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View Full Version : Braiders - suggested yarn/tools?



GreyHunterHorse
Apr. 14, 2009, 08:39 AM
I am determined to re-learn (practice practice practice) braiding my horse's mane this year for whatever shows I end up doing. I am hopeless on tails, LOL. But, I am looking for suggestions on the best yarn to use (I've been told no Red Barn, what else?) as well as suggestions for products etc. I have a braiding kit with the basic tools already. Assuming I need Quick Braid and probably hair gel or something to tame the flyaways. Anything else? Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.

Whimsically Smart
Apr. 14, 2009, 08:47 AM
I don't know the brand of the "yarn" I use, but it is a thinner, yet strong yarn that works great. It comes in smaller balls and is slightly more expensive, but I used about 3/4 of a ball per show and it is so much easier... ties super easy and is easier to braid in. Good luck!!

M. Owen
Apr. 14, 2009, 08:55 AM
Here are my non-pro opinions. I don't think the yarn matters too much, although some people swear by four strand yarn rather than three strand because you can pull it harder without braking it. I don't like to use quick braid or gel, I think it makes the horses itchy and rub more causing more flyaways, not fewer. Just wet the mane down with plain old water. As far as tools, I think the basics get the job done: mane comb to separate your sections, a plain old human hair clip to keep the mane you're not working on out of the way, and for a pull through, I like to use the crochet hook things. Make sure you keep track of how wide your sections are on your comb so that you keep the braids consistent all the way down.

If you go to the lucky braids site, there are some good tips and suggestions, both for braiding and just grooming in general. I like the recommendation that Ruthann has to wrap your own fingers with vet wrap (you can see on the site which fingers), it really does help with being able to pull tight and minimize wear and tear on your hands. Her suggestion of a clean mane is true too, keeps the horse less itchy and your own hands cleaner.

MissintheSouth
Apr. 14, 2009, 09:07 AM
I braid with the "cheap" set. I use water, I think the gels end up collecting dust and hay pieces and it makes my hands sticky. Water in a spray bottle works just fine. I use a large plastic needle (found at craft store) with a yarn loop at through the eye as my pull through. It catches less hair for me than the crochet tool and it's quicker to pull through, IMO. Standard pulling comb, hair clips and you are good to go.

I prefer 4 thread yarn, but it's really just whatever your preference is - some people pull at different angles or have different tying techniques. I would go to the craft store and look at the options. Tighter threads is always going to work better than the loosely wound yarns. I don't know the name of what I get, but it comes in a ball rather than the oblong rectangle.

Hunter Mom
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:22 AM
I braid myself, and use plain old Red Heart yarn (thin enough to braid easily, strong enough to tie tightly). Depending on the color your horse is, you may have to hunt to find colors that match well or just buy the more expensive stuff marketed for horse braiding. For pulling through, I use a latch hook tool. I don't have any problems with it catching hair. Mine has a curve to it, so it gets right up next to the neck. Of course, a thinning comb, scissors and seam ripper. I do use QuikBraid - don't have any problems with it making her itchy or anything, and it does make it easy to braid & helps with flyaways.

IMO - the most important thing for a nicely braided mane is one that is in good condition and thinned correctly before you ever begin. I've braided manes that are too short, too thin, too thick, too long and they are always icky to work with.

OneMoreTime
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:22 AM
I probably shouldn't admit this because the craft-store people might ban me, but when I'm shopping for braiding yarn, I test it by grabbing the end in both hands and pulling HARD, trying to break it. If it breaks easily, I pass. I've actually had really good luck with the Red Heart higher-end line (not the oblong skein, but more of an oval) I don't remember the actual name -it might just be called "soft yarn". It had the highest break-point in my little test. It was just at a craft chain, so I'm sure if I went to a yarn specialty store, the salespeople would be able to tell me what I wanted to know w/o having to do my own test :)

DMK
Apr. 14, 2009, 10:42 AM
I like Bernat's Chunkee Softee - it rarely breaks and I like the feel in my hand. I did recently use a Caron eco-friends type yarn because it had the prettiest brown color and a good brown is a beeyatch to find. I love the color, and it's very strong, but it is like braiding with razor blades. Fortunately my horse is a liver who looks good in black, so I think I'm going to hide that yarn. I was catch braiding for another braider and the owner of the horse saw that yarn and said "oh use that yarn on my horse!" Oh my... it was a 45 braid job that STILL had braids too close and the mane was too long and thick, so it was incredibly painful pulling those braids up with that yarn. I don't braid often enough to have that much in the way of finger callouses!

What I would love to find is my favorite comb sold by itself. I use the small medium tooth comb with a handle that comes in the pack of Goody's combs. SO annoying to buy a pack of combs and toss out all but one!

Last but not least, a big foam handled latch hook, not because the foam is comfy (but it is) but because it is easy to find when you drop it on the stall floor. And a necklace for your scissors is very useful. I made a chunky beaded necklace and I just tie the scissors to it with a piece of yarn so its easy to replace with a new pair of scissors (which get replaced frequently because those small scissors just get dull fast and are cheap enough to just get anew pair).

Quick braid is nice and it is a life saver in cold weather, but it's a bit of a luxury. I buy a bottle and when it is half empty I add water. Then when it is totally empty I generally just fill it up with water a few times before I buy a new bottle. Other than in cold weather I don't think it makes that big a difference. A decently damp/wet mane cures the fly aways as well as anything.

EAY
Apr. 14, 2009, 05:57 PM
I like to use real wool yarn. It's a bit more expensive than the acrylic stuff, but I prefer the way it looks and feels. I find it to be less slippery and I can get it in the perfect soft charcoal color to match my horse's mane.

superpony123
Apr. 14, 2009, 06:07 PM
I'm not a pro braider or anything but i do a decent job, and i like to braid my pony for local shows sometimes, and ill do braiding myself for the unrated divisions at A shows during the week (i save the weekend for the pro braiders though)

I honestly have not paid attention to the brand of yarn. I just look for a strong yarn that isnt too loose in the fibers but isnt too tight either (i dont like the really thin yarn, but some people do. its all preference). I have pull-through hooks of course and seam rippers. I admit i have a little baggy of those clear braiding bands. I mostly use it when I braid my pony's tail but i find it convenient if a braid falls out at the last minute, otherwise i'll just redo the braid the normal way (if i have time). but theyre great as a just-in-case (but this is really if youre braiding for yourself). I also love the quic-braid stuff. it comes in a little spray bottle. Another good tool is a little separating comb, theyre plastic (usually) and have 4 big prongs with an open circle at the top of each separated part, so it divides the hair into 3 equal parts. I dont know if pro braiders use these, but I find it makes it much easier, since I have tiny hands, i have a tough time without it, keeping all the hair together. if I happen to mess up, at least i still have all 3 sections of hair. and, finally: generic drug store hair spray! its not necessary, but if youve got a long show day ahead (think morning class then go back for a hack or classic later) a bit of hairspray can be good for extra security :yes:

neigh.neigh
Apr. 14, 2009, 06:17 PM
I use Caron simply soft yarn. It will NOT break! I cant stand it when i go to tie the last knot and it snaps!!! I also use a water quick braid mixture, an alligator clip, a crochet-like pull through and a main separator (http://www.doversaddlery.com/product.asp?pn=X1-10002&ids=632920679 i like to use this so all of the braids are the same size and there is a perfectly straight line)

Rhody Ram
Apr. 14, 2009, 09:21 PM
First off, Screw Lucky Braids!!!! Their yarn used to be strong but is now no better than Red Heart. Which breaks if you look at it.

Caron Simply Soft yarn is the best Wal-Mart option. Cheap and strong. For expensive stuff, try the Tray-Tex. That stuff is like iron.

Use a rug/crochet hook (available at Wal-Mart) for a pull through.

Use a mane pulling comb to separate the mane (tie yarn to it and hang it around your neck to save time)

Use a jaw clip to keep the unbraided mane back.

Rhody Ram
Apr. 14, 2009, 09:22 PM
I probably shouldn't admit this because the craft-store people might ban me, but when I'm shopping for braiding yarn, I test it by grabbing the end in both hands and pulling HARD, trying to break it. If it breaks easily, I pass. I've actually had really good luck with the Red Heart higher-end line (not the oblong skein, but more of an oval) I don't remember the actual name -it might just be called "soft yarn". It had the highest break-point in my little test. It was just at a craft chain, so I'm sure if I went to a yarn specialty store, the salespeople would be able to tell me what I wanted to know w/o having to do my own test :)

I do the same thing at walmart!

fourmares
Apr. 15, 2009, 01:35 AM
Spray bottle with water, red heart yarn used to be good apparently it's not as good any more, cheap "old man" black plastic comb (I use it to comb the mane, seperate the section and hold back the rest of the mane. Easier than dealing with a comb and a clip.), yarn hook (except for the forelock which I still french braid, for that I use a long pull through.), scissors, apron to keep everything in, and bow handled step ladder.

Sleepy
Apr. 15, 2009, 08:57 AM
I haven't braided professionally for years, but I can tell you what I used to use. My standby yarn was good old Red Heart, but as a knitter I can tell you that Red Heart has changed over the years and I don't think I would use that now. The RH Classic is still OK but you can't find that in a craft store like Michaels or ACMoore, you pretty much have to order it from Herrschners or someplace. I don't like Caron for anything (so much for supporting local industry :rolleyes: ) but I agree with DMK about the Bernat. I love Bernat yarn for anything that requires acrylic and braiding definitely falls in that category. DO NOT USE WOOL!!!

For a pull-through I always used a large metal tapestry needle. I could never figure out how people got one of those commercial pull-throughs though the braid without messing it up. Although, back in the 70s and 80s, I think our braids may have been smaller.

Cruise Control
Apr. 15, 2009, 09:34 AM
I use wax string instead of yarn. It isstrong and will not break. It is thin and looks great, invisible in the braids. You can get it at walmart and craft stores.

lauriep
Apr. 15, 2009, 06:51 PM
I use Red Heart and don't have a problem with it. I may break it once in every 3-5 horses,but I pretty much know how hard I can pull. I use a pull through that I made (no,DMK, I have still not gone to the dark side of latch hooks), although I just found the old brass commercial pull throughs that I used to love, so will order a bunch of those. "Old man black plastic comb," sharp scissors and Quik Braid. I'll spend the money to buy it. I charge enough for braiding...

Arado*TB
Apr. 15, 2009, 08:50 PM
I use the basics as most seem to do. I too, prefer to use plain water or diluted hair spray that comes in the pump. A friend turned me onto darning needles as opposed to the hooks [which I despise] to pull through. I have been known to take a thin piece of wire and make a loop and tape off the cut ends.I prefer the yarn from Wal- mart that is fairly cheap but seems to stay tight.

Individualblue07
Apr. 21, 2009, 09:07 PM
my biggggg question regarding braiding...

About how thick should each braid be? I've seen some horrible thick braids, and the overly skinny ones too... but being in Wellington, I also see some phenominal braiding!

I just need to know about how much hair i should use in each braid for the mane....

thanks!!!!

DMK
Apr. 21, 2009, 09:41 PM
I just need to know about how much hair i should use in each braid for the mane....

thanks!!!!

... the same amount...

Not much help, I know... ;) But it's more important for each braid to have the same amount of hair, this is why next to nobody braiding hunters uses that little divider thing, because the amount (density) of hair varies along the crest and braid widths will vary ever so slightly to compensate for that. I think it is roughly about a thumb knuckle's width for the average mane, but I swear, you just can feel it better than define it. As I go down a crest I will find myself adjusting how wide the braid is to make sure I have the same amount of hair in the braid (but we are really talking about dropping or adding a teeny amount to make it work, it's not like some braids are half an inch wide and others an inch wide).

You want the same amount of crosses so your knots are all in a line (the key to even braids), so in order for the same amount of crosses to end at the same length, the amount of hair in the braid has to be ... wait for it... the same.

Not very helpful, right? ;)

Fairview Horse Center
Apr. 21, 2009, 10:37 PM
... the same amount...

Not much help, I know... ;) But it's more important for each braid to have the same amount of hair,

This is why I can't do a great hunter braid job. I make sure the braids are all evenly spaced, rather than the same size, and I like the mane thinner, with less braids (I always seem to braid about 18 to 22, not the 40+ that many hunters have) My braids at the withers can be pretty tiny. I am not a fan of lots of braids on the crest, and more spaced out top and botom. I guess ideally they would be both, same size and same spacing.

I use a human comb, a small sponge for water, and a childrens plastic sewing needle with the eye opened up a bit.

OkLurchers
Apr. 21, 2009, 11:44 PM
Best tool for pulling up=Beval's pull through--it's a long thin piece of wire that's bent in half & soldered together at the end. I hated latch hooks when I braided (put myself through grad school...). I always liked a brand of rug yarn called Aunt Lydia's--don't know if it still exists. But I used Red Heart in a pinch. I used the teeny tiny aluminum mane combs--maybe 4" long? Used a wet dandy brush to get mane to lie down & never, never, never any quick braid, dippity do or anything else on the manes or (heaven forbid) the tails.
2nd most important tool? HUGE bag of M & M's to get me & other braiders through the night!