And Then There Were Six – Viking Whipcording Variations, Part 2

In the previous blog entry I explored patterns that could be made with six bobbins.  I limited my discussion to what could be done with single passes and simple sequences, focusing on how the bobbin arrangements alone changed the resulting cords.  Now I will show what adding complex passes can bring to our asterisk and star patterns.

Flat Cords

My standard pass sequence for asterisk patterns is 2-5, 3-6, 1-4.  This brings your passes around in a continuous circle.  When you change it to 2-5, 3-6, 1-4, 3-6, like a see-saw, you get a flattened cord.  The extra 3-6 pass squishes the cord with the other threads flaring to the sides.  If you use a bulkier fiber, it works very nicely as trim; it lays well and shapes easily to curves.




Textured Cords – Triple Doubles and In-and-Out

These variations produced exciting cords with beautiful textured effects.  The depth of the waves on Triple Doubles, the double-pass asterisk pattern, is particularly striking.

In-and-Out is the star pattern made by passing each triangle three times, all the way around to its starting point, before passing the other triangle.  I only tried this to be thorough, and I didn’t expect anything interesting to come of it.  I thought that by returning each color to its starting place, I would just get long, single-color stitches around a dense core.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the little dots the wrapping threads make!  It has a more subtle texture than Triple Doubles, but the interplay of the two small stitches on the larger stitch is quite lovely.



Single Doubles and Double Doubles

The Single Double pattern is similar to the Flat Cord pattern, but not as flat.  Also, the stitches on the double-passed pair alternate small and large, rather than the even stitches of the 3-6 passes in the Flats.  I did find, however, that the pattern is much more distinct if you use your 3-6 pair for the double-pass.  If you double-pass on the 2-5 or 1-4, the small stitch tends to get swallowed by the twist that forms when you start the next pass sequence (visible in the pictures below).  The same holds for Double Doubles – the pattern is more distinct if the 3-6 pass is unique; the single-pass between two double-passes.

The direction of your passes, clockwise (CW) or counter-clockwise (CCW), is more important in these patterns than in the normal single-pass patterns.  If the direction of your double-pass is in the same direction as the previous pass, e.g. CW CW, the pattern gets muddied and sloppy.  Passing the double in the opposite direction keeps the look more crisp and defined.  For example, I typically start each sequence with the 2-5 pair going CCW.  When I pass the 3-6 pair, I need to pass them CW to keep the pattern neat.

sds     dsd


The colored charts above are a simplification of the actual cords.  As you can see in the picture of the real cords, the CW-CCW transition between the 1-4 and 2-5 passes produces an angled stitch that subtly impacts the pattern.  Play with this quirk to see how you can use it to your advantage.

I haven’t completely explored the designs possible with doubles patterns, but I have figured out one that my kids love.  I’m using a narrow yarn, so the cord is thick enough to make a nice trim for a tunic or two.  Have fun with Poké Balls!





And Then There Were Six – Viking Whipcording Variations, Part 1

After exhausting the permutations of four bobbins, I decided to try my hands at juggling six bobbins.  This required figuring out new hand positions and some focus to keep the patterns in mind, but after a yard or two I could maintain a comfortable rhythm.  The results were exciting new patterns, some very pretty cords, and lots of cool exploration.

For my sampler cord, I used three colors wrapping two bobbins each.  This would make balanced tri-colored cords, rather than the 2-1-1 tri-colored cords possible with a four-bobbin set.  There are two basic passing patterns possible with six bobbins: passing opposites in three sets of pairs, like an asterisk; or passing three bobbins at a time in a six-pointed star pattern.  (Passing adjacent bobbins is in effect the star pattern, unless you’re swapping specific bobbins for a very precise design.  But that’s more involved than the “basic” passes we’re looking at now.)


For orientation, threads 1 and 2 are closest to the body, held out by the thumbs like a cat’s cradle hold.  4 and 5 are farthest away from the body, held with the pinky and ring fingers.  3 and 6 are hooked with the middle fingers, leaving the pointer fingers free to steer the passes.  This hold is especially important for keeping the bobbins organized for the star pattern.

Single Passes in the Asterisk Pattern

There are five ways to arrange three pairs of colors without just rotating the same arrangement around your fingers.  My pass order was 2-5, 3-6, 1-4, and repeat.

Stripes – Clean and simple.


Stripes and Spirals – Notice the change in the direction of the red and yellow spirals depending on the bobbin arrangement.  These make very nice looking cords, particularly to highlight one dominant color (the stripes) against two secondary colors.


Broken Spirals –  In the first arrangement, the blue spiral slants down to the left, while the red and yellow slant to the right.  In the second, all the spirals slant to the left.



Single Passes in the Star Pattern

Of the five bobbin arrangements for the asterisk pattern, two are formed when two other arrangements are passed through their sequence in the star pattern.  (This leaves us with three effective star pattern bobbin arrangements.)  My pass order was 2-4-6 clockwise (CW), 1-5-3 counter clockwise (CCW), repeat.  The two triangles must go in opposite directions to make a single cord.  If they rotate in the same direction, you will get three smaller cords of two strands.

Eventually I hope to have some video showing how I pass three bobbins at a time.  Until then, here’s a text description.

  • Starting with the 2-4-6 triangle, pass bobbin 2 from your right thumb to your empty left index finger.
  • Pass bobbin 4 from your right pinky and ring fingers to your right thumb.
  • Pass bobbin 6 from your left middle finger to your right pinky/ring fingers.
  • Shift bobbin 2 (now in the 6 position) from your left index finger to your left middle finger to prepare for the next pass.
  • Next for the 1-5-3 triangle, pass bobbin 1 from your left thumb to your empty right index finger.
  • Pass bobbin 5 from your left pinky and ring fingers to your left thumb.
  • Pass bobbin 3 from your right middle finger to your left pinky/ring fingers.
  • Shift bobbin 1 (now in the 3 position) from your right index finger to your right middle finger to prepare for the next pass.
  • etc…..

Zigzags – All three colors zigzag in both directions.  This pattern can be made with the two bobbin arrangements shown.


Chevrons and Stripes – The blue forms a broken chevron pattern, while the other two colors make stripes underneath the chevrons.  This pattern can be made with the two bobbin arrangements shown.


Broken Chevrons – All three colors form a sequence of broken chevrons.  I really liked the look of this cord too.



Draft Your Own Patterns

If you want to try out other numbers of or combinations of colors, you can use the graphs below to plan your designs.  The colors on the pattern show where each bobbin thread will be visible.



For example, if you want a continuous spiral of two colors, use one color for bobbins 2, 3, and 4, and another color for bobbins 1, 6, and 5 in the asterisk pattern.  Have fun!