Mastering Difficult 8-ply Round Braid

8/6/14.  Finally!! Years before I started braiding horse hair, I’d commissioned a bracelet from another artist. I absolutely loved her pattern (which I call the difficult or 8-ply single round braid — as opposed the easy or 8-ply double round braid, essentially the 4-ply pattern braided with pairs of plies). My first braiding teacher didn’t know the difficult pattern, so I hunted hard and long for it — unsuccessfully. More years went by. In July of 2014 I studied under a second teacher who didn’t know the pattern either, so I returned to the hunt and found the pattern on a YouTube post.  I ran to Hobby Lobby, bought some parachute cord, and began practicing the new braiding pattern. (A very helpful piece of advice from my second teacher: learn the fingering for a new braid with boldly colored, fat, single-ply strands of parachute cord; then transfer your skills to modestly colored, thin, multiple strand plies of horse hair. Remember learning to write with fat pencils and crayons before thin ones?) Three days of practice later, I completed a mistake-free braid with the cord. Then came six long days of applying my new skills to horse hair plies — not only less contrasting and thinner, but slipperier and absolutely averse to staying where initially placed. Eventually, however, I managed to produce the braid pictured. I am going to make “twin bracelets” out of it — one for my new teacher and one for myself.


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