How to Read Friendship Bracelet Patterns – (Guide)

Last Updated on December 27, 2023

Hey, I’m Teresia, and if you’ve ever found yourself staring at a friendship bracelet pattern with its bubbles and funky arrows, wondering where even to begin, you’re in the right place.

Here, I’ll break down the process of reading friendship bracelet patterns, making it a breeze for beginners.

How to Read Friendship Bracelet Patterns


  • Before tackling more complex designs, begin with basic patterns like candy stripes or chevrons.
  • Differentiate between forward and backward knots based on arrow direction—forward aligns, backward opposes reading direction.
  • Recognize that forward and backward knots switch string positions while forward-backward and backward-forward maintain the original arrangement.
  • Progress through patterns row by row, mastering each knot type before moving on to more intricate designs.

Types of Friendship Bracelet Patterns

There are different types of patterns, and they usually involve knots, arrows, and bubbles. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Basic Patterns: These are great for beginners. Think candy stripes or chevrons. They’re simpler and help you get the hang of things.
  • 1:2 Patterns: In these patterns, the far-left and far-right strings take turns being part of the design. It creates a cool alternating effect in each row.
  • Knots Matter: The bubbles with arrows represent knots. Backward knots go against the reading direction, while forward knots follow it. The way you tie them affects the pattern.
  • String Switcheroo: Pay attention to how the strings switch places. Forward and backward knots switch them, while forward-backward and backward-forward knots keep them in their original spots.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: If you’re new to this, start with simple patterns. You can try more complex designs with different shapes and styles as you get the hang of it.

How to Read Friendship Bracelet Patterns

First, to read friendship bracelet patterns, understand the knot types—forward, backward, forward-backward, and backward-forward. Follow the pattern row by row, pairing strings based on arrows, and remember, forward and backward knots switch string places, while the complex knots do not.

So, let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries of those intricate designs!

Understanding the Basics

If you’re new to friendship bracelets, starting with simpler patterns before attempting more complex ones is essential. In this tutorial, we’ll be working with a pattern featuring forward, backward, forward, and forward-backward knots.

Before we begin, ensure you have the necessary materials, such as colorful embroidery floss, scissors, and a clipboard.

1. Choosing and Cutting Strings

Choosing and Cutting Strings
Choosing and Cutting Strings

Based on the pattern, identify the colors and number of strings needed. In Cat’s example, she uses two red, two white, and two blue strings. Instead of cutting single strings, she creates loops by tying the center of each string.

This technique allows for longer strings (around 70 inches each), reducing the number of cuts and simplifying the process.

2. Decoding the Friendship Bracelet Pattern

Friendship bracelet patterns often consist of bubbles with arrows, each representing a knot. The numbers on the sides indicate the rows. In a 1:2 pattern, the outer strings alternate their involvement in each row.

3. Knot Types

Knot Types
Knot Types

Before delving into patterns, familiarize yourself with four basic knot types: forward knot, backward knot, forward-backward knot, and backward-forward knot. These knots form the foundation of friendship bracelet creation.

4. Reading the Pattern

Reading the Pattern
Reading the Pattern

Follow the pattern row by row, identifying which strings pair up for each knot. The color of the knot indicates the string color that will be visible after tying.

Pay attention to arrow directions; backward knots point opposite to the reading direction, while forward knots align with the reading direction.

5. Tying the Knots

Tying the Knots
Tying the Knots

Cat demonstrates the process of tying backward and forward knots, emphasizing the importance of pulling the strings in the direction of the arrow. Remember, when tying forward and backward knots, the strings switch places, creating a fluid design.

6. Advancing to Complex Patterns

As you progress, you’ll encounter patterns with backward-forward and forward-backward knots. Cat clarifies that, unlike traditional knots, these won’t cause the strings to switch places. This distinction is crucial to maintaining the pattern’s integrity.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Reading Friendship Bracelet Patterns

How do I choose the right pattern for a beginner?

Start with simpler patterns like candy stripes or chevrons before attempting more complex designs. This will help you grasp the basics of knot tying and pattern reading.

Can I use single strings instead of tying loops in the center?

Yes, you can use single strings, but tying loops in the center allows you to work with shorter strings and reduces the overall number of strings needed for a pattern.

Do I always need to switch places when tying knots?

No, switching places occurs with forward and backward knots. For forward-backward and backward-forward knots, the strings maintain their original positions.

What if my knots are getting tangled?

Ensure you’re pulling the strings in the correct direction as indicated by the arrows in the pattern. Consistent pulling in the opposite direction can lead to tangled knots.

How do I handle patterns with different shapes, not just bubbles?

There are various patterns, including alpha patterns with squares. Each type has its unique set of instructions. If you’re interested, request a tutorial for specific patterns in the comments.

How long should my strings be for a bracelet?

The length depends on the pattern and your desired bracelet size. For single strings, around 35 inches is standard. If tying loops, double that length for each string.

How do I finish the bracelet once the pattern is complete?

Check for any loose ends, trim excess strings, and secure the bracelet with a knot or clasp. You can also explore various finishing techniques based on your preference.


You’ve now unlocked the secrets of reading friendship bracelet patterns. Start with simpler designs, master the basic knots, and gradually challenge yourself with more intricate patterns. 

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