... And the turtles won.
After realizing my spiffy template was becoming a crutch and ditching it.
After reinterpreting the instructions into a mental chant that seemed to work really well -- until I lost my concentration. More times than I care to disclose.
After coming up with an "unbraid" chant that worked only some of the time. Never could get a handle on how the point of braiding was supposed to look, much less what to move to make it look that way.
After endless "undoing" all the way back to the start.
I've twined the turtle harness, put it in a sandwich bag, and have retreated to safer ground. I'll make those turtles march someday, but right now I'm just gonna lick my wounds.