3 – strand plait
The 3-strand plait is the simplest, and many people, particularly mothers with daughters, know how to plait hair.
There is, however, a baker’s trick to the 3-strand plait as described below. Having laid out your 3 strands in front of you, start halfway down as the picture shows. Start on either side and follow the pattern: outside to inside. ( Here you see I have started on the right side).
Tip: before starting any plaiting, have the strands lightly dusted with your strong flour.
Now carry on from the left, outside to inside, back to the right – and so on…… until the strands are tiny and tight, whereupon you simply weld them together as the picture shows.
Now comes the trick. Your next move is to get fingers carefully spread under the remaining loose strands and flip them over towards you, as shown by the next two pictures.
Now you can resume plaiting and the point of the trick is that you will end up with two very neat ends. Before you start, look closely at the strands to be sure to lead with the correct side, as shown.
4 – and 5 – strand plaits
I am grouping them together because it is a puzzling and fascinating situation that they both have very similar patterns to follow as the sequential steps. Further, it is surprising that both only call for the repetition of 3 repeating moves:
- 4-strand: 2 over 3; 4 over 2; 1 over 3
- 5-strand: 2 over 3; 5 over 2; 1 over 3
With multiple strand plaiting the main thing to understand is that the numbering of each strand from left to right is always reset anew after each move.
My favourite is the 5-strand. When finished its cross-section is triangular, enabling you to roll it over to see which bottom allows the overall look of the whole thing to be the most handsome, with that look of one strand bobbing along the top.
There is no ‘baker’s trick’ available like we do for the 3-strand; you must start by gently welding the strands together at the end further away from you then make the first 2/3 move.
Tips: remember your dusting flour; after completing a step, shuffle the strands back into straight lines and spread them out neatly so that you can easily see the pattern and create space to make your next move.
Good plaiting, Panarians!