How to make a traditional hemp bracelet with a series of quick and easy knots.
Cheap and environmentally friendly enough for even the hippies!
For this instructable I'll be using a bit of my own pink hemp (three cheers for extra hair dye!), though any type of string will work, even paracord. =)
Step 1: Materials
The materials are very simple:
Hemp (or another type of string - floss works great but the result is much thinner)
Something to cut it with
How much? Well, as for beads, probably less than five if they're big enough. Maybe 10 if they're small. It doesn't take many.
Step 2: Cutting and Starting
There are two types of strings in making traditional hemp bracelets : outside (lead and partner) and the two middle strands.
The two middle strands should both be a little over twice the length of your wrist. To get them both the same healthy length, cut a piece about 5 times the size of your wrist in half.
The outside strands should each be about double the length of the inside strand. You may want to give a little more string just to be careful. As most hemp rolls are not the same gauge, or thickness, most will require a different length for the outside strings.
Once you have the four strings cut, align them so that the long strings are on the outside and the short ones are in the inside. Then, tie the string in a loop by first making a loop and then tying the string onto itself. See pictures for demonstration.
Naturally, if you do not like this method of tying a loop, you can tie it some other way!
Step 3: Tying the Square Knot
Hemp bracelets are made from one main type of knot (which is really two simple knots) called a square knot. It is composed of a Left Square Knot (LSK) and a Right Square Knot(RSK)
Tying them is fairly simple, but it takes practice and thinking at first, until it becomes almost second-nature.
The LOPOPILTE system!! Leader-Over Partner-Over Partner-In-Loop Tie-End
Step 1: Follow a lead
Pick one of the long strings on the outside to be your leading string. Don't forget which string you picked or else you'll get very confused!! One way of remembering is to tie a knot or attach a bead at the end of it - that way, you can find your leading string quickly and easily.
If the short strings aren't on the inside and the long ones on the outside, now would be an ideal time to move them so they are.
Step 2 : Leader over the middle
Take the lead and cross it over the two middle strands. Refer to the second picture to see how if you must.
Step 3 : Partner over leader
Take the partner strand (the other long one that isn't the leading strand) and place it over top of the leading strand. The third picture shows this.
Step 4 : Partner in loop toward leader
Put the partner in the loop made by the leading strand in step 2. The hemp will probably make a loop because it's long and won't all go through in one tug. Just keep pulling it through. Picture 4.
Step 5 : Tying the knot
Completing the knot is simple. Hold the far end with the loop and the middle strands tight and straight by tugging a little on both ends. This is easily done if you have the loop attached to something or held between you middle finger and ring finger. Then, pull on both of the outside strands. Pictures 5 and 6.
Depending on the side you started with, you just made either a left square knot or a right square knot!! In the pictures, I made a right square knot, which means to make a full square knot I would have to now do a left square knot. The leading strand is on the left side. Scary, huh? Do a couple more and you should end up with something like picture 7. Don't worry if the first few knots look weird. They always do, especially if you're not used to square knots.
Step 4: Beads!!
So now it's time to put some beads on the bracelet. If you can tie square knots, this is extremely simple! It's pretty much the same deal, too.
So, first put a bead on the middle strands. Then, tie a square knot as you normally would, except now there is a bead on the middle strands. See pictures for a better explanation.
Once you have a bead on, tie more knots! Then, add another bead if you want, then some more knots. Then maybe two beads, or another kind of bead. Endless possibilities. Just get your bracelet to the point that it's nearly long enough, and move on to the next step!
Step 5: Making the Clasp
You may be pleased to know you've already made half of the clasp. The loop from the beginning is the hardest part of it, too.
Making the other end :
Not particularly difficult, but different. Make a regular knot (no idea what normal knots are called!) with your two middle stands, which will cause the square knots to stay in place. (Pic 2) Before, you could move them up and down to adjust the density of the knots.
Now place a bead on the two middle strands. Take the string out of the end of the bead, then loop it back around and put it through the bead again (Pic 3)
Tie another normal knot close to the ends of the middle strands. Around 1 cm away from the end is a good distance.
Then, push the bead as far towards the end as you can. This might take a little force and it should stop when it gets over the knot. Don't go crazy and tear your hemp in half pretending you're The Incredible Hulk.
Step 6: Tying the Clasp
Most don't know how to tie a clasp. Frankly, neither do I as I've never been told, but this is how I do it anyways.
Take the bead and put it through the loop and then back under and up through the middle of it. Tug to fit.
But, honestly, just make it catch on itself somehow. There are hundreds of ways.
Step 7: Extra Tidbits
Confused about which strand is the leading strand? Wondering how to make cool spirals? Wooden beads suck and only have a hole in one side?
You're in luck.
So how do you make those cool spirals!? Well, instead of tying a RSK and then a LSK (or vice versa), just keep tying either RSKs or LSKs. So pick a side to lead, not a string.
Finding the leading strand is actually really easy. Just look at the knot before it. The string that went through the middle is the leading strand from the last knot. So, if you're doing flat knots, use that string again to lead. If you're doing spiral knots, use the other string.
And those pesky wooden beads? Poke through 'em with a nail or another such object.
What about colours when using floss or multiple strings with different colours? This is just like the leading trick. If you always lead with one colour, you'll get that colour in the middle bordered by the other one. If you alternate (make a spiral), then you'll get a nifty checkered spiral pattern.