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CRASH COURSE

1. PREPARE

Look up how many threads you need, and which colors these should be. The example below shows a way to bunch 4 threads together in a convenient way. A thread length of 75cm should be long enough for a wrist bracelet. Fasten these threads somewhere before starting to tie.

2. LEARN KNOTS

The knots shown below are the only 4 knots used in bracelet tying.
They are 2 different knots (double half-hitch knot and its reverse), in 2 directions (left and right).
The arrows shows you both knot type and its direction.

Right Left
Forward
Reverse

3. TIE

The below example shows an instruction for pattern #8 and a video how it is tied.
A color is represented by a character (S is black and G yellow in this example).
When you have done the last instruction row, restart at the first again!

Got it?

Great! You are ready for the patterns!

Didn't get it?

Take a look at the Tutorials. These ones are the easiest:

Special cases

In some cases, the thread color order after the last row is not equal to the starting order.

Top color order doesn't equal bottom color order!

How to restart at the top?

The pic at the right shows the method. Or rather how to think. Imagine that you have finished the pattern chart and are at the bottom. Rightmost thread color is yellow. You cannot restart at the top with this thread because the rightmost top thread is orange! What happened?

Don't worry. Just imagine that this thread IS orange and continue as the arrows shows you. Compare with the second part of the pic at the right.

In complicated patterns, this can be a little tricky but it always works!

Learn more

Take a look at the information below.



FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS

Everything you need to know

By Stefan Hedman 2009-12-27

Table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1. What is a friendship bracelet?
1.2. History
2. String
2.1. Types
2.2. Length
2.3. String fastening methods
3. Knots
3.1. The Forward Knot
3.2. The Backward Knot
3.3. The Forward Backward Knot
3.4. The Backward Forward Knot
4. Bracelet types
4.1. Normal
4.1.1. What is a normal friendship bracelet?
4.1.2. The 1212 bracelets
4.1.3. How to tie
4.2. Alpha
4.2.1. What is an alpha pattern?
4.2.2. How to tie
4.2.3. Designing an alpha pattern
4.2.4. More than two colors
5. Buckle
6. Designing own patterns
6.1. Pattern generators
7. References

1. Introduction

1.1. What is a friendship bracelet?

Friendship bracelets are special bracelets given from one friend to another as a symbol of friendship. They are handmade and usually made out of embroidery floss or thread. There are various styles and patterns, but most are based on the same simple half-hitch knot. The making of friendship bracelets is a version of macrame. [1]

1.2. History

Originally, these colorful bands were invented by Indians in Central and South America. According to tradition, you tie a bracelet onto the wrist of a friend who may wish for something at that moment. The bracelet should be worn until it's totally worn-out and falls off by itself, at which moment the wish is supposed to come true. [1]

2. String

2.1 Types

Friendship bracelets are most often made of embroidery floss or other types of thread. They can also be made from yarn or Crochet thread. Read more about thread types in the tutorial String types.

2.2. Length

The length of the string is hard to estimate. For a normal 8-thread wrist bracelet, about 80 cm will be enough. There will always be some string over when the bracelet is done, so always use a bit of extra string to prevent it from running out.
There are algorithms to calculate the proportion between strings in the same bracelet, although there are no one published at the moment.

2.3. String fastening methods

When tying a bracelet, it's comfortable to fasten the work somewhere. The simplest solution is by fastening the strings with a safety pin onto your jeans on the lap top.
Other places the strings can be fastened are

  • on a yarn basket (close to more string supplies)
  • a cardboard with a metal clip

3. Knots

The bracelets are based on the simple half-hitch knot in various forms [2]. A total of four knot types can make thousands of different patterns.

3.1 The Forward Knot

The forward knot is made by making two half hitches to the right. The two included strings will be swapped.
The word "forward knot" is often shortened to "fk".
The the forward knot is in several pattern instuction types symbolized by an arrow pointing to the right.

3.2. The Backward Knot

The forward knot is made by making two half hitches to the left. The two included strings will be swapped.
The word "backward knot" is often shortened to "bk".
The the forward knot is in several pattern instuction types symbolized by an arrow pointing to the left.

3.3. The Forward Backward Knot

The forward backward knot is made by making one half hitch to the right, and then one half-hitch to the left. The two included strings will NOT be swapped.
The word "forward backward knot" is often shortened to "bfk".

3.4. The Backward Forward Knot

The backward forward knot is made by making one half hitch to the left, and then one half-hitch to the right. The two included strings will NOT be swapped.

3.5. Summary of knot properties

Knot Symbol Short name String swap How to tie
Forward knot fk Yes
Backward knot bk Yes
Forward backward knot fbk No
Backward forward knot bfk No
Table 1. Summary of knot properties.

4. Bracelet types

The friendship bracelets can be divided into two subgroups, Normal and Alpha.

4.1. Normal

This is the most common friendship bracelet type.

4.1.1. What is a normal friendship bracelet?

The normal patterns are characterized by the diagonally lined up half-hitch knots. An average normal pattern is made out of 8 strings in two or more colors.

4.1.2. The 1212 bracelets

The 1212 patterns are a sub-group of normal patterns. They are started using equally many strings of two colors. Every other string should be in color 1 and the others in color 2. The 1212 patterns is tied using forward-backward and backward-forward knots only.
1212 patterns are easy to design if you only want to use 2 colors. Frankly, you can set any knot to either color 1 or color 2 as you wish, without any "planning" as normal patterns need.

4.1.3. How to tie

To learn how to tie a normal bracelet - please take a look at the tutorial #1 - Striped bracelet. It shows how to tie the most simple pattern.

4.2. Alpha

4.2.1. What is an alpha pattern?

An alpha pattern is characterized by the horizontal lined up half-hitch knots. The bracelets are most often in two colors as the difficulty rises drastically rises when using more.
The word "alpha" is a short word of "alphabet". The alpha patterns got their name because it is easy to make a bracelet with alphabet letters on it.

4.2.2. How to tie

The alpha bracelet is tied using one string in the "background" color, and the rest of the "letter" color.
The bracelet is tied using the background color string in every knot, from left to right, then right to left and alternating like that on every row.
For more instructions on how to tie, please take a look at the tutorial Alpha/Letter patterns.

4.2.3. Designing an alpha pattern

The alpha patterns are easily designed using a simple grid paper, or a graphics program with a grid.

4.2.4. More than two colors

The easy way of using three or more colors is just by varying the background color strings. The colors will go through the bracelet, being in the same position. In this way, you can for example write a text with letters that are one color in the top and another color at the bottom.
The other way is more complicated. The goal is to make the "letter" color vary from letter to letter through the bracelet. One solution is to replace each letter string with two, three or more strings in different colors. The tying procedure continues as normal, but when it's time to make a knot in the letter color, only one of the strings in the "cluster of strings" is used. The knot will then be the same color as the chosen string.

5. Buckle

The bracelet needs to be fastened on the arm somehow. The easiest solution is by just tying the bracelet on, using the start- and end strings.
There are many other solutions for buckles. They may include metal clips, beads or just strings.
Take a look at the tutorial Bracelet Buckle to learn how to make one of these buckle types.

6. Designing own patterns

To design an own pattern is not the easiest thing. After making several patterns you may understand how it works. After this, a grid paper may be the only thing you need to design your own pattern.
[Tutorial coming up]

6.1. Pattern generators

A pattern generator is a tool you can use to create your own patterns. There are not many generators out there, but here are a few:

They all try to convert user input into a pattern chart that is easy to read when making the bracelets. They can also speed up the designing process.

7. References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship_bracelet
  2. http://hbernb.atspace.com/knots101.html