This year, I was determined to learn while teaching side braids to my immediate family of women: my 2 daughters and their Auntie. We wove side braids on my latest Chilkat robe, on my daughter Lily’s Chilkat robe, and my sister’s Chilkat robe. Boom; we gotterdun!
What are the side braids to a Chilkat robe? On the right and left side of most Chilkat robes, there is a woven “netting” that houses the fringe that when a Chilkat robe is worn, lies in the very front. In my experience, weaving the side braids is the funnest part of weaving a Chilkat robe and usually, outside of trimming the robe with fur around the neck, putting in the overlay fringe at the bottom, weaving the side braids is the last finishing touch of a woven robe. And it’s the frosting on the cake, it’s the cream of the crop, it’s the best of the best, and it’s one of the last things we do to complete a Chilkat robe!
If you want to learn about side braids, check out Cheryl Samuel’s book on Chilkat weaving; there are some fine illustrations and instructions on what the side braids are and how to weave them.
My youngest daughter, Ursala learned how to weave the side braids about 3 years ago when I was finishing up my 8th woven robe, the “Diving Whale Lovebirds.” When she was done, she was smiling and exclaimed: “Mamma,…this was so much fun…can we just skip weaving a robe and just weave a sculpture that is made entirely of side braids!?!? Haha! I encourage weavers to learn how to weave Chilkat just so they can know the joy of weaving the side braids of a robe!
Lily and I got my sister Irene to finally learn how to weave the side braids; it took 4 hours of practice, practice and practice before she finally could do it without worry on her own. Learning the side braids takes however long it takes for each individual to getterdun! — Yet once learned by heart, it’s the everlasting song of songs!