This week's style is a woven, Celtic-style 11-strand braid that I spotted on the Internet. That's right, ELEVEN strands woven into a single braid! It's not for beginning braiders, but it isn't as difficult as it sounds, either.
Here's the effect when the braid is finished:
You'll probably notice a few "flyaway" strands on this braid, which happened because I was in a hurry the day I shot this style. If you get a lot of flyaways, this style goes a lot easier if you begin with wet/damp hair or apply styling gel first. This is also MUCH simpler to do on yourself if you pull your hair into a side ponytail (instead of trying to braid this along the back of your head).
The 11-strand braid isn't truly done by working with 11 strands all at once. The trick here is to do a 5-strand braid--I'll teach you how in a moment--and then weave two regular 3-strand braids in on either side. The end result looks complicated enough to have taken you forever, but this only takes maybe 15-20 minutes for a beginner and as little as 10 once you get the hang of it.
HOW TO DO AN 11-STRAND BRAID:
1. Pull hair into a side pony (assuming you're braiding on yourself) and secure below the ear with an elastic. Then section the hair into three pieces as if you were going to braid it normally, EXCEPT make the middle section much wider than the others. This middle section will be the 5-strand braid, so you need more hair.
2. Clip/pin the two smaller outer sections up out of the way for now and divide the wider center section into 5 equal strands, like shown here ~~>
3. Just like with a 3-strand braid, always start with an outside strand and fold it in. For this braid, take an outside piece (from either end, doesn't matter which you start with) and weave it over its neighbor and under the middle strand. Now that piece becomes the new middle strand.
|Weave over, then under|
5. Repeat with the opposite side: over the neighbor and under the middle. Keep alternating outer strands and weaving over/under until you run out of hair.
6. Once you've finished braiding, you'll have something weird like shown below. Don't panic! Work the magic by holding the lower end of the braid while slightly tugging on the outer edges as shown in the second photo.
|Tug gently up/outward all along edges on both sides to loosen/define braid|
|Presto! Now we're getting somewhere|
7. Now it's time to pull down the two side sections and weave in the 3-strand braids. Working with one side section at a time, split it into 3 strands and begin a normal braid (end over middle, other end over middle) for one section. ~~>
|Fingers poke through loop|
|Hair pulled through loop of 5-strand braid--now braid into 3-strand braid|
|Closeup of finger pulling strand through|
A LARGE crochet hook (size Q) could work too.
<~~This is what you'll have at this point, which is pretty cool...
...But do the magic trick where you hold the end of the braid and tug out on the outer strands to loosen the whole effect, and you'll get a much better defined braid, like shown below.
|Tug, tug tug...|
|...and the braid looks wider and fancier|
I hope this how-to is clear enough for you to follow. Feel free to post any questions in the comments below. And Happy Stylin'!
J. Rose Allister is the author of over twenty books. Somewhere in between penning one and the next, she enjoys hanging out here on her blog and on Twitter.