Senior Sarah Lamb has taken the age-old, summer camp pastime of braiding friendship bracelets to a whole new level. Several years back, Sarah was looking for something to do one boring afternoon, and she stumbled upon her old bracelet supplies. Since that time, her bracelets have gained, not only complexity, but popularity among all of her friends, as most every one she makes is given away as a gift.
We sat down with Sarah to talk about her bracelets, and to see several for ourselves. Before she could meet, however, she had to – fittingly – track down numerous friends to borrow her creations right off their wrists. And while her bracelets are complicated, some of which using 30 or more strings, the basic idea of the bracelet is the same – friendship.
How did you get started making bracelets?
I think the first bracelet I ever did was a really basic chevron one at JCC camp when I was younger (about 3rd grade). I did them on and off during the summer, but I didn’t really get into them again until freshman year. Basically, what had happened was I was grounded and had my phone taken away, so out of boredom, I looked for something to do. I ended up stumbling upon some friendship bracelet string, and it really just took off from there. I started looking up patterns and tutorials, and I wanted just wanted to make all of them!
Do you get a lot of requests from friends?
TONS. Especially the ones I make with people’s names on it. I started giving them out to my friends as birthday presents, so I think most of my friends have one with their name on it now. It’s funny, my friends really started to expect them from me! For example, I gave one of my friends a nicer, more expensive gift this year for her birthday, and after opening that up she started digging around for a bracelet! Needless to say, she wasn’t altogether too pleased when I told her I didn’t have one for her, and I did end up getting goaded into making her one.
What is the craziest bracelet you’ve ever made?
Probably my NASA one. That one took me weeks to finish! It’s one of my favorites though, just because of the amount of time and effort it took, and I took a really big step out of my comfort zone making that one, as it is one of my most complex ones to date.
Tell us about the process of making one of your more complicated bracelets. How long does it take? Do you use patterns or special programs?
For friendship bracelets, there are only four types of knots to learn, which makes it super easy. So, the first pattern I learned how to make were the chevrons, which is the red and yellow one above. From there, I graduated onto what are called 1212 repeating patterns, which is what the yellow and blue one is. Personally, I use a website called http://friendship-bracelets.net/, which is nice because it shows exactly how you need to knot the bracelets in order to make the pattern. Most recently, I have moved onto alpha bracelets. Alpha bracelets are more complicated, as usually you have to figure out what knots to use on your own. On the upside though, they can have more colors and are more flexible when it comes to patterns, because they are typically pixelated images. For example, recently I created this bus pattern by taking a clipart image of a bus, reducing the number of pixels in the image using a program called Piskel, and then I darken the lines between the pixels until I have a grid. Then, I am ready to make a bracelet!
As time has gone on and I have had more practice, the time it takes for me to make a bracelet has significantly decreased. For example, the first bracelet I ever made, the rainbow chevron, took me about 4 hours. Now a days, I could probably make the same bracelet from start to finish in about 45 minutes. Similarly, with my NASA alpha bracelet, it probably took me 15+ hours to do, but recently I started a similar friendship bracelet and I was able to make 10 rows in about two hours, so I feel like this one will take a lot less longer!
What’s your favorite part of making these friendship bracelets?
Probably just watching the whole thing come together. At first, it is always hard to see the pattern but after a few lines, it all starts to come together! I like to make my bracelets during class lectures or while watching TV, so I don’t really pay attention, but all of a sudden, I’ll look down and it’s completely finished!
You mentioned wanting to start an ETSY store to make these for even more people. Tell us about that.
Yes, it’s a goal I’ve had for a long time. I’ve been told to do what I love as it will never feel like a job, so what would be better than turning what is a stress reliever for me into a money maker?
However, I haven’t sold anything yet for a number of reasons. For starters, I give my bracelets away too quickly, and each bracelet I make is so special to me that I don’t know how to put a price on them. Additionally, Etsy is really oversaturated with bracelets at the moment, so trying to figure out how to make my product unique and different is an angle I’ve been looking at a lot. My solution to that is to make my own custom bracelets that I design myself based off of popular characters from TV shows, movies, video games, and pop culture, as that is something I haven’t seen on there yet.
Additionally, I want to diversify my shop to something more than just bracelets, as I would also like to sell homemade soap (a side project I’ve been trying to learn), and I am in the process of learning how to knit baby clothes, blankets, and burp cloths from my aunt, and I would like to sell those as well.