Challah braiding crutch
I bake challah rarely, once every two or three months, usually two loaves. One I pan bake; it gets sliced and frozen for French toast, two or four slices thawed each time; it lasts a good while. The second loaf I braid, only because I like the way the shiny, chocolate-colored, bulging braid looks: eye candy. However, each time I bake challah I have to relearn six-strand braiding--my favorite. I baked challah two days ago, and the braiding was especially frustrating, in part because I'd tried a new recipe--it turned out delicious, but I'd made the dough softer than usual--as well as having to, once again, look at my cheat-sheet, make a move, look at my cheat-sheet, make a move, answer the phone, try to figure out where I was...well, you know the rest. I finally got it to look half-way decent; proofing, oven spring and browning aided considerably.
Yesterday, I recalled how, when I was about ten years old, I'd learned to braid four strands of flat, plastic lacing--called "Gimp"--into an attractive round braid. With a metal snaphook on its beginning end, a yard of it, doubled back on itself and the loop closed with a square-braided slide finished in a Turks-head knot it made a handsome lanyard. I got so good at making lanyards I supplemented my meager weekly allowance by making them for other, less-talented Boys' Club campers, and kids in my neighborhood. I recall I also made a few dog leashes too.
With that memory recalled...
I made my self a practice string which I carry with me in my shirt pocket. Now, at most free moments, I take it out; my latest mantra is, 6 over 1, 2 over 6, 1 over 3, 5 over 1, 6 over 4,...etc., etc., etc.