Tutorial 1: Before We Knot

I’ve been asked to teach how I make bracelets. Well if I’m to do that, I’d say it’s best that I start at the very beginning.

Step one: Choosing string


This may seem really simple, but let me explain why this is important. DMC is the most well-known and respected name in embroidery floss. However, there are cheaper alternatives. Back when I was still just starting, there was a K-mart not far from my home and they had their own brand of floss at about half the cost of DMC. When there is so little profit when it comes to making bracelets, it seemed like a smart thing. However, I had worked out an interesting maze of a bracelet in purple and white. Mind you, this is more than 25 years ago, but I remember it vividly because of what happened. I typically wash my bracelets (Basically just get them wet so the knots tighten and then once dry the bracelets break in and become softer. If you don’t do this, you should really consider as it makes them feel nice and sell more easily) and did so as usual with this purple and white one. This time, the color ran. That’s to say the purple bled onto some of the white and wrecked how awesome the pattern was. The few cents I saved had backfired and cost me all that work as well the hours spent making it. I learned my lesson. Find good reliable embroidery floss, even if it costs a bit more.

Step two: Choosing your work surface

There are a few reasons why I swear by this. First is it’s quite portable. If you have your work taped to a table or clipped to a pillow, you’re probably limited to just working in the house. Next, it can be quite versatile. Here are just some of the benefits. One, you can shift your work up and re-clip it so that you’re consistently working the same distance from the clip. This will make your work cleaner and neater looking vs working continuously farther from its anchoring point. Two, you can have marks on the board to give you an idea of what the finished size should be. Very helpful when creating something new on the fly and you need to know approximately where the halfway point should be. Those points of measurements can be disguised as stickers with things you’re interested in. Three, stickers of your favorite rock band or interesting events can lead to conversations in public places and might actually help lead to a sale. Four, the hole on the clipboard meant to hang it on the wall can be used to hold your completed works (tie them on or use a carabiner). So now your work surface has also put saleable items on display. Five, as you’re working, people may notice how tedious the work is and see the final product. This will help you justify the price you’re selling them for. Finally, there is the notion that perhaps one day you decide you have the skills to go big. Perhaps really big. There is no way I’d want to make a bag or some other huge work trying to use tape or safety pins. It just wouldn’t work. I may need more binder clips on my really big works, but the skills I learned while making the smaller ones on how to shift and hold my work in place also works well when getting on to more advanced works.

Once you have all this sorted I’ll show you the first of the four knots that make up all of what I use.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions of what you’d like me to cover next, please add your thoughts in the section below. I’d love to hear from you and it could help make this site more useful for other knotters too!

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