With school holidays upon us it is time to get involved in some new crafts! Friendship bracelets are easy to make with only a few skeins of embroidery cotton, making them a perfect afternoon activity for both adults and children. They are a form of macramé with patterns developing from a series of knots that range from simple to intricate.
The origin of friendship bracelets is widely attributed to the indigenous people of Central and South America but there are also accounts of decorative knots being discovered in Ancient China as early as 221 BC. Red string bracelets made from knots are popular in many religions, usually signifying protection, luck, and blessings. Modern folklore around friendship bracelets believes that when you gift one to another person, they are to make a wish when it is tied around their wrist and wear it until it falls off naturally. Their wish will then come true!
To start making your own friendship bracelets you just need to decide how many colours you would like and how thick you would like the finished product to be and therefore how many strands of each colour you will use. You will want all of your strands to be at least 80cm long in length and to tie them together 2cm from the top. You will then secure them with a piece of strong masking tape to a table or other flat hard surface and you’re ready to start tying!
Knots can be tied in both a backwards and forwards motion. Forward knots are tied from left to right, the same direction that we read in English, and backwards knots are tied from right to left. The majority of all patterns are combinations of four basic knots: a forward knot, a backward knot, a forward-backward knot and a backward-forward knot. Just like with any yarn craft, tension is important and even tension will come with practice. You don't want your knots to be too tight or the bracelet will curl and the colours won't be aligned properly, and you don't want your knots too loose or there will be little holes between each of them.
Once you master these four knots you will be ready to tackle nearly any pattern. Patterns are displayed as a graph that shows you which direction each string will be tied in for each row. Reading patterns this way is much easier than if it was written out.
There are many complex patterns developed already for friendship bracelets, one website that we recommend is Bracelet Book which has thousands of patterns uploaded by users. It is like the Ravelry of friendship bracelet patterns, and you can filter them via difficulty, number of strands and number of colours. You can also just start playing with the knots yourself and see how different combinations look. It can be really fun to be surprised by what patterns you create!
If you want a photo guide to refer to when starting out with your bracelets we recommend Sarah Maker's tutorial. Otherwise grab some embroidery floss, a pair of scissors, and some sturdy tape and get tying!
We love to see what you create so please tag us in your project photos on Instagram and Facebook or share with us your favourite friendship bracelet in the comments below.