Braided Bracelets
Part 1 of 2
Finger loop braids were once popular in medieval Europe. It involved braiding using just fingers and loops called "bowes" of thread or cord. The cords were extensively used as drawstrings, lacing and fasteners in the days before zips, buttons and velcro were invented.

Finger loop braiding has great potential for modern day jewelry making as they make excellent bracelets and chokers. It's also a highly portable craft as you can do this anywhere so long as you have something to anchor the work.

It's just astounding the dedication of artisans cum historians who bring back to light these old art forms and publicize them through the internet. Fingerloop braiding has been extensively researched and revived by the two authors of, Lois Swales and Zoe Kuhn Williams who also teach the craft. They not only found but transcribed and translated manuscripts written in Old English to something we can fathom today.

Take for example this pattern called "a brode lace of v bowes" c. 1475. It's amazing how they have figured out the pattern and applied it in a modern rendition. Check out their extensive list of resources on their website.

If you are game to try, I found SFHandyman on to be very helpful. The resulting braids on his extensive tutorial look intricate and beautiful (see top picture). There is also a pdf if you prefer to print it out.

The first video lesson shows how he gets ready to start a 5 loop braid - he uses rather thick cord to make it easier to see. The video is rather dark but you can make out the essentials. He uses his bedpost but you can also use a doorknob. I suggest you watch the next video first if you are keen to see how finger looping is done.

This is the fun followup video where he shows the closeup of how he "walks the bowes" to braid. It's really fast once you get the hang of it! There is a rhythm to this technique which might appeal to those of you who like knitting. He is not a jewelry artisan but he does explain how it should be finished with bell caps if you are making it into jewelry. Or you could watch his other video on split braids which creates a hole for a button fastener.

Also helpful is his second video for a really cool square braid which is a variation of the above. At the beginning, he shows you a quick way to start which is just to make a very large loop by tying the ends of a cord together and hooking it on his bedpost. He then creates the loops he needs by relooping onto the bedpost.

Introducing color is a cinch! His 2-color flat braid video shows you how.

Medieval Picture source 

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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