Hobby Horse Tutorial: How to Braid a Mane

Ever liked the look of a Yarn/Wool, purchased it and decided to use it for a special project only to discover that it wasn’t the best choice after all?

I have and this Tutorial is the result!

Wool Yarn needs a knotted end

As you can see from the photo the ‘wavy’ effect of the Yarn/Wool had been created during the manufacturing process by wrapping a thin thread around the spun fleece. If I had been knitting or crocheting with this Yarn/Wool there would be no potential problems as long as the beginning and end of the yarn was fastened off in a suitable and secure way.

The special project I refer to was a Hobby Horse for my youngest Grand Daughter…..

In order to create the Mane and Forelock for the Hobby Horse I needed to cut lengths of the Yarn/Wool. This meant that the cut end could potentially unwind so that the entire length of the Yarn/Wool would simply fall apart.

I spoke to my daughter concerning the Yarn/Wool and explained that I had tied knots in the ends of each strand and suggested that I braid the Mane and Forelock as well due to the fact that the Birthday Girl was quite young. My daughter agreed so I continued with the sewing. I took some photos as I proceeded and these form the basis of this Tutorial dealing with potential Hobby Horse Hair styles!

The Birthday Gift Horse complete with Braided Mane and Forelock

The Birthday Gift Horse complete with Braided Mane and Forelock.

Rather than being a definitive Step by Step guide this Tutorial is a Photographic Record of how I braided the Mane and Forelock. The procedure illustrated may not suit every circumstance and is merely a starting point from which to develop your own method.

Firstly I should point out that Looped Braids of the length shown are only possible if the Hobby Horse has a long Mane in the first place. Making a longer Mane is described in a separate Blog Post called Hobby Horse Tutorial: How to Create a Long Mane.

The Birthday Gift Horse has a long Mane and Forelock

The Birthday Gift Horse has a long Mane and Forelock

The Mane of the Birthday Gift Horse was much longer than the one that is described in the Instructions for the “Wish for a Pony” Sewing Pattern PDF.

The “Wish for a Pony” Sewing Pattern PDF Horse called Wildfire with a medium length Mane & Forelock.

The “Wish for a Pony” Sewing Pattern PDF Horse called Wildfire with a medium length Mane & Forelock.

In preparation for Braiding the long Mane and Forelock of the Birthday Gift Horse I counted the strands of Yarn/Wool that made up the Mane and Forelock.

Next I divided the Mane into seven sections and the Forelock into one section. Having multiples of three for each section bundle makes braiding easier. If there are a small number of strands of Yarn/Wool left over from the Mane bundles then add them to the Forelock bundle. It doesn’t matter if the Forelock is a little bulkier than the other Braids.

1st Divide Mane and Forelock

As it turned out there were 24 strands in each of the Mane bundles which when divided up ready for braiding resulted in 3 lots of 8 strands per Braid. I kept the bundles separated by having every second one on the opposite side of the neck. This results in four bundles being out of sight on the other side of the neck and thus not easily seen in the photo.

Each Mane Bundle needs to be divided into 3 equal sized sections as shown ready for braiding.

Each Mane Bundle needs to be divided into 3 equal sized sections as shown ready for braiding.

The aim is to braid the Yarn/Wool and tie more Yarn/Wool around the end of the braid. Next the Braid is looped upward with the ends hidden underneath so that it can be tied securely ready for a decorative Ribbon.

One braided section has been looped tied and had a Ribbon added. The second section has been braided and tied only.

One braided section has been looped tied & had a Ribbon added. The second section has been braided & tied only.

Now that you know what to aim for lets go through that a bit more slowly.

First I divided a bundle into 3 equal sections. I cut an extra piece of Yarn/Wool 12 inches or 30.5 cm long, knotted the ends and placed it within easy reach. I then braided the Yarn/Wool (as shown in the photo above).

Loop Wool and Pull to Tie

Holding the end of the Braid I looped the extra length of Yarn/Wool around it and threaded the cut knotted ends through the loop as shown in the photo. Still holding the Braid firmly I pulled on the knotted ends of the extra length of Yarn/Wool until it was very tight. I didn’t tie any extra knots and I Did Not cut the Yarn/Wool off short as I needed it long in order to secure the Braid in a loop.

Tie and Loop up and through

I looped the Braid upwards so that the tied end would be underneath. The easiest way to prepare to secure the loop was to part the strands of the Braid close to the ridge of the Horse’s Neck and thread the knotted ends of the extra length of Yarn/Wool through the Braid as shown.

Tie tightly

Having the end of the Braid tucked as neatly as possible under the starting position of the Braid (where the Yarn/Wool is trapped in the Neck Seam). I separated the ends of the extra length of Yarn/Wool so that one was on each side of the looped Braid. I then tied a double knot on the underside of the Braid as shown in the photo.

Tie over top of Braid

I made another knot on the upper side of the Braid as well.

Pass-ends through again

Then I separated the strands of the Braid again and passed the knotted ends through the Braid again so they were back on the upper side of the Braid. I did this mainly to make sure that all the knotted ends of the Mane strands had been included and held securely.

Tie in between Loop

Next the strands were positioned on either side of the Braid and tied inside the Loop of the Braid. Make sure to pull tightly.

Tie again and cut excess off

Make a second knot. Make a knot in each strand of the extra length of Yarn/Wool having it as close as possible to the double knot that is inside the Braid and cut the excess length off.

Use a Slip knot to attach the ribbon

I cut a length of Ribbon 16 inches or 40 cm long. You may want more or less depending on the width of the Ribbon. Experiment first to ascertain the desired length. Having the cut ends together I then passed the Ribbon around the Braid as shown and threaded the ends of the Ribbon through the loop in the Ribbon.

Pull to tighten the knot

I pulled to tighten the Ribbon.

Tie the ribbon underneath

Then with one length of Ribbon on each side of the Braid I made a double knot underneath.

Tie a Bow on top

Finally I made a Bow on Top of the Braid. I used the method with has a loop on each side which is then tied in the middle. This method seems to make the loops sit evenly at the top of the Bow with the tails hanging down. If you are not familiar with this method the single loop wrap around method is just as good.

To finish the end of the Ribbons cut at an angle to minimise fraying. You may also want to treat the ends of the Ribbon with a Sewing Aid (see your Craft Store) that prevents fraying.

I used clear Nail Polish/Varnish.

I created all the other Looped Braids in the same way.

 All the Braids have been created & Bows added

Now it’s your turn….

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