Like a lot of girls, I learned how to make friendship bracelets back in the misty dawn of my youth. In the heady, pre-Internet days of the late-Eighties there were very few ways to learn how to make these colorful thread trinkets – you were taught how to make them in Arts & Crafts by ex-hippies at summer camp, you had parents who were ex-hippies and taught you, you read an article in a magazine or book written by a hippie, or you learned how from someone who either had been to summer camp or had ex-hippies for parents. ( FYI – The GhostParents were not hippies, GhostDad actually turned down a chance to go to Woodstock. We instead come from fairly sensible if slightly insane farm-folk; growing up, instead of macrame I learned what a tobacco stick is and how tell rambling stories involving animal parts.)  

According to MotherDearest, I learned from one of my California cousins, H, when she came to visit. That sounds about right and I don’t have any reason to doubt her, but I only have a hazy recollection of actually learning.

Friendship bracelets are perfect for kids; easy to make, requiring little more than cheap, colorful string and some kind on anchoring system to keep the strands in place. My cousin used a safety pin to attach the knot of threads to the knee of her jeans, but I usually used a clipboard. I learned the basics – the candy stripe, the chevron, and if I was feeling really fancy, the diamond. I played around some with different colors and then got interested in other things and forgot about them.

I occured to me not long ago while I was idly surfing the ‘net that the Things are getting close to the age when I learned how to make friendship bracelets and that, being the artistic types that they are, it might be a fun thing to do the next time they visit. I fiddled around with some yarn and kind-of remembered how to do it, but I though “Hey, I’ll just Google it.”

Holy crapcakes, y’all. These little bits of string have grown about a thousand times more intricate than the ones I remember.

This is a pattern chart for an “advanced beginner to intermediate” level bracelet, rated a five on a scale of one to ten, showing the paths taken by the individual strands; the strip across the top shows you what the bracelet will look like when finished.

My search led me to the very aptly named friendship-bracelets.net where you can find patterns for just about anything, as well as the tutorials I was looking for. Some are so intricate they look like very small Oriential carpets that you wear on your arm. Since the bracelets only use four variations (forward, backward, forward-backward, and backward-forward) of the same knot, the hitch*, I find that amazing.

And like pretty much anything else, the denizens of the Internet took a look at friendship bracelets and said to their collective selves “How can I make this reflect my special interests and hobbies? How can I, for want of a better term, make it geeky?”

Like this.

I’m currently struggling through some of the easier patterns so I can get the hang of reading the graphs, once I feel more confident I will probably tackle something a little more difficult.

*Each knot is actually two hitches; a forward is two forward hitches, a backward is two backward hitches, a forward-backward is … well, a forward hitch and a backward hitch, and a backward-forward is the same but reversed.

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