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The Special Gift of Friendship Bracelets
Among the more unique types of bracelets commonly worn is the friendship bracelet. A staple of teens and pre-teens (especially girls), these woven bracelets are generally handmade by the giver, either from embroidery thread or floss, and have special significant to both the giver and the recipient. According to legend, the recipient has to wear the bracelet until it wears out and falls off, in order to show their appreciation for their friend's hard work. Removing a friendship bracelet prematurely is a sign that the friendship is in trouble. Some say that the wearer gets a wish when they first put it on, and that the wish comes true when the bracelet falls apart.
The first friendship bracelets were made by the natives of Central America, which may explain their typically bright, geometrical patterns. By the 1970s, friendship bracelets had made it to the United States, where their popularity spread far and wide. Their relative ease of manufacture, bright colors and patterns, and the ready availability of inexpensive materials probably aided their rapid spread.
Weaving a story
Friendship bracelets are an example of handweaving, and may incorporate anywhere from two and 40 separate strands of material, depending on the desired width, thickness, and complexity of the bracelet. Most styles are based on the half-hitch knot, and have colorful names like candy-stripe and totem pole. Skillful weavers can even incorporate letters, numbers, runes, and little stick figures into their friendship bracelets. Fear not; instructions for all these items can be found in any of several easily-purchased books, or on various websites online.
Like the ubiquitous lanyards and leather wallets, friendship bracelets are excellent kids' crafts, especially for group situations. Let's say it's been raining all week at camp; what can you do? Make friendship bracelets. Though they require some skill, anyone with a modicum of coordination and concentration can weave one. The kids are going to need them to give to all those friends they've made at camp anyway.
Non-traditional friendship braceletsThough most friendship bracelets are of the woven style, other types are also popular. One alternative is beaded wire friendship bracelets. In this variety, you twist together several strands of coated high-gauge wire (the higher the gauge, the thinner it is), and decorate them with beads. Needless to say, these types aren't as likely to fall apart as the braided types.
You can also buy friendship bracelets, so braiding isn't altogether necessary as long as you have a little moolah. After all, just because you didn't make it by hand doesn't mean it isn't sincere. Often, the friendship bracelets are crafted by professional or amateur artisans and sold at trade fairs. Another option is to get them straight from the source: the Central American Indians who invented them. Many organizations sell Native American crafts to aid people in developing countries, such as Guatemala and Costa Rica; so when you buy these friendship bracelets, you're helping the less fortunate. Now, doesn't that give you a warm feeling?