I recently bought a large pack of embroidery thread intending to make some of those normal knotted friendship bracelets. Instead I learned how to make these braided ones and they are so much easier and faster to make that I've become a little obsessed with making them.
Now, you might have seen these wheel bracelet things before and thought they were too complicated, and that's exactly what I thought too but when I figured out what was going on I realized that that isn't true at all. I think a lot of the intimidation comes from the wheels that have a bunch of numbers printed on them, they are scary and imply math or counting of some sort. Trust me though, after cutting the thread and setting it up there aren't any numbers or counting to worry about.
Making the wheel and setting up the strings take a little effort but is by no means difficult. Once you do that and learn 3 simple moves, you'll be cranking out these bad boys in no time.
This project is great for a large age range and is really good at keeping people occupied and quiet. I have multiple wheels that I keep in the car, at the couch, and in my backpack that keep me very content during those normally wasted downtimes. Seriously, once you make one of these and see how easy and fun it is, you won't be able to keep your hands off to them!
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
-a ruler or tape measure
-16 strands of 20" embroidery thread, four each of four colors (you can cut these while you wait for the glue to dry in the next step)
-glue (a gluestick would probably be better but the only one I had was dried up the the size of a crayon)
-thin cardboard (mine was from Fudgsicles, yum!)
-a printed wheel template (see next step)
Step 2: The Wheel
This site is very useful because it has a wheel designer that let's you make whatever size you need. Press the 'Add' button until you get to 16 strings and then hit 'Print disk' to create the template.
Glue the printed wheel to the thin cardboard. Since I was using white glue I spread it super thin with another piece of cardboard because I hate how paper gets all rippled when too much glue is used.
Wait for the glue to dry (a great time to cut your string is now!) and then cut out the wheel. The center can be a little tricky but I just use the scissors like a saw, it's not pretty but it gets the job done.
Step 3: Stringing the Wheel
Gather all 16 strings and tie a knot, leaving about an inch of string on the end. Tie a second knot over this to make a nice bulky knot.
Insert the string through the wheel, knot end first.
The goal here is to have pairs of strings evenly spaced between the wheel, that means with two notches separating each pair. To do this, think of the wheel as a clock with 12 o'clock being the two notches above the website name.
Check out the last picture to see what I'm talking about. The setups is as follows:
-color one (pink) at 12 o'clock and 6'oclock
-color two (dark blue) at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock
-color three (light blue) at 4:30 and 10:30
-color four (white) at 1:30 and 7:30
Step 4: Braiding
This video will show you the technique for braiding:
Just say to yourself:
That's it! Just repeat those three things over and over again until you run out of thread.
***Do not, I repeat DO NOT cross the threads. It's a very common mistake to make but if you're aware of it you will be less likely to be tricked by it. When you pull a right string down it goes on the right side of the set of strings on the bottom. When you move the left string up it goes on the left side of the strings at the top. It is tempting to want to make the thread cross over and to put a right one to the left side (or a left one to the right side) but just don't do it. It's a trap!
Step 5: Finishing and Tips & Tricks
Detach the strings from the wheel and tie a knot at the end of the braid. Leave a little space (about the side of the big knot you started with) and then tie another knot. Now push the big knot through the two knots to close the bracelet. Trim any crazy ends and you're done! :)
Tips & Tricks
-When you need a break from braiding, be sure to leave the wheel with a set of one and set of three stings as in the third picture. It will be much easier to find your place when you come back than if you had left all strings in pairs of two.
-Don't worry if the spacing on your wheel isn't always two slots apart, you didn't mess up, the spacing changes and you'll notice it goes back to even spacing and then uneven a bunch of times.
-If you make a bracelet with more than 16 strands you'll have to make each strand longer. I haven't been able to find too much information about this but if you do please share.
-Making different patterns is as simple as changing the colors of string, the order of the colors when you start is what determines the pattern.
-Walmart has the best deal I've been able to find on the thread. You can get a box of 56 skeins for about $5. Look for it on the arts and craft aisle in the pink section.