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Teach odinsdream how to braid! February 5, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Would've flagged as "Fantastic" but I figured it would just baffle the mods: This thread asking for hair-braiding instructions is the most confounding, unintentionally hilarious AskMe exchange I've read in a long time.
posted by hermitosis to MetaFilter-Related at 8:13 PM (110 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Watching everyone painstakingly trying to translate these complex actions into simple written instructions may have permanently broken my brain.
posted by hermitosis at 8:13 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


odinsdream is not alone in her difficulties.

I couldn't braid my own hair if my life depended on it. I, too, can braid other people's hair. Something about having to twist my hands behind my head and not being able to see what I'm doing makes it an impossible task.

Solidarity, sister!
posted by winna at 8:16 PM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I thought explaining yoga positions over the phone in a foreign language was frustrating. I think that braid thread could actually make me weep.
posted by elizardbits at 8:17 PM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agreed, it's like if I asked someone to verbally/textually explain the workings of a sewing machine and bobbin. *poof head explodes*

And I'll sidetrack long enough to say god bless the mods for keeping the peace on metatalk the last few days. It's been a doozy for me just reading things recently.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:18 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh dear I just checked his profile and odinsdream is actually a brother in my trials with hair braiding.

Sorry, mi hermano!
posted by winna at 8:19 PM on February 5, 2012


I finally just cut my hair off because I couldn't hack trying to do the reverse braiding anymore and feeling like an idiot incompetent person. That thread is fascinating.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:19 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Don't beanplate the fingering.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:42 PM on February 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


a guy named odinsdream wants to braid his hair? Should we brace for a Viking invasion?

*cranks up Immigrant Song*
posted by jonmc at 8:45 PM on February 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


if, in order to save us all from a forthcoming viking invasion, someone must give themselves to alexander skarsgard in a sexy sex way, i will, out of the goodness of my heart and my wonderfully philanthropic soul, make this terrible sacrifice to save us all.

i will sacrifice all night long if i have to.
posted by elizardbits at 8:52 PM on February 5, 2012 [28 favorites]


Should we not be flagging for fantastic comments?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:54 PM on February 5, 2012


But will you teach Alexander Skarsgard to braid his hair by narrating from the other side of a closed door, elizardbits? That is the true mark of devotion.
posted by gingerest at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2012


I haven't had hair long enough to braid in years, but I used to braid it myself without too much trouble...unless I started to think about what I was doing, and then I'd get myself all embrangled.
posted by rtha at 9:09 PM on February 5, 2012


Yeah, I stopped by to read early on but I have no helpful advice. I think a nearby MeFi needs to pop by his house and manually move his hands behind his head until his hands can work it out themselves.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:11 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. Braid my own hair? Challenge accepted!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:15 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone in that thread should really just have a friend take video of them braiding their own hair verrrrrrrrrry slowly and put it up on youtube.
posted by kavasa at 9:23 PM on February 5, 2012


Muscle memory is a weird thing. This thread inspired me to braid my hair for the first time in 10 years and
  1. I can still do it.
  2. I'm still really bad at it.
Because of the latter I won't be the person making the YouTube video. Good idea though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:33 PM on February 5, 2012


If it isn't resolved by tomorrow I will make a video. My hair is long and straight so it should be easy enough to show on camera.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:36 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is awesome timing. I've got a bunch of ninth graders fumbling through a group project where they a) must write an essay (in English) then b) give a group presentation on how to do a traditional Japanese activity. Aside from the utter inability of the groups to work as a group (the girls come to ask for help, the boys are nowhere to be found, and no, we're not allowed to make the groups all-girl or all-boy), some of them chose mind-breakingly difficult things to do, like explaining how to write kanji or how to do origami. For me, just trying to explain to them how to put randome strokes in an undefined space is absurdly difficult. The kanji they're doing they can do in their sleep. Trying to explain how? I'm not sure if the first nervous breakdown will be me, or one of my students.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:36 PM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Should we not be flagging for fantastic comments?

I just didn't think that it would be apparent at a glance WHY it was "fantastic." Like, they'd think I'd flagged it mistakenly somehow.
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 PM on February 5, 2012


I too have just braided my hair while reading this.
posted by sweetkid at 9:50 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also have braided hair after reading that thread. I really wanted to make a video or show him over Skype or FaceTime, but not only is there no one awake here to hold the camera, but it would be too hard to see the braiding with my mashed potato hair texture.
posted by artychoke at 9:58 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's weird is that I don't have hair long enough to braid, and never have -- and yet I feel very strongly and innately that I *COULD* do this, easily. Now I need to find a wig so I can try it. If so, could that be some sort of inherited genetic memory?

MIND STILL ACTIVELY BEING BLOWN OVER HERE...
posted by hermitosis at 9:58 PM on February 5, 2012


69 with somebody who has long hair and try to braid it. Your hands will be in the same relative position as if you tried to braid your own hair and you won't be able to see.

God damn it I'm so fucking smart.
posted by planet at 10:02 PM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reading that thread made me glad that I'm gracefully balding.
posted by arcticseal at 10:02 PM on February 5, 2012


Wow. I wouldn't have read that thread if not for this MeTa - and that is seriously one of the best AskMe threads I've read in a while.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:03 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's weird is that I don't have hair long enough to braid, and never have -- and yet I feel very strongly and innately that I *COULD* do this, easily. Now I need to find a wig so I can try it. If so, could that be some sort of inherited genetic memory?

Ha, that's exactly how I feel. Don't you just kinda reach over your shoulders, and move the hair around?

I've never been more annoyed that my friend's medical wig shop was two states than I am now.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:04 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just cut most of my hair off simply so that I didn't have to deal with that crap anymore. I was very good with the "messy hippie" type of braid that seems to be in vogue these days.

But yeah, this is easily something you learn from someone else IRL, not really a text-based instruction. If I tried to follow that thread I'd be drinking from a whisky bottle out of a straw while my arms got sore trying to do some weird pilates shit behind my head.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:14 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, I tried and TRIED to figure out how to explain it, but it's worse than teaching how to whistle. (And I gave myself a braid headache.)

Good luck, odinsdream - if it's any consolation, once you figure it out, you'll never forget!
posted by Space Kitty at 10:18 PM on February 5, 2012


If so, could that be some sort of inherited genetic memory?

I haven't figured out why but my muscle memory for self hair-braiding is linked up to the memory for three ball juggling. Actually not so much the juggling as the initial throw of a single ball from a hand with two.

I guess that would make it the act of one hand doing two things at once.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:18 PM on February 5, 2012


Until I saw that thread, it never occurred to me that anyone would ever try to braid their own hair. I mean, isn't that what moms are for? And sisters, and sleepover friends? So then I had to try it, and even though I'm terrible at anything involving hair, and anything involving physical dexterity (I have a hard time rolling a ball of clay), I was able to braid my own hair the first time I tried. So I'm thinking self-braiding is one of those things you just immediately know how to do - or not. Because I can't swim, whistle, or snap my fingers, but I can braid.

And I can't tell you how much that pleases me. I'm feeling inappropriately smug right now.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:47 PM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


When you consider our ancestors have probably been doing it for a hundred thousand years, it doesn't seem so strange that it would be some kind of latent biological skill by now.
posted by hermitosis at 10:56 PM on February 5, 2012


In my experience, the weird thing about being able to braid your own hair is that it is largely a muscle memory thing. It seems easy enough because it is, until you think too hard about it. When I had hair long enough to braid things would go well until I realized I was braiding my own hair. I'd get really conscious about it and try to think about the steps and then it'd go all fuckity and there would be me yelling at my hair for being dumb. In fact I'm avoiding the thread now because I think it will make it impossible for me to braid my own hair if I choose to grow it out again.
posted by sockomatic at 11:20 PM on February 5, 2012


I can't whistle. I can't snap my fingers. But as God is my witness, I can salvage what remains of my ego because damn it, I CAN braid my own hair.

(Not picking on those of you who can't braid, because I bet y'all can whistle and snap just fine.)

Anyway, because odsindream can braid other people's hair but not his own, I think the advice given by exogenous is the best: practice braiding rope or rags as if it were someone else's hair (where thumbs are on top), then switch technique to rotating your hands so that the thumbs are on the bottom (as required when you braid your own hair). Once that muscle memory is established, braiding your own hair should be an easy transfer of skills.
posted by maudlin at 11:27 PM on February 5, 2012


69 with somebody who has long hair and try to braid it. Your hands will be in the same relative position as if you tried to braid your own hair and you won't be able to see.

The free ends of the hair are the wrong way up relative to your hands.
posted by gingerest at 11:38 PM on February 5, 2012


When you consider our ancestors have probably been doing it for a hundred thousand years, it doesn't seem so strange that it would be some kind of latent biological skill by now.

Great! Just one more way I have lost the genetic lottery. Bah! I read those prehistoric romance novels with that Ayla woman and it seemed more important to befriend ponies than to braid, so I will stick to my strengths of friendship with hoofed mammals.

Alexander SkarsgÄrd has an adorable lumpy nose as if fairies had beaten him in the face.

I had a boss who was obsessed with True Blood and so as a gift I bought her the first book. In order to find out about it before I gave it to her, I read it first (does everyone do this, or just me?) It was seriously gratuitous smut, which I guess everyone who watches the show knew, but I live in a cave. So I vacillated over actually giving it to her for a couple of days, because seriously that book was quivering loins of filth from page one and I was uncomfortable giving my boss what can only be considered porn. But I plucked up my courage and compromised by giving it to her while also telling her it was kind of explicit. She stared at me for a full minute in silence before saying, 'winna, that is the point.'

Thus was I schooled on the allure of the franchise!
posted by winna at 12:12 AM on February 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I also braided my own hair while reading the thread, and I've still got a giddy grin on my face from checking my handiwork in the mirror. Thanks to odinsdream for asking the question (sending good braiding wishes -- you can do it!) and to hermitosis for spotlighting it, I feel 30 years younger! Now, where are my roller skates?...
posted by amyms at 1:20 AM on February 6, 2012


"69 with somebody who has long hair and try to braid it. Your hands will be in the same relative position as if you tried to braid your own hair and you won't be able to see.

God damn it I'm so fucking smart."


If you're in that position with someone and braiding hair, you may not be that fucking smart. ;)

I too braided my own hair after reading the AskMe. With my eyes closed!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:12 AM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had to go back and french braid my hair after reading that, which I haven't done in probably 15 years. It brought three things home to me. 1, I can still do it...yay muscle memory. 2, I could never in a million years write clear instructions to someone else to do it. And, 3, I have a lot less hair than I had 15 years ago. Hmm.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:25 AM on February 6, 2012


Damn, that was painful to read, for me, because I have a blind spot with trying to understand written instructions for anything. If I am to learn to do anything more complex than learn a few bald facts and figures - anything that involves procedures, patterns or other forms of joined-up thinking - I need to be shown how to do it. Once I'm shown I usually understand and learn really rapidly, but if I try to read a verbal description of the same process I tend to be hopelessly confused after about two sentences. I always tend to see ambiguity in the words and I am the kind of person who cannot simply move past a step I don't understand and then come back to it later to see if it now makes sense. Once I reach a point where I'm not sure what to do next, I am stymied, completely. I need to understand that step before my brain will allow me to even try to move on. This is possibly my biggest mental incapacity, and watching people struggle for clarity on that thread really struck a chord.
posted by Decani at 3:54 AM on February 6, 2012


That is the true mark of devotion.

the truest mark of devotion is watching even the most dubious films in your beloved's oeuvre, especially in languages not your own.

posted by elizardbits at 4:53 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was in labor with my second son, my hair was longer than chin length but shorter than shoulder length. I was so sweaty and gross after a few hours that I just wanted it off my face. So I asked my husband to braid it and he looked at me like I was completely mad. So I reached up and French braided my own damn hair in the middle of active labor. I had never actually accomplished this before, despite years of trying, but I got the top part braided and an elastic was procured from somewhere and I felt much better. This was probably right around the time I asked for some Demerol.

The whole thing was so surreal that I would never attempt to explain it to odinsdream or anyone. It's like I have to be all hepped up on oxytocin to do it!
posted by Biblio at 5:02 AM on February 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


He should start with sideburn war-braids or growing his mustache long and braiding that. There are three benefits to this:

1) He can start out with a good view in the mirror of what he's doing, and then practice it without the mirror once he's figured it out, and move those motions to his hair.

2) He would have war braids and a braided mustache, which, without having to any actual feats of badassery, puts him above the following categories of people on the Bad Ass Scale:

a) People who wear camo but are neither hunting nor waging actual war
b) People who study MMA at a martial arts studio chain franchise.
c) People who buy collectible knives on QVC.

3) He can be our spy when the time-traveling vikings come to plunder North Carolina.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:10 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


our ancestors have probably been doing it for a hundred thousand years

If I were an ancient ancestor, I wouldn't be too excited to give enemies, branches and bugs a nice big handle to my head. Nor would I relish spending hours grooming it every day.
posted by DU at 5:31 AM on February 6, 2012


What I'm taking away from that thread is that even though people do, in fact, braid their own hair, nobody knows how they do it. For some reason this pleases me so much.

Surely there is a word for this? The condition of a common voluntary human activity being a black box of consciousness?
posted by gauche at 5:54 AM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agreed, it's like if I asked someone to verbally/textually explain the workings of a sewing machine and bobbin. *poof head explodes*

NO JOKE THAT IS ON MY LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASKME.
posted by odinsdream at 6:14 AM on February 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


gauche
I don't know if there's a word for it, but there's at least two books about it:
Piaget's Grasp of Consciousness and Success and Understanding
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:16 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


How a sewing machine works.
posted by artychoke at 6:22 AM on February 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Does there need to be an IRL multi-meetup for this? Like the 10th anniversary had meetups everywhere, maybe we could have some for this because I can't do my own very well either
posted by pointystick at 6:23 AM on February 6, 2012


Speaking of flagging as fantastic - mods, does the fantastic flag look different to you folks or do you have extra clicks to tell the difference between flagged for good and for ill?
posted by pointystick at 6:24 AM on February 6, 2012


Heck, just learning to braid someone else's hair is difficult. I can't even imagine how tricky it would be to try to do it on one's own head. My daughter loves having her hair braided, and after more than 6 months of intermittent trying I still haven't mastered the knack of getting them straight and perfect.
posted by zarq at 6:35 AM on February 6, 2012


pointystick: "Speaking of flagging as fantastic - mods, does the fantastic flag look different to you folks or do you have extra clicks to tell the difference between flagged for good and for ill?"

From here:
Show and tell time it is! This is the current state of the mod flagging interface, in two screenshots. We have a couple other less-used tools for flag wrangling, but these are the two bits that make up most of the interactions we have with flags or flagging data.

posted by zarq at 6:37 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


On an individual comment/post we see the "Flagged X times" and then a drop-down with the reasons for flagging. I wish I could remember which comment it was that I saw lately that had nearly every single flag: "breaks guidelines"; "offensive/sexism/racism"; "other"; "derail"; and "fantastic comment." And possibly "display error."

Anyway, I haz my braid on. I had to try it out and see how awkward or easy it was. Pretty easy, for a simple straightforward braid. I'm not the bee's knees at French braiding.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:40 AM on February 6, 2012


Back when I had hair, I felt like I could braid it just fine, but for some reason, all my braids came out crooked to the right, and when i tried to correct but adjusting the tension, it always got worse instead of better. So I never braided my hair much, but I enjoyed having it braided by girls, a lot. The time three girls all braided it wet into tiny little braids then dried it & combed it back out for the crinkly effect -- that was probably the peak of my existence, up to age 17, anyway.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:44 AM on February 6, 2012


taz: " I wish I could remember which comment it was that I saw lately that had nearly every single flag: "breaks guidelines"; "offensive/sexism/racism"; "other"; "derail"; and "fantastic comment." And possibly "display error.""

Achievement Unlocked!
posted by zarq at 6:46 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of flagging as fantastic - mods, does the fantastic flag look different to you folks or do you have extra clicks to tell the difference between flagged for good and for ill?

What taz said as far as individual comments, but we also have a bit on the main admin interface page that lists fantastic flags apart from the rest of the flags, so we can see at a glance if something is picking up a few fantastics without it looking like it's picking up a bunch of negative flags.

Here's a screenshot with some more detail.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:56 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I braided my own hair a couple times, years ago, but never got past feeling horribly clumsy about it. I can do a simple braid with someone else's hair pretty easily, but it really is a weird inversion to do it to the back of your own head and I mostly just found the finger position very awkward to try and make work.

And now I'm kind of regretting not having my wife give my heard one last good braiding before I shaved it all off. Next year, maybe.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 AM on February 6, 2012


That whole thread reminds me of the Today's Secret Drawing segment from Sesame Street. The following-instructions-too-literally gag is pretty common in children's TV and literature. It's hilarious and secretly educational!

Come to think of it, I think the Secret Drawing series should be required viewing for adults, too. I've worked with quite a few people who must never have watched Sesame Street.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:59 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Until I saw that thread, it never occurred to me that anyone would ever try to braid their own hair. I mean, isn't that what moms are for?

er, my mom can't braid hair, her own or anybody else's.

we were taught to do various types of braids with yarn in some kind of crafts class, i think in elementary school. then i tried it on my own hair and it worked!

(I admit to French braiding my hair while reading this thread)
posted by needled at 7:41 AM on February 6, 2012


If some of us braided our hair like our moms did, it would consist of a lot of yanking hard at our hair accompanied by shrieks of 'Dammit! Stop squirming!'
posted by winna at 7:57 AM on February 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Until I saw that thread, it never occurred to me that anyone would ever try to braid their own hair. I mean, isn't that what moms are for?

huh. Where I grew up it was a rite of passage to be able to braid your own hair. The sequence was pretty much: 1) little girl with two braids, 2) bigger girl with two braids done herself or single braid done by mom/other helpful female elder, 3) young adult with single braid done herself, 4) woman (and in this developmental sequence you're only a woman if you're married) with a single braid or hair put up into a bun. Of course I bypassed all of this by having a "boycut" most of my life, but that's a different story.
posted by bardophile at 8:09 AM on February 6, 2012


I'm going to have to agree with dogmom in that thread - upon reflection, this indeed is what slumber parties were for. So that this morning, I could braid my kid's hair saying "Dammit! Stop Squirming!", though I added a "Sit STILLLLLLL!"

I also braided my hair while reading that thread.

posted by peagood at 8:11 AM on February 6, 2012


I've been braiding my own hair for decades after teaching myself in college. It's not something that can be explained; you just do it.

It's took me about 2 weeks of trying (and failing) to do it everyday before I could make a decent braid, and another week or so before it was consistently good.

People give up too easily.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2012


I've been known to wear my hair in two braids mainly for the fact that I've never been able to do a single.
posted by Sailormom at 8:34 AM on February 6, 2012


yes, I also just braided my hair while reading this. just to make sure I still could. It isn't neat or French.
posted by pinky at 8:43 AM on February 6, 2012


I've never been able to do a french braid properly with my hair, though I blame that on my hair's texture (it's slippery!) rather than my skill. I can do a single braid just fine, though.

I made a lot of friendship bracelets when I was a kid. Maybe that helped?
posted by Phire at 8:44 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


See, if technical communication wasn't historically such a sausage fest, this would be the introductory activity everybody does in their first class, rather than writing instructions on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is way more interesting.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2012


I can't remember a time when I couldn't braid hair - my own or anyone else's... I do remember that my twin couldn't braid her own hair, so maybe it's not genetic (we're identical). I can't explain how though, I'd just have to show someone.

I also admit to braiding my hair while reading that thread, both french braiding and a regular braid (yay! it's long enough again!)

I tried to explain to my 23 year old how to work a sewing machine about a month and a half ago -- for about 20 minutes over the phone. Then he drove 20 minutes to my house to pick me up and bring me back to his house and show him. It was easier that way.
posted by patheral at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2012


I just braided my hair too, muttering "left over middle....right over middle...." the entire time.

It's also twisting to the right, a bit.

I really wish I could French braid my hair.
posted by Lucinda at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2012


I just didn't think that it would be apparent at a glance WHY it was "fantastic." Like, they'd think I'd flagged it mistakenly somehow.
posted by hermitosis at 12:43 AM on February 6 [+] [!]


Trust yourself! It was clearly fantastic ... and fun and funny! Thank you for bringing here so I could enjoy it all over again.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:58 AM on February 6, 2012


I also just braided my own hair while reading this thread and it sort of looks halfway decent and everything. However, I could not possibly explain how to do it using words because I don't actually understand how I did it.
posted by bedhead at 10:13 AM on February 6, 2012


I also just totally braided my hair even though I'm sitting in a conference room with other people. But I play with my hair when I'm stressed, I'm sure they're used to it. And me.
posted by Phire at 10:19 AM on February 6, 2012


MetaFilter: It isn't neat or French.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:23 AM on February 6, 2012


Keli once ask me to help braid her hair, after about 5 minutes of fumbling I throw up my hands and exclaimed "I can't braid hair!"

We now use that phrase for whenever either of us is feeling frustrated.
posted by Mick at 10:29 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If so, could that be some sort of inherited genetic memory?

The more I think about it, the weirder it is - I have really clear memories of learning a whole lot of basic crafty skills: tying my shoes; sewing; reading a compass; building a lean-to; baking snickerdoodles (ok, these are all girl scout memories, I think), but I have no memory of learning to braid my own hair.

Using this highly scientific method of cookie recollection I shall conclude that yes, hair braiding knowledge is somehow genetically coded. And that snickerdoodles are awesome.
posted by elizardbits at 10:35 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks, mods & also zarq - I thought I had seen that graph somewhere - :)
posted by pointystick at 10:41 AM on February 6, 2012


I don't remember learning to make chocolate chip cookies. It must have been encoded in my DNA! When winns majestically roamed the veldt, we did so clutching stacks of chip-bestudded cookies in our proto-human paws.
posted by winna at 10:48 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually better at braiding my own hair than other people's because I can feel on my own head that I have the tension even. On other people, it's too easy to be overcautious, and wind up with insufficient tension, or, on the other side, to make them think you're yanking their hair out.

I learned a lot of my self-braiding as self defense. The pixy cut was all the rage when I was a kid, so not a lot of girls had very long hair like I did. This made me the "volunteer" whenever someone wanted to practice braiding, and I got really tired of looking like Pippi Longstocking, or worse. If my hair was already nicely french braided, though, I could demur that I just didn't want to take out the braid I already had.

I was proud when I trained myself to make a "dutch braid" (that's the one where it looks like the braid is lying on top, instead of tucked under in a french braid.) That took a little adjustment. Every now and then I try to teach myself a 4-strand braid, but then my arms get tired.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:07 AM on February 6, 2012


So what you're saying is that if I want to learn something, I should incorporate cookies into it.

Have you considered running for school board? You've got my vote.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:08 AM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who can put a herringbone weave in their own hair? (not me, not by a longshot)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:36 AM on February 6, 2012


The more I think about it, the weirder it is - I have really clear memories of learning a whole lot of basic crafty skills: tying my shoes; sewing; reading a compass; building a lean-to; baking snickerdoodles (ok, these are all girl scout memories, I think), but I have no memory of learning to braid my own hair.

I was just reflecting on this and realized that a few years ago I switched to Ian's fast shoelace knot from whatever the hell I was using for my entire life before then.

Now, I have no idea how to tie shoes in other ways.
posted by odinsdream at 11:41 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ian's fast shoelace knot

OMG! I can braid my own hair, but I can not figure this knot out. The diagrams don't help and all the videos are from looking from the toe of the shoe not from down like it would be if you were tying your own shoe. I can not get past Step 3. I have no idea what's supposed to be happening.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:54 AM on February 6, 2012


What's weird is that I don't have hair long enough to braid, and never have -- and yet I feel very strongly and innately that I *COULD* do this, easily. Now I need to find a wig so I can try it. If so, could that be some sort of inherited genetic memory?

I was wondering the same until I reached your comment. Now I wonder if its because Mom had hair to her knees till I was 4 and could do braids (also known as plaits) with 6 separate strand bundles or even 8 into complicated patterns. I otoh think I need a haircut when it gets to 3 inches long.
posted by infini at 12:00 PM on February 6, 2012


Who can put a herringbone weave in their own hair?

Ah, that's what its called.
posted by infini at 12:01 PM on February 6, 2012


Yeah, I tried really hard to help answer this question, which required studying the contorted claw-like shapes my hands were making, and trying to figure out how to describe them. My boyfriend eventually asked what I was doing.
posted by twoporedomain at 12:17 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My hair is now far to short to braid, and yet I still found myself pawing at my hair as if to put it in a french braid. I always found french braids easier, but that may have been in part because I also braided horse's tails for shows, which is essentially a french braid.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My sister and I learned how to braid when we were Brownies-with-training-wheels (Tweenies? Can't remember). I remember that we used three pieces of yarn: brown, tawny and other-tawny.

This was probably about the same time that we learned how to crochet by working the yarn around a spool with 4 nails hammered in the top. Corking! Corking was cool. (Modern geek version here.)
posted by maudlin at 12:27 PM on February 6, 2012


I never learned how to make a french braid, on my own head or anyone else's.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never learned how to make a french braid, on my own head or anyone else's.

Somebody get that girl a pony!
posted by maudlin at 12:29 PM on February 6, 2012


My self-french braids always start out lovely and then get all puffy and weird halfway down. I can't get it to curve back around the head, like I can when french-braiding someone else's hair.

But now I have 11-year-old nieces (not twins, one from each sibling), so my braiding needs are easily outsourced.
posted by palliser at 12:33 PM on February 6, 2012


I learned how to braid well after I had chopped off my long hair, so I had to wait a while to test it out on myself. It took a classroom workshop in challah-making to show me how to twist things properly.
posted by Madamina at 12:58 PM on February 6, 2012


I can't remember a time when I couldn't braid hair - my own or anyone else's... I do remember that my twin couldn't braid her own hair

I feel like there is a scientist who needs to know this. Is there a dispatcher we could call, or a tipline? It's not 1-800-OHHOWINTERESTING, that's a printing company.
posted by Adventurer at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2012


Just like hair braiding...I recently was knitting a pattern which requires a vikkel braid, which makes a stokinette-like series of v's running horizontal to the actual stokinette stitch. The written directions didn't help, the diagrams I found didn't help and the videos were even worse. Finally something just went sproing! in my brain and I could do it. Now I'm a regular vikkelmatic, unless I stop and think about what I'm actually doing. Then I get big clumpy mess. Sometimes I think I should make my own video, but I can't actually explain wha I'm doing, so why bother?
posted by Biblio at 2:38 PM on February 6, 2012


MetaFilter: Now I'm a regular vikkelmatic.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can braid, but I cut my hair recently and it's too short to try it on myself. *sob*
posted by deborah at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2012


I've only recently gotten back to braiding length...and now I'm realizing that I can't remember when/how I learned to braid either. My mother has very very very curly hair which has been short as long as I can remember; same with her mom. (My uncle had the white guy equivalent of a 'fro for many years.) I think "regular" braiding I learned on dolls, but French braiding not until college, and I've no idea how I figured it out. A book? Guessing? Asking one of my freshman year roommates? No clue.

I'm not fantastic at it, and boy my arms get tired, but I'm reasonably competent, I think. Today I tried out side French braids (is there a name for that?) and along the side of the head it looks ok, but the actual braids were pretty bad, so I just ponytailed them together.

It's amazing how hard it is to explain in just words. That thread made my head hurt! I've learned knitting in the last few months, which has similar issues. I learned from books, mostly from the pictures, and it was only LAST WEEK that I figured out I was doing the knit stitch wrong, which is why I was having such a hard time learning increases. (I was knitting into the back of the loop.)

I've been thinking about learning more fancy braiding, so I was pretty excited to see the Klutz book recommendation. Now I have a hold on it from the library!
posted by epersonae at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2012


Huh, I can (or could, when I had sufficient hair) do a passable inverted French 5-strand braid on my own hair but never in a million years on someone else. The head is in the wrong place! It doesn't work if you're looking at it!
posted by little cow make small moo at 4:35 PM on February 6, 2012


I guess this is like trying to put a tie on someone else - I have to stand behind them and reach around their head to do it because I can't do it back to front.
posted by dg at 8:02 PM on February 6, 2012


I love how he says that he just wants to learn how to do a simple braid, nothing fancy, and then in the end he posts a photo of his success: a frickin' awesome, neat FRENCH BRAID.
posted by girlhacker at 9:53 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


That is pretty hair. Those of us with fine flyaway hair are envious!

Also I too have to call shenanigans on the fact that odinsdream went from not knowing how to braid at all to that finished product. It may be he had a ton of mirrors to view the hair from all angles to assist him in the feat, though.
posted by winna at 10:02 PM on February 6, 2012


I too have succumbed to braiding my hair after reading this. Since I have 5 foot long dreadlocks, my braid looks like a rope used on an ancient Viking ship.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:33 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


The image of a gorgeously colored sea slug with five-foot long braided dreadlocks is a humorous one. Few people know that the Picts painted themselves blue in tribute to the fearsome Viking sea slug warriors that came from the north to eat all the British sea lettuce!
posted by winna at 10:49 PM on February 6, 2012


I empathize so much. I have this thing where, when I'm driving, if I twist around in my seat to look behind me, I get my feet confused. Since I drive a manual transmission, this can cause... problems.
posted by ErikaB at 5:20 AM on February 7, 2012


nooneyouknow: "I can not get past Step 3. "

Well there's the problem. Obviously this is an inferior method of tying one's shoes. Step 3 should always be "Profit!"
posted by Grither at 6:00 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I didn't miss when I cut my long hair was the awkward messy braiding attempts (I usually just did a pony tail). Though it was always nice when women I was in grad school with would offer to re-do the braid for me. I have now depressed myself thinking how this was all 20 years ago now.
posted by aught at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2012


I can do both regular and inside out French braids, and I can do both on myself or someone else.

I'm not sure how else I could have said that sentence, but it was weird.
posted by Pax at 10:53 AM on February 7, 2012


So, I couldn't rest until I got a chance to try on a wig and test my bizarre instinct. It turns out that despite not ever having had long hair, I can totally braid my own. (It started to come undone a little by the time I got the picture snapped, but you can totally see).
posted by hermitosis at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently was knitting a pattern which requires a vikkel braid, which makes a stokinette-like series of v's running horizontal to the actual stokinette stitch.

Wow, that looks like English, but I am going to have to look up half the words to make sense of it. Can you tell I am not crafty?

I don't think braided is an innate, genetically-coded skill, not just because both twins couldn't do it, but because it also eluded me for a long time. I had long hair, never even cut it until high school, and I know my Mom wasn't the best at braiding it. She did it maybe twice in my memory. So I think she couldn't braid well, either.

Perhaps I am a genetic anomaly?

Or maybe I never learned to braid because I quit Girl Scouts after one day, when I learned that we were going to sell perfectly good cookies to other people to raise money so that we could go camping. Why would I want to go camping?! I l already lived in an old house with no A/C in Florida, for chrissakes. I'd rather eat the cookies. Which is a shame, because it turns out I can sell anything.

I think, though, that it really just came a bit harder to me because I'm left-handed, and watching right-handed people braid was confusing in the way reading that thread could be confusing. I still tie my shoes in a "kiddish" way, by crossing the loops over each other.
posted by misha at 8:23 AM on February 8, 2012


I, too, couldn't resist the urge to braid while reading this, so now I've got some hefty braided dreadlock pigtails.

If there's a genetic component, sign up my mom and I; she has always done a perfect French braid on her own hair, and I had very little trouble learning when I was young. That AskMe was sort of puzzling -- braiding your own hair just seemed like tying your shoes or blowing your nose, something every adult can do without much fuss. Guess not!

I'm still very impressed by the guys at work who braid the challah loaves, though.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:38 AM on February 8, 2012


"Don't beanplate the fingering" is very good advice in a very different situation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2012


Hey, a plate of fingerlings and beans can be very tasty.
posted by Lexica at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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