Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hermitcraft: Four-Strand Shoelace Fudo

This is the second-easiest braid there is, and one of three I use to make hundred-year fudos. The flat four-strand shoelace braid is more versatile than the classic three-strand in that you can produce more distinctive patterns, given multiple colours and beginning positions.

Yet as simple as it is, I found no clear tutorials for this braid online. A few writers got close, but just had to make it complex at some point, calling for a change of hands mid-pass, or braiding behind the back, or standing up and turning three times clockwise every seventeen seconds. So I can't link to another blog for more information, because, amazingly, there ain't none. (Mark your calendars, brothers and sisters: today Rusty Ring scooped the Net.)

But this is easy, even for me, who can't follow a weaving or knot diagram for love or rice. Just follow these instructions, and know that if you just stared at the four strands long enough, you would invent this braid all by yourself. You're just straight-up, old-school, weaving the righthand strand over and under all the others. Over and over until you're done. So easy, some can't resist making it hard.


1. Set up a standard three-strand fudo, with ring and knot and hook, but with four strands this time. I recommend strands of different colours the first time, to minimise confusion.

(Note: the "exploded" view in the following photos makes the process look more complex than it really is. If you look carefully, you'll see it's just as the text explains.)

2. Lay the four strands straight and even in front of you, as above.

3. Cross the inside left strand over the inside right strand.

4. Take the far right strand and weave it left, using basic, unfancy weaving: over the next strand, under the next, and over the last. [UPDATE: I forgot to add that it's bent around that final strand, which is not pictured; curl the weaving strand around the one furthest left. When you're done, the strand you wove left, which started furthest right, will be second from left. Sorry for the oversight!] "Over-under-over" [and around the last].

5. Tighten up this pass. (Not shown.)

6. Take the new far right strand and weave it left, too: over-under-over [and around the last].

7. Tighten up again.

8. Then take the new far right strand and weave it left: over-under-over [and around]. And then the new far right strand and weave it left: over-under-over [and around]. And so on, until you're ready to knot it off.

That's all. No juggling, no double-clutching, no moonwalking. It makes no difference whether you follow these instructions exactly, or invert them: cross the first two strands the other way, then pass the far right one under-over-under, instead of over-under-over. The important thing is the alternating pass.

To get diagonal stripes, like a traffic barricade (or the shoelace below), lay out your strands in two pairs, one colour left, the other right. Then do the crossing thing, and go for it.

You can play around with two, three, or four colours, in different sizes, textures, materials, and initial layouts, to get new patterns.

TO MAKE ACTUAL SHOELACES (see below), first whip the strands together at one end by tying poly kite string around them, again and again, until you've whipped a good half-inch. Seal it good with nail polish and cut off the strand-ends still sticking out. Then braid. When the lace is long enough, repeat the whipping procedure at the other end.

Four-strand fudos remind onlookers of the Four Noble Truths: that life is a disease; that the cause is known; that it's curable; and that the Eightfold Path is the cure. In practical terms, four-strand fudos look slightly more "deliberate", conveying greater intent and effort on the part of the maker, and so may be marginally less likely than the game old three-strander to be taken down by passersby.

Either way, it's a nice way to change things up.

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