National Craft Month 2: Braid a Bracelet

national craft monthTime for the second how-to post for National Craft Month. In this post I’ll show you how to tie a braid knot  and turn the braided cord into a bracelet. I love projects that use up odds and ends of yarn, and this is one of them!

I’ve always liked the look of braids, long before Princess Leia wound them on the side of her head. The problem with using simple 3-strand braids  for projects is how to neatly handle the 3 strands at each end after braiding! The braid knot reduces the number of strands to one, simplifying the problem.

Making Cords

Several types of cord for braiding.

From bottom to top: 1 strand of bulky yarn, 2-stitch I-cord, long-tail cast on/bind off cord, slip-stitch crochet chain.

First, choose the material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, wool…) for your bracelet, and make the cord. What weight yarn are you trying to use up, and what look do you want for the end result? Do you want it to be thick and chunky, or have a thinner, finer look? And how much weight and drape do you want the bracelet to have?

For this tutorial, I used 4 different cord-making methods. There are a multitude of ways each of these can be varied, as well as many other methods for making cord (aka “narrow wares”). Decide which one you’d like to use: will the yarn do the work? knit I-cord? crochet chain? or something else?

Measure your wrist (or your recipient’s wrist), and make your cord 3 times as long plus 1-2˝. The extra length is taken up in places where the cord crosses itself. The chunkier your base cord is, the more extra length you’ll need. If your braid winds up being shorter than the distance around your wrist, don’t stress: the ties will cross the gap (tip: leave long tails at ends, they’re useful when making ties!).

Tying the Braid Knot

If you haven’t tied any knots other than the slip knot when you cast on or work a crochet chain, I suggest practicing with a short length of rope or clothesline. Part of tying knots is “shaping up” the knot during and at the end of the tying, and it is easier to learn when the medium itself doesn’t stretch!

Steps of making a braid knot.

Fold your cord into three roughly equal lengths, placing one end on top of the bend nearest it (1). Begin working a 3-strand braid: *take the left-most strand over the middle strand, then the right-most over the middle strand (2). Repeat from *, untwisting the 2 strands that are connected when necessary, until there is just room to cross the two connected strands one more time (3-7), and tuck the end through the final loop (8).

braided cords

The various cords after working the braid knot.

Shape up the knot: gently tug the strands to make them uniform, redistributing extra length as necessary. You may want to tighten or loosen the crossings to remove or add length to the final length of the braid.

After working the braid knot and getting the bracelet to the desired length, the next task is figuring out how it will fasten around a wrist! The single strand of yarn and the I-cord both have a tail at each end. The cast-on/bind-off cord has three tails on one end (hold both ends of yarn together and tie a slip knot to get two strands for long-tail cast-on; the third end is left after binding off), and one on the other (cut one of the strands from the cast-on before beginning the bind-off). And on the slip-stitch crochet chain, the two tails are at the same end (make a crochet chain to the desired length, then slip-stitch into the back loop). How to make ties for each of these bracelets?

Making the Ties

Finishing the braid as a bracelet.

Fastening options for braided bracelet.

Each bracelet illustrates a different way to make a simple tie—no jewelry findings required for these bracelets. The ties are 2½-4 inches in length, depending on fastening means and desired decorative effect.

Single-Strand Braid At each end of the braid, tie a basic overhand knot, but wrap it three times through the loop before tightening. This will make the knot slightly larger. Tie a simple overhand knot at the end of each tie to prevent fraying.

I-cord Braid Work both ties the same way: put the yarn tail on a tapestry needle and sew the tail of the braid against the folded cord. Cut a length of yarn twice as long as the tail and using a tapestry needle, thread it halfway onto the end next to the tail so there are three equal lengths. Work 3-strand braid to end, secure tails with overhand knot.

Cast-on/Bind-off Braid For both ties, use a tapestry needle and yarn tail(s) to sew the tail of the braid in place against the folded cord. On the three-strand end, tie an overhand knot at the end of the braid. Cut a length of yarn twice as long as the tail on the single-strand end and using a tapestry needle, thread it halfway through next to the tail so there are three equal lengths. Knot as for other end.

Slip-Stitch Crochet Braid Sew the two tails in opposite directions through the chain; sew the tail of the braid in place against the folded cord. Insert a crochet hook through both fold and braid tail, and chain until tie is long enough to fold into a loop; fasten off. Forming a loop, sew end into braid tail; fasten off. For other end, make a crochet chain twice as long as desired finish ties; fasten off. Thread chain onto tapestry needle, and thread it through both fold and braid tail; adjust ends so the two ties will be the same length. Holding both ends, make an overhand knot to secure ties in place.

 

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