yes. She had demoed with very thin knitting yarn that she happened to have with her. It was very simple. It was a simple pink little cord. She said it would look very pretty if I used embroidery floss.
Carolyn – So would i-cord – is the “i” like the letter “i”?
Ingrid – Yes, I think it’s the term that Elizabeth Zimmerman came up with for this type of knitted cord.
I think it stands for idiot cord because it’s very easy. I assume. I think it’s very easy to make. I’ve never made it. Instead I started braiding. I got so into it that all my knitting fell by the wayside, and I haven’t really knitted anything since. I want to.
Carolyn – My granddad had made me a wooden circle with a hole in the middle with little finishing nails around it, and taught me how to loop it around to make quite a thick knitted cord that came out the bottom. Some of my happiest memories. I’m a packrat. That thing’s still hanging around somewhere.
Ingrid – People still use those. I don’t remember what they’re called.
Carolyn – Occasionally you see plastic versions in the kids’s sections of the stores for toys. Did you get any one-on-one instruction for actual finger loop braiding?
Ingrid – Yes. That’s what she showed me. She showed me how to do a 5 loop braid. She also said, it was great what she told me about it too because she opened a lot of possibilities in just a very quick demo. She showed me with 5 loops, and she said you could add more loops, to make fancier ones, by just adding more loops to the fingers up to a limit of 9 but no more.
Carolyn – Because you need one finger to do the transfer for braiding.
Ingrid – She didn’t show me that. It was here at camp. I don’t think you were here.
Carolyn – I think I was.
Ingrid – It was maybe the first or second year that I came to this campout, and it was after most of the people had gone home. There were just a few of us left. The last day was a cleanup day. After we were done helping clean up the camp I brought out my instructions, the little notes that I had written down, and that embroidery floss. There were just a few of us down at the other end of the pasture.
Carolyn – I might have been gone by then.
Ingrid – She had said to use embroidery floss. So I brought it along. A little bunch of us sat there, and figured it out. Did it together. I think it was then that I tried the 7 loop. I tried 5, and then I tried 7. It was so intriguing that I was still doing it as Bob and I drove away the next morning. I was braiding away in the car as he drove or the van. I forget what we had then. We got to some camp in Washington somewhere, and she had said you could use 9 loops. So I wanted to go up one more. All that was left were thumbs so I figured okay so you put them on your thumbs. I did that, and I found out later that nobody loop braided on their thumbs. I found no references when I tried to Google it online. My teacher had obviously done it. She told me I could. It was kind of a revelation that you could do it with 9 loops so easily but I couldn’t find any mention of it anywhere when I looked it up.
Carolyn – So the basic idea is that you would cut your embroidery floss or whatever to a certain length, tie a knot on the end, anchor it to a chair, from a distance. The braid is however many fingers that you’re using. For a 5 you might have 3 on one side and 2 on the other. And then you’re going back and forth. So the thumb is when you’re running out of fingers, and you’re going to have to start moving onto toes.
Ingrid – Well no, what people did historically was move on to two people braiding together. What Carolyn may have left out is that it isn’t just a string. It’s a loop. The fiber is held as a loop. So the other big difference between loop braiding and other types of braiding where you just take yarn or thread or whatever you’re using and braid over / under with it; is that you’re working. You are holding your fiber at the end of the piece, and you’re working with big motions, and it tightens up here as you spread apart. It’s not little and fussy like some braiding would be. It’s kind of a big motion that you do. There are videos on my blog. What people would do in the olden days is two people would braid together from the same point of braiding. We would both be braiding on the same braid. We would cooperate.
Carolyn – Would we have to start on my hands first?
Ingrid – No, you would do your moves. I would do mine. It would come in parallel. Each time we finished one set of moves; often it’s just two moves. One, two. And you do your two. Then we would trade 1 loop.
Carolyn – Oh, we would trade a loop?
Ingrid – Yes, in between and that would connect the two halves. We would be braiding the two halves of the braid.
Carolyn – Partner loop braiding for the advanced.
Ingrid – Well it doesn’t have to be advanced. People have learned to do the individual braid, and 1/2 an hour later or 20 minutes later done the combined braid. It’s not really any harder. And it’s more fun when you’re doing it with another person.
Carolyn – The other thing that’s fun is using different colours and then getting different patterns. It’s so inexpensive, and they work up quite quickly. Ingrid taught us ways of putting in buttonholes, and then making a little knot so they’re adjustable.
Ingrid – I should show some. These are samples that I’ve been working on lately that I’ve put in this book. Short samples are basically what we’re talking about. Braided decorative cords but very strong and useful. These were made because they were needed. They weren’t made as decorative items originally. They were made because people needed strong connecting things to tie stuff up with.
Carolyn – Before the age of zippers.
Ingrid – Before zippers and buttons.They are very practical, and yet people like making things beautiful.
Carolyn – So some of the practical uses that you’ve used loop braids for – you have your bracelet and you made the one for your hat.
Ingrid – I usually have a braided hat string. This bracelet actually was a sample for teaching that I then made into a bracelet. I do wear them as bracelets but I was never particularly into jewellery or bracelets before I learned how to loop braid. I think people I’ve taught have used them for more practical purposes than I myself have; hat strings, instrument strings.
Carolyn – Some people put them on their mandolins.
Ingrid – I’ve made a braided little sheath to hold a pen that I hang.
Carolyn – That I borrowed the other day. (actually it was the scissors one)
Ingrid – Did you?
Carolyn – Ingrid’s been helping me understand how to make fingerless gloves from a crochet pattern. My mentor in all things craft.
Ingrid – I do love crocheting and knitting – other things than loop braiding. But I found loop braiding to be very fun, and engaging. I like it almost the way I like crossword puzzles. I like figuring out ways to do different things with it.
Carolyn – And you have just a few notes there.
Ingrid – This is my working notebook for the next tutorial that I’m going to put on my loop braiding blog.
Carolyn – Is it on triangle braids?
Ingrid – No, the triangle braid tutorial is done, and it’s up. I did have a working notebook for that. These are pickup patterning braids which is a topic that I’m a little scared to bring up on the blog because it’s complicated to explain but it’s a very fun topic. So I’m still trying to work out how I’m going to present it.
Carolyn – How to teach where you are in the pattern?
Ingrid – Well pickup patterning is where you make designs that aren’t automatic. They don’t come automatically from the braiding. You choose where to make them. Like this one here. Normally if you’re braiding you get a repeated pattern that just automatically replicates itself down the way because of the automatic braiding. But with pickup pattern you do something differently here or there to change the pattern in the braid. It can be a very simple pattern. It isn’t a result of just automatic braiding moves. The braider decides when to do something that will make the pattern change. You actually have more control when you’re doing that. Yes, you have more control but it’s limited. It’s just 2 colours. I’m still strategizing how to present it in a user friendly way.
Carolyn – Ingrid’s blog which is loopbraider.com has instructions on how to set yourself up, and get started. Within that she has YouTube videos that actually teach you how to make some of the braids. If you have further questions that aren’t answered on the blog, she also will answer email, may address it there or in a future blog post.
What is the easiest or best loop braid to first learn?
Ingrid – It depends on the age of the braider and how confident they are. If I’m teaching children under 11 or 12, I usually start with a 3 loop braid which is probably the easiest. For adults and teenagers I usually start with a 5 loop braid because it seems more rewarding, and it isn’t very hard.
Once a person’s fingers are developed. 11 year olds can often understand the braid, and the moves very quickly. I’ve had one or two 9 to 11 year olds explaining to their parent, their mother, no, no, you should be doing that. Correcting them as they’re doing the braid I taught them. But the younger ones, the child’s fingers might not be ready to do it. So I usually teach them a 3 loop braid. The 5 loop one is really manageable, and can have very fun designs.
Carolyn – I have some well loved braids at home.
Ingrid – They can be very fun to make, and make a very strong and cohesive braid. So I say a 5 loop braid. Usually I’d start with a square braid because it leads to so many other braids. Supposedly the big favourite braid worldwide is a 5 loop braid that’s not quite square. It’s bevelled. It’s a very unorthodox braid.
Carolyn – So the actual outside of the braid changes too, so you can have flat braids, and round braids, and triangles. So it’s quite interesting geometrically too.
Ingrid – They can be many different shapes; flat, thin and flat or kind of thick and flatish. I call those rectangular. Square or round, or sort of a semi-triangle. That one you just learned was kind of wedge shaped.
Carolyn – So would you suggest that a person starting out keep a notebook, like you have, of instructions and sample braids?
Ingrid – No.Not really. This notebook is to help me organize for teaching. I did keep notebooks when I was first learning.
Carolyn – I remember them. You had tons of them. They were all meticulous. You had them all organized. You had it very organized. I was really impressed.
Ingrid – There wasn’t much online for the braids I was learning. There was nothing about 9 loop braids. I was kind of making some stuff up as I was went along, and I had to record, or I wouldn’t remember them. I couldn’t go online or to a book, and relearn what I had forgot. And I knew from my very first one, that it was very easy to forget. The woman that showed me the 5 loop braid. She showed me you could learn it in 10 minutes. I thought, great, I know it. But sure enough, a couple of days later I forgot. I did have some notes. I think that taught me. Better write these things down.
Carolyn – Right.
Ingrid – It is fun to write them down but it isn’t necessary.
Carolyn – So personal choice really.
Ingrid – Sawyer, she’s braided for years. She’s never written anything down. She keeps her braids.
Carolyn – So have you found that your loop braiding has helped you travel the world?
Ingrid – Well that’s a leading question because you know the answer. I have been able to go to one foreign country to teach loop braiding. I went to England, to Manchester in 2012 to teach at the 2nd International Braiding Conference which encompassed a lot more than loop braiding. It was a very exciting conference. These things are because there are all these little obscure techniques. Not just braiding, but also the Braid Society that sponsored this includes narrow wares like weaving.
Are we out of time?
Carolyn – We’re getting out of time.
Ingrid – That’s way out of time. Anyway it was very exciting, and I did get to go really because of the teaching blog. It made people notice that I’d done kind of new stuff.
(End of Transcript)
You can check out Ingrid’s blog at Loop Braiding.