French Sennit
by BM2 Jack Cross
(USN Ret)
Click on ANY picture
to see a larger version:

Small pictures here are
to allow dial-up
customers easy access
Last updated  2009-03-06
The French 17-strand sennit produces a lovely "french twist" in the pattern of the sennit and I thank Mr. Cross for having contributed
the tutorial for us.  You can see some more of his work


Cut eight pieces of cord
12 ft long and one 6 ft long.

“Middle” the 12ft length. This gives us 16 strands at 72”.  The single
6 ft strand will make
the 17th. strand.

(You want to treat the ends of the cord to keep them from fraying out while working.  I use
CyanoAcrylate (super Glue) but be sure you get the
THIN or FAST-SETTING type with the sort
of bottle with a nozzle so you can apply only a small quantity to the line.  Always work over a
piece of scrap (carpet, cardboard, whatever) when applying CA to line... it has a tendency to drip
off the end and then ‘someone’ is gonna be all over you for ruining the carpet/floor/her life...  
caution is advised!... ed)

If using Nylon burn the loose ends.  When starting and if using nylon carefully fuse (or
 the strands together about 5 inches down from the start.  If using cotton or similar cord
seize the strands by wrapping with a small diameter cord.. The purpose of leaving the extra
cord at the beginning is to give you something to work with when bringing the two ends
together after you finish your neckpiece.

Secure the strands to a fixed object then separate the cords with a group of ten on one side
and seven on the other. (
see fig 1)  Starting with the ten side on the left (or right...doesn’t
matter... ed.)
side,  plait  the three outboard lines over two and under five (See figs 2 & 3).
Now you have ten strands on the right and seven on the left (
see fig 4).  Reverse the
plaiting, three over two and under five.  Continue this way until you get the length of the
Lanyard to fit over your head.  

Be careful to keep the seven and ten groups separated or you will have to undo several
plaits to figure out where you went wrong.  Also about every five plaits separate the loose
hanging cords to keep them from being tangled.  If using nylon you can usually shake the
cords and pull a couple out from the tangled mess.    It is pretty easy to do this but if you
make too many plaits without un-tangling the loose ends, it is much more difficult.  When
doing this make sure you keep the part you are working with separated.  After you get the
hang of it, you should be able to finish this section in an hour or less.   

(If you’re in the Military, active or reserve, be sure the lanyard is large enough to put on and
take off without disturbing your cover
!  I can’t tell you the number of times some 06+ or CPO
asked me to take it off so they could look at mine... ed.)

When you get to the desired length of the neckpiece of the lanyard,  bring the two ends of
the plaited lanyard together.  Make sure you keep the ten and seven groups of strands
separated until you tie the ends together.  

Using one of the loose strands wrap the two ends together.  This part will later be covered
with a Turks head so don't make the wrap too long.  Cut off close to the wrap the 17 loose
strands you started with ( the extra 5 inches) Take eight of the long loose ends ( four from
each outside edge ) and get them out of the way for now.  With the other nine strands that
are now in the middle,  bundle eight for a core and with the other strand make continuous
half hitches around it. (
see pic below)  Do this for about 4 inches to make your strop  
(instead of the half hitches you could substitute a round or square plait if you like).  Cut
off the eight strands that you placed out of the way.  On the end you are working with cut
of two of the nine strands.  If using nylon burn the loose ends.  Take one of the seven
remaining strands and place it over a chair or something to get it out of your way for now.
With the remaining six strands make a simple over and under plait in groups of two over
two continuous reversing the process until you achieve about an eight-inch length. (
see pic
)  Bring the loose ends together at the starting point where the half hitch section
ends and wrap them together  with the loose single strand that you had gotten out of your
way.  Cut off all the extra loose ends.  Where the sections come together will require
Turks heads to cover the wraps.

If you don't want to make a large Turks head with several bights, use a slightly larger cord
and chase it around four of five times.   How you end it off is up to you.

(See also Cbrew’s 9 and 17 strand double-braided lanyard tutorials for more ideas on finishing off
the lanyards. ed.)

NOTE!  Our thanks go to "JW" who emailed me that the numbers in red (originally 8t
and 4 ft) would not produce a sufficiently long braid to successfully complete the lanyard.

Line usage:  if making a belt or long sennit for a frame, allow 1.5:1 on
the cut - 12"  raw line will give you about 8" of sennit.  
with this
!  Size of line WILL affect the ratio!
Variation to the above instructions:  when you first lay
up your lines, cut 17 to 72" length,  clamp all 17 once
assembled at the midpoint,  then work from the center
out on both legs...  this will give you a "mirror image"
braid on both sides. Cover the start point with another
turkshead or fancy wrap.   
Experiment with this
and you'll see a very nice lanyard emerging!   ed.)

Here's one I did: mirrored,   with an "over-two"
hitching at the collector knot, and star knots at the
ends of the strop.  The "Over Two" took the most
time to do!
If YOU would like to contribute a tutorial on fancy knotting / braiding / sennits, please contact me!
We'd love to have it up on the site!
Don Wright has a few thoughts on doing the mirrored verzion of the French Sennit:

Vince, here is a couple of pics of the center/reversing section of the 17 strand french sennit lanyard.

The instructions for creating this joint are the same as the ones for the regular 17 strand double braid sennit. Once
you get to the desired length from the center point, go back and start braiding in the other direction, being sure that
you've got the "French" side up.  Where you start again makes a perfect X where the ridge strands cross over in
front and a 2 strand layer one time in back. You could almost leave it without a cover knot as the "X" looks real
neat.  I just love the way the French sennit looks and am going to try making a belt out of it.
FRONT                                                                               REAR
I recently (Dec '08) succumbed to the siren call of theinternet and started a
"Facebook" page... it is rather sily but it DID produce one benefit in that I've
been contacted by many folks who had dropped out of my life.

Pat and Dick Wexelblat of Merion, PA,  are two such:  Dick is a superb
artisan in wood turnings and his bowls are incredibly pretty, Pat is a former
musician who lost her hearing and then became just as skilled in wire art and
jewelry as she was in music!  (She's ALWAYS done artistic
 (Tigerlilly Workshop main page)

She saw this tutorial page and sent me (the NEXT DAY, mind ya!) this picture,
which looks MUCH better in the larger verzion.

Never thought of doing this stuff in wire, but it looks pretty neat!

Thanks, Pat!