Today, braids JC3 and 4 from Jacqui Carey’s book, Chinese Braid Embroidery.

All are 2 metres in length in pearl cotton 5, one strand per bobbin, yielding a braid 5mm wide.

Note erratum page 67: The arrangement of colours for JC3 should be the starting bobbins 1,2, 7 and 8 are one colour and bobbins 3,4,5 and 6 of another colour. The surface design resembles the takuboku woodpecker braid in Japan, as featured in samurai armour.

JC4 resembles the kata-sasanami braid in Japan.

Left to right: JC1, JC2, JC3 and JC4.

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Today, I worked braid JC2 from Jacqui Carey’s book, Chinese Braid Embroidery, creating a two-colour chevron braid; again in pearl cotton 5, one strand per bobbin, 2 metres in length, creating about 125cm/50″, about 5mm wide.

I decided to try attaching the thread to the bobbin using a Western bobbin lace-style slip knot. This worked extremely well, enabling me to quick-release thread almost with one hand. I noticed an improvement if I kept the bobbin thread about 3cm/1″ from the cuphook on the top; any lower down and you have to exaggerate the hand movements to keep out of the way of the cuphook; any higher and the thread and slip knot catch on the cuphook. I’m not intending to think about making my own bobbins until I’ve done all the braids in Jacqui Carey’s book.

Borrowing from the Japanese bobbin-and-stand tradition (the takadai in particular), I decided also to attach a cotton leader to the roller and secure the bobbin threads to that leader. This stopped the braid from slipping.

As I go, I’m imitating the photos of original Miao textiles she has published with each braid diagram, by keeping the colour schemes identical to the photos. This lends an air of authenticity to what I’m doing. Today’s was white and light purple.

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Today, a repeat of JC 1, the first braid in Jacqui Carey’s book Chinese Braid Embroidery. I decided I was sufficiently used to the bobbin movements to tackle a monochromatic braid. To achieve a longer braid, I used 2 metres/35 inches of single-strand pearl cotton 5 on each bobbin. To maximise the braided length, I knotted each strand to the brass cuphook on the top of each bobbin. Towards the end of the braid, the knot came off the cuphook – of course, the Miao braiders simply tie on another length and keep braiding. The hand movements were very quick; what took up most time was winding on the threads. I kept wondering whether a slip knot, as used in bobbin lace, wouldn’t have been more efficient. I was happy with the length – 50 inches/127cm – and the width was the same as yesterday’s multicoloured version at 5mm.

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Today, an 8-bobbin braid, JC1, in single strands of pearl cotton 5. I chose a different colour for each strand to better see the braid structure. The resulting braid was 5mm wide and just 20cm/9 inches long from 1 metre lengths, not having secured the threads in any way to the bobbins.

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