Guest Author - Iris ten Holder
Instructions for a Four-Strand Braided Rug
The simplest form of braiding is the common three-strand braid. When making a rug, this is quite a slow process as the braid is likely to be fairly thin and the coils may seem to be endless.
For this problem, there is a solution. Inventive craftsmen and women in our grandmother’s time decided to experiment and add one or more strands. As a first step let’s explore adding one strand to make a four-strand braid. This will also change the appearance of the rug and add another color dimension.
Once you have mastered the technique of braiding with four strands and know the steps, it’s simple. There are just a few little things to watch. One of these is how to hold the braid to account for the extra strand; the other is to follow the two-step process.
To make a sample, use one-foot long strips of fabric and work from left to right. To be able to create tension and to provide stability while braiding, pin the four strands to a cushion that lies on a table.
Watch the order of the colors as the braid progresses.
It is a two-step process in four sequences.
While the braid lies on the table, fold the left center strand OVER the right center strand. (green over yellow)
- Fold the left outside strand (red) UNDER the yellow strand and leave it in the center.
- Fold the right outside strand (blue) OVER the green strand and leave it in the center
That is all there is to it. The rest is just a repetition of these two steps:
- Do the center strands - left over right
- Fold the outside strands to the center - left under, right over.
After this first sequence is completed, pick up the strands in your hand, pull on the braid to create tension, and repeat the process:
- Fold the center strands left over right.
- Bring the outside strands to the center – left goes under, right goes over.
This now completes two sequences. Now repeat for the third and the fourth sequence. After the fourth sequence, the strands are in their original positions. (In the table below, compare 1a and 4c).
Here are the four sequences
1. First sequence:
a. Red - green - yellow – blue
b. Red- yellow – green – blue braid center
c. Yellow – red – blue - green braid outsides
2. Second sequence:
a. Yellow – red – blue – green start from 1c
b. Yellow – blue – red - green braid centers
c. Blue – yellow - green – red braid outsides
3. Third sequence:
a. Blue – yellow - green – red start from 2c
b. Blue - green - yellow – red braid centers
c. Green – blue – red – yellow braid outsides
4. Fourth sequence
a. Green – blue – red - yellow start from 3c
b. Green – red – blue – yellow braid centers
c. Red – green – yellow – blue braid outsides
The main purpose of the colors is to help you check that you have completed the sequences correctly.
When you are ready to braid a rug, you can choose the colors you like.
Since you will know the steps, you will no longer need the color-coding to make the braid.
In this sample you can see how the strands move through the braid. This knowledge will come in handy when visualizing how the pattern of your chosen colors will look throughout the rug.
With this technical detail out of the way, you can now gather your materials and start braiding the rug.
In the archives you will find other articles on rug braiding, dealing with another aspect.