Braided bracelets remain a common Native American craft and are also common in Central America. Braided bracelets are worn as fashion accessories and to express friendship bonds. Simple to make, these braids flash on the wrists of both children and adults. Different styles of braiding produce different designs and patterns to give the bracelet a unique look.
In single, side-knotted braiding, a line of single knots is created on various colored threads, which are then braided together to make a bracelet. Diagonally knotted braiding incorporates different rows of color, which are knotted diagonally and braided. Horizontally knotted braiding knots threads horizontally and then braids them together. Twisted braiding involves twisting of three or four strands of threads together to make a set; the twists are then braided together. Simple braiding doesn't involve knotting. Similar to braiding hair, this technique uses various colored threads to complete the bracelet.
Braided bracelets come in lots of shapes and sizes, which vary per design, style and the age group targeted for wearing it. Usually the length varies from 7 to 9 inches, but again depends on the size of the wrist of the person you want to gift it to. Thickness also varies. You can get real slim ones or thicker ones like a cuff, big round ones or flat ones, as well as other styles. You may have to choose a bigger size especially when using cotton or cotton-mixed threads, because they shrink after a wash or when exposed to water.
If you plan to make braided bracelets, you can borrow or buy related books and learn from them. The steps may seem easy, but you need to exercise caution so you don't go wrong in any step, or else you will end up making a deformed bracelet. Avoid getting frustrated if you make mistakes. Braiding takes patience, and you need to master it. Knot the threads carefully so that they don't get jumbled up. Once you have learned the basic knotting, you will be able to create your own patterns and designs. You can wax the threads before you start braiding for smooth intertwining of the threads. If the constructed pattern starts twisting, iron them flat. Most importantly, have fun while making it and you will end up with a perfect bracelet.
Friendship Bracelet Tradition
Once you get a friendship bracelet, you should wear it till the cords fall apart. Removing the bracelet before this happens can signify that differences have arisen between friends. Also, in some traditions the bracelet gifts symbolize wish making. Once the bracelet wears off naturally, then the made wishes come true.