S Spiral or Z Spiral?

Over the past several months, I’ve braided many 16-Ridged Spiral braids.  Sometimes I braided Z-Ridged Spirals, and sometimes I made S-Ridged Spirals.  I thought I knew which was which, but when posting a few on social media, I confused a Z with an S and simply ended up describing them as 16-Ridged Spirals.  I should have referred to my notes before posting, but it’s really not hard to tell one from the other just by looking.

One of these braids is an S Spiral and one is a Z Spiral.  Can you tell which is which?

ridge spiral double

To tell them apart, just visualize a letter Z or letter S over the braid or use your finger to “draw” an S or Z over the braid, like this:

Like an S, the angle of the spiral runs from top left to bottom right on the S spiral. On the Z spiral, the angle runs from top right to bottom left, just like a letter Z.

This principle also applies to other braids, ropes, twisted threads, yarn, and more.

If you want to learn about 16-Ridged (S and Z) Spiral braids, see Makiko Tada’s wonderful book, Comprehensive Treatise of Braids VI: Kumihimo Disk and Plate.  You can find it here at Braider’s Hand.

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