The simple over and under pattern described above can be varied in a number of ways. Treating two neighboring strands as a single strand is one method. Six strands, for example, may be divided into three pairs consisting of the two at the left, the two at the right and the two in the center. The braiding is then done exactly as in the three-strand method above (fig. 146). Five strands can be divided into two pairs and a single strand. Five strands might also be divided into one pair and three singles, in which case the braiding would be done as in the four strand method described above. Triple strands are also used occasionally.
In the above method, the same two strands are kept together as a pair throughout the braid. A pair that starts at the middle will thus be sometimes at the right and sometimes at the left side of the braid. A further variation is illustrated here in a five-strand braid, but the principle can be applied to greater numbers.
In this method, two of the center strands are always considered a pair although they will be composed in turn of all the strands used. They do not move to the right and left edges of the braid as above, but always maintain their position in the center. The first step in the example illustrated is to pass strand No. 1 over Nos. 2 and 3. No. 1 now lies between 3 and 4 and has become one of the center strands. No. 5 is then passed over Nos. 1 and 4. The braiding is continued by alternately passing each single outer strand over its two neighbors (fig. 147).
Still another variation is achieved by weaving one of the outer strands back and forth across the whole width of the braid while the other strands remain stationary (fig. 148). This is particularly effective if the working strand is different in color from the others.
Bracelets and napkin rings are often braided over flat, circular steel bands, which act as rigid cores. A variation of the weaving method described immediately above is used (fig. 149). Three or more strips of flat gimp are cut long enough to go around the circumference of the band with about1/2 inch extra. These are fastened to the core with a paper clip. The working strand should be five or six times as long as the others and is woven through them in the manner shown (fig. 150). It is then passed through the ring, and the weaving is continued until the core is covered. The paper clip is of course removed and the weaving carried right over the loose ends which it was holding. When the pattern is complete, cut the end of the working strand to a sharp point and work it through the first row of stitches taken. It is then tucked under a strand on the inside of the bracelet, pulled tight, and cut off.
Square braiding is generally done with four strands. It is often used to finish off round braiding, but may also be started with loose cords as illustrated. The ends must first he clipped or tied together and are held pointing downward in the left hand (fig. 151). The same illustration shows the remaining steps in completing the first row. This is repeated until the braid reaches the required length when it is finished with a lock knot, made as follows (fig. 152) : No. 1 is carried around No. 2 and is tucked through the loop which holds No. 2 in place. No. 2 is then carried around No. 3 and is tucked through the loop which holds No. 3 in place. Nos. 3 and 4 are handled in the same way. This brings all four strands together in the center of the knot and makes a neatly finished end when they are drawn tight. An inch or more of the loose strands may be left protruding as a tassel, or they may be cut off close to the knot.
If you have to do square braiding with six strands, select four with which to do the braiding as above and form the knots around the other two, which are thus concealed in the center of the braid.
Square braiding is frequently done on a solid core. In this way it can be used as a slip knot on a lanyard (fig. 153). The braid is formed loosely around the shank of the lanyard so that it will slide easily on the round braid.
Square braiding can be given a spiral pattern in the following manner. The first square is formed as above. In making the subsequent squares, the strands are carried diagonally across instead of straight over (fig. 154).
The illustration shows the method of round braiding with four strands (fig. 155). The first step is to arrange the strips in the position illustrated. To do this, pass No. 2 over 3 and under 4. Then pass No. 1 under 3 and over 4. This gives you the diamond-shaped pattern shown, with the two left hand strands now at the right. From this position, the braiding is done as follows.
The outer left strand is brought around behind the others and through the space between the two strands at the right. It is then carried back to the left so that it lies beside the one strand remaining at the left. This is shown in the second step of the illustration.
The third step is to take the outer right strand and carry it in the same way behind its two neigh-bors and out between the two strands at the left. It is then brought back next to the outer right hand strand. Continue in this manner until the braid is the required length. To finish it off, do one or more rows of square braiding ending with the lock knot described under square braiding above.
Round braiding can also be done with six or eight strands (fig. 156). The first step is to interweave them as in four strand braiding until all the left hand strands are carried over to the right. The method of handling the strands thereafter is clearly shown in the illustration. Note that in six-strand braiding the working strip is brought up between the last two strips on the opposite side, while in eight-strand braiding it is brought up between the second and third strips of the opposite side.
Braiding of this sort can also be done over a flat or round core and is frequently used for bracelets. The core may be metal as in flat braided bracelets, or it may be a double thickness of the gimp itself. For an eight-strand bracelet, use four strands of gimp, double the length required. They should be passed through the ring of the bracelet and interwoven in exactly the same way as in the eight-strand method described above (fig. 157). The braiding is also done in the same manner. Each working strand is passed through the bracelet and brought up between the proper strands on the opposite side.
b. When the core has been covered and the pattern is completed, the bracelet is finished by weaving the eight strands through the open stitches at the beginning of the work. Start with the lower right strand and work it alternately under and over the four beginning stitches at the right (fig. 158). The illustration shows the remaining strands pulled aside. Do the same with the lower left and continue until all eight are woven through the start of the work and protrude at the edges. Then carry them to the inside of the bracelet, tuck them through the stitches there and clip off their ends.