The technique of braiding uses strands of yarn to create a composite rope that is thicker and stronger than the non-interlaced strands of yarn. Over the centuries, braiding and knot patterns can be seen in many cultures for both every-day, practical applications, as well as religious and symbolic representations.
Braiding brings history, art and mathematical patterns together in a fun, creative, will-filled activity.
Kumihimo is a Japanese art which has been practiced for centuries. Originally made through finger-loop braiding, over the years, a number of looms and stands have been created to allow complex braids from many threads and patterns.
The braided cords have been used in religious ceremonies, as ornamentation, to cover Samaria sword handles and to lace Samaria armour.
The variations in the number and colours of the strands, as well as the braiding patterns, combine to create complex and differing braids.
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The Lucet or Viking Rope Tool is a tool used in cord making and braiding, believed to date back to the Viking and Medieval periods. Cord made with a Lucet is square, strong and slightly springy, formed by a series of loop like knots. It makes a very strong rope and because of the knots, will not unravel if cut.
Unlike cords made with other techniques, including Kumihimo, the lucetted braid is made without first pre-measuring the threads – this makes the technique and tool suited for making very long cords.
There are many techniques that can be used with lucet, all of which produce slightly different cords. A simple way to produce a two-coloured cord is to use two strands of yarn.
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Celtic Knots are complete loops that have no start or finish. Only one thread is used in each design, symbolising how life and eternity are interconnected.
There are a number of different knot patterns commonly referred to as Celtic Knots, with eight common themes or variants referenced. Each of the eight stylised knots represent a different meaning, often around eternity, loyalty, faith, friendship, love or protection.
Celtic Knots can be seen in history decorating church monuments and manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells, 8th century St. Teilo Gospels and the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Interwoven patterns first made an appearance in the handicrafts of the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries AD. Soon after, the knot patterns were adapted to mosaic floor patterns and can be seen in Byzantine architecture, Celtic art, Coptic art, Islamic art, and in other cultures around the world.