friendship bracelets
June 17, 2012 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Friendship bracelets! A photo tutorial for chevrons and another photo tutorial for basic stripes, chevrons, & diamonds. More basics with simple patterns & advanced. The BeyondBracelets thorough video tutorials (& on her blog is a bracelets 101 to gradually progress your skills). For complicated patterns check out these, and also these (with alphabet patterns & instructions), and also this crowdsourced free pattern-sharing site (patterns & tutorials), and finally this dollar-a-pattern pay site. If you're not interested in bracelets you can use the same idea for tangle-free headphones or wrapping tech cords & cables. (previously: lanyards)
posted by flex (32 comments total) 144 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I'd never have come up with the idea to wrap cables like that. It looks quite pretty.

I don't know if it's worth the effort for me, though -- I'm so hard on earbuds I break one ear from metal fatigue every 6-8 months.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 6:23 PM on June 17, 2012

Figuring out that the pros use tapestry wool instead of embroidery floss blew my 10 year old mind. (I was a simple child.)
posted by smirkette at 6:29 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Why couldn't you have posted this when I was 11 and desperately needed this information?/ OK, I mean, Metafilter didn't exist then and I didn't even have the internet at my house, but STILL.
posted by leesh at 6:47 PM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

Thanks for this! I had thought about making some for my daughter sometime soon.
posted by marble at 6:47 PM on June 17, 2012

Wow, childhood flashback. (Although, it was the friendship pins that were more my speed.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good lord. I was ridiculously good at this, and could turn out a chevron friendship bracelet in minutes. Ah, the joys of summer camp, and the awkwardness of giving a bracelet to that girl, hoping that she'd be so impressed she'd want to go steady for the remaining week or so of camp.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love friendship bracelets. I have a ridiculous idea to do a bunch in the colors of superhero costumes and I only got as far as the gray-black-yellow of Batman. I still love the idea, though.

Friendship bracelets are so delightfully easy and mindless and good to pick up and put down. I need to make more of them.
posted by darksong at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2012

I think one of the neatest things about pre-internet friendship bracelets was that all these special patterns had to spread by word of mouth, which emphasized the 'friendship' aspect of it. The pedigree of a particular bracelet could be traced by the patterns used on it. If one kid at the school learns a unique pattern from an out-of-town cousin, then only that kid's circle of friends would get bracelets with that pattern.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:22 PM on June 17, 2012 [12 favorites]

a MeFi made me a lanyard and sent it as part of a gift exchange a few weeks back, and it has my keys on it. It is something I treasure, because it is beautiful, well made, and hand crafted--it is something i am not dexterous enough to do, and am really just tickled pink to handle it daily.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:41 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

There's a penguin pattern?!!! I think I just found part of a friend's Christmas present.

I remember doing that headphone wrapping technique to a section of my younger sister's (very long hair) when she was about six. It was a very trendy look for the kids in the neighborhood, but my mother was not thrilled when she realised the only way it was coming out was to cut out that chunk of hair. That said, it's stupidly easy to do, and not a bad idea at all.
posted by peppermind at 8:07 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I remember having an epiphany one day after weeks of using embroidery floss and making a totally unique bracelet out of 1/8" satin ribbon. I sewed a snap fastener onto it. I kept it for myself. Some friend I was.
posted by girlhacker at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2012

For many years when I was a 20-something hippie, I made friendship bracelets in a specific group of colors and gave them to anyone I knew who would accept one. There was quite a good-s9zed group of people who would occasionally run into each other around town and see the bracelets and end up talking to each other.

Friendships bracelets are awesome.
posted by hippybear at 9:44 PM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:59 PM on June 17, 2012

Oh man what a cool post, flex! =)

These bring back some fond memories of Y camps, and the folks using them to decorate and detangle cords are doing some neat stuff. These are also so neat because the transition from thread to textile has always been sort of fascinating and mysteriously arcane to me. Friendship bracelets are a neat way to get a sense of "oh, so that's kind of how it works."
posted by kavasa at 12:28 AM on June 18, 2012

OK, allow me to join in on the nostalgia-fest. I used to be really good and really fast with these. I sort of specialized in doing gradient-tone versions of the "flame" pattern. Actually, I think I have a picture of it somewhere… AHA! Here it is.
posted by LMGM at 1:13 AM on June 18, 2012

I'd like to see somebody do some of these patterns in paracord (and then start an Etsy shop). It's all knots, right?
posted by box at 4:57 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where's the decoder chart showing the depraved meaning of each colour?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:21 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

My 12 year old has about 20 of these on her wrist right now. Directing her to this post as soon as she gets home from school.
posted by chococat at 5:45 AM on June 18, 2012

I was crazy good at making these. I remember figuring out how to make them cylindrical and blowing my own mind. (I can write up a tutorial, but I would have to get some thread and practice first to get my technique back.) If you are already holding fistfuls of floss, I can tell you it involves simply going back around to the first thread when you get to the end, but there's a bit of counting technique to getting it even that I don't recall off the top of my head.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:46 AM on June 18, 2012

I used to make them from plaited thread, then one day I discovered how to do the woven/double-knot technique. That was a marvellous day for thread manufacturers.
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on June 18, 2012

I love the different graphical ways that craftspeople use to convey information. These are a great example, because the images themselves don't make much sense unless you've actually practiced the craft. Then of course they become immensely useful because verbal description is a terrible method for conveying information about visual patterns and hand manipulated techniques.

I've always believed that what my hands know is different from what my mind knows. I can knit (simple) objects while reading, to the point that I can focus on the text completely. The downside of this is that my hands are so used to taking care of the knitting that I am now almost incapable of explaining the knit stitch in words. I have to be physically doing it and staring at my hands to explain to someone how it works. Otherwise my mind just kind of blanks out - I like to think that the knowledge is stored in my hands now, and not my brain, metaphorically speaking. It's a weird thing. Anyway, these charts are like the link between the hands and the brain - they appeal to a different way of processing patterns and instructions.

Japanese knitting patterns are another example - American knitting patterns are all text-based and often ambiguous, but Japanese patterns are usually a diagram with measurements on it.

Drafts used by weavers are the coolest thing. When you first see them they make no sense, but after you learn how to read them they are like the keys to the kingdom.

All these methods solve a central problem to textiles: how do you capture a 3D object in 2D representation when the default tendency is to think of it as a 2D object? In weaving for example, many new students automatically filter out a whole dimension when they are thinking about their weaving...when creating drafts for patterns, there has to be a way to account for a third dimension that many people don't even think about anyway.
posted by newg at 6:50 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Remember that episode of Saved by the Bell where Mr. Tuttle had the kids organize into groups to form a small business. Zack and the gang decided to go into the friendship bracelet business, but then they got too greedy and so Zack defected with Lisa & Screech, but then he became really greedy and Lisa & Screech joined Slater, Jesse, & Kelly, but then THEY got too greedy and demanding and everyone started arguing and fighting and then Zack was sitting along at the Max and he looked so sad and they gave a speech at the end about dissolving their business because they found out friendship was more important than money.

That was a great one.
posted by Fizz at 7:19 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Huh, I never knew that that spiral knot pattern used in the headphones link had a name. That one was always my favorite because it's so simple to do and didn't require any right-to-left knotting (which I suck at). I'm kind of floored by all the really complicated stuff that people come up with, though. Great post!
posted by ashirys at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2012

I was the only boy I knew who made these. I was embarrassed to let anyone know I did this so I think I just kept them for myself. So sad.
posted by hot_monster at 9:07 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was more into these.
posted by stormpooper at 10:06 AM on June 18, 2012

After friendship pins faded, our groups transitioned to the friendship bracelets. I finally sent off a dollar to an address in that year's edition of "Free Stuff For Kids" (InterWhatebs?) and got back a much-photocopied illustrated guide to the basics ...
posted by tilde at 1:12 PM on June 18, 2012

I still have my first friendship bracelet, and it means a lot to me.

See, I lived on an army base overseas and was about to move back to the States. My fourth grade class went on a trip to Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, and on the bus ride I was hopping mad at my two best friends because they sat together, weaving something, and wouldn't talk to me about it.

It turned out Colleen and Gabby wanted to finish my friendship bracelet before we got to Rothenburg, so they could present me with it and I could remember them by it. They knew, as Army brats, that we'd probably never see one another again after I moved. (They were right.)

I wore the hell out of that thing, and no matter how many more I weaved in the years to come, the faded pink, blue, green and yellow bracelet is the only one I ever prized. And to this day I've never forgotten my friendship with Colleen and Gabby, and the kind thing they did on the bus to Rothenburg.
posted by brina at 1:32 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Huh, interesting. I, too, am taken back to high school. I had no idea how to do the things, so there was a lot of trial and error. My biggest "error" turned out to be the hottest seller, the spiral. I'll have to make one up tonight and upload it; I don't see an example here. One that I didn't learn how to do until much later was the three dimensional one.sorry about the quality on that first pic.

To answer newg, I do filter out a dimension, at least in order to get one part of it done. I have to keep in mind the whole pattern when I'm inspecting for mistakes, but that's when I've come up for air and take a break from that one part I've been working on.

Also, a lot of the time I didn't know what I was going to end up with. Like that bracelet, I had no idea I'd be getting rainbows down the side.

Anyway, I sold quite a few bracelets because I didn't know what I was doing, so they were unique. I finally learned the right way of doing things from a girl who was otherwise doing beautiful work. We agreed to trade the secrets, and to keep doing our own thing, so as not to destroy each other's sales.

Eventually we were both driven out of business by old grandmothers in Juarez who could make the things twice as fast for half the price.
posted by lysdexic at 2:04 PM on June 18, 2012

I, too, am taken back to high school.

I am very surprised by this. As a point of reference, I'm 40, and these were big in like grades 5 - 8. We were maybe wearing old ones in highschool but certainly not making them. Also, we only ever made them at our respective summer camps; we never made them at school. (I'm not sure why; it was maybe seen as being a sort of suburban hobby?)

I am now fascinated by the demographics of friendship bracelets!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:38 PM on June 18, 2012

Friendship pins were 1981-1982 where I was. A bit longer but they were banned on & off.

1982-1985: home made fun dip (koolaid).

1984-1991. Friendship bracelets School colors more popular towards the end of that era and as we got more towards high school.
posted by tilde at 4:27 PM on June 18, 2012

It's Friendship Day, but all of the friendship bracelets are missing. Swiper has swiped them!

I've read this bookfriendship bracelet cause unpleasant feelings in my stomach.

Still, this could lead to some good crafts for the little ones.
posted by samhyland at 5:11 PM on June 18, 2012

I obviously haven't read my previous comment anywhere near as many times as I've read this book.
posted by samhyland at 5:13 PM on June 18, 2012

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