I've been braiding for some four years now and I'm often being asked how it is done. The next few pages will give a basic introduction to braiding. When I first started braiding I used an inexpensive suede to learn the basics, then I moved on to cow leather and finally Kangaroo leather. Suede was a good learning tool but is very thick and tends to break when your trying to braid tightly, make sure to buy some glue also. Cow leather, smooth calf skin and pro lace are slightly more expensive and good alternative to suede. They still tend to be thick and break although not quite so easily. Ah Kangaroo is possibly the absolute best to work with, it is thin yet has a higher tensile strength then other leathers makes it perfect for braiding and knotting. Kangaroo can be double the price though so it is best to start out with something inexpensive and work your way up.
When you work with leather you should use a saddle soap to prepare the strings for braiding, makes it easier to pull the strands tight. Some folks use water and soap together but I've found that water darkens the leather so I use soap alone. Other then leather and saddle soap there isn't much else you need to braid, maybe a few pieces of string to start out with but braiding is very easy with the simplest of tools.
For those looking for a book or two on braiding I'm self taught from the Bruce Grant books.
- Leather Braiding: A condensed version of the Encyclopedia, has many of the braids and knots but not the projects.
- Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding: This is the big book that every braider has on the shelf, covers just about everything.
And most importantly, remember: "I can show you how to braid but only time can teach you".