By Anita Smith
Some of the most important times I remember with my family were when my sisters and I were kids making crafts together around the kitchen table - and one of the best times we had was making friendship bracelets.
Our Mom let us each invite a friend to come over and she taught us all how to make friendship bracelets. She had bought lots of embroidery yarn (floss) in wonderful colors - I especially remember purple - my favorite at that time. We all gathered around the table and watched as her hands began to produce a row of colorful knots that grew into several inches of pattern .We were engrossed by what she was doing and eager to start making our own. Mom had already made several bracelets so she could show us some very colorful examples - we were hooked on friendship bracelets.
She helped each of us get started on a basic simple pattern after we had chosen our floss - and I remember sitting around our kitchen table, my fingers learning to move the floss in and out to make knots - and happily chattering away with my girlfriends. When we finished my Mom talked to us about the value of friendship and how a friend can grow with you as you become a teenager, young woman and mother. I remember listening to my Mom telling about her lifelong friendships and how important they have been to her. I couldn't really understand the value of it all, at that time, but it stuck with me.
My friends and I helped each other tie the friendship bracelets on our wrists, and for weeks when we saw each other wearing the friendship bracelet it signified an unspoken connection. Fast forward 15 years. Do I still know where that friendship bracelet is today? No, somewhere along the way it was discarded or lost. Do I still know where those girlfriends are today? - yes I do. Maybe we formed a strong bond around my Mother's stories on the value of friendship and we bonded together over some colorful strands of yarn that we slipped over our wrists to signify Best Friends Forever. Whatever the magic, these friends are still an important part of my life.
And the value of projects together around the kitchen table has been passed along in my own family to my kids. We work together on many things, laughing and learning to help each other and share.
Perhaps you'd like to teach your children how to make friendship bracelets. Carve out a Saturday morning, clear off the kitchen table and spend time together. Who knows what that friendship bracelet might knot together.
* embroidery thread in various colors
Basic friendship bracelet
1. Using a piece of a cardboard box or the back of a notebook, make a board to hold your thread.
2. Cut half-inch slits along the bottom of the cardboard and one at the top of the cardboard in the middle.
3. Take 4 threads of equal length (about 18 inches) and tie them together at the top. You can make your bracelet wider by using more threads.
4. Place the knot through the slit at the top of the cardboard and place each individual thread in the slits at the bottom of the cardboard. The order that you line up your thread is the order in which they will appear in the bracelet.
5. Start with the thread furthest to the left, place it over the thread next to it in the shape of a "4".
6. Then, bring it under that thread and pull it through. Do this twice. Continue making the "4"-shaped knot over the rest of the threads until the thread that was originally on the left is now on the right.
7. Now repeat the steps above, always starting with the first string on the left.
8. Remember to leave enough extra thread so that you can tie it.
9. When you're done, you can wear it around your wrist.
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