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You probably already know about the three strands hair plait which looks like this first diagram You can use knitting yarn for the three elements and use several strands to make a fat plait. Cotton yarn will look crisper. 

Pin down the strands on to your work surface.

Make the plait by working the outer strand into the centre, first from one side and then from the other side.In the illustration the next move will be from the left into the centre.

As you can see, the colours used will work their way from side to side. You can experiment with thick and thin yarns and different colours. You can use paper
strips, raffia or straw and recycled plastic bags cut into strips. Plaits can be sewn together to make mats and bags and coiled round and sewn to make containers. By overlaping a new strand before reaching the very end of one, you can carry on plaiting. Move the pins up the plait as you work to keep an even tension and the plait looking the same.


This next diagram is for the seven strand plait, illustrated as four light and three dark strands. When you have many strands, put them over a cord or lolly stick pinned down on the board. The next move is to bring the outside left  hand light strand over the other three into the centre followed by the outside right dark strand into the centre. If you hold the groups of threads, one in each hand, the group that has four strands held makes the next move. Play around with the colours for this plait and find out the effect on the appearance of the plait and which combination you like best.  Keep the tension firm.

  Diagrams by June Barker


This bride’s wedding ornament, now owned by June Barker, is made of plaits assembled in colours of red, blue, green and yellow.
It's is very splendid.

The Bride would have worn a matching pair.

  In order to build on what you learned earlier, here are some other plaits to try. 

Armed with your piece of soft board and T pins, try a nine strand plait worked from left and right alternately under two strands and over two.

An eight strand plait could be made with five strands in the left hand and worked alternately from the left under three and over one, from the right over three.

Here are the recipes for more -

Eight Strand, five on left, three on right, work with two strands over two
and under one from each side in turn.

Eight Strand, left over three into centre, right over four into centre.

Eight Strand from right to left over one under one to other side. Repeat

Try different colour combinations with these plaits and vary the material used from stiff raffia to soft wool and see what results you can obtain.

 Rick Rack Braid or Zigzag plait
Rick rack is woven from side to side leaving a central strand taking a straight path. Pin the threads down on to a piece of soft board and weave as per the diagram. If you weave with soft threads the edge threads will follow a curvy silhouette round the corners but if you use stiff material the corners will have to be folded over (mitred) to turn the corner and double mitred at the point to make the return journey.

The pictured example (above right) is woven with florists ribbon with 4 blue ends and 4 white ends and there are 7 steps to the right and then 7 steps to the left repeated and the eighth thread follows the straight path.

You can have fun with the type of threads and the colours chosen. Copy the diagram and colour it in and see what effects you will obtain once the threads are pulled up firmly.

(Hint - alternate colours will give straight lines).

You can use thick or thin threads, multiple strands, straw, raffia, and ribbons or rags.

Experiment and have fun.

Begin Braiding is based on original material prepared by Felicity Tregear.

To download a printable version of this page, please click here

Braid Society Ltd, registered in England and Wales (number 8689716)     Registered Office: 21 Coton Crescent, Coton Hill, Shrewsbury, SY1 2NZ, UK

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