I recently did some hair studies using maya's xgen interactive groom tools. It's come a long way and is a great way to organically create and style hair. Thanks to nhair follicle 'braid' button for providing the initial braid splines. :)
An update after Michael Todd's suggestion: If hair in the viewport is too heavy (high density multiplier) Lower the value on the density mask (either by darkening the mask texture, or by lowering the alpha gain value) while working.