Making the square braid
with no void at the head
Last updated  11-02-2015
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The square or steamgasket braid is pretty and useful
in so many situations.   Making it is very easy, a matter
of just taking the uppermost line on either side and
passing it around the back of the braid and then up
between the two pair of lines on the side opposite to
the side of origin... look at the picture and imagine line
#1 will go around the braid in the back, come up
between lines 7 and 6 and wind up inboard line 4.  
Then line 8 would go around, come up between 2 and
3 and sit inboard line 5... this isn't rocket science and
the braid, once learned, is something you can literally
do with your eyes closed...BUT:   Getting it started so
that it looks like it is continuous coming out of another
piece of work had me chewing the backstays for many
years until I figured it out.   Of course, about a month
after I did figure it out, I found Ron Edward's method,
which was the same as the one I'd "discovered",
proving that NO-ONE invents a knot or braid... it's been
done.  That tutorial is at the end of this page.

But nonetheless, let me share this silliness with those
who ( you have my condolences ) find it important to
know how to do this.  (I've adapted these pictures from
another tutorial and will quite probably re-shoot them
when the opportunity presents.)

So, we start with the first picture to spread out the

The first move will be to move line 5 over beside line 4,
NOT over line 4!

Now, take Line 4 OVER  line 5 and there it will sit for a

(Rounded edges mean not active.
Squared edges are the active line.
Pink means either I got fresh or the line has already been
Green is seasickness or just for informational purposes.
Black arrows show direcction.
Green Arrows are DC Comics characters.)

Next, take line 6 over line 4 and let it sit INBOARD line
5.  This starts building the herringbone pattern of the
square braid.

(Incidentally, for some reason I decided that the active
line [shown by the black dots here] should, in the rest
of the series, be the red dots.  Another reason to
reshoot the tutorial.)

And so the next step, I'm sure, will be no great
surprise:  Take line 3 over and inboard line 4 as
shown, but note:

"A" and "B" in the green pentagons mark the
"middled pairs", or "the essential gap" or any number
of unprintable terms used by sailors to denote any
such cleft...  The next step is the key to a seamless
top to the braid and they figure most prominently
in the construction.  

Take line 1 and lead it around the back of the braid.

It now comes up and through the gap at "B", back
over lines 3 and 4 and sits inboard of line 6 as shown.

We've taken the next line, line 8 and led it around and
up through the gap ("A") between lines 5 and 6...

And then over 6 and 1 and leave it inboard line 3, but
note the arrow on "A"?  This is indicating that the
"gap" will move to between lines 1 and 6 as soon as
we grab line 2 and bring it around the back and up
between lines 3 and 4 at gap "B".

(I kinda LIKE these "combo" pictures") (
It's either "like"
'em or admit I screwed up.
) (They're really kinda neat...)

Anyway, there's line 2 comes up thru "B", over linesa
8 and 3 and we leave it lying happily next to (and
inboard of) line 1 .  

Then (again, no big surprise) line 7 snakes around, up
at space "A" and over lines 1 and 2 to finish up
inboard line 8.

And "Robert is the Brother of your Mother".

Now you can continue along to build the body of the

Neaten things up a little bit,  get the lines taut and
you'll see the herringbone looking at you.  

From here it is only a matter of taking the highest line
on either side, leading it around the back and up
between the  pairs at "the gap", back over to the side it
came from and just keeping a reasonable tension on
everything to "bed" the herringbone.

Next line will be the highest line on the OTHER side,
and so forth.  Once you've conquered these initial
eight moves, the rest is all muscle memory.  I routinely
do this and watch TV or talk to someone.

And finally, here's what you've working for.   I haven't
bothered to take a picture from all four sides, but the
top of the braid will look just like this and when
coming out of a footrope knot or a starknot, will look
as though the footrope or star were put ON an already  
existing square braid.  

Purely decorative but still a neat thing to be able to do.

When coming out of the collector knot of a
Boatswain's Lanyard, I will sometimes do a Double
Square braid of 16 lines.  Simply double the lines and
watch the orientation of the pairs of lines to keep
things from getting crossed up. At some point you'll
want to got to an eight braid and I'll have that method
HERE when done.

As always, if you think something is wrong, STOP.

Go figure out what happened, fix it and then proceed.  
YOU will always know there's an error in the piece,
even if no-one else notices (or is too polite to mention

Enjoy and
let me know if you have suggestions to
simplify the tutorials or if you run into problems.   
All content these pages ©2004-2010 Frayed Knot
Arts.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction or use
prohibited without prior written permission.
The tutorial I made using Ron Edwards drawings