A lucet is a smooth two-pronged implement of wood, bone, shell, or horn. It can be found with or without a handle, and it was used from Medieval times through the 18th century for utilitarian and decorative cording.1 Working with a lucet is a fun and rewarding camp activity.
Thread, yarn, tatting thread, crochet thread, string, macrame cord or embroidery floss can be used. Multiple strands may be used, but there must be no knots. It is easiest for beginners to start with single strand of cotton crochet thread.
The illustration from Groves shows use of index figure and thumb to manipulate the cord. I have taught myself the technique described below and used it successfully for several years.
Step 1: Thread from back to front through hole. Hold lucet in left hand with thumb and index finger over thread and hole. With right hand, wrap supply thread in figure eight fashion as shown in figure 1, leaving some slack on the lower loop around the right hand prong.
Step 2: Hook the supply thread in your third, fourth, and fifth fingers as knitters might do to maintain tension. With right index finger and thumb, move the lower right hand loop over the supply thread and off the right hand prong: figure 2a. The supply thread now forms the new loop; figure 2b.
Step 3: Flip from right to left (If looking down on the prongs, it is clockwise; figure 3a). The old left hand prong becomes the new right hand prong from which you always work. Pull the supply so that you have the beginnings of your knotted cord centered between the two prongs; figure 3b.
Step 4: With right index finger and thumb, move the lower right hand loop over the supply thread and off the right hand prong; figure 4. Do not pull the supply thread!
Step 5: Flip from right to left, resulting in figure 5. With right index finger and thumb, pull firmly to the right on the front side of the lower right hand loop. (Important: it is this firm pull, done consistently and evenly in all subsequent moves that creates a tight, smooth cord.) This pull creates a large loop that can be tossed, pulled, or moved over the supply thread and off the right hand prong using the right index finger and thumb. The supply thread now forms the new loop. Pull straight to the right; figure 2b (with more knots). Flip and repeat. With practice you should be able to catch and pull the lower right hand loop, toss it over the right hand prong, and pull the supply thread in almost one continuous quick motion.
Hints: If you need to loosen your work for any reason, pull on the thread on top (behind the prong) of the right hand loop. After the first three or four beginning steps, your cord will tighten and you will begin to see the pattern established. The cord itself will be long enough to fit through the hole and then it will be easier to work with. I also find it best to hold my left thumb and index finger directly over the just completed cord, which centers it between the two prongs, helping to maintain an even tension and smooth cord.
Step 6: To stop, remove the right hand loop from prong; figure 6. Cut and pull supply thread through loop and pull which will tighten the right hand loop.
Step 7: Take remaining left hand loop off the lucet and pull the supply thread through and tighten; figure 7.
If you are left handed, reverse all instructions so that you are working off the left hand prong and turning your lucet in a counter-clockwise motion.