I don’t recall who first taught me to make this 4-strand braid. All I know is that I already knew how to make it when I went to learn to weave in Potosi. When I had finished my pieces on the staked-out ground loom, my weaving teacher offered to teach me to make a 4-strand braid. I told her that I already knew how to make one and she looked at me in disbelief challenging me to show her. I did and both she and her sister could hardly contain their laughter!
Then Hilda proceeded to show me how they do it by placing the end loops of the warps on their fingers and passing them to and fro from finger to finger from hand to hand. I love it!! It works beautifully to finish the warp ends on bookmarks, key fobs and wall hangings which are naturally in loops.
Here are two tutorials for the two methods. The first has step-by-step photos of the way the strands move to form the braid. You can experiment with it and see how it best suits you to hold the strands in your hands. I usually work this on the end warps of a bookmark or key fob and so have the woven piece anchored between my knees. If I am just making a long braid on its own, I tie a knot in the end and anchor it under a heavy book or have someone hold it for me. With this first method you can make a braid as long as you like. Just make sure you pause now and then to untangle the free ends.
I used two colors for the braid in this tutorial – two strands of color A and two of color B. The order of the strands to start braiding is B-A-A-B as shown below.
I have enjoyed teaching this to many weavers in Ecuador who had never seen it before.
The second tutorial is by video so I can show you Hilda and Julia’s method on the end loops of a warp. It is fast and fun! The finger-loop method used by my weaving teachers and the method I show above actually produce structurally different braids. Nevertheless, both methods produce pretty braids. Using the looped method, I find it harder to make a really long braid for, for example, the strap of a bag, as it is harder to maintain tension. I am sure that experienced loop braiders have solutions to this problem.
This is my favorite arrangement for a four-strand braid which looks great in two, three or four colors.
The loop method is fun and fast and so convenient for finishing a weaving as you already have looped warp ends with which to work.
However, I still prefer the way shown in the step-by-step pictures if I need to make a very long braid to use for the strap of a bag or edging on a large woven piece.
In the video I use two colors, red and green, and just made up the method. There could well be a more efficient way to do it which more experienced braiders may know.
I hope you find these braids useful for your own projects.