What is a Lucet?

Jillian Peterson
Jillian Peterson
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A lucet is a tool that has been used in braiding, plaiting, decorative ropework, and cordmaking for hundreds of years and is still in use today. This cordmaking tool, also called a lucet fork, is flat, usually made of wood, and features two prongs with a hole beneath. Sturdy thread or yarn is passed through the hole and held on the forks as it is braided into a cord. Most cords made with lucets are square in shape, slightly stretchy, and very strong.

The lucet is a very old tool for plaiting cords, and lucets have been found in historical sites as far back as the 16th century. These braiding tools were used by the Vikings and other people in the Medieval period to make strong cords out of yarn. The strong and decorative cords braided with lucets were used on clothing as ties and laces, or to hang items from clothing. Historical examples of lucets have been made out of bone or wood. Older lucet forks had no handles and were usually made of bone, while lucets from later periods usually featured a handle for gripping while braiding cord.

Modern lucets used by the cordmakers of today are generally made of wood. Like ancient examples, some have a handle for gripping the tool while braiding and others have no handle. The modern lucet varies in size from 4 inches (10 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm) long, depending on the handle and the size of cord the cordmaker wants to plait. Lucets can be purchased from specialty yarn or needlework shops, though they are not generally available at most large hobby stores. Specialty yarn retailers can also help beginning braiders learn techniques or pick proper yarn for cordmaking.

Techniques for plaiting cords on a lucet fork vary. There are techniques for braiding one type of yarn into a cord or for using two colors of yarn to create a repeating pattern in the finished cord. Generally, plaiting techniques using a lucet fork involve slipping the end of the cord through the hole under the forks, which is then held in place with the braider’s thumb. The remaining yarn is then wrapped around the forks in a specific pattern similar to a figure eight. Loops are slipped over the tips of the forks to create stitches, and more stitches are added until the desired length is achieved.

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