Measuring the braiding thread
The amount of braiding thread you need for your hair braid varies depending on the thickness of the thread, the type of braid you are making and the length of the hair.
Striped and patterned braids
If you are making a striped or patterned braid using embroidery cotton, pearl cotton (no 5) or crochet cotton (no 5), this is how to work out how much thread to cut.
First measure the length of the hair from the roots to the tips. If the hair is layered, or you want the braid to be longer than the hair length, measure the length you want the finished braid to be instead.
Add 6cm to this length. (If you are a beginner, or your braiding tends to be loose, add a bit more.)
Now cut your first piece of thread twice as long as this (twice the hair length plus extra 12cm).
In total you will need 12 threads. They all need to be the same length.
For a 6 colour striped or patterned hair braid cut 2 of each colour of braiding thread.
For a braid made with 4 colours, cut 3 lengths of each colour.
For a braid made with 3 colours, cut 4 lengths of each colour.
For a braid made with 2 colours, cut 6 lengths of each colour.
If you want 5 colours, cut 2 lengths of each colour and then choose 2 colours you plan to use a lot of in the braid and cut an extra thread of each.
You should always end up with 12 threads, each more than twice as long as the hair.
It's difficult to make a good hair braid with more than 6 colours because most patterns use 2 colours, and you will find it hard to use each colour often enough to look good. Also, many patterns require 2 threads the same colour to be used. So we don't recommend using 12 pieces of braiding thread all different colours.
You will find it much quicker to cut the threads if you gather the ends of all the colours together and cut them at the same time.
Single colour braids and criss-cross braids
For a single colour braid, or the base colour for a criss-cross braid, measure the threads the same way as described above, but cut only 8 threads.
For the top colours on a criss-cross braid, cut the threads twice as long again. For example, if you want three criss-crossing threads in black, white and black, cut 2 black threads and 1 white thread each twice as long as the base threads (so they are 4 times the hair length plus 24cm).
Braids made with wool
Wool varies greatly in thickness, so these are approximate guidelines.
If you are braiding with a single ball of 4 ply or double knitting wool in one colour or a variable colour, 4 threads each twice the hair length plus 12cm will probably be sufficient. If this isn't enough, it is easy to add extra.
If you are making hair braids with thick wool or wool that changes in thickness along it's length, start braiding with just 2 or 3 longish lengths. Add more as you need them.
Cutting braiding thread for very long hair
If the hair is very long, you will find it almost impossible to braid with threads cut as described above as they are just too long to be able to handle, and they tangle easily.
To make it easier, once you have measured and cut your threads, cut them all in half. Start braiding with just half the threads, and add the others in 2 or 3 at a time as you need them.