Who was your ten-year-old crush?
Somewhere around 1987 I knotted Corey Haim a black and purple friendship bracelet, then checked Bop magazine monthly to see if it pictured him wearing it. Imagine my sorrow twenty years later watching The Two Coreys on A&E! Friendship bracelets definitely outlived poor Corey: today Instagram has about 50,000 pics tagged #friendshipbracelet. But the good news is you don’t have to be ten years old to wear them anymore. And you certainly don’t have to hover over a safety pin stuck through your favorite leggings to stitch one up for everyone in your best friend tier.
A grown-up friendship bracelet
Geometry and neon just won’t quit in accessory trends, so this spring is a perfect time to show you how to use them in one of my favorite crochet techniques: tapestry crochet. Crocheters will love this simple method of charting and hooking up anything you can sketch into life on graph paper. Knitters will recognize its similarity to fair isle. I use it for monograms, love notes, fan art, and even hashtags on my yarnbombs.
What the heck is tapestry crochet?
If you crochet, you’ve probably done tapestry crochet without knowing its name. First, tapestry crochet uses multiple color strands. Second, tapestry crochet wraps around the trailing strands of colors not in use, just like those old friendship bracelets on the school yard did. That’s it. If these two elements are in your crochet project, you’re doing tapestry crochet. The Ravelry group TapestryCrochet is a wealth of charts, tips, and ideas. This technique works with any kind of thread, yarn, and hook sizes. I like to use embroidery floss.
Materials and charting
Hash tag happiness, holla! And indeed, you won’t need much to crochet this bracelet! Just a 1.5-2.5 mm hook, some floss, and scissors. For the motif shown, you’ll need two things of green and less than one of the other colors.
Finally, you need a chart. Because you’re crocheting in the round, each row will be shifted slightly to the right of the row below. If you chart on graph paper, know that this means your pattern will slant to the right. If you chart with Carol Ventura’s amazing crochet graph paper that mimics the slant of single crochet, the result will look as charted. (Download printable crochet graph paper for right-handed rounds, left-handed rounds, and crocheting flat at tapestrycrochet.com)
The chart below shows two motif repeats: the first and last. It starts at the big arrow and spirals up, from right to left. So the end of every round is in the center of this chart. You’ll repeat the motif 4-6 times, depending on your gauge.
Ready, set? Let’s begin!
You must to do a gauge swatch before you start, but you can give me a big wet kiss because I’ve got a handy conversion to make it easy for you.
First, do this teeny tiny swatch in the blink of an eye: Foundation – ch15. Row 1 – ch1, 15sc, turn. Repeat row 1 two more times.
Measure the width of ten stitches and measure around your wrist. Be sure your wrist measurement is large enough to pass over your hand!
Now calculate this: 10 / (width of 10 sts) x (inches around wrist) / 14 = the number of motif repeats for your wrist using your combination of hook and floss or. You’ll probably have 4-6 repeats. I recommend rounding up. Now we’re ready to start!
Foundation chain (Fig. 1-2): With green, ch14 for each motif repeat (4x=56, 5x=70, 6x=84).
Round 1 (Fig. 3-4): You are now starting at the the big arrow on the chart. Sc in first ch to join for working in the round, taking care not to twist chain. Sc to end.
Round 2: Now you’ll learn to switch colors like a pro. 1sc, stopping before the last yarn over (Fig. 5). Switch to orange to finish the first sc (Fig. 6). Yay! You just switched colors. Notice that you start a color on the last yarn over of the previous stitch.
Now you’ll learn to hide the unused colors as you go. Sc, inserting hook into next st and under the trailing green strand (Fig. 7-9). This encloses the trailing strands inside the working stitches. Continue with motif (Fig. 10).
Now you see how the color strands follow you as you work. Just remember that when you want to change colors, stop at the last yarn over of the the previous stitch. Below shows where you switch back to green, and then back to orange.
Continue motif to end.
Round 3: This round, you’ll add a third color. When you get to it, introduce pink as you did orange (Fig. 5-6). Continue, now enclosing two trailing colors inside each stitch. This motif only uses up to 3 working colors at a time. At the end of round 3, you are finished with orange. Cut the end, and enclose the tail along with the other trailing colors. Hooray, you won’t have to weave in all those tails!
At the end of round 3, you’ve learned to change colors, work around the trailing colors, work with three colors at once, and finish a color. Now you know enough to finish this whole motif! After round 9, cut the strand and weave in ends.
Get creative with your own charts!
Now that you’re a pro, I hope you love messing around with tapestry crochet! This bracelet also looks awesome replacing the green with turquoise, or double-wide with a mirrored motif. Here is a free alphabet on tapestry crochet graph paper. Show me your designs on Instagram or Twitter @knitsforlife or #knitsforlife. Below are a few of my custom designs for Sherlock fangirl customers. Personally, I think it’s a good sign that now we crush on grown men like Benedict Cumberbatch, rather than boys like young Corey. Don’t you? Let me know in the comments what designs you’d like to see! Be the first to know about new designs and get exclusive discounts by joining my entourage.