In the fifth grade I had a friendship bracelet business. That year I had a particularly 'progressive' teacher who felt confident that it was a lesson in responsibility for us to complete our work for the day and then do as we pleased. I tended to complete mine before morning recess and had the rest of the day to busy myself as I saw fit.

For a while I worked with Greg on his super-detailed Star Wars style battleship, our eversharps flashing - that was no less than 10 pieces of cream grid construction paper taped together (he's probably an engineer now). Then I'd read my current book... perhaps The Tower of Geburah or Island of the Blue Dolphins or the Tombs of Atuan. We even played cards... But the days wore on without any structure and I soon came to realize that I should use my time more wisely...

Friendship bracelets were just starting to become popular. A friend I took piano with who went to junior high had one, and I had to find out more. Fortunately my mother was a macrame wizard, and her skills were alive in my hands. A trip to the craft store and I was armed with a bundle of multi-colored strings, cardboard and small scissors. My fingers flew, knotting and rolling... My customers could choose their colors and style, and soon I was a success. Only $3 each!! Even my teacher had one.

This didn't last long, however, as my mother, a third grade teacher herself came to observe one day after her interest was piqued by my descriptions of my typical school day. She came to find children lounging on their stomachs on the window sills, cloistered in the closet and generally running amuck in our classroom. At the time I happened to be sitting indian style on top of my desk, something I knew she'd never tolerate in her classroom. I knew I was busted, but luckily my mother's ire was directed towards my inadequate teacher, Mr. Baker. Oh well. My mother was so distrubed she immediately transferred me to another school where I sat right down next to the boy who would be my nemesis for the next eight years... But that's another story. Alas! So much for my early capitalist ventures...

Here's how to make a simple bracelet to give to your friends...

  1. Get a piece of cardboard. Cut slits at the bottom of the piece of cardboard about a half-inch apart for as many pieces of string you want your bracelet to be wide. Cut another slit at the top of the piece of cardboard in the middles
  2. Take as many threads as slits and cut them to about 18 inches long. Knot them together at the top and slide this behind the slit on the cardboard, bringing the threads through to the front
  3. Thread each of the strings through 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.
  4. Take the thread furthest to the left, place it over the thread next to it in the shape of a four (4). Then, bring it under that thread and pull it through
  5. Do this to the next string to the right. 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.
  6. Now repeat the steps above, always starting with the first string on the left.
  7. Once you have a bracelet long enough, double-knot the end and distribute your gift...

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