In Manachot 38b we see the following lines of Gemora (Translated by Soncino)

As the sons of R. Hiyya said, Curtailed blue threads are valid; curtailed hyssop twigs are valid. What is the minimum length of a curtailed thread? — Bar Hamduri stated in the name of Samuel, There must be sufficient to make a loop therewith. The question was raised: Does ‘sufficient to make a loop’ mean to make a loop of all the threads together, or of each thread separately? — This remains undecided. R. Ashi raised the question: How is it if [the curtailed threads] are so thick that one cannot make a loop with them, although had they been thinner one could have made a loop with them? — R. Aha the son of Raba answered R. Ashi, They are most certainly [valid], since the precept is all the more noticeable thereby

Who is the Tanna that disagrees with Rabbi? It is the Tanna of the following Baraitha. For it was taught: R. Isaac says in the name of R. Nathan who said it in the name of R. Jose the Galilean and who in turn said it in the name of R. Johanan b. Nuri, If a man has no blue threads he should insert all white threads.

Raba said, You can infer from this that one must make a knot after each joint; for should you hold that this is not necessary, then how could the sons of R. Hiyya have said, Curtailed blue threads are valid, also curtailed hyssop twigs are valid? As soon as the upper knot becomes loose it would all become undone! —

Now my question is: Why is the Italicized part of the Gemora placed between the two bolded parts? Shouldn't it come after the second bolded section or before the first?

Raba says "You can infer from this", but the "this" he is referring to, is obviously the first bolded statement, and not a reference to "Who is the tana". You would expect the "this" that Raba is referring to, to not be interrupted with unrelated material about the original mishna and the author of the anonymous opinion which disagrees with Rebbe.

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    Did you not mean to bold the entire first quoted paragraph? – Isaac Moses Jul 5 '12 at 19:53
  • @IsaacMoses I meant to only bold the line of the sons of R.Hiyya, the rest is a distraction to the question, but it flows logically. – avi Jul 5 '12 at 19:57
  • given that you're picking apart the Gemara's flow, you could make the question much more clear by editing in your interpretation, passage by passage, of what the flow is doing and what it ought to be doing. – Isaac Moses Jul 5 '12 at 20:02
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    @IsaacMoses There isn't much to add "passage by passage". the sons of R. Hiyya are mentioned in the first, and second bolded sections. The italicized part has nothing to do with knots or the validity of curtailed threads. – avi Jul 5 '12 at 20:10
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    +1. Rashi notes the odd order (by pointing out what Raba is referring to) but does not give a reason for it. – msh210 Jul 5 '12 at 20:49

I think you're mixing up which paragraph is the interrupting material. The gemara prior to your quote had been discussing the opinion of Rebbe. In that discussion it mentioned the rule of 'curtailed threads' as a possible understanding of Rebbe's understanding of the Mishna. It then returns to its primary topic: Rebbe's opinion. When it's done, it reanalyzes something that had come up as a side point earlier.

Perhaps if the word גופא had been inserted before your final paragraph the flow would have been clearer.

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    I've now edited my question, to suggest that maybe the italicized paragraph should go before the first bolded section. My question remains though. – avi Jul 8 '12 at 7:16

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