Thursday, November 3, 2011

kids at the faire : Fingerloop and Lucet Cords

Any craft that introduces medieval techniques while also helping to develop a child's fine motor skills is a pretty good craft in my book.  Both fingerloop braiding and the technique known as lucet are medeival crafts that create cords that can be used for pouch strings, clothing ties, even shoe laces!  The two methods produce two different types of cords, but they are both great for keeping idle hands occupied! 

Fingerloop braiding uses loops of string hooked on the fingers and exchanged from finger to finger, hand to hand in a specific pattern to create a braided cord.  The open ends of the loops are knotted together and secured (I usually put the knot over a low hook on my living room wall) and the length of your loops is stretched out tight before beginning.  Fingerloop braiding can be done alone, but when you start getting into braiding long cords (longer than 18" or so), you may want a friend to help keep your braid tight by using a tool (can be anything long and thin) to push your braid tight at the opposite end from where you are manipulating the loops.  This is how siblings or friends can be involved in your child's learning process.  There are many types of fingerloop braids, some more complex than others, but a basic cord that is good for most purposes is the 5 loop flat braid. 

Video showing how to make a 5-loop braid:


Lucet, on the other hand, uses just one string and a 2-pronged tool, called a lucet fork, that positions the string for looping in a pattern that creates the cord.  This makes it a very individual craft, and doesn't require the space that fingerloop braiding can sometimes take.  The lucet fork doesn't have to be anything fancier than a plastic fork with some prongs removed until your child gets the hang of it and you feel an upgrade to a more period, wooden lucet fork is appropriate.  There are also 4-prong lucet forks.  In general, lucet cords are either square or flat. 

Video showing how to make a basic lucet cord: