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!


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