DIY: Nautical Turk's Head Bracelet

You may have heard me mention in previous blog posts that I used to be a sailor. Well, I suppose I am still a sailor, I just haven't had much of a chance to go sailing lately.

When I lived on the east coast I was pretty active in a local sail racing group; I often crewed aboard 18 foot sloops known as Buccaneers (fitting, eh?), and I even helped my skipper take second place at the national BNAC regatta in 2010 (woot woot!)

But you may also know that I used to be a deckhand aboard a tall ship. I lived, worked, and sailed aboard a 145' ship for six months, and though it was some of the toughest, grittiest work I have done in my life (plus lots of puking), it was also some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. And the most beautiful. There's nothing quite like living aboard a wandering vessel that spends most of its days governed by the wind.

Sailing is an art that requires an intimate knowledge of knots. You use them constantly while aboard, and most of the time a correctly tied knot will save your life, so you have to know how to tie them correctly (and quickly). On the other hand, there are some lovely knots that are merely decorative, and the Turk's Head is one of my favorites. Most sailors have their own intricate versions of these tied around their ankles or wrists, sun bleached and salty from years of wear.

While doing the arm party bracelet swap with Ashley this month, I had some fun reminiscing on my ol' sailing days and whipping up a nautical bracelet to send via snail mail.

Here's the tutorial so you can all feel like salty pirates, too!

Supplies needed:

6-10 feet Paracord (or about 10 times the diameter of your wrist. I bought a 16 foot length and used about half of it)

A round object slightly larger than the size of your wrist (I used a coke glass)


Craft glue

Don't cut your paracord; I bought mine in a length of 16 feet and cut it to size after I had made the bracelet. This allows you a little room for mistakes.

Now, this is a somewhat complicated tutorial to explain through pictures. I'll do my best, but I also recommend checking out {this site} because it animates the process for you and makes it a little easier to follow along. I'm not that tech-savvy, so my photos are all stills. Sorry, folks. ;)

Also, a couple quick notes: first, make sure you're tying this knot pretty loosely. As the knot progresses, it will get tighter and tighter, so make sure you have enough slack to work with!

Second, to distinguish what part of the cord I'm talking about, I'm going to use some rope-tying terms. Are you ready?

Standing end will refer to the end of the cord that is standing still throughout this process, and working end will refer to the end of the cord that is being actively used to make the knot. Make sense? Good.

1. Drape one end of your cord around the top of your round object (I used a drinking glass), leaving a tail on the top. This will be your standing end. Wrap the working end around the back of the glass.

2. Wrap the working end up and to the left of the standing end, creating an X.

3. Wrap the working end behind the glass and over the top left section of your "X."

4. Now tuck the working end underneath the top right section of your "X."

With me so far? Good.

5. Now spin your glass a little toward you so the bitter end is almost tucked underneath and you can see more of your cord. Here's the trick: criss-cross the top left and right sections of your X to create a new X, with the top left part of the X now on the top right.

6. Weave your working end over the top right of your new X and under the top left of your new X.

7. Rotate the glass toward you again a little more. You should see another X where the cord has overlapped itself. Weave your working end over the top left of the X and under the top right.

8. Rotate your glass a little more. You should now be able to see your standing end again! Once more with your fingers, criss-cross the two strands of cord to create a new X.

9. Weave your working end over the right side of the X and under the left side. Now you should be back to your standing end. Great job! The hard part is over!

10. From here, you just have to follow what you have already done. Weave your working end alongside your standing end, doing the same over, under weave that you did the first time.

11. When you arrive back at your standing end, you should see that one of your strands has doubled and you are now preparing to go around another time, following a different strand of braid.

12. Follow the cord around again, over under over under, until you arrive back at your standing end. Now you should see your braid is doubled. You can stop here if you want, but I like going around another time for a triple braid.

13. Once again, weave your working end around, following the strands you braided before.

14. When you arrive back at your standing end, you're finished!

15. To hide the ends, carefully slide your turk's head knot off the glass and tuck the ends underneath the bracelet. Cut the excess off with scissors and use craft glue to secure the ends out of sight.

You're all finished! Now you should be able to slip the bracelet on and you shouldn't see any ends sticking out -- it looks like an infinite celtic knot!

You could also use this knot to make awesome-looking cozies for your glasses and mugs, and impress your friends. :)