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Getting Started in Ply-Split Braiding

Ply-split braiding is enticing especially to knitters, weavers and basket makers. Unlike the techniques of those fiber arts, in ply-split braiding one cord passes through others. Pattern is created by the order of the split cords and the colors of those cords.  Necklaces, baskets, purse and bag handles, clothing accessories ... the possibilities are limitless, and it is something that can be done anywhere with little equipment.

  1. First, to learn about this fun alternative to weaving or knitting, begin by reading the online article in WeaveZine, "Portable, Addictive: Ply-Splitting!" by Louise French and Barbara J. Walker.  This will give you the basic idea. 

    Basket makers may be interested in Louise's article “A Tisket, A Tasket, A Ply-Split Basket”, by Louise French in Handwoven, November/December 2011.

  2. Next admire the photographs of the beautiful art that can be found online.  Here are some links to get you started:

Fraser Fiber Art David W. Fraser

Julie Hedges, Ply-split Braids

Weavershand Ply-Split Galleries

And our own gallery

  1. Now that you are inspired, get a special hand tool called a "gripfid" (Buy one from us, of course!).  They cost about $11 or $30 for a set of three sizes. These are used to split the plies of the cord and pull another cord back through.  

  2. Next make some 4-ply  cords.  See Making Cords for Ply-split Braiding for a video, and a survey of cord making methods.  Making cords is one of the creative parts of the craft.  Designing your own cord design by color and yarn choices or mixing colors within each cord makes the art your own.   While a powered cord maker is the easiest method, we offer ready-made 4 ply cotton cords in a variety of colors to help the beginner get started. {click here to purchase}  

  3. Get Julie Hedges' book, "Ply-Split Braiding, An introduction to designs in single course twining; including methods for Waves, Zigzags, Basket Weave Designs and Cordmaking" for patterns and techniques including more detailed advice on cord making.  You can also order this book from us in the USA or buy it directly from Julie Hedges in England. This beautifully illustrated book is the best available for beginners. Clear step-by-step instructions, together with excellent color illustrations, make this book a user-friendly introduction to the craft of ply-split braiding.   Peter Collingwood's, The Techniques of Ply–Split Braiding is the premier work in this field, but is a bit daunting for beginners. 

  4. It won't be long before you want to buy a cord maker.   This is the biggest cost of the craft (under $180) -- it costs more than knitting needles for knitting but is much less expensive than a loom for weaving.  Sharing between friends or at a guild is a good idea.  The Bradshaw Cordmaker is available from us.

  5. For an even better start in Ply Split Braiding, take a class!  Classes are typically offered by weaving or basketry guilds, or offered in local yarn shops as one or two day classes.  There are many fine teachers available; contact me for suggestions if you can't find one in your area.  Here is a list classes as found in an internet search:  Class List.  If you find other classes let us know.

Questions?  E-mail us at PSB-tools @ louisefrench.com

Happy Ply-Splitting!

Tools for Ply Split Braiding







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