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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.



National Craft Month Fridays!

craft monthMarch is National Craft Month, and in celebration of it, I’ll be bringing you a post every Friday for the next four weeks with a project and the skinny on how to make it.

Every project will involve yarn, delving into different ways to play with it. I love to knit, but I also love other crafts, so let’s see what else our fingers can do! Let’s get multi-craftual!

1 row stripesSingle Row Stripes

My November post included a mini-tutorial on working single row stripes and carrying yarns in the round. As with that project, our hands won’t be doing anything but knitting, though the end result will definitely have purls on it. It’s a good lesson in separating the fabric you want to make (product) from the process of making it (circular, in the round, knits, purls, etc).

Our end result is the fabric at right: single row stripes in two colors, nothin’ but knits. So how do we make it?

Grab two colors of yarn, an A and B, and double-ended (read: circular or double-pointed) needles two or three sizes larger than the yarn requires. With A, cast on for the scarf below or for a swatch of 12 to 20 stitches, depending on the yarn weight you’re using and how much you want to practice. I used the long-tail cast-on, but any cast-on will do (see 1 below).

1 row stripes_1

Turn the work, join B and knit 1 row. As you can see in (2), I don’t do anything special to join, just begin using the new yarn. At the end of this row (3), the working yarns for each color should be at opposite ends. Now: we’re alternating colors every row, so where is the working yarn you need to use next? At the other end of the double-ended needle! SLIDE the stitches to the other end where it—the A working yarn—is hanging (4). With A, knit 1 row.

1 row stripes_2

*Now both yarns are at the same end. At this point, you could just pick up the yarn you need to use next and knit. Or you could bring the one you need up and around the discard, then take it to the back to knit. If you are consistent about how you handle the yarns at the edge, the end result will be visually regular, and the eye will just go right over it.

For this scarf, I handled the edge a little differently. When the two yarns are on the same end, hold both together to work the first stitch (7-8) only; after the first stitch, drop the discard (A, in this case) and continue with the needed yarn to the end of the row (9-10). SLIDE the stitches to get to where the yarn needed next is waiting, knit the two strands of the first stitch as one (11), and knit to the end of the row. Turn, repeat from *. Holding the yarns together for the first stitch makes a nice little picot-y bobble-y thing along the side edges that I liked.

Now: what have you actually done here? How come you have alternating ridges of knit and purl stitches, a.k.a. two rows of stockinette alternating with two rows of reverse stockinette, a.k.a. welting? Call one side the RS and the other the WS: sliding every other row means you work on that side twice, then the other side twice. So: knit two rows with RS facing makes stockinette on the RS; turn the work, and knit two rows with WS facing makes reverse stockinette (purls) on the RS. Voilà!

Single-Row Stripes Super-Long Scarf

1 row scarf

4-1/2˝ x 8-1/2 ft [11.5 x 2.54 m]


125 yds each of 2 colors #5 bulky wt yarn
I used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, colors M65 Sapphire (A) and M120 Limeade (B)

US 15 [10mm] double-ended needles, either dpns or 24″ circular needles


With A, cast on 12 sts; turn work. Join B, knit 1 row. Slide stitches to other end of needle where A is hanging. With A, knit. Turn work. Both A & B are on this end.

Row 1: Holding A & B together, knit the first stitch; drop A and continue knitting across row with B.
Row 2: Slide stitches back along cord to other point; with A, knit. Turn work.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until A is almost gone and/or about 5 scarf widths of B remain, ending on a Row 1. Turn; with B, bind off.



November?!? and a circular stripes tutorial

Power Purls interview
Kara Gott Warner’s Power Purls Podcast made its debut this fall. She and I had a wonderfully philosophical and digressive (but eventually returning to topic!) conversation about life and working in the fiber arts industry.

Gosh, can’t believe it’s been over two months since I last posted! Seems like just yesterday I was getting home from STITCHES MidWest, and preparing The Small Man for the start of another school year.

Since then I’ve been to Irving, TX to teach at the first-time-ever STITCHES Texas, worked on a pattern and a couple of articles which you’ll see next year in Creative Knitting Magazine, gotten back into the swing of tech editing, and also worked on some pattern layouts for a client. There were proposals for teaching at TNNA, the wholesale trade show for the needlecraft industry. And the death of my iMac’s hard drive had to be dealt with (once you are used to the THPACE of a 27-inch monitor, it’s hard to go back to a little tiny laptop screen!). Oh, and I was on a podcast. :-)

Busy busy busy.Ig_photo

In the interest of clearing some THPACE around me physically, I’ve been working on turning the stepouts from Colorwork Without the Work into Finished Objects. One of those stepouts is a hat in four-color one-round stripes. I posted a picture of my progress on it to Instagram and on the Beth Whiteside Design Facebook page one day last week.

There wasn’t time to go into detail on carrying this many colors in the round in the video class, so I thought I’d take some time in a blog post to talk about the mechanics.

Let me know if you have questions!




Knit Along with Me!

Picture of Beth in the studio in Berne.
Psst! Notice there are no coasters in this picture of me? Stay tuned for more on what’s going on here!

I’m excited to be hosting my first knitalong on the Creative Knitting Magazine Fans page on Ravelry, starting July 31st! We’ll be working from the center out, making coasters from the Autumn 2015 issue of the magazine. Each of the four coasters has something to teach you about working circularly in general (how to place increases to keep your work flat—or not!) and either with color or pattern. Make one, make them all or even continue to make the upsized lapghan or afghan size!

More information and materials and pattern download on the Creative Knitting website!