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DIY Word & Name (Alpha) Friendship Bracelets
When you think of friendship bracelets, you probably imagine colorful stripes, repeating Vs, interlocking X’s and diamonds, and other diagonally-based patterns. Did you know that you can utilize those same techniques to knot horizontally and from there, create letters and thus WORDS on your friendship bracelets?! YEPP!!!
Enter: Alpha Friendship Bracelets aka Word or Name Friendship Bracelets, which we’re going to teach you how to create today!
While the knots used are essentially the same as regular friendship bracelets, the approach is slightly different since you’re generally using two colors of string, one of which is cut into 7 strands to act mostly as filler for the bracelet’s knots, and the other color used to do the majority of the knotting to create the background and negative space for the letters.
After whipping up a batch of these, we figured out some super helpful tricks and tips to make these sweet personalized bracelets a breeze to create.
Now grab some Omegacryl and read on to learn how to make Alpha Friendship Bracelets!
- Omegacryl* in two colors. Approx: 210″ of letter color & 205″ of background color
- Tape measure*
- Washi tape* or safety pin*
- Pattern generated here: http://friendship-bracelets.net/namepattern.php
- Grid paper or paper + ruler
*Indicates item is included in our Friendship Bracelet Kit!
HOW TO MAKE WORD & NAME (ALPHA) FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS
STEP 1: Generate Your Pattern
The first step to making your Alpha Friendship Bracelet is to generate your pattern using this nifty pattern generator on friendship-bracelets.net. You can also plan out your own pattern using grid paper, marking all the boxes that represent knots that will create the word or name with a ⬇️ and all the background squares with forwards and backward knots, alternating rows between all ➡️ and all ⬅️ for background color knots. (This will make more sense as you learn what the arrows mean!) Your grid should be 7 squares wide. The length is totally dependent on your pattern!
To save your pattern, you can save the custom URL linked at bottom of the generator page. To print your pattern, we recommend screenshotting it to save the file and print it.
When you generate your pattern, the generator will only provide the segment with the name / word plus a blank row before and after. As such, you’ll have to do a little math to figure out how many blank rows to start (and end) with in order to get your pattern centered.
According to our calculations, an average adult-sized “alpha-style” friendship bracelet is 93 rows. From here, count the number of rows on your generated pattern, then subtract that number from 93 total rows. Then, take that number and divide it by 2, as in the blank row segments before and after your pattern. Thus, you’ll start by knotting that number of blank rows, then follow your pattern, then end with that same number of blank rows. Voila!
Here’s an example from our sample bracelet here to help illustrate how to get this calculation:
93 total rows – 23 rows from generator = 70 / 2 = 35 rows –> Pattern: 35 blank rows, PATTERN, 35 blank rows
93 total row – # rows from generator = x / 2 = y blank rows
Pattern: y blank rows, PATTERN, y blank rows
(Didn’t think we’d get into algebra here, did you?!)
STEP 2: Cut, Tie & Lay Out Strings
Your pattern will be 7 knots wide, as indicated by the number of bubbles in each row, as well as the small vertical lines above the first row of knots and below the last row of knots. Those vertical lines indicate the number of “interior” strings your pattern calls for. You’ll also need one seemingly endless string to be your exterior string. So that’s 8 strands total you’ll be tieing together.
Interior strings: These will be the color of your letters. Cut 7 strands to be 30″ long each.
Exterior string: This will be the color of your background. You’re going to need A LOT of it. According to our calculations, you’ll need at least 205″ inches, however your best bet is not to cut the desired length but rather to pull an end from an Omegacryl skein, Omegacryl bobbin (from our Friendship Bracelet Kit), or embroidery floss skein and tie it along with the 7 cut interior strands. (See photo above.) In this tutorial, we’ll show you a super easy trick for tieing knots that don’t require feeding your entire yarn skein through a loop.
Tie together all 8 ends at least 3″ down, then tape, pin or clip down your bracelet’s tail to hold it in place ready for knotting. Separate your 7 interior strands and place your exterior strand on the outside, ready for knotting.
STEP 3: Knot your Background using Forwards and Backwards Knots
If you’ve made classic friendship bracelets before, you’re probably used to knotting your rows on a diagonal. With alpha friendship bracelets, your rows are going to be horizontal, however, the knots you use will be the same as classic friendship bracelets! So long as you keep your horizontal intentions in mind as you knot, you’ll achieve straight rows using forwards and backwards knots.
Before we get into forwards and backwards knots, we have one more bit of math to do to figure out whether your first row will be forwards knots or backwards knots. If your y number (as in the number you get when you subtract your pattern rows from 93, then divide by 2) is EVEN you will start with forwards knots and begin knotting from left to right. If your y number is ODD, you’ll start with backwards knots and begin knotting from right to left.
FORWARDS KNOTS: THE USUAL WAY
You can totally use the regular forwards knot method here (see instructions here), feeding the bobbin or skein through the loop of the knot. Just be sure to bring each knot all the way up so that they all line up in a straight row.
We find this method to be kind of a pain here, though, since threading a bobbin or entire yarn skein through a small loop takes time and can cause tangles, so we came up with this super helpful trick for quick and easy knotting when pulling from a large amount of string/yarn:
FORWARDS KNOTS: TIP FOR KNOTTING WHEN ATTACHED TO BOBBIN/SKEIN
Start with your knotting string (exterior color) on the left and the filler string on the right. Put two fingers from your left hand underneath the knotting string then twist to make a loop around your fingers. Use those two fingers to catch and pull the filler string through the loop. Hold the filler string straight and pull up on the knotting string to bring the knot to the top of your bracelet and tighten. Repeat this exact process using the same two strings (as friendship bracelet knots are formed by two consecutive knots!), then move onto the next filler string on the right, knotting around it the same way using the exterior color string. Continue until you get to the end of the row.
BACKWARDS KNOTS: THE USUAL WAY
Just like with the forwards knot, you can use the regular backwards knot method here (see instructions here), feeding the bobbin or skein through the loop of the knot. Just be sure to bring each knot all the way up so that they all line up in a straight row.
Again, we find this method to be kind of a pain when having to thread a bobbin or entire yarn skein through a small loop, so here is the same trick as above, but for backwards knots:
BACKWARDS KNOTS: TIP FOR KNOTTING WHEN ATTACHED TO BOBBIN/SKEIN
Start with your knotting string (exterior color) on the right and the filler string on the left. Put two fingers from your right hand underneath the knotting string then twist to make a loop around your fingers. Use those two fingers to catch and pull the filler string through the loop. Hold the filler string straight and pull up on the knotting string to bring the knot to the top of your bracelet and tighten. Repeat this exact process using the same two strings (as friendship bracelet knots are formed by two consecutive knots!), then move onto the next filler string on the left, knotting around it the same way using the exterior color string. Continue until you get to the end of the row.
*IMPORTANT: When you change directions, just do a half knot on the direction change. In other words, the first knot of each row should be started with a half knot (aka 1 knot instead of 2)!!*
Here’s a helpful video showing this background knotting trick in action:
Continue knotting your background until you have completed your designated number of rows (aka y rows!).
STEP 4: Knot your Letter Pattern using Forwards and Backwards Knots
Once you finish your first section of blank background color, it’s time to look at your custom name/word pattern! The first row will likely be another blank row, so follow that row accordingly. The second row is when your letter bubbles come into play!
If using a pattern generated on friendship-bracelets.net, all of your letter bubbles will be down arrows, regardless of the direction of the exterior color bubble arrows on its row. To create the knots within your letters, you’re essentially going to do the opposite knot as the direction of the exterior knots on the same line that you are working on.
In other words,
- If your row is going forwards, use backwards knots for the letters
- If your row is going backwards, use forwards knots for the letters
FORWARDS ROW: Use backwards knots for the letters. (Knot instructions here.)
BACKWARDS ROW: Use forwards knots for the letters. (Knot instructions here.)
MEMORY TRICK: When knotting letters, an easy trick for remembering which knot to do when is to bend the knotting strand so that you can place the horizontal part on the interior strand. So if the interior color is on the left, bend it into a backwards 4 (aka backwards knot), and vice versa. Just make sure to note which side you’re starting on because you’ll have to do the same knot a second time!
FOR ALL KNOTS, REMEMBER: Your exterior color string should always be traveling in its intended direction, working across the row from right to left or left to right, never changing direction until the end of the row. The direction is indicated by the arrow of the first bubble in the row you’re working on. If you accidentally tie your knot to go in the wrong direction (you’ll see your string change direction by the natural positioning of the knot) carefully undo it with a safety pin or needle. If you force the knot back the other way, you’ll have unwanted bumps on your design.
STEP 5: Add Bottom Set of Blank Rows, Tie off with a Knot, & Add Braids
Once you’ve finished your pattern, it’s time to add the second side of blank rows to finish off your bracelet. Keep knotting back and forth until you’ve reached the total of 93 rows.
To finish off your bracelet, tie a knot below the last row to match the top of your bracelet.
The final step is to braid both ends of your bracelet, separating the tail strands into three groups, braiding them together and securing each braid with a knot. We recommended braiding the beginning tail first, as the strands are shorter. That way, you can match the length when braiding the ending tail. Trim off excess tail string to finish!
These custom word and name friendship bracelets are so sweet to give as gifts or make for yourself. Spell out your name, a loved one’s name, a word or phrase of empowerment, or something silly to make the wearer smile.
We can’t wait to see what your word and name friendship bracelets say! Be sure to tag us on Instagram @theneonteaparty and leave any project questions below!
Peace, love & neon,