Lesson: How to Read Friendship Bracelet Patterns
This tutorial breaks down the elements of friendship bracelet patterns so that you can easily interpret them and create any design under the sun!
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Elements of a Friendship Bracelet Pattern
Here’s an example of a repeating pattern featuring interlocking diamonds and X’s. On this and all patterns you’ll see a variety of elements:
- A visual of the pattern at the top
- Letters which correspond to string colors below
- Dashed lines on the sides with numbers next to them – these indicate the rows within the pattern
- Bubbles with arrows which indicate the direction of each knot
- Bent edges without bubbles to indicate skipping those strands when knotting a row
Arrow Bubbles Represent Knots
There are four basic types of friendship bracelet knots, which are essentially all the same knot just tied in varying directions. Friendship bracelet knots consist of two knots stacked together (one strand tied around another strand twice), so you have the following four options:
Forwards knot = forwards knot followed by forwards knot
Backwards knot = backwards knot followed by backwards knot
Forwards-Backwards knot = forwards knot followed by backwards knot
Backwards-Forwards knot = backwards knot followed by forwards knot
How to Read a Friendship Bracelet Pattern
- Cut 32+” of Omegacryl yarn or embroidery floss for each strand indicated at the top of the pattern underneath the capital letters. Tie strands all together with an overhand knot 3″ down and secure to fabric with a safety pin or to a hard surface with tape. Lay out the colors in your desired color order according to the order indicated by the letters on the top of the pattern.
- You’ll work through the pattern one row at a time. In other words, you’ll start with Row 1, which is indicated by the “1–” on both sides of the pattern. After you complete all the knots across Row 1, you’ll move on to Row 2, and so on. It’s helpful to use a ruler, book or any other straight object to keep your place on the pattern.
- Before working a row, pair together the two strands of yarn that will get knotted together in the row. If you refer to the pattern above, in Row 1 you’ll pair together strands A+B, C+D, E+F, F+E, D+C, and B+A.
- Starting from the left, you’ll knot the first pair together according to the direction indicated by the bubble. The color of the bubble indicates the color knot that will be formed, so that is the strand that will do the knotting. The other color will be the strand around which the knot is formed. Once your first knot is complete, move onto the next knot to the right and continue until the row is complete.
- VERY IMPORTANT: If your row begins and/or ends with a bent edge that has no bubble, this means that you will skip that strand for that row. For those rows, I recommend placing the blank strands above your bracelet up near the knot to keep them visually out of the way and avoid possible confusion. Once the row in complete and the following row begins with a bubble, you can bring the strands back down join the rest and proceed using those strands in the pattern for that next row.
- Once you’ve completed the pattern, repeat by beginning again at the top of the pattern. With many patterns, such as the one pictured below, the string colors may no longer match up on the second round the way they did the first time around. If it’s confusing to go off of the pattern when the colors don’t match up, you can always write the name of the new color next to the corresponding string letter at the top of the pattern to create a color guide. The color order that the strings are in once you finish the first round of your pattern is the order in which you’re going to want to write them in at the top. It’s best to write in pencil with an eraser handy, that way when it’s time for the 3rd, 4th, etc. round of the pattern, you can erase the colors from the previous round and write in the new ones. Continue repeating the pattern until your bracelet is long enough to fit your wrist or ankle.
- Be sure to tie your knots tightly to keep an even tension throughout your pattern. If you make a mistake with a knot, you can use a pin to undo your knots and start again. One incorrect knot can mess up the rest of the pattern, so I recommend fixing mistakes to ensure your pattern comes out as pictured.
More Fun Patterns!
Once you’ve completed the simple, repetitive pattern above, try giving this one a go! This is the beautiful pattern pictured at the very beginning of this post. It is pattern #9726 from friendship-bracelets.net, however there were a number of errors in the pattern so I’ve corrected them in the accurate pattern below.
Here are some other patterns we love and recommend trying out:
Apply your new-found skill to create awesome things! Here’s a round-up of project inspiration.
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